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I'm Graham Allan. This page is to help me keep track of my next guitar project.

Previous guitars that I have made have been completely undocumented. They tend to take a long time because I only do a little work on them every now and then. Some have taken up to around five years, I think. When they were finished I had no clue as to how long I spent on them, where I got the wood, the hardware, what paints and varnishes I used, whose help I enlisted ... Not a big deal, really, but it would be nice to look back and know these things.

I'll assume that you are not me, as once I have checked these first paragraphs it's unlikely that I'll read them again. I shall start off by giving a little backgound explaining why I wanted to make this particular guitar, and showing a few visualisations that I made before I ever got up off my backside.

In 1964 I bought a Gretsch Jet Firebird and loved it. You can see me giving it a cuddle in this picture that was taken in St Moritz, Switzerland in 1966.
 
Not long after that picture was taken a terrible accident took place. La Reine Victoria, the hotel where I was playing for the season, had a rather nice ballroom. There were two stages; one on the longer side where the band played and another on the shorter side where the occasional theatrical production took place. It also had a sprung maple floor.
 
One morning the band was on the theatrical stage having some publicity photographs taken. The photographer had a problem with his mains supply and an electrician was called for. The electrician, a big, heavy Italian, approached from the other end of the empty ballroom. His rhythmic step set up a vibration and I saw from a distance of about twenty-five yards the red Gretsch bouncing on its Jiffy stand. I ran, but was not in time to stop it falling. The nut hit the foot of a microphone stand and the head snapped clean off.
 
That wasn't the end of its life. It was repaired by the hotel carpenter and lasted to the end of the season. Soon after I returned to England it broke again in the middle of the night. A second, better repair was done, but I had lost confidence and sold it in Charing Cross Road quite cheaply.

Second visualisation
I have a lot of Gibson knobs and switches, so this presented a cheaper alternative. I learnt that Gretsch sometimes used a tone knob instead of the three-way switch I had on the Firebird and this seemed a more sensible option. The wiring remains strictly Gretsch.
 
The bottom two knobs are for the volume of the neck and bridge pickups and the top two are master volume and master tone. I decided I could live without a standby switch.
 
I might have a Fender tremolo unit somewhere; if not, they are dirt cheap.

Fourth visualisation
Then I remembered a couple of pieces of book-matched straight-grained spruce that are sitting with some ebony and rosewood fingerboard and bridge blanks in my workshop. Using those for the top and staining rather than painting it red would allow me to put in some cavities.
 
The grain in this picture is a quick and dirty photoshop layer. It will look better than this.
 
The scratch plate on the original guitar when I bought it was black; I made it gold myself. My mind is still open on what I shall use for this one. It will be perspex painted on the back, as the original was. If I want to make a transfer with my name on it gold might be easier. I don't have a white ribbon for the dye sub printer. I do have gold though, so it could be gold with a black name or black with a gold name. Not black with a white name though.

Step one - a template
I have no template for this guitar, and I don't have an original to make one from, so it's a question of designing it from scratch. I have a good full-frontal picture of a Jet Firebird made in the same year as mine, so I started off with that. Note how the neck is not set quite square to the body on this one. I had to compensate for that.
 
I find making bezier curves easier in photoshop than in illustrator, and I started making a path round the body shape. This was not as successful as I hoped and I ended up blacking everything in within the black band of the binding then whiting out everything outside it. I then had to enlarge the shape to meet the outer edge of the binding. I did a little tidying up and I made it absolutely symmetrical.

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