Breaking the bank/back -> Doubleneck

JohnnyThul

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And neck number 2 is routed. Now I will add the headstock veneers and even if it may be blasphemy, I will use CA for that.

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JohnnyThul

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So, while the CA is curing, I have to start thinking about inlays. I mean, I am somewhat a fan of nice inlays, but did it now quites excessively. And I don't know, if on a double neck fancy inlay themes would look too busy.

So, currently I though about using Gretsch thumbnail inlays, as I always found them to be nice while still understating.
But what should I do on the headstocks?

Past thoughts: having a heaven/sky/night sky theme on the upper 12 string neck and a ground/earth theme on the 6 string one ( like, animals/people on the 6 string neck looking up to the sky of the 12 string neck).
Or: doing astronimical zodiac signs on both necks.

But: I am not that good of an inlay maker so far, so, themes should be pretty basic/simple for me to achieve. I have thousands of pearl discs in various sizes ( 4mm - 4,5cm) and a few leftover shell plates from a handbag. And all sorts of wood (ebony, maple, roasted maple, ovangkol, korina, santos, khaya, sapelli, meranti, cherry, elm, ash).

So, maybe someone here has a cool idea?
 

Freeman Keller

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Inlays are such a personal matter that, again, its really hard to advise. Remember that you will have a dozen tuners on one of the heads as well as truss rod covers you'll have to fit your inlay around all of that. As far as fretboard inlays, my observations from playing the one that I build it that it is very hard to hold the guitar at an angle where you can even see them - I found myself looking at the side dots but not the f/b itself.

I'll be watching to see what you end up with.
 

JohnnyThul

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I think you are right @Freeman Keller , it's a personal thing. In this case I may decide to not do anything elaborate, as the work on the guitar itself is quite a lot already.
As for visibility, I do not use neck inlays for orientation at all, I only use the sidedots, so, that gives you (maybe unfortunately :)) a lot of freedom on what to do on the neck regarding inlays.
I noticed that, after I did a dragon inlay (precut) over the length of a whole fretboard. Initiually I was worried I would loose orientation, but after playing it I realized, I only "maneuver" by the sidedots.

I will wait until the weekend and puzzle a little bit with the materials I have and lay them out on the necks and see, if anything attracts me. If not, I will go for the Thumbnails, but may cut them on my own this time, rather than using precut stuff.
 

JohnnyThul

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This has been a really bad week so far. I took 2 days off from work now, to clear my head and do something, which is more fulfilling.
So, I trimmed the headstock veneers flush so far, had to do some math to figure out the centerlines for each neck so that everything works. I checked PRS doubleneck later to see, if I may be off with something,but my findings.match theirs, so, should work.

As I am lucky more often, than not, to my great surprise I found out, that both my bridges have the exact same height, very cool! Didn't expect that, as one is wraparound, the other a Tom.

So, I angled the neck heels accordingly. I did it wrong first, putting the angle the other way round, but the neck blanks are plenty thick, so, I routed them correctly and all went nice. Was the first time I angled the heels instead of the body, but the maple cap is not so thick this time, so, I did it on the heels.

I routed the binding channels, that did not work out too good,seems, the bottom of the neck and the fretboard were not completely parallel. But I found some extra wide binding, which I bought once accidentally, and cut it to size for the necks. I wanted to use maple binding, now it's gonna be plastic, that's fine as well and a little easier to work with, too .

Last think for today was doing the inlays. Honestly, I just did not want to spend so much time on inlays this time,and I am not relaxed enough for elaborate stuff right now. So I went with thumbnail inlays, which I had lying around. The headstocks will get binding as well, and a feather inlay each, which I had in my parts bin as a precut inlay.

Only one photo, sorry, I was just too busy working the stress from work off today with this. It helped, as usual 🙂
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JohnnyThul

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While there is still some time until the monster will be finished there is one question left for me: how do you slot a 12 string nut? Are there any rules how to determine the spacing of the slots?
The nut width I made pretty narrow at 44mm as I hope, this will suit me better.
 

Freeman Keller

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While there is still some time until the monster will be finished there is one question left for me: how do you slot a 12 string nut? Are there any rules how to determine the spacing of the slots?
The nut width I made pretty narrow at 44mm as I hope, this will suit me better.
You have several decisions to make. First, will you string it "normal" or "Rickenbacker"? Normal puts the primary strings on the odd numbered slots. Then you decide how much space you want between each course (a "course" is a pair of strings tuned to the same or octave apart). Set the first and 12th string spacing from the outside and mark the 2nd and 11th strings. Use your fret spacing rule (or some simple math) to space the primary strings. Space the octaves relative to the primaries. Common spacing between the two strings of each course is 0.100 but you can adjust that to fit your playing style.

