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'Honey Dripper #3'

Proud parents: Alan & Thomas Phelps

Day 1:  October 3, 2006

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper 3

Alan & Thomas,

I know it's not much, but here's your new guitar so far.  I'm waiting on parts to be delivered and I'll have everything next week.  I hope you guys are half as excited as I am about this.  I'll do my best to keep you updated every step of the way.  Anytime you have questions or comments, feel free to contact me anytime.  I mean it!

What you see above is a gorgeous one piece slab of Honduras Mahogany that will become the body.  Most guitar builders use 2 or 3 piece bodies.  I was saving this piece for a new Taser for me (with a Bigsby!), but I have to get a move on to get this to you on time.  The piece of wood in the middle is Leopardwood, which I'll shape into the bridge, the string base, the bobbin bottoms and the cavity cover underneath the volume knob.  The bottom piece of wood is Purpleheart, which I'll shape into the bobbin tops of the pickups.

Like an actor researches his role, I tried to think like Sonny, and figured he used nice wood from an old jewelry box or something to add some pizazz.  Being a musician, he's an artist with creativity to express.  I make down & dirty Cigar Box Guitars, and I'm guilty of using good junk to create something more than just functional.  Sometimes you just want it to look good... 

The black and white spools are vintage cloth covered wire, just like what Sonny would have used to wire the components together in 1950.  The spool of brass wire is what I'll wind the pickup coils with.  It's as thin as a human hair but not as strong.  If you look real close you can see some of it unwound.  The little silver bars are Alnico V (five) magnets, which I don't think were used in 1950, but what I choose to help get the tone of the pickups we're looking for.  I won't tell anyone if you don't.  I also layed out the volume control & chicken head knob, strap pins, jack bracket and neck ferrules & screws.

Well kids, that's about all to report for now, and maybe for a few more days.

Hope you're smiling large!

I get chills just thinking about what this will become in the next few weeks, thanks for letting me create it for you...


(go to my home page & click on Honey Dripper to see a finished product)


October 6, 2006

I made some sawdust...

Ted Crocker USA Customk Guitars HoneyDripper3 First cut

These are the parts I can craft before the 'store-boughts' come in.  I've got 5 other guitars I'm working on (Armageddon, Delta Box, Taser, 'Uncle Paul' & Lap Steel), but there's a special connection to the Honey Dripper.  Thomas, what kind of music do you play?  I play a lot of slide blues and classic rock and I'm gonna hate giving away another guitar with these pickups - they are rich and syrupy (is that a word?).  I'm amazed that each instrument I build has a unique voice.  Honey Dripper and BoSS are neck and neck as my favorites...  Check out my Gallery page to see the BoSS.

Pretty soon you guys will start seeing some real progress on this.  Hey, this is a two way webpage, so let me know what you think and tell me what you want to see and I'll post it here.  Ted atTedCrocker dot com   If you're quiet, I might tend to put off bringing it into the photo studio and then doing my HTML thing at one in the morning.  On this guitar you really have no significant input, it's a copy - usually it's a tennis match with the guy who orders a custom, and we aren't sure how it ends until it ends...

Because I was under such a tight deadline for the movie guitars, I had to order a neck.   On one hand, if I don't craft the neck, it isn't really a true Crocker.  On the other hand, it saves me a week and saves you some money, plus they're perfect, each one (almost) the same. I order them from a woman in Canada. Hey, Ferrari doesn't make all the parts that go into their cars.  One of the things with a custom guitar is that I'm allowed to have a few imperfections.  With your Honey Dripper, I'm locked into buying a neck if I want to give you a true copy of the movie guitar.  

I'm a one man, one bird shop - I don't have computer driven machines to do the work for me.  Part of what makes building instruments so rewarding  is the act of creation. On this guitar, I work from tracings, templates and my gut feel.  Other guitars I just let it happen.  I love to sit on the porch and do the final sanding.  This one will be a little different than the two I made for the movie.  Folks won't see it on screen, but there are little differences because I shape everything by hand.  I'll try my best to relate to you what goes into building your guitar.  Thomas, when you're ready to design your own custom guitar, you'll see what I mean about 'winging it' and having an ongoing dialog.  It's exciting to have an idea and see it take shape on a page like this.  And as a bonus, you get to play something you had a hand in making...

Well, enough for tonight, I'm gonna jam to some Allman Brothers Live at the Filmore East..

See ya soon,



October 13, 2006

Remember me?  Almost everything I need has been delivered, even the case.  I'm just waiting on some screws, the strap and the cable.  The neck came in yesterday, so I was able to lay it out for measurements.  Something I learned the hard way is that you can't count on everything being identical - MAKE SURE YOU CUT FOR THE PIECE YOU WILL USE!  The neck position is crucial because I can't  mark the bridge or pickup locations without it.  Anyway:

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper 3 Phelps

As you can see I cut the neck pocket, the volume cavity and the jack cavity.  Look close and you'll see I shaped the bridge & string base and drilled the string holes.  Look closer and you can see the pocket is cut to give the neck a 2 degree angle.  

