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Cigar Box Guitar Headquarters - CBG HQ

Building the Honey Dripper Movie Guitar

Final photo
'Honey Dripper #3'
Proud parents: Alan & Thomas Phelps - owners of the building used for the Honeydripper Lounge in the movie.
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
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
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
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
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.
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?

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
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
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,

Views: 1625

Comment by Hamhock on February 21, 2010 at 9:50pm
Thanks for sharing that story. Really enjoyed reading about how you put this very cool guitar together. You are an incredible artist and craftsman.
Comment by El'Choppahead on February 25, 2010 at 11:03am
inspirational!,... in fact! (rubs hands with evil genius intent)... I got some great ideas just looking at that!
Comment by TINQUI8 on March 4, 2010 at 4:00am
great,, i've seen the film !!, it's a really great story for you,, glad to have you as a friend,, and a mentor,,,,
Comment by Tom Caneschi aka TC on November 28, 2010 at 12:01pm
Hey Ted, Isaw the movie and enjoyed it big time didn't know you built the guitar till just now,
even though I saw it on your page. Wow thats really cool that u did, it's a great design !!! TC
Comment by Bob Marioni on June 9, 2016 at 11:50pm

Great article. Loved it.

Comment by Scott c Pedersen on March 11, 2019 at 10:00am

Very nice Guitar ted. I love how you hand wind your pickups. i bet they sound real nice.

Comment by Ted Crocker on September 8, 2020 at 5:06pm

Check this out!

Comment by Ted Crocker on April 21, 2021 at 9:23am

Step by Step Builder Progress Blog of the Honey Dripper - lots of tips & tricks, and an insight into my early forays into winding pickups with a cheap Dremel knockoff!!


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