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MINI Guitar
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Author:  allanrps [ Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:06 pm ]
Post subject:  MINI Guitar

Hi guys,

this is my first post here and I'm sorry to say I'm gonna be the clueless noob who isn't actually invested in the craft. That being said, I am going to make a guitar and I do need your help.

My plan is to make a mini electric guitar, about the size of a mandolin. I know this is going to seem like an unreasonable project to most of you, but please just try to assess whether it will work, not whether its a worthwhile project. I am going to just layout how I hope it will work.

I am going to get an unmarked guitar neck/fretboard and hack the low end off to my desired length. I will then fasten it to a hardwood body and headstock shaped by myself. I will use the appropriate hardware for a combination of bass and guitar strings, allowing me to achieve the same tuning as a standard length guitar. Because I will not be using this instrument with standard guitar amps/pedals/etc, I am going to use an EGR pickup with built in pre-amp, allowing me to plug the guitar directly into my sampler/sequencer or headphone amp.

I know having a normal guitar would be the ideal scenario, but this is a luxury I cannot afford. Actually, having a steinway and a selmer balanced action would be the ideal scenario for me, but unfortunately I live in my car and none of these, for space and security, are feasible options. A chromatic harmonica just doesn't get the itch for me, and that's why I've conceived of this idea -- what I hope will be a small, hideable instrument with quality tone and multiple voices. Then all I have to do is learn to play the guitar!

Any feedback on my plans is much appreciated. Thank you guys!


Author:  dzsmith [ Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MINI Guitar

It could work.
You will need to position the bridge at the same distance from the nut of the sacrificial guitar.
Or, you will need to pull out the frets and redo for a shorter scale length.

Author:  StevenWheeler [ Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MINI Guitar

When you hack off the end of the neck you will get the surprise of cutting thru the truss rod rendering it useless. Not saying you shouldn't try, just saying the resulting instrument will have some shortcomings. Hopefully your little Frankenstein will outlive the situation that puts you in need of such a thing.

Author:  allanrps [ Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MINI Guitar

Thanks for telling me about the truss rod, I can definitely see myself cutting the thing and being surprised by that. Do you know of a way I could work around that? It seems to me that I could just weld threaded rod onto the end of the cut rod and use it as originally intended.

That brings up another question in my mind though, would I need to have especially hard wood for the neck to withstand the increased string tension? I plan to use a locking fixed bridge with strings through body to address this problem at the other end.

Am I right in thinking that this instrument would sound pretty much the same as a capoed 6 string bass?

Author:  EddieLee [ Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MINI Guitar

Welcome to the forum. As Dan said, the frets on a guitar are placed so that if you put a bridge on the guitar so the distance from the nut to the bridge is twice the distance from the nut to the 12 fret, the guitar will play a standard 12 note chromatic scale. If you cut the neck of a standard guitar off and more the bridge closer to the nut, the frets will no longer be a 1/2 tone apart. To change that so the guitar will play the right scale, the frets need to be much closer together. Changing that would be hoard for you to do.

They do make little mini guitars. they were all the rage in the 80s. Here is one with a 19" scale length for $49. ... rat-bk.jpg

owner says ::: Harmony Short Scale Strat Style w/Gigbag, (front), (back), (headstock), (gigbag). Don’t know much about this guitar but it’s a cute little ¾ scale Strat style with a single coil slanted bridge pickup and volume control. Who could want more? Scale length measures around 19.5” and with the tuning stepped up a 5th (A to A), it makes a very serviceable electric mandolin. The only issue is fretting out in the upper register, which I’ll have Martin look at, but it has low action below the 12th fret so it won’t affect the main mandolin chording area regardless. Also recommended for young players who are too small for a full scale model. Unless we put a lot of bench time into it, selling for $49 and now includes a quality padded gigbag.

The scale length is 19.5" so the whole guitar is like 28" long maybe. You could put heavier stings on it to lower the pitch it you wanted. If that would work for you I will have it shipped to you.

Author:  allanrps [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MINI Guitar

Thanks Eddie, and Dan, sorry I didn't mean to breeze over your suggestion. So my thought was that as long as I placed the nut in the same position one of the frets was on, the fret spacing would still result in proper scaling. I attached a quick paint sketch showing what I mean. Am I missing something?

Also, I had no idea about those mini guitars, thanks for showing me that! I guess I should have known I wasn't the first one to come up with this. I actually do really want to go through with this though, I've been letting the idea develop in my head this last week and I think I have the tools and skills to make a nice piece.

Sorry guys, I didn't mean to sound like a sob story. The reason I live in my car is so that I can afford to undertake projects such as these, and so I have time for the things that are important to me. Thanks for all the help again.

Author:  EddieLee [ Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MINI Guitar

If you move the front edge of the nut to the center of one of the frets, that would work. That is the same as putting a capo at that fret. If you want to make the guitar shorter, are you thinking about cutting out the fret board between the head stock and the new nut area? If so what is your plan for reattaching the head stock? That area does carry a lot of stress. If you think about Fender style tuners, you might be able to flatten the neck area above the new nut placement and turn that into a new head stock. You do have the truss rod to deal with.

The other thing you could maybe do is get an old strat neck or one from stew mac. You would need one with a rosewood fret board. Unglue the fret board and remove it. Remove the truss rod. cut the fret board to desired length. Cut the body end of the neck to desired length. See if you can get a truss rod that will fit the new neck. You will need something to adjust the relief of the neck to make it playable. Reassembly and add your new body. Ash are Bass wood will work good for the body. Add bridge and pickups and learn how to play.

Hope that at least gives you some ideas. Good luck. Sounds fun. Keep us posted!!!!

Author:  EddieLee [ Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MINI Guitar

If as an example, you cut of the neck at the 6th fret, I am not sure how you attach a head stock that holds the string tension. I guess luthiers make scarf joints all the time, so I am sure it is possible to do. I do not normally do scarf joints, so that seems hard to me.

Here is another set of possible options. ... ars-wu.jpg

and in more detail,

Author:  Bryan Bear [ Tue Apr 25, 2017 1:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MINI Guitar

I didn't see the this other thread until just now. Those 3/4 sized guitars MAY be a decent option but there is a lot to consider. I've seen a couple of these types of guitars (I don't think I have seen this exact one) and they weren't really very good in terms of set up, neck rigidity or over all quality. You could tune it to a higher than normal guitar pitch more in line with the scale length but it sounds like you don't want that. You could try heavier strings but I don't think bass strings will work all that well. I'm not sure if heavy electric guitar strings will get you where you want to be.

If the one you end up with has a tremolo bridge you want to make it a hardtail; the springs will almost certainly not match well to the tension you are gong to end up using and you may never get it to intonate properly. To further make it smaller, you could anchor the strings on the peghead and remove most of that length. You could then reshape the body removing some of the real-estate behind the bridge after you've worked out how/where to mount the tuners. Keep in mind, there are a lot of ways that this could end up a disappointment and have wasted your money and time.

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