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Any Guitar Builders - Luthiers Out There?

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posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 11:44 AM
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So... I decided to build a guitar, not from scratch even though I could have, but rather from a kit, to see if these local Solo kits were any good. The base kit I used was a Solo TCK-150, hollowbody telecaster knock-off. I can say without reservation, even though this was the "best" kit out of 12 of the same model I looked at, it was still crap when I started.

The holes were drilled in the wrong places in the body for the bridge, no thru body holes for strings, the neck had a twist in it, the neck pocket was cut wrong, the holes were drilled wrong in the headstock as well as the hold down screw holes for the machine heads (adjusters were not perpendicular the the headstock edge). In addition, the pickup pockets were cut too small and there were dents and machine tooling marks on the "finished" body edges. It was a nightmare, I will NEVER buy a Solo kit again. Their customer service is pointless as well when it comes to crappy workmanship from their factory. Live and learn eh...

To straighten the neck I used a jig I made that bolted the neck plug to the table, I used my veneer press to clamp the headstock and added a lever arm bolted in place, plus the clamps to adjust the twist in the neck. I heated the neck up for 15 minutes, let it cool for 15 minutes and did this on and off for a day. The neck is pretty straight now, I might have less than 1 degree of twist (actually around 0.5 degrees, just measured it and that is relaxed after a few days, so my jig system works for straightening necks). It's the same thing I had to do with my 59 Gibson es-335, except the Gibson is a set neck, so you have to be a little bit more careful in how you hold down the neck plug area.

Since I decided to buy some African Bubinga veneer, I wasn't terribly worried about holes in wrong places or pockets being screwed up. I just recut everything. I made headstock and body presses for the veneer. The veneer only came in a 7" width, so I bookmatched the veneer myself. A daunting job, veneer pressed between two sheets of wood and a hand planed lol. I did have to flatten the veneer though, so I made my own relaxer using 1/3rd glycerin to 2/3rd distilled water mixed well, sprayed on both sides with an atomizer and then pressed and dried for a week (in another veneer press). I cleared a lot of the glycerin with isopropyl alcohol after the veneer dried and was flat. I used Titebond III, rolled onto both the body and the veneer to bind the veneers in place. I let it sit for 24 hours in the veneer presses, took it out and "ironed" the veneer with a standard non-steam clothes iron on medium temp to make sure there were no bubbles and everything was flat.

The hardware was junk, so I bought all new gold and better hardware. I used 10k neck and 16k bridge split pickups so I could do special wiring to give me series and singles and special neck/bridge combinations. The pickups are seriously hot lol. I used locking tuners, changed the nut to Buffalo bone that I cut and formed myself, smelled like a dentists office in here. I reseated and dressed the frets, they were so bad coming from the factory that they would have cut anyone who tried to play this guitar. I cut all the extra control holes, access panel and ***battery box*** for the back. Now why'd I need that you ask?

I got jiggly, bought a very small ukelele piezo preamp and installed a piezo pickup under the bridge. I thought wouldn't it be nice to have a tele that sounded like an acoustic when I want? And hell yeah, it does! But a Piezo preamp has it's own battery right? I cut for the battery box because I needed 5vdc for a pair of preamps and a DSP for effects. So, in a couple of days (when it all shows up), I am adding the battery box, the 9v to 5v PWM converter, a mono AD828 magnetic preamp, the Cara 100 effect DSP and the AD828 output post-amp. Then I am taking the Piezo Preamp output and the AD828 Mono preamp output and passing them through a selector switch to the DSP. From there I go through the second AD828 and to the Bypass Switch so I can have raw magnetic or preamp'd magnetic/piezo through the DSP. It should be an interesting experiment.

The guitar sounds amazing without the DSP, seriously amazing! It has perfect intonation and I am 0.016" at first fret and about 5/64" at the 12th fret. No stain on the guitar, that's just the natural African Bubinga with 7 coats of Varathane. I have already had two pro's tell me this is the best guitar for sound and intonation they have ever played. I may veneer my Wizard neck Ibanez RG321mh with Bubinga just for fun as my veneer jig can take the elongated strat type body as well. My next kit is coming out of Muslady in China, I am going to do that one in Quilted Maple.

