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Photos Something Different - Guitar Build

Discussion in 'General' started by BentAnat, 16 Jan 2018.

  1. BentAnat

    BentAnat Software Dev

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    So at the request of Mankz (and because I am pretty chuffed with this project, and because it's a guitar), I am posting this thread here, comments, questions, etc are more than welcome.

    Warning: Extreme guitar nerding follows.

    This story probably starts around 2004, when I upgraded from an old "Cheri" Strat knockoff to the "mighty" Cort X-11 (to be sold a year later in favour of a brand new Ibanez RG2570), and found out that "custom shop" is a thing.
    Back then, I knew EXACTLY what I wanted in a guitar - at least I thought so.

    Fast forward a few years, and I still own that old Cheri (sentimental value, since it's the first electric guitar), and it's a horrible guitar.
    In the years since I first got it, I also developed an aversion to Stratocasters.

    For roughly a year I considered just upgrading that guitar: Throw a proper bridge at it, pop in a set of Duncan Texas Vintage Hot (thanks, Nick Johnston) and call it a day.
    However, it dawned on me that I'd never play that. While I like listening to the likes of Johnston a LOT, the reality is my playing tends to be more gain-oriented and more aggressive. No point in single Coils.

    Slowly, this developed into a case of "but if I do X, I'll also need to do Y", and as such, the project was shelved again.

    Another year or so on, my Dad (who lives 360km away from me, and studied carpentry - though he never took that further than a weekend hobby) had started dabbling in guitar building. Acoustics, specifically, and he was working on his second one. To my surprise, the first one was actually quite nice - save for the neck profile, and the second one - still work in progress - seemed to fix many of the minor niggles on the first.

    Inspired by this, I started to plan again... I liked the neck on the Cheri fine, but the plywood body had to go.... and that's how this starts...
     
  2. BentAnat

    BentAnat Software Dev

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    After months of searching, we found the right slab of wood - A piece of African Walnut, which we laminated (3 pieces) into a piece that would fit the bill:
    [​IMG]

    At around the same time, I had a look at the neck, and decided it needed some work as well. The nut was cracked, and there was a solid bit of wear (though hard to see on the photo) on the frets:
    [​IMG]

    So I acquired some parts (which, after shipping, cost me about as much as a new guitar would have):
    Duncan JB/Jazz (I have never tried them, but have some romantic obsession with them - to me they are THE stadium rock pups)
    Hipshot Bridge
    Grover Locking tuners
    Black Tusq nut blanks (a pre-made wouldn't fit, since we're looking at a 16" radius on an otherwise fender-spec neck)
    Tusq String trees (in case I need them)
    Jumbo Fretwire (Nickel/silver from StewMac)
    Routing bits, Routing templates, pots, switches, case, cliplock strap, etc.

    ...and I travelled to see my old man to get this project started (this was in early December) to create a mess and make some decisions:

    The only pic I have of the old body (and a mess of schematics):
    [​IMG]

    We decided to go with a Telecaster shape, since I always wanted a tele.
    Check:
    [​IMG]

    ...and trace:
    [​IMG]

    ..and see how it would all look together:
    [​IMG]
     
  3. BentAnat

    BentAnat Software Dev

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    From here on in, the fun started.
    Every step is measure 2134895 times, then cut, of course, but that (due to lack of experience) does not preclude mistakes. Some mistakes happened, but to date, I feel we're able to work around it.

    I think more time was spent on building routing jigs (my Dad's router is a bit big and heavy for us to dare to use it just with the perspex StewMac templates.

    We left the slab of wood as a slab for as long as possible, while cutting as much as possible. This allowed us to screw parts of the jigs and templates into unused parts of the slab, ensuring a more stable place to work.

    Starting with the neck pocket (measure, check centreline, remeasure, etc)L
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    ...and eventually, the first cut:
    [​IMG]
    ...shallow at first.
    [​IMG]

    eventually finishing it off by hand, to ensure the neck fits nice and snug (the dremel bit flexes a bit much, so we decided against it).
    [​IMG]

    Test Fit:
    [​IMG]

    ..and check neck pocket depth... this will need to probably go down a little bit:
    [​IMG]
     
  4. BentAnat

    BentAnat Software Dev

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    Moving along, more measuring, routing, jigging, screwing, etc for the pickup cavities:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The hole between the pup cavities is one of the things that my dad did in my absence, and I don't think it's needed...
    [​IMG]

    The same for the rear control cavity:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    To make things "work" a little better with the maple neck and headstock from the old guitar, my Dad added some maple accents in my absence.
    1 Control Cavity cover:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Since this is the side that people tend to see less, he decided to add something on the front as well. Disclaimer here: My Dad and myself share a love of the old Prince Valiant graphic novels, and as a young'un, I always wanted a Valiant-something guitar...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Also in my absence, my Dad decided to cut the body out, start minor shaping bits (which we discussed before) and get things moving along a bit - it's late december by now.

