Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Baritone Body - Project Overview

This is my first project. My task was to build a new body to use w/ a Warmoth baritone neck that I originally had on a MiM Fender Telecaster. The pickups are Mighty Mite p90s, which I can turn on and off w/ push/pull pots. Another push/pull pot allows me to switch the guitar into stereo.

Here are the posts, in chronological order:

Baritone Body

The Most Unsmoothest Cut
Rough Cuts on the Templates
Some Sanding
Neck Pocketing
The Pickups
Further Neck Pocketing
Routing--Stage One
Routing--Stage Two
Routing--Stage Three
Finishing the Templates (Finally)
Routing--Stage Four
Four Holes in the Neck
Neck Holes, Bridge Holes and Jack Holes Too
The Hall of Shame
Stained and Confused
A Less Painful Stain
Staining Update
Stained, Not Cleared.
Harnessing Up - Part One
Force Shields
Harnessing Up - Part Two
I'd Be Finished If I Didn't Screw Everything Up
The Flood and the Fixes
The Un-Baritone Body

Overall, I count the project as a success. Definitely a first attempt but none of the errors I made make it any less fun to play and I'm assuming they have at most a minimum impact on the sound. Nevertheless, here is what I will do differently next time:

  • Make a better template for the neck pocket. Just gotta be a little more patient. I spent plenty of time on this one but I rushed it.
  • Make templates for individual parts--one for the neck pocket, one for the pickup, one for the control cavity, etc.. Goes right along w/ the first one. These things take a long time to build so it will be nice to have ones for, say, p90s that aren't part of the guitar template so I don't have to be ever remaking them.
  • Not use the one step stain and finish. I will spend more time finding the right color of stain. The combo stain/finish was really hard to deal w/ on a guitar while the wipe-on finish applied like a dream.
  • Be more careful w/ the control cavity spacing. Seriously. This one was so tight it makes working on it miserable. I will also probably use thinner hookup wire. The stuff I was using was overkill and made my life even harder. The stuff didn't want to bend into place at all.
And here is what I intend to improve in the future as I find time to make the changes (and since I'm happy w/ how it turned out and thus am willing to sink a little more money in it):

  • Redo wiring to include a pickup selector switch. I will tell you what, those push/pull pots seemed like a nice clean design but they are pretty much impossible to switch on the fly.
  • New pickups. These Tonerider p90s look freakin' rad. I'm pretty excited to get these ones in, actually.
  • Probably shim the edges of the neck pocket just to get a little better stability. (It's not a problem really but it never hurts to try an improvement.)
I will, of course, keep you all updated of my progress.


As you may have seen in the Un-Baritone Body post, I have changed the neck to a cheaper one simply because I thought I could do better. I still may fix it up but as of now, I'm not wasting any money w/ new pickups even though I still really want to try those Toneriders.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Flood and the Fixes

Excuse my lack of posts lately. I got sidetracked due to flooding in my apartment. Some say it was an act of God. I don't know about all that but I can say whoever flooded my appartment can go fuck themselves. Here's a look at some of my tools to give you an idea of what I've been dealing w/:

Oh yeah--good times. I got it all squared away down here to the point where it's actually cleaner than when I started (which wasn't all that clean, admittedly) so I'm finally getting to finishing this project up.

The first step to moving the bridge over is filling the old holes, which is pretty simple. I first drilled them out a bit w/ a hand drill and then I glued some dowels in there w/ wood glue (I just used Titebond; I'm not sure it's the best but that's what I used):

I trimmed of the excess w/ a pair of end cutters:

I then used a grinder bit w/ my dremel to get them down as close to flush as possible. Placing the bridge in approximately the same place as it would be going, I saw that this whole repair would be covered by the bridge so I didn't bother touching up the finish. Maybe I should have but I didn't:

At this point, I redrilled the holes using the same method I drilled them w/ the first time (piece of tape as a depth guide on a hand drill). The "careful measurement" method failed me the first time so this time I used the "eyeballin' it" method to place the bridge. Worked a lot better in this case but I'm gonna figure out how to do it the right way in the future.

Before I put the bridge on, I took the chance to replace the screws I had the p90s in w/ ones of the proper length. It looks much better now:

Then it was just a matter of screwing the bridge on, stringing it up and making some slight adjustments to saddle height and intonation to get it playing well. Looks better than ever:

Getting the bridge pickups at the right height made a huge difference in tone. This thing sounds pretty great even w/ the cheapo twenty dollar pickups so I must've done something right. In the next couple days, I'm gonna take this out in the yard and get some nicer pictures of it and also try to do some sort of summary of the whole project. Until then, I think I'm just gonna enjoy it.