Agape Guitars

Alec's Revelator

Video evidence of the existence of my guitars!

Alec's Revelator, Rick's ProtosRich Chaffins1 Comment

Hey y'all (or youns if you're from PA). Everything well? Finished up Alec's Revelator last week, and took a week to let the wood settle, etc. Field tested it at church last weekend with great results. So great, in fact, that in my traditional fashion, I was loathe to give it to its owner. I'd grown attached. But, right is right, and I couldn't with a good conscience off him for a guitar. Therefore, he picked it up yesterday, and from what he tells me, is one happy camper. However! Before I got it to him, I decided to shoot some video of the guitar and its many sweet tones. While I was doing that, I asked Rick if he'd be so kind to let me borrow his Protos for a day or two and let me take pics and videos of it, as well. Being the pal that he is, he acquiesced. Being the joker that he is, he gave it to me directly after a gig, sweat and all. Woo to the hoo for cleaning off someone else's sweat. :) But anyway, here are the videos. Let me know what you think! Thanks for reading/watching. [youtube=]   [youtube=]

Alec's the finish line

Alec's RevelatorRich Chaffins1 Comment

  Man. This one has been through the ringer!

A million hours, one jacked up neck, another neck that I only thought was jacked up, and here we are. Whew. Just some nut finishing, electronics adjusting and setup to do and then we're into the break-in period. W00t!

Strung it up about an hour ago, tuned, and have been playing it a good bit since. The nut is still roughed in, so that'll need fixed, but it plays really well, even before setup. Good sustain. Snappy, loud acoustic tone. Lightweight, well-balanced.

I'll be recording it at some point in the next few days, once I get it dialed in. A reminder of the specs:

  • Swamp ash body, (very) spalted maple top, blackburst finish
  • Walnut neck with spalted maple headstock overlay, cocobolo fretboard. 22 big frets. Bone nut.
  • Seymour Duncan JB/Jazz pickup set. 2 volume controls, 2 coil splitter switches.
  • Floating 2-post tremolo
  • Black hardware
  • Planet Waves locking tuners

On to some pics! *DISCLAIMERS* Couple things to take into account while viewing these. First off, this guitar is NOT intended to be picture-perfect. There are imperfections in the wood here and there...mostly the spalted maple. There is nothing that adversely affects the construction or sound. This piece, overall, is meant to have a 'diamond in the rough' motif, in tribute to its owner. Also, you'll notice in the headstock pics that one tuner has a chrome washer/nut on it.  This will be rectified of each was missing when I opened the tuners.


I would love to hear your thoughts on this one. So....comment! Thanks for reading!

Snow, setbacks, and steps forward

Alec's Revelator, Junia prototypeRich Chaffins1 Comment

Man, too much snow sucks. Watching it come down today through the window in my shop gave me mixed feelings. First, I was bumming due to the probability of getting stuck around the house. This turned out to be true, since our 4-wheel-drive couldn't get out of our driveway. Sigh. However, I also knew my guitar students would probably all cancel, which meant more time in the shop. I yearn for more time in the shop most days, and would love more opportunity to be in there cranking out guitars. So, took advantage of the extra time I was given in the shop. Want a recounting of events and even pics? Read on!

You heard about the snow, and here is the setback.  The neck of Alec's Revelator had bowed back, and the truss rod couldn't even budge the grenadillo/cocobolo combination. A buddy of mine has cooler tools than me, so he took the neck to straighten it. Well, he straightened it, and a day or two later it was bowed again. This went on three times. Second sigh. This piece of grenadillo just decided it was gonna turn itself into a wagon wheel. Grrrr. However, the fretboard and truss rod were still good, so I had to salvage them. I went through the back of the neck (props for my lovely wife pointing out I was about to do it in a very, very dumb way), slicing thin layers off until I hit paydirt. Used a chisel to extricate it and put a nice ding in my thumb. I also cut off the headstock to hang somewhere in my shop, cuz I just l-o-v-e the way that turned out. New neck, this time of walnut, underway today. Worked on the scarf joint, almost there with it and ready for glue up.

Now, as far as the steps forward, I cut a LOT of wood today. Did strips for a 5-piece neck I'm doing for the Junia prototype. There will be wenge on the outside, followed by 2 strips of rock maple, and bloodwood in the center. The maple and wenge (one side, anyway) are gluing up as we speak, and the bloodwood is also being glued. Also cut were some strips for a couple other necks with the wenge and maple, as well as another walnut neck.

Pics of the excavation process, as well as the 5-piece neck mockup and some glueup, are below for your viewing pleasure. So, go ahead! Gain pleasure from checking out the pics. Have a great day. Comment. Etc.[gallery]


Alec's Revelator, Ben's Protos bass, Frank's ProtosRich Chaffins1 Comment

Hello! Due to lots of catching up after the car crash, haven't had much time in the shop. However, the fretboards on Ben and Frank's pieces are now shiny! But...

Not normal-shiny. Different-shiny.

Depending on how you look at them, they tell different stories.

This is the method I started using on Alec's Revelator fretboard, and I fell in love with it because of how it speaks to me. This is, from here forward, my method for sanding fretboards. There are 3 views of the fretboards. First is straight on, starting about a foot away. You see the really nice wood grain. Second is at various angles. You see the reflective shine caused by the progression of sanding from 400 grit to 8000. Third is at other angles. You see the scratches left by the radius block and the 80-grit sandpaper attached to it.

At these angles, you see the scars.

These fretboards represent the human condition. Each angle has a specific meaning to me. Yours may be different. However it's interpreted, it's startling to me how treating a piece of a tree in a certain way speaks to the human soul. Fascinating.

Purely technical talk to follow.



Cocobolo is my favorite fretboard wood for a variety of reasons. It's beautiful, it's hard, it's very different from piece to piece; it has beautiful coloring. It also takes a mirror shine with polishing. Rosewood is not quite the same as far as grain differentiation or shinability, so to speak, but it's still nice. It does need oiled for the deep color you expect from rosewood boards. Otherwise, it looks kinda dry. Check the difference between the two. Both are quite good. Also, I should add that both boards edges were hand-rolled to have a worn-in feel from the start. Much more comfortable.[gallery]

Hmmm...must update more often.

Alec's Revelator, Ben's Protos bass, Frank's Protos, The BaneRich Chaffins4 Comments

Hey y'all. Hope everyone's peachy. You may ask yourself and/or me "What's up with the erratic blogging as of late? What happened to the almost daily updates of yore?"

Well, lots of things happened.

First, the good reason. I was in a car wreck Friday that banged me up pretty good, and I spent through Monday with my bed and ibuprofen as my best friends. That's the legit reason.

Second reason, I have to this point in my building career invariably slowed down when getting to the details stage of things. Not sure why this is, except that 1) I hate sanding passionately, and 2) the detail stuff is easier to mess up, so i go slowly and cautiously, and also stress a lot.

I am slowly catching up Ben's bass to where Frank's guitar is. I started Frank's after Ben's, but that guitar is more familiar territory to me, and so things went faster. I also had to make templates for things on the bass that I was doing for the first time, so that took up some time as well. Frank's guitar is ready for finish, minus the drudgery of sanding the body in prep for finish: getting rid of router burn, scratches, etc. The neck is not so far along. It is carved, but still needs finish sanding on the fretboard, and frets. Those are always a good thing to have. :)

On Ben's bass, I have the top and side dots  on the neck installed and leveled. Also, the body is rounded over. All neck ferrule holes have been drilled. Next up is to sand the top to get the rest of the test epoxy off and even it up a bit, and start the neck carve. Ben wants a J-bass profile, so I took the necessary measurements today. I'll make the neck carve templates tomorrow, and then we're off to the proverbial races, baby.

Tomorrow should be an exciting day. Going to try and get a lot done. Do some finish sanding on both fretboards, some initial carving on Ben's neck, perhaps (I should point out that I will be carving wood, not flesh and blood. No zombie action goin' on here). Finally going to un-clamp the neck on Alec's Revelator to see how it's doing. Going to start cutting on the bass I shall expound on fully in a future post. This bass is known as "The Bane". Long, interesting story. Probably won't post tomorrow, as I'm going to the Tenth Avenue North show tomorrow night, but it will most definitely be sooner than the gap between this and the previous post. :)

Enjoy the pics![gallery]

Finally...another post!

Alec's Revelator, Ben's Protos bass, Frank's ProtosRich Chaffins1 Comment

Howdy, as we West Virginians are supposed to say. Your day going okay? How's the kids? Etc., etc. Anyway, finally got a bit of time to update ye olde blog. Aren't you excited?? I am! So, we're at the stage in Frank and Ben's builds where there's not a lot that shows up on the camera as major progress. I don't know about other builders, but time always seems to slow down when I get to the detail stuff. All the big, exciting things like a guitar popping out of a block of wood have already happened, and it's the small stuff now.

For the record, detail stuff is my least favorite part of builds. Just sayin'., last we left off, I put some epoxy in the control cavity. It held up well, so I put a second coat in the cavity, and also coated the top to start the stabilizing process. I wanted to get this done before I tried drilling the control holes through the top, as it's unsupported by the ash there. Let it sit for 24 hours or so, and drilled. Worked like a wood was harmed in the drilling of these holes. :) In other "Ben's bass" news, I've been working on the neck a bit. Got the fretboard planed down a good bit so I don't have to dig into the neck wood so much when I carve it (I'd hate to run into the truss rod...suck!),  radiused the fretboard as well. Planned out the dots...gonna do them tomorrow.  Yesterday and today I sanded down the excess epoxy on the top. Interesting fact: epoxy turns black when hit with a high speed sander. Also leveled the front and back of the body, as well as drilled wiring access holes through the pickup routes and into the control cavity. Last thing I did today was shield the control cavity with aluminum tape. Going to do the same to the pickup routs as well.

On Frank's guitar, about all that's left on the body is to do the finish sanding, then it's off to Brandy at the Sign Factory, once Frank decides on the final design for the paisley he wants. The neck has been getting a lot done to it. Dots were done, on the side as well as the top of the fretboard. The fretboard edges have been hand-rolled for a broken-in feel, and the neck has been carved. It's still a type of trapezoidal profile, but with a twist. The angle on the top side of the neck was rolled over a bit to give less of a "break point" when meeting the fretboard. It feels more comfortable to me...I'm anxious to try it once it's strung. Routed the cavity for the jack on the back of the guitar. Also drilled tuner holes. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pics there, so we'll have to wait til the next post for that.

If you remember from a post or two ago, the neck on Alec's Revelator took a back bow to it. It's been clamped down for about a week in a corrective position. Going to add some heat to it for a while too to get the shape more solidified. More news as it develops. Can't wait to get this one assembled and out the door! I'm sure Alec feels the same way. :)

...and below are the pics. Have a great (insert time until next blog post)![gallery]