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 Post subject: designing a new guitar
PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:06 am 
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Walnut
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so, im working on a guitar project, currently in the design phase working in autodesk inventor to draw out the body that i can then print templates from.. as it stands though im looking at a double-cutaway telecaster, non tremolo bridge, may even go for a telecaster bridge with humbucker cutout and its routed so far for a two-humbucker setup.. i may wind a set of humbuckers myself.. i'll attach a rendering below of what i have so far

i already have more typical 6 string guitars and i was thinking about doing something different.. some ideas ive tossed around have been a 12 string electric, a baritone, or a 5 or 10 string 5 course cittern scale/tuned instrument, im also giving pretty strong consideration to the graphtech ghost piezo bridge system as well because i really like how they sound with clean tones but the electronics that go with them would require a fairly large control cavity and certainly wouldnt fit under the control plate of a telecaster but theres still some space under the pickguard

im curious though about adding a more natural acoustic sound with piezos to an electric, has anyone tried the graphtech vs other underbridge options? how different do they sound? and are there alternative, smaller pre-amp systems that would pair to the ghost saddles?

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:27 pm 
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the more ive been listening to these solid body guitars fitted with piezos, the more i really like the more authentic acoustic sound for clean tones.. but listening to the graphtech piezos, and listening to those used in electrified acoustic instruments as well as DIY piezo modifications to electrics it would appear the graphtech ghost tone isnt all that unique and there are a variety of piezo setups that work

would there be any downsides to instead just mount a bar/rod shaped underbridge acoustic piezo underneath an electric guitars hardtail bridge?.. or maybe route out a disc shaped cavity for a large disc shaped piezo?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:51 pm 
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Koa
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My son built a LP Jr sort of thing and asked me to do the soldering on it. He installed two SD humbuckers with their pickup rings that have switches that allow coil splitting and series or parallel connection at the pup and he installed a ToM bridge with piezo pickups "so he would have an acoustic sound". He plays in a P&W band and wanted to only deal with one guitar on stage. I don't remember the brand of the bridge, maybe a Fishman, but the six crystals are brought individually to a little pcb. We wired the humbuckers with normal LP style wiring - tone and volume for each with the mod that lets you blend all the way to zero volume on either pot (normally that kills both pups). We brought the humbuckers and bridge out as separate signals on a stereo jack.

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In this case the bridge has its own volume pot. Obviously you'll never get that in a tele cavity, but with more normal tele wiring and no volume for the bridge (or maybe you can run it thru the master volume.

My reaction to this guitar was that I didn't care fore the bridge piezo at all and most of the time found myself playing the humbuckers as humbuckers, not split. I asked my son how that guitar was working out, he said it was a disappointment and he would give it to me for parts.

I recently built a tele clone for a friend and he was originally talking about one fo the graphtech piezos, but decided instead to put a P90 in the neck and a normal tele pup in the bridge. He told me he is very happy with the pallet of sounds that gives him.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:24 pm 
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hmm, was he getting the audio of both coming through at the same time or what?.. the way i was considering wiring it was possibly just eliminating the neck pickup and wire the piezo and humbucker to a 3-way switch.. i do also plan to wind my own humbuckers as well

you are right about there probably not being enough space under the tele control plate for a pre-amp, but i will probably have a pickguard it could go under and if not then theres always the option of routing a cavity in the back, from what you tell me though the name brand solutions seem to yield about the same result as DIY options so it wouldnt be worth the cost of buying the graphtech or fishman components and coming up with my own solution which will probably just be a piezo, or group of piezos pressed underneath the hardtail bridge


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:24 am 
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I made one in 2001 with humbuckers (coil tapped) and a Baggs piezo TOM bridge. Custom electronics to blend into a single channel or send out stereo. The acoustic sound just never did satisfy me. I suppose you might be able to run the piezo channel through one of the new acoustic processors and get a decent sound. My opinion now is that if you want acoustic sound then you need an acoustic guitar. That electric with the whiz bang electronics does look goid on the wall though :)

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 10:25 am 
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jason41987 wrote:
hmm, was he getting the audio of both coming through at the same time or what?.. the way i was considering wiring it was possibly just eliminating the neck pickup and wire the piezo and humbucker to a 3-way switch.. i do also plan to wind my own humbuckers as well


We brought the two signals out separately in the stereo jack, that way he could use an A/B cable to split it and take one to each input of different amps (and put whatever effects in each chain).

