06/05/2009 @ 06:06 AM: I completed one of my most long-considered custom guitars last month: a Wolfgang replica.
Folks who know me or my playing preferences know my very favorite guitar is the Peavey EVH Wolfgang, designed by Edward Van Halen in the mid-90s. (I have yet to play one of the new Fender-made EVH Wolfgangs, released just this year.)
Over time I've owned 24 Peavey Wolfgangs. Most I bought factory stock, some I made modifications to, and a few I assembled from parts. My first-ever "custom" guitar was in fact a reconstructed gloss purple Wolfgang Special. Though it was reassembled with only a few additional features, the project went together easily and itself afforded me the confidence to successfully build from parts a top-notch playing guitar. My second guitar project was also another Wolfgang Special rebuild, but unlike its predecessor its fashioning was not nearly as swift. Though frustrating at the time, the most important lesson of custom guitar building had been delivered: Sometimes things go together easily, sometimes they do not. Now 18 projects in I can comfortably say I've taken to heart the tasks associated with the processes and can, for the most part, anticipate what challenges may arise.
I first conceived of the idea of replicating a Wolfgang in 2006 when I'd bought off eBay a brand new Peavey Wolfgang birdseye maple neck with traditional nut (intended for a non-tremolo model Wolfgang). At the time it seemed like something a person like me--a crazy multi-Wolfgang owner--should have, just in case. When over time I failed to break the necks on any of my Wolfgangs (thankfully), I started to consider having a body built to match the neck. Factory-stock Wolfgangs were built with a basswood body and maple top--a configuration I truly love. But in 2006, high on my Les Paul kick, I wondered what a stock Wolf would sound like with a mahogany body. If the Peavey Wolfgang Custom Shop still existed in this era it would have been a no-brainer to simply have them build me a Wolfgang from mahogany. But, alas, when EVH ended his association with Peavey in 2004 all production of the Wolfgang halted. Eventually that extra neck I had found a permanent home on Wolfgang #18, but I never lost the ambition to build a replica. Then in spring 2008 I won a Wolfgang replica neck off eBay made by a builder known for his EVH-style projects. I started looking for luthiers to construct a body and found Stan Shields from Inventing Shed. We corresponded completely over email, pining over details which included wood selection (he sent numerous photos of maple tops to choose from), cavity routing, measurements, and carving details. I sent him the neck for fitting, and in relative short order (about three weeks) Stan got the body to me. Only a few weeks beyond that and the guitar was done.
And so here is The AT Custom Spalt Maple/Mahogany Wolfgang, completed on May 9, 2009. To date I have never been so careful drilling for parts on a custom guitar--measuring mounting holes well more than twice, employing very regular use of a level, and contemplating placement of electronics and hardware in excess. I again went with a natural Tru-Oil and wax finish, only for this project I opted not to go over the final coat of Tru-Oil with steel wool so as to leave the finish more gloss than satin. I'm especially proud of the neck bolt ferrules (drilled for by hand), which I much prefer over the traditional neck mounting plate.
Pictures of this guitar in progress, along with my other guitar projects, can be found in the photos section of my MySpace page: www.myspace.com/andrewthomassolomusic.
The parts list and photos are below!
Inventing Shed Solid Mahogany/Spalt Maple Top Wolfgang Body--Tru-Oil/Wax Finish
Frankenstraat Birdseye Maple Neck--22 Frets, 1 5/8" Chrome Locking Nut, Asymmetrical Profile, 10" Radius, 6100 Jumbo Frets, Black Inlays, Tru-Oil/Wax Finish
Peavey Wolfgang Bridge & Neck Humbucker Pickups
Gotoh Licensed Floyd Rose Chrome Tremolo Bridge w/ EVH D-Tuna
500K Volume Potentiometer w/ Cream Knob
3-Way Pickup Selector Switch w/ Cream Tip
Black Control Cavity & Tremolo Covers
Switchcraft Jack w/ Chrome Jack Plate
Gotoh Mini Chrome Tuners w/ Ivoroid Buttons
Gotoh Chrome Floyd Rose String Retainer Bar
Chrome Neck Bolt Ferrules
Chrome Strap Buttons