Lefty’s Movin’ On
We’ve made real progress on the left-handed Artist Custom since we showed you the quilt maple billet that we selected. It’s turning out to be quite a special guitar.
For many years Hamer offered guitars with “Crown” mother of pearl inlays as a standard configuration. Some years ago we developed the Victory inlay, a play on the crown shape but unique to Hamer. Occasionally a customer will order a guitar with the original crowns. We’re happy to oblige. This lefty is one of those guitars. The customer also requested a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard that is “dark and rich and showcases the grain”. I think that we achieved that with this board.
Note how the crowns slightly protrude from the face of the fingerboard. This is because we bond a flat fingerboard onto the neck, allow the neck and fingerboard to stabilize and then later radius the board. In this manner the rosewood fingerboard and mahogany neck unite together and any possible bow is eliminated. When sanding our 14 inch radius into the board we only want to kiss the center of the fingerboard, leaving as thick of a board as possible. By leaving the mother of pearl just under .010″ above the face of the board we ensure that we sand the pearl first, not the rosewood. Our extra thick pearl inlays (they’re about .065″ thick) allow us to do this without thinning out the pearl so much as to make them translucent.
We first bind the scroll of the peghead and then the sides. Here’s a right-handed shot of a lefty peghead.
This piece of quilt really is magnificent. We’ve heard many stories about our customers being amazed by the beauty of our tops. In the beginning, we used rotary cut veneers on our guitars. The original Standards and Sunbursts were built like this. When we introduced the Sunburst Archtop, later renamed the Studio and the precursor of the Artist, we began using 8/4 figured big leaf – or western – maple for our tops. The term 8/4 refers to the thickness of the billet; it’s 8/4 of an inch thick. Perhaps more easily understood, it’s two inches thick. We then resaw the wood, rendering two bookmatched pieces of maple, each one inch thick. Because the top is bookmatched, each side of the top is a reflection of the other.
We have now completed the undercarve on the top. We carve the underside of the f-hole so that the thickness of the top is uniform under the entire f-hole. You’ll need a mirror to get inside of this guitar and wonder at the quilt on its underside. Next, the f-hole will be bound.
Of course we need to mate that top to something. Here we’re band sawing out the one piece body from genuine Honduran mahogany.
The entire body is lifted out of the blank – an amazing inside perspective.
Speaking of inside, here’s a close up of the sound chamber, branded with the Hamer USA Handcrafted Excellence logo.
We go over each fret slot by hand to insure that they are clean and free of dust so that we can best seat the frets.
We hand file the celluloid binding flush with the Brazilian rosewood fingerboard.
Each fret is hand pressed for a tight mechanical fit. After we fret the neck we’ll bind the sides of the fingerboard.
The body and neck make a wonderful match.
Here’s a nice trick: Adhesive backed sandpaper is place on a mahogany stick so that we can sand down the edge of the celluloid body binding.
Our oversized neck tenon supports the length of the fingerboard. Look closely at how tight our hand fit neck joint is.
We individually set the neck pitch on every guitar. This lefty is ready to move to the spraybooth and take on some color.