If anyone is thinking of doing kits, need special wiring diagrams for switches/pickups or jig suggestions, need to know where to buy inexpensive but really nice veneer, just ask and I will help where I can :-)

What I started with...

Veneer Jigs and Repair Jig...

What it looks like now...


Cheers - Dave
edit on 3/7.2019 by bobs_uruncle because: (no reason given)




posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 12:28 PM
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First of all, fricking gorgeous! Silly question: What is the 2nd output for?



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 12:35 PM
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originally posted by: Autorico
First of all, fricking gorgeous! Silly question: What is the 2nd output for?


Waterfall Bubinga is nice and I have enough to do two more guitars ;-) The standard output is magnetic only right now (but it will be raw magnetic, preamp'd & DSP'd magnetic and DSP'd piezo. The second output is ONLY for the piezo preamp, so it would give me that acoustic guitar sound.

Cheers - Dave



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 12:37 PM
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a reply to: bobs_uruncle

Nice, can't wait to see pics of the others



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 01:41 PM
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Just a little more added info on the wiring of this wee beastie, so people can get an idea of the logic involved in wiring pickups if they don't know how.

The first wiring diagram is of the actual pickup wiring. It gives you combinations, of note, position 1 & 2 on the 2P6T will give you series coil (N&S) on the neck or neck single coil N. Position 1 & 3 will give you series coil (N&S) on the bridge or bridge single coil N. Pickup combinations are controlled by the two 4PDT in conjunction with the 2P6T rotary switch AND the 3 way standard Neck/Both/Bridge selector switch. So combinations are;

Neck Single North or Neck Series N+S and/or Bridge Single North or Bridge Series N+S (3 way, 1, *both or 2)
Neck Single North or Neck Series N+S and/or Bridge Single Coil South (3 way, 1, *both or 2)
Neck Single Coil South and/or Bridge Single North or Bridge Series N+S (3 way, 1, *both or 2)
Neck Single Coil South and/or Bridge Single Coil South (3 way, 1, *both or 2)
Parallel Neck N+S or Neck Single Coil N or Neck Single Coil S (3 way, *both for Parallel)
Parallel Bridge N+S or Bridge Single Coil N or Bridge Single Coil S (3 way, *both for Parallel)

* Both means the centre position on the 3 ways switch that combines line 1 and 2

There are 28 possible combinations, 24 are different and I believe 4 are duplicates.

The second wiring diagram is the interface of the AD828's and the Cara DSP along with the Piezo Preamp. It's pretty straight forward except I used a DPDT switch for the bypass switch so I could combine power control with bypass control, read, you don't need power if you are bypassed ;-)

The third diagram is the DSP function library, where it says "chrome" I think they mean "flange". It's downright scary to have this many effects built into a guitar. I thought my MIDI drive using stellaris M4's and a Cortex A9 with a DB60XG and 57 effects was nuts. This goes over the line lol.
So if you use my designs let me know how it works out for you.

Cheers - Dave



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 01:42 PM
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Well done Bob


I'm currently working on designing and building an 8 string headless multiscale. Just can't find a body shape that works for my cripple needs


Actually looked to some local luthiers for collaboration (I think it'll be a cool project), but the first was such a jackass I moved on. The same thing that makes playing typical body shapes painful also makes lutherie a much, much longer process than normal.

Figure I'm going to consolidate my inventory a bit into this new build. A few sold off should do it.

I'm going laminate body, with some kind of figured top (probably flame maple). Still undecided on a few things, like neck woods and pickups. Though, the neck'll very likely be a laminate as well. Mera hardware (shocker, amirite?), stainless frets (shocker, amirite?).

Dye will be used, with contours and carves through the laminate to form accents.

