Workshop Vault: Retro Slide Thang Part 1

Nothin' But a Slide 'Thang

My idea for this project was to design and build something geared towards playing slide guitar.  My inspirations were those old student-model or Sears catalog guitars of the 1950's.  They're often of such suspect quality that they can only be used for slide because of neck issues.  Hey, lay off! Not having a truss rod can do that. Grab a coffee and lets revisit the build of the Potvin Retro Slide Thang.

This post is part of the Workshop Vault series.
Read this post for an introduction to the series.

Potvin Workshop Vault logo

 Details, Details, Details

When I think of players that share my love of wacky vintage offerings, what guitar details come to mind?  Well, how about...

  • shorter scale, let's say... 24"
  • wider nut width
  • maybe a brass nut?
  • flatter fretboard radius
  • good upper fret access
  • a huge dose of retro attitude

I also have a pretty serious love of all things Supro.  The design flow of a Supro Ozark, and in particular the stubby lower horn make them great for playing slide.  I definitely wanted to incorporate some of that Supro vibe.

So with that shopping list in mind, I came up with these drawings.  After a little cutting and taping I had my first look at what the finished guitar might look like.

Since this was just a skunkworks experiment, I decided not to make MDF templates. I'd just use the wingin'-it(tm) method of guitar building!




Potvin Retro Slide Thang drawings



Potvin Guitars Retro Slide Thang templates

Building a Guitar Neck, Retro Slide Style

The plan calls for a slightly wider nut width.  I used a Tele neck template to achieve this.

I just lined up the bottoms of the two templates, that way the nut is the same width as the Tele neck around the 1st fret.

After a quick trip to the band saw, the neck is roughly cut to shape.



Truss Rod Routing Jig

Here's my fancy-shmancy truss rod routing jig.  I built it specifically to fit the base on my router.  After I built this jig, as always, I planned to build a second one to fix any issues I ran into.  As luck would have it, it worked perfectly, so I still use this as-is today.


Neck Shaping

Next I used a Telecaster neck template to do most of the routing.  Since the Tele neck is a 25.5" scale, and I'm making a 24" scale neck, the nut width on the new neck ends up being equal to the Tele at about the first fret which is exactly what I wanted (a bit wider).

After routing, I cleaned up the headstock shape on the spindle sander, and then it was off to the table saw  to cut fret slots.  A simple sled with a runner that fits in the table saw slot does the trick.


What's Next ...

In the next installmentdisaster strikes! a design change is implemented.  


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