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Minimalist lightweight offset bolt-on with Formica!

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by mtorn, Apr 4, 2017.

  1. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 25, 2016
    Midwest, USA
    Excited to see the finished product!

    Reminds me of the Yamaha RGX A2. I tried one and almost took it home. It was really light and made up of a sandwich of different kinds of wood.

    From: http://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical-instruments/guitars-basses/el-guitars/rgxa2

    Weighing in at 2.5 kg, the RGXA2 is in the super lightweight class.Yamaha's revolutionary A.I.R. technology delivers a guitar so light that it fuses seamlessly with the player, delivering unprecedented comfort, amazing tone,and superior performance. The RGXA2, the guitar that lets you play the way you want to play.

    [​IMG]

    http://www.guitarplayer.com/miscellaneous/1139/yamaha-rgx-a2/19897
     
    Doug 54 likes this.

  2. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Very cool, that product was completely off my radar!
    I won't use it for this one, but it's a good one to know about. I wonder if I could wrap the whole edge in this, instead of just binding. Just roll out a 1/16"-⅛" ribbon of it, and wrap, then trim the edges flush with a plastic knife before it sets. How strong would it be?
     

  3. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    That's pretty sleek, and lighter than I'll manage to make mine. The nerd in me likes the LED display for the pickup selector, even though it's a bit dated now.
    My biggest obstacle for weight, I think, is that Richlite fingerboard. It's really dense and heavy stuff, so while I could have made the body lighter with some more chambers, it would have made the guitar too neck heavy.
     

  4. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Oh well... my plan DID turn out to be stupid.

    Mostly it failed with the wrapping of the edges in pickguard material. Even after bending the stuff with a heat gun, it was too hard to wrestle it into a clean, gap-free joint.

    And while the StewMac binding glue works nicely for bindings, it didn't hold this material very well. There must be some difference in the plastic composition.

    IMG_6528.jpg

    So I did a test on a piece of scrap, where I glued some Formica to some scrap, and routed a roundover. I think I was wrong on what the exposed edge would look like - it really isn't very bad. Then I added some black ink, and a quick wipe of poly.
    I decided that this is what I'll go with.

    One very cool thing is that I did a sloppy coat of poly, getting it on the Formica on purpose.
    After it dried, I could take some acetone, and the poly wiped right off, without hurting the Formica. This means I won't have to mask all those edges!

    You can even use fine steel wool on it without any damage, which will come in handy between coats of poly.

    IMG_6529.jpg
     
    Daniel94 likes this.

  5. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    After I removed the Formica in the belly contour, and sanded off all the glue, I wanted a hard edge between the Formica and the wood.
    First I made a quick template of the curved shape. Then I made a doohickey to attach to my Dremel router base, which when mounted flush with the router bit, allowed me to use it as a template following bit.

    It worked! The route was only as deep as the Formica, just to clean up the edge.

    IMG_6530.jpg

    Then a small roundover around the whole guitar. This is what the Formica edge looks like. Not at all as frayed and papery as I had thought it would be.

    I considered keeping the wood unstained, but decided that it clashed against the mahogany neck.

    IMG_6531.jpg

    And then, once again, ink. I also mixed a little dry ink with some past wood filler, to even out a few imperfections.

    IMG_6532.jpg

    And when the ink was dry, I could take a wet paper towel, wrapped around a wood block, to clean up the Formica without wiping off any of the inked edges.

    Next a bunch of coats of Arm-R-Seal wipe-on poly.

    IMG_6542.jpg
     
    fidopunk, h2odog, cdwillis and 4 others like this.

  6. adamkoop

    adamkoop Tele-Meister

    196
    Feb 18, 2016
    Halifax
    Even unfinished that looks pretty good .. another really cool build
     

  7. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    45
    Feb 24, 2015
    South Lyon, MI
    Very cool formica selection. I'm glad the round over is working; I really like the look of the black sides.
     

  8. Nickfl

    Nickfl Tele-Afflicted

    May 24, 2016
    Florida
    Good move keeping the sides stained black, it looks really good with that shade of green.
     

  9. nelsongeets

    nelsongeets TDPRI Member

    28
    Jul 17, 2011
    Connecticut
    Love the looks of those hex bolts you're using! I've looked around all over for something like that - did they actually come from Ikea? I like the idea of using a bolt like that and getting rid of the need for neck bolt ferrules.
     
    Telemaestro likes this.

  10. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    No, they are from the nuts and bolts section of my neighborhood hardware store.
    I'm a bit surprised that I don't see used more often on guitars. Maybe because if you have a regular wood surface, there might be a risk of crushing the wood or the finish? Ferrules should be similar in that respect, apart from that they are usually set into the surface, not on top. But I guess you can do that with the IKEA-style ones as well.

    If you have an IKEA nearby, they usually have a self-help area where you can grab any missing hardware - they might have them there. I once snagged a barrel nut there, for a ukulele neck bolt. Just make sure to buy something from them, to make up for the thievery!
     

  11. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    While I wait for the layers of wipe-on poly to build, I can shield (with my usual slug tape) the pickguard, and solder most of the electronics.

    It's nice how simple a 1-pickup, 1-knob layout can be! The only fancy stuff I did here was to add a cap and a resistor to the volume pot, to retain the treble when turned down.

    IMG_6554.jpg

    The poly builds up a little bit of a gloss, but later I'll knock it down to a satin with some steel wool.
    This aspect is by far my least favorite part of this one. The unprotected corners of basswood will probably get dented very quickly. At least the roundover is a bit more comfy than a squared off binding edge would be.

