Thursday, 5 March 2009

It lives...

Ok, I'm a little late with this post but I've been distracted by my new guitar! It's a bit of a beast!
Having stained the body, I finished it with a couple of coats of Danish Oil (with a bit more stain added) and then wire wooled it when it had dried. A coat of Briwax to polish it up and the body was done! I over-rubbed some areas to give a worn look to compliment the worn EMG pickup covers. I think it works really well.
The headstock got my tribal monogram and lots of clear lacquer before getting a sand back and a polish.
So one month, less than £100, and here's the result: the SM Viper!

I'm so chuffed that I managed it all in the month deadline! The first week went really well but by week 3 I was still wondering what finish to go for. I really fancied giving the camo finish a go but I didn't want to risk screwing the whole thing up, and in reality there really wasn't enough time to try something as complicated as that. But it is something I'm going to try on a scrap piece of wood at some point, just out of curiosity. The ebony stain and oil finish was also a first for me, so I'm totally delighted that it turned out ok. I've used oil in the past on furniture but I wasn't sure how tough it would be on a guitar. It turns out that it works just fine! And I got the exact sheen I was after too. Not too matt, not too glossy, just right.
There's never 3 bears handy when you need them, is there?...
I've loved this build. The time and budget constriction really made me think about what was achievable, and I pulled it off. The body carving was a great night! The tunes were blasting and my chisel was flying! And it's amazing what you can put together with a small budget and a lot of thought.
Now, I really must build that Tele I promised myself. Oh, and an Explorer too while I'm at it.
Happy days!!!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

I'm sure there was something else...

So I've spent the last week concentrating on the staining and oiling of the body.
I wasn't happy with the finish on the front, so I had to strip it back and start again. A bit of a pain admittedly, but nothing major, just a small set back. I applied a few coats of Danish oil with some added stain and left them to dry. This all took several days but the end result looks promising.
But on Tuesday night, with a week left before the challenge deadline, something was bothering me. Had I done something wrong? Had I forgotten to drill something before I'd started on the finish? No, everything was as it should be. And then it hit me.
I still had a headstock to shape, paint and lacquer! How could I forget about that? Mild panic! Haha, what an idiot!
Nothing a coping saw, a Dremel and some sandpaper can't fix, mind you. An hour later and I'd cut the ESP style shape and sanded the whole thing down ready for spraying. And here it is with some initial coats of black:

Still got a logo to put on and then some top coats of clear lacquer. I'm going to go with my tribal monogram that I put on MFK's Explorer, it works really well with this style of guitar. A couple of nights and I reckon it'll be done!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

You can have any colour as long as it's black

Ok, so it's been a few days but I've made progress. Honest!
After much humming and hawing about finishes, I've settled on an ebony stain. I was going to try a graphic paint job but there simply isn't enough time, and I don't want to mess up a decent bit of wood with paint. There's some nice grain on this cherry and it would be great to bring it out as well as get a black(ish) finish. I tried some other colours/finishes but they didn't bring out the grain the way the ebony did, so it was no contest in the end.
So here we have some detail of the stain with the grain:

Once I've sealed it with oil, it'll darken a bit more, but still leave the grain texture visible as well as the red figuring lines, which I really like. Its a shame there's more on the back than on the front! It should only take a couple of days to get some coats of oil on and then I can fit the whole guitar together.

Monday, 16 February 2009


So yesterday (Sunday) was spent getting the rear cavity routed out and the back carved to match the front. It took pretty much the whole day, save for a trip to the chip shop, but it was worth it because I now have this:

So that's it! It just needs some final sanding with some high grit paper and then it can get sprayed. I'm still arguing with myself as to what finish to go for. It would really suit a black finish as it's getting a set of active EMGs in it, so metal is most certainly the flavour. But then I've seen ESP do it in a camo finish and I think that could look killer too. And then there's cherry red! And purple!
Well, maybe not purple (sorry, Junior).
I'll weigh up the options tomorrow and make a start on the finishing on Wednesday.

Here's my spend so far:
Body : £2.50 (reclaim yard)
Neck and hardware : £25.00 (from a donor guitar)
Neck screws and ferrules : £3.95 (Axetec)
EMG 81/85 active pickups with full wiring and pots : £42.62 (bought from an ad on
Current total : £74.07

Friday, 13 February 2009

Friday pints?

It's Friday!
It's that day that you spend at work looking forward to that pint at half 5...
So why am I not in the pub? Everyone else seems to be. Even my girlfriend has went out for the night.
No, I'm at home, in the kitchen carving my body! And if truth be told I'm loving every minute.
There's something very primal about this whole guitar building thing. Tonight, it's just me, a slab of wood and a chisel. It's like I'm Stone Age man and I've got an axe head to make so I can hunt and feed my family. It really feels that essential! I NEED to carve the body of this guitar and nobody's going to stop me.

This feels good. It's been a while since I've had to do this sort of thing and I've really missed it. I used to be a furniture maker and it has been many years since I've had a reason to chisel away at something just for the sheer hell of it. Bring it on!

And here it is, 3 hours later. The front is now totally carved and sanded and I'm ready to do the back now. But it's late and I really deserve a beer!
Woohoo! Friday pints wins after all!

Thursday, 12 February 2009


Not much done today.
I got the neck holes drilled for the recessed ferrules and I screwed the neck on.
I'd do more but there's stuff on tv soon that I want to watch, which may or may not involve vodka.
Happy days!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


I had plans for today. Big plans. I was going to get all the routing done and hopefully the carving too. But alas, it was not to be.
It all went wrong when I woke up this morning with someone's name in my head. A name I'd seen at work yesterday. A name calling out for an anagram.
That name was Shamugam Sriskantharajam.
Now do you see why I got sidetracked? How could I possibly let that name slip by without a decent attempt at making it better?
So rather than attack the guitar, my morning was spent with tea and chocolate, some paper and a pen...
And this is what happened:

Manga mum's Sikh Sahara jar!

Fabulous! I was happy with that. I went to the shed and set up my tools, but, some more words came in to my head and so I returned to the paper and the pen and the tea and the chocolate. And lo:

Hamas jam: man 'H' at sugar risk!

Oh yes! Give that man a pound!
"Enough" I said. "There is a guitar to be built"!
So only got a couple of things done today, but I'm sure you'll agree it was worth the distraction.

Routed out the pickup cavities using a template left over from a previous build

Ooo, moody!