The other thing you need to determine is how deep to make the octaves relative to the primaries - I like to make them the same height off the first fret (ie both the 11th and 12th might be 0.018 off the first fret)

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ps - I would find that nut awfully narrow - I play a lot of acoustic 12 string and like something around 1-7/8 inch.
 
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arlum

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You're all better men than me. I've picked up and played a double neck twice in my life and some years apart. The second time left me pissed at myself for forgetting how much I disliked the first experience. I think, like many players, Jimmy Pages stage photo with the Gibson double neck peaked my desire. For me .... the reality of the awkwardness, not the weight, turned me off. Terrible neck drop and always having one of the two necks in less than my preferred position messed with me. Do I want to stretch playing the lower neck or bend my elbow in a weird way to play the top neck. I know these guitars are popular and production models cost a boot full of bread. They also look super cool on stage but .... I'm not up to it.
 

JohnnyThul

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You have several decisions to make. First, will you string it "normal" or "Rickenbacker"? Normal puts the primary strings on the odd numbered slots. Then you decide how much space you want between each course (a "course" is a pair of strings tuned to the same or octave apart). Set the first and 12th string spacing from the outside and mark the 2nd and 11th strings. Use your fret spacing rule (or some simple math) to space the primary strings. Space the octaves relative to the primaries. Common spacing between the two strings of each course is 0.100 but you can adjust that to fit your playing style.

The other thing you need to determine is how deep to make the octaves relative to the primaries - I like to make them the same height off the first fret (ie both the 11th and 12th might be 0.018 off the first fret)

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ps - I would find that nut awfully narrow - I play a lot of acoustic 12 string and like something around 1-7/8 inch.
Hi Freeman,

Thanks a lot for the advice! That gave me a real "D'Oh" moment :) Just marking the the high and low E string's position and then place the octaves in relation via the string spacing ruler is just so simple, I don't know why that didn't cross my mind.

I should be a ll set then to make that thing work.
 

Freeman Keller

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You can get really anal about doing the calculations - most 12 string sets have the same size 1st and 2nd course and then much smaller 3rd to 6th octaves. Frankly you are talking thousands of an inch and I can't measure that precisely when I'm trying to scratch a piece of bone. You want the strings close enough together that you can fret (and pick) both at the same time (a few 12 string players can pick just one, I sure can't). You get a different sound whether you pick on an up stroke (primary first) or down (octave first) but that is playing technique.

Very few 12 string players do any bending and very few go above the 12th fret. Twelve strings do not intonate nicely, that is one of their little joys. Unlike acoustic 12's, most electric 12 string string sets are double the tension - that does change your approach.

A kind of interesting question is how to tune a double neck. My three acoustic twelves are all tuned down at least two semi tones (one a whole lot more than that). I would down tune an electric twelve also but then you have to decide what to do with the sixer. I ended up stringing both necks with 10-46 and tuning to concert.
 

JohnnyThul

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Well, I shortly had an Epiphone Doubleneck, some 20 years ago, I even played it live once or twice. The 12 string neck was not nice to play, to wide for my taste and neck too thick.
Bendings, hm, well, I'd do it, even on 12 strings, and chord voicings above 12th fret could be handy sometimes, so, that is not completely out of question for me :)

As for string tension and tuning, that is definitely good advice! I wrote earlier, that I once had the chance to play a PRS doubleneck, and the 12 string neck was very manageable to play for me. It was a narrower nut, than on the Epiphone I had before, and it seems that PRS put some thought into string gauge as well. They have their own 12 string set which was afaik aimed to deliver a playability as close to a 6 string neck, as possible.

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Lucky for me, we have a string manufacturer here in Germany, where you can custom order sets in a wide variety of gauges and materials, so, I'd see the PRS strings as a starting point and see, if it suits me, or not. In the latter case, I may contact the local manufacturer and see, what we can come up with.

But of course, a doubleneck is more of a cool toy to have, than a serious tool, still, I can see it being useful for recording applications for example. And it is a nice conversation piece. It may also serve as my "Mount Everest" so far, until I will begin with an archtop in a few years, when I feel confident enough :)
 

Freeman Keller

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Johnny, I based my comment on acoustic 12 strings which I am very familiar with - I own and play three. The more or less default nut width for these is 1-7/8 inch with course spacing of 0.010 inch. My son who I built the double neck for also plays acoustic 12 string and before building the double neck he had also played the Gibson EDS double neck. So my focus when building the one for him was what I was used to with other necks.

