The Purpleheart Guitar collection.

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Blog entry by Chardt posted 07-17-2008 10:09 PM 8538 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This series will hope to outline the work I’ve done building several guitars out of a large stock of Purple heart I got a couple of years ago. It was about the size of a door, and I carefully planned to make 6 guitar bodies out of it.

In addition to the Bass, which I posted in the projects section, here is where I currently stand with the various guitars.

1. Telecaster body: I really wanted a vintage 59’ Tele. Blonde with a black pickguard and a filthy maple neck. But I didn’t want to spend $2000. I drew out the body freehand, which is why it’s not the exact Tele size/shape. I also decided that I wanted to dump 4 full humbuckers into it. A tad extreme I know. ...Oh, then I decided I would have micro- toggles for each pickup that would tap them to Single coils for versatility.

After I routed out the body for the pickups, I realized that I would need some kind of pickguard to hold them. But I didn’t want to detract from the gorgeous wood, so I tried to make a pickguard out of clear plexi glass.

I shattered a couple of pieces on the bandsaw before I realized that you really need to be careful cutting it. So I took it sloooooow and careful. and got it all worked out.

Here’s where I’m at with this one…
Tele body

2. SG-ish Neck through body. (Arch top): This is my first attempt at a Neck-thru body electric. I purchased the Neck from Stew-mac. I have an SG template that I copied from DamnHippies wifes guitar when I replaced the pickups for her.

However, mine is a little more organic, and definitely thicker/heavier than a standard SG. Plus I made it as an Arch top. I have glued the wings to the neck, but I noticed that it’s not a perfect join. So I think I’m going to add some abalone inlay along the glue line to hide the defect. It still needs to be shaped more, especially at the cutaways. I am going to use an EMG active pickup in the bridge and a String through body design. I found a cool chrome FLAME bridge that I’ll use.

I haven’t decided on a headstock shape yet, but I’m trying to come up with a cool logo/ headstock design.

Here’s where I’m at with this one….


SG 2

SG 4

3. Travel Guitar (First attempt at’ll laugh!): So I had a small piece left, and after measuring it, I decided I could eek out a small body for a travel guitar. So I cut it and shaped it as best I could, considering the size of the piece I had to work with. A friend sketched out a lightning bolt and a really cool flame design on a piece of Curly maple that I eventually will use as inlays on various projects. So with a dremel, and chisels I set about trying to inlay a lightning bolt.

A couple of things to note…(Which I have since learned was a big mistake!)
1. I used the bandsaw to cut the inlay off a 1” thick stock of curly maple. The inlay is over 1/4 thick. Too thick!

2. Cutting the inlay with a dremel. Not nearly precise enough. I have a couple of gaps now between the side and the inlay. Looks pretty bad.

3. Oh yeah, I tried to do an inlay without thinking it through. ...the old addage measure twice, cut once? Yeah, personal favorite is ‘Eh, how hard could it be!’. When people see it, I just say ‘It’s SUPPOSED to look like that’.

Here is where this priceless work of art stands… I’ll be putting a single humbucker, single volume knob in it with a Tune-o-matic style bridge.

Travel guitar

-- When my wife ask's what I have to show for my wood working hobby, I just show her the splinters.

3 comments so far

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4806 days

#1 posted 07-17-2008 10:22 PM

That’s going to be quite a collection. I have to ask, isn’t the purple heart a little dense for guitar bodies. I know several of the name brand manufacturers make some guitars with ash and maple bodies, but I always thought the perfect tone was obtained from a hardwood neck and a less dense body. I’ve only made two electrics, so I’m no expert, just thought I’d ask your theory. Thanks for the post.

View Chardt's profile


169 posts in 4663 days

#2 posted 07-17-2008 10:36 PM

You’re right. It’s used as an accent wood usually, and not a primary wood.

I find that the weight and density add to the sustain. The downside is that they tend to be heavy beasts.

I’ve seen a lot of different exotic woods used for bodies including KOA, cocobolo, etc. with mahogany being regarded as the BEST for tone.

I initially made them as an experiment after seeing what Purpleheart looks like when finished. I’m relieved that they sound really good in addition to looking as striking as they do.

I’m not sure what materials I’ll use next, but I’m sure it’ll be something odd, just to see how it works.

-- When my wife ask's what I have to show for my wood working hobby, I just show her the splinters.

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6874 posts in 5041 days

#3 posted 07-26-2008 01:14 AM

Looks like a difficult area of woodworking.

Very nice work.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

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