I’ve Moved To A New Location! Still In Beautiful West Chester, PA!

First, some eye candy! Needs a couple of finishing touches, but it came out PRETTY.

So, after many years of association with West Chester Music, I was offered an opportunity for more space, and the ability to separate my lesson studio from my workshop. The new location also has a parking lot, better access to the building, and no more stairs to climb!


I’m two blocks away on S. Matlack Street. I started teaching in the new studio on June 30, and it’s all rave reviews so far. My shop will be up and running in a week or so.

I’m easy to reach. Send me an e-mail at jayscottguitar@gmail.com, and I will get right back to you. Thanks! I’m a little excited.

Guitar Building: Alder Strat With Humbuckers, Part 2

This guitar sounded great unfinished, but the unsanded body was a little tough on my right arm, so…LOTS of sanding, two grain raises, MORE sanding, and plenty of RED stain seemed to be the next steps. This is the same red I used to dye my Bigsby Tele, but that body was pine, so I didn’t know how the alder would take it.

I laid dye on until I began to see the blotchiness (uh-oh) that you can see in the second photo above. I wasn’t sure what the Tru-Oil would do with that, but I trust its ability to clarify and deepen colors, so crossed my fingers and wiped on six coats. I like to apply two thin coats and then carefully scuff sand with 2000 grit sandpaper. Repeat until happy. I really like the color! Alder’s grain is generally unremarkable, but this looks good to me.

The Wilkinson VSVG is my favorite more-or-less vintage-style bridge, and the pickups are Voodoo ’59s from Peter Florance, the Mad Winder of Honesdale, PA! The pots are 500K, one volume and one tone, and the tuners are Gotoh locking tuners with the thumbscrews on the back. The neck is from Allparts, as you’ll see, and I made a nice bone nut for it.

I’ll post another photo for the big reveal, but this guitar came out really well. Plays and looks great, and sounds huge!

Guitar Building: Dyed And Tru-Oiled Boards

These are the maple (on top) and pine boards I wrote about recently. The sections on the far left are not dyed. Since the first post, I taped off the upper half of each section, and wiped on four thin coats of Tru-Oil, which is what I usually use as a topcoat. These boards do a good job of showing the famous T-O “grain pop”, and also the pale amber tone it adds. In the case of the blue dye, you can see how it takes on a greenish cast, while the purple goes a little brown. The unfinished, amber, orange, and red sections each got more intense.

I have built guitars using each of these colors, and the samples give you a pretty good idea of what to expect with these combinations of wood and materials. Check out the Homestead site for more colors and information: http://homesteadfinishingproducts.com/transtint-liquid-dyes/

Fun stuff, and great products!

Guitar Building: An Alder “Strat” With Humbuckers

This is a nice two-piece alder body, with some interesting figure, perfect weight, and very nice resonance. It acts like it wants to be a guitar! I wanted a Strat-style with two humbuckers and a traditional whammy, and I wanted try out Peter Florance’s Voodoo ’59 pickups.

First job was to rout the body with my little DeWalt router and one of the new, thicker (and much improved) Stew-Mac templates. I used the screw holes to secure the template, instead of two-sided tape. No problems here. I wanted short-leg baseplates on these pickups, and Peter hooked me up. I installed the Wilkinson VSVG bridge (my favorite) and put together the three-ply pick guard with just volume and tone controls. The neck got a set of Gotoh locking tuners with the thumbscrews, since these have been working very well on my Bigsby Tele.

The weather (this was early this year) wouldn’t let me sand outside, much less finish, and I had a feeling this guitar would sound really good. I decided to go ahead and assemble it with the rough, unsanded body and play it that way for awhile. You can see the result in the last photo, warts and all.

Sure enough, it sounds and plays great! I love Peter’s pickups in this guitar. They balance exceptionally well and sound beautiful and responsive in all three positions. The neck in particular has wonderful clarity and plenty of fullness without being boomy. Great sound from either pickup played through a clean amp or with any of my pedals. Big fun!

If you’ve seen my band Swamp Ash lately, you know this guitar has taken over the number one spot. I did eventually take it apart again and sand the body, dye it RED, and topcoat it with Tru-Oil. I’ll show you all that in the next builder post. Thanks for reading! Comments are always welcome.

Guitar Building: The Silky Oak Tele Is A Stunner!

The body is the star on this guitar! Not that the other parts aren’t great, but this Australian timber, called silky oak, is gorgeous stuff, and sounds good, too. The finish is just a few coats of Tru-Oil, with no grain filling or stain. We used Duncan vintage stack pickups, which do a very nice job of delivering Tele tone without the single-coil noise. You’re also looking at a Joe Barden bridge, always a good choice for the twang, and a flipped bridge plate for easy access to the volume control.

It’s another cool guitar, to be followed shortly by a Tasmanian blackwood Strat. These woods are new to me. This body is about five pounds, and I always feel I hear a different sound with a bit of extra weight. The tone is a little more pointed, and holds together really well with a lot of gain from the pedals and amp.

Guitar Building: Dye Samples on Two Kinds of Wood

Yesterday was beautiful outside, warm and not too windy, so I thought I’d work up these dye samples for a color comparison on curly maple (the top one) and clear pine. What you see here is two applications of each color, with no clear coat applied after. I use the Homestead liquid concentrate (also available from Stew-Mac under the Color Tone label), and dilute it with distilled water. My highly unscientific method is to mix the concentrate with the water until the solution is opaque against the sun, or a 100W lightbulb if I’m in the basement. It’s working OK so far. Using water instead of alcohol for dilution gives you more time to work with the color before it dries.

