Clay Schaeffer's acoustic travel guitar with knock-down neck [Pictures] - created 05-26-2008

Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.07:45:38

Here are some pictures of a guitar I recently completed. It is my version of a "travel" guitar.


Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.07:52:15

I tried for a traditional appearance and modeled it after an 00 -12 fret design. I wanted a full size instrument that can be used professionally if so desired. I also tryed to avoid oddities and quirks that players might object to.


Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.08:01:26

The back and sides are made from veneer that was given to me. I cut around the cracks and defects that old veneer tends to have. The flitch matched veneers were stacked in sequence and glued with epoxy. The little bug holes at the bottom help to align them. The back pieces were a little narrow so I added a center strip to "stretch" the wood a bit.


Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.08:10:27

In keeping a traditional look I used the modified bridal joint for the headsplice. It gives the volute a raison d'etre. The tuners are Grovers, the single most expensive component of this guitar -and even they were on sale!


Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.08:14:22

Here is a side view of the headstock. You can also see the mammoth ivory nut. It is an interesting material to work with. the colors vary from creme to chocolate to blue. This piece is kind of a middle brown-tan.


Jenner, Chris - 05/26/2008.08:20:18

I like that alot! I'm fond of simple guitars as a rule. A person can really enjoy a fossil nut without glitzy distractions. A discrete elegance. Is the shape your hybridization, or a straight copy? What is the scale length?

Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.08:22:53

This guitar combines many ideas I've learned from this forum, one of which is the access port. I have modified it somewhat to suit my purposes. The strap pin is what holds it in place.


Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.08:29:20

The bridge design incorporates elements of a pyramid bridge and a ukulelee bridge. It allows the guitar to be easily unstrung. The recess in the back of this one was a little too shallow to use the "string spacer-carrier I had planned and still hide the ball ends. Something to do better on the next one!


Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.08:38:33

The neck of this guitar is held on with one cap screw through the heel and accessed from the outside with an allen wrench. The two guide pins align the neck and provide additional support. The guide holes are bushed with metal tubing to guard against wear. Some small adjustment of neck angle can be had by placing washers over the guide pins, similar to what is done to adjust "key dip" on pianos. The single bolt passes through a metal reinforcement in the heel and fastens to a tee nut in the end block.


Senseney, Steve - 05/26/2008.08:42:37

Nice guitar. I like the appearance of the bridge. Simple and clean.

I wonder if this will have more risk of the bridge pulling off--

I like the visual appearance and it looks like a cool design. The concerns I have are that you don't have quite as much wood to wood contact to have a stronger glue joint, and you don't have the strings pulling against the bridge plate to keep the bridge pulled down to the soundboard. The space at the bottom where you ball ends sits effectively becomes a stress area, where the glue line will shear first.

Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.08:46:21

In the above picture you will also notice the truss rod is adjusted at the heel end.

Here is a picture showing the method of fastening the access port cover. The wooden bar slips behind the end block and the bolt is tightened by turning the strap pin. Inside the support pieces hold the cover out and when it is removed act as a guide/support for the neck. The upper support has a nut inset to fasten the heel to.


Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.08:54:56

This last picture shows the neck inside the body. The cap screw is reversed and inserted into the nut and the neck is secured to the body for travel. One thing I have not shown is the neckblock that has a recess to recieve the peghead and keep it from moving and the socks that pad the neck when it is stored in the body. My wife suggested making a sleeve, but long socks work perfectly fine and do double duty for the guitarist with cold feet.


Ingram, Douglas - 05/26/2008.09:08:35
It is my experieince that gravity is erratic

Now that's just pretty darn cool, and well executed, too!

Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.09:08:55

The picture above also shows where the access port fastens in the travel mode. By using a gig bag the guitar can be conviently carried assembled or compacted.

I am building a couple of others incorporating some changes I want to make (a recessed heel and some sort of nut/string retainer) and in different sizes. On One of them I am interleaving carbon fiber between the veneer layers.

The guitAR-7 is a work in progress and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on possible improvements.

Daniels, Barry - 05/26/2008.09:14:41
MIMForum Staff

I also agree with the comments on the bridge. You have reduced the gluing surface area in the most critical area and have created a small lever arm that is trying to peel the bridge up.

Do you have a picture of the outside of the heel?

Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.09:36:11

Hi Chris,

Hi Steve and Barry,

The bridge was also a concern to me. That was one reason I kept the recess shallow and elongated the slots that hold the strings. The bridge is slightly longer and wider than the typical pyramid style in an effort to put a little more gluing surface into play. I used hide glue, so we'll see just how good that stuff is! If it doesn't work out I might go to a big honkin' belly bridge.

I will try to snap a pic of the heel and post it soon - it looks typical with a hole drilled through the center.

Hi Anthony and Douglas,

Thank you for the kind words. I hope I have given back a little to the forum I have taken so much from.

Swanson, Mark - 05/26/2008.09:58:26
MIMForum Staff, Michigan

That's good work, Clay. We could always take bets on how long the bridge stays there.

Have you ever seen Mike Doolin's pinless bridge design? That might work out better here.

Bieber, Alain - 05/26/2008.10:53:46

Hello Clay,

The most radical feature of your nice guitar is, for me, the way you interrupted the fretboard at the 12 th fret (plus a short cm.), then let the forward part just lie upon the soundboard.

I did that once in a nylon string guitar but, maybe because my upper bout was not very strongly built, I noticed a relative weakness of my outputs for the extreme trebles (no sustain). So I went back to a more traditional cantilever treatment "à la Stauffer"..

