Towards the end of last year, I decided I’d like to have a go at making the next step from modding guitars to making them.
Logically, a kit seemed the way to go and as PRS didn’t do an affordable model that I liked, I went for a custom 24 style kit with the intention of modifying it to suit what I was after.
My intention is to get some experience carving, staining and oiling the wood during this process (and possibly some burning, we’ll see).
As this was my first kit build, I purposely went for a reasonably cheap kit. All of the hardware and electronics were pretty poor, the nut is awful and there is no backplate.
So, first step was to bin what I didn’t need and take a photo:
You may be able to see some of the pencil marks from my planning for extending the cutaway and shaping the headstock.
I’ll be using my favourite open gear Hipshot tuners in black, a black Hipshot tone-a-matic bridge, Tusq nut, Bare Knuckle pickups (yet to finalise what I’m going for there) and a fairly standard wiring setup including a killswitch from Iron Age Guitar Accessories.
Carving and Shaping
Watching a lot of YouTube videos, it seemed that a spindle sander would make things easier, so I grabbed one from Triton and got to work. Unless stated otherwise, various 80 grit cylinders were used.
After experimenting with shapes using a pencil, it was time to shape.
I found while shaping that an implied, more organic shape seemed to come out of the wood, so I ran with it, which is why you can still see the pencil marks in the after photo:
I had initially intended to shape in the sides and may still do that once I have the tuners, but felt for the moment I’d like to keep some material back, just in case.
This is the stage I’m at now.
Shaping the body has been a bit more of an undertaking.
I started with increasing the cutaway depth using the spindle sander:
Next I started adding the chamfer, which I rounded with some 60 grit sandpaper afterwards for comfort:
To do this, I offered the guitar up to the spindle sander at an angle and removed the material gradually that way.
I decided to repeat this on the back of the guitar in the same way, eventually rolling the guitar to get a smooth curve, finishing off with 60 grit sandpaper:
Quick shot after shaping (showing the shaping for the cutaway and upper horn):
And from the top:
Next I added an extra hole for the kill switch:
The method I went for does have the drawback of being very easy to carve where you don’t want to. The lower horn had to be reshaped a few times and I came very close to the neck pocket at one stage, but it seems ok for now (we’ll see once it’s assembled).
Next I “cleaned up” the control cavity as much as I dared with the forstner bit:
Next I started marking the tummy and arm cuts out with a truly awesome 2B mechanical pencil (I am in no way affiliated with the company, but I thought it worth sharing): http://amzn.eu/6CeYJrg
Next I’ll be getting the courage up to get carving. There’s something to look forward to!