Jay Scott Guitar

Private guitar and bass lessons, jam camps, guitar building and repairs in West Chester, PA

What My Builders Are Up To, 1/24/2015

This session had a whole lotta WOW going on! The guitar is a Tele Thinline-style, with an amazing bookmatched figured redwood top, from Clearfork Designs. The builder got the idea of routing the control compartment to create a lip that would support a custom control plate cut from a piece of tortoise pick guard material. He couldn’t imagine covering the beautiful top with the normal huge guard that you see on Thinlines. This is his solution, and I think it looks fantastic. The gold hardware looks killer, and the whole guitar is going to be a knockout. It will play and sound great, too.

The fretless bass has a body of lightweight obeche, which finishes beautifully with Tru-Oil, our old standby. I used the same wood for my bass, but rubbed it out to a satin gloss. This builder went for a higher gloss, and she got it. It’s really nice! There are two coats of the same finish on the fingerboard to seal it a bit, and all the other parts and hardware are black.

So, this bass is the most visually-designed of all the projects I’ve seen since I started the building classes a year ago. And there are always problems to solve. In this case, except for offering a bit of advice along the way, I had the pleasure of sitting back and watching it come together.

The neck is a modern Precision bass neck, and that has a rounded heel, like a Strat. The body is a ’51 Precision bass type, and true to its Tele heritage, it has a squared neck pocket. The neck fits perfectly, after a bit of sanding along the sides of the heel, and sanding the flat of the heel so it doesn’t sit up too high. But there are gaps where the corners of the neck heel don’t touch the end of the pocket, and it doesn’t look great that way.

Her solution was to design and hand-cut a piece of matte black plastic to fit around the heel of the neck and cover the gaps. It does that, and much more. She also didn’t want a huge pick guard, and the stock model for this body is enormous (check out mine). So she designed and cut a pickup ring from the same material, and then knocked out a perfect control plate for good measure. She does great work!

We got the nuts on both instruments fitted and rough-slotted, the necks aligned, screw holes drilled, and screws and neck plates installed. They look like instruments now, and not just piles of nice parts. We still need to build the wiring harnesses, install the pickups, and get the nuts done before we can set everything up, but the end is in sight.

So, let me make it clear: this beautiful and VERY well-executed routing, cutting, and design work was all done by the builders! I wish I could take credit, and I was able to offer some helpful advice, in addition to, as usual, making sure everything would work right. But they did the tricky stuff and had the vision, and deserve all the credit for imagining these instruments and making them happen. SALUTE!