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All kinds of weird: a Bowie inspired guitar build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by jayyj, Nov 23, 2016.

  1. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Holic

    987
    Jul 13, 2014
    Manchester, UK
    This build has a couple of ideas I've had on the backburner for a while. It's going to be a little out of the ordinary.

    Shortly after David Bowie died the designer of his final album artwork issued a statement to say that Bowie had requested the artwork be made public domain for non commercial use so that artists and designers could have some fun with it. I'm a huge Bowie fan and as soon as I read that I had it in mind that I wanted to do something with the artwork.

    Also, I've had a Fernandes Sustainer knocking about for ages that I took out of an old Fender that I've been meaning to put into something. Bowie was never one to rest on nostalgia and retro ideas, it seems like the ideal project for the sustainer. If nothing else, it'll be perfect to play Fripp's part off Heroes...

    So, this is going to be an all black, sustainer equipped semi with the Blackstar artwork incorporated into it. I'm using my usual Danelectro theme for the build - I love making them, and they're cheap and easy to put together.

    Here's the outline I'm using, basically my non cutaway design that I did a previous build thread on with a cutaway added. I'm just finishing up something with that outline now, so in the photo there's the top and back for the Blackstar alongside a finished body:

    [​IMG]

    The Blackstar icons are going to serve as a sound hole, which will need to be hand cut. Here I'm gluing a photocopy of the artwork to the top:

    [​IMG]

    And carefully scoring it out with a Stanley knife top about half way through:

    [​IMG]

    The top will be too thick for these delicate shapes to either look good or be easy to cut through, so I'm going to hollow it out from the underside to make that area thinner:

    [​IMG]

    And finally back to the knife to tidy up the cut outs:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2016
    Ekko, Loco, hotpot and 8 others like this.
  2. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Holic

    987
    Jul 13, 2014
    Manchester, UK
    Now to figure out how to accomodate all the electronics. The sustainer circuit board has two mini switches mounted directly onto it, and is designed to mount onto a pickguard. I don't want to use a pickguard so the top will need thinning down to pickguard thickness in the area where the circuit board will go. Time for some measuring:

    [​IMG]

    Then it's out with the router again:

    [​IMG]

    Next I'm going to start building up the frame. Normally when I build Danelectro types I glue the frame onto the back because the centreblock on a Dano doesn't contact the top. However I have a dilemma on this build in that there's going to be so much gubbins inside the guitar the access panel will end up covering half the back which is going to look rubbish. After thinking about it for a while, I decided the neatest solution is going to be a removable back.That being the case I'm going to make the centreblock full depth to keep things nice and rigid, and I'll build the frame onto the top.

    Here's the centreblock going on, with a cut out for the sustainer on the treble side. I put a hole though it in case I need to run cables through to the top section. Ok, weird stuff is going on in the top section, but I'm saving that for another post!


    [​IMG]

    The rest of the frame goes together pretty quickly:

    [​IMG]
     
  3. 5ofeight

    5ofeight Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Age:
    60
    881
    Oct 17, 2016
    Glasgow
    I am liking all of this and "Subscribed" to your thread..
     
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  4. soul-o

    soul-o Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    50
    Jan 29, 2007
    Boston
    Cool, a black star guitar!
     
    Steve Holt and jayyj like this.
  5. Arch Stanton

    Arch Stanton Tele-Meister

    384
    Sep 18, 2012
    Dartmouth, NS, CA
    I'll be watching this one, I have a Dano near the top of my build wish list.
     
    jayyj likes this.
  6. Tempest

    Tempest TDPRI Member

    Age:
    37
    18
    Jul 22, 2016
    Greece
    Interesting work. Will be paying close attention to your progress.
     
    jayyj likes this.
  7. oldrebel

    oldrebel Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Oct 23, 2011
    Lynchburg Tennessee
    Cool build!! I'll be watching.
     
    jayyj likes this.
  8. Chordophonic

    Chordophonic Tele-Meister

    254
    Oct 4, 2013
    Isle of Wight UK
    Something a bit different! Subbed.....
     
    jayyj likes this.
  9. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Holic

    987
    Jul 13, 2014
    Manchester, UK
    Today was scuppered by evil spirits. Come on Bowie, if you don't approve there must be better ways to let me know! First up was a broken bandsaw blade - no big deal, just cost me some time via a trip to the hardware store. Then I was using a large drill bit to put holes in the back veneer (I'll get to that when I've finished feeling sorry for myself), holding the body firmly in place awith my hands close to the bit - the bit caught on the body,yanked it away from me and dragged my thumb into the path of the drill, splitting the nail cleanly in two down the middle. That cost me a trip to the chemist and a fair bit of blood. Once bandaged up I braved going back into the woodwork room for half an hour but quickly decided it might be time to admit defeat for the day. Oh well, we ask have a day like that one in a while.

    So, what did I actually get done? Here's the frame assembled onto the top:

    [​IMG]

    It feels nice and solid but if I'm going to go with the removable back I need to make sure it's as rigid as possible, so I'm going to add a thin sheet of Masonite to the back to reinforce all those butt joints and make sure everything is nice and solid. I didn't photograph gluing up the back and halfway through trimming it was when I had my little run in with the drill, so you'll have to make do with a photo of the finished back after I'm mopped up the worst of the blood (such a drama queen, honestly):


    [​IMG]

    That's the actual back in the background, temporarily attached with dowels - I use them to locate the top and back anyway. I went with rough side up as gluing Masonite is a pain and it seems to take better gluing to the smooth side. I'm going to paint it black anywayas soon as I've cleaned up the cavities a little.

