Am I crazy even to think to attempt this? 1-piece guitar build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by willio, May 18, 2021.

  1. willio

    willio TDPRI Member

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    So I've built (with the help of some talented and resourceful buddies) two guitars so car: a Thinline whose headstock grace my newly created account's avatar, and an ES-335 semi-hollow.

    The prior is based on- and closely follow the spec close to the original, and the latter, is a bastardized 'use what works and inject some own style and crazies' brown burst 335 with a Parker Fly headstock.

    Yes. I'm not afraid to experiment, and untraditional when I can be.

    Learning from the two, and as I grow more fond of the classic Firebird, Johnny Winter's tone, I'm itching to build my third.

    Fortunately, the folks in Mojotone seems to have what I'm looking for in a pickup, so I'll be using their sets of Johnny Winter firebird PUs.

    Talking to a friend about this build, he suggested a unicorn idea to use a single piece of mahogany slab for the build. Insanity!

    Or am I?

    As an Architect, I know a single piece of wood is structurally better as a say- beam.

    As a player, I know that jointless body-and-neck section feels better on my hand.

    Secondly, what style of guitar to match?

    I'm wondering if you guys can chime in your experience and thoughts on this, here's what my other side of the brain is saying about this:

    - finding a good, 1 piece of mahogany slab isn't easy, and costly.
    - mahogany is dense, but soft compared to maple or ebony. Will a one piece survive the build? Will it hold tone?
    - Reinforcement would probably needed on the neck and body transition part, carbon fiber?
    - what style? LP? FB? Tele? Strat? LP, while it's my preferred shape for now, would require an even larger size of slab. FB looks funky, but it'll be less convenient to on the stand.

    Other considerations, based on my preference would be an ebony fretboard, look aside, it'll help accentuate the high freq harmonics the PU offers, while the mahogany neck carries the lower end freq.

    So... is this crazy?
     
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  2. Mahogany

    Mahogany Tele-Meister

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    I see it as a maniacal waste of wood.

    A laminated beam composed of like material will be structurally better. Empirically speaking.
     
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  3. jimgchord

    jimgchord Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah, laminations are pretty much always stronger if done right. Its a gamble id say, only you can decide if its worth all the work and waste wood. But people do build one piece guitars, ive just never seen a good enough reason to do it. As to what model? Anything with zero neck angle.
     
  4. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'd be more concerned with wood movement than wasting wood. One of the nice things about multi piece guitars whether set, bolt on, or neck through, is the relieving of internal wood stresses before those parts come together. I use a lot of mahogany, and although it is a real stable wood...it still will warp some.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2021
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  5. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    find a nice slab of aussie wood, mate and go to town.:D.. fancy timbers aren't going to give you a fancier sound....;)

    a beam of good neck wood through the middle with wings on the sides might get you there..


    my silky oak slab bass is one piece and was slabbed up over 30 yrs ago, well seasoned......

    SO16.jpg



    SO17.jpg
     
  6. lathoto

    lathoto Tele-Meister

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    If you use the guitar for slide I would say yes. Wood selection and ciphering the neck angle without a prototype will be tough.
     
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  7. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Given all the parts in hand, a side view drawing provides all that information for the neck angle.
     
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  8. dazzaman

    dazzaman Tele-Afflicted

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    There was a challenge build in around 2012 or so when someone (I wish I could remember who) did a one piece guitar, and from memory the neck moved out of alignment. That was a pity, because it was a really interesting idea, build, and guitar. I can’t remember what the final outcome was.

    I am another of the view that it is not an economical use of wood, and I don’t see why it would be any better than a neck-through instrument as done in a Firebird, an Alembic, or a Rickenbacker 4001.

    If I was going to do it I would make sure it is done in stages over a fairly long period of time (maybe a year) and taking it slowly to its final plan-view dimensions to try and minimise the risk of warping. There are historical instruments, such as renaissance citterns, which were often carved out of the solid, and modern makers who have built replicas say that doing the process as patiently as possible is essential.

    There is no reason you couldn’t, of course, use wood from the same plank for the whole guitar as a neck-through. There would be glue lines where the grain won’t match, but it seems a much safer option in my view.
     
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  9. willio

    willio TDPRI Member

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    I pretty much buried this idea until I spoke to that buddy of mine. Thanks for chiming in your thoughts and these were my own counterarguments in my head on why not to do it.

