First build: Gibson/ESP hybrid Explorer

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by failsafe, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. failsafe

    failsafe SS.org Regular

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    Hello all, I have been working on this build, on and off, since around October of last year. I have always dreamed of building my own guitar, and after hanging around MLP for a while watching everyone's awesome builds, I decided to go ahead and try my hand at building.

    Part of the reason that this has taken so long (besides my OCD of trying to get everything as perfect as possible), is that up to this point, I had no real woodworking experience. However, I'm somewhat of a fast learner, and with the help of hours upon hours of reading various build threads and watching some helpful YouTube videos, I am now proud to say that I am about %90 percent finished with my first guitar build.

    Okay, now to the details. I've always been a Hetfield fanboy at heart, so of course if I'm going to build anything, it's going to be an Explorer. The problem is, I'm not a fan of the pointy-ness of the newer Explorers. I prefer that more classic shape of the '58. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a thread here on MLP where a member so kindly posted up the best plans I've found for a '58 Explorer. Using those plans for the body and basing the neck and headstock on the ESP MX-220, I started my build.

    Here are the specs:
    Body and neck- mahogany
    Fretboard- ebony
    Frets- nickel
    Bridge- Gotoh Tune-O-Matic
    Tuners- Sperzel locking
    Pickups- EMG Het Set
    Electronics- 2 Volume, 3-way switch

    Here are some pics of my progress up to this point. I apologize for the orientation of some of these photos, I'm not sure what's going on with them them being uploaded sideways. I'll try to fix it later.

    Body routed for pickups and neck mortise.
    View attachment 283609 View attachment 283610 View attachment 283611
    View attachment 283609
    View attachment 283610
    View attachment 283610

    Freshly band sawed and planed neck blank.
    View attachment 283613

    Truss rod fitment.
    View attachment 283614

    Little idea I stole from @freddy G , IIRC. I got the tenon cheeks cut perfectly with this jig.
    View attachment 283616
    View attachment 283620
    View attachment 283621

    Jig for routing the side profile of the neck.
    View attachment 283617
    View attachment 283618

    Sanding fretboard radius.
    View attachment 283623
    View attachment 283619

    Side dot installation (before sanding the dots flat).
    View attachment 283622

    Gluing on the fretboard.
    View attachment 283624
    View attachment 283625
    View attachment 283626

    I glued the tapered fretboard onto the untapered neck blank, and used the FB as the routing template for the neck taper.
    View attachment 283627

    Gluing on the ears.
    View attachment 283628
    View attachment 283629

    Headstock shape cut out. This is closer to an ESP headstock than a Gibson.
    View attachment 283630

    Carving the back of the neck, using the facet method. I used a spokeshave to take off a majority of the meat, and fine tuned it with files and sandpaper.
    View attachment 283631
    View attachment 283632
    View attachment 283634
    View attachment 283635
    View attachment 283637

    Roughing in the volute.
    View attachment 283638

    Now it feels like a neck!
    View attachment 283639 View attachment 283640
    View attachment 283641

    Custom shaped control cavity. My control layout will be different than Gibson and ESP.
    View attachment 283642

    Dry fitting the neck joint before glue up.
    View attachment 283643

    Glue up!
    View attachment 283644

    After sealer. I am using ReRanch products for grainfilling, sealing, primer, and color. Clear will be Behlen nitro through my new HVLP spray setup.
    View attachment 283646

    I sprayed the sealer on outside, but was frustrated by the debris and the constantly changing wind conditions. I built a little makeshift paint booth in my garage. I built an enclosure that fits inside the door frame in my garage, that holds two cheap box fans. I but some paint booth filters on them to keep the overspray from getting out of the booth. It looks pretty silly but actually works great. There is more than enough cfm to pull out all of the spray and fumes almost instantaneously. Eventually, I want to do a proper spray booth with explosion-proof fan and all, but for now, this will have to do. This is after shooting primer.
    View attachment 283647 View attachment 283647
    View attachment 283648

    ...and here's the back side of the "spray booth".
    View attachment 283649

    And finally....dun dun duuuunnnn...a primered mockup!
    View attachment 283650
    View attachment 283651
    View attachment 283652
    View attachment 283653

    This is how she sits now. The color is Gorilla Vanilla. I just wanna lick it.
    View attachment 283654
    View attachment 283655

    That's it for now. I will update this thread in real time from here on out. Thanks for looking!

