Cedar top on chambered tele... to brace or not to brace?

montyveda

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Hi guys...

I'm getting pretty close to gluing the top onto my chambered tele-bass...

13 chambers finished 1.jpg


It'll be attached around the perimeter only (the oval will be routed down once the pick-up slot has been cut) but I'm now wondering (worrying) if the cedar top will need some bracing to strengthen it. It was a tad under 5mm thick, which would have been fine but after planing it down a bit more, it's now around 3mm thick. The top won't be taking any string tension at all but it will have the pots and jack socket mounted on it... I can't help but wonder if it's now too thin to be mounted with no bracing, but I'm a newbie to building so really have no idea.

What do you think, brace it or not?
 

Fiesta Red

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It’s kind like trying to decide how many nails to use on a wood-framed barn…you’ll never know if you use one too many, but you’ll find out if you use one too few.

Likewise, you might not need the bracing, but you’ll only know if it fails…
 

archetype

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It looks like you have plenty of support and there won't be a bit of tension on the top. There's probably no need to brace.

Occasionally, Fender has made Telecasters with tops like this. I think the Telebration series had one with a spruce, or similar, top. I've never seen a picture of one with the top peeled off.
 

Freeman Keller

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3mm is about 1/8 of an inch. Most acoustic guitar tops are thicknessed to something less than that - when I built a cedar topped acoustic I made the top 0.110 thick. That top is intended to vibrate AND it has a pinned bridge that anchors both shear and rotational torques to the top plate itself. It is lightly braced in the traditional fashion (scalloped X with tone bars and a bridge plate.

I also build hollow bodied electrical guitars with laminated tops approximately 1/8 thick. In these the top is not intended to be a vibrating membrane but the top is still braced to support the pickups and the floating bridge.

I also build semi hollow bodied guitar which have a large block of wood supporting the pickups and tune-o-matic bridge.

Lastly, I build chambered solid bodied guitars where I leave enough wood during the chambering to support the pickups and bridge.

So you see, it depends on what you are trying to do. Remember that cedar is a relatively soft wood, but is quite stiff for its density, much like spruce.
 

montyveda

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Thanks for the replies :)

What kind of bridge will you use? How will you anchor the strings?
Its a fairly standard Pbass bridge, attached to the big block at the tail end so the body is taking all the tension.
I'm a little curious as to why you're using such a thin top- I doubt that it needs bracing, but you might want to glue on a support piece underneath where the electronics are being attached.

It was supposed to be a tad under 5mm thick which i reckon would have been plenty but, after having to plane off some unsavoury marks, it ended up at around 3mm.

It's around the pots that I'm most concerned... the most likely scenario for it splitting is in pulling off one of the knobs should i need to replace a pot.

So yes... I mostly doesn't need bracing, but adding some certainly won't do any harm

Thanks again all :)
 

Vizcaster

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You could consider using a thin metal plate (maybe shim stock from the hobby shop) underneath the top as a backing plate for the pots. I did that on an arch-top hollow body conversion to electric (in that case it provided a convenient way to assemble the two pots and fish them through the pickup hole, with the plate keeping them aligned so they could be fished into the holes in the top). I suppose that would require you to drill and align the holes in the top with the backing plate before gluing on the top. But it would also provide a way for you to have another ground connection as if you were using a metal tele control plate.

But to keep in simple I like Telemnemonics idea, maybe just laminate a strip of something tough saturated with resin (like Freeman's favorite ZPoxy) on the back side of the drop top before you even do any drilling. Oh, yeah, I can hear the enhanced tone and sustain from the carbon-fiber reinforcement...
 

schmee

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I'd laminate under the pots since it will get bumped and pried there, but leave the top otherwise.
Assuming the pickup mounts to the back body mass?
That's a big honkin' fat body!
What thickness?
I like this idea. Seems well supported otherwise. Or use a copper plate epoxied on under the controls for hum reduction!
 

maxvintage

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I did something very much like that but with a spruce top and a cherry body https://www.tdpri.com/threads/hollow-body-p-bass-experiment.682719/

top was closer to 1/4 though, and I braced it, because there was some string pressure on the top. The bridge on mine anchored into a piece of wood glued to the top which did not touch the back



Sound clips at the links and photos.
 
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Mojotron

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Yep - I've done plenty of work with Cedar and I would not worry about bracing - to telemnemonics point - you could also use a fender washer - big wide washer - on the inside of the top glued in right where the pots are to support them a little where the nut tightens them down. Cedar should do fine, except to even out the load where the pots are tightened down - you really need a big washer there to even out the stress over a bigger surface area and it does not matter if it's on the inside or outside, but on the inside you would not see it.
 

Telenator

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At 3mm thick, the bracing serves 2 purposes.

1) You can induce very good and positive tones into this guitar with proper bracing.

2) Bracing will help prevent splitting as the air dries and moistens.

At 5mm, I wouldn't worry too much. At 3mm however, there's a lot you can do in getting a great tone and preventing the top from splitting.
 




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