The picture of your PRS nut has the strings much closer together - that would allow you to shrink the nut width. As you know, when playing a 12 you treat the pair as one string - you fret both together and (usually) pick both together at the bridge. The PRS spacing would definitely allow you to do that better than the wider spacing that I am used to - that might turn out to be a real advantage.

The one thing that people don't usually understand with 12 string is that the total string tension is not (usuallly) double that of a sixer. For an acoustic 6 the tension is generally around 170 pounds, with the gauges used on an acoustic 12 that might go up to 220 or 230 but certainly not double. We also tend to down tune an acoustic 12 string, often one or two semi tones. Listen to the music of Leo Kottke or Ledbelly or Willie McTell - they are all tuned in the cellar.

The exception to that is electric twelve strings. The string gauges you show are very common and if you do the math you will find that that set has right at 200 pounds of tension when tuned to concert. That is almost exactly double what a set of 10's have on a six string electric guitar. So, yes, an electric 12 string does have twice the tension of a sixer.

What does that mean for the double neck player? Well, you could down tune the 12 string neck one or two steps, but then you should tune down the sixer. If you want to play with others you might have to add a capo to get back to standard. I just found it easier to string both necks with 10's, tune to concert and deal with the additional tension when playing the 12 string neck. As I said, I don't find myself playing as high on the 12 neck as I might on the 6 and I certainly don't do anything fancy.

You'll learn all of this as you finish yours but it doesn't hurt to start thinking about it now. I'll be very interested in seeing how the narrower nut works for you - if I ever build another 12 string electric I might consider that.
 

JohnnyThul

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I checked a few standard string sets for electric 12's. They seem to be all more or less in the same ballpark with minor differences, but the combination of .046w/022w for the low E pair from the PRS strings seems to stick out somewhat.
There is even an Ernie Ball Set (2230) which is based on an 0.008-0.040 set.

The PRS Doubleneck I played I found to be pretty manageable, much more, than the EDS1275 Epiphone I once had. I thought, this came down more to geometry than string gauge used, so, I orientated on the PRS's measurements for this built. But, I will see, when all is set and strung up. Should there be any issues regarding tension I am pretty confident, I could work something out with the string manufacturer here, as I am sure they will have materials/gauges, that may take care of these issues.

String spacing, well, I am prepared to do more than one nut for the 12 string neck. I will do the first by more or less adapting to the 6 string nut and then see, if that works out. If not, I will know, what I need to change. Usually I tend to file the nut for the E string more away from the fretboard edge than usual. Looks kind of crooked, when you look at it, but it makes playability much easier for me, because I tend to bend the E string quite a bit.
On the 12 string neck, bendings may not be much of an option, so, I will use an even spacing at first and see, how that will work out.

As for neck stability, that was actually one of my bigger concerns for this guitar. I even thought about putting carbon fiber rods into the 12 string neck, but I think, the multiple laminated neck should work. The laminated blanks also set for close to a year in my workshop, so, they had plenty time to rest and release tension ( I hope...), and they showed no sign of warping or the like. Still, I think, I will do a volute, at least on the 12 string, just to rest assured at night :)

Downtuning or using Capo was actually something, I did not intend to do, as that makes things a little complicated at least for me, when playing with other people. So, the goal is, to have both necks in standard tuning and with an acceptable playability for the 12 string neck, so my hand won't hurt after 5 minutes. The PRS Doubleneck was pretty good in that regard, so, I hope for the best!
 

crazydave911

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What I did try on my Tele 12 was down tuning to D then when playing with others,capo up to the second fret and rock on lol.
I eventually went with concert pitch except when putting in storage for a time. A curly maple neck blank with a Martin U channel trussrod IS pretty strong 😉
 

JohnnyThul

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Okay, fret job was on. Went all very smooth, an advantage of not having excessive inlays with fret slots running through pearl. I mean,inlays are fun, but everytime I do a neck without elaborate stuff, it is so much easier and more stable.
I also added the Lego sidedots, went more easy than anything else I ever used before. 1/8" centered drill bit and I didn't even need to glue the stuff. Pretty cool.

Tomorrow I will start the neck carving.
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CCK1

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Back in the 70's a friend of mine had one of these Carvin 6 string/bass doublenecks. I could never think of a practical application for that configuration. The guitar was very well made, and heavier than words can describe. The hardshell case that came with it could have been used as a kitchen table if you added legs to it.

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