New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

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New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:33 am

After my long break I have activated myself and started working on several unfinished builds. A few weeks ago I finished a bolt-on neck solid body six-stringer. The model Alligatrix is of my own design, if not necessarily totally unique. Its structure is rather strattish and the "25.6 scale is close to the scale used by Fender. I have not tried to re-invent the wheel but rather create a concept with good playability that can be easily varied with different bridges and pickup constellations. With the prototype included this one is the 5th Alligatrix I have built- I decided to dub the yellow guitar laced with black "Stinger", such as a wasp or a bee. ;)

The 3-pickup guitar has a humbucker at the bridge and two single coils as neck and middle pickups. The pickups, powered by neodymium button magnets, are also of my own design and manufacture. The twin-coil is call Slumbucker and the single coils Single Mothers, a Fat Strat combination. They are quite hot, the Slumbucker wound up to 14 kΩ and the Single Mothers to 10 kΩ (middle) and 7 kΩ (neck). Through the clean channel of my 50W hybrid head they sound quite civilized, darker than traditional Strat pickups but clear and nicely articulate. The overdrive channel turns them into aggressive hard rock pickups. The Slumbucker can be split to a single coil with a push-pull switch in the volume pot. Unlike the Strat the Alligatrix has just one tone pot with a 47nF cap instead of two and all pickups are connected to it, so I can roll down the extra highs when I need to. I shielded the pickup and control cavities carefully and to my delight there is very little hum.

This guitar was not a commissioned build, I built it just for fun, just because I wanted to. If I can find a buyer for it, of course I will sell it, but Iäll be happy to keep it if I don't.

These are the specs:
Body alder, colour candy yellow, acrylic lacquer finish, pickguard & binding black
Bolt-on neck maple, 650 mm/25.6" scale, rosewood fretboard, 22 medium jumbo frets, 6 mm MOP button fret markers, bone nut, acrylic lacquer finish, 6 in line Schaller type black tuners with 15:1 turn ratio
Neck & middle piickups NYDE Single Mothers with neodymium magnets; yellow pearl tops, neck 7.8 kΩ, middle 10.8 kΩ, bridge pickup NYDE Slumbucker with neodymium magnets; yellow pearl top 14.5 kΩ; middle pickup is reverse wound & reverse polarity. Slumbucker pickup can be split to single coil with push-pull switch.
1 volume pot 500 kΩ with push-pull switch, 1 tone pot 500 kΩ with 47nF cap, 5-way switch, yellow knobs & pickup selector switch tip
Black vintage type Strat trem with yellow arm tip, black hardware

I took a series of studio portraits of her. Here they come:

001_Alligatrix_Stinger_wide.jpg

002_Alligatrix_Stinger_body_front.jpg

002_Alligatrix_Stinger_body_front_detail.jpg

003_Alligatrix_Stinger_headstock_front.jpg
Markku Nyytäjä
 
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Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:39 am

005_Alligatrix_Stinger_body_back.jpg

006_Alligatrix_Stinger_neck_joint.jpg

007_Alligatrix_Stinger_headstock_back.jpg

009_Alligatrix_Stinger_body_front_detail.jpg


There are also more than 100 work-in-progress shots from the workshop. I'll post them after I've selected the ones I think are the best. Get stung. 8-)
Markku Nyytäjä
 
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Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Jason Rodgers » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:23 pm

Back in the saddle, and cranking em out! Another great guitar, Markku!

Are you just using 42awg for those pickups? And they're steel slugs with the 1/8" thick neo buttons on the bottom? I've had good luck with the neo powered pickups I've made.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
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Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:49 am

Thanks, Jason.

Yes, I've wound the pickups with AWG42 wire. The slugs are made of 5 mm steel bar and the 5 mm diameter magnets are 3 mm /"1/8 thick. The coils are taller than usual, so I don't lose much high end even when overwinding them. And personally I prefer a little gutsier tone with more bass and less shrill highs. The Single Mothers are actually a hybrid of Strat pickups and a Tele bridge pickup. The coils are the same size as a Tele bridge pup but structurally they resemble Strat pups, as they have plain flatwork and not the metal baseplate of the Tele pup. Soundwise they're somewhere in a triangle between Strat, Tele bridge and P90 pickups. The top sheet is the same ABS plastic that is used in pickguards, so the pickup top colour can be chosen from a vast array of colours.

The Slumbucker is pretty much two miniature Single Mothers connected in series. The baseplate and the coils are standard humbucker size, the coils just taller than standard bucker coils. Each polepiece has its own nedymium magnet. It sound like.. eh... like a hot humbucker. When split to a single coil the pickup sounds like a hot Strat pickup, not like a split humbucker. With a 5-way pickup selector and a push-pull switch I get quite a palette of sounds from one guitar.
Markku Nyytäjä
 
Posts: 301
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Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Jason Rodgers » Sat Dec 30, 2017 1:57 am

Hmm, so taller than a standard humbucker bobbin, huh? Isn't this what a Wide Range is, or a Travis Bean? I've seen a couple other folks follow this path, and I've wound a few tall P-90s, as well. I think throwing neos in the mix creates yet another tonal option. Super cool stuff!
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
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Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:54 pm

Neodymium magnets work nicely for me. I've also used different types of AlNiCos and ceramics and I like them all for different reasons. It's good to have a variety of magnets for varying sound palettes, such as having cupboard full of spices in the kitchen for diffrerent flavours.
By the way, I just noticed that I've been a mimf member for 6 years today. :D
Markku Nyytäjä
 
Posts: 301
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Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Christ Kacoyannakis » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:52 pm

I like the way you have color matched the body, pickups, control knobs. Nice job!
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Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Tue Jan 16, 2018 7:53 am

Thanks, Christ. The pickups are not the same tone of yellow as the body and the knobs, but they're close enough. I could have wound the pickups with standard size coils and used matching yellow covers, but then the pickups wouldn't have sounded the same. I'm quite happy with the way they are.

I promised to post some work-in-progress photos. I may not have time to post them all in one session, but at least I can start.

001_Cutting_out_pickguard_template.jpg
I usually start out with the neck, but this time I started with a plywood template for the pickguard. I have made a body template and several pickguard templates for various bridge-pickup constellations. This one is for a a classic Strat trem and a H-S-S pickup setup.


002_Filing_pickguard_template.jpg
Filing the pickup holes of the template to the right size.


003_Drilling_middle_pickup_hole_in pickguard.jpg
I cut the pickguard from the blank sheet with a band saw and fastened it to the template with double-sided tape. Making pickup holes in the pickguard I drilled with a forstner bit holes big enough for a flush trim router bit.


006_Routing_pickup_hole_flush_with_template.jpg
Routing the pickup holes flush with the template on a table router.
Markku Nyytäjä
 
Posts: 301
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Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:08 am

005_Routing_pickguard_edge_flush_with_template.jpg
Routing pickguard edge flush with the template.


007_Bevelling_pickguard_edge.jpg
I used 2-ply (black/white, couldn't find black/yellow) ABS plastic sheet for the pickguard. It looks nice with a bevelled edge. I used a 45° bevelling router bit for the job.


009_Drilling_trem_spring_cavity_cover.jpg
I could use off-the-shelf trem spring cavity covers, but I prefer making them of the same sheet as the pickguard. With a template that's very little trouble. Drilling the cover here.


010_Routing_trem_spring_cavity_cover_flush_with_template.jpg
Of course the cover has to be routed flush with the template...
Markku Nyytäjä
 
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Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:23 am

011_Bevelling_strem_spring_cavity_cover.jpg
...and bevelled.


012_Planing_alder _for_body.jpg
I often plane enough alder to make several body blanks at a time, sometimes not. My planer/jointer is a good tool for that, powerful and accurate. I has only "8 working width, but it's small enough for my workshop and gives good results.


013_Planing_alder _for_body.jpg
Planing the board sides in a 90° angle with the top and bottom here. There will be no gaps or curving when the pieces are glued together.


016_Glueing _alder_body_blank_with_clamps.jpg
Good clamps are the best friend of body blanks.
Markku Nyytäjä
 
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Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Bob Francis » Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:42 am

What a great looking guitar!
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Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:44 am

017_Cutting_body_out_of_alder_blank.jpg
My band saw also has a working height of "8. That's just enough for splitting figured wood for bookmatched tops and surely enough for cutting out bodies from "2 thick blanks. I have found inexpensive Swedish replacement blades for it, so I don't have to risk ruining a fine piece of flamed wood with a dull blade.


018_Sanding_body_with_belt_sander.jpg
The alder pieces had moved a little during gluing, so I levelled the top and the bottom with a belt sander.


019_Routing_body_edges_flush_with_table_router.jpg
Routing body edges flush with a table router.


On to the neck then. I had a nice rosewood blank for the fretboard. I started by measuring and marking out the fret positions with a digital measuring tape.
021_Measuring_fret_distances.jpg
Markku Nyytäjä
 
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Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:53 am

022_Cutting_fret_slots.jpg
I cut the fret slots using a miter box and a rip saw.


023_Cutting_fretboard_out_of_blank.jpg
I marked the fretboard outlines with masking tape and cut it out with a band saw.


024_Planing_fretboard_edges.jpg
I planed the fretboard edges carefully to level them.


025_Routing_nut_slot.jpg
I have constructed a straight-edge guide for routing Fender type nut slots. Using a 3 mm straight router bit here.
Markku Nyytäjä
 
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Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:41 am

026_Radiusing_fretboard.jpg
I've made some radiusing cauls with different radiuses for fretboards. The "16 caul in use here.


