I created this guitar with a particular buyer in mind. He owns a restaurant that serves Cajun, Creole, and southern inspired cuisines coupled with a Delta Blues and New Orleans design Motif. I felt that this jester mask would fit in seamlessly.
Body and Finish
The core design is based on the bible box guitar that I built for my grandmother. The tuners and output jack are hidden behind the mask to maintain sleek, linear lines.
The body is made of a 1”x2” length of maple that was cut slightly longer than normal to account for the mask. A length of 1/4”x2” oak runs from the bottom to the nut to lower the action, thus allowing the player to add finger playing to slide work. Another shorter piece of 1/4”x2” oak is used for a rear component cover plate.
Eventually, I finished the wood with a vinegar and steel wool mix—starting with a white vinegar base, then balsamic vinegar for color and apple cider vinegar for texture and shine.
Pickup and Output Jack:
For output, I installed my standard JSA Nd144 Electromagnetic Cigar Box Guitar Pickup. I drilled a central hole and then shaped it to size with a file.
The output jack was installed using a new experimental design. Previously, I was using my homemade jack, because the standard 1/4” jack was too big for earlier, yet similar guitar designs. However, I have realized that potential customers may not trust an unconventional jack and that it may cause problems if it were to fail down the line. Therefore, have settled on this installation design that is clean looking from the outside, as it appears seamless on all sides.
The connecting wire is run through a carved channel that is concealed by the cover plate.
Tuners, Bridge and Nut
For the tuners, I carved out a small opening behind the bridge that would accommodate the machines and would feed the strings through the top piece of oak, beneath the mask and then exit under the chin about 3/4” from the bridge.
I had originally envisioned that the strings would run through a channel beneath the cover plate and then exit through the top just before the exit beneath the mask, but the strings were not becoming bound at the various junctions causing the strings to seize and break. Therefore, I routed them through the top with relative ease.
The bridge and nut are cut from a length of 3/8” rebar and set at a 24.75” scale in a grooves cut into the 1/4” oak post gluing. Small filed grooves hold the strings in place on both ends.
Headstock, Duct Tape Strap and Fret Markers:
This build features my signature Double Blade carved design, along with the low profile brass knurled nut string clamps.
The strap is made from black duct tape and it is attached by two black headstock ties—one at the headstock and one behind the mask.
The fret markers are low key, simple v-shaped filings at each fret, with larger cuts at the 7th and 12th fret.
The mask is meant to be a jester wall hanger or masquerade face covering, but I felt that it would look pretty on a guitar. The mask attaches to the bottom of the guitar beneath the bell laden tabs. A two-hole angle is bent to the proper angle and attaches to each piece via a screw into the guitar and a bolt and knurling nut that doubles as a strap button.
The bottom of the mask attaches via an eyebolt hot glued within the curve created by the upper lip and two eye screws installed in the guitar. All eyebolts and eye-screws are connected via a zip tie.
This build looks and sounds great. The pickup placement seems spot-on and I’m really happy with the action and functionality of the fret less board—as a bonus, it also looks good on the wall.