Thing Fish



Thing Fish is the name of a Frank Zappa project that, to my knowledge, was never fully realised by the maestro. I got into some arty wood carving on the head stock, that ended up looking like a kinda fish shape when I finished, hence the name. mdeIt has an action as good as any high end guitar I own or have played. The pick up issue I spoke of in the last blog has come back to bite me. While the guitar has intoned perfectly and the electronics are all working fine, the pick up is a little close to the strings, even when fully adjusted down. I will rectify this with a bit of drilling in the cavity in the coming days. The guitar plays fine, but there can be issues of phase and tuning if the pick ups are too close to the strings, They are magnets and can pull the strings causing phase issues with the strings oscillations.

That is the only issue with the build. The neck is straight as a dye, the neck angle perfect…..more luck than design! I went for a simple electrical set up again; I don’t use the bridge pick up much on any guitars, so I just don’t put one on these builds. I have one P90 Humbucker somewhere between the neck and middle pick up position on most guitars. mdeThis gives me all the tone colour I like, with the one tone and volume nob. I was thinking of an sunken angles jack socket in the front of the guitar, but when I went to mark it out it didn’t look good in the overall shape of the build, so I did another simple approach, with the socket just a simple nut on the front. I think my style of building is becoming ‘simple, straightforward, sleek, no fuss style’. The next build will however include an arched/carved top and a bridge with a separate tail piece, just to take a look at what we can achieve with some shaped tops. I have built enough flat slabs of wood with hard tail bridges for a while, I want to break out the carving tools and make some beautiful contours in the body of the next guitar. As I said, I have intoned this guitar this evening, but if I get the pick up a little lowermde I will do that again, in case the pull of the pick up magnets was effecting how the strings oscillated.

I can’t believe how good the neck angle was, as I was resolved to the likely hood of having some problems when I chose to cut all my neck pockets with hand tools and no templates. It gives a great sense of satisfaction to cut a good fitting, snug joint, but I thought I would need a few more builds to get really good at it. So, as I say, this was perhaps more luck than design, but it bodes well for continuing with the project of trying to build completely by hand.

I got the idea for the jack socket on the front of the guitar from the “Flea” bass. You need to buy some right angled jack leads, but buying new musical/guitar equipment has never been a problem for me!


So, a very successful day, soldering the electrics in the morning, then leveling and dressing the frets in the afternoon, then stringing and intonating in the evening. I didn’t include any pictures or description of the fret preparation as I have done that in previous blogs. It’s the same laborious method every build, you level them with the leveling beam, then you use the fret rocker to fine tune the leveling. Then you crown each of the twenty four frets to a smooth arch, then polish…..jaysus, it’s endless! Anyway, I must have done it right, there is no fret buzz and it’s perfectly intoned.



I think I am most pleased with the look of the wood. The spalting through the centre looks great and the simple danish oil finish is very effective. Taking the time to get the multiple layers slowly built up to a good polished surface was well worth all the labor. It took over a week of coat after coat. A real labor of love.

Now I am turning my attention to finishing the bouzouki rebuild. I have some wood finishing issues with that, so may have to bite the bullet and buy the paint stripper, if I want a really professional job.



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