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Barry Childs-Helton Project
"Geminus Fidesque"

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February 1st, 2005

Barry called me about eight months ago from Indianapolis with a guitar idea. He already owns a very special Perron "Artist" series guitar. Now he is in the mood for a new instrument. Something truly special. Something extremely versatile to suit his playing style and music genre. Something unquestionably unique.

In all honesty at the time I was not overly thrilled for a new guitar project. I was currently involved in some large and time consuming carpentry work, things here at the house were kind of in mayhem, lots of stuff going on with the family, my workshop was a complete and massively wretched disaster area, I was feeling like I already had a pretty full plate. But over the next couple of months we talked some more, traded e-mails, hashed out ideas and now...well it looks like something is going to happen!  Barry, thankfully, was in no great hurry to get the job done, wasn't prepared to send an armored truck up here to take care of my fee, and is content let the project slowly come to fruition. And now.... it is only beginning!

Here is the general concept in a very small nutshell:   Double neck "Artist" series electric (12 string top, 6 string bottom). 3 P-90 stacked humbuckers each neck, one set on each neck coil-tapped. Bridge mounted Piezo pickups each neck. Some fancy electronic wizardry to blend everything together. A very rough sketch is shown to the right. To help defray some of the cost Barry is supplying me with the pickups, tuning machines, bridges (I think!) and various other small components. The coup-de-grace though is that he has also sent me two partial necks which I will alter, substantially enough to call my own. The necks, however, come with their own set of problems!
Here are the necks as I received them. Now I have never used necks from another source before, I've always crafted mine here at the shop. That gives me control over wood selection, grain direction and run-out, structural integrity and all that fun stuff. But these are nice specimens, 3 piece, Maple, Walnut, Maple with Walnut ears on the headstocks and Rosewood fingerboards. They are rough carved, fretted, inlaid and bound. Headstocks are already drilled for tuning machines...perfect for the six string neck...but wait, one of these needs to be a 12 string!!   Here is the challenge, I will plug the existing tuning machine holes in one neck. Then, with great finesse, cut off the existing Walnut "ears", lop off a major portion of the headstock into a scarf joint, add a little bit here and a little bit there...and then ultimately and magically the headstock will be lengthened to accommodate 12 tuning machines. Both headstocks will be reshaped into the Perron "Negril" style, faces overlayed with Rosewood veneer then inlaid with the Perron logo in Abalone shell.

After that is complete the necks will be ready for final carving, fret dressing and deep thoughts about joining these to a guitar body!

The headstocks ready to be altered

Sawing off the "ears"

The scarf joint, notice the two indexing dowels

Elongating the 12 string headstock

Both headstocks complete, reshaped
and overlayed with Macassar Ebony

Preparing to mortice for Abalone inlays

One mortice complete, one more to go

The finished inlays

March 14, 2005

Another issue with the necks follows. Each one has a dimple on the back side, most likely an indexing mark from the manufacturers machining process, about .045" deep. Also, we want to overlay 1/4" figured maple to the top of the guitar which necessitates the removal of that much wood from the top of the neck. To make this all work out I cut off .093" from the back (removing the indexing dimples) and .250" from the top. This leaves the body portion of the neck staves 1.375" thick. After the maple top is added the full thickness of the guitar will be 1.625"

"X" areas show the wood to be removed

Cleaning the corners with a chisel

The completed cuts

By the way, this is my shop!