25 October 2012

Custom Battle Axe Guitar

Almost a year later! This is now my one and only guitar. Having sold my Ibanez RG370DX, this one has stood the test of time much more than I had expected...

It's important to note that guitar building is a VERY intricate craft. There are so many tools, few of which I own, and techniques to follow that I have little experience with.

I actually had to built this guitar twice after the first one buckled and broke in half when strung. It was poorly designed and far too thin.

The guitar was designed as a one piece design as what would usually be refereed to as a glued neck. I look it a step further by making it out of one single piece of wood. Specifically, American white Ashwood. The design also featured an even more back to front design with tuning at the bottom of the guitar. Something refereed to as headless guitars. The body, rather than being made of solid wood would be narrow and have almost a skeletal structure, with a metal side to rest the guitar while playing and hold the electronics . This of course had to be a fixed bridge design, adding a Floyd Rose style tremolo bar would have been a complicated feat.

All the dimensions are taken from my old Ibanez. That goes for general size, neck width, depth, pickup placement, ect...

Actually it started as three pieces of material that was glued together before being fully carved out...

Lots of glue and clamps were used. I only had 5 clamps, turns out that isn't enough! I still had gaps so I added a few screws for good measure...

Wood filler came to the rescue for covering up the screw holes later...

The bar running under the fret board is the screw rod. It's seldom or never used but can compensate from neck curvature over time. Care must be taken getting it dead centre else the tension could cause the neck to twist when tightened.

The fretboard measurements and curvatures where found online. There are many different kinds of fret board radius. I went with the same style as my Ibanez, The dimensions found on the Ibanez website showed flat near the top and curved near the bottom.

I used some plastic inlays that where hammered and super glued into very tightly drilled holes. Once sanded, these looked seamless!

Lots and lots and lots and lots..... and lots of cutting, filing and sanding later, I went ahead and cut out the fret slots. After hammering the frets, I filled the edges and then went ahead to level the frets.

This involves a long process of using a long and precise flat file, and grinding up and down then neck to get every fret at uniform hight with it's adjacent fret. Once done, each fret has to be rounded, using another special curved file.

Once the frets are a good shape, and the strings don't buzz or interfere with adjacent frets, each one can be fine grit sanded and polished. After that it was a case of finishing the wood and adding all the hardware. I used Danish oil...

For the battle axe part of the guitar I cut a large bit of 6mm aluminium plate into a battle axe shape and screwed it on. The electronics is left open backed at the moment but I plan to clean it up with cable braid and a laser cut plate (at some point...)

Here's the finished build. The guitar is very light. though has a slightly awkward balance meaning you have to hold it slightly differently. It is however quiet easy to play and very enjoyable.

1 comment:

  1. I like your design and I have made a similar headless, two-boards laminated design myself. Your integrated neck is much more ambitious than my design, which had the neck bolted to the lower board, and a "pocket" cut-out of the upper board. Your pickups intrigue me and I was wondering if they are made by you, or if they are an off-the-self product? I would have liked to see some detail on your string anchoring-system, if it is self-made. Good work!