Read what Steve just said - I'm not trying to talk you out of the piezo but don't expect an "acoustic" sound. If you like what you hear on demo clips thats pretty much what you are going to get (I know some manufacturers do recommend a pre amp (usually theirs) or a DI of some sort).

I'll add that on that tele we used a 4 way switch - that give options for the neck and bridge both in series and parallel.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:39 am 
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ok, well, i do like the sound that comes out, but its not going to be a main feature, and im not going to spend on the graphtech or fishman options when they do not provide anything different, i can come up with a custom piezo setup.. but its not going to be a main feature, primarily it'll be two active humbuckers (not EMGs, those were just added for the render)

and the use of active humbuckers makes me think the 12 string idea wouldnt be worth the efforts either as id imagine, though i havent heard from myself, that the high output pickups would blend over the sound of individual strings to the point that you wouldnt really notice them, am i wrong?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:33 pm 
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The only purely solid body electric that even came close to sounding like an acoustic guitar was a Yamaha SLG. But to my knowledge that system is not available to luthiers.

I don't particularly love the RMC pickups that Godin uses. And they are pricy ($600, I believe but don't k ow for sure.)

At this point, piezo's in an electric guitar seem to be a waste of time and money. But the technology changes fast, and there may be new solutions I don't know about.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

EDIT: I mean the "SLG" not the "SG"


Last edited by rlrhett on Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 6:01 pm 
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alright, i plan to focus on the humbuckers anyway which i may even go for actives with.. but i am looking to get a little deeper tone than a standard six string and do not like down-tuning as you have to tune down for some music, back up for others, changing the tension on the neck as you go, id prefer something that was just naturally a little deeper... either a baritone scale, a seventh string, or just a naturally different tuning such as all fifths or a cittern with a C string a few steps below the low E on a guitar

which direction would you go?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:45 pm 
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jason41987 wrote:

which direction would you go?



I would decide exactly what sound I was looking for since each of those is very different. I've only built a few electrics ( 2 tele's, 2 LP's, 2 335's, and an archtop) and they are each very different in their own right. I've used several different (commercial) humbuckers - I'm surprised in the differences (which makes me appreciate those people who know how to wind them). I've also built normal and long scale acoustic 12 strings, which again, are very different animals.

If you think you want to make a 12 string there are a lot of decisions - scale length, string gauges and tuning, whether to put the octaves in the even or odd positions (ie to string like a Rick or not), spacing at nut and bridge (which brings up what to use for a bridge). Whether to use pickups with one pole piece for each course or two. String tension will be about 150% of normal - how do you deal with that? Twelves are notoriously hard to intonate - does that matter?

You actually need to make those decisions before you start rendering your body - scale length, tuning, bridge location and style, neck geometry all need to be decided on before you do much else.

I'll add one further small piece of advice - build to fit an existing case or decide to use a gig bag (I think a nice instrument needs a nice case). Non standard cases are very expensive and long delivery - ask me how I know.

ps - you also know that active pups will require a battery cavity and room for whatever electrons they use. That definitely won't fit in a tele route.

pps - a baritone by definition is down tuned - usually A to A or B to B. I tune my 26.5 inch scale 12 string C to C with some pretty massive strings, but the tension is still pretty reasonable.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:10 pm 
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Walnut
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though you cant see it in the render due to the pickguard, theres space under it for the wire for the neck humbucker that can be routed out more to hold any other electronics, so finding the space wont be a problem.. also the double cutaway tele is about the same dimensions where important as a strat, but with a shorter top horn than the strat has, should fit strat cases just fine

i wont be going with a 12 string, and even if i went with a cittern setup id probably keep it single string, i doubt having double strings would make much difference with much overdrive or distortion and may only accomplish making the music muddier than intended.. single strings the way to go but either 5 string perfect fifths, baritone, or adding a 7th string are paths i can go from here.. i have fairly large hands and quite a reach with my fingers, i can work with any solution

a baritone seems the easiest, increasing the scale length, tuning it lower and it should be able to use all the standard bridges, saddles, pickups, etc.. but a 7 string, or a cittern would require a more specialized bridge and pickups


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:48 pm 
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Koa
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jason41987 wrote:

a baritone seems the easiest, increasing the scale length, tuning it lower and it should be able to use all the standard bridges, saddles, pickups, etc.. but a 7 string, or a cittern would require a more specialized bridge and pickups


Once again, choose the sound you want, then the scale length, strings and tuning that will give it to you. Once you have a scale length you can decide where to put the body joint (16th fret?), that will locate the bridge. A bari neck will be longer, it may or may not fit a standard case. Baritone string are usually considerably fatter, that may or may not mean wider nut, fretboard, bridge spacing. Wider fretboard means wider neck pocket.........

