Lil ’58 Pro Build

Yesterday I started a build for a customer in Hong Kong, this will be joining the Evo that graced those shores earlier this year.

Being a Lil ’58 Pro, the guitar will feature a mahogany body with a premium quilted maple carved top. The neck will be maple and will feature a chinese dragon inlay in the birdseye fingerboard. Sidewynder pickups, gold Gotoh hardware and an amber burst front will finish the guitar off. Should be an interesting build and has all the ingredients to make something special. First I need to prepare some stock materials.

Cross cutting mahogany body stock - Williams Guitars

Cross cutting mahogany boards for body blanks.

The raw mahogany board is cross cut on the table saw into two suitably sized blanks, this board is perfectly quarter sawn and has a very resonant tinder dry feel, the type of wood that sounds musical before you do anything to it. The blanks are then trimmed to a more suitable thickness on the band saw. The offcut is set aside, and will be used for acoustic components.

Trimming mahogany blanks - Williams Guitars

Trimming the stock nearer to finished thickness on the bandsaw.

Once the rough stock is prepared it is planed to a little over the required thickness and has the edges squared up too.

Planing mahogany stock - Williams Guitars

Planing and thicknessing the body stock.

When the mahogany is prepared, I can then focus on the maple top. The billet for the top was split some time ago and just needs to be thicknessed and prepared for gluing up. The top is book matched, this means the original single block of wood was split on the bandsaw and opened out like a book, as a result you get two mirrored figured halves.

Bookmatched quilted maple - Williams Guitars

The bookmatched quilted maple top chosen for this Lil ’58.

Quilted maple can be difficult to work, due to its undulating grain it has a tendancy to tear when planed. I use a set of sharp planer knives and a fine cut to flatten one face. When I have a reference face I use the sander thicknesser to true up the opposite face, there is no risk of tearing when using the drum sander. Both halves of the bookmatched top are prepared to the same dimension, taking care to take the least amount of material off the bookmatched faces. With a carved top the bookmatch is often lost to some degree as a result of the carving.

Drum sanding quilted maple tops - Williams Guitars

Drum sanding the maple to final thickness.

The maple is cut down to a manageable size and then glued to the mahogany blanks. In this build I am making two mahogany and maple blanks which will be joined to make the finished stock, sometimes I glue the mahogany and maple as a seperate top and back and then glue the top onto the body. It doesn’t matter which way it’s done but if the back is more than two piece I would join them seperately.

Gluing Lil 58 top and back - Williams Guitars

The prepared stock is glued together.

Once the glue is sufficently dry the clamps are removed and the Lil ’58 blanks have the centre gluing edge prepared on the planer.

Planing the Gluing Edge - Williams Guitars

Squaring and truing the gluing edge for the Lil 58 body.

Before I glue the two halves together to complete the body blank for the Lil ’58 I machine a small channel along one edge, this will provide a route for the neck pickup cable to run, it’s easier  to do this now rather than trying to drill two angled holes later an hoping they meet.

Routing a pickup wire channel - Williams Guitars

Routing a pickup cable channel in the centre gluing face.

When the pickup cavities are routed, the channel should magically appear at the bottom of the cavities.

Clamping the body halves - Williams Guitars

Using sash cramps to glue the two halves of the Lil ’58.

The two halves of the Lil ’58 body are glued and clamped. This is left to dry overnight before final prep that will allow me to cut out the body.

More on that, and other stages of this build, next time.



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