Its almost a guitar!!!! I.m so exited to hear it played! There is only one week left in the build for final touches, then we will have to wait 7 more weeks while we construct our electric guitars and learn about finishing, before we can string them all up and finally hear those first notes. The waiting will be so hard but well worth it I'm sure.
This week has been another busy one full of a good deal of precision work. My first task this week, which i have been kind of dreading, was to fit the dovetail neck joint. The dovetail fit is essential to good action and a long life for the guitar. If it does not fit tightly and at just the right angle to the body the tone and play-ability of the instrument will suffer greatly. Also a good tight fit of the neck heel to the body will finish nicely with no unsightly spaces or gaps. All of the fitting is done by hand with a sharp chisel and a good deal of patience.
During our first semester classes we were taught how to do this using mock up neck body joints in a Neck Reset class. Neck resets are a valuable and essential repair for quality instruments whose action has become too high for normal adjustments due to many years of string tension pulling on the neck. Many vintage guitars can be made to play like or better than new using these techniques. The neck heel and dovetail are shaved down by thousandths of an inch at a time and test fit into the body over and over until the fit is tight and flush at the proper neck angle for the instrument.
After the dovetail is fit properly a slot is routed down the center of the neck for the truss rod to fit into. The truss rod will allow slight adjustments to the neck throughout its life for the best possible action. Routing the slot is kind of tricky because it is done face down on a routing table so that you cannot see the cut being made. This means it is very important to take extra care when setting up the router for this task to ensure a good straight cut.
For gluing the veneer is clamped to the head stock using a wooden template of the head stock shape.
The template is made by gluing a drawing of the head stock to plywood then cutting and shaping it to the exact final shape desired. The template is clamped into place and two of the tuner holes are drilled through the template, veneer, and head stock. brass pins are place in these holes to maintain proper alignment when gluing. This is another step where accurate drawings are essential to a good final product. after looking very closely at my drawing i determined that the shape was mot perfectly symmetrical and ended up having to use half of it and flip it over to get a perfect shape.
The neck is now re checked for fit to the body and if all is well it is glued in. We use Hot Hide glue for this joint so that it can heated and steamed out many years down the road making the job of neck reset go much smoother. The neck is glued in and clamped up tight! A few hours later its another step closer to being a guitar!
While the neck joint was drying and setting up, I took the time to install the frets into the ebony fingerboard.
After learning fretting a few different ways last semester I have come to like the method of pressing the frets into place with an arbor press. I also like to use a bit of TiteBond wood glue to lubricate the fret slots and hold the frets in place. I have found that this sets the frets well and all with out any gaps. The first and thirteenth frets are left out for pinning the board while gluing it to the neck. Tiny holes are drilled into the open fret slots and old drill bits are used to pin the board into place for clamping and gluing. Once again Hot Hide Glue is used for this joint to facilitate easy removal if and when a neck reset is needed.
After a few hours of being clamped up tight, The fingerboard is stuck down good! All the clamps come off and its so close to being finished! Next week all that remains is to shape the neck, inlay my official logo into the head stock and prep sand for finishing! I can't wait till its all done and in my hands making sweet, sweet music!