Is a custom built guitar on your bucket list?

Because Virgil Guitars is about to have a sale!


If you’re not the Bookface type, here’s the pitch

As some of you know, I spent the better part of last week, going through my private reserve stock (As well as ordering some new sets) and bookmatched a hefty amount of tops, some drop tops and some carved tops. My idea was to get them bookmatched, take some great photos of the tops and work them into some sort of "Virtual Guitars" for the upcoming September Sales Blitz, which is scheduled for tomorrow. This has taken a lot of thought and planning and I've decided to show you the circle of virtual guitars today and here is how the sale will run tomorrow: Starting at 9:00 am, I'll be posting the first guitar, with the pricing, details, etc. And then I will be posting a new guitar build (Virtual guitar with pricing) every hour, on the hour after that, so these will be "First person with a down payment gets it" Down payments will be the same amount as the "Monthly Payment", which may be as low as $187.50. The sale will run through this Saturday and after that, they will go to their regular prices/ 50/50 payment plan (as opposed to 12 months) What are you actually buying here? Well, you are buying a custom build from me that should be starting in January 2017 and will be running into the summer of next year. Guitars need to be paid off in full before I ship them, so we're just getting a head start on things. I'll be able to get everything ordered, inlays designed, etc. before the next set of builds. We can also talk about any add-on items you may want for your guitars, like inlays, customized goods, etc. We'll have all the details put together before any payment is required. This will be your chance to get a custom Virgil Guitar that you have wanted and I'm excited to help put together your build! One last note: FACEBOOK doesn't like when I do frequent posts and they may not put every one of these guitars in your news feed, so you may want to go to my Facebook page here to check out the guitars I'm posting every hour. Thanks everyone for your support!

I love mine. It’s beyond anything I ever dreamed of. Many professional players have commented that the neck is one of the best they have ever felt. Even my mediocre playing sounds good on this thing.

If you have ever wanted a fully custom guitar, this is a great time to get in on it.

posted by Robb Allen @ 8/31/2016 5:29:11 PM | Feedback (0)
It begins in earnest

This weekend I started actual work on The AV, my first attempt at building a guitar. I figured highly detailed designs of guitars would be all over the interweb tubing, but it turns out very few people want to share them. I did manage to find a few measurements from various places & started cobbling together a more accurate body.

It also doubles as landing instructions for aliens

The plans I found were a mishmash between the original ‘58 body style and the ‘85 reissue. In Robb’s world, this is known as “close enough”. Eventually, I got it all down to the final look, including my headstock design.


If thrown correctly, it should make a large arc & return back to you

I need to measure the neck a bit as I’m running for a scale length of 25.5”. I’m basing the neck of off La Pistola since it’s the best neck I’ve ever played and it’s mine, so I can measure until the cows come home. In the Illustrator file, the neck is not 100% perfectly placed, so I have to do a bit more tweaking (it’s probably off by 1/100th of an inch, but that’s enough to screw things up).

But drawings alone don’t make guitars, making guitars makes guitars, so I started working on some MDF prototypes so I can practice building & get the “bugs” out of the system before I start carving into expensive wood.

Not in a band, but I do have a band saw Rough cut. Like me Drill baby, drill Don't hate me because I'm beautiful

The first thing I started working on was the headstock. I wanted to make sure I had the skills necessary to make a very accurate template.

First I printed out the headstock to scale & glued it down to a piece of MDF. Then I took it to the bandsaw to make a very rough cut, followed by a lot of sanding to get the curves nice & smooth. Then I drilled out the tuning peg holes to an exact size of whatever Forstner bit happened to be in the drill press. This was a test, I just wanted holes.

It looks like I may have accidentally succeeded. I was even able to make a copy from a scrap of hard maple I had sitting around!

Soon, the entire planet will be covered with self replicating headstocks

After that success, I started on the body. Same thing except I couldn’t fit the entire body on 1 sheet of paper, so I printed a bunch with grid lines and glued them onto a board of MDF, carefully aligning each piece (when it comes time to do the real template, I’ll have an architectural print done at Staples).


The guitar is relatively cheap. It's the ink costs that will kill me Almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a Flying V I'm not saying Jimi Hendrix wouldn't be impressed. Mostly because he's dead

it’s not bad. It’s also not perfect. The neck curves are uneven and the tips, while very nicely rounded, are not the same size. Hard to tell from a distance, but it’s those little things that can really set a guitar apart. But this is why I practice.

I’ve already learned a ton. One, the carpet tape I use to hold things down sucks. It’s too thick & squishy for accuracy. It holds 2 pieces of wood together just fine, but they move ever so slightly when under any pressure. They make thinner tape that I can get at Wal-Mart that’s better suited for this type of work.

Two, I need shaped sanding blocks like a fish needs water. The inner portion of the V is so perfect that I’m shocked it came out of my hands. I did it by wrapping 150 grit around a can of spray adhesive & going to town. I’m in the process of getting an oscillating sander that should help a bit with these kinds of things, but still, I can make sanding blocks of all kinds of shapes and will need to if I want any sort of accuracy. Grabbing a sheet of paper by hand doesn’t do the trick.