Should be fun



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 01:44 PM
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originally posted by: Autorico
a reply to: bobs_uruncle

Nice, can't wait to see pics of the others


I just put up the wiring diagrams for the pickups, the system and the effects index for the DSP, that's damned scary lol.

Cheers - Dave



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 01:55 PM
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a reply to: bobs_uruncle

I've done some builds with "ALL THE THINGS!" But, I find that after the first few days, I really only use a couple options. Definitely great for some, but for variety I tend to go to Reaper.

I will say that on my current #1, my absolute favorite is the bridge (Duncan Pegasus) mixed with the -screw- coil (not slug) on the neck (Duncan Sentient), with the latter a bit less in the mix.
edit on 7-3-2019 by Serdgiam because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 02:10 PM
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a reply to: Serdgiam

If you are doing an 8, everything changes. As far as your body goes though, I would take a 1" billet in oak or mahogany and route it almost right out. Then take two 1/2" maple billets for the top and the back. This is all just to keep the weight down. If you want to go solid body and you don't care about weight, black walnut or normal walnut. Fantastic tone wood with or without Maple on top.

If you are going to ink/color it, brown, red, yellow, orange and green - gold hardware. Anything else you can do the chrome/stainless, but a bit pricey and hard to work with, hope you have a Dremel ;-) The frets in stainless, that will be really hard, no pun intended. Better than brass as it wears less, but SS is not pliable so any issues with frets will likely be a dressing grind, rather than a nylon hammer.

As far as pickups go though, there you could have some fun. I would use "alnico" style or rare earth (Neodymium, cobalt maybe) separated pickups in series and try and run around 1k to 2k ohm per coil. Pics below show a 6 coil at 850 ohms each (5.1kohm total) which I use for MIDI conversions. Just for sh*ts and giggles if you want to try something really neat for 1/3rd the price, Oripure 14k neck and 16k bridge, I think they have them in full size humbucker. They are scary hot and have a nice tone profile.

Cheers - Dave
edit on 3/7.2019 by bobs_uruncle because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 02:37 PM
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a reply to: bobs_uruncle

Yup, a lot of things change once that string tension goes up! Going double truss rod too. Still undecided on neck joint.

In my experience, SS is definitely more difficult to work with, but worth it in the end. I tend to hit the ends with a modified dremel grinding disc before installation (makes those nice oval ends easy to achieve). You take a typical 3.5-4mm thick, run it against something like a small screw head to get a concave shape, et voila! Easy, beautiful fret ends.

For the woods, I'm actually looking more at like a 5 or 7 layer laminate. It'll be my first venture into a high layer lam, at least in guitar format. I'm leaning towards FM top, wenge accents, and basswood. Probably birds eye maple for fingerboard slab, and FM core lined with wenge and ovangkol.

Dye colors will more than likely be red, blue, and black with the ubiquitous trace coating first. Ive had luck replicating some PRS finishes, so will probably use them for inspiration again. I can like what they do without liking "The Man" himself! Probably black hardware (don't like gold
), but Mera has a ton of choices too.

Its all very, very subject to change though.

My biggest concerns are the contour on the back of the guitar (will be quite unique for my needs), and cutting the nut. The multiscale nuts Ive done are never quite right. First time I did one, I figured it wouldn't be all too different from normal.. and since I've done so many of those, I'm good to go..

Wrong!

Will be filming the process to kick off a YouTube channel too, covering everything from tutorials to builds, guitars, electronics, gaming, blah blah. That should be fun.



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 04:24 PM
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a reply to: bobs_uruncle

Impressive.

Just wondering how easy is it to select the different DSP settings in, say, a live performance situation?

Also with the second output and the DSP, wouldn't it make sense to have stereo outs and premix the piezo bug? Perhaps even buffered/preamplified & balanced stereo outs?

None the less, lots of features and good finish.



