Tym hollow Jaguar custom build
OK folks. I started out in this game as a guitar builder. I don't call myself a luthier. Although I have built acoustics and semi solids, I mainly build solidbody electrics and I don't consider this the same as building acoustic instruments. Don't get me wrong, there's still a lot of skill involved, it's just not the same to me.
I have built over 100 guitars from scratch since 1997 but in the last few years I have only built 8 or 9 because of time restraints in keeping this THING that is Tym guitars alive. In a perfect would, I'd be left alone to make guitars full time, but it's not a perfect world, is it ?
So I built this for my friend James from local band Violent Soho. I've been working with these guys for years and I "know" what James wanted in a guitar. He likes Jags, he likes hollow bodies, he likes Mosrite necks, he likes humbuckers, he likes the way a Les Paul feels when it's on, so, I put them all together and ..........
The body was made from a 100 year old mahogany desk top a friend gave me. He turned up at the repair shop one day and said "is this any good to you ?" Someone had cut the legs off it to make it a "coffee table" ? It was beautiful, but badly scratched BUT it was 100 year old mahogany, so I said YES !!!
Because it was thin, I decided to make a semi hollow, thick Jag body using three pieces sandwiched together with the middle piece cut out to give the chambers. That left the back and top to give the full depth. Since I was going to do binding and a German Carve ala Mosrite, I had plenty of thickness to work with. Once cutting all three pieces of the body it was glued and the binding channel routed. With the channel in place I start my German Carve. All of my guitars are made completely by hand. I don't have CNC's or jigs to do any of this. I prefer to do it all by hand and the German Carve is one of the most time intensive, yet rewarding parts of the Mosrite to me. I start with a router around the edge and then files and sandpaper to shape the carve. The German Carve isn't like an archtop, it changes depth and shape as it goes around the body. Deeper in some points, shallower in others. It's one of the reasons I love it so much. It makes a guitar body very organic looking.
I also wanted a BIG slash style F hole that suited the shape of the body. I wanted the neck to go all the way back to the bridge pick up and be hollow underneath the neck to make it more "active" to neck feedback while still having controlable body feedback.
The neck is made from Victorian ash which I think has a very rock maple sound to it. Very stiff and hard. The fretboard is, like nearly every neck I've ever made, Jarrah. You REALLY need to "dry" it properly, but once dry it is a fantastic fretbaord timber. With the neck and body cut out it was down to shaping and working out what headstock shape to use.
I toyed with the idea of 3 a side in a Mosrite style, but ended up with a Bigsby inspired shape. As readers of my blog will know, I'm a huge fan of Bigsby and love this headstock. It suits "Fender" style guitar shapes really well because Fender was "influenced" by this shape to use on his guitars so we already have it in our minds. It has a double acting trussrod and like most of my guitars uses a zero fret. The neck has small dots in the Mosrite configuration and is bound. The neck is shaped straight off one of my '65 Ventures models so it's THIN all the way up but especially at the zero fret. The neck is attached with 3 screws from the back and 2 from the front with cut outs for the pick ups.
I used my Mosrite humbuckers in this guitar as James likes humbuckers and these are a little "biteier" than "normal" HB's as the pole pieces are all adjustable and slightly closer together.
Once the body and neck were shaped and finish sanded, it was into the spray booth for some coats of nitro finish. I didn't want to fill the grain or seal it in a synthetic coat and I don't mind the grain of the timber coming through into the top coat as it makes the guitar look like it's made of wood. So, it got a vintage black edge sunburst and then a few coats of clear nitro. The neck was done in nitro too.
So, with it painted and ready to assemble ......... it sat in my workshop for nearly a year before I had time to assemble it. I knew James was coming back from the US for an Australian tour in July so I had a deadline and got back into it again in June. It came together well and all that was left to do was work out a scratchplate shape for it. I tried a few different styles but ended up going for pretty much a Jag plate without the top chrome switch plate. The controls are, as you'd expect, 3 way toggle for pick up selector and master volume and tone control. It is 24.75" scale, so halfway between a Jag and a Jazzmaster. A standard Jag/JM vibrato was used but placed closer to the roller bridge to eliminate the problems associated with this set up.