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!