Tuesday, April 9, 2013

LeSpork Prototype - Rock and Roll

It's been a long time since I rock and rolled.

A few years ago, my daughter and I were musing about an art project of hers, and we stumbled on the thought of me building a guitar instead of just repairing one.  It was also about the time my son was getting ready to play in a talent show, and we thought how cool it would be for my daughter to design a guitar that I would build for my son to play.  The idea intrigued me enough last year to purchase a few used necks in need of repair, some pick-guards with pre-wired electronics and some other necessary parts, thinking I would design and build some solid bodies to marry the necks to the other parts.  The necks and parts sat in the boxes and mailing bags, near the corner of a room where I keep my collection of working guitars.  With the repairs to my Jay Turser all but complete, I started sketching out the concepts and details that had been fermenting in my mind for a few years.

The two guitar necks I picked up were from the Aria Pro II line and have the common Fender 25-1/2-inch scale length.  They apparently were inspired by the Red Rider BB Gun (you'll pole your eye out).

With that scale length in mind, I decided to stay with a the Leo theme, and went for some matching black Tele-esque parts.

The body shape and guitar name followed from something my daughter had often mused about, the spork.  Although Brian Jones never played a LeSpork, the body does bear a resemblence to the Vox Mark III model Mr. Jones once endorsed.

After pricing wood for body blanks, I decided it would be wise to start with something less expensive.  Still wanting to strike while the iron was hot, I went to my storage shed and pulled three pieces from a stockpile of chip board I had salvaged from old furniture.  I trimmed the pieces to length, made a cutout for the neck pocket, attached the pieces with some screws, bolted on the neck, and added some construction lines for layout of the shape and remaining cutouts for the first attempt at a body.

Seeing how the pieces looked, I made a tweak to the pickguard.  I decided it would look better covering the majority of the body, leaving a cresent shape between the bridge and end pin for a future graphics treatment that will make it resemble a spork.

Having the layout figured out, I cut out the shape and set the body aside so I could handle the neck repair.

It was a pretty clean break, and there were no missing pieces.  I pushed a popsicle stick into the break to hold it open.

I worked a generous amount of glue into the gap and clamped it up loosely in one direction, before removing most of the squeeze out glue.

With a pair of cauls and some more clamps, I applied full pressure in the other direction, forcing the front and back of the head stock to plane out.

After snugging up the rest of the clamps, I left the assembly to allow the glue in the neck to dry.  Moving back to the body, I made the cutouts and began adding on the remaining parts.

After an exhaustive search, I realized I was missing a pair of screws to attach the front pickup to the pickguard.  So, instead of soldering the electronics together, I decided I'd be better off leaving that for last.

The following day, after the glue had dried, I removed the clamps, cleaned off the excess glue, and put on the tuning pegs...

...and a set of strings!

Seeing the neck repair was holding with a set of strings at full tension, I check the constructed scale length and made some adjustments to the bridge height and intonation.

I left the LeSpork Prototype to lay on the bench and let her strings stretch for a few days while waiting for the front pickup screws to arrive by mail.

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