James -aged 14 and in Year 9 – is making an Abbey Road…

James needs a new guitar. The one that I made for him six years ago -870909, made in 2009- has long been out-grown…

(That’s his brother Flynn on drums and Grandad playing the Radiomaster…)

James likes the guitar that I made for Errol (s/n 12015) and instead of me just making him one, we decided that James would make his new guitar with me.

Here’s the process…

The ply for the top and back is cut to size and the holes for the registration pins are drilled.

The first lamination is checked in the mould…

…and glue is applied…

…before clamping into the mould.

While the top is drying, the timber for the neck is cut…

and stripped down the centre and machined using the abrasive thicknesser.

While we’re at it, the fret board is machined to 6mm.

The neck laminations are glued up…

…and while that’s also drying, James cuts the fret slots on the slotting saw.

Now for the sides…

I’ve put the sides in the bender and they’ll be ready for James next time.

The neck lamination is now thoroughly dry and the truss rod is made and the truss rod channel cut…

The truss rod and its fillet are glued in…

…and the neck is then band sawn to shape and then sanded down to the lines.

The fret board is double-sided taped to an appropriate shaped piece of wood and the profile- 300mm- is sanded, checking as we go…

When all is good, James marks out for the fret markers…

…and drills for and installs the pearl position dots.

Back to the body…

With the ribs made and linings glued in place, the edges are levelled…

…the glue applied…

…and the top placed into position and clamped down.

While the glue dries, James installs the side markers into the fret board.

The frets are now installed…

With the top glued on, the excess is band sawn off…

…and the edges trimmed with the router and I’ve then cut the “f”holes.

The label is affixed…

…and the back is glued on and when dry, the edges are again trimmed and then routed flush on the router table.

Fitting the neck to the body requires considerable accuracy and I’ve helped out on this task, but by the end of the day, the mortise and tenon are done and the neck is given a trial fit.

Next session, James installed the binding.

While we waited for the binding glue to dry, we started on the neck shaping.

The tape securing the body binding is removed…

…and the binding sanded flush with the body.

Now the body and neck are again checked and we have decided that the neck can now be glued in.

We’ve glued the fretboard on and routed for the pickups and drilled for the bridge and controls.

Now all that needs to be done is for me to do the painting…

Another innovation is to mask the front and back so that the sunburst isn’t compromised with over-spray when I’m spraying the sides and the green “binding” is of course, the binding having been taped…

With the guitar having been given its requested sunburst, it’s school holidays now and the chance to finish James’s Abbey Road.

Now for the assembly, and we’ve started by fitting the Grover machine heads.

Now for the usually very time consuming business of fitting the controls to the Abbey Road.

This is an activity I’m not fond of when a 335 needs its wiring or pots rectifying but I’ve come up with an installation system that makes the process “child’s play”…

With the controls installed and the pickups taped into place, we soldered on the output jack and fitted it to the jack plate.

Now James has marked out the position for the tailpiece and the back strap button and installed the tailpiece bracket.

The frets are levelled and polished and I’ve cut the string slots and after we’ve fitted the strings, the pickups are screwed in place and Jimmy’s Abbey Road is ready for its first play.

Back to the workshop to remove a couple of fret buzzes and James then spent most of last night – with the interruption of tea- playing his new Abbey Road, much to the delight of a very proud Grandma and a suitably chuffed Grandad…

If this great guitar came out of a kit, it would be really, really good. But as the pictures show, James really did do it all by himself- from the machining of the mahogany for the neck to the assembly of the electronics into the body.

A very impressive result for a 14 year old, with surprising little help from Grandad…