    Here's the finished body with the back tacked into place:

    [​IMG]

    I wanted to get the neck pocket and pickup routs done today but the pain radiating from my thumb is telling me to prioritise a nice cup of tea and some ibuprofen. There's always next week...
     
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  10. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    58
    Jun 7, 2016
    Smyrna georgia
    To bad those emblem holes could not be touch sensors, to swipe for volume or something...aka a certain ovation parlor guitar that used the same.
     
    jayyj likes this.
  11. esetter

    esetter Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 1, 2011
    MI
    I like where this is headed!
     
    jayyj likes this.
  12. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Holic

    987
    Jul 13, 2014
    Manchester, UK
    It seems fate is determined to give me a tough ride with this build. I started out today drilling the jack socket... easy does it, little more, nearly through... crack!

    [​IMG]

    Swear words were used, really imaginative ones that probably can't be repeated on a family forum, then I remembered after last week's fiasco far better to have some broken wood to deal with than another damaged digit. I can fix this easily enough.

    Since the side piece is out anyway I might as well clean up the jack socket before regluing it. A few seconds with a drum sander tidy it up nicely:

    [​IMG]

    And here go the clamps:

    [​IMG]

    It's not perfect but I'm finishing the outside in vinyl and painting the inside black anyway, so it'll be invisible when the guitar is finished. I love these Dano builds, you can get away with pretty much anything...

    Leaving that to one side for a bit, time to look at a vibrato system. Most of my guitars that get regular play time have Bigsbys but I have my heart set on black hardware for this build and I think the black Bigsbys look a bit weird and clunky. So shopping around a bit I found someone selling a black plated Jazzmaster vibrato and decided to give that a try instead. I've never fitted a Jazzmaster vibrato before so I need a template. The black one doesn't appear to have a lock on it but I might as well make a template that can accommodate one so I can use it for either type in the future.

    [​IMG]

    Back to the body now and the neck pocket is done:

    [​IMG]

    And lastly for today I drilled holes for the pots and main switch:

    [​IMG]

    The knobs line up to be exactly symmetrical to the Blackstar graphic which I think looks nice, and there's room for a couple of mini switches below them.

    I want to put a few little tricks into this guitar: definitely a boost control and I'm wondering about a Dan Armstrong Green Ringer style octave up control (no knob, just a switch) which would work well with the sustainer. I need to look a bit more into kits and whether I can build and adapt them to fit into the guitar - electronics are a long way out of my comfort zone but it'd be nice to try something completely new to me for this build.
     
    cdwillis, Gibson, soul-o and 2 others like this.
  13. Barncaster

    Barncaster Doctor of Teleocity

  14. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Holic

    987
    Jul 13, 2014
    Manchester, UK
    Nearly finished the body today.

    I routed the cavity for the vibrato. It's the first time I've done anything with a Jazzmaster vibrato except wiggle the stick on a finished one, so it's a bit if a learning curve. The first thing I've found out is you need quite a chunky body for that spring to have clearance and, since I don't have a chunky body (ok, we're just talking about the guitar here) I need a plan B. In the end I just routed the front half of the cavity where the spring sits straight through the false back so that the spring has plenty of clearance. Hopefully the clip on back will fit without fouling the spring - I guess we'll find out soon.

    [​IMG]

    And now for the pickups:

    [​IMG]

    I'm having a bit of a rethink about the pickup routs having seen them done. Everything I've read about the sustainer circuit suggests it's a delicate bit of technology and if it gets damaged it will be a world of pain trying to fix. So, I think it's probably a good idea to be able to get the sustainer pickup in and out without having to having to desolder it from the board. I'm going to widen the cutaway in the centreblock - that should free up enough room to pass the pickups through from the back.

    [​IMG]

    Here we go - plenty of room now!

    [​IMG]

    I had a mishap doing the roundover and totally forgot the hole for the jack was there. Since its mdf I'm not too bothered - it's only wood dust and glue to begin with, so easy enough to patch with more dust and glue.

    [​IMG]

    I'm really liking the look of the body so far.
     
    John Nicholas and BeeTL like this.
  15. ndeli55

    ndeli55 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    34
    May 12, 2008
    oklahoma
    I need me some of those narwhal clamps.
     
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  16. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Holic

    987
    Jul 13, 2014
    Manchester, UK
    They are great - the trouble is you'll always want more than you have! I do need a few more...
     
  17. ndeli55

    ndeli55 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    34
    May 12, 2008
    oklahoma
    Do you build 'em? Or buy 'em?
     
  18. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    Wow...nice save on the repair.
     
    jayyj likes this.
  19. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Holic

    987
    Jul 13, 2014
    Manchester, UK
    Buy them I'm afraid. I'm one of those people who will happily build a guitar from scratch but looks at one of those clamps and thinks 'that seems a bit complicated!'.
     
    Steve Holt, MM73 and oyobass like this.
  20. ndeli55

    ndeli55 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    34
    May 12, 2008
    oklahoma
    What are they actually called? I can't find them
     
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