Fat Boy, Taylor GS, other "big" guitar shapes

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Doug Shaker
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Location: Palo Alto, California

Fat Boy, Taylor GS, other "big" guitar shapes

Post by Doug Shaker »

To all, but particularly to one of our fearless leaders, Mark Swanson:

I am in the thinking stages for a new guitar model, a largish body model, and my points of origin, so far, are the Taylor GS and Mark's Fat Boy. If Mark is willing, I was wondering if he would be willing to share his design goals for the Fat Boy and how well it has worked out.

If anyone else has built a Swanson Fat Boy or a Taylor GS or any other "Fat" guitar shapes, I would be interested in hearing how they went, and what the builder's thoughts were on bracing and other construction details.

My interest: I want to build a baritone for a fellow who likes what he calls "that big body sound".

Thoughts, scientific conclusions, fantasy and unfounded prejudice all welcomed.
-Doug Shaker

Jon Waller
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Re: Fat Boy, Taylor GS, other "big" guitar shapes

Post by Jon Waller »

I built the fat boy about six years ago. Built it exactly to plans as it was my first. Sound was rich and deep. Mine was full maple with Alaskan yellow cedar soundboard and engleman spruce bracing.

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Patrick DeGreve
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Re: Fat Boy, Taylor GS, other "big" guitar shapes

Post by Patrick DeGreve »

Hi Doug, I just finished a "Fat Boy" in Feb, and like it very much. Pictures are posted here on this forum. I am now building a second one with Walnut and Sitka. It is a very nice project. However the "Fat Boy" is not a very "big" guitar. I don't want speak for Mark, but I think the idea was to build a small guitar that has a "big" guitar sound, (and it does that very well). It also has a short scale which makes it very nice to play. I like mine very much. As far as a baritone goes, check out the Taylor GT8 on youtube. The GT8 is a short scale (27 inches, instead of 30 inches for a baritone) with two harmonic strings on the middle strings only. I think Taylor came up with a great idea with this. The 27 inch scale makes it easy to play for a baritone, and the harmonic strings add brightness ( but it still has the deep tone of the baritone). I built a version of this using a Dread body, just a little bit deeper, and love it. My older brother liked mine so much I had to build him one. You have got me thinking about building a larger version of the "Fat Boy" as an 8 string baritone. I might have to try that one! Good luck with your project, I hope I have HELPED, and not muddied the water too much. Please post your progress.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Fat Boy, Taylor GS, other "big" guitar shapes

Post by Mark Swanson »

I agree that the Fatboy is not a "big" guitar, it's a bit of a misconception that goes with the name. It's a smaller guitar, with a chunky body. And the short scale is important to the feel and sound, even the look. If you are going to build a long-scale guitar such as a baritone, I'd choose a different design, or modify this one by making it bigger and longer in the body. A long neck on such a short body would really look odd if you ask me! The Fatboy gets its glory from being a big sounding small guitar that is very easy to play because the short scale loosens the tension on the strings just a little bit.
  • Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff

Rodger Knox
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Re: Fat Boy, Taylor GS, other "big" guitar shapes

Post by Rodger Knox »

If I remember correctly, wasn't the Fat Boy based on a small mid 30s Kalamazoo? I believe Mark gave the shape the nickname while he was developing it, he'll correct me if my memory is failing. :lol:
The Kalamazoo Is a 24 9/16" scale, 14 frets to the body, 17" body length, and about 14 1/2" lower bout.
It's pretty much the same shape, with a narrow upper bout and much larger lower bout.
A man hears what he wants to hear, and disreguards the rest. Paul Simon

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Fat Boy, Taylor GS, other "big" guitar shapes

Post by Mark Swanson »

That is pretty much the right story Rodger, except the guitar was an old Regal and not a Kalamazoo. So your dimensions are not quite right either- I kept most of the shape, but rounded the cutaway a bit more. Here is a photo of the original. It's still one of my favorite guitars.
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banguit.jpg
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Mark Swanson
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Re: Fat Boy, Taylor GS, other "big" guitar shapes

Post by Mark Swanson »

For comparison, here is a shot of one the Fatboy guitars I built with the dimensions on the plan. It's hanging next to a Taylor and you can see the size difference.
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taylorfat.jpg
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Doug Shaker
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Re: Fat Boy, Taylor GS, other "big" guitar shapes

Post by Doug Shaker »

Ah! The photo of the Fat Boy and the Taylor helps! Thanks!
-Doug Shaker

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