This blog will include various build pictures and/or information for the three nearly simultaneous first builds of this new body style and the pecan tops that they will all share. There are planned differences in each of the three as they are the proto-types (even though two are sold and the third will not be sold).
The name: Highway 51 bisects Memphis, Tennessee North to South. Graceland is on Hwy. 51. Memphis is the “birthplace of the Blues”. I like the name.
The original body shape: This body shape is a morph (but in no way a copy) of lines from the Gibson Les Paul, the Fender Telecaster and the Dean Cadillac.
The highly unusual (but very comfortable to tune) headstock shape is my take on what the Peavey Wolfgang should have looked like. Just my humble opinion. A last note of interest (maybe) is that the angle of the upper bout, the lower bout, three of the string ferrules and the rake at the end of the headstock are all 51 degrees +/-.
Hardware layout and discussion:
Pickup Switch: This series of guitars will all have the 3-way pickup selector toggle switch not exactly, but more akin to the Les Paul upper bout location (instead of the Telecaster lower middle control plate location). I hate top control plates.
Pickups: This series will all have two pickups, however Number 1 will have a PAF style humbucker in the neck position and a slightly overwound telecaster style in the Bridge position. Number 2 will have the bucker in the neck position and a Stratocaster style single coil in the bridge position. Number 3 will have two humbuckers.
Electronics: This series will all have a single master volume 500k pot, a single master tone 500k push-pull pot that will split and unsplit the humbucker… and finally a rotary tone switch (with chicken head knob) that will be much like (but better than) the Varitone circuit that Gibson uses on a very few high end guitars (namely the BB King Lucille and the Alex Lifeson 355, etc. semi-hollow body guitars). The tone capacitors are old school oil and paper. The tone and volume wiring circuit is “50’s style” which is felt/heard by many to be more tonefull than modern configurations. The Lucille I owned for several years had the most combinations of useful tones (without even adjusting the tone knob at all) of all the other guitars I have owned (dozens). I believe this entire scheme will give me 25 unique and useful tones from one guitar. Adjust the tone knob for each of the 25 circuit paths and it is arguably infinite. For the record, the factory made Les Pauls usually provide three. The factory made Fender Telecaster three. BTW, this is all passive circuitry… no batteries required. :=)
Bridge: This series will all have Tune-o- Matic style bridges (like Les Paul models), but will have roller saddles and no tail piece. The six strings will load from the back into the larger ferrules, escape to the top through smaller top ferrules, then over the tune-o-matic. This has been done before, but is somewhat rare to see. Kind of a boutique thing, but I like it. I hate Fender plate mount bridges (for the record).
Tops Wood: This series will all have pecan tops. #1 is seriously spalted and mottled front and back as well. Number 2 and 3 (tops only) are highly figured, but little or no spalting.
Other Woods: Necks will be maple, finger boards will be maple or Rosewood. I may dye one or more of the Rosewoods to Ebony as desired (that turned out wonderfully on the Les Paul replica build). All maple necks left natural will be “aged” with amber. Bodies will vary as I experiment, but these are #1 basswood, #2 Alder and #3 Mahogany. (see pic)
Thickness: #1 is a Fatty (on purpose) at 1 7/8 thick” (close to Les Paul thickness). #2 and #3 are more Fender typical at 1 9/16”. When complete I will weigh each, but I am as interested in balance as I am overall weight. I hate neck heavy guitars and the way they seek the floor as if they are divining rods. ;=)
Nuts: All light colored nuts will be Tusq synthetic bone and/or natural bone. Black nuts will be graphite. I hate plastic nuts.
Tuning Keys: Gotoh style 4+2 configuration.
Binding: The thickness of the pecan tops allows for the double angle micro-beveled edge to be used as is in lieu of binding. Later series (curly maple, flame maple, cherry burl, camphor, etc.) may have binding as needed aesthetically. These do not.
Color: All transparent and translucent color will be from aniline dyes. Some will be hand applied to the wood and some will be sprayed with the lacquer as needed. Solid colors (#2 will be white back and sides… #3 will be black back and sides) will be opaque pigment from Stew Mac and/or ReRanch. I have both.
Control Cavities: This series will have rear control cavities and covers in a custom shape/location. This will allow me to place all of the electronics exactly where I want them and will allow me to have knobs only on the top side (pots through the back) since I hate pick guards. A seasoned guitarist will never scratch the face of his/her guitar with a pick during play (while sober).
Okay, enough (too much) information for one night. I’ll post pics as I go.
Also, I chose LJ for the blog, but I will link to the luthier forums so maybe Martin will get some new breed of traffic ‘round here. Got to keep the gene pool varied, you know…
Thanks for stopping in.
-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia