Diamond in the rough

We were presented with an interesting challenge this week – check it out:

This was made in  Ervin Somigyi’s shop – dubbed the Heavywood guitar, built by our client Jay (on the right).  It was in need of a Fret Level & Setup, which is a fairly standard job for us, but the real challenge was installing a K&K pickup (our favorites!).  We install these pickups all the time, and have refined our technique so we can get in and out of the guitar fairly quickly.  Normally, the pickup’s output replaces the guitar’s endpin – but this guitar doesn’t have a standard endpin, plus it’s very far away from the bridge, and the K&K wire doesn’t reach that far.  We discussed the particulars with Jay, and we all agreed the best placement for the output would be on the lower most corner.

The bottom corner has a substantial wood block, so we could install the output jack with confidence that it wouldn’t stress the fragile sides.  We carefully measured out the block – not an easy task, since the only access we had was through the very small soundholes, which were pretty far away from the edge.  As you can see, it’s a pretty tight fit in there:

We taped off a marker on the outside of the guitar, giving us a visual indicator of where exactly the side block was:

We talked this one out at great length – we only had one chance to do this right.  If we drilled in the wrong spot – game over.  Fortunately, our meticulous approach paid off, and drilling the hole for the output jack went off without a hitch.

It was a bit problematic getting our hands inside the guitar to tighten the retaining nut on the output jack; it’s a good thing that we spend our time working on guitars rather than working out, so we’ve got thin enough arms to get us into tight spaces:

Viola!  The install is complete.  We used a flush mount barrel jack, so Jay could run a right angle instrument cable up the side of the guitar and through his guitar strap (for strain relief).  The pickup sounds great!

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