    -Chris
     
    Crundles, pecado and Edika like this.
  2. failsafe

    failsafe SS.org Regular

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    And....attachments aren't showing up. Stand by.
     
  3. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    All that build up and the images are not working aaaaaarghh.
    Seriously though congratulations for taking the plunge in building your first guitar. And it being an Explorer shape with an ebony fretboard is super awesome.
     
  4. failsafe

    failsafe SS.org Regular

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    Take 2...Mods, please delete the first.

    Hello all, I have been working on this build, on and off, since around October of last year. I have always dreamed of building my own guitar, and after hanging around MLP for a while watching everyone's awesome builds, I decided to go ahead and try my hand at building.

    Part of the reason that this has taken so long (besides my OCD of trying to get everything as perfect as possible), is that up to this point, I had no real woodworking experience. However, I'm somewhat of a fast learner, and with the help of hours upon hours of reading various build threads and watching some helpful YouTube videos, I am now proud to say that I am about %90 percent finished with my first guitar build.

    Okay, now to the details. I've always been a Hetfield fanboy at heart, so of course if I'm going to build anything, it's going to be an Explorer. The problem is, I'm not a fan of the pointy-ness of the newer Explorers. I prefer the more classic, sexy shape of the '58. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a thread on MLP where a member so kindly posted up the best plans I've found for a '58 Explorer. Using those plans for the body and basing the neck and headstock on the ESP MX-220, I started my build.

    Here are the specs:
    Body and neck- mahogany
    Fretboard- ebony
    Frets- nickel
    Bridge- Gotoh Tune-O-Matic
    Tuners- Sperzel locking
    Pickups- EMG Het Set
    Electronics- 2 Volume, 3-way switch

    Here are some pics of my progress up to this point. I apologize for the orientation of some of these photos, I'm not sure what's going on with them them being uploaded sideways. I'll try to fix it later.

    Body routed for pickups and neck mortise.
    IMG_0149.JPG
    IMG_0150.JPG
    IMG_0151.JPG


    Freshly band sawed and planed neck blank.
    IMG_2550.JPG


    Truss rod fitment.
    IMG_2638.JPG


    Cutting the cheeks of the tenon.
    IMG_2688.JPG
    IMG_2689.JPG
    IMG_2690.JPG

    Jig for routing the side profile of the neck.
    IMG_0678.JPG
    IMG_0680.JPG
     
    Crundles, aesthyrian, zarg and 4 others like this.
  5. failsafe

    failsafe SS.org Regular

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    Sanding fretboard radius.
    IMG_2745.JPG
    IMG_0262.JPG

    Side dot installation (before sanding the dots flat).
    IMG_2818.JPG


    Gluing on the fretboard.
    IMG_2827.JPG
    IMG_2832.JPG


    I glued the tapered fretboard onto the untapered neck blank, and used the FB as the routing template for the neck taper.
    IMG_2851.JPG
    IMG_2852.JPG


    Gluing on the ears.
    IMG_2862.JPG
    IMG_2863.JPG


    Headstock shape cut out. This is closer to an ESP headstock than a Gibson.
    IMG_2865.JPG
     
  6. failsafe

    failsafe SS.org Regular

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    Carving the back of the neck, using the facet method. I used a spokeshave to take off a majority of the meat, and fine tuned it with files and sandpaper.
    IMG_2920.JPG
    IMG_2920.JPG IMG_2925.JPG
    IMG_2924.JPG
    IMG_2927.JPG
    IMG_2930.JPG



    Roughing in the volute.
    IMG_2932.JPG


    Now it feels like a neck! IMG_2934.JPG
    IMG_2933.JPG


    Custom shaped control cavity. My control layout will be different than Gibson and ESP.
    IMG_2989.JPG
     

