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DanoJet 7 - a 7-string Bigsbyfied rockabilly twanger...

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by RomanS, Sep 10, 2018.

  1. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    This build is going to be weird, really weird...

    Situation: I play guitar (& C6 lap steel) in a rockabilly / honkytonk-country band; used to switch a lot between my Tele and a Danelectro baritone (in addition to the 8-string console steel), until I got fed up with having to carry and swap so many instruments - so I tried to combine at least 2 of them - the Tele & the bari - in one: voilà, 7-string guitar.

    The problem is: it is really hard to find a 7-string guitar that both looks and sounds right in a rockabilly band, as most of them are geared towards metal playing...

    I currently have a Chapman ML7T - a 26.5" Tele-ish 7-string, that sounds quite decent after I swapped pickups, but is a bit hard to play - not only because of the longer scale, but also because of the 24 frets, which moves the whole neck too far to the left, and makes it neck-dive; feels like playing a Firebird; plus, I hate the look of the reversed headstock...

    I also have an old Peavey Predator ST-7, 25.5" scale, swapped the pickups for Bareknuckle P90s; easier to play, but I find the neck too thin and narrow, and hate the looks (kinda like a Strat crossed with one of those EVH Wolfgang guitars).

    And both of those 7-strings are hardtail guitars - and I LOVE to use a Bigsby when playing rockabilly, have one on almost all my Teles.

    So, what to do?
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018

  2. darren7

    darren7 Tele-Meister

    212
    Jul 31, 2009
    Toronto
    Cool. I just sold my Danelectro MOD 7, and it was a stupid fun guitar to play. I'm surprised they didn't catch on more with the surf/country/twang-a-billy crowd... regular and baritone range in one guitar!

    How are you going to address the Bigsby question? There's nothing on the market that'll scratch that itch.

    The closest you could probably come would be to put a Kahler on it.

    Standard rear-mounted lipstick tubes (not the ones mounted on humbucker or single-coil base plates) are probably wide enough to cover the 7-string spread.
     
    RomanS likes this.

  3. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    Well, since I can't afford commissioning a custom guitar, I'm going to build it myself...

    I have already assembled numerous partscasters, routed bodies for different pickups, and built a few lap steels from scratch, should be able to do it...

    Except I don't dare building a neck myself (yet...); but I stumbled across a guy in Germany who said he could build what I want; he said he'd do it in 2 months - turned out to be 5 months in the end, but since the price was REALLY good (less than a Warmoth neck), I can't complain (and I wouldn't have had a lot of time to work on the guitar during summer, anyway...)

    Here's the neck:

    [​IMG]

    It's European maple, with a walnut fretboard; medium jumbo frets; 26" scale (I'm gambling on that being a good compromise between the playability of my 25.5" Peavey, and the tight low B string sound of my 26.5" Chapman).
    The neck is slightly wider (about 49.5mm instead of the usual 47.5 to 48mm) and thicker than most 7 string necks for metal shredders.
     
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  4. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    darren7, I'm coming to your questions... ;)

    As I said: I love Bigsbys - but there are no 7-string ones. Also, I had a baritone Tele with a B5 once, and found that rather useless, as I rarely needed a wang bar for twangy baritone single-note lines, and with that extra-long scale, the trem lever didn't have whole lot of effect (not enough "travel").

    So what I'll be doing: I'm going to use a Bigsby B11 (which I already have) for the regular, high 6 strings; and the low B is going to be anchored seperately in the body.

    As for pickups: haven't decided yet...
    I have some 7-string Strat-y single coils (built by Catswhisker Pickups in the UK); I have the 7-string HB-sized Bareknuckle P90s that are currently in the Peavey; I have some weird 7-string pickups that I made myself in the Chapman (they are dual-coil, but with slug magnets, and only one pole per string - kinda like Precision Bass pickups; and they would fit underneath dogear P90 covers, which might look cool).
     

  5. TigerG

    TigerG Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    860
    Aug 14, 2015
    Nashville
    So what shape will the body be? Jazzmaster works well with a longer neck. My baritone balances much better now with a Jazzmaster body than it did with a Tele body.
     

  6. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    I'm going to build the body kind of like a Danelectro, or maybe a Kay Thin Twin - a hollowed-frame, with a flat top and bottom glued to it - but I'm not going to use Masonite for those - I found some 6mm (roughly 1/4") pine plywood at a local hardwood store, goind to use that; maybe do some trestle bracing so that the extra string pull doesn't warp the body.

    Looks-wise, I really like the Paul Bigsby-style Duo Jet-like guitar that Tavo Vega (the Nocturne Pedals guy) has:

    [​IMG]

    I'm going for something similar but less elaborate (no armrest and binding, and a simlplified pickguard).

    Started by tracing my Gretsch Electromatic Pro Jet:

    [​IMG]

    Then I did a lot of calculations, to determine the new bridge and pickup positions for my longer scale; not sure yet whether I'll make the whole body slightly bigger, to compensate for the longer neck; maybe not?