    One factor that kept this idea afloat is simplicity in the construction process, and the potential sonic capabilities of a single slab of wood can offer.
     
  10. dougstrum

    dougstrum Friend of Leo's

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    Yep~You Crazy!
     
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  11. Telekarster

    Telekarster Tele-Afflicted

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    One thing, off the top of my head, to maybe consider is what happens if the unforseeable happens... like a drunk dude who falls onto the stage, knocks the guitar over and head snaps off? On a 2 piece, the neck can be replaced... stuff like that. FWIW
     
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  12. johnnylaw

    johnnylaw Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes.
    It may enhance community safety to have you off the streets fo a while.
    Go for it!
     
  13. kingoflimbs

    kingoflimbs Tele-Meister

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    not really.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2021
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  14. ctmullins

    ctmullins Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    You must be joking. I can’t imagine anything more frustrating than trying to shape a body with the neck in the way, or trying to shape a neck with the body in the way.

    Sonic capabilities are the combination of the physical structure, the strings, and the electronics (and the amp, effects, cabinet, room, player, …). There’s no inherent advantage to a single piece of wood from a structural, and therefore sonic, perspective.
     
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  15. RobRiggs

    RobRiggs Tele-Holic

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  16. Newbcaster

    Newbcaster Tele-Holic

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    Not crazy at all. Building monolithic guitars is not only a thing but it is the best thing. Contrary to popular belief it's the easiest way to build a fender style guitar.

    Johnny Rushmore on Facebook and YouTube is the best at this IMHO. He's given me lots of advice on my builds.

    I say all that and then realize I am crazy.. so yeah. You're crazy too. Welcome to the desert of the real.
     
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  17. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    In my humble opinion the answer is Yes, but if you build it please post a thread to convince others not to try.

    I do know some of the Firebirds were neck through construction, that would be close to what you want (I think), just get a big enough hunk of wood and make it one piece.
     
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  18. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I have a pile of Black Walnut planks that I could easily make into such a guitar. Might have to glue on some "ears" to get full body width. I think I have at least one plank that is 13" wide X 2" thick X 8' long.

    If I did such a thing, I would rough out the neck first and set the whole thing aside to stress relieve...maybe a year. Wood does weird stuff when you cut it like that.
     
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  19. Newbcaster

    Newbcaster Tele-Holic

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    I have a 12/4 8 string guitar that I'm building based on speaking to Johnny.

    Made from solid purpleheart.....

    I waited 4 years after I bought it to cut into it. I keep my house at very low humidity and well it's Arizona. So my wood library room has hundreds of pieces of bone dry lumber. Most of which I've owned longer than 20 years.


    Long story short I cut that puppy out and the neck and body are straight, surfaces are level.

    I bought it at timber hardwoods in Mesa and it was dry and straight then. I had it s2s'd at woodworkers source. Only took about a 16th off on both sides.

    Obviously I'm going to hollow it out and put a piece of purple heart on the back. I'll be at 9 lbs all told.

    It's a super strat body so actually I may do it from the front. Next time I'm gonna do a firebird 8 string.

    Even my Brian may builds... once upon a time I was so dead set on building it exactly like he did. Those are in progress as I type this. But.

    I'll never ever build a guitar that way again.

    To spend all that money to recreate both junk and do it the dumbest way possible? No thanks.

    The best part about mono builds is I don't have to mess with truss rods.

    I have big wide fat hands. Years of karate. I'm never gonna be Steve Vai. So I can flat palm a classical neck no problem.

    I bang around on 8s. Never ever ever... ever gonna move one iota. Ever.

    Especially after it gets coated in art resin. My great great great great grandkids may have to refinish that thing.

    Can't wait to figure out how I'm gonna wind an 8 string strat pickup!!!

    Purpleheart is tonally bright and unforgiving. Gotta make some overwound dark pickups.
     
  20. willio

    willio TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for chiming in guys. I'm going to listen to most of you and not do a one piece angled neck and headstock build. I got your points. I'll revisit when and if I decide to do a strat/tele style in the future.

    I think what I'll do is follow the Music Man Armada's construction for a hybrid Firebird x Les Paul design:

    - LP style single cut with belly cut and contoured neck
    - Quarter-sawn main spine + wing, ala Firebird x MM Armada
    - 2º neck angle from the body, 3º headstock break angle
    - Mahogany body, solid maple top, ebony fretboard
     
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