Testing Tulsa Tooling

My Tulsa guitars have been getting popular, so I decided to streamline and rebuild some of the tooling I use to build them. I hadn’t figured on “tooling up” properly so this was an opportunity to make use of my experience and do things correctly. Having great tools allows me to spend more time on the things that matter most instead of trying to remember dimensions and build order.


One of the things that does require a lot of handwork is the fitting of the neck. Because my neck tenon is full width, and has square corners, the pocket in the body must match. The router leaves a rounded corner, so the only way is to hand chisel the corners.


The mortise (pocket) is routed slightly undersize, so that I can open it up by hand until the neck is a tight fit, and that happens at this stage.


Once the neck fits, I clamp it temporarily to check the pitch to the bridge. This one is getting a wrap tail, so that’s what you see here. I actually like to do this before the neck is fretted and the body completely finished. That way if things are going astray I have less time invested if I have to switch gears—like using a different neck! Thankfully, my tooling and measurements are precise, so this one is right on the money.

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Jol Dantzig is a guitar builder, designer, writer and filmmaker. He has worked for Gibson, Fender, Guild, Ovation, Gretsch, and was a founding partner of Hamer guitars—one of the first boutique custom guitar brands. Dantzig’s work has been played by hundreds of artists including Sting, Steve Stevens, Larry Coreyell, Dug Pinnick, Billy Gibbons, Keb Mo’, Nick Lowe, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, John Abercrombie, Glen Campbell, Rick Nielsen, Kenny Vaughan, Lita Ford, James Honeyman Scott, Elliott Easton, Andy Summers, Peter Frampton, Martin Barre, Lyle Workman, Brad Gillis, George Harrison, Jeff Ament, Dweezil Zappa, Jeff Tweedy, Nancy Wilson—and many others.