After 12 coats of ‘Danish Oil’, the six string is looking very fine. I don’t like the slow process of multiple layers of finishing oils. It is very laborious and smelly and takes ages. I have to wait eight hours between coats, so sometimes I only get one coat finished per day. However, the result is very satisfying. A really professional look. The spalted beach wood of the top looks great. Above you see the fingerboard ready for the fret leveling and dressing. That is another days work!
Not only is the top looking great. I have also finished the back to a much higher standard than the last guitar. I chose to do an inlay cover for the electrical cavity using the ‘paduk’ wood I had used in the neck lamination.
It goes well with the darker wood of the guitar back. Notice no screws, as I plan to use small magnets to keep it in place. I will do a whole other blog on that and the wiring for this guitar.
The neck bolted on nicely and initial checking looks like the ‘neck angle’ is good. I didn’t countersink the bolts because the design of this guitar required a thinner body at the neck joint. Counter sinking the bolts would have left them gripping too little wood. This is probably my biggest regret for this build. But everything else is going so well, I can live with it. Did I say everything is going well? There is one other issue concerning bad planning, well, more forgetfulness. I did spot the possible problem early in the build, then promptly forgot about it. If you look at this picture below of the guitar top, you might notice the P90 Humbucker pickup. These come with a plastic surround, which is kinda optional if your pickup cavity design doesn’t really need it. I spotted that it would be only a millimeter below the height of the last fret on the fingerboard. I decided at the time I would simply make a cavity deep enough for the pickup to be set very low, and not use the plastic surround. I then promptly forgot in the excitement of mounting the pickup and now have four small screw holes in the top of the guitar, which will look naff if I don’t use the black plastic surround. On measuring today I think the clearance will be just about o.k. , but we wont know till we string the guitar up. I’ll keep you posted.
The bouzouki project is going more slowly, due yo me choosing to use shellac and go for a high ‘French polish’ on the top. I am really pleased with the finish on the neck. It was given about seven coats of Danish Oil, mainly because I prefer the feel of that finish under my hand on a neck. Also, I liked the colour of the wood and didn’t want to darken it with shellac. The purple heart on the head stock is really stunning, even though I say so myself. It has finished far beyond my expectations. Imagine, a Luthier said to throw this instrument away! What is left on this build is the fret leveling and intonation, which I will do by simply moving the bridge around till we find a sweet spot! I gave up on the idea of having an ornate carving between the end of the neck and the sound hole. I searched on line a long time for a design style I liked, and couldn’t commit to anything. I then realised that the colour difference in the repaired wood will almost disappear once we get the 20 coats of french polish on the surface. I think I will just leave the top as is. It will probably help with resonance anyway, if I don’t stick another piece of wood to the soundboard. As can be seen in the picture, (below), I have made a new bridge. A little higher than the old one. This will give a better transfer of energy into a very ‘repaired’ sound board, which I imagine is probably not as resonant as it used to be. The height is perfect for the new neck angle, which I adjusted back, to accommodate a higher bridge. From the picture you can see how the wood is beginning to darken after just three coats of shellac. Hopefully we can blend the different areas together nicely, into one even finish. I am back to chemicals tomorrow. I could have just stripped all the old finishes back to the raw wood with paint stripper, but that stuff is just so toxic I cant bring myself to use it. I will stick with the rustic repaired look, if it means I keep my ability to breath freely. More soon