Autumn 2014 – Autumn 2015MjolnirFull

Model Name: Mjölnir
Color: Clear Shellac
Body Shape: Single-cut Carved Top
Body Material: English Chestnut
Body Cap: Carved Wenge
Body Finish: Satin Shellac
Body Binding: Cream-Black-Cream
Strap Buttons: Chrome Dunlop Flush Fitting Straplok
Neck Type: Set Neck with All Access Joint
Neck Material: 1-Piece Walnut (scarf joint)
Headstock Style: Classic 3×3
Neck Shape: Uber-Wizard “C”
Neck Scale Length: 24.75”
Neck Binding: N/A
Headstock Binding: Cream-Black-Cream
Nut: Brass
Nut Width: 41 mm
Fingerboard: Ebony
Fingerboard Radius: Compound 12″-14″
Number of Frets: 24
Fret Size: Jumbo
Fingerboard Inlays: 3mm Steel Rings
Fingerboard Side Inlays: 2mm Black Dots
Neck Pickup: Bare Knuckle Miracle Man
Bridge Pickup: Bare Knuckle Miracle Man
Controls: Master volume
Pickup Switching: Classic 3-way Toggle
Hardware Finish: Chrome
Bridge: Schaller STM
Tuning Machines: Schaller Da Vinci
Pickguard: N/A
Control Knobs: Knurled Brass Chrome Finish
Switch Tips: Chrome
Unique Features:

  • Black Tahiti Pearl ‘Matt Guest’ Runic Headstock Inlay
  • Owen Jackson hand-made neck
  • Crimson Guitars hand-made body
  • Staggered ferrule, string-though carved-top body

Mjölnir was a project to achieve a guitar that would require no additional adornment other than it’s own figured tone wood. Imparting the spirit of a mythical hammer, I chose a almost entirely chromed finish of hardware to give a feel of steel. I wanted to create a soulful carved-top guitar with maximum tone and sustain; so a string-through body design was an obvious choice.

Originally planned as a homage to one of my favourite classic Metal bands, Manowar, this project was born as I listened to ‘Thor (The Powerhead’ at work. Thor’s hammer Mjölnir was an obvious symbol to base such a guitar on. Initially I had designs to inlay the Sign of the Hammer symbol across the fretboard in Mother of Pearl. However after offering up the designs to the fretboard, there was no acceptable area to apply the inlay without obscuring the image too much or damaging the aesthetics of balance. Inlaying the design on the body itself would have taken too much away from the beautifully figured Wenge top.

Therefore the fretboard was left totally blank. Visually this is beautiful for such a quality piece of Ebony, but this needed to be a work-horse of a guitar. Personal preference is paramount, and in my opinion some indication is required around the higher register of the neck. I decided to add steel-ring inlays, offset to the low E-string so that they were easily visible to the player, but as they are aligned closely with the ‘E’ and ‘A’ strings and are not full dots, to the bystander they are almost imperceptible.

The neck is a one-piece English Walnut, commissioned by Owen Jackson. This was one of two necks I sourced for the Thorn Project, so this has a very petite 41mm nut and Wizard profile. The guys at Crimson Guitars expertly took this bolt-on style neck and adapted it for a set-neck construction in Mjölnir. The neck-joint is a very comfortable all-access type, allowing fretting up around the second octave very natural.

I have yet to find superior pickups available in comparison to Bare Knuckle‘s. This time I chose a Miracle Man humbucker set, aiming for a slightly more trebly tone for achieving the ferocity of pinched harmonics. As will be apparent from my existing portfolio, I am not a fan of tone pots. I believe you can achieve all the tonal variations from the placement of the available pickups and choice of amplifier without masking the pure sound of the guitar/pickup combination. I opted for a single master volume pot in this case to limit the number of controls that would hide the beautiful Wenge grain.

Mjölnir Workshop Diary

The Ragnarok Concept

Following the completion of Huginn, as always my projects come in pairs to keep myself busy (like the Sith: ‘No more. No less’), so along with the Green Man I intend to base a guitar on a Nordic theme again: Ragnarok – the death of the Gods.

'The Great Day of His Wrath', John Martin 1853

‘The Great Day of His Wrath’, John Martin 1853

In Norse mythology, Raganarok (‘Fate of the Gods’) will be the final battle that occurs on the Vigrid Plain following three years of Winter. Ragnarok is prophesised and Odin will try in vain to avert it’s coming, but ultimately he will be devoured by the great wolf Fenrir. All the fallen warriors in Valhalla will rise once more and fight in the battle to end all battles.

'Tyr and Fenrir', John Bauer 1911

‘Tyr and Fenrir’, John Bauer 1911

My first 7 string build to date; at this moment in time I plan to do a little research into some on-board effects for the guitar also like high gain or tonal boosts to increase the array of possibilities native to the instrument. Coil splitting will be included with the single humbucker configuration and a fixed bridge setup.

