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Planning the next build

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Planning the next build

Postby Steve Sawyer » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:11 pm

Since I'm getting towards the end of my first build, I'm naturally looking ahead to the next one (kinda like potato chips, huh?)

My original plan was to tackle a Les Paul clone, but there are so many new wrinkles in that kind of build compared to the Tele I'm finishing, that I thought it would be better to learn to walk before I run. Still, I'd like to expand my skill set, so here is the "sketch" of a plan that I'm flying in my head. Comments/suggestions/cautions are welcomed.

  • Tele-shaped body. I have two more Tele-sized alder blanks, so I can use the same patterns I used for the last build. Flat face and back, though I might do a belly-cutout. I'll leave a carved top for a future build.
  • Veneered body face. I just bought a gorgeous hunk of pommele sapele veneer from veneersupplies.com, and have been working on another project using my new vacuum veneer press.
  • Bound neck and body. I was going to go with purfling, but again, let's walk before we run, shall we? Just learning how to bind the neck and body will be plenty of challenge I'm sure.
  • Humbuckers instead of single-coils. I want to avoid covering up this beautiful veneer with a pickguard, control cavity cover and bridge/pup mount. This will also give me a sound that will be different from my Strat and the soon-to-be-finished Tele.
  • Bolt-on neck, Fender-style stepped headstock. However, I'd like to try a "plateless" connection (is that the right term?) so the heel can be contoured into the body a bit more. See the heel pic below as an example. This choice will avoid having to tackle a scarf-joint on the headstock (though I'm open to doing so) and doing a set-neck.
  • Tune-o-matic bridge.
  • Maple neck, but unsure about the fingerboard. The sapele is dark brown, and I have some fingerboard material in Brazilian cherry (jatoba), East-Indian rosewood and hickory. Might decide that after I get the body blank veneered and cut to shape.
  • Headstock - I'd like to do something different, maybe a 4x2 or a 3x3 arrangement instead of the 6-inline. Not sure if that's possible with a Fender-style stepped headstock, so open to thoughts/suggestions on that, including going with an angled/scarfed headstock

Couple of pics below to visually communicate a bit of what I'm shooting for. Note that none of these are exactly what I'm planning - I'm not planning on doing F-holes, not planning on doing a Bigsby, not mixing single-coils and humbuckers - but these kinda tend toward the look I'm aiming for.

Thanks!

Plateless_bolt_on_neck.jpg


Tele Humbuckers.jpg


Tele Blue s.jpg
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Re: Planning the next build

Postby Peter Wilcox » Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:22 pm

Steve Sawyer wrote:[*]Headstock - I'd like to do something different, maybe a 4x2 or a 3x3 arrangement instead of the 6-inline. Not sure if that's possible with a Fender-style stepped headstock, so open to thoughts/suggestions on that, including going with an angled/scarfed headstock[/list}

Here's a recent Fenderish Headstock I made. Angled but not scarfed. Didn't quite get the straight string pull on the bass strings, but it'll do.
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headstock.jpg
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Re: Planning the next build

Postby Steve Sawyer » Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:55 pm

So you just cut the angle from a single piece with a bandsaw Peter? I note the 3x3 machine placement. That looks pretty good with what is pretty close to a Strat profile!

BTW your headstock reminds me of another change on this next build - putting the truss rod adjustment at the headstock, not at the heel!! Must just be "tradition" as I can't see any advantage to the adjustment being at the heel, but then again, maybe I'm just ignorant...:)
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Re: Planning the next build

Postby Freeman Keller » Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:49 pm

Steve, a couple of random comments. My first solid body electric guitar was a LP clone - I had built a bunch of acoustics but jumped right into the deep end with my first electric. It came out fine, I learned a lot and have made several more. I have also built four tele-clones with minor variations (mostly pickups) - I've donated all of these to a fund raising (another subject).

What you are suggesting makes sense if you don't want to dive into the set neck guitar (yet). Obviously a slab topped screwed neck guitar has the simplest geometry but there are some things to consider

- Tele shaped body - fine but kind of generic. One nice thing is that it fits normal cases - I hate buying a custom case.

- Veneered body sounds nice. One thing that I really like is to see the head veneered the same as the body. You can do that as long as you don't make the Fender curve into the nut.

- Bound neck and body. Binding the body is straight forward, I would consider contrasting wood binding instead of plastic but plastic is easier to bend. Binding a neck is tricky and means you'll have to fret over the binding - thats a good skill to have when you start doing refrets on commercial guitars. I like to carry neck binding theme all the way thru the guitar

- Humbuckers. I like 'buckers and if you feel you need single coils you can always split one or both. Obviously you'll need to make new routing templates and consider how to wire them (one set of pots like a Fender, two like a Gibson) - which may affect cavities. LMI has some really tasteful wood pickup rings you might want to consider.

- "Bolt on neck".... (Really, its a screw on neck unless you put in inserts). Fender does the stepped headstock because its darn easy. I do it when I want my guitars to look like a Fender but I greatly prefer angled scarf jointed heads. Ibanez and others use the "plateless" connection and don't seem to have problems with it - you might want to study them. Once again, you'll probably need to make some new jigs.

