For years myself and several friends have been experimenting with different guitar building techniques. We’ve explored the typical “parts” guitar projects, where the guitar is assembled from all pre-built parts, and then later moved on to more advanced guitar building techniques implementing one-piece mahogany bodies, bolt-on style necks from a variety of wood species and finally constructing a unique neck-through design. The only rule we have given ourselves is to try something different on every guitar – tremolo bridges, binding, pickguards, coil tapping, etc. The guitar has so much design canon to draw from, the possibilities are endless.
We are very fortunate in Houston to be located so closely to a well-stocked lumber yard. At Clark’s Hardwood Lumber Co. we have been able to purchase large mahogany slabs perfect for one-piece bodies. An adventurous woodworker may even be tempted to carve a one-piece, neck and all, from one of these immense slabs. While spending a few weeks mulling body designs, I came across a peculiar wood species I’ve never seen before in guitar building known as “Marblewood.” The plank I found was the perfect length for a thru-neck design but it’s thickness was more appropriate for a bolt on style. Since I had this beautiful mahogany one-piece slab to use as the body, the choice was a clear… a set-neck-thru.
This hybrid design allowed me to create a truly impressive heel transition with gobs of sustain and tone. Right around the 15th fret, the mahogany body begins to creep down the neck into one huge contour following both horn cut-outs. Speaking of which, is this body looking familiar to anyone yet?
The headstock angle on this guitar was created with a scarf joint at approximately 13 degrees. Not quite as steep as a Gibson, but I was able to incorporate a small volute. The headstock was kept square and compact, and finished with a flamed maple veneer – to match the flamed maple binding along the fingerboard.
Jumbo stainless steel frets were quite a learning experience on this build. They took a lot of grinding to get level, but now play nice and evenly. The radius is 12″ and the scale length is 24-5/8″.
Ultimately this guitar is a Frankenstein and a chameleon. With a 6-way toggle, access to coil-tapping configurations gives this guitar a lot of tonal ground. The guitar is finished with Schaller’s latest and greatest hardware- the Da Vinci line of machine heads and the very best hardtail bridge on the market… the Hannes bridge. The humbucker pickups were manufactured in Houston by Rio Grande; their Texas Barbecue set sounds truly incredible. I hand rubbed shellac into the natural wood one coat at a time over a period of two weeks. By the end there was close to twenty coats of finish, sanded out to 12000 grit with micro mesh.
My favorite guitars tend to be bolt-on necks with single coil pickups. I wanted something with a lot of meat, something on the other end of the spectrum compared to the guitars I already had. To really accentuate this notion I strung her up with slinky top / heavy bottom Ernie Ball strings. One thing is for certain … this fella smokes playing through a Steamboat Classic 50!