This is a spec project, meaning that no
one ordered it in advance. I just wanted to make it. The Viking started life as
a Gibson SG with a broken headstock. We took pictures and video for each step
along the way. The project start date was 5/23/09 and was finished on 8/7/09. I
hope you enjoy watch me put this custom guitar together as much as I did
Where ever you see this symbol
it to see video of the process.
This video is of Alex Suttle of
Shotgun Theory playing The Viking. Click on the TV.
||Yes, a standard Gibson
SG is the base for this project. In the picture to the left, you see the
original condition of the guitar just after we pulled all the hardware off.
Click the symbol below for a video introduction of this
This guitar is going to be covered in detailed and exciting
inlay when we are through.
||Step one is to fix the
headstock. Gibsons have a real problem with snapping the back of the headstock
right above the nut. We have a four step process that will make this neck
better than new. "We have the technology. We can make it better, faster,
stronger than before." Sorry, bad 70's TV fastback. Does that mean I have to do
everything in slow motion? :-/
Anyway, the video shows more, but here are the picture of the
different steps to repair the neck.
Step 1, glue the headstock back together.
Step 2, route out channel in the
back of the neck for purple heart strength bars.
Step 3, glue the bar in.
Step 4, sand down the bars an reshape the
The finished neck is at least
three time stronger than the original neck out of the Gibson
I've seen this done with
metal strips, but I'm always worried that the metal in the neck would cause
tuning problems under hot stage lights. Metal is effected by heat. That why I
The final guitar will have
a very dark stain on this part of the neck, so the repair won't even be
Pictures of the sanded down body.
|After starring at the
original black plastic headstock plate, I decided that just wouldn't do for a
guitar this special. Sooooooo ... I decided to retop the headstock in AAA
rosewood. I wish I had taken more pictures of the process, but we were too
focused on the video.
Step 1, grind
off the original headstock plate and remove about 1/8 of wood. This was done
with a belt sander and files. We didn't think to video this step. Sorry about
Step 2, glue the rose wood
plate to the headstock.
Step 3, trim
the rosewood to the headstock shape and sand smooth.
Step 4, redrill the tunner holes
and the truss rod hole.
Part II coming soon
Rejected First Design, you can
see elements of the final design in the prototype design.
||I guess I
just have a thing against black plastic :-)
It's time to make a new
pickguard out of rosewood. The rosewood will match the new headstock and the
fretboard. Plus, I plan to make the back control plate out of rosewood
In the photos to the left you can also see where our Viking
friend from above will be placed. It's just paper now and it already look
The video shows how I made the pickguard in detail, but here
are the general steps.
Step 1 - Tape the
original pick guard to the rosewood.
Step 2 - rough cut the wood to the outside shape of the
original pick guard.
Step 3 -Dremel sand
the edges of the wood to closely match the pick guard
Step 4 - Drill all the necessary
holes and drill holes in the pick up holes in order to get the saw
Step 5 - cut out the pick up
Step 6 - Bevel the
Step 7 - Hand sand all rough
spots and final fit the guard.
||I decided to switch
gears and work on the headstock inlay. I just really needed to see some
progress in order to keep myself motivated. The three photos to the left (from
top to bottom) are, the plan of what I intend to inlay along with the tcover
which is already done. Sorry, I won't have and video on building the t-cover,
too late for that. I decided not to use the standard Gibson bell shape cover
because; one I don't like it, and two it takes up way to much space on the
headstock for my design. The second picture is some of the pieces made out of
nickel steel. The axe was made later, when at the last minute I decide to
change the design. The third picture is the finished headstock. Crappy picture
Below you can check out the video. I shot a really good segment
of how to level out the inlay, but my camera ate it. So, that's not in the
video. Sorry about that. I add this part to another video down the
||Inlay work on the
Viking Warrior continues. It's taking a lot longer than expected becase of all
the little tiny pieces all that have to fit perfectly. In the meantime, I
started working on the artwork for the pickguard inlay. I put a shark on the
sail because it's out company logo and I thought that would be cool. Sort of a
signature of the manufactuer.
||OH YEAH!!! The body
inlay is done. 146 pieces!!! I am really stoked by this inlay. Look way better
in person and it look great in the picture. The pictures below are snapshots of
the inlay process in progress. And here is the video as
||I finally got around to
creating the documentation for that inlay on the back of the guitar. I'm doing
shadow relief in black mother of pearl. The top photo is the original artwork
and the bottom picture is the final inlay. Check out the video for more details
on how it was done.
|Below are the fret
marker replacements. The helmets are made of white mother of pearl and are
designed to totally cover the original dots except for the 12th fret where I
left the dot in place. I did this because I didn't want to refret the guitar
and doing replace inlays below the 12th, with the fret in place, is really
hard. Therefore, all the inlay 15-21 are the origainal dots. This make the 12th
a transition look from the helmet to the dots.
If you look closing at
the helmet you will see that there are no visible gaps. The tolerances on the
inlay is perfect. I call this my "Growing Out of the Wood" look. It really
looks as if the pearl is just part of the wood and not inserted into
Here is a video of me putting inlay
in between frets.
|Staining is complete. I wish I was a
better photographer. This looks so much better live.
Here is the video of the process: Prep work
||Here are the inlaid
knobs for the guitar. They are Viking runes (alphabet). The up arrow is the
Viking version of a "T" and the one that looks something like an lower case "N"
is the Viking "V." This stands for Tone and Volume respectively. The knobs are
rosewood and the rune are inlaid in white mother of pearl. I'll have some video
for you on this soon.
||This is the control
plate for the back with my inlaid signature on it. The plate is rosewood and
the inlay is Gold Mother of Pearl. I wanted to sign the gutiar, but put it on
in a place where if I sell it, I can replace it with something else if the
|Clear coating is
complete. Sorry, we didn't take any videos of this step.
||This is a close up of
the neck repair. You can see that the repair is not visible. If you take the
guitar into bright sunlight (yeah like muscians ever do that), your just can
just make out the purple heart strips. However, the purple strips look cool so
|It's finished at last.
Check it out.
||And yes, that is a
solid steel axe head on the toggle switch. Sort of the crowning tough. And if
you didn't catch it at the top, check out Alex from Shotgun Theory putting it
through it's paces.
Thanks for joining me on this