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Frank Brothers Guitar Company - Custom Build

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by wallis222, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. wallis222

    wallis222 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 24, 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    I'm excited to announce an extraordinary instrument that is being built for me by some good friends of mine. Since 2013, Tim and Nick Frank, of Frank Brothers Guitar Company, have been producing some of the most extraordinary guitars in the world. I've been fortunate to witness the progression of their business, and the transformation of their 'Signature Model' to the point at which it is now. I'm even more fortunate to be waiting on my very own FGBC guitar.

    As put by Westwood Music, the FBGC Signature Model "captures the quality and playability of the electric guitar era’s most venerable instruments with an original design distinctive of Frank Brothers." In essence, the brothers combine the best of old and new to create a masterclass instrument that pays homage to the classics of the 50s and 60s.

    Up until this point, the FBGC Sig Model was available in one basic form; though the future owner did have the ability to chose top and back woods, as well as the guitar's finish. Now available, and you heard it here first, is a variation to the original concept. The boys will be producing the same basic guitar but with P90s, a plain maple top, satin finished back and sides, unbound fretboard/headstock, Gotoh mini tuners, and brushed nickel hardware. The idea was to offer potential buyers a new guitar (that is still quintessential Frank Bros.), plus pass along a substantial cost savings. Features such as top and back woods, finish, electronics, etc... are still customizable. This will allow the lines between the original Sig Model, and the new model to be blurred. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to own the very first one.

    Included are some photos of the original design. If you're interested, stay tuned for updates on my guitar.


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  2. fatcat

    fatcat Friend of Leo's

    Jul 6, 2010
    Very Deep South
    Cooky Cool
     
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  3. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Tele-Holic

    Age:
    65
    537
    Feb 3, 2017
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    Too nice...I'd be afraid to play out with it......pricing?
     
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  4. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Tele-Holic

    Age:
    65
    537
    Feb 3, 2017
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    ...and when I say "too nice", I mean I like it.
     
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  5. wallis222

    wallis222 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 24, 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    Haha I know what you mean. I'm not going to baby it though. When it comes down to it, it's just another tool. These guitars are very well made, and truly built to last.

    As for pricing, the original FBGC Signature Model comes in right around $5,000. The pricing on the new model is still being figured out. I should know within the next couple of days. The idea is for it to be a fair bit more affordable. I'll keep you posted.
     

  6. wallis222

    wallis222 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 24, 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    Update 1:

    I went and visited the shop last week where the boys took me through their large stash of wood. We strategically picked each piece of wood needed to make this guitar with tone in mind.

    FBGC guitar bodies start with a 2 piece Honduran Mahogany blank. The wood that is being used in my guitar came out of a barn in Southern Ontario. Tim and Nick have direct contact with their sawyers, and as such get specific details on the origin of the woods that they use. The owner of the barn bought the Honduran Hog at an auction more than 20 years ago. The boys milled it in Aug 2016, and it has been tucked away since. When I requested light weight body wood, they brought me directly to these boards. We spent more time than I care to admit tapping on each board to find the most resonant pieces.

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    Next stop was the hoard of neck blanks. My goal was to find a tight grained, very dense piece of perfectly quarter sawn Honduran Mahogany. The guys only use quarter sawn wood, so that made things pretty easy. Again, we spent far too long tapping on the wood trying to find a dense neck blank that resonated nicely. Mission accomplished.

    I'm of the opinion that the fretboard is nearly as important to tone as the body wood. We must have gone through hundreds of Macassar Ebony fretboard blanks in an effort to find the most resonant, longest sustaining piece of dark Macassar Ebony. Yeah it had to be dark.

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    As I mentioned in my first post, the FBGC Signature Model is usually equipped with a figured maple top and back, but this more economical version will utilize plain maple. Seeing as I plan on having the guitar finished in a solid colour, I decided to go for a Mahogany top and back. Quartersawn Honduran of course. This was thanks in part to Johan Segeborn's recent YouTube video comparing maple and mahogany as tonewoods in electric guitars. Again, lots of tapping to find a nice sounding bookmatched top and back.

