By the time the plug cutter set arrived I had almost finished the body – it was ready for wax. With the plug cutter in my drill press I set about cutting plugs (surprise surprise) from a hard ash blank. At this point I learned something new: plug cutters DO NOT like hard woods! Eight attempts later with nothing to show but sawdust, a lot of smoke, a ruined plug cutter and brittle uneven “plugs” I gave up and reverted to dowels.
I drilled out my previous attempt with a 7mm bit then ran a 7.5mm though. 8mm dowels from Homebase were sanded slightly, slathered liberally with wood glue and firmly hammered into place. Left overnight to dry I used a chisel to cut the dowels flush. It doesn’t look too pretty as I’ve done it all in the wrong order but the imperfections are hidden by the neckplate. I placed a neckplate using the one original hole to locate the correct placement and marked the centres of the other three holes. Back to the drill press, I decided to work my way up through the bits so started with 2.5mm, then .5mm increases until a screw would just slide through without binding (4.5mm). (EDIT>> After drilling the mount holes in the neck I offered it up to another body and they lined up perfectly)
The rest of the assembly followed the same procedure as Esquire #1 with the exception of using sleeves on the reducer bushes. I picked a nicely figured C-profile 22 fret neck from Clearance Corner (MM2905 reduced) so I wouldn’t have to tint it – this was always meant to be a quick build.
After two applications of wax I installed the ferrules – no need for more drilling as I have had ferrules made to fit Mighty Mite bodies.
I fitted a subley aged Fender Pat Pend vintage bridge plate with Wikinson brass compensated saddles and a similarly lightly aged set of nickel Wilkinson Deluxe split post tuners. The control plate, neckplate and Gretsch style knobs are temporary and will be replaced when the next hardware shipment arrives at the end of June.
Electronics are all temporary. I only had two Telecaster size bridge pickups laying around – an Artec stacked humbucker and Seymour Duncan Little 59. The Artec was too big to fit the rout – the baseplate is oversize and it’s too tall – so the Little 59 got the job. The reason I have the ’59 laying around is because I didn’t bond with it in a previous build – I just can’t get a satisfactory tone out of it. Nothing has changed and I still find it less than appealing, so I’m planning on a P90-esque Tele style pickup to replace it.
I have only given it a basic setup for the moment – I haven’t checked/set the relief of the neck at all, just eyeballed the action and set intonation. I’ll give it a few weeks to settle in then give it a proper setup when changing the electrics and hardware (and I’ll install a string tree). However, as it is it plays well with a medium action. The saddles are up nice and high as is my preference so I don’t catch the sides of the bridge when strumming. The neck feels great – I originally planned to Tru-Oil it (it’s definitely on the cards for a future build at some point) but as it has a nice colour and some figuring there really wasn’t any point. Mighty Mite necks have a very nice thin satin finish which to be honest don’t need any additional finish.
The real surprise is the body finish – it was extremely easy to apply and feels superb. I can’t stress enough how good it feels – flat and smooth with no build up or witness lines. Yes, if you like mirror flat surface this isn’t for you, but if you enjoy the organic feel of wood you have to give it a try. I will definitely be experimenting with stains to see what results I can get with solid colours and contrasting grain as well as Tru Oil as a final topcoat.
If I had not needed to wait for the (as it turned out) useless plug cutter this would easily have been a 3 day build.
Quite dangerous knowing this with the access I have to all the bodies, necks and hardware I could possibly want!