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Another odd hollow body experiment

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by maxvintage, Jul 21, 2018.

  1. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    59
    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA
    I've been really interested in hollow body guitars for while. I'm making a hollow body that's kind of like a Kay "thin twin."

    plyful.jpg


    I love the sound of an archtop guitar. Not a semi hollow, like an es35 or a thinline tel: I mean a a fully hollow archtop. There’s a phat percussive thing going on, with strong midrange. Here’s an example, from the belgian jazz guitarist Rene Thomas.




    Thomas as far as I know favored an Gibson ES-150, the “Charlie Christian” guitar.


    Archtops are great but expensive, awkward to hold, and highly variable. I have a good archtop, a forty year old guild artist award, and I tend not to play it, because it’s big and relatively awkward.

    I did a series of experiments to see if I could get some of the sound of an archtop, some of the percussive attack, in the form of a tele. It was pretty successful—after making a bunch of versions, I came up with two that look and feel like teles but have a bit of that archtop sound

    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/hollow-tele-version-three.658027/

    I still play them all the time. They are very simple to make. The thing I dislike about them is hollowing out the body with a router. Sounds silly, but I just dislike everything about that process, especially the kind of dumb waste. But they have a lot of the sound I want. I’d like to make a version with the traditional bent sides, but the tele shape would be very hard to bend.

    I also built a thinline hollow body bass out of plywood. It came out pretty well and it's worked well on gigs



    Since I already have a mold in that shape. I decided to build a guitar more or less the same way, out of plywood.

    Why? This is meant to be a simple, durable amplified guitar. I’ve already made one archtop. It was fun but a big deal—huge amounts of hogging and carving and sanding and carving and sanding. Blisters on me fingers. Can I get some of the archtop sound out of a flat top plywood box?

    Plywood is good enough for an es 175. Also it’s extremely cheap and easy to work with—easy to bend, easy to shape. Using baltic birch ¼ ply means I won’t have to do a lot of complicated bracing—again this thing is not being designed with acoustic volume in mind. I really just want to damp the attack/sustain a little


    plyin.jpg

    Here it is under way. The neck block and tail block are made of Cherry, partly because I wanted the body to be heavy enough to balance

    For the neck I got some hard maple and laminated a walnut stripe down the middle. I thought about making a tilted headstock with three on a side tuners. But then I thought “this could be a terrible guitar—why not make it easy on yourself?” And so I’m going to make it a tele neck, since I already have templates and a tele neck is simple, strong, and attractive. I had a nice piece of unusually hard walnut that I sliced to use as a fingerboard. I grain filled it and stained it with transtint “reddish brown.”


    The top is 1/4 baltic birch plywood, so it's pretty stiff. i decided to just use one big heavy brace. I'm not sure why. I just decided to try it. The brace is spruce.

    plybrace.jpg



    It's a simple bolt neck, with a door in the back for the electronics

    plyback.jpg



    I strung it up hastily and did a very quick and rough set up. Acoustically, it sounds pretty good, but also sort of like what you'd expect

    Hasty and very short clip

    I didn't want to try to play it more as it's just not setup right yet. The bridge is a piece of ebony I had around that I very roughly shaped.

    I'm thinking one or two P90s, probably dog-ear. Or maybe a single Charlie Christian style pickup. I'll probably finish it in a dye burst of some kind and maybe add a pickguard
     
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  2. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Age:
    61
    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    Great idea!
    I have developed an opinion/preference for hollow guitars without F holes.
    My hollow Gretsch Chet sounds better to me than any guitar I have ever owned.
    It has painted-on F holes.
    I think the F holes, though they look cool, muck up the sonic equation somehoww.
    Or I’m full of malarkey.
    I’d also put a “plug” in for either TV Jones Filtertron type pickups, or mini humbuckers.
    Thanks for listening.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
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  3. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    59
    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA

    I've never tried filtertrons. hmmm...

    I think the acoustic guitar pedigree of archtops kind of gets in the way. Like you say--what good are the F holes if you aren't going to play it acoustically? Like why does an ES 175 have f holes except that they look cool?

    I also like Leo Fender's "the heck with tradition" approach. This way I can swap the neck out into a different tele and swap in a new neck.
     
    brookdalebill likes this.

  4. zorgzorg2

    zorgzorg2 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Age:
    39
    162
    Feb 27, 2008
    Norrköping, Sweden
    Wow! This sounds and looks great ! Building and archtop seems daunting, but your system looks like a really nice way to get into the world of hollow bodies. Might I ask how you bend the sides ? And do you have a tailpiece to hold the strings as on the bass you showed ?

    Thanks for showing this !
     