Not saying its a bad idea, just think it thru.

Edit to add, there are aftermarket baritone replacement necks for tele's that are designed to work with standard bridge and p/u configuration. I've never dealt with one but you might want to check them out. I've also seen 12 string replacement necks - again, no experience but I would think the spacing would be incredibly narrow.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:40 am 
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ill be making the neck and fingerboard from scratch (or blanks) myself so once i have the neck rendered and placed on my model i can adjust the bridge position and space the frets accordingly.. one of the reasons im doing this in autodesk inventor is so that i can get the necessary dimensions down right so i can use the CAD files to print out a set of templates to build it

i'll also be toying around with a couple other body options as well, besides a tele, a strat or super strat profile is still on the table, ive been considering the jaguar/jazzmaster body style as well, king Vs, and other options


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:56 am 
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Let me humbly suggest getting Melvyn Hiscock's book if you don't have it (and particularly if this is your first electric build). He has a very good section on designing your guitar - mostly on neck geometry - which is critical for making it work. Fenders are simple, but still you want the overstand, any angle, radius and all that stuff correct. I would also suggest a good set of plans for reference - its nice to be able to take critical measurement from working plans. Also a good idea to actually have your hardware altho usually you can get good dimensional information from the manufacture's website

Once you have your CAD model if you can find a fab shop with a cnc or laser cutter you can have them make your templates


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:18 am 
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Walnut
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ive built them before, i have templates already for various body styles, just sort of piecing together the features i want into one.. for example, i really dislike tremolos, i never use them and they rob sustain not to mention they need more of the body routed out and more to maintain.. im also not fond of the angled necks you get on a les paul or most other TOM instruments, hense the tele/hardtail bridge selection as an example


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:10 pm 
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how much do you think itd cost them to laser cut a template out of something like plexiglass?.. i do have a scroll saw that i could probably make my own templates with but if the price was right id consider having someone else do it


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:44 pm 
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jason41987 wrote:
how much do you think itd cost them to laser cut a template out of something like plexiglass?.. i do have a scroll saw that i could probably make my own templates with but if the price was right id consider having someone else do it


I frankly don't know but I used to work for a fab shop that had a Trumpf laser cutter as well as several cnc's. I could design something in AutoCadd or SolidWorks, shoot a dxf or dwg file to the laser and within minutes have my template. I usually made them in sheet metal since setting up for plastic was a bigger hassle than actually making the cut. They did lots of work for outside customers - they wanted to keep the machine running all the time. The cost went way up if your drawing had flaws (a big one was gaps in lines, the laser didn't like that). By reducing the power the laser can easily etch lines or text on your template.

In my shop I use a band saw to make outside templates (like body shape) and a router and drill press to make thinks like neck pocket or pickup templates.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:09 pm 
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ill get some quotes for the templates after ive drawn them out.. my sketches do not have gaps either.. extrusions in autodesk inventor cannot exist with gaps in the underlying sketch so that wont be an issue

considering my options above of getting a lower tone while still being able to play regular music.. i think ive settled on a baritone option.. i could add a seventh string instead but then things like nuts, saddles, bridges, and pickups all have to be more specialized.. the baritone gets me what i want and just requires stretching out that scale and tuning it to Bb

i am almost finished modeling the neck


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:40 pm 
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alright, heres the rendering of the neck-thru neck with headstock with a 27" scale, i used first and 12th fret profile dimensions based off the fender, 2 1/16 string spacing at the bridge and 1 11/16" width at the top.. i wasnt sure how the symmetrical double cutaway body was going to look after a neck was added for a perspective, but i like it

Image


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:21 pm 
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One minor point, Jason, I know I said earlier that bari's have 27 inch scale, I'm mostly familiar with acoustics and thats pretty standard for them. I happen to be looking at the Warmouth site and their baritone conversion neck is 28-5/8.

http://www.warmoth.com/Guitar/Necks/Str ... eNeck.aspx

You might want to do some research on this and maybe use the universal string tension calculator (or D'Addario's site) to calculate which strings you'll want to use. I have no experience with electric baritones.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:29 pm 
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most electrics ive seen use a 27" scale, and these are instruments designed as baritones and it seems to be more or less the standard so thats what ive opted to go with

i drew a point in the middle of where the strings come through the body of the guitar at to where the saddles would be in their forward most position and measured out the 27" scale length from that point, it should be accurate


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