Ashley and me celebrating the completion of his guitar. August 3rd, 2012.
Photo by Justin McIvor
I delivered the guitar to Ashley on August 3rd. He was in town for a show, so I got to witness him playing it live for the very first time. Talk about a satisfying moment—it was great to see how excited and happy he was to finally get the guitar!
Here’s a couple of photos of him playing it that night. Cheers.
Photos by Justin McIvor
Photography by Justin McIvor
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This gallery shows the final assembly of Ashley’s guitar. By this point I had finished buffing the finish, leveling and recrowning the frets, fabricating the pickguard, the jackplate and the pickup surrounds—so all I needed to do was put it together, wire it up and slap some strings on it.
Here are the first working prototypes of my pickup design. I did a lot of research on pickup construction and materials as well as practiced winding many coils before getting to this point and I’m very happy with the results. They are fat sounding, low-output single coils with a wide frequency response.
I modeled the look after vintage Magnatone Mark V pickups, but that’s where the similarities end. The structure and configuration of the bobbins, magnets, coils and baseplates is my own design. (Audio samples coming soon!)
Time to make Ashley’s pickups—and if you’re going to make some guitar pickups, you’ll need to get yourself a pickup winder. I got a copy of Jason Lollar’s pickup winding book, followed his plans and built myself this homemade winder.
At this stage I wanted to show Ashley the guitar so he could get a feel for how it was coming along. Even though the guitar wasn’t finished, I put some strings on it, so he could try it out.
Here’s Ashley checking out the guitar while Big Sandy looks on. I was very relieved to hear him say it felt just like his guitar, only better!
Since I’m calling Ashley’s guitar the “Ashley Kingman Model” I wanted to put his name on it somewhere. I tried out a few options but they all seemed too obvious—I was looking for something subtle.
That’s when I remembered that Ashley has gotten many famous guitarists to sign the back of his guitar’s headstock. He has autographs from Scotty Moore, Les Paul, Paul Burlison and others on there, so it seemed only natural to put Ash’s signature in the same place on his new headstock. Here’s how it turned out.
Because the top of Ashley’s guitar is flat, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to use a standard Bigsby bridge, which has a curved base that fits the top of archtop guitars. After doing some research I determined that Bigsby supplied Magnatone with unique bridges. They had a slightly thicker base, were flat on the bottom and were stamped “MARK V”. I decided to build a custom base out of aluminum and outfit it with a real Bigsby saddle and thumbwheels. Here’s how it turned out.