  5. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    59
    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA
    Thank you! The sides are bent using a homemade bending pipe. It’s a piece of steel fence post with an electric charcoal starter inside it. It gets hot enough to burn maple if I hold it in place too long. You just wet the wood—just spraying the surface is enough, and then hold the wood against the hot pipe and rock it a little. I have the pipe oriented vertically, The plywood is really easy to bend, very consistent.

    On that bass I made a tailpiece out of a small block of heavy steel, because the bass was neck-heavy and I wanted a counterweight at the other end. A neighbor has a metal shop and I was able to use some of his tools, which made it easy.

    On the guitar I bought a pre made tailpiece. I had an alternative design in mind based on Ken Parker’s archtops, but I could not figure out how to manage a grounding wire. So I went with a standard tailpiece.

    One downside with this approach is there is a not a lot of down pressure on the bridge. On a real arch top, it’s very hard to move the bridge under string tension. On the bass and guitar, it’s pretty easy
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2018
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  6. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

    Dec 6, 2015
    Wisconsin
    This guitar seems right up my alley.
    What's the neck angle to the body?
    Are you familiar with a Kay value leader, Harmony Jupiter, or similar? There were a number of flat topped hollow body guitars that were basically small archtops without the arch, and no f holes. They were Chicago's budget answer to solid bodies. I've played a few, and didn't have issues with the bridge moving, but I don't remember what they had for a neck angle. I'm thinking they have some though, to generate string pressure.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2018
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  7. 2groggy

    2groggy Tele-Meister

    101
    Feb 20, 2014
    Toronto, Canada
    1) Subscribed - This is my kind of tinkering
    2) Is there a build thread for the hollow bass? I've never built a hollow body before and want to try my hand at a bass VI.
     
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  8. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Sounds great, and another cool design. Good stuff!
    Did you angle the neck pocket?
     

  9. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    59
    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA
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  10. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

    May 10, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
    Use one of those "floating" pickups that attach not to the body but rather to the heel of the neck and you need no holes in the body.
     
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  11. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    59
    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA

    yes it's a lot like a Kay, like the thin twin maybe

    The neck angle right now is flat. The neck pocket is about 1/4 inch shallower than a standard tele, and the neck is a little thicker at the pocket than usual. I'm probably going to experiment with shims at some point. And then maybe re-rout the neck pocket.

    I ordered a lollar charlie christian style pickup and some purfling strips from Stew Mac, along with one of those pre-cut shims they sell. I'm just playing it in the white so I get a sense of what sort of changes I want to make. I'd like to add an adjustable bridge, which will probably require a shim or neck pocket re-rout.

    neckjoint.jpg


    You can see how rough it is! I literally just slapped it together to test it. The frets haven't been re-crowned. But also you can see it's a little shallow


    Here's another shot

    quarter.jpg


    I sanded some fall-off into the fingerboard--the neck pocket is flat. I like the really small frets. these have been leveled but not re-crowned yet



    It's really fun to experiment like this. If I find I really like the finished guitar I'll maybe make new one with a set neck. But I really like the geometry of the tele
     
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  12. zorgzorg2

    zorgzorg2 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Age:
    39
    162
    Feb 27, 2008
    Norrköping, Sweden
    I think that if you angled the neck, the downward pressure on the bridge would increase, holding it more firmly in place, right ?
     

  13. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

    May 10, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
    Love the 5-ply natural binding (wink)!

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. BB

    BB Friend of Leo's

    May 17, 2003
    Great Pacific NW
    Love it! What a great build. A hollow body cross between a dano and Kay has long been my dream.
     

  15. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 14, 2013
    Indiana
    crazycool work as always, max

    what would happen if you put a lavalier mic in the cavity to blend with the P90 on the top? is that possible?

    and let's hear that handsome little bass!
     

  16. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    59
    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA

    A mic inside would be really interesting. It's kind of a PITA because then you need a preamp with some kind of facility for mixing/switching But hmmm....It's definitely doable!

    Here's a short clip of that bass: hollow body ply bass
     
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  17. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    59
    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA

    Yes that's right. But it's a dicey proposition. An arch is a very strong form. A braced archtop can take a LOT of down-force. But a flat top with a floating bridge is a different story--a flat top is not especially strong. So I'm slightly worried that if the down-force increases the top would start to sink. It hasn't happened with the bass, but I'm looking out for it.
     

  18. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

    Dec 6, 2015
    Wisconsin
    Any bracing on your top?
    I made a flat topped hollowbody with a bolt on neck and zero angle. It works ok. The tail piece is rigid and low to the body, so there's some string pressure, and the base of the bridge is flat and makes contact all the way across.
     

  19. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    59
    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA
    Yes it has one really big spruce cross brace
     
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  20. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 14, 2013
    Indiana
    neck tilt will not affect things

    a taller bridge will create more downward pressure on the top and of course change the action, which may require tilt

    but it's the height that matters
     

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