Archive | May, 2013

Ecological Jazz Guitar – Part 5 – The Neck

31 May


The adjustable truss rod is placed in the groove in the neck.  This is used to adjust the bow of the neck when the tension from the strings  pull it forward.


A piece of sycamore veneer is placed over the truss rod. This will stop the truss rod getting covered in glue when the fingerboard is glued on as that might limit its movement and clog up its moving parts.


This is to be a three part neck. The first part is the cherry wood of the neck. On top of that is an angled piece of maple to give the fingerboard  and strings greater clearance of the arched soundboard. The fingerboard will be glued on top of the maple. Pictured above is the maple being glued onto the neck.


Maple glued in place. Later on I’ll put a cover over the end of the truss rod. This will be attached with screws to make it accessible.


Now for the fingerboard itself. This is made from local Sesam wood, which is a type of Rosewood that grows here in Galilee. In this picture I’ve marked out the fret positions using a ruler and am sawing the slots with a Japanese saw.


Here the neck has been cut to the right width and is now being planed to the right thickness. This cherry wood is very hard. It’s a lot of work with this little block plane.


Carving the neck profile with a spokeshave. This is the only part of guitar making where I get to sit down.


The final shaping of the neck is done with a cabinet scraper. It makes very fine shavings.


The finished neck.



cherry wood, maple, rosewood


Ecological Jazz Guitar – Part 4. Bindings

22 May

006 - Copy

Glueing Sycamore veneers for the purflings (the black and white stripes around the edges) and local Sesam wood for the bindings.

008 - Copy

Cutting the grooves for purfling and binding.

009 - Copy

After the purflings have been glued in, the bindings are bent to shape, ready to be fitted in the groove.

013 - Copy

When it’s all glued in place, the whole body is then scraped and sanded smooth. Here it is with a coat of Danish Oil, prior to the shellac.

016 - Copy



Ecological Jazz Guitar, Part 3 – Assembly

7 May

After a damp and humid April, along with lengthy deliberations about the revolutionary, innovative, electric scratch-plate design that this guitar will feature – came a very dry spell of weather. Perfect for assembling guitars.

Once the soundboard had been braced and the back and sides had been thicknessed to around two and a half  millimetres, the last thing to make were the linings. The bits that hold it all together. For this I used an old plank of hardwood, picked up in Jerusalem. Probably birch wood. Here is my fascinating photo journal of how I turned an old, discarded plank of wood into an integral part of a guitar:

hardwood plank

1.(above) The plank.

planing off the varnish

2.Planing the varnish off the plank.

cutting with elecrical saw

3.Cutting the plank into strips with an elecrical saw.


contouring the strip

4.Contouring the strips.

finsished precut lining strip

A contoured strip.

sawing slots in the lining

5.Sawing slots in the strips.

guitar linings

handmade guitar linings

Finished linings.

child labour

6.Getting unpaid child labour to collect the wood-dust in a plastic bottle by letting her believe it to be fairy dust. I’m not sure if that’s ecological or ethical.


Now that I had all of the parts of the guitar ready to assemble, and a nice clean workshop, it was time to assemble the guitar. Here’s how I did that:

Assembling the guitar

1.Glue the neck to the soundboard. That’s the Spanish way. If  I did it the American way I’d make the body and the neck completely separately and then slot them together when they’re both finished. One advantage of the American way is that it’s easier to take the neck off if the joint breaks. The advantage of the Spanish way is that the joint is very unlikely to break as the whole guitar is essentially one piece.

reinforcing the sides

2.Reinforcing the sides with Western Red Cedar offcuts from a previous guitar.

I’m sorry I didn’t put any pictures of me bending the sides. I suppose I should have done as it is the greatest mystery of guitar making – the thing  people always ask about. The main reason I wanted to learn how to make guitars, in fact, was just to know how they bend the sides. I’ll put a bit about it on my Frequently Asked Questions page when I next get round to making another exciting photo-diary.

linings all attached

3.Linings all glued on.

making the soundport

4.Sound-port cut out.

quality control

Quality control inspector takes a sniff around.

guitar ready for the back

Guitar gets stamp of approval.

carving the back bars

5. Carving the back-bars from a piece of Sycamore, coppiced in Sherwood forest, England 2003.

back bars

This will give the back its arched contour.

back bars

This pieces was then cut into three on the electrical saw.

glueing the back bars

6. Glueing on the back bars. The centre strip is local Cypress wood from Galilee.

back ready to be attached

Back ready to be glued on.

glueing on the guitar's back

7. Glueing on the back.

assembled guitar

Assembled guitar.

guitar back

g weigert guitars