Thursday, February 10, 2011

Eric and Roy Epps - Custom Guitar #1 (Part One)

   How many of you have dreamed of making your own guitar? My friend Eric and his dad Roy have done it! When this guitar came to me,it was it was pretty much done and it was up to me to put on the finishing touches. That meant wiring up the electronics,making a nut,doing a setup...and some fun surprises!
   Surprise number one was the fretboard. It was a prefabricated fretboard purchased on Ebay far ahead of the building of the guitar. That gave it plenty of time for wood to dry out,causing the frets to start coming loose. A few of the frets actually fell right out! It was also one of those heavily inlaid pieces made by someone in Asia. They look good in the picture but close inspection reveals that the inlays are paper thin and very fragile. That means I couldn't do any corrections to any humps or bumps I might find. I also noticed the fretboard radius seemed awfully curvy. A quick check revealed a radius far in excess of 7.25",the most curved radius in common usage. To add to the fun,when I removed the old frets,the fret slots averaged about .028",the tang on most fret wire is between .020" and .024"! So,I had to re-fret this fingerboard,but I couldn't level it,couldn't re-radius it and had to over radius the fret wire to an absurd amount,while also bending exaggerated new barbs into the tang. Lets look at some pictures...
Check out those lifting frets!
Yep,frets falling out is a sign of trouble!
That's curvy!
With a .028" fret slot,the new fret will fall right back out!
Here is my exaggerated fret barb next to some normal fret wire.
Here is a new fret about to be hammered in. Over radiusing the fret wire is a normal technique but this is far more than usual. Having the fret curved like that helps it go into the slot in a curved line so it can't pop right back out.
   Well, I've already spoiled any kind of suspense by showing you the finished guitar but obviously this guy isn't done yet! How did the frets turn out? What about the nut and the electronics? How do you set up a guitar with such a crazy radius? Stay tuned...

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