Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

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John Catto
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Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by John Catto »

Something new finally! And also something old given I've had the woodwork for this rattling around for YEARS. The top is flamed/burl/spalted birch on Mahogany body & neck. Ebony board (25" scale with banjo inlay). Tons of totally over the top etched brass parts on this. I must remember to stop doing these things with so many custom parts on them since it causes untold amounts of hassle, fun when they get completed and everything comes together though!

Pickups are both older Bartolinis, I LOVE these pickups, they just sound amazing and are the quietest passive pickups I've ever seen. The neck is a V88C-FW which is kind of an unusual pickup, almost low impedance at a little over 5k but actually very clean and quite loud, nearest thing I could compare it to is a Gibson Alnico neck pickup soundwise. The Bridge is "I'm not sure" sometimes Bartolinis markings are a bit obscure but it sounds much like the 1C I have in my Model One copy, the marking just says 50 so it could be a ZBS-50 which turned up in some old catalogs. With the exception of that neck pickup Bartolini’s guitar offerings while looking modern (though they’ve been made that way for over 30 years now) are in fact more like a PAF type recipe but with no hum, NO feedback whatsoever nothing, you can plug them into a high gain amp and there are no nasties whatsoever, unbelievably under-rated.

The bridge is a 70s brass “Stars Guitars” type which was kindly sent to me by my friend David Paetow who knew I liked them, and sent me a couple he found. I tend to play around and modify them quite a bit, I tweak the shape and the radius and with this one I did some radical stuff with the mounting. The body has Nashville style inserts installed and the bridge is bolted hard to the body on the 2 brass wheels that are in fact spacers. Knobs are ebony “Top Hat” knobs that I decorated with brass bases and furniture nails.

There’s obviously a fair bit of old Les Paul DNA in this. The neck is one piece with ears and is fitted with a 50s Gibson style 1.5” wide long tenon. The fingerboard is 12” radius and was fretted and bound off the neck (yes it has small nubs on the medium jumbo frets). The fingerboard was then installed after the neck was fitted to the body. Knob spacing is like a Les Paul as well. On the other hand the body is much smaller and quite waisted as well as being slightly offset. There’s a nod to both Alembic and Zemaitis in the design though it’s not much like either.

Weight is comparatively light at 8.25 pounds on my Salter fishing scale.

The full gallery is here http://s162.photobucket.com/user/johnca ... workguitar
Attachments
birchtop_brass_18.01.15_21w2.jpg
birchtop_brass_18.01.15_17w2.jpg
birchtop_brass_18.01.15_03w2.jpg
birchtop_brass_18.01.15_01w2.jpg
Last edited by John Catto on Sun Jan 18, 2015 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

John Catto
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Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 7:54 am

Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by John Catto »

With something like this it can't happen at all without hi-res artwork. I do everything in Illustrator and supplied all the artwork for the etched parts ready to run.
Attachments
Burltop_Metalwork_Final_w.Guitarw2.jpg

John Catto
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by John Catto »

Here's how the parts went off to be etched (but as a Illustrator eps file). As you can see I had a few duplicates in case of user cock-up and a bunch of variations especially regarding the switch ring, I'm still bouncing back and forth on the diamond shaped ones. There's also a 52 (p-bass) style control plate I tossed on there literally an hour before sending off the artwork.
Attachments
Parts Layout 5aw2.jpg

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Bryan Bear
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by Bryan Bear »

This site needs a "like" button!
PMoMC

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Jason Rodgers
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Daaaaaaaaaamn, son! That is some cool $#!+!!!! Over the top, but all tied together most harmoniously.

So that's a fairly stock bridge? Funky.

I have a feeling David King is going to be able to talk a bit about the Barts you have in there. I'm glad that you kept the black covers and didn't make new ones.

This is one of the cooler things I've seen on here in a while. Outstanding work!
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

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Hans Bezemer
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by Hans Bezemer »

Great!

John Catto
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by John Catto »

Thanks! The bridge is fairly stock if the year is 1978, quite a few people did them then. Stock they came with square ends and may or may not be a 12" radius, they were made by Stars Guitars (the original or maybe early Alembic), Schecter, Dimarzio Mighty Mite etc. They were made as an ABR1 replacement though I'd never use one for that. Back then people mounted them in a bunch of different ways including being bolted Alembic style into sustain blocks set into the body, mostly they were just perched on ABR1 posts & wheels. They do work well on a set of Nashville studs. In this case I used the Nashville inserts but bolted from the top, the decorative wheel/spacers are made from brass plumbing pipe caps reshaped with a dremel and files.

David King
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by David King »

Really nice looking guitar John.
When you say "etched" do you chemically etched using a mask or are these cnc (or hand) engraved?
I'd love to know how you got those knobs together. Are the brass top and bottom plates threaded through the center of the knobs?

John Catto
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by John Catto »

The metal is acid etched. When I was getting quotes I enquired whether the tech had changed much since my last pass through with doing this sort of stuff. Laser engraving on metal doesn't do much more than burn a picture onto the metal so that was out. CNC cutter engraving had all kinds of restrictions, not only did everything have to be vector (which it was anyway) but you could only have one cutter width, all strokes had to be converted to outline and there was lots of humming and hawing about whether they could execute the detail level and so on, as they said to me as I enquired, "you just answered your own question". So acid etched it was. The metal has a mask applied to it generated by your artwork, and is fed through a machine which feeds hot acid under pressure (as it was described to be when I had the top for my metalfront done)

I cut all this lot out with a jewellers saw and files, not worth it! It's always an option when acid etching to have a second pass that removes all the waste, in fact you can do REALLY clever filigree type stuff with that. Should have done that, it took several days to cut out and finish everything

The knobs are press fit (plastic insert) ebony knobs. I cut the brass bottoms from sheet and epoxied them on, the decorative furnishing nails went on top located by a small hole and glue (nails cut short)

Jason Rodgers
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Just looked at more pics on the photobucket. That headstock is great. This whole thing goes together from tip to tail.

So, who's the lucky sonofagun who gets this beauty?
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by Mark Swanson »

Thanks for posting John! It's a big hit here and on Facebook too. Great job, wish I could give it a play!
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Jim McConkey
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by Jim McConkey »

It's works of art like this that have kept me around this forum for something like 18 years now, and which make it a pleasure to be a staff member. Great job!
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Art Davila
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by Art Davila »

Love it just so cool.
I have a lot of experience on how "not" to do things.

Chad McCormack
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by Chad McCormack »

That is way beyond cool! And I bet it's a blast to play. Congrats, John!

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Pete Halliday
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by Pete Halliday »

Dang.

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Mark Langner
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by Mark Langner »

Sweet! One of the nicest things I've seen here in a long time.
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David King
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by David King »

John,
Thanks for all the detail regarding the etching. I wonder if a waterjet would also do the filigree cutouts and all the outline cuts for you. I do like the look of the acid etch and I know that waterjet doesn't always leave the cleanest edge.

I might try the acid etch at home some day using ferric chloride from Radio Shack. I imagine that the PCB photo mask with UV developer would work here too.

David Robinson
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by David Robinson »

Just Beautiful John! I love the nesting of parts inside the pickup rings.

Robert Smallwood
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Re: Birch topped singlecut with etched brass "Victorian" hardware 2015

Post by Robert Smallwood »

Spectacular!!

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