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 05:35 PM
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a reply to: chr0naut

The magnetic preamp before the DSP is a mono AD828, the post-preamp after the DSP is a stereo AD828. I wasn't sure how I was going to deal with that. I can pair up the inputs and have separate outputs, or I can do a double low gain amp, using each side as a mono channel (left in left out to right in right out). I could get crazy and take the piezo/DSP out one channel and the magnetics/DSP out the other and go to a stereo jack. I just don't want to add any more switches to it lol. I have a mag/piezo selector switch before the DSP so that will give me either selection on the standard output jack in non-bypass mode (and the bypass switch will turn on the power when it is not in bypass mode).

As far as the DSP functionality, let's see, have to remember my words, remember the fingering, remember the chords, remember the tune, remember the inflection/intonation and remember the DSP selections lol. I need about 6 brains lol. Probably just pick and remember half a dozen numbers for the selections and pray I hit the right ones, selector will be on the edge near the piezo preamp under plexiglass, so quite visible. Picking a selection is easy, it's a rotary selector and a little 2 digit display. Link to the DPS is HERE. The preamps are Mono Here and Stereo Here. The little 9v-5v converters are kinda cute Here.

So, I have thought everything through, I hope lol.

Cheers - Dave



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 05:41 PM
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Looks pretty good! These imported kits are a crapshoot...often they are a box of crap. Some kits, however, are very nice.

The problem with the cheaper offshore kits is the wood: it's usually not properly seasoned, so it's not finished drying/moving when they carve the components. That's causes all kinds of bad juju, usually in the neck as you experienced. If you like woodworking, the challenge of making a playable guitar from these iffy kits can be a fun endeavor. The critical part of building is the geometry--making sure bridge placement is correct for neck alignment and scale length. If the truss rod is working properly and the frets are level, you're well on your way to having a good outcome.

I've been building, repairing, and playing acoustic and electric stringed instruments for more than 40 years, and I have to say it is just as much fun to work on them as it is to play them. My gigging days are over; I got tired of the band hassles, etc., but I still play every day and do open mics and jams every week. I wouldn't change a thing.

I use stainless steel frets exclusively--unless someone specifically requests trad materials. Softer frets are certainly easier on tooling, but get yourself some decent diamond files and the SS frets are a breeze to install and finish.
edit on 7-3-2019 by TheTruthRocks because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 05:41 PM
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originally posted by: bobs_uruncle
a reply to: chr0naut

The magnetic preamp before the DSP is a mono AD828, the post-preamp after the DSP is a stereo AD828. I wasn't sure how I was going to deal with that. I can pair up the inputs and have separate outputs, or I can do a double low gain amp, using each side as a mono channel (left in left out to right in right out). I could get crazy and take the piezo/DSP out one channel and the magnetics/DSP out the other and go to a stereo jack. I just don't want to add any more switches to it lol. I have a mag/piezo selector switch before the DSP so that will give me either selection on the standard output jack in non-bypass mode (and the bypass switch will turn on the power when it is not in bypass mode).

As far as the DSP functionality, let's see, have to remember my words, remember the fingering, remember the chords, remember the tune, remember the inflection/intonation and remember the DSP selections lol. I need about 6 brains lol. Probably just pick and remember half a dozen numbers for the selections and pray I hit the right ones, selector will be on the edge near the piezo preamp under plexiglass, so quite visible. Picking a selection is easy, it's a rotary selector and a little 2 digit display. Link to the DPS is HERE. The preamps are Mono Here and Stereo Here. The little 9v-5v converters are kinda cute Here.

So, I have thought everything through, I hope lol.

Cheers - Dave


Looks like you thought of everything.

But all such labors of love are never 'finished'. The tweaking process goes on forever.




posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 06:04 PM
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originally posted by: bobs_uruncle
a reply to: Serdgiam

If you are doing an 8, everything changes. As far as your body goes though, I would take a 1" billet in oak or mahogany and route it almost right out. Then take two 1/2" maple billets for the top and the back. This is all just to keep the weight down. If you want to go solid body and you don't care about weight, black walnut or normal walnut. Fantastic tone wood with or without Maple on top.

