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’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.
Moving right along, this gallery shows the neck getting profiled and the finish going on. My buddy Lee Jeffriess gave me a lesson in applying a traditional varnish finish. Lee’s an expert at French polishing and restoring antique wood finishes. We decided to go with varnish to give the guitar that old school “Bigsby” look.
Here’s my third gallery of photos from Ashley’s build. This gallery shows the neck getting it’s fingerboard, inlays and frets. The neck and body meet for the first time, and if you look closely, you’ll notice that I went back and added two more dots on the fingerboard (per Ashley’s request) before I installed the frets.
This is my second gallery of photos showing the progress of Ashley’s guitar. Here, I’ve begun making the neck for the guitar. There are a lot of steps involved in making the neck—this gallery shows about half of them.