027_Drilling_fret_marker_pits.jpg
Drilling fret marker pits with a 6 mm brad point drill bit.


028_Applying_CA_glue_to_fret_marker_pits.jpg
Applying CA glue to fret marker pits.


029_Gluing_fret_markers_into_place.jpg
Gluing fret markers into place.
Markku Nyytäjä
 
Posts: 301
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Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:53 am

030_Sanding_fret_markers_flush_with_fretboard.jpg
Sanding fret markers flush with the fretboard.


031_Applying_CA_glue_to_fret_slot.jpg
I cut all the frets a little longer than the fretboard width. Then I installed them using CA glue and a plastic hammer. Applying glue here...


032_Hammering_in_fret.jpg
...and hammering in frets here.


034_Sanding_fret_ends.jpg
I often use a belt sander with a 150 grit belt to crude dress the frets and a file to finish the work.
Markku Nyytäjä
 
Posts: 301
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Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:20 am

035_Drilling_holes_for_fretboard_side_markers.jpg
I used white 2 mm ABS plastic rod for side markers - drilled holes for them first.


036_Fixing_fretboard_side_markers.jpg
I then put a drop of CA glue to the holes, pushed the rod in and cut it flush with a carpet knife.


Back to the body for a change. Before routing any cavities I removed all excess wood with a forstner bit to reduce the heating and wear of the router bit. Drilling first also adds less dust and debris into the workshop air than routing.

037_Drilling_pickup_cavity_with_forstner_bit.jpg
Pickup cavity on the way...


038_Drilling_electronics_cavity_with_forstner_bit.jpg
...followed by the control cavity.
Markku Nyytäjä
 
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Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:58 am

039_Routing_pickup_cavity.jpg
Routing the swimming pool type pickup cavity with a copy router bit and a plywood template. A big cavity may pick up a bit more hum than a snug one, but shielding it carefully helps a lot and I can install any combination of pickups there.


040_Routing_output_jack_cavity.jpg
There's a separate template or routing the Strat type jackplate cavity. Of course there is.


The neck takes a turn. I usually start with preparing a neat flatsawn maple blank for a Fender type neck and routing a truss rod channel in the middle of it. If I have several blanks I rout a truss rod channel in each one of them to save time.

041_Routing_truss_rod_channel.jpg


042_Truss_rod_channel_&_allen_key_pit.jpg
The Alligatrix has a pit for the Allen key. It facilitates accessing the bullet type nut of the truss rod. I rout the pit with a round tip bit after routing the truss rod channel.
Markku Nyytäjä
 
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Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:08 am

Cutting out the neck from the blank with a band saw. I try to cut as close to the outlines as possible, yet leaving enough extra wood for shaping.

044_Cutting_neck_from_blank.jpg

046_Cutting_neck_from_blank.jpg

043_Cutting_neck_from_blank.jpg

048_Cutting_neck_from_blank.jpg
Markku Nyytäjä
 
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Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:29 am

I shape the neck with a belt sander first. Yes, there will be dust, but I have found that this works for me, as I get the shape close to what I want quite quickly. Using a belt sander calls for caution, though. It's very easy to ruin a good neck by sanding too deep.

050_Shaping_headstock_with_belt_sander.jpg

052_Shaping_neck_with_belt_sander.jpg


053_Drilling_truss_rod_nut_hole.jpg
Drilling the truss rod nut hole here.


After crude shaping with a belt sander I move on to a sanding drum attached to a compressed air driven sander. I have also used extensions on electric power drills, but after purchasing a new compressor with adequate air flow I have preferred air driven tools. They are more durable than electric devices, they don't have carbon brushes that wear out and just need regular lubrication. Of course I use many electric tools as well, All tools aren't available as air driven versions and I can't schlep a big compressor everywhere. No prejudice against any tools. ;)

054_Shaping_neck_with_sanding_drum.jpg
Markku Nyytäjä
 
Posts: 301
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Re: New build: The Alligatrix Stinger solid body electric

Postby Markku Nyytäjä » Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:47 am

055_Drilling_tuner_holes.jpg
Drilling tuner holes in the headstock with a 10 mm brad point drill bit.


056_Levelling_neck_heel.jpg
The StewMac SafeT Planer is a nice tool for levelling headstocks and neck heels. I built the guide table according to the instructions that came with the planer and found this tool excellent. It saves a lot of time and gives accurate results as long as the planer blades and the table are parallel.


057_Squeezing_silicone_into_truss_rod_channel.jpg
Time to install the one-way truss rod. Squeezing silicone caulk into the rod channel prior to installation to fix the rod and to prevent rattling later. There is masking tape on both sides of the channel to keep the caulk off all surfaces that will be glued later.


058_Gluing_fretboard_to_neck.jpg
Gluing the fretboard to the neck takes a radiused caul and an army of clamps. The clamps obey orders and stay on their posts overnight.
Markku Nyytäjä
 
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