While this may be the first build log published on Electric Herald, it’s certainly not the first build to come from the templates found here. What’s interesting about this one is that some significant modifications were made to the original ’83 Flying V template it was based on. The build log author and luthier in question goes by the name gib_ber in the Reddit r/Lutherie sub. He has been kind enough to provide us with the modified templates in PDF format. Feel free to download them and follow along:
Build Log: Gold Top Flying V (w/ Acrylic windows)
The whole process for this guitar started in last August. I had just finished my first attempt with a see-through top semi-hollow, and wanted to push the idea even further. I wanted to create something that I didn’t already have and it needed to be challenging. After some brainstorming sessions with a fellow luthier I ended up with the idea of a Flying V.
Because I knew that I would be using Finnish Birch for the body I immediately started thinking of how I could reduce the mass of the body. First came the recessed wings and then I took the idea even further and decided to hollow the wings out.
Originally, the idea was just to cover the wings with 6mm birch tops on both sides, but the success of my previous build with an acrylic top finally pushed me into the direction of using the same idea again.
From these basic ideas I started looking for sources to create the routing templates and wing covers in Illustrator. After finding Electric Herald templates rest of the planning was a breeze. Because I knew I would be doing a machine screw bolt on, I decided to extend the top half of the body a tiny bit to provide more wood around the neck.
I was originally planning on setting the top strap button on the side of the body, but in the end I ended up setting my top strap button on one of the neck bolts. The original plan for the body route was to have two humbuckers, but I use the neck humbucker so rarely that I decided to leave it out.
My go-to positioning method for setting up humbuckers for my builds is for the neck pickup’s top side to be 10mm from the neck pocket and the bridge humbucker’s bottom side to be 25mm from the scale mark. Don’t know if those really effect the sound in any way, but those work for me. For controls I only wanted a single volume that I could also use for splitting the bridge humbucker.
After the plans were finished I had the templates cut and started working on the individual pieces of the body. The middle block ended up being 40mm thick and 120mm wide. The wings are 30mm thick and roughly around 165mm wide. The middle sections routing and rough shaping went forward as usual, but the wings caused some issues.
Because I wanted the wings to be as skinny as possible on the sides and I knew that I had to install inserts into them. The wings are roughly around 15mm on the sides. After I had done the rough routing for the wings’ outer perimeter I installed the inserts on both sides and proceeded into hollowing out the wings. This was done with a drill press and a table router.
The glue up process for the wings to the body was quite straightforward. I ended up marking the center line on both sides of the middle section and then drawing out outer limits on the side. I also installed four pins on both sides to ensure that the wings wouldn’t wander around when being glued. I also used the inserts on the wings as reference points to ensure that the wings were on the right spot. You can see the gluing process in the second image in this article.
After the wings were glued I started on routing my body cavities for neck and the bridge humbucker. This didn’t take too long and I also started the work on the neck at this point. I’ve got some sort of soft spot for Fenders Starcaster headstock and I really wanted to use it in this build. The neck has a 25.5 inch scale length and is a maple neck with a walnut fretboard, 2-way truss rod, brass dot inlays, bone nut and 22 Hosco Jumbo frets.
After the body cavities were routed and the neck had it’s rough shape I ended up testing how comfortable the neck joint would be without any extra routings and it just didn’t work for me. So I ended chamfering the neck joint with a router to make it more accessible and pleasing to the eye.
At this point I reinforced the wings with some low viscosity epoxy and also filled the body for final sanding. I also installed threaded inserts into the neck and drilled holes for the neck bolts on to the back of the body. I’ve been using M5 hex machine screws for all of my builds to attach the neck into the body. I’ve been using these because I always install my truss rod access onto the body side and I like the attack the bolt on neck gives to the guitars overall sound.
After this the body was sent to be painted and I could focus more finalizing the neck.
The fretboard ended up having a 12 inch radius and for the necks shape I once again ended up with a modern C shape. 21mm on the 1st fret and around 23mm on the 12th fret. Shaping the neck heel to fit the body was postponed until later, because I needed the body for that. I chamfered the headstock with a few different siklis (this is a Russian term for card scrapers – a small flat sheet of metal, very simple tool).
After a few weeks I finally got the body back from paint and I was able to finish up with the necks shaping. After the shaping and final sanding once done I coated the neck with mineral oil. Three coats was enough this time. I had to re-fit the covers on to the wings because the paint had altered the size of the middle section a tiny bit. A lot of sanding and fitting to get all four covers to sit nicely in their place.
I also flame polished the sanded edges and sides to get a clear see-through finish back into the covers. Front there, I just had to cut the nut and do the final assembly for the guitar.
Finished Guitar Specifications
- Finnish Birch body
- 40mm in the middle section
- 30mm in the wings + 3mm acrylic covers on both sides
- Covers attached into the wings with threaded inserts and m4 hex screws
- Neck is attached to the body with M5 hex screws.
- Black Wilkinson roller bridge and strings through the body
- Tonerider AC4 Alnico IV -humbucker in the bridge
- Single 500k Alpha Log volume pot with a push pull split for the humbucker
- Switchcraft jack
- Schaller style strap locks
- Maple neck
- 1st fret 21mm, 12fret, 23mm
- Walnut fretboard
- 2mm Brass dot inlays
- 2-way truss rod, access on the body side
- 22 Hosco Jumbo frets
- Black Wilkinson tuners and string tree
- Bone nut (43mm)
- M5 threaded inserts in the neck