White Grain Filler

White Grain Filler

The inevitability of this prophesised ‘end of days’ conjures images of a brewing storm on the horizon. I am using this influence for choosing the finish of the guitar. In this case I am thinking of a Blood red/Deep Purple sun-burst fading into black towards the outside edges of the body. As Ragnarok is prophesised to follow three years of winter, and include the world devouring Frost Giants as major contributors in the battle, I think it would be good acknowledge the cold in some way. I am thinking a white grain filler to emphasise the wood grain as an ice white highlight running through the design. Like fissures in the doom.

With regard to inlays; I have seen some brilliant examples of Nordic design in the British Museum a few months ago which will be a very good starter for inspiration.  The fretboard will be very wide, so there will be plenty of space for a decent design reaching up to the headstock.



Odin with Muninn & Huginn, Alan Lee

Odin with Muninn & Huginn, Alan Lee

For the headstock I think a ‘Valknut’ symbol would be apt. A Valknut is an interlocked motif of three triangles and represents slain warriors. They have been found on many Norse stone carvings with funery motifs, and represent a slain warrior or mark the wearer as willing to be sacrificed by Odin himself.

As this is a 7-stringer, I will need to give a little thought to the headstock design as I intend to use a balanced split of machine heads. So in other words not all in a row like Fender and some Ibanez, but split either side like Gibson and Gretch. This means it will have an asymmetry of 4×3 machine heads. So I plan to research some Nordic spearhead designs in tribute of Gungnir, Odin’s weapon.
A broken spear-tip would allow the off-set design I require, much like the ESP headstocks in the Ltd range.

This guitar needs to be awesome in every aspect. It must look and sound capable of committing deicide.

The Green Man Concept

SaracenoI have been thinking recently about the next project I would like to work on following completion of Huginn, and have wanted to own a guitar with a deep green finish ever since I saw a Blues Saraceno promo in one of my brother Lee’s guitar magazines, circa 1993.

This idea reignited during a day trip to York last summer. I popped into a coffee shop just around the corner from the Guy Fawkes Inn with the latest copy of Guitarist magazine. Pending a rendezvous with Chloe, I had an hour to kill and sat reading the articles with some forgotten bun. The main article was regarding the Latest Ibanez Jem model called UV70P (catchy). A predominantly black finished guitar, though it had green highlights of pickups, controls and inlays. This was no doubt a subtle tribute to Vai’s guitar during the early part of his career, GreenMeanieaffectionately known as the Green Meanie. This was actually a Charvel manufactured guitar, so Ibanez would not be able to build an official replica tribute of this without stepping on someone’s toes. Vai had used this during his stint with Alcatrazz (it was a sunburst finish then before the ‘Loch-ness Green’ application) and more famously with David Lee Roth where he had carved out the lower horn to allow higher access to the fret-board (visible in the image on the left). As all the Jem guitars were built on the specifications of the Green meanie, it is a pretty iconic model.

This gave me the impetus to start thinking about a Green Meanie tribute myself. However, I have spent the last couple of years working on the Raven projects, which are super Strat inspired, floating-point tremolo guitars; I want to focus on a couple of carved top Les Paul type projects. Focussing more on figured timbers and minimalisim, these will likely have a single hard-tail bridge, solitary bridge humbucker and maximum control selectivity with a minimum of actual control components (ideally just one control knob). The body finish will be a trans-sunburst satin finish ranging from a very dark, almost black, moss-green up to a deep emereld. It will need to be a well figured grain as it will be wholly on show with the limited hardware, so I will be considering Walnut, Swamp Ash and Indigbo for the timber.
I have wanted to use a neck timber called Wenge for some time now, so this would probably remain natural with a clear finish as it will be dark enough to merge with the darker areas of the body finish. No scalloping this time, just jumbo frets with some elaborate fret-board inlay designs.



Initially I wanted this to be in the same vein as the UV70P, i.e. predominantly black with green highlights, but recently I have decided on a theme for the build which would require an all green finish (albeit almost black in areas).

As always, I needed to choose a soul for thGreenMane project in keeping with my ethos, so taking note of the green theme and applying some Pagan/Tolkien influence I decided on the Green Man. This is typically a representation of a man’s face surrounded by foliage and sometimes spewing vegetation out from the mouth and/or eyes, and represents rebirth.



My intention is to personify the symbol, and design a large headstock inlay constituted from varying shades of malachite, maybe in an Art Deco style.

The Green Man face will retain all the distinguishing features of the symbol, but will likely be stylised to cater for the (my) limitations of marquetry application. I plan to consider other similar mythical beings into the design such as Treebeard, Spriggans and Will-o’-the-wisps for fret-board inlay ideas.

Keep an eye out for posts in the Inspiration section as the project unfolds.