    The next time I showed up (around new year's eve 2017), We were this far:
    [​IMG]

    The catch here was the neck joint was chunky.
    Not unusable, but not where I would have liked - at least the joint is a proper snug fit, unlike the old body:
    [​IMG]


    After some deliberation, we decided to do this:
    [​IMG]

    We also started taking the old neck apart and shaving off 1mm and the old branding off the headstock (staggered tuning posts could use literally 1mm)

    Frets off
    [​IMG]

    Started refretting, and shaved the branding off - spot the used neck. Dings, scratches, etc - this way, the maple on the headstock matches the maple on the body better:
    [​IMG]

    ...shave some off the back (since it's easier to reshape the "heel" there):
    [​IMG]

    All of this leaves us with this (to date):
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Still to be done:
    - complete the refret, level, crown, etc.
    - Make, shape a new Nut (keeping in mind that the frets increased in size, and as such, the new nut will have to be a bit taller than the old one)
    - Join the neck (this will likely be glued AND bolted, using an aluminium plate on the back of that sexy cutaway - we're not brave enough to recess that, given the skinny joint already)
    - All electronics and hardware (which the guitar will come back to my place for, and I will be doing all of that)
     
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  5. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    It's looking gorgeous!
    Since it's custom, and you rarely see them, have you considered a scalloped fretboard? I'm guessing from the Ibanez that you enjoy playing lead, so I figure why not give it the Cherry MX Reds of frets...
     
    Last edited: 16 Jan 2018
  6. Mankz

    Mankz 5318008

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    Are you going to strip the back of the next? Or is the entire thing going to end up lacquered?

    And no - unless your name is Yngwie i'd steer away from Scalloped boards. They feel weeeeeeeird.
     
  7. BentAnat

    BentAnat Software Dev

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    Funnily enough I hardly play leads. The Ibanez was a really strange buy, since I don't even particularly like Ibanez RGs. Sortof "Just happened" (as far as anything well into the >1K euro bracket just happens).
    This particular neck is also 22 fret, so not a "shredder's delight".
    The fretboard will stay the way it is (like I like my earth: flat).

    I am not 100% sure about this just yet.
    The lacquer is pretty thick, so my feeling is the whole thing will be lacquered and then get the crap "steel wooled" out of it.
    The current "nakedness" on the headstock is to make space for the Gotoh's staggered posts (the bass ones are a close fit on the previous thickness)
     
  8. Tichinde

    Tichinde Active Member

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    Impressive. Most impressive :)

    Not a tele-body fan but that wood is incredibly nice looking, and I say that as a person who likes colour on his guitar.
    Also, scalloped fretboards needed googling and that looks weird and uncomfortable o_O

    I picked up an Ibanez S521 a couple of years ago to get me properly into playing, and my old (terrible) 20 year old Encore strat copy is sitting there and I keep considering a neck for it.
    And some pickups.
    And new pots, and a switch.
    And a paint job....
     
  9. BentAnat

    BentAnat Software Dev

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    Since the missus is keen on me not endin up with 27 guitars (or so... N+1 applies) due to space constraints, I am trying to diversify my guitars as much as possible.
    so:
    1 x Modern voiced Ibanez RG (read: superstrat with DiMarzio Titans and a whammy that's parked until i have spare $$ to buy some parts from FUTone)
    1 x Angrily voiced Jackson DKA8 (that has DiMarzio D-Activators in it)
    1 x Les Paul shape Rock guitar (SE Tremonti sig)
    1 x Stadium Rock voiced Telecaster (partscaster, I guess) once this is done, but with strings through body

    Now all that's missing is something odd-shaped with EMGs... I already have the EMGs for this, and right now, my thinking is (pending the outcome of this build) to have my old man build me an Explorer type body and pop a revers Ibanez neck on there. Paint the thing white...

    I always loved a Telecaster. A mate of mine has one in Silverburst that blows my mind whenever I play it.
    The Ibanez S, on the other hand are really weird to me... just never gelled with me, but I guess that's 100% horses for courses...
     
  10. bawjaws

    bawjaws Well-Known Member

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    This is looking really good, @BentAnat !

    I love me a Telecaster, my absolute favourite solidbody guitar. Simple but effective!
     
  11. Mankz

    Mankz 5318008

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    Big up Tele's..

    [​IMG]

    I've also got a white Jim Root one at home somewhere.. (which I havent seen in like 6 years come to think of it)
     
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  12. BentAnat

    BentAnat Software Dev

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    @Mankz - those Strap Locks should REALLY be black, though... :p

    Progress has been made:

    Control cavity has been lined with copper tape (conductive paint is a ballache to import... I tried).
    Also visible - a small router slip on the bottom right of the pic.
    [​IMG]


    More frets have been replaced (FWIW, I am going from medium fretwire to jumbo).
    Attentive eyes will notice that the nut is upside down. It's only laid in at this point... that's the old, cracked nut. It was taken out to test if the TusQ blank would fit... it didn't and we had to sand it down to size...We used the old nut only to check if the neck pocket needed more depth (bridge + nut + fishing line... the neck pocket definitely needed more depth - coincidentally also the reason the last fret is in already).
    [​IMG]

    And levelling, crowning, etc has started (cracked, upside down old nut clearly visible):
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Tichinde

    Tichinde Active Member

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    Gonna admit, it took me a moment to figure out the nut being upside down :D
    How important is the lining of the control cavity? Recalling GCSE Electronics I understand why you'd do it, but does it really make that much difference for a passive setup?
    You've inspired me a touch and I'm investigating the costs of tweaking the Encore.
    The neck is actually physically ok (if horrendously slow) so I figure new internals will give me something usable.

