How We Build Them
I`ve made guitars all sorts of ways. The first couple I made using no more than hand tools and a £30 hand held router. I then made myself a router table and bought a small planer thicknesser which helped with efficiency.
Then followed a borrowed pin router and a table saw, later, along with various drills and bandsaws I bought a thickness sander and a pin router of my own. For top carving I started with gouges and planes followed by a self made duplicarver.
These methods are great but inefficient in many ways. The time it takes to make jigs for every new set up is just one thing that makes them a less than optimal method. For the Rocket series of guitars we are using the most modern CNC machining facilities we can. These have improved accuracy, efficiency and safety.
All our guitars start with careful material selection. I have specific requirements for wood selection that require a hands on approach. Once the wood has been selected in board form we store it in our shop until it meets our requirements for both moisture content and stability.
To actually make boards of wood into the early stages of a guitar requires careful cutting to ensure grain direction of the finished part is where I want it.
These early stages are the vital building blocks on which everything else is based.
All the early steps are performed in good old fashioned early 20th century style with bandsaws, table saws, planers and spindle moulders. There are even a couple of steps we do on my trusty Wadkin pin router. There is also clamping and glueing using methods dating back to the very early days of woodworking.
We don`t choose any of our methods for either romantic or financial reasons. We use them because they give us the best results possible.
Once the heart of the guitar has been chosen, we use the cnc machine to ensure that the result is the most accurate version of that guitar possible.
I`m a pretty good joiner. I have no problems working by hand to within thousandths of an inch. I haven`t yet found enough people willing to pay me for the time that requires! The CNC does an incredible job of machining parts that are close to final spec.
All final joinery is done by hand. This is essential due to the variability caused by climactic conditions. Neck to body joints, fingerboard shaping, neck and body shaping are all done by hand. We are proud of the quality of our CNC machining but hand work is always required.
Our finishing is resolutely old school. I`ve nothing against modern catalysed finishes but for the Rocket series with their roots in the classic era I`m sticking with what I know. Traditional, unplasticised nitrocellulose lacquer. The finish is both thin and beautiful. It also ages in a way that looks incredible.
This is just a brief overview of how we build them. There is so much more involved. So many little steps that affect the outcome.