    Attached Files:

  7. failsafe

    failsafe SS.org Regular

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    Dry fitting the neck joint before glue up.
    IMG_2999.JPG


    Glue up!
    IMG_3030.JPG
    IMG_3031.JPG
    IMG_3034.JPG


    After sealer. I am using ReRanch products for grainfilling, sealing, primer, and color. Clear will be Behlen nitro through my new HVLP spray setup.
    IMG_0051.JPG


    I sprayed the sealer on outside, but was frustrated by the debris and the constantly changing wind conditions. I built a little makeshift paint booth in my garage. I built an enclosure that fits inside the door frame in my garage, that holds two cheap box fans. I but some paint booth filters on them to keep the overspray from getting out of the booth. It looks pretty silly but actually works great. There is more than enough cfm to pull out all of the spray and fumes almost instantaneously. Eventually, I want to do a proper spray booth with explosion-proof fan and all, but for now, this will have to do. This is after shooting primer.
    IMG_0155.JPG
    IMG_0163.JPG


    ...and here's the back side of the "spray booth".
    IMG_0161.JPG


    And finally....dun dun duuuunnnn...a primered mockup!
    IMG_0196 (1).jpg
    IMG_2157.JPG
     
  8. failsafe

    failsafe SS.org Regular

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    IMG_0220.JPG
    IMG_0221.JPG

    This is how she sits now. The color is Gorilla Vanilla. I just wanna lick it.
    IMG_0300.JPG
    IMG_0301.JPG

    That's it for now. I'll update more in real time from here on out. Thanks for looking!

    -Chris
     
  9. feraledge

    feraledge Heard the Good News about Maple Fretboards?

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    This looks awesome!
     
    failsafe likes this.
  10. jwade

    jwade Doooooooooom

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    This is ridiculously great. Stoked on the colour, and I'm definitely stealing your door fan idea.
     
    failsafe likes this.
  11. JimF

    JimF SS.org Regular

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    Love it!
     
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  12. Kyle-Vick

    Kyle-Vick Also likes Jeeps and Motocross.

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    Awesome job man. You should be proud of that thing.
     
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  13. failsafe

    failsafe SS.org Regular

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    Thanks! When I first started this project, I honestly never thought that it would turn out as well as it has so far. Definitely has a few mistakes still, but very minor and won’t be repeated on the second build. :hbang:
     
  14. Mr_Mar10

    Mr_Mar10 *space for hire*

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    Fantastic clean work!

    Does the explorer not need a neck angle? Are you having to recess the tom bridge?
    (Any advice welcome planning explorer build eventually :shred: never really had chance to examine one in detail tho )
     
  15. failsafe

    failsafe SS.org Regular

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    There is a 3-ish degree angle built into the mortise. If you look closely at the first few pics of the body, you can see that the bottom of the mortise route is angled.

    I’m not sure if this is how Gibson or ESP does their neck angles, or if they angle the neck tenon and keep a flat mortise, but this way seemed easier to me at the time. On the next build, I may try to out the angle into the neck tenon instead.
     
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  16. BlackMastodon

    BlackMastodon \m/ (゚Д゚) \m/ Contributor

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    Awesome first build man!
     
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  17. pondman

    pondman Build Whore. Contributor

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    Handsome :drool:
     
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  18. failsafe

    failsafe SS.org Regular

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    5505C580-6C4C-43B7-AFE0-636039B91810.jpeg
    After the first coats of nitro. I’m loving the new spray gun setup.
     
  19. electriceye

    electriceye SS.org Regular

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    It's much easier to angle the mortise than the tenon, IMO. You can just angle your neck pocket template up (which I think you did). I did the angle on the tenon on my first V build and it was a disaster. Then again, I'm an idiot and it was my first build... :D
     
  20. failsafe

    failsafe SS.org Regular

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    You are right, I angled the routing template to get the angle. If I were to angle the tenon on the next build, I’m thinking I would do an overhead routing setup, like you were thicknessing a body or something, but instead of having the neck blank lie flat, I would put a slight angle on it and run it under the router.
     

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