Jim's Guitar Building Page

Front of guitar. This is my first home built electric guitar.  I wanted a high probability of success so I opted to buy a completed neck from Stewart MacDonald's.  Maybe next time I'll build my own.  The body is a single piece of mahogany which I found in a local exotic wood shop for $25.  The fretboard is rosewood.  The bridge pickup is a Seymour Duncan JB model.  The neck is a Seymour Duncan Jazz model.
The body is finished with Tru-Oil gunstock finish which is a polymerized linseed oil.   It cures hard and can be built up into a thick finish, unlike raw or boiled linseed oil.   I applied it with a paper towel.  About 5 coats with 0000 steel wool in between every other coat.  Took about half of a 3 oz bottle.  Total cost of finish.....$3.00.  Cha-Ching!
I was afraid that the guitar would be especially "dark" sounding due to what I've read about mahogany and rosewood, but it turns out it's not. It sure is fun playing a guitar you made yourself!
Weight - 8.8 lbs.
Rear of guitar.

I've included a close-up of the string ferrules as this part gave me a lot of trouble.   I ended up doing the inlay to cover up the first attempt.   Just had to show that I did finally get it right.

String ferrules.

Bass Guitar

One year later I built a bass guitar.  This one is made from Ash.   Not swamp ash, just ash.  Probably the kind a baseball bat would be made of.  The color is Minwax Accents Stain, Hunter Green.  I think it may be more of a dye than a stain, maybe a mixture of the two.  There was no clumpy substance in the can that needed to be mixed in.  Anyway, it was very easy to get a light even color but a bit more difficult to get it dark and even.  I persisted and it turned out ok.   This one is also covered with Tru-Oil.  4 or 5 coats.  Nice and shiny although I didn't bother with filling the pores.  Doesn't matter though because it looks just fine.  Neck by Carvin.  Still haven't wanted to tackle a neck.  The pickups are Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounders with a blend pot.  The bass sounds great through my Nemesis NC210 combo.
Equipment Update! It sounds even better through my Eden WT550 Traveler paired with an Eden 410xlt.
Weight - 9.8 lbs.

Front of bass.

2nd Bass Guitar

My second bass is pictured below - completed in December of 2001.   This one is also made of Ash.   It's a bit lighter than the 4 string (thank goodness!).   The neck is from an Ibanez SR-405 which someone let fall over.   The truss rod popped through the back of the neck near the headstock, so they bought a new one.   I was granted ownership of the broken neck - which I repaired and set on the shelf for a couple of years while I got up the courage to actually use it.   Anyway - I left this one natural colored, the finish is again Tru-Oil, purchased from the local Walmart.   On my previous bass and guitar I just did a few coats and didn't bother to fill the pores fully.   This created a problem on the bass - because my right hand thumbnail tended to get into wood a bit and was removing the finish and color, leaving exposed bits of wood.  On this bass I used several coats in order to fill the pores on the front completely.   Leveling the suface after each coat of finish has left a mirror smooth finish.   Thin coats of Tru-0il - let them dry fully - and a nice finish you will have.
I couldn't really find passive pickups with pole pieces that would line up with the strings on this bass - so I went with the Active Soap Bar pickups from Seymour Duncan.  I was initially unhappy with the sound of the bass - I was getting an annoying "thump" type of sound, especially on the A string.   I finally figured out that it was my finger striking the open E string after plucking the A string that was causing the "thump" sound.  I didn't have that problem on a four string bass, since my thumb would be resting on the E string in that situation.  The problem was solved by restringing the bass with a high C string instead of the low B.  Now I can play a somewhat annoying version of Blackbird.  :)
Weight - 9.2 lbs.
Front of bass.

Update on the blonde 5 string: I was never really happy with the neck on this bass.  The string spacing was too narrow for my taste, and my neck repair was slowly failing.  Over time the constant stress on the neck was causing the repair to slowly creep apart.  I repaired it a couple of times before I gave up on it.  I think the problem was that I used epoxy instead of standard wood glue.  After the last repair I pulled all the frets and made it a fretless bass, since I had always wanted a fretless anyway.  After the novelty of that wore off I decided the only way I was going to ever use this bass was if I replaced the neck with a wider one.  Fast forward a few more years.
I finally got up the courage to build a neck.  First I bought the pre-slotted Bocote wood fingerboard.  Then I let it sit in my basement for a couple of years before stumbling upon some Maple at the local lumberyard.  It's probably not the right kind of Maple, but the price was such that I wasn't going to feel bad if I ruined it.  As it happens, the neck turned out quite well.  I "completed" the neck 3 times before I got it down to a reasonable thickness.

Feel free to e-mail me with any questions or comments.

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