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Guitar #058

Wormy Butternut & Walnut Chambered Hawk

 

Completed December 20, 2017







    

 

Sometimes it's the wood that tells you what the design of the instrument is going to be, not agreeing with your initial plan, and then pointing you in a different dirrection.  This was the case with the Butternut drop top used in this guitar.  I had a nice section of wormy Butternut intended for another Tele.  When I ripped the board in two (for a mirrored top) there was an imbedded knot right in the middle!   So much for that.  I tossed the wood into the corner and forgot about it for a few years.
In the meanwhile I had completed a guitar inspired by the shape of the Gibson Hawk.  Picking up that Butternut again, I pictured stylized F holes in a Hawk shape guitar which would exactly cut out those knots while leaving behind all that highly figured wood around them.  It didn't take long for a design to come together after that; book matched (mirrored) wormy Butternut drop top, set on a bookmatched Black Walnut back, a substantial amount of chambering, a Walnut neck with a Butternut laminate down the middle, a scarf jointed headstock (makes for a stronger neck), and a rosewood fretboard.
As for the bridge to use, Butternut is too soft to firmly hold a Gibson style bridge and tailpiece, so a different design was called for.  Going string-through would best take the load of the strings and also add to tone.  So going with a Tele style bridge became the choice.  It's also more interesting to mix & match ideas into a chimera.  In this case a Gibson plan veiw and Fender side profile.  Finally to round out the design, I carved a armrest, contoured belly, and added an asymmetrical cut-a-way.  It's amazing how removing just a few square inches of surface area at the neck joint completely changes the look of a design.  A Hawk body meets the neck at the 16 fret like on a Les Paul, but the cut-a-way here slides into the neck, making it look so much longer.  Finally, the neck joint is a carved lap joint giving amazing access even to the very highest frets.
The pickups are both custom shop Seymour Duncan single coil pickups.  The neck pickup is a custom gold case Hot Tele STR-2 which is slightly overwound to 9.9 ohms, giving a "bigger, fatter sound with greater overall warmth".  The bridge pickup is a custom STL-2T Tapped Hot Lead for Tele delivering "fat, full punch in both the low and mid-range frequencies, yet it retains the muscular twang of a vintage style lead pickup".  But this custom Tapped pickup also takes a third hot wire lead from deeper in the coil thus give the options of the overwound sound, or the vintage tone (8 or 14 ohms), slightly less power but even more of that tele twang and clearity.   The low rocker switches provide the same pickup selection options as a three way blade in adition to OFF.  The addition of the Tap (controlled by a Push/Pull/Volume) give two tones any time the back pickup is in use for a total of 5 tones.
Just a single Volume keeps it simple, and also prevents "pot leakage".  The inclusion of a Treble Bleed circuit retains the "Bite" all the way down to zero as your roll off the volume, while the set neck gives this guitar sustain that dosn't want to quite.  Between the woods, construction, and pickups, this is an incredablely touch sensitive guitar, translating the slightest nuance of pick or finger attack, position, tapping, or palm muting.
And to top it off, is the stylized hawk face made out of various real shells.

 

 


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