’51 P-Bass Build, Part 3: Lotsa Pictures!

Lots of progress! Sanding is done, ferrule and string holes are drilled, and most of the parts are here, so I spent a few minutes getting things in place to see how it will all look. HAPPY! On to finishing, and when the neck gets here, I can start in on that.

My YouTube Channel Is Live!

The Hayride Tele-Matic demo video got such a great response on Facebook, I decided it would be a good way to get my YouTube channel up and running. It’s a cell video but looks and sounds surprisingly (to me, anyway) good. Here it is!

More to come. Please comment/like/get the word out everywhere. Thanks!

’51 P-Bass Build, Part 2

Obeche sands beautifully. It didn’t take long to get the body smooth and ready for the finish. It got so dusty from sanding, though, that I needed a lot of compressed air and a tack cloth to get it clean. That done, I started drizzling on the Tru-Oil, which is maple syrup-colored, and brings a nice amber tone with just one coat. The gloss will start to build with the third coat, and the grain will really pop, though I don’t think it will be as dramatic as the mahogany or catalpa Teles. Still, this wood is good-looking!

’51 P-Bass Build, Part 1


Finally, a day warm enough to get this body sanded. It’s made of obeche, an African wood that gets very dusty very fast when you sand it. I don’t have a vacuum setup at my workbench, so I had to wait for a chance to do this outside.

The big thing with this body is that it’s my first (and happy to say, successful) attempt at doing arm and belly cuts. I installed the strap buttons and put the body on a strap so I could mark exactly where I needed to remove wood. I wasn’t interested in doing the full-sized Strat belly cut, so I made that area smaller, and marked an arm cut that is also a bit smaller than the Strat’s.

I did the arm cut first, and used my Makita finishing sander with some 60 grit paper. As you can see from the second photo, I had most of it done in under twenty minutes. This sander is light and easy to control. With the body securely clamped in place, getting the lines I wanted was effortless.

I moved on to the belly cut and started with the sander. The shape of this cut is much more concave, so it was a bit slower going. I decided to get my rasp and see how that worked for removing wood faster, figuring I could return to the sander to clean up the tool marks and finish the shape of the cut.

It worked great! This wood works easily. It looks like the rasp is chewing the wood up, but sanding it smooth was no problem. The rough sanding you see was all done with 60 grit paper. That part was done in an hour.

Final sanding was done mostly with a rubber block and a series of grits out to 600. I used my fingers in some of the smaller curves and to get the edges smooth. Of course I scratched the wood a time or two and had to sand those out as well. All told I spent another hour and a half (maybe more, I lose track of time when sanding) getting this as perfect as I could. The wood is incredibly smooth, and should look beautiful with my usual minimal finish.

Before I start in with the Tru-Oil I have a tiny chip to repair on the pickup rout. The two black dots on the front near the control rout are worm holes. I think I’ll leave those as they are!

November Jam Camps: Still Got The Blues

Both our sessions this month were intense! We are playing harder than ever, and stretching in a lot of interesting ways as we reach for blues nirvana.
Breaking it down to a key, a groove, and a tempo, rather than calling an actual song, and these guys are seriously stepping up. I could not be prouder of them. Thanks, guys, for your continued interest and commitment! Not to mention your willingness to take chances and follow me right over the cliff. Fun!

The October Blues Goes On, And Some Building News!

October’s two jam camp sessions were sold out successes! We are continuing to plug in and jam on the blues. This time we were still basing our jams on Cream’s Crossroads (RIP Jack Bruce!) but changing keys and trading solos at a fast and furious pace. These guys are really getting it, and we are having a lot of fun in our sessions together! Their progress is very impressive.

Now that the weather is turning colder, the workbench is busier than ever. Some very nice guitars are coming together in our building sessions, and a couple of these guys are getting very ambitious with beautiful stained finishes. We get so far into it I forget to take pictures sometimes, but promise to mend my ways, so you all can see what we are getting up to. Check it out in the blog, and elsewhere on the site. Fun stuff!

Fall Jam Camps Kick Off With Cream’s “Crossroads”!

I hope everyone had a great summer, and for those who partake, I hope you logged a lot of guitar time, too.
My lesson studio is now above West Chester Music, and is a very nice space, though I still have plenty of unpacking to do. Moving was, as anyone who’s seen my studio knows, a LOT of work. Also I was able to set up the workbench and drill press for guitar building classes, and am happy to say there are several guitars that will be born on that bench this fall.

So, JAM CAMP! It’s Cream’s iconic Wheels of Fire performance of Crossroads this time. Sessions will be either Saturday or Sunday morning this week (the 13th or 14th), and Saturday the 20th. We’ll start at 11:15, and roll for our usual 75 minutes of plugged-in, cranked-up blues mayhem. There are six spots, three are spoken for, and more details in the Jam Camp section on this site. Lots of fun and plenty of playing, so sign up soon!

Fender of Japan HMT Acoustic-Electric Telecaster For Sale!

HMT frontHMT backHMT bridgeHMT LaceHMT neckplateHMT f-holeHMT peghead frontHmt peghead back
These were made for only a few years in the early to mid-nineties. There are two pickups: in the bridge there’s an undersaddle piezo, and in the neck position a magnetic Lace Sensor. The controls in order are volume, pickup blend, and a cool-and-crazy eq/filter control that dials in a very wide range of tones. The neck has a Strat-shaped headstock finished on the front in gloss black, with sealed black tuners. The nut is not original (I prefer bone) but I have the old one.

The top is solid spruce with beautiful grain and the semi-hollow body is mahogany. The neck is maple with a walnut(?) skunk stripe and a rosewood fingerboard. There is plenty of fret left, and they have been recently leveled and crowned, so there no divots or flat spots. The guitar plays cleanly with a nice low action.
The piezo is nice and clear without too much quack, and the Lace balances that with a smooth fullness. The active electronics run off a 9-volt battery and work perfectly.

Cosmetically you can see the guitar is in great shape. There are a few dings, very hard to photograph. The peghead face has some finish lifting in a few spots as you can see. The neckplate has lost most of its black plating, which seems to happen to all of these guitars. It’s weird, because it didn’t wear off; it’s more tarnished looking.

All in all a very cool, useful, and great-looking guitar, lightweight and fun to play. They seem to have gotten very scarce; as of today there are none on eBay, go figure. Interested? Questions? Need more details? Hit me up!

Guitar Building: A Walnut-Topped Tele

Figured, bookmatched walnut!

Figured, bookmatched walnut!

NICE!! My fellow guitar nut Andy and I put this guitar together in a solo building class. It has a gorgeous figured walnut top, and the rest of the body is a single piece of swamp ash. To set off the top, Andy decided to install gold hardware and not to use a pickguard. Pretty cool! Check out the stone accents on the control knobs.

Andy opted for a glossier finish on the top, for maximum grain pop, and the results speak for themselves. He did his own finishing work. At the same time I’ve been continuing to work on my mahogany Tele, and also opted for more gloss, for the same reason. Love that grain!

Of course, a pretty face doesn’t count for much if the guitar doesn’t also play and sound great. This one does not disappoint. The Clearfork Designs body and unfinished Allparts neck combination has always been predictable and reliable in the past, and this guitar came together and set up easily. The Joe Barden pickups are their usual sparkling and ferocious selves, and I like that. Dead quiet, too.

Other details: three-way selector switch, a NOS Sprague Black Beauty tone cap at .05 mfd, and the 22nd fret, for when you just gotta get a little higher. Andy’s got another cool guitar!