Three sets of lessons to learn

Explorer, Firebird, and 335

Finally finished the triplets. On another note, two of the banjo style are also done but I’m waiting on some hardware for two of them.

But regarding these three, I’m quite happy with them. There are, of course, some issues that I’ll have to address in future builds, but all three play nicely, and sound good. The Blue one, as you might guess from the size of the sound box, is the quietest of the three. The green one is the loudest. the Red is by far the most comfortable. The problem I notice with the more angular variety is the giant pointy lower bout tends to lever under your arm, so unless you stick your elbow way out forward, your arm tends to cause the body to want to lean back towards your body. There’s an added reason explorer shaped electric guitars tend to be slung relatively low…

Some major points in retrospect. I need to assemble the ribs (sides) much more meticulously. they were a little warped going into assembly and when I tried to ‘sand’ the problems away, the walls got very thin. you can se a lot of light through a couple of spots on the red one and the green one.

The binding was an issue. Two things I need to do in order to do a better job with binding. First, do a better job matching the binding thickness to the router bit. Second, do a better job pre-bending the binding. Third, do a better job with the binding joinery. I think if I’m careful, I should be able to make the joints disappear.

Also, if I bind the body, I should bind the fingerboards too.

Neck joints. I did a much better job getting the dovetail to fit, but there’s still work to be done.

Necks could still be a little thinner. The 335 especially could use a bit taken off, if only in the interests of balance. Because the neck is so long relative to the body, and the tuners are not the carbon fiber ‘tuna-a-lele’s, if I wore a strap, the headstock would just dive to the floor, the horns of the body are not quite long enough to move the balance point.

That said, the proportions could use some consideration, I think the body for the firebird and 335 could stand to be a bit larger in proportion to the neck.

Fingerboard/neck attachment. Because of the dying, I did the work on the fingerboard and neck separately. As a result, the join between them isn’t as seamless as I would like. Mostly that was because I was worried (justifiably) about the dyes running as I applied the shellac. I think that is less of a problem if I let the shellac set for a day or two after putting on the seal coat. I had lot less bleeding than I did with the earlier attempts.

On the plus sides, the registration pins for the fretboards really worked well, the dye jobs worked much better this time. I have high confidence in my ability to sunburst finishes in the future. The French polish on the firebird, (the blue one) really came out well. Finally think I’ve got a handle on the use of the pumice and mineral oil in the process. I’ll have to do a separate post on that subject.

In the end, the biggest lesson learned is about the inadvisability of trying to make too many simultaneously. If I were better at it, it wouldn’t be a particular problem, but as a relative beginner, it’s a mistake. The issue is more or less the subject of this post. Mistakes. when you work simultaneously on several things, by the time you’ve realized a mistake, you’ve made it 3 (or more) times. I think I need a bit more practice before I attempt ‘bulk manufacturing’ again…

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