Three, the prototyping thing is a great idea. In fact, I’m going to grab a bunch of poplar which is a hardwood in name only, and build the entire guitar, neck & body, a few times to get the hang of it. Poplar is $4 a board foot, so screwing that up is cheap. Plus, like anything in life, practice helps immensely.

Still a long way to go, but it should be a fun journey. Feel free, if you’re a Book Face kind of person, to join the group I set up to document the build. I’ll try to put it on the blog as well!

posted by Robb Allen @ 8/23/2016 8:23:57 AM | Feedback (5)
You like MHI?

Because there’s new MHI!

When marine private Oliver Chadwick Gardenier is killed in the marine barrack bombing in Beirut, somebody who might be Saint Peter gives him a choice: Go to heaven, which, while nice, might be a little boring, or return to earth. The Boss has a mission for him, and he's to look for a sign. He's a marine: He'll choose the mission.

Gotta wait a bit to get it. I seem to have burned through my book budget over the past few months, but rest assured, this is in my “WANT!!!” list!

Larry never disappoints.

posted by Robb Allen @ 7/29/2016 7:54:51 AM | Feedback (8)
If you can’t ban them in front

Ban ‘em out back

Now, if you thread a barrel, you’re under ITAR & need to pony up a few thousand a year and I’m sure submit to rectal inspections (not really. Those would be less intrusive than the paperwork you need to keep).

Clinton killed off small dealers, making it so fraught with peril to sell small that people gave up. I refuse to get a suppressor because of the legalities & cost. This is working as designed. They can’t ban guns, so they’ll just make them so legally dangerous to look at that many people will find another hobby that’s not as regulated. Eventually, the culture dies. It’s the long game and one that’s been played for many years already.

posted by Robb Allen @ 7/28/2016 8:01:42 AM | Feedback (6)
11 years goes by very quickly

It seems like yesterday this had just happened

Irelyn at hospital 017

And now she’s lounging around the house, threatening to become a teenager in 2 years.



The only unsolicited advice I give to new parents is this – enjoy every moment. Never say to yourself “I can’t wait until my kid no longer does X” because that day comes quicker than you expect and you’ll find yourself missing out on some of the best times.

It breaks my heart my girls are getting older.  Right now, even my teenager loves me and both of them enjoy spending time with their old man. Eventually, some other boy is going to catch their eye and time with me will become precious and far between. But I can’t dwell on that and instead I make sure I’m part of their lives, remembering each & every day so that when that time does come, I won’t look back and think I’ve missed out.

Happy birthday, my little one!

posted by Robb Allen @ 7/18/2016 12:57:35 PM | Feedback (5)
A gripping weekend

Now that I have the bandsaw, there was little reason to not try to make some 1911 grips. The grips on both my Para and my Colt Delta Elite are wrap around plastic (the Para has a Crimson Trace), so I had to make some ‘guesses’ as to how things should work. I started off with some walnut, which I happen to have a few scale-sized blanks laying around.

They ended up a bit thin as 1/4” is nominal, I ended up… under that. Still, for my very first attempt, this was a raging success! The chisel work to get the clearance for the plunger tube simply could not get any better, even if cut by a machine.

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With that success, I decided to go a bit more exotic. I had a bunch of scrap wood given to me from Virgil from Virgil Guitars. I had some zebrawood, black & white ebony, as well as regular, black ebony and thought that, paired with some maple, would look awesome.


I glued up the boards and while I waited for the glue to dry, I went ahead & started on the zebrawood grips. After a couple of false starts, I decided to make templates to make the entire process repeatable with better accuracy. It took a few tries to get the templates right, but eventually I did.


While cutting out the plunger tube gap with a chisel, I ended up splitting the grips. However, a little wood glue and a bunch of clamping later & you can’t even see where it was. I’m not done with the zebrawood grips, but when I am, I’ll post pictures.

Then it came time to make the awesome grips. I planed down the glue up and before I even cut the scales, I knew this was going to be epic. And it was.

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Epic, but not perfect. Power tools take off a lot of wood, even ebony which is hard as a rock. I cut the edges too close on the left grip so there’s a gap between the back of the wood and the back of the grip. Still, visually these are striking and I could easily recreate these.

Still need to finish sanding & then sealing these. I need to look at a glossier finish as all the oils & poly’s I have right now are low sheen. Also, I need to do a better job drilling the holes. I do them by hand using Forstner bits and really need a drill press or a hand drill to countersink the screw heads. I tried doing it on the zebrawood with a power drill, and ended up with unusable grips. It requires a bit more finesse, so practice, practice, practice.

If anyone has any old grips they can send me, that might help as well. Unfortunately, my only grips for 1911s are not standard (wraparound plastics) so I’m guessing on a bunch of stuff.

Give me another month or so and I’ll be ready to put these kinds of things up for sale. Checkering is not in the pipeline because I don’t have the gear for it, nor do I think I could do it cost effectively. However, inlays are something I want to look into & eventually do since I’ll be doing that on my guitar in the future.

What do you think so far?

posted by Robb Allen @ 7/13/2016 4:18:47 PM | Feedback (17)