Building the Lush Special
I’ve wanted to build my own guitar since uni when I had to have my old seagull acoustic patched up and the old guy who did it showed me some of the guitars he made. I’m not the most practical of people, and so a couple of years ago I dipped my toe in the water with a 3-day custom strat build and set-up course to see if Luthiery was really for me. It turned out that it was. I loved every minute of the course from the first nerve wracking drill hole in the 300 quid trans black body I sourced from Warmoth right to the setting the intonation. The whole process was utterly absorbing and I walked away with a pretty amazing guitar.
So a year on I decided to take it to the next level. So I looked around for courses and came across James at the Manchester Guitar and Bass build academy (http://www.guitarbassbuild.co.uk/), and started discussing the Lush Special. I wanted the whole immersive experience. Start with a couple of blocks of wood and walk away with a carved top, set neck single cut, based on the Gibson All Wood Special edition Les Paul. James said “that’s a lot of guitar, Al”, but off we went nevertheless.
The next six months or so was spent selecting wood and speccing out the hardware. My aim was to have no plastic anywhere on the guitar, with the exception of the vintage Kluson tuners. Finally in the last weekend of October I rocked up at James’ academe to start my journey.
Now, the last time I did any proper woodwork was 30 years ago at school, and I was crap at it. I just about know which end of a chisel is which, I had never really used any serious power tools beyond very basic DIY. So embarking on a precision build on what must be one of the more complicated solid body guitar shapes, surrounded by things that can cut things off without you really noticing was pretty nerve wracking.
James did a great job. All through the build from routing out the body, to gluing the cap, to hand carving the neck (by far the most difficult part) to the routing, carving and installing the abalone trapezoid inlays on the fretboard, he tirelessly kept me on the straight and narrow.
It was tough. Eighteen or so long days of aching back, sore fingers, high levels of concentration and ridiculous levels of attention to detail to get it all done, but once again I loved every minute of it. I walked away with the most beautiful and unique guitar. Kudos goes to James for getting a clutz like me through it. I’m still bitten by the Luthiery bug. I’m going back for another go this year, and I’m already planning an acoustic build, and possibly, pipe dreams allowing, some day a workshop of my own.
– Alan Lush