Rockmangle: Finishing off, setting up and a new truss rod cover

After the mid-week fret level I took an hour this morning to finally finish off the loose ends on the Rockmangle. Get it properly set up, redo a couple of areas of finish I wasn’t happy with, and make truss rod cover out of the cow horn.

And here’s a quick demo, using the GuitarCam.

Guitar into Line 6 Pod XT Live into Ampmaker SE-5a.

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Adding a second pickup

To add the second P90 pickup to my Les Paul Jnr-esque home-built guitar, I first drafted out, at 1:1 scale using Inkscape, the wood that I’d be removing.

I then did a test fit into an offcut of pine.

Once I was happy with it, I stuck the template on the front of the guitar, drilled two small pilot holes right through the body, and stuck a matching template onto the back of the guitar.

Then I got busy with the 8mm and 13mm drill bits.

Thankfully the exit holes matched up with the rear template.

I’m happy with how that turned out

In and amongst the other jobs I made the rear cavity cover. I cut, glued and clamped five sheets of maple veneer together.

Once dry, this was roughly cut to shape and then finished off with sandpaper.

Before a couple of coats of Danish Oil.

That will dry overnight, ready for assembly, wiring and testing tomorrow.

Upgrading my DIY guitar with a second pickup

I’ve only been playing it for a little over a week but I’ve already decided that the guitar needs to change. It is great at that one jangly, biting rock sound, but it is not fulfilling its potential to be so much more. To that end I’ve decided to add a second P90 pickup in the neck position. That means that I need to install a selector switch. At the same time I’m going to “soften” on my original aim of having no controls, by adding a simple master volume.

The extra parts arrived this morning and here is the layout I’m going for.

I borrowed the gold Gibson style speed knob from one of my other guitars. I’ve got an ivory coloured one on order that should be here in the next day or two.

Of course this means that I’m going to need to rout a control cavity in the back of the guitar, and this will need a cover. I cut five sheets of the maple veneer, alternating grain direction, glued and clamped them together to make my own rather luxurious plywood, where even the internal layers are highly figured bird’s eye maple.

Making an inlay and finishing the headstock

In between the work on the Telecaster, I’ve been cutting an inlay and finishing the headstock of the RockMangle.

Aside from the inlay, I wanted to add a maple veneer to the headstock because the original wood was rather plain. I also needed to cut and fit a new nut. In between doing this I also decided to use the veneer I had to make my own truss rod cover.

This is my original design for the logo.

It proved very difficult to cut this and after four attempts I decided to redesign the shape to something “chunkier”. This picture is midway through cutting the inlay shape out of the maple veneer.

At this stage I’d cut out the inlay, and cut the shape into the maple headstock veneer.

I glued it up, mixing a lttle maple sawdust with the glue going in round the inlay.

I then had a few problems with the edges of the inlay lifting.

After a couple of extra applications of glue, and sever clamping, this is what I ended up with.

I’d ordered a bone nut blank and so I trimmed this down to almost the size of the original, and then used sandpaper to take it close to the original shape. That done I attached it to the guitar for final shaping and cutting.

One of the things I’d noticed when playing the guitar is that, whilst still very playable, I couldn’t get the action down as low as I like it. The neck could have done with being angled back a further 0.5 deg. To overcome this and make sure I had a wide enough range of height adjustment on the bridge, I decided to rebate the bridge pins whilst the strings were off.

A quick wipe of Danish Oil and refitting the bridge posts (not forgetting to retrap the earth strap) and the job was quickly done.

During the night I’d been awoken by the brain wave that, instead of using the standard plastic three ply truss rod cover, I had a bag full of veneer left over, I could have a go at making my own plywood of the rosewood and maple and cutting a three ply, rosewood/maple/rosewood cover from that.

I used six sheets of the veneer, an inner of two sheets of maple and outers each of two sheets of rosewood, alternating the grain direction.

A spread of glue, wrap them in clingfilm, and then clamped them together to let them dry.

Once dry, I cut it to shape with a utility knife and then put on the beveled edge using sandpaper. Here’s how the finished item looks after a wipe with Danish Oil.

And here’s the finished headstock.