A guitar for Daniel

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Project by Dan Lyke posted 12-31-2012 07:13 PM 3015 views 6 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Daniel is the son of a friend of ours, a young man who lives about 3 hours from us who’s out of high school and having trouble figuring out where to go next. He’d come out to visit while we were building the workshop, and I’d foolishly suggested that he should come back and build a guitar in it.

Well, he called us up and said “really?”. Charlene and I are nothing if not suckers for spoiling other people’s children when we think there’s opportunity for personal growth and skill and confidence building, so we said “sure!”. And then we had to figure out how to build it.

So he came out and stayed with us for a few weeks earlier in December, and then he and his mom came back this weekend to finish it up.

The through-neck is constructed from maple and walnut. The body is quilted maple sandwiched over a layer of Peruvian mahogany. The fingerboard is comatillo, a Mexican Rosewood, and the trim pieces are purpleheart. Brass or brass plated hardware finishes it out.

Full chronicle at my LumberJocks blog series "A Guitar For Daniel" or over on my personal site, but… a few highlights:

Note that a couple of things changed dramatically during construction (the fret board and the bridge both changed due to my screw-ups), so if it looks like we’re building two guitars here, that’s why.

And, yes, we think we’re done for now, but everyone agrees that that peghead neads something in it to break up the huge expanse… maybe a patterned brass truss rod cover, maybe some sort of inlay. But that can wait for a few months…

And we need to do some better recording, but here’s a few seconds of him jamming with the new bridge:

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-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

11 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


8865 posts in 3353 days

#1 posted 12-31-2012 07:39 PM

Wow, great design! Looks like you want to hold it and give it respect at same time!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3520 days

#2 posted 12-31-2012 07:58 PM

I’d say that turned out quite nicely, especially for your first effort! Next up, an acoustic?

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View a1Jim's profile


117722 posts in 4087 days

#3 posted 12-31-2012 08:41 PM

Love it ,great job.

View Philip's profile


18 posts in 3279 days

#4 posted 12-31-2012 09:22 PM

Very good work for a 1st run at it. Learning curve is high at the beginning, it does get easier after you have tossed a few in the fire though. :)

-- Philip, Minnesota,

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

6829 posts in 3863 days

#5 posted 01-01-2013 12:24 AM

WOW! I’m impressed! Nice job! It looks great and sounds great too!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View HenryH's profile


139 posts in 3915 days

#6 posted 01-01-2013 01:20 AM

The kid might be wandering but he can jam!
Nice looking guitar.

-- HenryH - PA

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 3495 days

#7 posted 01-01-2013 12:40 PM

I really like the rounded over contours around the edges. I did that on a couple of mine and feel it really lends a very approachable look and feel. I personally am not a fan of the headstock, but I have done headstocks before that other people didn’t like, so I know it’s just personal preference.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Terry's profile


206 posts in 4144 days

#8 posted 01-01-2013 01:00 PM

Nice Guitar. A+++ to you for helping him build it. Looks like he could start a career down a woodworking path.

View Mike's profile


139 posts in 2551 days

#9 posted 01-01-2013 04:12 PM

Unreal…I’m at a loss for words…that thing is gorgeous! As a musician myself, I have often wondered about making my own bass, but my skills are nowhere near that level in the woodshop yet! A tip of the hat for you and your wife for taking him for a few weeks and showing him what he can do with a little coaching. What a confidence booster! He could persue this and go several different directions with it…maybe even a guitar maker for Gibson one day!!! Who Knows

-- A person of integrity never speaks of it...he walks in it...

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4635 days

#10 posted 01-01-2013 04:58 PM

Thanks, y’all! It’s been a real learning experience for me, both in woodworking techniques I hadn’t tried before (like the inlays on those fret boards) and for learning when to step in to make sure things get done, and when to step back and let him struggle.

And one of the things that really shocked me was that he’s using EMG active pickups on both this and his Ibanez. I’d always chalked up the sound of an electric solid body to the pickups, but it is amazing how different those two guitars with very similar hardware sound. The Ibanez has a high brassy sound, this one has a big round full sound with a growling undercurrent that says “lock up your daughters”.

live4ever, I’m thinking about smaller things, like maybe a ukelele or a scaled down hollow body electric. My brother-in-law and one of his sons build acoustic guitars, and in watching them get started I realize there’s a lot about being a competent woodworker already and then spending 4 years apprenticed to German masters, and building all of the jigs and forms and such, that I haven’t got. Even though Luthier's Mercantile is just a few miles up the road and I believe I could go use their forms on a work day, I’d rather stick to things I can do in my shop as it is.

Ripthorn, as we got into this I developed two regrets over body shape: First, that he wasn’t willing to let me go really avant garde with the body carving, I’ve gotten pretty adept with the angle grinder and 50 grit sandpaper since my textured limestone topped outdoor table, and I think putting some real ridges in it ala Andy's Art Box tutorial would look really cool. The second is that we didn’t put an open hole and horns down there at the tail end, something like this Alembic bass.

Mike, you might be surprised at what you can do if you just sit down and say “how am I going to solve this problem with the tools I have at hand?”. If you went with a peghead that’s parallel to the fretboard, or laminated an extra two layers on to the neck (that would get cut off except for the body and the peghead) that would eliminated the hardest cuts we had to make. It would have been nice if I had a jointer, but this was done with almost all hand-held power tools. Sure, we cheated a few alignment issues with the Domino, but there are other ways to do that. And if you have a band saw, then there’s a lot of “cut with the jigsaw, smooth with the router and follow bits” that just goes away.

And Gibson’s fine and all, but I know the folks at Alembic ‘cause Ron’s an old school computer geek and we’ve gotten together to talk nerdly stuff. if I’m gonna push Daniel any direction career-wise, we’re going for the high end. [grin]

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View WoodenFrog's profile


2737 posts in 3423 days

#11 posted 01-02-2013 01:00 AM

Dan, I still like it!! Thanks for the sound clips it sounds Awesome! He can Jam Too….

-- Robert B. Sabina, Ohio.....

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