The birth of MY Merlin

Page 1

by Kez Hasanic

Frank used his 'secret' method to achieve the initial carving of the top, during this process it became apparent that on the raised section behind where the bridge will sit there is a silvery-green discolouration of the wood and a small indentation.

Frank has seen this phenomenon before and tells me that somebody must have been duck hunting near the tree where this maple was sawn from, as the indentation is from a tiny shot-gun pellet!

Meanwhile, a single piece of maple has already been roughly carved and shaped for the neck, the fretboard has been sliced off to accomodate the truss rod and rejoined. Frank has placed some of the black pearloid markers he has cut on the 1st and 3rd fret positions to mark the fretboard for inletting. I have already deviated from my original specs by asking Frank to change the profile from a Fender V shape to that of a Gibson LP/SG Standard I have just bought, I'm very taken with it's slim and wide feeling neck, Frank tells me O.K. and that this is the first maple fretboard on a Merlin, cool!

A portrait of the artist at work. Frank uses violin planes to hand carve the top. It's a privilege to watch him and to see your very own custom made guitar coming to life before your eyes!

Frank loves to talk guitars while he works, naturally, but he's also a well-read history buff and knows some very good 'on the road' stories having played bass semi-pro for quite a while now.

I leave him hard at it and will return in a week to see the results...

The top has been sanded almost to it's final shape with a channel round the edge for the binding, the semi profiled neck's 5" tenon has been inserted into the body loosely to gain an idea of the overall appearance. The black pearloid markers are in the fretboard. On the reverse side the single piece ash body has a very nice roundover along it's back edge and has been tone-chambered prior to the top being bonded to it.

Frank applies the binding to the channel along the edge of the top, he does a super job and later we discuss a concept for the tremolo.

Frank has to work out a design which will take into account the neck-join and thickness of the body, also the original shape of the bridge plate and the strat style saddles are to be retained, we both want the tremolo to be as integrated into the original Merlin design as possible.

He tells me he'll work it out by the time I see him next...

It's a few weeks till I see Frank again, he has thought out the best solution for the Merlin tremolo system, he has acquired a Point Technologies fulcrum/cone assembly which is part of their 'Point Classic Tremolo'. It appears to be the perfect system for a Merlin, it allows more sensitive feel, pullback as well as pullforward and returns to pitch 'magically' without any nut clamps/saddle locks/finetuners etc. Frank has already adapted the fulcrum/cone to a tremolo version of the standard Merlin saddle plate of his own design. The whole thing sits in a scrap timber 'test jig' and looks pretty rough when I see it but this is just the first step, and shows us that this set-up is feasible. Frank must still work out the body-cavity design as the system is made for a Strat style body and a Merlin is not shaped like a Strat, internally or externally!

next page