    Last step was to find a nice looking headstock overlay. I let Nick use his judgment as this is his specialty. He picked a bookmatched piece of Macassar Ebony with a gorgeous grain pattern to contrast with the dark fretboard.

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  7. matrix

    matrix TDPRI Member

    Age:
    47
    75
    Apr 13, 2016
    Vancouver, BC
    Wonderful choice. I had the pleasure of handling a few of their guitars a couple of months ago. Extraordinary attention to detail. Impeccable fit and finish. Possibly the nicest, most natural-fitting neck profile I have ever handled.

    And style for days. Love how they look, the great balance. I think they have ushered in a great new design.
     

  8. wallis222

    wallis222 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 24, 2011
    Toronto, Canada

    I would agree with everything you said.

    Interesting fact: The neck profile was based off of moulds that FBGC took of my 1963 Gibson Les Paul (SG) Junior.
     

  9. wallis222

    wallis222 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 24, 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    Update 2:


    These boys work quickly! When they first started producing the Sig Model, a little more of the process was done by hand. Bodies and necks were cut on a bandsaw. Now, they use a CNC to rough cut the bodies and necks. Final shaping is still done by hand. I remember Tim explaining to me how they can't argue with the consistency of the results of the CNC. The boys are obsessive when it comes to the details. They're proud of their product, and refuse to let an instrument leave the shop with even the tiniest (completely unnoticeable to everyone else) imperfection.


    The renowned Canadian luthier and inlay artist, Mark Kett, assisted FBGC in dialling in the CNC machine. They wouldn't settle on just any machinist to program the machine. Someone who understands the importance of accuracy when it comes to building a fine instrument was needed. Mark was a good fit.


    ...On that note, the body of my guitar hit the CNC yesterday!


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    As you can see from the pictures, the Sig Model is technically a semi-hollow guitar. But unlike your typical semi-hollow, FGBC starts with a solid body and strategically routes cavities into the wood. Certainly not the most cost efficient way of going about it, but you end up with a body that rings and sustains like nothing else.


    The treble side of the body is completely hollow, while the bass side gets angled routes about the size of a finger. The routes run in opposite directions on the top and back sides, crisscrossing each other, to avoid creating weak points. In effect, the bass side is left mostly solid to reduce boominess often associated with a traditional semi hollow design. Being mostly a blues and rock player, this is my favourite feature of the guitar.


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  10. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Age:
    60
    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx

  11. Joe Sailor

    Joe Sailor Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 18, 2011
    Longmont, CO
    Very cool. It's great that they are close enough to visit. The website makes me drool.
     
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  12. bettyseldest

    bettyseldest Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 13, 2011
    UK
    Love the guitar they are building for you. I took a look at the website and liked them even more, until I checked the sightings page. They just look wrong when strapped on. I have mainstream guitars - telecasters, strats, Les Paul and SG, but I also have an Explorer, Rick 650 and Gordon Smith Graf, so I'm not totally blinkered in my choice of guitars, but I just struggle with this one. I'll still drool over the pictures as you add them to the thread, and as long as you enjoy it!
     
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  13. wallis222

    wallis222 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 24, 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    Hey betty, thanks for the comment.


    Too each his own brother, and I'm sure you won't be the last to not be crazy about the aesthetics. Personally, I think it's quite appealing. But we can all agree that looks are totally subjective. That said, if this guitar looked like a turd I'd still buy it for the build quality, playability, and tone alone.

    I've never in my life purchased a guitar based on looks, and I will not start now. Tone first, playability second are what make my decisions for me.
     

  14. wallis222

    wallis222 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 24, 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    Update 3:


    Things are starting to take shape.


    Neck construction has started. This has got to the most complex component of the guitar.


