|Project by Tennessee||posted 04-10-2015 10:08 PM||1806 views||2 times favorited||9 comments|
Have not posted a project in quite a while, mostly because I keep on building the same things.
I’ve built over 70 guitars now, and to date, I have never built a neck. Why? Because it is the most labor intensive part of building a guitar, and there are just too many good CNC builders out there making necks, which lets me concentrate on the body, sound and my wooden pickguards and sustain. I do refret necks and repair them as part of my business, but I won’t build them. Just too time consuming and a general pain in the toosh.
But often, I do not have available the headstock that I need or want in a neck. Such as a maple on maple neck with a Gibson style headstock. Or possibly a strange style headstock that no one makes in bulk, but my commission desires it. (My latest build is a bass, with a Gibson Mockingbird body, and a Parker Fly style headstock veneered with the two woods the body is made of.)
Both the guitar necks shown at the right started out life as Stratocaster Six-On-A-Side necks.
So I developed a way to remanufacture a headstock. The pictures will be shown below, since there are way more than what I can show in the thumbnails above.
Often I not only build a new headstock, but have also developed a way to make it have a back angle like Gibson headstocks. Not as strong, but still there. The 12 string in the six photos to the right has a back bend. But that is another project!
The two I choose to show were both wide nut necks people commissioned from me, and I bought the original necks from an outstanding neck supplier called Big Lou Guitars in California. He will sell you an outstanding neck with really great fret jobs for a lousy $80. But he only sells Strat and Tele style headstocks, and lots of times I need something else with a wide nut. So I just change it myself. I can do the steps quickly, clamp it and lay it aside while I work on the body or some other project.
Enjoy the process shown below in pictures, and as always, use it if you desire!!
First, you have to draw a line to eliminate the existing tuner holes, since they are in the way and will not be used.
Then, you cut them off at the very inside of the holes, and flat sand it to make the cut dead straight.
Then you take your replacement maple, (Usually white maple from Lowes is good enough), and I plane it down to where it is about the same thickness. You can also resaw it in your bandsaw, if you want. You will sand it all later.
You make the lines for the biscuits and cut in the biscuit holes. I find that biscuits work best, since it is not easy to put a groove in the headstock still being attached to the neck, and dowels do not provide enough area for strength.
With the biscuit holes cut, you now can glue up your first side.
This will give you one half of a huge paddle style headstock you can go almost anywhere with.
Here is the first half glued up with my trusty Harbor Freight clamps. I leave every glueup for a full 24 hours since the glue is essentially trapped inside the biscuit hole.
Here you can see that I have sort of put on a rough design of what I want, so I know where and how much I need to remove. That curved edge rolling into the neck itself can be problematic, since it gets thicker there, so it is important to remember that if you cut some of that away, you have to replace it with a thicker piece of maple, so you can blend it in later.
Second cut, done on the bandsaw and flattened on the belt sander, then on a granite block with 220 grit taped to the granite.
Second piece, ready to attach.
More biscuit lines!
Here’s a shot of my biscuit cutter, ready and at the right height. Get the cutter as close to center thickness as possible. I use the smallest biscuits.
Second piece of wood, glued down and freshly wiped with water to remove excess glue.
Now I need a final template. In this case, a reproduction of an Epiphone style headstock, three tuners on a side.
Here I fold the template over in half, and closely trim the paper to make sure I have a true mirror image so I don’t end up with a lopsided headstock!
I use the line I have drawn on the paper template to match that to center and align it with the dots on the neck so I know I am in line with the headstock I will cut out. Then I proceed to cut it out with the bandsaw, ever so slightly larger so I can repair any mistakes while hand sanding.
Here’s the new headstock, freshly off the bandsaw. It is very close to my template but needs some sanding and touching up.
Here’s the headstock after sanding everything flat on both sides. Notice how the maple is starting to blend in well. In this case it does not matter, since I will eventually veneer this headstock. Amounts of veneer vary. Sometimes just the front, sometimes the front and back, and one I even did the lower sides, but stained the top edge. Once in a while, someone doesn’t want veneer, and I have to make sure the maple is the same color as possible.
The bandsaw always leaves some marks on the sides that are much easier to take off with a power oscillating sander. You can hand sand it, but it is time consuming. Light touches here since it is almost the proper size all the way around!
The last step is to soften the edges, and blend in the lower contours where the headstock meets the neck on the backside. I also will use a small drum sander to do the top edges.
Here’s the final headstock, ready for tuner hole layout, and my logo, which goes in the middle.
-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com