making an electric nylon string guitar

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James Gates
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:52 pm

making an electric nylon string guitar

Post by James Gates »

My 10 yr old granddaughter has a keen interest in playing nylon string guitar.
I want to build her a fender neck style solid body. I will be using a paddle head fender style neck I have
what I am wondering is what to use for the bridge since the string spacing will be closer than on an acoustic nylon string.
Likely will use some kind of piezo.
Attachments
Earl Klugh, me and  nylon guitarist granddaughter Marisol. Marisol just finished playing a song for Earl Klugh
Earl Klugh, me and nylon guitarist granddaughter Marisol. Marisol just finished playing a song for Earl Klugh
Earl Klugh, Grandpa, Marisol.PNG (34.97 KiB) Viewed 5986 times

Mark Wybierala
Posts: 469
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:14 am
Location: Central New Jersey

Re: making an electric nylon string guitar

Post by Mark Wybierala »

I've been making a number of these types of guitars and I really like them. For the pickup, you have a number of choices. I think the best is to purchase a preamp and piezo combination from ebay and there are quite a few for under $50. The problem is finding a preamp that will suit mounting in a comparatively thin solid body guitar and one that has a flat mounting plate. I have found these but you need to look a bit. A preamp with some sort of Eq is really the way to go if you want any sort of reasonable tone. You do get what you pay for but even the cheapest of preamps is far better than none at all. After that, its just a matter of making a bridge. A standard classical guitar bridge with the traditional string-tie holes is very close to being the correct height for a typical Fender style guitar. You do need to have a deep enough saddle slot to work with a piezo under the saddle. I normally just make my own with a lump of rosewood and cut a full length slot on the table saw. The last time I did this was by the seat of my pants and I made the entire bridge on the table saw in about ten minutes with a stop at the drill press for the holes -- I'll post a picture later today.

You can also go the more expensive but easier path and just buy strat style individual piezo saddles from Graphtech and use a hardtail strat bridge but this can get expensive when you add the cost of a Graphtech preamp. I've never tried to use these type of six piezo saddles with another preamp so I don't know how well they'd work without the preamp made by Graphtech.

Louie Atienza
Posts: 275
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:35 pm

Re: making an electric nylon string guitar

Post by Louie Atienza »

I have a GraphTech setup, but haven't tried running nylons with them. I know Fender makes a nylon string Yngwie model, it might pay to see what they're using for saddles. It sounds cool, but no one is mistaking it for a Spanish guitar, just anothe cool sound to add to the arsenal.

Thie thing is, the acoustiphonic preamp and saddles are tuned for electic strings, so I don't know how they'd sound with nylons.

Henrique Schneiter
Posts: 91
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:59 am

Re: making an electric nylon string guitar

Post by Henrique Schneiter »

James, do you plan to use regular steel-string tuners on that paddle headstock? You can have problems...

Jim Bonnell
Posts: 232
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:32 pm
Location: Tampa Bay area Fl.

Re: making an electric nylon string guitar

Post by Jim Bonnell »

Mark, have you tried the Artec preamp and piezo? http://www.acousticpreamp.com/servlet/the-23/AB1/Detail They run around $35.00 on Ebay for the pair. I started a reso-lectric quite awhile back that I never finished. I'm wanting to used a lipstick pickup at the neck and a piezo under the biscuit and didn't want to put a lot of cash in it till I see how it works out. I know $35.00 is really a cheap way out but thought it might be worth a try.

Louie Atienza
Posts: 275
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:35 pm

Re: making an electric nylon string guitar

Post by Louie Atienza »

Henrique Schneiter wrote:James, do you plan to use regular steel-string tuners on that paddle headstock? You can have problems...
Tuning nylon stings with a 16:1 gear ratio would NOT be fun!

Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1478
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: making an electric nylon string guitar

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Once the strings are up to pitch and settled in, tuning nylon strings using steel string tuners is not the nightmare many people imagine.

James Gates
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:52 pm

Re: making an electric nylon string guitar

Post by James Gates »

I am planning on using classical guitar tuners and a slotted peghead, In addition I will chambering the solid body. The paddle neck, I think I got it from stewmac, is not as wide as a std classical bridge, so that is why I am asking about options for a bridge, also I have no shop, but have exp making solid bodies in my living room over visqueen for cleanup. I bought some Kauri and had it sliced up for tops, so likely will use that and some mahogony I have.
another option for a pickup is the shadow pickup out Germany. It mounts at the end of the fingerboard. It will have minimal or no controls.
The big problem I see is finding a bridge to work with this. It may be that I have to cut down a std classical guitar bridge, plug the holes and redrill, but I figure that some of you who have made this kind of guitar, will have figured out this problem.

Henrique Schneiter
Posts: 91
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:59 am

Re: making an electric nylon string guitar

Post by Henrique Schneiter »

On my last electric nylon-strung thing I have made my own wooden bridge. I don't think it's really a big deal. By the way, I used a piezo saddle, wich has a much higher signal than the traditional under saddle piezo, and it's feed directly to the amp (no preamp), and it sound very good.

How is that fingerboard mounting pickup? You sure its not magnetic and intended for steel strings?

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David Schwab
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Location: Staten Island, NY
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Re: making an electric nylon string guitar

Post by David Schwab »

The first guitar I built was a solid body nylon string guitar back in 1972 or so. I used the neck from a cheap classical guitar that had come loose when my older brother made the mistake and put steel strings on it! The body was made from pine. My plan was to use two Barcus Berry hot dots, which had just come on the market. But being only 15 at the time I didn't have the funds for them, but later stuck a piezo disk under the bridge which worked pretty well.

I just used the bridge from the host nylon string guitar. Later I added a tailpiece as it seemed to get more volume from the piezo because the brisge wasn't being twisted back to front. The bridge is not glued to the body, but held on with two screws. This was so I could experiment with transducers.

Here it is as it looks today...
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nylonic.jpg

Mark Wybierala
Posts: 469
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:14 am
Location: Central New Jersey

Re: making an electric nylon string guitar

Post by Mark Wybierala »

James this is my first nylon solid body. It has an Artec preamp in it but I don't remember which model. I was totally happy with the preamp. The piezo is in a handcrafted bridge that was made from three 1/8" thick pieces of rosewood sandwiched together. By sandwiching these pieces, I created a slot for the saddle and piezo and all I had to do was carve the exterior shape -- too simple. I made the bridge, found the intonation and alignment spot and then drilled the hole for the piezo wire -- its just hidden under the bridge. The tailpiece is a cut section from a standard classical guitar bridge -- too lazy but it works. Guitars like this can be a very inexpensive build and very rewarding instruments.
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LP Nylon Sm.JPG
LP Nylon Sm.JPG (15.42 KiB) Viewed 5753 times

Jim Bonnell
Posts: 232
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:32 pm
Location: Tampa Bay area Fl.

Re: making an electric nylon string guitar

Post by Jim Bonnell »

Very cool build Mark. Aahhh....I do have one question. Why are the fire place bricks showing through the sound hole?<G>

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