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The Viking

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 creating it.

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Where ever you see this symbol Video images of Guitar Inlay click on it to see video of the process.

This video is of Alex Suttle of Shotgun Theory playing The Viking. Click on the TV.Video Guitar Inlay,Custom Guitar Inlay,Guitar Repair,Gibson SG,Shark Inlay,Gibson Guitar,Alex Suttle,Shotgun Theory

Gibson SG, Gibson Guitar, Guitar Repair, Guitar Inlay 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 project.

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This guitar is going to be covered in detailed and exciting inlay when we are through.
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Gibson SG, Gibson Guitar, Guitar Repair, Guitar Inlay, Headstock break, CAM Machine
Gibson SG, Gibson Guitar, Guitar Repair, Guitar Inlay, Headstock break
Gibson SG, Gibson Guitar, Guitar Repair, Guitar Inlay, Headstock break
Gibson SG, Gibson Guitar, Guitar Repair, Guitar Inlay, Headstock break
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.

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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 neck.

The finished neck is at least three time stronger than the original neck out of the Gibson factory.

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 use wood.

The final guitar will have a very dark stain on this part of the neck, so the repair won't even be noticable.
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Pictures of the sanded down body.

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Gibson Guitar,Gibson SG,Guitar Repair,Rosewood headstock,Shark Inlay,Viking Guitar,Guitar Refinish
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 that.

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.

Video Guitar Inlay,Custom Guitar Inlay,Guitar Repair,Gibson SG,Shark Inlay,Gibson Guitar Part I

Video Guitar Inlay,Custom Guitar Inlay,Guitar Repair,Gibson SG,Shark Inlay,Gibson Guitar Part II coming soon

Artwork Begins

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 too.

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 great.

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 shape.
Step 4 - Drill all the necessary holes and drill holes in the pick up holes in order to get the saw in.
Step 5 - cut out the pick up holes.
Step 6 - Bevel the edges.
Step 7 - Hand sand all rough spots and final fit the guard.

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Steel Gibson Guitar Logo
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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 though.

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 road.

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Shark Inlay, Viking Guitar Inlay, Custom Inlay, Guitar Inlay 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.
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Viking Inlay,Shark Inlay,SharkInlay,Gibson,Gibson SG,Custom Guitar Inlay 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 promised.

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Viking Inlay,Shark Inlay,SharkInlay,Gibson,Gibson SG,Custom Guitar Inlay Viking Inlay,Shark Inlay,SharkInlay,Gibson,Gibson SG,Custom Guitar Inlay
Viking Inlay,Shark Inlay,SharkInlay,Gibson,Gibson SG,Custom Guitar Inlay
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.

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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 it.
Here is a video of me putting inlay in between frets.

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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 Video Guitar Inlay,Custom Guitar Inlay,Guitar Repair,Gibson SG,Shark Inlay,Gibson Guitar
Staining Video Guitar Inlay,Custom Guitar Inlay,Guitar Repair,Gibson SG,Shark Inlay,Gibson Guitar
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Custom Inlay,Guitar Inlay,Control Knobs,Custom Control Knols,Shark Inlay 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.
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Clear coating is complete. Sorry, we didn't take any videos of this step.
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Custom Inlay,Guitar Inlay,Gibson,Gibson SG,Shark Inlay,The Viking
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Custom Inlay,Guitar Inlay,Gibson,Gibson SG,Shark Inlay,The Viking,Cliff Suttle,Neck Repair 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 who cares.
It's finished at last. Check it out.
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Custom Inlay,Guitar Inlay,Gibson,Gibson SG,Shark Inlay,The Viking,Cliff Suttle,Neck Repair
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Custom Inlay,Guitar Inlay,Gibson,Gibson SG,Shark Inlay,The Viking,Cliff Suttle
Custom Inlay,Guitar Inlay,Gibson,Gibson SG,Shark Inlay,The Viking,Cliff Suttle,Custom Control Knobs 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.

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Thanks for joining me on this Viking journey.