John’s RGa-35 BYO

My young friend John is building his own-an RGa-35- with me and he, too, has decided that his guitar is going to be Englemann spruce with blackwood back and sides.

The timber is machined up for the sides and the back…

…and the back is bookmatched and glued up.

The top is also glued up…

…and clamped together.

The neck wood is cut so that it can be laminated…

…to make the grain as vertical as possible.

When dry, the neck profile is drawn out, and the truss rod channel routed…

…and then the neck shape is bandsawn.

John has designed and made his rosette- a blackwood ring with a black/white/black ring on the inside and outside…

…the top is routed and the rosette is glued into place and levelled.

The back bracing is next…

,,,and then the bracing for the front.

Now for the sides.

The top and bottom of the sides are levelled, ready for the linings to be fitted.

The linings are levelled…

and the bracing is pared to fit and given the final shaping.

And the top is ready to be glued on…

A couple of finishing touches to the top…

…and the excess is cut off…

…and a final check before…

…the back is glued on.

With the glue well set, John’s trimmed the back flush with the sides…

…and then sanded out the water marking.

I could have given him a piece of sandpaper and a cork block, but the palm sander is much more effective…

And now for the end strip…

When the glue has dried, the back strip is is pared level.

Next- we’re going to tackle the rosewood binding…

While we wait for the glue to dry, we’re going to do the headstock inlays…

While we’re on a roll, John decided that he would like to put a stylised “S” at the twelfth fret…

Back to the binding- the tape is removed and the top binding is levelled…

The binding for the back is bent…

…and then glued into place.

With all binding glued in, the top is sanded level…

…and a we have a close listen to what the guitar is going to sound like.

We both like what we hear…

With the body of the guitar completed, it’s time to fit the neck…

The tenon is marked out on the neck blank and then carefully cut…

With the tenon cut and cleaned up, the corresponding mortise is marked out and also very carefully cut…

…and then chiselled out.

The mortise and the tenon are adjusted until the neck is a neat fit into the body…

The heel is shaped because it’s easier to do it before the neck is glued in…

The binding is made flush at the neck/body joint…

Now to glue in the neck…

The neck alignment is checked…

…and so is the neck angle.

And with everything as it should be, the holes for the dowels are drilled…

…the depths measured…

…the glue applied to the cut dowels…

…and the dowels tapped home.

The dowels are cut flush…

…and the neck surface planed level with the top…

NOW it’s starting to look like a guitar!

While the glue is hardening, we’re going to do the fretboard…

The board is radiused to 300mm/12″ radius…

…the shape of the fretboard end is cut…

…the front and side marker positions are drilled…

…and the  side markers and pearl dots are installed.

The frets are cut to length…

…and then installed.

With the frets installed, John is up to shaping the neck.

With that done, the frets ends are filed flush and finished off.

And the nut…

…and John’s guitar is ready to be finish sanded!

Now- the bridge. John likes the design of the bridge on Lindsay’s guitar and has decided to use that shape on his own, using a left over piece of blackwood.

John’s guitar is ready for finishing…

I’m going to do the painting because-well, it’s a bit of a practiced art to spray two pack…

The fretboard is taped up…

…and then is sprayed.

After a suitable time, John is now rubbing back the painted guitar…

…and then polishing.

With the polishing completed, the tape is removed from the bridge position and the bridge is glued on.

John then returned the next day to finish his guitar.

The machine heads are installed…

…and the string slots are cut.

The guitar is strung up…

…and the slot depths are carefully adjusted.

Now all that remains is to tune the guitar and play the first chord!

Fortunately, I had my phone handy to record the occasion…