    Mankz, gotta agree with Bent, but that red accent is lovely...

    This is something that I'm trying to do to justify a 2nd guitar :)
    It's been 2 years since I bought the S (did not think it had been that long) and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
    I fancy a new one but it needs to be sufficiently different to warrant the purchase.
    Which brings me to the 2018 Ibanez rgdim6fm which fits the bill and it's super pretty....... :blush:
     
    Last edited: 18 Jan 2018
  14. Mankz

    Mankz 5318008

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    Thanks kids.. Hard to beat the 80's...
     
  15. BentAnat

    BentAnat Software Dev

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    Right. answers in 2 parts:
    1) I know my Ibby RG does NOT use shielding - they simply ground to the bridge "hook" (whatever that is called) of the floyd (the part that's screwed into the body which the spring attach to). But grounding is only part of the reason for shielding a cavity (after all, one could quite easily ground on the back of a pot or on the bridge as well). The other reason is RF interference. While this is often not necessary, it's something that I am a bit "hit it with a hammer before it hatches" about, since the band I am playing with at the moment is running more and more Wireless systems (instruments suddenly all went wireless last year, and there's talk of IEMs as well). And since I know nothing about RF and wireless that's not 802.11, I'd rather make sure.

    2) Welcome to Musical Instrument GAS. I get that every now and then (read: every week or so).
    That RGD does seem like a fun instrument indeed. Very modern.
    The Iron Labels are all "made for metal", and the fanned frets and Fishman Moderns seem to agree with that. That said, the Iron Labels are also known to be a bit hit and miss on the quality front, so I'd say play one in a shop before deciding, and if you like it, buy THAT ONE.
    How different to the S it'll be is a bit hard to say...
    Obviously, something with Single coils would be "more different", but then, you could (eventually) take THOSE fishman's out, and replace them with the Devin Townsend signature Fishmans (which should be out soon, and they have a single coil and an active voice). Should be a straight drop in replacement.
     
  16. BentAnat

    BentAnat Software Dev

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    Quick update:
    This image from last night:
    [​IMG]

    All the frets are done.
    We need one more coat of lacquer on the back and sides, the new nut, and the piece of aluminium on the back of the neck pocket, so that nothing breaks off.
    The guitar is scheduled to be done towards the end of February.
     
  17. Tichinde

    Tichinde Active Member

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    Looking nice.
    Are you going to get a pickguard on there or are you leaving it bare?
     
  18. BentAnat

    BentAnat Software Dev

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    In this case, I am going to skip the pickguard. That was an early decision, really. It would have been much easier to mount all electronics onto the pickguard instead of all the separate routes.

    One thing that did hit me recently was that I didn't make any provision for grounding the bridge.
    Without a grounded bridge, the guitar will have a nasty hum the moment your hands are off the strings. Solution: An additional hole will be drilled from the bridge to the control cavity. Fortunately, it's only one small cable that gets wedged in, effectively.
    Research shows that with hipshot bridges, you don't even need to strip the colour off the bridge in the contact spot.

    At this point, the progress is slow, since my Dad, as well as myself are somewhat swamped (and separated by 360km). But we're on track to finish this build at the end of the month.
    Sadly, that means I can't play the first gig this year with it yet, but that'll make the wife happy, who just gave me a PRS Tremonti SE for Xmas...it means i'll be playing that.


    What my Dad doesn't know yet is that I am already planning the next project...
     
  19. Tichinde

    Tichinde Active Member

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    Cool, not a pickguard fan, I prefer to see the guitar finish :)

    Any thought on hardware colour?

    You have completely inspired me by the way, my Encore is in the garage half stripped of paint :)
     
  20. BentAnat

    BentAnat Software Dev

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    That's great to hear, man.

    Hardware is all bought for this. Full black.
    Black bridge, pups, nut, knobs, switches, machine heads, etc.

    Also something worth noting: I was tempted to strip the tone knob out completely, since I hardly ever use it. Since playing the tremonti, I am glad I did not do this. Some pups work SO well with the tone rolled back, and, from what I understand, the JB Jazz is one of those.

    Also, I decided against a 5 way blade switch consciously. I don't like the way blades look, and never use more than three positions.
    Wiring wise, I reckon there's a solid chance I'll do something like Neck-Dead-Bridge or Neck-Bridge Single Coil - Bridge Humbucker.
    I hardly use single coils, but there are times where (for rhythmic things) a single coil is a practical choice. That said, I also really enjoy the double-volume Les Paul switching that allows you to use it as a kill switch. It's practical on stages in a band that has long banter sessions (yes... our vocalist likes talking THAT MUCH.).
     

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