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Author Topic: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build  (Read 13182 times)

Offline John H

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Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
« on: September 18, 2013, 02:11:48 AM »
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  • Hi again. This was my second attempt at building an electric guitar. I wanted to stick with a flat top, yet make something "cool." I also found that some of the things that I wanted to do were way beyond my ability at the time, yet I learned a lot, and did a pretty good job in the long run. This guitar took over a year to build. The original thread was quite drawn out.

    What I did first was chamber the body. The body is made of a two piece Honduran mahogany blank. I think that I left enough material to leave between 3/8" and 1/2" all the way around after finish sanding. I'd have to look at, and measure the templates to be sure.

    After milling down the thickness, measuring, and then drawing, I started on the chambers.








    After removing most of the wood with Forstener bits and a drill press, I started on the body with a router.







    Next, I cut the body to it's rough shape, and did the same with the 3/8" thick quilted maple top. I also made sure that there were channels to run the wiring through later. The maple had already been milled on one side to be sure it was flat.





    Then they got glued together.

















    That's enough for starting this one. Hope you all enjoy the photos as much as I enjoy spending time in the basement building these.
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power... the world will know peace." Jimi Hendrix

    https://soundcloud.com/sg-john

    Offline John H

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #1 on: September 23, 2013, 02:26:46 AM »
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  • So, after I glued the body bits together, I started working on the final trim of the body. This included finishing the sides, including a ton of sanding. After that, I started on the binding. I did this in two steps. The inner bits were two strips of .020" thick by .060" tall binding (one white one black), followed by one white piece that was .060 by .375" tall for the outer edge. I router a two step area along the edge, then applying the two small strips. After they had dried, I applied the larger piece. Then scraped everything after drying. I learned a lot about this subject as I went along.

    First the finished body, and obligatory wipe down shot. Beautiful quilt!:







    Then some routing and small bits being glued:




    Larger pieces being glued and taped:





    All taped up like a penguin in bondage:





    Ready for scraping:





    All scraped up, and ready for more:





    The mitering was a little tricky, but not as difficult as I feared. All in all, it was a fun experience (after I realized I still had my hair intact).

     :russianroulettedd8:
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power... the world will know peace." Jimi Hendrix

    https://soundcloud.com/sg-john

    Offline John H

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #2 on: September 23, 2013, 02:40:02 AM »
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  • Up next...

    Neck Blank and fingerboards.

    Here's a nice quartersawn piece of mahogany.






    Since I have a few projects going at once, I needed to build a jig to radius fingerboards. I may have over analyzed this, but in the long run it worked pretty good. I have yet to try it on the bass fingerboard, but for the others it worked like a charm. Getting it set up took a bit of work, but it's ready for action now.



















    Some fingerboards awaiting milling:







    After I had finish sanded the fingerboards, I bound them in the same white/black/white pattern as the body.










    After the binding was done, I moved on to doing the inlays.








    Now, the fingerboard will be ready for frets. I'll wait a bit until the neck is further along.

     :whistling:
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power... the world will know peace." Jimi Hendrix

    https://soundcloud.com/sg-john

    Offline John H

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #3 on: October 27, 2013, 03:50:00 AM »
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  • Ok, I'm back to updating this one a bit. Almost as slowly as it was being built (only kidding).

    The next step was for me to slot the neck for the truss rod. After that was done, I needed to make the trussrod and install it. I made a standard Gibson style truss rod because they are easy. I was able to by enough 3/16" diameter and 3/8" diameter steel along with a die and tap, so that I could make 10 rods for the cost of one pre-manufactured. Anyway, here are some shots of everything up to fitting the rod, and making the counterbore for the rod nut and spacer.

















    After cleaning up everything, including the counter bore, I glued some wings onto the headstock.





    After all that was complete, the fillet was glued in.


    « Last Edit: October 27, 2013, 04:04:30 AM by John H »
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power... the world will know peace." Jimi Hendrix

    https://soundcloud.com/sg-john

    Offline John H

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #4 on: October 27, 2013, 04:03:49 AM »
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  • While waiting for the finger board to be glued to the neck, I was messing around with some finishes. Actually, I was mixing it in more often. This is a color that I really liked, but did not use in the end. It was a fun learning experience, non the less.




    Next was the heel. This was a lot of work to get right. The Billy-Bo has a very unique heel. I could get at a lot with a router, but there was hours of hand work with a chisel and hammer to be done. There had to be squared off internal corners, with no radii. Here are a few shots.








    It also needed a distinct angle carefully cut in.





    And now, a bit of a prepped neck.





    Next came prepping the body for the neck. I started with Forstener bits to cut away material, then set up for a router.








