The idea for making a guitar for Damjan Pejcinoski dates back a long time. The serious talks about the guitar started six months before the actual build started. There were a lot of things that had to be covered, like the shape of the body, the hardware, the pickups and many other details. Since we all live in the same city, Damjan was very often a guest at the workshop, talking about the guitar and defining the various details.
Damjan Pejcinoski - "Love Blues" - GS Handcraft custom guitar test
The art in the craft of guitar making depends on the ideas and capabilities of the luthier. The ability to make an instrument that looks and sounds great starting from a few blocks of wood is something extraordinary.
We prefer to make solid body guitars using a neck through body construction method. For our instruments we choose mainly hard maple and walnut. Maple matches nice with the walnut giving a much desired end result of a great sounding, high quality instrument. We use Macedonian walnut that can be plain or figured. It gives out more low frequencies, which paired with the maple looks very good and sounds great. Neck-through body construction allows the guitar to resonate more evenly, giving out a prolonged sustain, and a richer tone. All our instruments are made by hand using the basic power tools (couple of routers, jig saw, few sanders…)
For Damjan’s signature guitar we chose a maple – walnut combination, with a 25.5 inch scale. All the wood joints are glued using Titebond 50 wood glue. The neck is constructed from five pieces – three maple pieces with two walnut strips in between the maple. This type of building allows for a more stable neck. There is a truss rod installed, in this case a standard Martin truss rod for electric guitar. The slot for the truss rod is 11mm wide by 10mm deep – done with the help of a router.
The headstock is angled at 10 degrees – allowing for the strings to press evenly at the nut without the use of string trees.
The fretboard is made of maple, with inlaid dots made from walnut – front and side. For the radius, we made a specific jig that allows us to use a router to get the correct fingerboard radius, in this case a 16 inch radius.
The neck follows an asymmetrical shape, custom fitted to Damjan’s demands. The shape is all done by hand – with a rasp and hand sanded to the desired shape.
The body is made from walnut. The bottom pieces are book matched plain (stripped) walnut, while the top pieces are book matched figured walnut. Before the wings were glued to the middle piece, we measured the correct placement of the pickups, and made channels so the pickup wires can get to the electronics cavity. The design of the shape of the body is made together with Damjan. The curves on the body are all done old school style – with several different style rasps and smoothed by hand to achieve a nice flowing ergonomic shape of the guitar.
The design of the headstock is done previously and is transferred to the guitar and is cut to the final shape with a jigsaw. The headstock has a maple plate which has the GS Handcraft logo and the name Damjan Pejcinoski engraved in it using a laser engraving technique. The machine heads are Schaller M6 locking, for which we made wooden pegs – again using maple and walnut.
All the cavities on the guitar are done with the router: the spring cavity, the tremolo hole and the pickup cavities.
This guitar features two humbuckers: Suhr SSH+ on the bridge position, and a Suhr SSV on the neck position. Both pickups are splitable, accessed by pull – push DiMarzio 500ohm pots giving the guitar versatility, which allows a wide range of music to be played. There is also a 3 way switch that switches between the pickups.
The pots feature knobs made from maple and walnut; the input jack features the standard GS Handcraft maple inlay.
The spring cavity has matched wooden cover; the same goes for the cover of the electronics cavity and the truss rod cover.
The guitar is finished with a single coat of drying oil and several coats of hand rubbed custom natural resin finish and is hand polished to high gloss. The natural resin finish offers good protection of the wood, but also allows the wood to “breathe” and give out the best possible natural tone.
We do not use any kind of artificial lacquers like polyurethane, nitrocellulose or other varnishes, lacquers and coatings because they tend to close the wood, that has severe effects on the overall sound of the guitar. The polyurethane lacquer acts as a plastic coating over the wood, not allowing the wood to resonate freely, thus diminishing the sound of the guitar.
Here is the final product.