- Tune-o-matic bridge. Do this one carefully. ToM bridges are almost always 12 inch radius, Fender f/b's are usually 7 or 9. Pay attention to string spacing. And most importantly, pay attention to the overstand and neck angle to get enough adjustment in the bridge for playable action. Get your bridge and whatever tailpiece you are going to use and layout the geometry carefully.

- Neck and f/b are up to you - I like to carry the theme thru to the rest of the guitar For example, this guitar is a mahogany body and neck with flamed Spanish cedar top. The fretboard, binding, pickup rings, and knobs are all rosewood for contrast. I even made a rosewood truss rod cover (which might be a little hokey). I did not bind this f/b but if I had it would have been rosewood also

Image

Image

This, on the other hand, has a maple body, also bound in maple (body, neck, f-holes, headstock). The f/b, pickup rings, headplate, bridge are all rosewood

Image

Image

- No comments on headstock design - that is a pretty personal thing. Do lay out the string path so they don't run into tuner posts. I happen to hate the Fender truss rod adjustment in the heel (altho I understand why they do it) - if you do an angle head plus a scarf joint and a small route for the adjuster you can put it in the head and still have a strong neck.

I'll add that I've never done a scarfed head with maple - it might be hard to completely hide that joint line. Another option is a multipiece neck with laminations running the length of the neck. Here it is on an acoustic - koa body, mahogany neck with maple center, all maple binding including neck and body

Image

Just some toughts - looking forward to seeing what you decide
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Re: Planning the next build

Postby Peter Wilcox » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:18 pm

Steve Sawyer wrote:So you just cut the angle from a single piece with a bandsaw Peter? I note the 3x3 machine placement. That looks pretty good with what is pretty close to a Strat profile!


Yeah - I glue up the 5 pieces (3 alder and 2 walnut) that are a little over 3" wide and 40" long, and I can cut 3 bass or guitar necks out of that with angled head stocks. I don't worry about strength, as I think the differing grains of the 5 pieces help to prevent splitting.
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Re: Planning the next build

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:43 pm

Peter- thanks for the explanation.

Freeman - thanks for your thoughts.

I'm entertaining the thought of veneering the headstock. While not wanting to take on too much new on this build, a scarfed headstock (and the veneer would hide joint on the face) is really just woodworking. If I can do hand-cut dovetails, I should be able to handle a scarfed headstock. I'd just be adding to the binding task, which I'm already up for. Then again, I could use Peter's approach.

As far as the wiring goes, I've seen so many clever treatments of control cavities on this forum that I'm looking forward to deciding how I'm going to do that. I may just go the easy route and do a clone of the LP cavity and control arrangement.

Yes, my last neck was a "bolt on" (brass inserts), and plan on doing the same on the next one! :) I'll hang out at the guitar store and look at some Ibanez guitars to get a look at how that can be done.

You raise a good point re the Tune-o-Matic. I thought of using that just because I have one. I toyed with the idea of making the neck radius 12", which would match the bridge, but as you mention in passing, I might need to futz with the neck angle. I might change my mind on the choice of the bridge.

Those rosewood binding are very impressive, BTW - that must have been a b***h.
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Re: Planning the next build

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:20 pm

Steve. A lot of things possible, but not all things should be done in your first builds.
I think you're right to steer away from a set neck for your second build. A "bolt-on" neck is a bit simpler to build, even if the neck pocket can be a royal pain.

For your first binding job, I would stick with plastic. It is easier to work with by far. A bit of heat from a hair dryer, or heat gun and the sharp corners are looked after. Although, too much heat and you have a bit of spaghetti in your hands. Be careful and go slow.

A tummy cut is not as hard as you may think. A good rasp can cut one in a half hour.

In the first picture you show, there is a screw right in the center of the neck. Not good. Too easy to hit the truss rod doing it that way.

I love humbuckers. A lot of the pickups these days have a 4 wire lead, and splitting (tapping) them is easy.
I use push-push controls that are really slick. You can change between humbucker and single coil just by tapping the top of the knob. No pulling up with sweaty hands and slipping to deal with. Players love them.

Wooden pickup rings are a nice touch also like Freeman said. They are not that hard to make, but if you're in a hurry, or don't feel confident enough, just buy them.

On my last build, which was a bass, I veneered the Fender style headstock using a piece of the same wood I used on the body. I had to bend it to fit, but it came out really nice.

DSC_0028.jpg
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Re: Planning the next build

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:18 am

Thanks for the pointers, Gordon - nice work on that headstock. I have some veneer softener that would probably make bending to that curve a little easier, but I'll have to experiment. As with all highly figured veneers, this stuff is incredibly fragile.

I am planning on using plastic binding for the reasons you mention.

I'm intrigued by the push-push controls you mentioned. Do you have a link that would lead me to where they can be purchased? The Seymour Duncan web site has this terrific tool that will provide a wiring diagram for any kind of pup arrangement you want to do. I wasn't planning on doing anything exotic, like tapping, but then again, why not??
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Re: Planning the next build

Postby Barry Daniels » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:57 am

I like simple circuits. I have had clients that wanted complex on-board switching circuits, but I no longer enable this folly.
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