Typically Hamer necks are crafted from Honduran mahogany; the Talladega and our multi-string basses feature a rock maple neck.
We recently received an inquiry from a customer requesting us to build a very custom Chaparral Custom. His specifications included a neck made from Wenge wood. Similar to Rosewood in nature, Wenge is a hard, stable wood often coming from Cameroon in Africa. Needless to say, this dense wood has some weight to it.
Here’s the three piece Wenge neck blank. The opposing grain pattern that enhances stability is clearly visible.
Tom Maule is a high skilled woodworker. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy and studying carpentry, in 1977 Tom began his professional woodworking career, working in several architectural millwork firms with increasing responsiblity. When Tom applied for a job with Hamer in 2005, we knew that we could not pass him up. His woodworking skill level, attention to detail and upbeat demeanor are a very difficult combination to find in any one individual.
Tom is running the neck blank over the shaper to cut the truss rod channel.
Here Tom is drilling the truss rod anchor hole.
Our neck blanks yield two necks. Tom has marked out the neck blank and is taking it to the band saw.
The neck blank band sawn into two usable rough necks.
Because the blanks are not wide enough to accomodate the entire peghead, we cut two “ears” from the same blank and bond them to the sides of the peghead.
We use pipe clamps to bond up the neck blanks as well as to bond the ears onto the blank. While other clamping methods may be more efficient, we have found the the use of multiple pipe clamps results in a tighter bond with absolutely no seam gaps. We actually use a total of nine pipe clamps to bond one three-piece neck blank.
This neck truly is custom. Add to the Wenge neck a Virtuouso reverse headstock! It’s a wild combination but we think that it will look good. Wait until you see the fingerboard…
The customer for this guitar did not stop with the neck. He also called out a figured Koa arched top to be bonded to a chambered mahogany body. He wanted the Koa to be exotic as well, a simple flame top would not do.
We were very fortunate for a period when we were able to bring in figured Koa from Hawaii for the Mirage models. While flame Koa for thin acoustic guitar tops can still be found, figured Koa in the two inch thickness that we need for an archtop guitar is increasingly difficult to locate.
We contacted a long time friend in Hawai who cuts some of the nicest Koa for discriminating luthiers and asked if he could help us. He said that he had a couple of choice Koa billets that he would shortly be putting in the kiln. After about four weeks, we received them in the mail. We emailed photos of both billets to the customer. This is the one that he chose.
Beautiful dark Koa with unusual figure.
The bookmatched set is exquisite.
We’ll keep you updated as this Exotica continues to move through the Woodshop and into Finishing.