Number 6

This isn’t a build. It’s an assembly!

The basswood body and maple neck were modified, however, so they don’t look stock and they get something of a boutique look. I also rounded off the neck heel to make it easier to access the upper frets. With socket connectors for the scratchplate, I can switch between sets of pickups easily. 

Wilkinson trem, Vanson tuners and a white graphite nut…

Number 5

The guitar to end all guitars. Number 5 was meant to be as versatile as possible while experimenting with a neck-thru construction. 

I thought I would try a 24″ scale but still have a very chunky neck and a 1 5/8″ wide nut, like my other guitars. The neck pickup is made from two single coil bobbins and Alnico V polepieces. The centre pickup is an Axesrus TT-73 humbucker that is splittable to make sure that the 2 and 4 positions are hum cancelling. In the bridge is an Axesrus The Purist. With a DPDT switch and a five way switch I get the following: 

DPDT down:  1 – bridge humbucker / 2 – bridge and middle (both split) / 3 – bridge and neck humbuckers / 4 – middle and neck (both split) / 5 – neck humbucker

DPDT up: 1 – bridge humbucker split/ 2 – bridge and middle (both split) / 3 – bridge and neck humbuckers split/ 4 – middle and neck (both split) / 5 – neck split

It really is like having two guitars in one, and some tele-like sounds too. The high gain bridge humbucker sounds great when split, and the special neck pickup construction really makes it sound like a single coil when split. 

The body is yellowheart, maple and walnut on the back, heavily chambered so it’s resonant and reasonably light. . The neck is maple with a cocobolo fingerboard and birdseye maple headstock. 

The tone switch has a push-push that enables a 28db active boost, adjustable with a mini-pot via a hole in the control cavity cover.  Oh and that trem is a Wilkinson WV-50 – very smooth!

Number 4

Number 4 was designed to be my take on the famous Telecaster. 

I wanted to make it hollow, but had an idea to make the body with four pieces of ash, carved out before assembly. The four pieces join in the centre, which you can see in the photo looking up at the lower strap button. The neck is maple with birdseye maple fingerboard and has a 25″ scale.

Of course, the wiring had to be a bit different too. The five way selector chooses 1 – bridge, 2 – both out of phase, 3 – both in parallel, 4 – both in series, 5 – neck. But that’s not it. The scratchplate is swappable with two male/female connectors making the pickup change simple and solder-free.  I can go from lipstick single coil to Alnico III humbucker, mini humbucker (my hand made build with Alnico V magnets) or P90 in a couple of minutes.  

The bridge pickup is a Fletcher custom with Alnico V magnets for the lower three strings, and Alnico II magnets for the upper three. It’s also coil tapped, so with the mini switch I can go from vintage spec (7k) to modern (9k). It’s subtle, but beautiful.

 

Number 3

With the alder “left over” from building number 2, I thought I should make another guitar. 

Number 3 is semi acoustic, with an almost completely hollowed out alder body, curly maple neck and cocobolo fingerboard. That same piece of cocobolo ended up on Number 5

To keep the walnut top free of controls and give it a clean appearance I put the controls on the side of the body, like an acoustic. Electrics include a volume and tone (concentric pots), a five way switch (off / bridge / both / neck with capacitor / neck) and a separate volume for the LR Baggs X Bridge which gets routed to one side of the stereo output jack. I use a splitter box to send the LR Baggs piezo signal to an acoustic pedal and the other pickups to an amp. 

With flatwound strings, Number 3 has a wonderful jazz tone thanks to the Seymour Duncan ’59 (with an Alnico II magnet) in the neck, but can still rock out with the Fletcher 425 mini humbucker 

Number 2

It took a few years, but the bug bit again and I had to build more guitars.

So, I found a local woodshop (the candy store known as Black Forest Woods and bought a piece of alder, some curly maple and birds eye maple.

This axe was going to be different. Oh yes. Rather than just a stratocaster, it was going to be something lighter and sleeker. I thought I’d have a go at winding my own pickups too, which didn’t turn out so great. The pickups were weak and not really very usable. Later on I bought some from Irongear (Smokestack in the neck, Pig Iron in the middle and a Platinum P90) to replace the three single coils I had made.

Well here it is. Number 2.

The wiring is a little different too. The six way rotary switch selects 1 – neck pickup, 2 – neck and middle, 3 – neck and bridge, 4 – middle, 5 – middle and bridge, 6 – bridge. The tone switch is a push-push “blower” switch that connects the P90 straight to the output jack, bypassing the volume and tone. The volume pulls up to coil tap the neck pickup. Yes, coil tap.  The Smokestack is a double-stacked single coil that is normally wired tapped (7.3k). A switch turns on the rest of the coil, making it a whopping 12.4k, almost like a P90.

Number 1

Sometime around 1991 I thought I’d build my own guitar.  Brian May did. I mean, how hard could it be?

I found out.

While studying art at the Alberta College of Art, which had a dream woodshop with every power and hand tool you could imagine, I bought a chunk of mahogany, a slab of maple and started carving it into My guitar.  I didn’t want to copy anything else, I wanted it to be mine.

Two years later, I had this.  Or something resembling it.

  • Solid mahogany body
  • maple neck
  • 24 3/4” scale
  • Graphtech saddles
  • Gotoh bridge and machine heads.
  • volume, tone switch and coil cut for bridge pickup
  • Seymour Duncan Custom 5 in the bridge position
  • My own P90 in the neck (I originally had a Seymour Duncan Jazz – as seen in some of these pictures – but used it mainly with the coils split, so I made myself a P90 years later).

Number 1 was my main guitar for years, until I got the bug again and started building more.

 

UPDATE I’ve since replaced the bridge pickup with an Axesrus Hot Iron. 14k of guts. Maybe I’ll take some pictures. Anyway, if I do a video with Number 1 and it has a zebra pickup, that’s what it is.