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper 3 Phelps

A little better shot.  The pickup cavity is marked and I'll cut it tomorrow.  Notice how sharp the edges are?  I use a roundover bit in the router table to soften them up.  I don't think that's what Sonny would have used...  The entire body has to be sanded smooth.  I do it by hand using sandpaper wrapped around a block.  I'll start with around 80 grit and work my way up to 400 so it's smooooth.   But not too smooth.

With this guitar I have to hold myself back from finishing the wood like I would on one of my production guitars.  On Taser I sanded to 2000 grit!  One of the beauties of this is the small imperfections, keeping it sort of homemade.  It would raise eyebrows in the theater if Sonny took the stage in the Honeydripper lounge with a wood guitar finished like my Taser.  I actually prefer a finish somewhere in the middle - I love the look and texture of the wood, but unfinished (like Honey Dripper) it's pretty unprotected and easily dented & scratched.  A finish like this would get beat up pretty fast in a world of gigging, and that's part of the personality of it.  I use a combination of Tung oil and Linseed oil on a Honey Dripper.  On the other hand, a finish like on Taser (Nitrocellulose Lacquer/cured 3 months) is like a wood grain graphic under a heavy duty plastic shell.  The Taser lacks all the charm & texture of wood, but it will stand up to abuse and be new again after wiping it down.  On the new Taser I'm building for me, I'm using Mahogany, like this one, and rubbing in a clear polyurethane.  It'll give it protection, but still retain the wood feel.

OKAY, OKAY, one more shot:

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper 3 Phelps

She's starting to look and feel like a guitar now.  

Once I put the neck in the pocket, she came alive.  

You can really picture it now, right?  Almost hear it...  

I reamed the tuner holes and mounted the ferrules.  There are 2 tiny holes to be drilled to mount each of the tuners.  The neck isn't mounted yet, I have to line it up and drill the 8 holes (4 for neck screws & 4 for neck ferrules).  Once it's mounted I can determine an accurate centerline and mount the bridge and string base.  I use fishing line strung as the outside strings to find the precise spot to mount them so the strings line up perfect with the side of the fretboard.

Sorry if this isn't a great pic, I just don't feel like clearing off the still life table and shooting it in the studio.  Besides all the time it takes to craft everything, it's like having another job to do studio shots, adjust the size & whatever else in PhotoShop, upload it to my site, and do the HTML for this and my other pages.  It's a labor of love kids, and something that you're paying for anyway.  I really want you to feel like you're involved, and it doesn't hurt if word of my craft gets out along the way.  LOL  It would kill me if I ordered a custom git from another builder, wrote a check and had to wait months and months and not hear anything.  I'm really  trying to give the best product & service - One, 'cause that's just me & there's only one way to do a job, and Two, it's good for my reputation as a craftsman.  Let me know what else I can do...

There should be a lot to report after the weekend.  Well, maybe not 'cause IT'S FOOTBALL SEASON, plus I'm still figuring out the new amp & home studio.  Anyway, we're real good as far as the schedule goes and I caught up on other projects this week so I can concentrate on your baby for a while.  Too bad you guys are so far away, you'd be welcome to come to the shop and hang out & watch.  Maybe even help, but most likely just put to work.  Anyone's welcome here.

Alan & Thomas,




October 17, 2006

Update Time!

I mounted the neck, got a centerline & saddle location and routed the pickup recess.  I drilled the 3 holes that connect the recess to the volume cavity.  I drilled the mounting holes for the bridge & string base.  I rounded all the edges.  AND, I put a first coat of linseed oil on her.  The oil really brings out the color and texture of the wood (look at the difference in the unoiled recess, which will be painted with black, conductive shielding paint).



Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper 3

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper 3

What do you think?

I've got a few more things to do on it before I wind the pickups, so stay tuned...



October 19, 2006

More progress.  I finished shaping the pickup bobbins, drilled the holes for the magnets and gave them a coat of oil.  The bevels on the bottoms are done with a belt sander.  The curves of the tops are done by hand.  I also completed the volume cavity cover.  

Taxi approves:

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper 3

Bird's eye view:
Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper 3

The thin coil wire gets about 5,000 wraps around the magnets.  I had to devise a way for the big cloth covered wire that connects these into the guitar circuit to be attached.  I decided that I'd take a small brass brad, cut it down, drill a pilot hole, hammer in the brad and solder the thin wire and thicker wire to this 'lug'.  It turned out to be a very elegant solution.  It does the job yet still screams 'hand crafted'.  In a couple of days I'll show you the contraption I rigged up to do the winding.

