Lil 58 Build – Neck Work
The Lil 58 carved top build is in the final throws of woodwork. With the body nearly complete, focus turns to the neck. I use a unique neck joint on my set neck guitars, developed a few years ago, which I think offers great tonal advantages over a typical set neck joint.
Using a template and bearing guided cutter to route the headstock shape.
With the Lil 58 headstock shape cut out, the machinehead holes are marked and drilled with the pillar drill. Holes are drilled slightly oversize to allow for lacquer settling in the holes during the finishing process.
Drilling the holes for the tuners with the pillar drill.
The neck blank has already been cut to width and the neck/body joint made, there’s some jiggery pokery that goes on to make the joint work far beyond a traditional set neck joint. The joint at this stage is dry, I can fit, or remove the neck as necessary without resorting to the use of clamps. This allows me to completely finish the neck on and off the body before finally gluing it in place. With the neck attached to the body I glue on an ebony heel cap.
Gluing the ebony heel cap in place.
The wax paper seen in the picture prevents me from accidentaly gluing the heel to the body. When the glue is dry, I remove the neck and prepare the fingerboard for gluing. The fingerboard is pinned in place with blind wooden dowels during the gluing, this prevents slippage when clamping the glued surfaces.
Gluing the Lil 58 Birdseye Maple fingerboard.
There aren’t that many aspects of my guitar making processes that I guard, but my Lil 58 set neck joint is one (I use the same method on my acoustic guitars), hence the pixelated picture, sorry folks!
The headstock on this guitar is bound with ivoroid to match the body, the channel for this is routed using the hand router and a bearing guided rebate cutter, the bearing is sized to match the binding thickness I am using.
Routing the headstock binding channel.
The binding is prepared and glued in place. The mitres are cut with a sharp chisel. The chisel is used to judge the trimming angle, the flat back of the chisel is kept polished and the reflection used to gauge the angle, quite straightforward if you hold the binding in the channel and sight the refection along the line of direction change.
Using the reflection in a polished chisel to gauge the binding mitre.
The binding is glued in place and then scraped flush with the headstock face and also the sides when the back of the headstock has been trimmed to final thickness.
Scraping the headstock binding flush.
The neck is then carved and scraped to the finished profile, initially with the neck off the body and finished off with the neck dry fitted.
Scraping the Lil 58 neck and heel.
With the neck and heel scraped, I smooth off the transition with cloth abrasive. I then finalize the neck joint, checking for correct neck angle etc as I go.
Final dry jointing check of the finish carved Lil 58 neck and body.
You may notice that there are no fret slots visible in the fingerboard edge in the above picture, the birdseye maple fingerboard has been bound with off cuts of the same wood. The board will be lap fretted so no fret tang is visible.
Lil 58 neck and body dry jointed back.
Lil 58 neck and body dry jointed front view.
With the neck still dry jointed, I will then plane and sand the camber of the fingerboard. The neck will then be removed one last time and the headstock logo inlay will be fitted and, as a custom option for this build, the fingerboard will have a dragon inlay installed – should be fun!