    IMG_6555.jpg

    Shielding the cavity with more slug tape.

    Don't pay too much attention to the lower bridge post bushing. Somehow I was a little off in the placement, so I had to plug it with a dowel and re-drill. Neck time I think I might make a simple template for this - really just a piece of plywood with two properly spaced and sized holes, and an accurate center line.
    At least the mistake can't be seen with the bridge mounted, even when I try to look for it!

    IMG_6556.jpg

    The pickup route is pretty tight. It fits the pickup, but head of the the neck tightening bolt proved to make things too tight. So a quick little routing operation recesses the bolt head a little.

    IMG_6557.jpg
     

  12. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Now I can mount the neck and bridge again, and string it up for the first time!

    Here you can see the break angle of the strings at the headstock. Plenty of angle, perhaps even a bit too much (my last one wasn't quite enough).

    IMG_6558.jpg

    Time to level the frets. You might remember that I didn't do that earlier - normally I do it right after installing the frets, but this time I'm trying something new.

    First I'm prepping my sanding beam. It's a somewhat beefy aluminum L-beam from Home Depot (steel might be better here). I put some self adhesive sandpaper on my flattest surface, my table saw, and flatten both surfaces as best I can, and then also soften all the hard edges.

    IMG_6560.jpg

    The idea is to level the frets under (almost) normal string tension. It's nothing really new, but I think I believe in the concept that the wood of the neck will deflect in a non-linear way under string tension, and leveling the frets this way will counteract some of that.

    I have to make sure that I get the neck as straight as possible first, removing the arc you normally get from neck relief. Well, it turns out that the straightest possible is with the truss rod set to zero - it seems that this neck is strong enough that it doesn't bend at all from the string tension!

    I elevate the strings a little at the nut, mark the frets, and sand away. The sandpaper I use is self-adhesive 400-grit - I got tired of using spray adhesive or double stick, it always left a nasty mess to clean up when removed!

    I was incredibly pleased at how little sanding was needed. In fact, the frets played quite well even before leveling, and I put all the credit to the Richlite fingerboard and the Kreg fret press!

    IMG_6562.jpg
     

  13. adamkoop

    adamkoop Tele-Meister

    196
    Feb 18, 2016
    Halifax
    That backside is looking fiiiiiine.

    I'd be tempted to leave it glossy, but I haven't seen this with neck since the body went to formica, so it may well clash.

    EDIT: of course, after I post this, there's a post with the body and neck together ... it's not an assembled shot showing the back, so I apologize for nothing
     

  14. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    The neck comes off one more time.

    If any of you wondered about the grip of the neck taper, well, it works pretty well. Once all three bolts have been removed, I need to tap it with a mallet to release the neck.

    In fact, when I strung it up the first time I had forgotten to use the two bolts in the back until I had it nearly tensioned to pitch, without the neck moving.

    IMG_6563.jpg

    I'm doing a little bit of a high fret roll-off. Just spacing it with tape, and sanding until I have some lowering of the top 4-5 frets.

    IMG_6564.jpg

    Then crowing with a diamond file - again the least amount I've ever had to file, this is by far the smoothest fret job I've done. It's nice to get the feeling that one's skills are improving.

    A little sanding and polishing with some MicroMesh and steel wool, and then a soak in some butcher block oil/wax.

    IMG_6566.jpg

    And then final assembly! It's alive!!!

    It still needs to have its action set up properly, but it's pretty playable. It rings strong and clear, with great sustain, both acoustically and plugged in.

    Even though it's a single humbucker guitar, it's not a shredder. The pickup (again, a Dimarzio EJ Custom) is quite Gretchy, or you can think of it as a less stringy Tele Esquire.

    Time will tell if I like the chunkier profile of this neck. And the guitar is a little neck heavy (although less so with a cable plugged in), so I might ruin my lightweight concept a little and add some kind of weight inside the cavity around the jack area. And I still need to add strap buttons, only after I've done that will I know what the balance is like when standing.

    Now I just need to get a Vox amp and join a jangly power pop band...

    IMG_6567.jpg
     

  15. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Thank you! I've been thinking of the black contour in the back as a bit of a compromise, but maybe I should think of it as a design feature? I don't have a picture of the back of the completed guitar, but I intend to shoot proper "beauty pictures" of all my recent projects in the next week or two, and I'll make sure to post them here.

    The biggest reason I went with a satin surface on the black was that there is no gloss elsewhere on the guitar. Well, the pickguard has gloss, but I might matte that up later. But also, the lack of a grain filler or sanding sealer, and the fact the poly didn't built up thickly enough to sand and buff properly, means that the surface isn't quite nice enough for a detail-revealing gloss.
     

  16. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    45
    Feb 24, 2015
    South Lyon, MI
    Sweet looking build!
     
    mtorn likes this.

  17. David_Maas

    David_Maas Tele-Meister

    308
    Oct 28, 2014
    Potsdam, Germany
    Beautiful build and I really like the wedge design of your neck. I'm definitely stealing that fret level trick the next time one of my guitars is up for a level. Thanks for sharing!
     

  18. adamkoop

    adamkoop Tele-Meister

    196
    Feb 18, 2016
    Halifax

    That makes sense .. Gloss reveals EVERYTHING.
     

  19. BB

    BB Friend of Leo's

    May 17, 2003
    Great Pacific NW
    Wow mtorn....just WOW! Very sweet build all the way around. I'd love one of those with just a neck pickup. Impressed!!!
     

  20. Muzikp

    Muzikp Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Nov 5, 2010
    Sacramento
    That's pretty much awesome... What bridge is that?
     

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