BUILDER PROFILE > HERITAGE GUITAR
the concave portion of the guitar tops and
backs to provide a glue surface for the center block. Bulldog then stamps the domed
shape of the hollowbody into the wood.
The fronts are chosen for their grain patterns, or figures, and then matched and
numbered with backs.
Solidbodies are formed from two joined
boards. The pieces are glued together and
then held tight in a rotating rack, nicknamed the Ferris Wheel, until the glue
sets in the center seam. The wheels can be
turned to accommodate many bodies and
save time, effort, and space. The bodies are
then planed to the appropriate thickness.
fretboard saw. The fretboard is seated, and then
22 blades swing across the board, simultaneously
cutting the fret slots. “It’s all laid out—perfect to
the thousandth,” Wall says. “It’s a time-saver.”
After the fretboard has been routed for
inlays and fret markers, Ray Noud chisels the
corners to seat each mother-of-pearl inlay and
glues them in with epoxy, which he tints with
the wood dust from each neck. He then fine-
tunes the curve, or radius, of the fretboard
by sanding to achieve a 12" radius. “I can tell
a lot by where this curl lands,” Noud says,
pointing to the wood dust on the fretboard.
Next, after the frets are cut from a spool,
glued, and tapped into the fretboard, it’s put
into a custom hydraulic press. Inside the
fret press is a “shoe” to match the 12" radius
on the Heritage fretboard. The fretboard is
laid into a tray, which self-centers within the
shoe. The craftsman then hits a button and
the hydraulic press raises and simultaneously
seats all the frets at the same height. The
press reaches full pressure and then releases.
Finally the fretboard is removed and set
aside to dry. “We used to do it by hand, but
that’s archaic, really,” Wall says.
Necks and Other Body Parts
Heritage solidbody guitars are cut with a
band saw, then the domed tops and bottoms are shaped using a carving machine
conceived by Deurloo. The pattern to be
traced is placed in the bottom wheel, and
the wood to be shaped is placed on the
top wheel. Both are then spun, and as the
arm on the bottom traces the dome of the
pattern with a ball bearing, the arm on top
duplicates the curve and carves it into the
guitar’s top. When the arm gets to the center, a micro switch turns the machine off.
“It’s a simple device,” Lamb says, “but
it’s pretty neat, you know? It’s almost like
a duplicator, a pantograph machine.”
To remove grooves from the router, the
guitar bodies are then passed through a belt
sander before the necks are attached. To cut
fret slots in the fretboards, Heritage crafts-
men use a small swing saw, also known as a
Ray Noud installs the inlays and then frets, binds,
and finishes the fretboards.
Custom-built fret press.
Heritage’s custom carver.
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