    In Tim's words, "We use a curved single action compression truss rod that we make in house (inspired by the Loyd Loar design). The curve in the rod allows us to embed the rod at the headstock much shallower than a Gibson compression rod. On top of that, the volute adds mass behind the truss rod where the grain is shortest and most prone to breaking. We also add headstock "ears" on the edges of the material that makes up the headstock. These ears are selected for a good colour match from quartersawn genuine mahogany, which adds strength to the entire headstock. All those elements sit under a quartersawn headstock overlay. In short, we've taken the vintage lightweight compression rod that we feel adds to the sound of the guitar, and addressed every structural issue that is present on traditional applications of that truss rod.


    The truss rod curve also allows us to pinpoint the apex of the compression, making the rod very reactive with a very smooth relief or dial in dead flat straightness.


    The neck, inherent to its design, ends up so stiff that we have to build the relief into the neck when we machine the parts. String tension does not add significant relief. We build in this excess relief so that we can add tension to the truss rod which in turn adds more stiffness to the neck. This means that you can "loosen" the truss rod nut to the desired relief while still having tension on the rod essentially making a single action truss rod into a double action true rod"


    Next level stuff right there!


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    You may have noticed from the above pictures that some progress has been made with the body. The quartersawn Honduran Hog top and back have been added, as well as the binding. The blank is routed for the binding which ensures a perfect fit with no gaps.


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  15. Big tuna

    Big tuna Tele-Holic

    578
    Oct 28, 2012
    east side
    That is a cool looking design. I could get into one of those!
     
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  16. bettyseldest

    bettyseldest Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 13, 2011
    UK
    Whilst I am partial to bling as you will see from the engraved top Tele in my avatar, there are some guitars which no matter how well they play or sound I will not purchase because of how they look, the example that comes to mind is the non reverse Firebird. Maybe that is my loss. The FBGC certainly looks a very nice guitar and I'm sure you will enjoy it for many years.
     
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  17. wallis222

    wallis222 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 24, 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    Update 4:


    Production has come to a halt, and it's my doing. I asked the boys if they could source a Brazilian Rosewood fretboard. They were able to call up a favour from a local Ontario luthier friend, and secure some documented Braz!
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    I was picking Tim's brain on the truss rod details a little more, so he sent me these images and an explanation to go along with them...

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    "The slot is routed with a ball end cutter that is the same radius as the rod so that the fit is snug. We also use a quartersawn mahogany filler strip that matches the curve of the rod and channel. We prefer mahogany as the filler strip rather than maple because the filler strip and the neck can react to humidity and temperature changes equally."
     

  18. studio1087

    studio1087 Telefied Ad Free Member

    May 10, 2003
    Near Milwaukee
    I love the volute on the back of the head/neck. I don't think I've ever seen a volute on an electric guitar.
     
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  19. wallis222

    wallis222 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 24, 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    Aesthetically it's a very appealing feature. I like the fact that it also serves a purpose.
     
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  20. wallis222

    wallis222 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 24, 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    Update 5 (delayed post):


    The Brazilian Rosewood has landed. Tim went and hand picked two boards of Braz yesterday. He chose these two out of about 15 pieces. We decided to use the board on the left for my guitar. I'm partial to the tight grain and darker colour.

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    Significant care in the design of the fret slots adds to the precision and adjustability of the neck. The fretslot depths match the radius of the fretboard so that any excessive "curfing" effect is avoided, greatly increasing the stiffness of the board. By pocketing the frets, the slots don't go the full width of the board. This also adds to strength and stability.

    On your average fretboard, once the fret tang is embedded into the board, it takes the place of the wood that was removed. This does eliminate the majority of the weakness taken out... but only in the relief direction. Radiusing the fret slots, and pocketing the frets makes the FBGC fretboard stiffer in both directions.

    Fret slots are also machined at varying degrees of size in order to precisely predict fret compression.

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    Have you ever seen this level of engineering in another electric guitar?! Boutique or not.
     

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