The Weybach Buckhead
Hey folks! This is a special build for me since it is a guitar of my own design. I wanted to experiment a little bit and build something unique. Because the guitar is more fancy than the typical workhorse I build, I decided to call it the Weybach Buckhead. It is named after Atlanta’s ritzy neighborhood.
When I started the process I had a few things on my wish list for this model. I wanted it to be…
- Light weight,
- Classic Look and feel
- Have a Tuneomatic Bridge
- Bookmatched Figured Top
- P-90 soapbars
The concept started coming together after getting a really great piece of flamed maple from Carleton Mclendons Rare Woods and Veneers. In order to lay out the components and scale, the body is drafted in sketch up and printed out on my wide format printer. It can print 13″ wide which is the width of my planer, and most solidbody electrics. The printer has already paid for itself since I don’t have to print blueprints at staples.
I use forstner bits to drill the corners of the pickup cavities where an exact radius is called for. Then I connect the holes on the scroll saw. In order to plan ahead, I lay out the hardware on the templates and make sure everything fits well. I decided on mahogany for the body, which will have a beautiful grain.
I didn’t take photos of the initial fabrication steps but I have covered them in other articles. The mahogany is rough cut on the bandsaw, run through the thickness planer, and trimmed with the template on the router table. These templates were designed to have a control plate on the front, but I don’t want to cover the flamed maple. I decided to do a chambered body, so I left some wood for the control plate to screw into. There are not any chambers on the left side because there will be a belly relief there.
With the body routed out I was ready to bookmatch this nice piece of flamed maple. Then I get a straight edge on the board to prepare the bookmatch using the router table as a jointer. Getting it perfect is critical for getting an invisible glue line.
Then I ripped the piece vertically on the bandsaw so you can open it like a book. This way the grain is closely matched on both sides. You can see I used a boat load of clamps when gluing the two sides together.
The body is rough cut on the band saw and glued to the body. I used the router table to cut the maple flush to the mahogany. Then I flipped my template over and decided to route the control cavity access on the back. The top is too good looking to put a chrome plate on it. I routed a countersink around the control cavity using my rabbeting bit that I use for binding. This way the cover plate will sit flush with the back.
I routed the neck pocket and soapbar cavities followed by the binding channel. Then I glue the binding on using an acetone/plastic solution that melts the binding into the wood. The tape holds it in place.
I bought an angle grinder and flap disc to do the belly contour on the back. The speed and control of this approach is good, but the dust is a pain. I was using a belt sander before. I test the fit of the hardware to see how it would look.
Spraying Some Finish
My order of operations changed a little here. The body gets sprayed with sanding sealer. I can do this without going to war with dust in the shop since the sealer is almost all sanded off. The flamed maple starts to pop.
I started the neck which I decided to make out of mahogany like the body. I had the pleasure of sharpening up my hand plane to flatten the neck blank. You can’t just run it through the thickness planer because the feeders will bend the wood flat before removing 1/32″ or 1/16″ off the top. So you need a flat level board before you can run it through. I built a nifty clamp rack after buying a bunch of wood and reorganizing my storage.
Starting the Sunburst
Here is the mahogany after grain filling and re-sealing. The grain filler I used was Famowood natural color from Highland Woodworking (highlandwoodworking.com). They are big into mail order but since they are local I don’t have to wait 🙂
I also got the brown transtint dye from them. The yellow is “vintage amber” from stewmac.com and the brown is “mahogany”
The color I was going for was sort of like an iced tea burst. The photos look a little more reddish than it looks in person. I scraped the binding with a razor blade to get the brown finish off. The body sat in limbo till I could get truss rods and the neck built.
I picked up where I left off the neck by routing the truss rod channel and drilling the holes for the anchors. Then I installed the quartersawn maple skunk stripe to hold down the rod. It is quartersawn for strength and rigidity.
I made a little vine type video of the skunk stripe being trimmed down with a hand plane. Then I glued the brazilian rosewood fretboard on. Luckily a guy in town has some stock that they imported before it was banned.
With the plane sharpened and set up well the shavings are thousands of an inch thin.
I also started a neck for nick at soundspace. They teach music lessons here at the goat farm. He is a great guy if you are thinking about learning guitar, or brushing up on a new technique.
His neck will be a flipped headstock, rosewood fretboard, custom profile replacement for his Marauder offset. He wanted a neck that had a profile like his Gibson Explorer and a 9.5 radius, instead of the typical 7.25. I used this moulding profile taker to get an accurate profile of his Gibson at the 1st and 12th frets.
I spent a few days reworking my neck shaping jig to operate more smoothly. Then I took off the wheels and had the jig sliding in a track which was more stable and accurate. I decided to redo the math in excel for the pucks that dictate the shape of the neck, then I made pucks to match Nicks Gibson neck. Also, I changed the cutter in the jig to a “bowl and tray bit” to reduce tooling marks. The necks on the left are test necks from 2×4 construction lumber, which will be thrown out. Then I cut the shape into the mahogany neck.
I shaped the neck transitions with my trusty rasp. Then I use a radius sanding block on the fretboard. This is next on my list for process improvement. I will eventually employ a belt sander with a swing arm jig, which will save a ton of time.
Then I cut fret slots with this trusty jig. I made a template for fret dots to speed this up a little bit.
I used the vintage style clay dots. The brazilian fretboard looks beautiful.
I pressed in the frets and trim the sides. Then they are beveled and filed.
Before applying finish to the necks I need to fill the holes from the templates. Here is a little video of a piece of maple being sanded down into a round dowel to fill the hole. I have used paste in the past and I think this will work better.
I grain fill the mahogany neck before finishing. I dyed the filler black to match the pits in the mahogany. Then i sanded the neck again and sprayed with sanding sealer.
In order to check the necks alignment, I clamp it in place and use strings to check the bridge location. I will update this post again after lacquer is cured and assembly is done. Thanks!
Finished Build Update
Update 6/28/16- I had to use a regular stop bar tailpiece. The trapeze tailpiece did not really work right with the tuneomatic. I installed the pickups, switch, and pots by making a template for the holes and attaching it to the body template.
I wound the soapbars with 10k turns each which gave them output of about 9.5k ohms. The finish buffed out nicely.
The weight came in at roughly 6.6 lbs and feels nice and light. I have a few little things left like fabricating a back plate, adjusting the pickup height, fret leveling, and a setup. I’ll do a video playing it sometime soon.
Thanks for reading!