Did you escape from that? It is possible that you were wise enough to build a stronger support for your upper fretboard. Nice and bold. Congratulations.

Bieber, Alain - 05/26/2008.11:14:02

A photo of my contraption evoked above. This one is now in my attic (without bass strings and with dust), but in spite of its weakness for trebles.. was my favorite for several years. Good enough for my level as a player.. rarely above the 12 th. fret .


Rian, Arnt - 05/26/2008.14:08:59
Trondheim, Norway

I like it a lot, Clay! I believe Kent Chasson was the one who shoved a similar access port on one of his instruments a while (couple of years, maybe?) back. I would be interested in seeing how the peghead is secured to the neck block in 'travel mode'. In your last picture, does the access port lid somehow secure the neck from the soundhole, or...?

The woods look very pretty, what are they?

I assume you cut the peghead bridal joint with your table saw?

Great work, thanks for showing it!

Jenner, Chris - 05/26/2008.16:32:36

Alain, that's a happy ice cream cone heel? I'm excited to see these adjustable necks that seemed to me so advanced actually harkening back 100 years to pre-factory craftsmanship!

And Clay's peghead joint is a beautiful old school reference as well. I want to try these things, too. The small guitars are really looking like fun to me. An early romantic design wth silk and steel strings maybe... Thanks for the intrigue, both of you.

Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.18:13:50

Hi Mark,

Hi Alain,

The picture doesn't show it well, but the fingerboard is cut at a slight angle that helps it "lock" under the part glued to the body. I believe it was you who provided links to Stauffer's neck joint with the neck recessed into the endblock. A variation of this is what I am trying on the next one. It will eliminate the overhang which could be damaged through careless handling. Being a steel string the trebles sing out loud and clear. Being lightly built the basses are also very nice. I am very happy with the sound of this guitar. It is still quite "young" but if the sound stays as it is I will be satisfied.

Hi Arnt,

Yes, I believe it was Kent and later Mark Swanson who did access ports. It seems like there was at least one other. Their work did provide some of the inspiration for this design. The access cover does not stabilize the neck but only secures itself to the soundhole in the last picture. It will eventually have some felt backing so as not to mar the finish when secured in that position. The peghead fits into a niche built around the neckblock. The socks provide padding. I thought of doing something more elaborate but simplicity won out.

This was one of the cheapest guitars I have ever built. As I mentioned the brazilian rosewood veneer for back and sides was given to me. I had bought veneer offcuts/overages from the seller previously and when he liquidated his stock he gave me a bunch of it. The top is a $4 engalmann dreadnought top with the defects cut out of it. I bought 50 of them and this was one of the worst looking. Stiffness wise it is fine. The fingerboard started life out as a bass guitar reject and cost a dollar. The bridge was an african blackwood turning square and when cut in half made two bridge blanks at 50 cents apiece. The turning square had some sapwood in it which made it a 2nd. The neck is some sort of mahogany scrap that was saved from the cabinetshop dumpster. The peghead overlay is some offcuts from some offcuts - more veneer glued up.

The binding is pvc edgebanding used for cabinet doors, resawed to a narrower width. The purflng around the top is ebony /holly/ebony veneer glued up in a mold (same as I do the sides) then cut into preformed strips with the tablesaw. Maybe this is more detail than you asked for!

The bridal joint was cut on the tablesaw and then the volute carved by hand. I think this joint easy to do and less problematic than the "v" joint or the scarf joint. And I think it is stronger.

Hi Chris,

As they say, what's old is new. Or was that... What's new is old? Thanks again for the kind words!

Lau, Matthew - 05/26/2008.18:22:38

Very clever work.

This gives me ideas for build number 3!

Schaeffer, Clay - 05/26/2008.18:27:40

For those that are interested here is how the back and sides started out. Notice the sapwood and cracks that were cut around. Several backs and two sets of sides were salvaged from the veneer.


Paulick, Chris - 05/26/2008.21:05:12

Cool. Well thought out!

Jimenez, Paco - 05/27/2008.03:37:32

Beautiful work. I Really like the concept.

-"The small guitars are really looking like fun to me. An early romantic design wth silk and steel strings maybe..."-

That's great project indeed. But take care, romantic guitars are addictive.

Zierdt, Gene - 05/28/2008.22:50:17


I have a similar guitar, loosely modeled on a 1932 Martin 0-17, on my bench right now. I am planning a similar neck joint, but am currently planning to leave the fingerboard full length. You have a very nice solution for storing the neck by adding the access port. I'm planning on using a pretty standard bridge with bridge pins, but I'll have to pull those every time I break down the guitar for travel. Looking at your bridge and the numerous comments, I'm wondering if a slightly wider bridge with a slot underneath, and keyhole shaped string end holes would work to help minimize the peeling force.

Ingram, Douglas - 05/29/2008.08:49:23
It is my experieince that gravity is erratic

Clay, after hearing of its material origins, I like it even more!

Schaeffer, Clay - 06/22/2008.19:56:04

Here is a picture of the heel that Barry requested. It looks nothing out of the ordinary, with the exception of the hole where the capscrew goes through.


Schaeffer, Clay - 06/22/2008.20:00:09

One more thing I wanted to post before the discussion left the board was a picture of the peghead niche built around the neckblock. I'm still looking for a more elegent solution.


Daniels, Barry - 06/23/2008.10:15:01
MIMForum Staff

Thanks for the photo Clay. Very innovative guitar.

Pollard, Michael - 06/23/2008.14:22:10

Where can I see a picture of Mike Doolins famed pinless bridge?

Daniels, Barry - 06/23/2008.14:46:20
MIMForum Staff

Did you try his website?