Dan Auerbach Heathkit clone Project!!

Home Forums Equipment & Recording Dan Auerbach Heathkit clone Project!!

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  • #60261
    stackshotmazz
    stackshotmazz
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    BACK AGAIN! :bandit: THE O.G. of Dan Auerbach Guitar Projects.

    THIS TIME ROUND-

    ill be working on making the most famous of Dan's stage guitars-His Harmony Heathkit TG-46. As with most Harmony guitars, the model was used by various companies during production and it was offered by Silvertone as the 1454-1, Airline as the 7230, Sears & roebuck, and a few other obscure companies.

    as i stated in my other thread about Dan's Red Harmony hollowbody, many people incorrectly identify this guitar as a Harmony H78 model. Although it does feature the redburst, triple pickup, bigsby of the H78, a look at the headstock will prove otherwise. Dan's guitar features the words BY HEATH engraved in the tortoise peghead cover, indicating that this guitar was actually sold by the Heath company as a DIY "home assembly required" guitar. That would make it a Harmony Heathkit TG-46;ESSENTIALLY the exact same guitar, but TECHNICALLY not. 8)

    Many months ago, I bought a Silvertone 1454-1 body. I had been on the hunt for the parts for a few months after the purchase, but after not finding ANYTHING my interest waned and I jumped into other projects.

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    It really is a gorgeous looking guitar. The problem is that the factory DeArmond Gold Foil pickups are highly sought after, and therefore pretty rare. It has been my experience that if you can find a whole set, you will be paying a premium price.

    the other problem is that these guitars tend to be sold as an entire instrument. the triple pickup double cutaway models generally can reach into the low $3000 range when mint, so spare necks are really hard to come by.

    NOW; this is going to be a clone project. I am using parts from numerous sources and different guitars, so it will be a Frankenstein, but in the end, it will closely resemble the Heathkit played by Dan.

    as per tradition, im gonna be posting step by step photos and glory shots as the project progresses or new items arrive for the guitar-whether anyone likes it or not 😈

    as fate would have had it, a few days ago i was surfing eBay and came across a parted out AIRLINE 7230. the seller had JUST listed the items 2 hours previous to my discovery, so EVERYTHING was still up for grabs. i snatched up ALL THREE pickups, and the neck/fingerboard. it looks like the headstock needs some serious repairs, but im ready for anything!

    updates soon!!

    #93906
    turneverythingto11
    turneverythingto11
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    Gorgeous guitar!!! I loved your stratotone, can't wait to see the outcome of this beaut !!! 😛

    #93907
    jmjohnson40
    jmjohnson40
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    What are you going to use for the bridge? Dan's is metal, which is a replacement. I am thinking that might be the main source of my tone problems with my 1454. Also, the guy that gutted that airline still has the body on ebay. I am thinking about scooping it up!

    #93908

    ilikeguitar90
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    Very nice. The guitar has a really nice redburst. I have an Airline- branded Harmony H75 (Airline 7230) as well and love it, although it is missing the headstock decal and a pickguard at the moment. I just bought the replacement decal and pickguard though, so looking forward to getting those and restoring it a bit 8)

    #93909
    stackshotmazz
    stackshotmazz
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    PARTS, WOOHOO!!!!!!!!

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    the neck pickup measures 11.15 kOhms, middle pickup measures 11.21 kOhms, and the bridge pickup measures 10.86 kOhms. the pickups with higher resistance ratings tend to be "hotter".

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    the seller popped off the fingerboard from the neck for extra profit. unfortunately for me i get to scrape off the glue and clamp it back on.

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    the MAIN issue with the neck is the headstock snapped along each tuner line. it looks like the [pictured topside] of the headstock had been broken and previously repaired as there is some gunky buildup in the seam already. I will take more detailed pictures of the mess when i get into the repair.

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    the truss rod is so oldschool..

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    The truss rod was left in full tension. ill need to loosen it so i can clamp the fingerboard back on.

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    Back of the neck is still relatively clean. it fits in my neck pocket, so im happy.

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    WHOO!!!!!!!!

    #93910
    Westcroft
    Westcroft
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    I'm jealous… my heathkit project is at a standstill.

    What bridge are you using?

    #93911
    stackshotmazz
    stackshotmazz
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    UPDATES!

    well i had to pull the truss rod. After loosening the adjusting nut, the rod would not budge; it was seized in place. after doing some research, i found out how to remove the truss rod properly for repair, and THIS is what i pulled out.

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    This truss rod is BASIC as they come. 2 small rods welded together at one end, one slightly longer than the other. the longer rod is threaded at the end to allow for the adjusting nut. when the adjusting nut is tightened, the retaining nut pushes down on the slightly shorter rod, causing it to bow outwards; this bow counteracts the bow received by string tension.

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    ^this is a closeup of what i will refer to as the retaining nut. The retaining nut is seized up and therefore i cannot adjust the truss rod.

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    this is a picture of the welded joint as the truss rod was open. When the truss rod is open, the rods are supposed to run parallel to eachother, not at a 45 degree angle-as pictured. i will have to bend the rod back into proper shape.

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    The truss rod connected.

    FAST FORWARD!!!!

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    here is the truss rod now that i am done with it. I used a glass media blaster to remove all of the rust and corrosion. LOOKS [ALMOST] NEW AGAIN!!

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    with the rod clean of corrosion, you can see that it started to eat away at the metal, but it is still structurally sound, so it will be going right back in.

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    I bent the rods back into proper position and used a torch to heat up the retaining nut. after about 30 seconds, the metal was red hot and the nut came RIGHT off.

    OK NOW ONTO THE HEADSTOCK!!

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    I imagine that this guitar suffered some sort of fall while the strings were on under full tension. BOTH side of tuners seem to have snapped off. The crack on the right side [pictured] seems to have been repaired well enough to hold tight. the left hand side is another story……..you can see that someone used screws to hold the headstock together…..[facepalm!!!]

    BUT THATS NOT ALL……

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    its hard to see, but they also globbed some JB WELD into the crack!!!!!!!! D'OH :cuckoo: :stupid:

    im planning on cleaning this junk up and then using a few 'hidden' dowels to give the piece a better chance at staying put.

    #93914
    Westcroft
    Westcroft
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    What are your plans with the wiring? Are you going to use new pots or go with the originals?

    #93915
    Little Black Submarine
    Little Black Submarine
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    Any further progress? This makes me want to work on my Dearmond and turn it into Guild like Dan's.

    #93916
    stackshotmazz
    stackshotmazz
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    i am still here! with all the holidays inbetween, i got a little lazy and all of my funds were drained for presents and festivities LOL. :party:

    I started working on the neck.

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    The heel of the neck contained TWO broken screws. at first, i took my dremel and used a small cutting disk to try to grind a slot for my flathead screwdriver. Unfortunately i could not get enough bite or torque with my screwdriver, so I had to bore out the screws. I took the heel to my mini drillpress and used a tiny drillbit to bore out the material around the screws. Once i gave the screws enough room to wiggle a bit i was able to lock some vicegrips on them and break them out.

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    that process unfortunately left messy holes, so i took my brand new razor sharp brad point drill bit and cleaned up the holes.

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    now, in order to fill THESE holes, i am going to use plugs instead of dowels. i will detail this later on, i am waiting on a new set of plug cutters to come in.

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    I was also able to get the headstock back in one piece. i used a few hidden dowels for added strength. there is a little gap you can see, but i will be drop filling that in a few days and i will detail that in further posts.

    thanks all for the continued interest!!

    :bandit:

    #93917
    stackshotmazz
    stackshotmazz
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    got my new plug cutters in!

    unfortunately the drill press i was using didnt have a speed control and the larger plugs started to burn.

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    luckily i was able to sand off the charred edges, but in doing so i made the plugs a bit smaller.

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    got the plugs glued and clamped in.

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    in order to get the fret board back on the neck, i need to use the proper clamps. the fret board has a 9.5" radius and the back of the neck sported the C shape profile-so neither surfaces are flat meaning i cannot use normal clamps. i bought specially designed fret board clamps that are flexible enough to form to the contours so i can get maximum clamping pressure.

    #93918

    hudsonsaul
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    Keep up the good work dude. Love these threads.

    #93919
    stackshotmazz
    stackshotmazz
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    gedc1677.jpg

    i kinda botched this because i should have ordered 4 more fret board clamps to space out along the board. i ended up having to use some C clamps, but i was still able to get enough clamping pressure across the board to keep it flat.

    i guess i was a little angry at the fact i had to do this part of the job because the seller was greedy and separated the fret board in the first place.

    #93920
    stackshotmazz
    stackshotmazz
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    got the neck all finished up!

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    with the neck installed, i will now move on to the electronics. The mini pots are gonna go. I dont want to deal with buying knobs for them and i personally prefer my own wiring harness.

    It will be a little while until I update again, but the forums are all but dead these days…so..lol

    :bandit:

    #93921
    stackshotmazz
    stackshotmazz
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    Well i finally got some potentiometers in so i was able to tackle the wiring.

    the factory harness worked fine, but those mini pots are more trouble than they are worth. The knobs are sought after these days because over time they become brittle and often crack and break. Also, there are no major reproductions available.

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    in this image, you can see the shafts of the factory mini pots; the shafts are cut in half and they are a strange D shape. This is a specific shape not accommodated by modern knobs. I placed a modern potentiometer next to the old ones so you can see the differences. The modern knob features a simpler circular shaft with splines.

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    Here is my circuit. I chose to go with some Sprague Vitamin Q capacitors-they are my favorite. I found some a vintage harmony wiring schematics online that came with the TG46 Heatkit projects and it said to use a 1 meg pot for the volume and a 250k pot for the tone. I personally felt that 250k was too limiting for these pickups so i went with a 500k tone pot.

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    Since i followed the factory schematic, everything worked perfectly when i plugged my circuit in to test. my method is to plug the circuit into my rig and turn on my fuzz. i will place the pickup infront of one of my other guitars and strum the strings to see if the pickup will produce noise and all of mine did. These pickups are REALLY strong and microphonic, i didnt have to get very close to the strings to hear them; especially the bridge pickup with is really good news.

    SO NOW i am going to stuff the guts back into the guitar and hope I dont rough it up too much in the process. After all of the pickups are mounted and the pots are back at home base, i will need to work on my string path. I need to buy a Bigsby, bridge, and i need to make a new nut for the guitar. I have some tuners already on the way and i will update when they get here.

    i mentioned in another thread that i am installing a Callaham bridge on my project

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