    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power... the world will know peace." Jimi Hendrix

    https://soundcloud.com/sg-john

    Offline John H

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #5 on: October 27, 2013, 04:08:20 AM »
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  • After I was happy with how the neck fit the body, I glued the fingerboard onto the neck.




    Then, I pressed in the frets.





    This was also around the time that I shaped the headstock,





    I'll be back with some more soon. Cheers.
     ;D
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power... the world will know peace." Jimi Hendrix

    https://soundcloud.com/sg-john

    Offline Ken D

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #6 on: October 27, 2013, 12:17:01 PM »
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  • I am in awe of this particular skill!  My hat's off to you sir.

     ;D

    Johnny-English

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #7 on: October 27, 2013, 05:16:11 PM »
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  • I get the same feeling seeing your build John , as watching a artist take a blank paper or canvas and covert it into a work of art with the use of pencil or paints ..

    So that makes you a wood artist then John  :)    Oh I wish to have that gift . 

    Offline John H

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #8 on: November 14, 2013, 02:07:52 AM »
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  • Time for a bit more of an update. Sorry it's taking so long. I think this is the point where I had pressed in the frets, and dressed the ends.





    After that was done, I finished the headstock shape and started shaping the neck. That was done in steps with a belt sander, spoke shave, rasp, and sanding by hand. Here are a few stages of the process.















    I then started on cavities for controls.







    And then, started prepping for pickups.






    Then I started playing around mocking things up to see how it would look.





    As I was playing with things, I thought that the headstock looked too bare. So, I decided to bind it. I am really glad that I did. In the long run, it was worth the extra effort. It looks great now.







    And drilled...





    That's it for now. I have to go downstairs and do some work. Cheers.
     :D
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power... the world will know peace." Jimi Hendrix

    https://soundcloud.com/sg-john

    Offline davidj

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #9 on: November 14, 2013, 07:25:20 AM »
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  • Good call on binding the headstock - I also love the binding on the neck.

    The whole thing looks great!
    I'm back - am I the same person or just a clone of myself?

    Offline LennyEdwards

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #10 on: November 14, 2013, 08:38:49 AM »
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  • Fabulous thread, John.
    Three is the magic number. Yes it is. It's the magic number!

    Johnny-English

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #11 on: November 14, 2013, 07:23:56 PM »
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  • Wow , just fell in love with that one ......... Bloody Hell John , you know how to shave wood  ;)

    Offline John H

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #12 on: November 15, 2013, 03:34:11 AM »
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  • Thank you gents, you're too kind. Here's a bit more for you.  ;D


    The next thing I did was to get some dark cherry stain. This was more like an antique cherry finish that you would see on late 1800 to early 1900's furniture, not like the cherry you would put in a Manhattan or on an ice cream. I wiped a coat on the maple top, then let it dry. After it was dried, I block sanded the top so that the harder parts of the grain were natural again. I repeated the steps a few more times and it ended up looking like these photos. The board in front of the can is a scrap from the top that I had experimented with, and was trying to replicate the right hand side.






    Before sanding:





    After sanding:







    After the block sanding was done, I glued the neck to the body.





    At this point, I realized that the original Gretsch neck joint that I had feverishly worked at to be an exact copy was truly cumbersome, in the way, uncomfortable, and absolute rubbish. So I hacked away at anything that appeared to be in my way, and ended up with this:
    (This is much more comfy!)









    That's it for now kiddies. See you soon.

     :D
    « Last Edit: November 15, 2013, 03:36:54 AM by John H »
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power... the world will know peace." Jimi Hendrix

    https://soundcloud.com/sg-john

    Offline John H

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #13 on: November 16, 2013, 10:24:49 PM »
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  • Hi again, here's some more updates on this.

    After the neck and body were glued together, I used egg whites as pore filler. What I did was apply the egg whites with sandpaper, and worked up a slurry of egg white and sawdust. After all the mahogany had been coated with a thick slurry, I let it dry overnight, then block sanded the body and neck smooth.

    Here's some info on egg white finishing:
    http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/custom-shop/207264-egg-white-varnish.html


    And some pics.













    The neck felt as smooth as glass once sanded. After that was done, I started applying the first coats of red on the maple top.








    The back remained the natural dark cherry that I had also used as a base for the maple top. Clear lacquer was applied next.





    It took about three weeks to get all the clear coats on. Then a few weeks were needed to cure the lacquer. After that a very long day was spent wet sanding, then another few hours to polish it. After it was nice and shiny, I started installing all the parts.


    Here is the finished geetar.












    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power... the world will know peace." Jimi Hendrix

    https://soundcloud.com/sg-john

    Offline Ken D

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    Re: Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird build
    « Reply #14 on: November 16, 2013, 11:25:23 PM »
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  • Wow ... That is gorgeous!  :o

     

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