Finally it is nearly finished!!!!!
I started this project about 3 years ago. After much work, **** ups, hold ups, the birth of a child and 2 career changes I am nearing the end. I have mentioned this project in a few threads, particularly in discussions about tomewood and I feel that at this stage it has answered some questions that I had, and it is worth sharing. If you can't be bothered to read it all then just skip to the conclusion at the end
Body: Paduak;2 piece, danish oil finish, that's it.
Neck: RG 470L modified to fit right handed body (this was previously used on my swirl custom (search for rg swirl custom, it's here somewhere), so 24 fret etc etc. The neck has been scalloped from 13-24.
Bridge: Schaller FR 2
PU: Neck - Evo; Bridge - SD Dimebucker. The switching is very simple with only one pu working at a time.
Other stuff: One volume knob (skull shaped), no tone, pu switching is a tap control on the volme knob (not push pull).
I have had customs built before, but this time I wanted to do the building. I wanted to make the body and neck, although due to time constraints I have just built the body, with considerable help from Steve (see below) without whom the guitar would have been a total failure.
The more guitars I buy and build, I realise that really we are forced into a lot of compromises. You never know what a tonewood will sound like until you try it, and after reading much discussion (mostly on Jemsite) I decided that I wanted to try and build something with no compromise (or less anyway!) .........I wanted to build something that had a tone I was totally happy with. I didn't want the flappy bottom end of mahogany/maple and I certainly didn't want the shrillness of other woods (this is a broad generalisation of all the threads I have read, please don't flame me).
I settled on Paduak. Principally because I read somewhere on Jemsite that it has the tone of the gods, partly because Nuno Bettencourt plays them, and also because you can't buy it off the shelf and you ought to expand your horizons, particularly when doing something new.
Once I realised that I didn't have time or expertise enough to finish a neck at present I decided to fit the best neck I had (which I was basing the hand built neck on anyway, and so I was sure it would fit the body). All customs should be reverse headstock as well.
I pretty much use Schaller bridges on all my customs because they are good and they are available. I don't really need any more reason than that.
The electronics were born out of several discussions with my guitar tech. I chose the Evo neck because I really like the transparency and volume and I wanted to put in something I knew and liked already, and that many people could reference. I chose the Dime bag because it is basically the same specs as a Bill Lawrence L500xl, and I couldn't get one of those easily. We decided to go without a tone control to try and keep the electronics as clean and pure as possible. We selected the tap switch on the volume pot because I like the idea of push/pull put I thought it would be easier to just to slap the thing and have it change the pu rather than pull or select from a concentional toggle switch. Once we decided on one volume pot and a tap switch, then we couldn't do much else other than a H/H switching configuration. Plus it is just more metal that way, and I have 14 guitars, so I got plenty of PU combinations at home already. I actually like the simplicity, I really do.
Body blanks were glued and then rough shaping was done with a bandsaw. The body was then "thicknessed" using a belt sander. More sanding was done with an orbital, and by hand.
At this point the glue line started to split in a couple of places and it had to be reclamped (this is where you see the first pics in the link I posted)
Profiling was done mostly by hand. I then got a "robo-sander" to do the edges of the body and also some of the extra profiling around the neck joint and cutaways. I did the initial routing for the neck and trem, but made a pigs ear of the later and handed the rest of the routing over to Steve Wright at PJ's guitar centre in Portsmouth (UK). I have mentioned before that Steve is fantastic, and he did not disappoint this time either.
The guitar came back to me for the finish and was then returned to Steve to finish the build. To be honest I applied way too much oil, and really feel the the finish is pretty poor. That is where we are with the last of the picutres in the link.
Unfortunately the glue line started to move again in the same place and the guitar had to be stripped down and re-glued. This time I removed all the finish and sanded back to bare wood, then carefully applied a very sparing amount of oil. It looks fantastic and is due to go into the shop for a rebuild this weekend.
Watch this space for new pics. It looks about 10 times better with the new finish!
I can honestly say that I have never played a guitar that sounds this good. It actually makes me sound better. The heavy dense wood controls the excesses of the PU's and allows them to give their true voice without becoming too shrill or too flabby. The really surprising thing is just how good the clean sound is. It is clear and full of a richness that is unusual to find in a bolt on neck guitar. Distorted, it is powerful yet focused. It is not over the top at all. It screams rather than squeals! Take that into account with the clarity from those pickups and the tone of the wood, and that really is an unbeatable combination. My only slight concern is that the Evo is a bit dark, but that is what they sound like in any body.
It plays great. I can, for the first time, get ZW like forced harmonics. We have all played Ibanez neck so I needn't belabour that to much, but scalloping really helps you get hold of the string and ring the note out.
I love it, but it isn't a WOW guitar, more somethingto look at and appreciate how it changes in different lighting. Revese headstock and skulll knob make it transcend cool.
I am happy I built it, I would build another (the wood is truly horrible to work with so that does mean something). I would sell most of my other guitars after playing this, and I wouldn't sell this to anyone else. That is all I can say.