Headstock from Hell

Pressing onward with the Hell’s Half Acre guitar, I’ve gotten the neck blank to the rough carve stage. To do this, I use a cabinet scraper as described in my previous post. After the truss rod has been installed and the spline glued in, the final headstock shape could be cut. Jim looks on as I finsih up.


In the photo below, you can see the tuner holes which are undersized until the moment the tuners are fitted. This will give a snug fit for improved vibration transfer.


The stepped channel for purfling and outside binding has also been cut. I’m using a half-herringbone purfling made of alternating maple and ebony pieces to create a look that evokes an image of the cowboy’s lariat. Here, you can also see the ring groove that has been cut at the headstock tip for the pearl monogram inlay. More after a while…


Blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll is as American as the wild west cowboy. In fact, I see it all as a single continuum. Roots music, which has its origins in a buffet of American influences is never more than a few steps away from the Cowboy song.

In a similar fashion, my concept for the Hell’s Half Acre guitar isn’t overtly kitch. Rather than a literal interpretation, using only blatant western cues, I wanted to hint at the idea in a cool way.

The trail driver’s whip and lasso were as crucial as his pistol and rifle—maybe even more important. The twisted form of the rope and the braid of the whip reminded me of a half-herringbone purfling that I had lying around. Made of small parallelograms  of alternating maple and ebony, I thought it would look good against a dark chestnut or black figured maple. I made up a test block of maple on mahogany and sandwiched the “rope” between the maple and a strip of ivoroid cellulose.


The next step was to apply a dark brown stain. To avoid deep penetration on the purfling, it has been lacquered lightly.


After the stain has set, I used a small sharp to scrape the binding and purfling clean. Using my index finger as a guide I can vary the width of the scraped area by rotating the blade, being careful not to cut too deep.


Here’s what it looks like cleaned up. I think it evokes the idea without being too over the top. There’ll be plenty of other chances to do that on this build.