Archive for the ‘Hurrincane’ Category

This Hurricane is ready to go

Monday, January 31st, 2011

This Hurricane that we’ve been chronicling is complete. It’s ready to go; ready for someone to make some noise with it! Way back when we started it, we set out to make a unique looking and sounding guitar that would be a show after show workhorse. This one should do the trick.

It’s relatively light weight thanks to a basswood-core body. It has quite a unique look with it’s blue tiger maple finish. The high output Bill Lawrence Dimebag pickups give it plenty of voice, although it’s a bit harsh. All in all, this is a pure menace.


  • Nut width: 1 5/8 inch (Les Paul size)
  • Scale length: 24.75 inches (Les Paul)
  • 22 Frets, medium size
  • Standard thin neck with a double barrel truss rod
  • STORM custom peghead  with 3×3 tuning machines
  • Tiger maple veneer over basswood body
  • Bill Lawrence 500XL Neck pickup
  • Bill Lawrence X500XL Dimebag Darrel Bridge Pickup
  • Nashville Tune-o-matic bridge
  • Though the body stringing
  • Volume & Tone control (500K pots for both)
  • Bridge/Neck/Both pickup selection switch
  • Translucent blue nitrocellulose lacquer finish

This was an experimental design with the  basswood core and tiger maple top/back. We wanted to test out how the body would come together in appearance, feel and sound. So, we built it and we played it and played it and played it. It handles great, sounds great and looks great. We like it in all respects and will use this technique on future models.

So, who’s this aggressive beast going to? Well, that’s kind of up to you. Since this was an experimental prototype and we played it quite a bit, we’re going to put it on E-Bay as a demo model. That means someone is going to get a monster of a guitar at a pretty fair bargain.

Polishing Time

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

The body has been sprayed with blue, black and twelve coats of clear nitrocellulose lacquer at this point. We’ve left it cure for over two weeks to dry thoroughly.

It’s not done yet! The lacquer looks good at this stage, but we still have more work to do yet. Now it’s time to wet sand the guitar with 2500 grit sandpaper.

Wet sand doesn’t mean drenched-wet sanding, however. It’s a careful process with minimal water to protect the finish. Automobiles were finished with this type of lacquer until just a few years ago, so the finish is actually waterproof. We minimalize the use of water to keep dampness out of the holes and cavities and we don’t want to remove too much of the finish. The goal is to create a smooth, even finish.

The next step is to buff out the finish and polish it to a glass-like appearance.

Finish Applied

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

This photo shows the translucent blue finish over the tiger maple body. It’s turning out just as we planned, despite me arguing with myself over leaving it natural.

The translucent blue finish is created by putting a blue dye in clear lacquer. It take some experimenting along with a bit of trial and error to get just the right color. Different types of wood will hold the color slightly different, so the only way to get exactly the desired finish is to test and test.

The black sunburst effect is not completely finished, however. This body will require a another light coat, or maybe two, of black lacquer along the edges to deepen the effect.

Ready for Finishing

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Now this Hurricane is really starting to look like a STORM Custom Guitar. The binding is in-place, all the control knob holes and the jack hole are drilled. The body has been lightly smoothed and it’s ready to be finished.

Even though the plan all along has been to finish it with a translucent blue lacquer, I kind of think it might look fine just clear coated. I like the light tiger maple wood accented by the black binding. Hmm…

No changes! I’ll stick with the original plan and finish it in blue. All the hardware is chrome, which will go with the blue very well.

All we’d have to do, though, is order new hardware in black to keep the body natural. That’s the great thing about making truly custom guitars – almost anything is possible. The combinations of wood, finishes and components are so varied that the possibilities seem endless.

All Tied Up

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

After the channel was routed along the edges of the guitar body, the binding is put in place with an adhesive. The we wrap the body with giant rubber bands to apply pressure. This holds the binding in place while the adhesive dries.

This photo shows the back of the guitar body with the electronics cavity visible. One of the logistic difficulties of the Hurricane body is packing four potentiometers and a switch in to the cavity. The body’s design limits the space slightly compared to more traditional guitars. We make it all fit, though.

We’ll let the adhesive dry for a day or so before unwrapping the guitar. This would be a great time to take a break and play some guitar. I’ll be playing a STORM Custom Guitar, of course.

Neck Fit

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

The body is roughed out and the neck and pickup cavities are routed. So, let’s try the neck out just to see what it’s going to look like.

Hmm…It looks like it fits. They always do at this stage. Neck fit is perhaps one of the trickiest parts of lutherie. On a guitar like this Hurricane, the neck has to be straight along the guitar’s horizontal axis.

Since this Hurricane will have a Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge, the neck angle has to be right so that the strings clear the pickups and rest nicely over the bridge.

Visually inspecting the guitar at this point also gives us a check on how the overall appearance will look. Sometimes something catches the eye and that gut feel takes over. It can be impossible to correct an issue later on in the process. Feeling good about the instrument the entire way through the construction process is what makes lutherie fun.

Routing the Binding Channel

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

At this point the tiger maple veneer has been applied to the body. The fine grain of the maple is clearly visible in this photo. In this step, we are routing a channel in the body for the binding.

We chose a basswood body with a tiger maple veneer for two reasons.

First, the basswood is light. A maple body would be very heavy compared to basswood. Heavy isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not what we wanted in this particular instrument. There’s not many guitars heavier than a mahogany Les Paul. As I said, heavy isn’t bad.

Secondly,  we wanted a warm tone. A maple body would produce a brighter, crisper tone. Bright and crisp isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not what we wanted in this particular instrument. A swamp ash Strat is bright and crisp. As I said, bright and crisp isn’t bad.

Now, on the matter of tone, we’ve selected some Bill Lawrence pickups to give this Hurricane a pretty harsh voice. Yes, an X500XL Dimebag Darrel will be going in to this one. It could be dangerous.

Rough Cut

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

In this photo, the Hurricane body has been roughed out on the band saw. The edges have been sanded with a drum sander to smooth things out to match the signature shape of this style guitar.

We’ve also routed the pickup and neck cavities. This body is made from bass wood, which is lighter and somewhat softer than mahogany or ash. That just means that we have to be a little more protective of the piece while we’re working on it. There’s still some more sanding and shaping to be done.

Then, the next steps on this guitar will be to apply a tiger maple veneer to the body and then rout a channel for the binding. The finish will be  a translucent blue lacquer with black sides and a sunburst effect on the the edges.

Planing is not enough

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

After the blank stock is planed, we still scrap and check to make sure that its as flat as possible. This is probably and excessive step since the body will be sanded and re-sanded.

How much attention to detail to too much? It’s hard to tell what too much looks like, but you can certainly too when there’s too little.

They don’t start out pretty

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Hurricane BlankWe all love to see, hold and (most importantly) PLAY beautiful guitars. That’s what lutherie is all about, to us at least. There’s nothing better than creating an instrument that looks spectacular and sounds just as good. How many times have you heard “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? Well, I think we can extrapolate that out to “Beauty is in the ear of the beholder!”.

Unfortunately, guitars don’t start out life looking as great as the luthier envisions them to be. Take this freshly glued up blank for instance. It doesn’t look too exciting. It doesn’t play real well either.

The challenge is to craft a visually appealing and sonically appealing instrument from this ordinary wood blank. This particular blank is destined to be a Category 1 Hurricane. That’s the work horse of our custom designed line. A guitar that turns head and ears alike. A guitar that you play night in, night out, gig after gig.

We’ll chronicle the progress on this particular Hurricane all the way from start to finish. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the process as much as we do.