Finished: Runecaster, Jörmungandr, and Mjöllnir

General:

 The guitar build, the final entry...

What a blast of a project...  Challenging, fun, and a real test of skill.   It does make me appreciate just how good some of the craftsmen are out there that build some of these amazing "homemade" guitars.  I can honestly say there will be more, I don't know how I will ever resist the pull again.  My wife has other plans for me for the near future, unfortunately...  


 

Runecaster:

Casting runes (small stone tablets with Nordic Runes engraved upon them) is an old Norse way of divining the paths one can take and see the eventual outcome.  It's not fortune-telling, at least not in the sense most are used to... They were more to help you choose which way you should go.  It might not have hurt me to cast a few to see where I was going...

 I started with a plan to build two guitars, and ended up with three.  Originally, I was going to build a test neck out of some rather standard maple I picked up that was dirt cheap...  It was a good idea...  The "test" neck turned out well enough that I couldn't see not using it - so I quickly routed out a new body out of some alder, and this is what I ended up with:

It has an alder body, Gotoh vintage tuners (my favorite), and a Fender Original Vintage Telecaster Pickup set. The neck pickup is mounted to the body (not the pickguard) to facilitate using the truss rod, which is a vintage variety truss rod, adjusted at the heel of the neck.

I decided to go with a pretty standard Telecaster approach with the addition of some body contouring...

I like the contouring, though it might be against the grain of some purists.  Really, I wanted to try it out on this one before moving on to the Strat.

The finish is lacquer - I was shooting for a butterscotch color, though because the wood was alder, the wood grain really didn't show through well (most Telecasters that you can are made from lightweight ash...), so I went solid color.  That and it was tough to get the color I wanted.

 The first round looked too white - the next was so very yellow.. In the end, the magic mix used transtint honey amber with a little brown mahogany over what was basically a white base coat.

 The upside to this - you know when you go to the guitar store and you play a whole bunch of different guitars but there's that one you keep going back to?  Of the three I made - this is that guitar.

Now, I won't claim any great talent for playing, but here's a sample of this guitar.  There are three entries in the following:  the first is the bridge pickup, the second is both pickups, the third is the neck pickup.  Forgive the player, he's just doing his best....

Runecaster

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If the player above doesn't load, here's a direct link to the file:

http://norsewoodsmith.com/files/images/casters/mp3/runecaster.mp3

I don't have the greatest recording equipment... Well, maybe the greatest you can have for <$100, so forgive the poor quality.

This is a fun guitar to play...  of the three this is my favorite player.


 Jörmungandr:

Jörmungandr is a sea serpent (a Viking dragon) in Norse mythology, one so large that he was able to encircle the earth and grab his own tail...  When you see an ancient Norse carving that looks like a snake eating its own tail, it's likely that snake is Jörmungandr.

On this guitar, I wanted to try a few different things. First off, gold hardware, a sunburst finish, and double binding  to dress it up.

 It has a black walnut body with a curly maple cap; the neck is from a 60 year old maple board I have in my stash. 

The tuners are vintage-style Gotoh's again, and the pickups are a Fender Vintage "Noiseless" Tele pickup set.  The neck pickup is also mounted to the body (not the pickguard) to facilitate using the truss rod, which is also a vintage variety truss rod, adjusted at the heel of the neck.

 The pickups have a bit more output than the single-coil Tele pickups on the Runecaster, though they still retain that vintage Tele sound.

I guess the "dressing up" must have worked some - this is the guitar everybody who has seen them likes most.   I will admit - especially on the back, the walnut looks grand:

 

 All of the wood in this guitar is from my own stash, mostly from the pile I've been saving for those "special" projects.


Here's a sound file of Jörmungandr in action - I tried to find some that seemed to fit the sound of the guitar best, unfortunately my playing isn't what I'd like it to be.  Again, the first is on the bridge pickup, the next on both, and the third is the neck pickup alone.

Jörmungandr

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http://norsewoodsmith.com/files/images/casters/mp3/jormungandr.mp3

This guitar probably taught me the most, what with the sunburst and the binding.  


 Mjöllnir:

Mjöllnir is the hammer of Thor;  in some translations, it is an axe. It seemed an obvious choice for a name to me... 

If you haven't guessed it already, it is basically a copy of David Gilmour's (of Pink Floyd fame) guitar.  You can read all about the Black Strat on the David Gilmour Gear Guide on Gilmourish.com.  Here's my version:

Fender also makes two versions David Gilmour Signature Stratocaster, a NOS (New Old Stock) version, and a "relic'd" version.  You can see them here:

http://www.fender.com/features/gilmour/

There are two basic differences on mine - I haven't yet installed the shorter tremolo arm (though I will), and I didn't install the extra switch that can turn on both the neck pickup and the bridge pickup at the same time though I may at some point in the future.  Truth be told, I have the switch - I just didn't have the patience to install it, I wanted to get the thing together and play it...

 

It has an alder body, the maple neck is from the same 60 year old maple as Jörmungandr.  The neck and middle pickups are Fender Custom Shop 69' Strat® Pickups, which should approximately match the 1968 pickup in Gilmour's guitar.  The bridge pickup is a Seymour Duncan SSL-5 over-wound pickup to match the pickup Mr. Duncan himself wound for Mr. Gilmour that was subsequently installed in the Black Strat.

The hardware after that is the standard Stratocaster appointments, including the vintage tuners (same as above).

 The truss rod is adjusted at the head of the neck, different from the first two.

Being this is a tribute guitar, it seems only fitting I played something (attempted to, anyway) from whom it was that inspired it.   Here's the two guitar solos from Comfortably Numb, from Pink Floyd's The Wall album.

Comfortably Numb 1st Solo on Mjöllnir: 

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 http://norsewoodsmith.com/files/images/casters/mp3/Comfortably_Numb-1st_Solo.mp3

Comfortably Numb 2nd Solo on Mjöllnir: 

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http://norsewoodsmith.com/files/images/casters/mp3/Comfortably_Numb-2nd_Solo.mp3

 Keep in mind I don't have much of recording studio - all of the recordings above were piped directly through my Vox VT-30 amp (no pedals or effects other than what's in the amp) into the computer using an M-Audio Fast-Track interface and recorded using the Pro-Tools M-Powered Essential recording software that came with it.  The backing track for Comfortably Numb is courtesy Gilmourish.com.


In any case, I learned a lot with these, and am hoping to apply what I did to a future project soon.

Thanks for reading!

 

Leif