You see purple, blue, red, orange, amber, and the bare wood here. The first application soaked in and appeared too pale for my liking. After it dried, I wiped on a second coat and got the result in the photo. More coats can build up more color, or you can mix an even more concentrated solution if you want. I’ve used all these colors on my guitars, and these samples do a great job of showing you what to expect.

Pine tends to appear blotchy if you don’t spread the dye quickly. I like foam brushes for the job. With a little practice you’ll soak up enough dye to work with, and you can lay it on fast. The figure in the maple does what it wants, in a different way. I hadn’t dyed maple before, so was a little surprised by how it took the dye. I imagine that with practice you can “read” the figure and anticipate the result. I was having fun shooting in the dark here!

Alder, being naturally a very light brown, will still be browner (warmer) when dyed. And there’s a lot of color variety in different pieces of pine, which will also affect the result. I’m about to use the amber dye on a swamp ash Strat body, and expect the result will look pretty much like what you see here. For a really vivid example of how unpredictably the dye can interact with the wood and the Tru-Oil, check out my previous post on the blue humbucker Esquire. I love how it turned out, but it was a real surprise to me. Love those happy accidents.

My next step will be to divide the color blocks in half (they’re about 5″ by 4″) and apply 3 or 4 coats of Tru-Oil to one side, so that I can show you and my builders what it does to both the color and the appearance of the grain (the famous T-O “pop”). Stay tuned!

Guitar Building: Silky Oak Tele From Down Under!

One of my builders, a noted world traveler and raconteur, returned from a trip to Australia awhile back with two pieces of local timber. This one is called silky oak, and the Tele body he had made from it (a tip of the hat to Clearfork Designs) is really cool and unusual. This body has its Tru-Oil finish applied and rubbed out, and, as always, the grain is popping!

We’ll install Duncan Vintage Stack pickups with a standard wiring harness, likely on a flipped plate. An Allparts neck with a rosewood board and 22 hefty frets will follow, along with Gotoh vintage-style tuners and a bone nut. Probably a Joe Barden bridge, which always works well.

Meanwhile, the builder is off in Oz again, so we’re on hold at the moment, but this guitar should come together quickly. More to follow, and then on to a Tasmanian blackwood Strat! COOL.

2017 Updated Guitar Gallery

Since 2014, I’ve built several for myself, and helped many other people build their own instrument. Many options in wood, pickups, hardware, and finish are possible.

These guitars and basses come out sounding, playing, and looking great! It’s a simple formula: gather high-quality parts, and put them together patiently and properly. Follow with a great set-up, and you’re there.

If you’re at the Philly Guitar Show, stop by the Clearfork Designs booth and say hi to Larry. All of these guitars and basses were built on his bodies. Great stuff and highly recommended!

See you at the Guitar Show!

Guitar Building: Custom Obeche Tele!

This is the first guitar I put together on commission. The owner just wasn’t going to be able to come in for building sessions, so I agreed to take on the job on my own. We met at Larry Robinson’s booth at the 2016 Fall Philly Guitar Show, and picked out a cool obeche body with arm and belly cuts (by Larry), and then ordered a neck from USA Custom Guitars. He chose vintage-style Kluson tuners, a bone nut, a Gotoh bridge, Duncan Vintage Stack pickups, an Electrosocket for the Switchcraft jack, a matte black WD pickguard, RS pots, and various Fender parts to round it all out.

Obeche sands beautifully, but the edges of holes and routs can get crumbly, so that takes a little extra care. It is VERY soft and dents easily, so I had a few dings to steam out. We decided on a gloss Tru-Oil finish for the body, and that is always tricky. Thin layers and plenty of light sanding between coats gets you there, if you have the patience. The neck finish is satin, because that feels dry and fast, and doesn’t get sticky. The neck is USACG’s asymmetric EB carve, with a 12″ radius and 6105 frets. Very comfortable, and just like the neck I used for my red Bigsby Tele.

If you’ve read any of my previous building posts, you know my process. It’s simple: gather carefully-chosen, high-quality parts, and put them together well. This body is very light, a little over three pounds, and gave me a crisp, lively acoustic response. The guitar sustains very well, and has great Tele tone. Purists may point out that the Duncan Stacks can’t deliver 100% authentic single-coil tone, and they’re right. However, the acoustic tone we got makes that difference insignificant, and there’s no noise to deal with.

And the end result? A great playing and sounding guitar, in the hands of a very happy owner!

Guitar Building: Humbucker Esquire, Part 3!

And this one is done! It has a 22-fret Allparts Strat neck, with TonePros vintage-style tuners and a bone nut. It also has a Gotoh bridge and the world’s biggest volume knob, because the tone is perfect as is! The pickup is a Wagner Iron Man, which is pretty high output and loves to spray pick harmonics. It cleans up very well, too. Not a PAF sound but very playable, with nice, clear response over the full rotation of the volume knob.

Pine (the right piece, that is) can sound amazing. This guitar has loooonnggg acoustic sustain. When the amp kicks in, there’s much more than anyone could ever need. It’s balanced and aggressive, all at the same time. Really fun to play! Kinda one trick, but a very entertaining trick.

The shell pickguard is the same type as the one on the red Bigsby Tele. And don’t they look great side-by-side on stage? Not subtle, and not supposed to be. Sharp-eyed readers will notice the small button on the control plate. It’s a KILLSWITCH, baby, ’cause everybody needs one sometime! FUN.