Model XV - Aravis - the inspiration
In this series of blog posts I will take you through some of the design decisions in my entry for the 2023 Great Guitar Build Off. My entry is based on my Model XV design.
When I come across a piece of timber I think is beautiful, if at all possible I buy it. This happened a year or so ago with a beautiful piece of English Walnut. It was sitting patiently on the shelf since, waiting for the right project to come along.
The top was a 6mm thick book matched piece, which gave me the option of either building a semi-hollowbody drop top, or a solid body guitar with a facing. I both like building and playing semi-hollowbody guitars, and always aim for my instruments to have good acoustic properties and strong resonance, so decided on a semi-hollowbody. The top was around the size of a Les Paul, which ruled out larger shapes similar to the ES335 - I will be documenting a build of a guitar with similar proportions to a Gretsch in future. So I was left with the choice of my Model XV or Model V templates, loosely based on a Les Paul and a Telecaster respectively. I wanted to use PAF humbuckers so decided on the Model XV
For the body I had a few different options, but narrowed it down to these two:
Option 1 - Swamp Ash Option 2 - English Walnut
Initially I was thinking of using a very nice piece of swamp Ash (option 1), which would have produced a nice contrast with the walnut top. However, I had two concerns:
Weight - the guitar will be heavily chambered and the swamp ash body was quite light, I was worried that the guitar might be unbalanced and a heavier wood would be better.
Aesthetically when viewed from the back the guitar would have had both a flame ash neck and a ash body and I felt that this was the wrong way to go, even if one or both was coloured.
I ultimately decided to go for an walnut body (option 2) as this was heavier and I could apply a burst wash to it.
I had something special in mind for the neck and the fretboard, which I will cover in a future post.