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  • Rob Parry

Taking Shape - Custom build part I

Custom Body

I've been tasked with making a custom model, built to spec. Combing elements of both Tele and Strat: the body is a mixture of both, with a hard-tail bridge and a pickguard mounted with a humbucker and two single coils. The plan/template looks like this:


The top is curly maple, with a really deep 3D figure, once it was jointed, and roughly cut to shape I wiped it down with spirits to check the figuring like so:

Maple Top

Yeah, that'll do a job.

The main body is lightweight swamp ash, 2 pieces jointed down the middle, this will be stained opaque black eventually. The grain lined up quite nicely:

Ash Body

Before gluing the top to the body I had to carve the arm contour into the ash. Keeping everything straight and true at this point is very important, so that when the top is bent over the contour it has a good surface to adhere to. The following picture was after rasping the material away by hand, a razor file, some sand paper and lots of checking with a straight-edge got me the rest of the way.

Contour Carve

Once the top is glued on there's no going back, the contour looks like this:

Top and Body

Using a heat gun, a little water, and a clamp the top is slowly bent down to meet the body. It's at this point if I was religious man I'd offer up a prayer, if the top splits... well you can imagine. I left this clamped overnight to allow the wood to settle to make gluing up easier. Worked a treat:

Top and Body Joint

Next step is to rout out the cavities, round over the back edge and do the tummy carve, but for now the body is whole. Take a look at the joint between body and top, you can't get much cleaner than that!

Next up, the neck.

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