This one was a curiosity project for my own collection... A Marshall MS-2 embedded into a guitar - a self amplified electric guitar!
Now I should probably start by saying that this is no way an official partnership with Marshall, nor is it for sale but I did write to them to seek permission for the project and the use of their logo (from the amp) somewhere on the build. As you can guess they actually agreed, providing I don't claim any endorsed connection or try to use it as a means to sell the guitar (never going to happen) which is another mark adding to the reason they are probably my favourite amp manufacturer.
I have done a detailed build thread on 'thefretboard' guitar forum here so I'll keep this as an edited version, you can check out the thread for full details. Btw www.thefretboard.co.uk is an awesome forum for all things guitar, well worth a look.
Here's the body all cut and routed to take all the amp inards.
There was a lot of wood to remove to fit all the parts in, and I just managed to fit the main circuit board in, leaving the front about 1mm thick!
The 'YinYang' speaker cut out was routed by hand, and I made a template for the rest of the cavity to make sure the cover was a good fit.
All the covers and battery box test fit. Looking good.
I made the neck in between too, a process I'm intending to do a mini series on soon. You can check how i do inlays on my other blog, and I have a timelapse video on my YouTube channel of how I shape the necks, too.
I went for a Maple/Walnut laminate (looks nice, and adds strength) with a Wenge fretboard and EVO Gold Jescar frets. The intricate inlay design for the 12th fret really tested me, and I'm not 100% happy with it, but it works well as it is the military symbol for Field Marshal (see the link :) ?)
I went for a pearl white finish with gold hardware, it had to be didn't it! I added some black detail around the body, on the scoop, and the headstock.
The wiring stage was tricky and fiddly, trying to get all the components and wires in without it turning into a rats nest of wiring. And making sure nothing shorts! A mini toggle switch allows me to select between the onboard amp or running it externally like a normal guitar. I also kept the AC adapter in and speaker out on the Marshall mainly as it was easier than rewiring the board to delete them.
A Faraday cage was added to the speaker to help minimise feedback/microphonic resonance (not sure on it's effectiveness but it certainly has a placebo effect at the least ha).
That pretty much sums it up, it was a fun little project to make and even more fun to play!
You can check out how it sounds on YouTube where I do a full detail video of all the features and sounds.
Thanks for reading, here's some more photos...
The contact point for your fingers to allow their creative juices to flow and be converted into a crazy face melting solo, or catchy riff to nod your head to... The fretboard!
But, to me, these things are far more than just a functional piece of wood. They are an extension of the guitar, quite literally, and so in my mind they deserve some attention. First of all the wood needs to be a nice looking piece with character and some attractive figuring. Then the inlays and markers should encompass the body of the guitar, and the musician if it's a custom guitar, and reflect the styling of it. I'll include a little video of how I go about this on my Tao model range. For these guitars I have settled on a particular shape that fits in the curved shape (which I'd like to give a name, so feel free to put suggestions in the comments).
In my latest Thundabolt builds I've experimented with some lightning bolt inlays, again keeping with the theme of the guitars. For my Raptors I decided on some very thin fret markers running diagonally across the frets, and an inlay on the 12th fret to tie in with the theme of the build.
I'm not particularly good with words, so hopefully the photos help show what I'm talking about.
Of course your bespoke instrument could include something that means something to you, or a symbol you like etc. Experimenting with different materials and styles is a huge part of the fun of building handmade guitars, for me at least! And it's a good chance to express a creative side and make a feature.
So these next photos show a little experiment with some glow in the dark powder, the kind you add to nail polish and paint your nails when you go out raving. It works really well, and mixes great with superglue to from a nice hard resin like inlay. Simply cut the shape out, fill with powder and add glue! Sand it down when finished for a perfectly smooth transition. And best of all the powder comes in a set of multiple colours, one to suit every guitar!
Enough blabbing on from me, I know you've been patiently waiting to see the video I promised, so without further ado I bid you farewell.
Thanks again for reading, and see you in the next installment.
Whilst we're all sat in Covid-19 lockdown, most unable to go about our daily business, I thought it'd be a good time to start blogging about how and what i do at Hilditch Handmade Guitars!
My name? Mark Hilditch, no prizes for guessing where my brand name inspiration came from.
I've always been a lover of all things guitar, when I was younger I had dreams of being a rock star. Unfortunately I only have a limited natural talent for playing. However, also having a keen interest in woodwork, being a massive fan of gloriously figured exotic and domestic species and having an inquisitive mind when it comes to electronics, it didn't take long to realise my talent for building electric guitars from scratch.
Am I a Luthier? Who knows. If I need to complete a course and win a piece of paper with the word printed on, and a signature off some official, then no I'm not. If, however, I can fulfill the requirements of tentatively selecting and shaping fine cuts of exquisite wood, together with quality hardware, components and strings, and compiling them into an instrument that not only looks great but sounds great and gives the wielder a sense and feeling of being the rock star that I dreamed of being... Then yes, you can call me a Luthier.
I pride myself on producing handmade guitars, almost entirely made with hand tools. I do use a router and template to trim my bodies and necks, and then proceed to hand sand to final shape. Body contouring and carving is done with wooden hand planes and rasps, and all neck carving is done with similar methods. I do all inlaying with small carving chisels, and fret with a small Beech hammer. So I try to be hands on as much as possible so that a part of my character goes into each guitar and helps them develop their own character too!
I've never been one to follow the crowd which is why I decided to produce my own designs. There are some familiar elements, nodding to the main popular designs because they are popular for a reason! Couple this with my love of 80's Hair Metal, and you can see where my designs came from.
I'll not drone on much more, you'll be hearing from me again soon with numerous photos and videos from my slice of heaven, otherwise known as my man shed.
So thank you for reading, and finding my site, and I look forward to building your custom Hilditch Handmade Guitar!