First scratch build: Gibby/ESP Explorer hybrid

failsafe306

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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 the more classic, sexy 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.
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Freshly band sawed and planed neck blank.
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Truss rod fitment.
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Little idea I stole from @Freddy G , IIRC. I got the tenon cheeks cut perfectly with this jig.
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Jig for routing the side profile of the neck.
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Sanding fretboard radius.
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Side dot installation (before sanding the dots flat).
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Gluing on the fretboard.
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I glued the tapered fretboard onto the untapered neck blank, and used the FB as the routing template for the neck taper.
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Gluing on the ears.
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Headstock shape cut out. This is closer to an ESP headstock than a Gibson.
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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.
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Roughing in the volute.
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Now it feels like a neck!
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Custom shaped control cavity. My control layout will be different than Gibson and ESP.
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Dry fitting the neck joint before glue up.
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Glue up!
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After sealer. I am using ReRanch products for grainfilling, sealing, primer, and color. Clear will be Behlen nitro through my new HVLP spray setup.
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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.
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...and here's the back side of the "spray booth".
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And finally....dun dun duuuunnnn...a primered mockup!
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This is how she sits now. The color is Gorilla Vanilla. I just wanna lick it.
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That's it for now. I will update this thread in real time from here on out. Thanks for looking!

-Chris
 
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dcomiskey

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Wow! What a great first build! (I'm jealous!) Can you point me to that tenon jig? If you saw my thread yesterday, I, uh, could use some help there. Mine is a mess. Your's is perfect.
 

fatdaddypreacher

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okay. let me see if i got this. this is your first build. you have no previous woodworking experience. you started by modifying a design to incorporate features more desireable than the standard issue. you execute virtually perfect neck and mortise joints. your work is clean and crisp. your paint is excellant. let's see. the only thing lacking is the mods remove you and your thread for sheer intimidation. i must go now and discard viturally all of my work. thank you. that is all.---except for WOW!
 

failsafe306

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okay. let me see if i got this. this is your first build. you have no previous woodworking experience. you started by modifying a design to incorporate features more desireable than the standard issue. you execute virtually perfect neck and mortise joints. your work is clean and crisp. your paint is excellant. let's see. the only thing lacking is the mods remove you and your thread for sheer intimidation. i must go now and discard viturally all of my work. thank you. that is all.---except for WOW!
That is a huge compliment, thank you! What I left out was the first neck that I trashed due to a jacked up tenon that was beyond feasible repair, and the part where I plugged and re-drilled the tuner holes
 

fatdaddypreacher

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it's a learning process. don't be too hard on yourself. i've been doing woodworking of various types for many years and it still irks me to no end if i can't accomplish a task the first time out of the box. you're doing remarkably well. take a breath and step back when you get challenged with a mistake and remember to enjoy this. ...and this thread is waaaay picture defecient.
 

dickjonesify

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Incredible work! So jealous of how clean that looks. I swear I do twice as much work as I need to just cleaning up my bonehead mistakes.

:applause::applause::applause:
 

failsafe306

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it's a learning process. don't be too hard on yourself. i've been doing woodworking of various types for many years and it still irks me to no end if i can't accomplish a task the first time out of the box. you're doing remarkably well. take a breath and step back when you get challenged with a mistake and remember to enjoy this. ...and this thread is waaaay picture defecient.
I appreciate the kind words, sir!
 

pshupe

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Very nice. Looks awesome. You know you have to build more now, right? :dude:


Incredible work! So jealous of how clean that looks. I swear I do twice as much work as I need to just cleaning up my bonehead mistakes.

:applause::applause::applause:

Only twice as much. That's pretty good. probably less than most! ;-)

Cheers Peter.
 

failsafe306

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Very nice. Looks awesome. You know you have to build more now, right? :dude:

Oh, for sure. It would be a shame to spend all of that time making templates and jugs for only one guitar ;)

Plus, I already have another neck blank cut out, as well as another fretboard blank. I think I will do one more solid color guitar and then maybe try one with some nice figured wood and better inlays.
 

Pesh

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Wow that's a cool build, and nice to see such progress in a short thread so far! Love it! Sub'd.
 

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