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The Great Guitar Build-off

Menno Vreemann

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I am a student from the beautiful region of the Achterhoek in the east of the Netherlands. Currently I am doing a masters in sustainable energy but at heart I am a physicist. Up until now I have finished 2 scratch guitar builds and am working on a third. Up until 3 months ago I never had my own workshop, everything I ever build I did so in the weekends while I was visiting my parents. As you can imagine, driving about 100 km to get building slows progress down a bit. So my first build was completed nearly 4 years ago and my second took more than a year to complete. I started my current unfinished build more than a year ago and its still far from finished.
During the summer I got extremely lucky when I got the chance to move into my grandmother's old house. After 5 months of juggling between renovating, full time study, and working 2 days a week I finally moved in and have started building my very own private workshop. Due to the pandemic and problems with finding a graduation project I now have half a year off. So, this competition couldn't have come at a better time.
Now for my project for the 2020 Guitar Build off:
To me one of the most beautiful things in the universe are the pictures taking from far away galaxies and nebulas (you can guess what's coming right?). So when I saw pictures from the Ben's Nebula build a few years ago I was in awe and needed one for myself. This plan has been growing in the back of my mind for at least 3 years. There was, however, one problem: I am a student with little money to spare. I simply did not have the money to buy a nice piece of burl big enough for a guitar. Then, two years ago I struck gold:
In a forest neighbouring my mother in law's house stood a dead ash tree with the largest burl I have ever seen. With some help I managed to cut down the tree and secure the burl for myself. I had it cut into planks by a lumbermill close by and now I have enough burl for at least half a dozen guitars for a mere 50 euros. These slabs, which is also lightly spalted, has been drying at my parents' house for the last two years and will by the basis for my upcoming build.
My plan (so far) is to construct what I call a semi-through neck 6 string fanned fret guitar. The reason for the fanned frets is that I just love the look. The neck will probably be multi-laminate purpleheart with contrasting light veneer between the layers. My plan is to have the neck go through the back of the body but not penetrate the top. This way I can have the burl continue along the edge without any joints, but still have a through neck construction. The overall shape will not be extreme but my own design, based on my current unfinished build. It is an asymmetric design which is between single and double cut. It will be finished with oil and a similar stain as the Nebula.
The fretboard will be ebony. I will use parts of this ebony as binding with light veneer between the binding and the actual fretboard. For the inlay I am planning on redoing an inlay of Jupiter I made for a mobile phone case. This is made from 4 pieces of wood, 3 make op the planet (ranging from bright red Buckthorn (I believe it to be) sourced from my parents back garden, burl prunus (its probably cherry, but I have never seen the tree) which I found in my mother in laws firewood pile, and probably ash. The rings will be made from birch, also from the firewood pile. Besides that, I will make all sorts of little dots around the fretboard representing stars. The materials will probably be either wood, copper, brass, aluminium, or a combination of all of those.
For the hardware, I will make as much of it as possible myself. I will at least make my own bridge and pickups. Most likely 2 humbuckers, but im not sure yet. They will probably be made of ebony as well. This will be my first attempt at a metal bridge, which I will make using my fathers milling machine. The tuners I am not sure yet, but I don't think I have quite the skills to make those, but I might try.
So far my ideas, now it's on to building the thing. Details may change at any point, but the general idea is set in stone.

You can visit my YouTube channel here:


You can see the video of my final build here:


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