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper 3

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper 3

That's about it for now.

I'm having a lot of fun, how about you?

Keep in touch with yourself,



October 22, 2006

I've been busy.

I finished the pickups.  That in itself is probably the single most important component of the guitar.  Every other aspect of creating this is sort of therapeautic.  Building the pickups is stressful.  The coil wire is extremely fragile, and I'm using a high speed piece of equipment to wind them, with NO room for error or distraction.  I couln't relax until they were wound and I checked the output with a multi-meter.

Anyway, this shot shows how they got the name 'Stone Henge' Pickups:

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Stonehenge pups
I actually Laugh Out Loud at that shot because it reminds me of that scene from 'Spinal Tap'

Anyway, I told you I'd show you the contraption I use to wind them.  Both key items came from Big Lots.  I bought a generic Dremel for just a few bucks because it had a lot of the bits and grinder wheels and other attachments that I didn't have with my real one.  Years ago I also bought this thing that you plug your Christmas lights into and you can move the slider to cut the voltage and make the lights blink at whatever speed you want.  It's basically a handheld dimmer switch.  

Well, I mounted the rotary tool to a work bench, hooked it into the voltage regulator, made a 
holder for the spool of wire and went to town.  It works great!

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars pup winder

The attachment that you use to mount a grinding wheel looked like an ideal way to mount the naked pickup.  I drill a center hole in the bottom bobbin and screw it onto the Dremel:

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars pup winder

Once I'm set-up, I guide the coil wire onto the pup between my 2 fingers.  Commercial winders have a guide (and I made one once but didn't like losing the 'feel'), but I like to be able to gauge the pressure when it's wound.  This is the stressful part, too much pressure and the wire breaks in an instant, and too little and the winding looks like a mistake with a spinning reel.  I've had to cut miles of wire from just one little distraction...

Sorry for the poor quality, I tried to shoot it blind with my left hand:

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars pup winder

After all is said & done, we wind up with something that's nowhere as sterile as the ones from the big manufacturers, the ones untouched by human hands.  The method I use is called 'Scatter Wound', meaning that the winds are the opposite of perfectly placed - they're haphazardly wound.  By overlapping & randomly building up the winds, we supposedly get better (dirtier, deeper) tones than from one wind next to another, next to another, next to another.  You get the idea.  There's a scientific interplay introduced by the chaos.  So I've read...

THIS is what we get:
Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Stonehenge Pickup

After it gets to this  point, I soak it with many coats of clear lacquer.  A regular store-bought pickup will be 'potted' in wax.  The way you see it now, it can also be used as a crude microphone.  The bare wires will transmit non string sounds to the amp (microphonics).  I sort of like that to an extent, but left like this, and having it exposed, is asking for trouble - the slightest brush against the winding will break the wire and I'm back to cutting the coil and rewinding.  If I used a pickguard, I MIGHT feel safe...

Because of the look I want for the movie, I tried to keep the bare wire feel and wax would make it cloudy.  A storebought pup will have tape wrapped around the coils, and then a plastic cover which hides and isolates the windings.  That would take away from the hand made look I went for in the movie guitars.

Boys, I also painted the cavities with the conductive shielding paint and marked for the strap pins.  Oh yeah, I drilled the 12 tiny holes and mounted the tuners.

I'm going to post this, eat and then shoot the whole guitar so you can see it in a little while.  Things should start coming together pretty quick, and you'll be playing this beauty in a matter of days.




October 22, 2006 (b)

I went into the studio tonight to show you this:

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper

I don't have to say anything...




October 27, 2006

I didn't realize it was so long since my last update.  Sorry, I've been very busy.


Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper Guitar

YES, she's finished!

Here's some shots.

The beauty of the wood looks a lot better in person.

I got to play her a little last night - I really hate to box it up and send her out, SHE IS SWEET and has a great voice...

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper Guitar

(I rewound two of the pickups)

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper Guitar

Taxi is proud to put his feather on this beauty!

I positioned the bottom strap pin so that the strap is worn like this:

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper Guitar

The FedEx guy picked up a little while ago.

This is what you'll find inside the big cardboard box on Monday:

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Honey Dripper Guitar

She has a real presence and she drips mojo.  There really isn't any other guitar that compares to the Honey Dripper.

Alan & Thomas, the Honey Dripper Guitar is very special.  I hope you guys get a lot of enjoyment from her.  Anyone who sees/hears her is sure to be amazed.  

Plus, it is now part of your town's and your family's history...

Thank you for letting me create her for you.

I had a lot of fun, plus I got the satisfaction of creating something for people that will appreciate her...

OK boys, What's Next?...

Thanks again,


Alan, I have a design for a display case using wood, brass, leather & plexiglass (I took all the measurements and started a mock-up)...

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Start imagining what Ted Crocker can create for you...

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