Thursday, September 22, 2011

Out of the dust it came...

Hello one and all. Been a while, eh? So, umm, how’ve you been? I’ve honestly been meaning to catch up with you for ages, but... you know... stuff.

The thing is that work, life and all sorts of other stuff got in the way, and I didn’t feel like I had a great deal of import to say (that wasn’t able to be condensed into a rant on FaceBook...).

I’ve been trying to come up with a reason to start up the blog again and there’s a long-ish term project that just might suit. I’ve started building electric guitars.

Ages back, when I was at school, the chance arose in a technology class to build any project you wanted, using any combination of wood, metal, whatever. Armed with no information whatsoever, and using what I now know are the worst woods for “luthierie”, I set about building myself what I would now consider a metal axe. Pointy, daft and with as much planning behind it as a fling at a Vegas business conference, it vaguely looked the part, but was both a: unfinished and b: unutterably shit.

Now, of course, I’m an expert in simply everything, so I decided to revisit the idea. Slight correction: the internet has happened and, though there’s an ocean of utter garbage out there (homeopathy, 9/11 conspiracy theories, Republicans, nations not called England, etc.), there are also people who decide to collate useful information, share decades of experience and offer help to those of us who want to maybe attempt to do things properly.

The amount of guitars I own has held steady at around the 30 mark for the last ten years or so, with old ones exiting as new ones arrive. I always customise or tinker in some way with them, as there’s always room for improvement in some department or other. Even with Gibson Les Pauls, you purist bastards.

photo © 1998 Steve Gorospe

Though I love (and have given silly names to) many of my guitars, the ever-present spectre of GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome) looms large. So, I figured, with sites like the Luthier’s Corner forum on My Les Paul, I might want to give it a go and see if I could build, if not exactly the guitar I was after, something I’d still enjoy playing and - possibly more importantly - enjoy building.

I’ve been posting some pics up on FB, but will hopefully remember to document the whole thing and post pics here as it goes along. It’s going to be erratic as it has to fit in around work schedules and weather (I currently don’t have any shed/workshop space, so basic woodworking has to take place out in the open in the garden), but I’ll try to compile progress updates as I go.

I now have a decent Bosch router, capable of ripping holes in hands/arms/legs (though this has yet to happen, dear reader), as well as producing titanic levels of sawdust and shavings. My initial body blank was cut from a block of cedar which, after well over an hour of noisy routing, had me covered in deep orange shavings and dust, looking like I’d suffered from a fluffy and fast-moving alien fungal attack.

Other tools are to come from the luthier suppliers, Stewart-Macdonald in the US (whose catalogue is basically guitar-tool porn), but I’ll take some shots soon of the tool purchases so far. The first guitar I build will end up costing tons more than if I’d bought it in a store due to the investment in tools but (aside from the satisfaction of having built it myself), subsequent guitars will come in much, much cheaper and again, will be built to my personal specs. The initial build round will be a few Les Pauls, one a very standard ’59 replica, others with Floyd-Rose trem units and locking nuts. Then, once I (hopefully) get my woodworking chops in order, it’ll be onto the baritones and 7-strings...

We shall see. :-D


At 5:21 pm, Blogger SetantaBhoy said...

Nice one Mark. I know a few people with similar, eh, interests.. I will point them this way...


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