    Anyway, here's a mockup with the tracing, neck, and Bigsby:

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    TigerG, I love the way Jazzmasters sound and look - but on the few occasions where I tried playing one, I didn't find it that comfortable - I'm one of those weird guys who doesn't like arm contours on the body (I also hate that about Strats) - puts my right wrist in an uncomfortable position...

    OK, that's all for today, tomorrow I'm off to the hardware store to buy some MDF for making routing templates, and then I'll probably have to wait till next week, when my girlfriend is out of the house, so I can make lots of noise and dirt with my router... ;)
     

  8. TigerG

    TigerG Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    860
    Aug 14, 2015
    Nashville
    I like that look, but I'd be concerned about neck dive, especially since the body will be hollow.
     
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  9. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    Yeah, some concerns about that here, too...
    But I moved the whole neck about 1 fret into the body, towards the heel, that should compensate a bit for the longer scale (the Pro Jet has 22 frets with a 24.5" scale, my neck has 21 frets on a 26" scale, and I place it so that the 21st fret sits in the same spot as the 22nd on the Gretsch - had to slightly move pickup & bridge positions, of course).
    Also, my Elctromatic Pro Jet is almost completely hollow, and rather light-weight, and doesn't neck dive at all - so I hope that I won't have any problems there; I'll also leave the part behind the bridge solid, since I'have to have a place there for anchoring the low B string, anyway.
    We'll see! Since this is a low cost/cheap materials test build, I can always make another and improve it, if I run into probems!
     
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  10. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    OK, been messing around with the body shape...
    Wanted to make it slightly bigger, because of the wider 7 string neck, and to prevent balance issues because of the longer scale; so I cut up the Pro Jet tracing:

    [​IMG]

    Stuck it onto paper, slightly widening the gaps where I cut it:
    [​IMG]

    Traced the new, slightly longer and wider shape again - had to work a bit on the lower cutaway & horn...
    [​IMG]

    The new shape is about 6mm wider, and I added about 3mm in length at the waist, and 4 mm at the upper bout (which always looked a bit too small compared to the butt on a Duo Jet, for my taste, anyway...)
    The new, slightly longer shape moves it towards a Harmony Jupiter look, IMO; and it allowed me to move the whole neck another 5mm towards the butt end - so there really shouldn't be any balance issues.
    Here's a new mock up:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
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  11. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    In the mean time:
    Does anybody have any good tips (or can point me to the right thread) for making a body routing template from MDF, with just a tracing and NO oscillating spindle sander on hand?
     

  12. Kyle01

    Kyle01 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    23
    15
    Aug 8, 2016
    Atlanta
    I do it with a dremel tool. I use a sanding drum bit (a narrower one) and attach the router base in order to keep it flush with the template. It's not perfect since the drum attachment isn't quite long enough, but you can do it in 2 passes if you're careful.

    That's after cutting the rough shape out with a jigsaw (or bandsaw if you have one) in case that wasn't clear.
     
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  13. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    Thanks!
    Don't have a bandsaw, just a jigsaw... Going to look for some type of drum sanding bit for either my Dremel or my electric drill at the hardware store tomorrow (don't have a proper drill press, either - just one of those drill press stands for use with a reguar handheld electric drill).
    I live in an apartment, my kitchen & hallway are my workshop, so I can't really get that much pro equipment...
     

  14. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    Didn't get a lot done today - just fine-sanded the neck, and gave it a very thin coat of TruOil all over - which slightly darkened the rather light walnut fretboard...

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Poster Extraordinaire

    Oct 9, 2008
    S. CA
    Wow! Really interested in how this turns out.
     

  16. Smokin OP

    Smokin OP Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Age:
    58
    768
    Mar 16, 2003
    Leesburg, GA
    Can't wait to see the finished product. Twang On!
     

  17. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    A little update - did some wood shopping:
    5mm hardboard for the master template; usually, 1/4" (6.35mm) MDF is recommended for that, the hardboard was the closest thing I could find locally.
    16mm MDF for the working template.
    18mm glued laminated timber (beech) for the body frame - going to glue two layers of that together, in combination with the top and back this will give me a body thickness of around 46-48mm, which is in the vicinity of typical Fender bodies. I chose beech because it is very close-grained (easier sanding & finishing) and stable...
    4 & 6mm sheets of pine plywood - probably going to use 6mm for the top, 4mm for the bottom...

    Glued a tracing to the hardboard:
    [​IMG]

    Cut it out as closely to the line as I dared, with my jigsaw:
    [​IMG]

    Still needs lots of sanding, then it will me my master template.

    Also cut out the body shape from the MDF, going to use the master template and my router to make a working template:
    [​IMG]

    Got a busy work week ahead, so it might take a while till I can continue...
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2018
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  18. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Holic

    947
    Jul 13, 2014
    Manchester, UK
    With the Bigsby, have you considered making an adapter to get you up to 7 strings? You could make a brass block that would push onto the existing pins then drill holes in the block for the strings to pass through.
     

  19. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    That's actually a good plan not sure whether there's enough clearance for 7 strings, need to check!
     
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  20. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Really love your bridge choice in this last pic. :lol:

    Seriously though - cool looking build. I'll be watching.
     

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