If you are going to ink/color it, brown, red, yellow, orange and green - gold hardware. Anything else you can do the chrome/stainless, but a bit pricey and hard to work with, hope you have a Dremel ;-) The frets in stainless, that will be really hard, no pun intended. Better than brass as it wears less, but SS is not pliable so any issues with frets will likely be a dressing grind, rather than a nylon hammer.

As far as pickups go though, there you could have some fun. I would use "alnico" style or rare earth (Neodymium, cobalt maybe) separated pickups in series and try and run around 1k to 2k ohm per coil. Pics below show a 6 coil at 850 ohms each (5.1kohm total) which I use for MIDI conversions. Just for sh*ts and giggles if you want to try something really neat for 1/3rd the price, Oripure 14k neck and 16k bridge, I think they have them in full size humbucker. They are scary hot and have a nice tone profile.

Cheers - Dave


Those pickups look amazing!

Have you ever wound your own?

Also, I have been toying with the idea of applying an amplified signal back in to the pickups to create a resonant feedback, sort of like what an EBow does. Like repurposing the pickups near the neck as driver transducers and the pickups near the bridge as pickup transducers. This would give incredible sustain to every note played.

Rather than going for a commercial sustainer, arrangement, this could probably repurpose standard components with new capabilities.



posted on Mar, 7 2019 @ 10:37 PM
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a reply to: chr0naut

That pickup actually came out of a power gig guitar controller you can see here. I bought a bunch of them when the reviews on them were crap, so $10 each lol.

I have wound my own pickups. Used to have a pot winding machine and I would also wind 100kv boost transformers. These little jobs are neat though, would just like to see them around 2.5k-3kohm which would give a series resistance of 15k-18k. The trick to really boost the output and create incredible sustain would be to use fantastic magnets. Like I mentioned before, cobalt or neodymium. Just look up 5 x 20mm or close to that and neodymium magnet on eBay here.

I may actually buy a few and fit them into those split pickups :-)

ETA: The magnets are actually 4mm x 15mm it looks like, but 4x12 would probably work as well.

Cheers - Dave
edit on 3/7.2019 by bobs_uruncle because: Eta



posted on Mar, 8 2019 @ 12:36 AM
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Beautiful work.

I just build Frankenstein's from parts I scrounged from a warehouse fire and a few StewMac parts.



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 07:14 PM
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a reply to: olaru12

I’m super lazy and wait until I have enough money and buy all my crap from Warmoth.

I have a Mexi strat with one of their necks on it. I have a strat body waiting to be put together with a Fishman Power Bridge with a TRS output to do piezo on one side and electric on the other. While not quite plug and play it is close!

For some reason I hate Seymour Duncan’s and am a full on Dimarzio fan. Stoopid Satriani got to me when I was young! LOL!!

Anyhoo, @Bob, looks good! Sorry it didn’t fit your original idea. But all these years later I have come to understand that you have to change guitars to make different noises (a tele ain’t a Les Paul ain’t a baritone).

Like the rest of us... keep on dreaming and building and tinkering!!




posted on Mar, 10 2019 @ 02:45 PM
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a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF

I think that Duncan's just have a wider swathe of "tones."

Most of them are "meh," at best, to my ears. Lacking some aspect that I can't quite put my finger on.. But the ones that are good, are very good to my ears. The Pegasus and Custom 59 are simply splendid to my ears and fingers.

I think with Dimarzio, its easier to correctly state that if you like one.. you'll probably enjoy the vast majority of offerings. Not a sure thing, of course, but more reliable. I do absolutely love the Dominion I've got in one of my guitars.

I tend towards obscure pups anyway. The Don Lace D150 is one of my absolute favorite in the bridge position, but can be tricky to find (and are only for 6 string).

My favorite neck pup I've ever come across is some mystery single coil. I REALLY wish I could ID it, but no luck.



posted on Mar, 11 2019 @ 12:13 PM
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originally posted by: TEOTWAWKIAIFF
a reply to: olaru12

I’m super lazy and wait until I have enough money and buy all my crap from Warmoth.



Warmoth is a solid company and makes some good stuff. Muskraft is another good choice.



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