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New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 11:11 pm
by Jason Rodgers
Hiya, folks. It's been a while since I've posted anything new. I've had a few guitars making gradual progress on the bench over the past year or so, but this new model - I call it the Alma - is an idea that came to me just a couple months ago and took over. It was mostly completed on April 29th, in time for the NW Handmade Musical Instrument Show at Marylhurst, but wasn't strung and set up until last weekend, for the Oregon Guitar Expo.

The shape is what you might call a non-cutaway off-set, and I decided to try my first Fender-ish stepped-down headstock. Actually, the shape is something that I've been playing with for ten years or so, which has been scaled from a uke to 3/4 size and even OM-ish outlines. I used the template for the 3/4 size guitar, and it's petite: 17-1/2" length, 13" lower bout, 7-1/2" waist, 9-1/2" upper bout. This prototype is super thin, at only 1-1/8".

The new MDF template had some minor tweaks to the curvature of the bouts, but is pretty much the same.
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The wood for the body was a long piece of walnut scrap that I got at a salvage yard. It was probably 4 feet long, 8 inches at the widest, and almost 3 inches thick. With some clever slip-matching and book-matching I was able to make a 4-piece blank.

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It got a deep, stepped bevel on the bass side.

Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 11:20 pm
by Jason Rodgers
The neck is maple/alder/maple, and I started with a blank 3/4" thick. The back of the headstock and heel were given a veneer to bring those areas up to 1" so that the headstock step could be deep enough and the heel could be tall enough. There are 1/8" x 3/8" carbon rods alongside a double-acting truss rod with a spoke wheel at the heel.
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The fingerboard is walnut, and I left it a little bit thick at 5/16" to add some stiffness. Fret slots were cut in my adjustable fret slotting jig. Frets are Jescar jumbo stainless.



Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 11:31 pm
by Jason Rodgers
A while back, David King gave me a handful of A2 rod magnets, and so I've been thinking about what kind of pickup I wanted to try making with them. My pickup rout shape looks a little like a tilted, dog-ear P-90, so I decided to try out something like that. Flatwork is made of 1/16" fiber sheet, and the bobbins are a little taller than a true P-90 at 3/8". The baseplate is nickel silver sheet, cut with a guillotine that I made from old jointer blades. Once again, I thermoformed some covers from black ABS with the textured side out.



The last pickups I wound were super hot, so I decided to try something a little more "vintage," and went with 10,000 turns of 42awg on the bridge and 9250 on the neck. They came out in the upper 6k and lower 7k range.

The wire turns is the only thing that they have in common with real P-90s, though, but they sound good.

Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 11:48 pm
by Jason Rodgers
I'm really happy with how this came out. It's light, balances well, plays great, sounds cool, and looks amazing (if I do say so myself). Finish is tung oil over shellac. More of the ABS was used for the pick guard and "belt buckle guard." I have it wired with a simple 3-way, volume, and tone.
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One more thing: check out the bridge plate. This is a design that I've been working on with John Sonksen (forum participant and local Portland friend). I drew them up (poorly) in Fusion 360, he refined and CAM-ed it all up, then went into work on the weekend and milled them in aircraft aluminum (he's a CNC programmer and operator). Anodizing was done at ElectroChem in SE Portland. These are frickin' gorgeous! They use GraphTech Wilkinson style bridges and come in 6-, 7-, and 8-string versions. SOOOOO appreciative of John's work on these components. They're making my designs possible and really moving my work forward.

Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 8:14 pm
by Jim Bonnell
You're really doing some extremely nice work Jason. Very unique. Love the stepped bevel. Always wanted to do that but couldn't quite figure out how it's done. Great design on the bridge and pickups too. Looking forward to seeing you at the convention.

Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 11:00 am
by Dan Smith
Sweet design elements! I like it!

Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 12:39 pm
by Beate Ritzert
Looks really nice ...
... but i am a bit surprised of the large scale difference and even more of the position of the neutral spot. Is there any special reason to deviate that much from the "usual" neutral spot around fret 8?

Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 2:32 am
by Jason Rodgers
Thank you! I have all sorts of ideas for the next two or three versions. I should probably finish the other three on the bench first.

Beate, I had to look back through my posts to see if I mentioned the scale spread. My 6-string guitars employ a 25"-26" scale spread, and yes the neutral is at the 12th. I like the 26" a lot, as it gives a very satisfying snap to the low strings, and it especially shines on drop and low tunings. I played 12s for a long time, and I string these up with 11s, though 10s would probably still feel pretty solid. The 12th fret break was a choice I made after building my first, a 7-string with 25.5" to 27" spread and neutral on the 7th. Low positions weren't an issue, but upper positions were cumbersome as the bass side tips over the treble. I would look down at my side markers, but my fingers weren't finding the correct frets across the fretboard when I was up around 15+. Of course, this would just taking some adaptation, but I thought it was a little extreme, and I believe splitting at the 12th alleviates this issue. I need to finish the 7-string on the bench to confirm this.

By the way, I'm not the first to notice this peculiarity of the playing a multi-scale instrument. ... d-markers/

Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 1:26 pm
by Chuck Tweedy
Wow, that is very nice. You are really turning out some nice, unique, and obviously very "real" designs. Keep on cranking!!

Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 7:25 pm
by Jason Rodgers
Thanks, Chuck!

Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:57 pm
by Jonathan Griffin

Well done on everything. The body bevel, bridge, and pickup are beautiful, but the headstock takes the cake.


Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:01 am
by Jason Rodgers
Thanks, Jonathan! The headstock is my usual shape, but with the flat, stepped-down Fender style construction. I've only built with a scarfed headstock up until this guitar, and I'm surprised at how easy it is (which is what Leo knew), especially with the truss rod access at the heel. I am working on a matching pair of Almas right now - a guitar and a bass - and it was even easier the next time around.

By the way, this guitar sold at the end of May, and then the two commissions to follow it. I'm surprised at the attention this model is getting.

Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:30 pm
by Matthew Lau

Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:48 pm
by Jason Rodgers
Matthew Lau wrote:Sweet!

Thanks, Matthew! The koa twins, as I'm calling them, are coming along nicely. (Actually in finishing now. This was basic stringup.)

I've also added a cutaway option, and I may be starting another guitar and bass twins project soon.

Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 10:02 pm
by Bob Francis
I think that cutaway looks sharp Jason.

Re: New model by Jason Rodgers

PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 12:09 am
by Jason Rodgers
Bob Francis wrote:I think that cutaway looks sharp Jason.

Thank you, Bob! It flows into the heel a bit, too, and should feel good as the thumb meets that transition area. I'm really itching to build it.