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My first build....4 string guitar or ukulele?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by JayneV, Nov 8, 2020.

  1. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    Hi, I have recently started building my first ever musical instrument. I’m not sure if it should be classified as a 4 string guitar or a ukulele. Here is a photo of the design and a photo of where the project is currently at.

    A7898B64-F776-473E-AD92-10FA6408CFA8.jpeg
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    The original plan was to make a baritone size ukulele with a 20” scale, but now I am not so sure. I may increase the scale slightly and turn it into a tenor guitar.

    I am documenting this build in a ukulele forum. If anybody is interested I can also document the build on this forum.
     
  2. dazzaman

    dazzaman Tele-Afflicted

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    Welcome!

    Yes, do document it here.

    Are you making the neck from scratch? If so, and if the neck and body would still look in proportion then I personally would increase the scale length to 23" and tune it as a tenor guitar, though you could also get away with it being a shorter scale length and still tuned as a tenor guitar.
     
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  3. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    My preference right here, though I built one for the 2011 Build Challenge I MAY be prejudiced lol. I use the old standard tuning, CGDA :)

    Dave
     
  4. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Love the John Bachland vibe :D
     
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  5. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    Yes, I will be making the neck from scratch. I will print a neck to a 23” scale and see how it looks. Is there any benefit with different tuning. I was leaning towards DGBE tuning. My reasoning behind that is if it is tuned the same as the 4 higher strings on a guitar it might make it easier to later learn to play a full size guitar. I am open to suggestions if there is a better way.

    I am a little embarrassed to say that it is more than just a vibe. It’s a blatant copy of a John Backlund design. Although I didn’t know it at the time. This design caught my eye while looking through google images for some inspiration. I scaled it down in size and it will have 4 strings instead of 6. It may also end up with one pickup instead of two due to space constraints.
     
  6. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    The next few posts are to bring this thread up to speed from the start of the build...

    D1D34BD1-FF23-426A-AA0D-6FD2713E8DD0.jpeg
    This project was always about keeping myself busy while my full time job is not available. I am also trying to keep costs as low as possible. Most of the wood is left over hardwood flooring pieces from a home project a few years ago. The larger plank on the bottom is a piece of Tasmanian Oak from the hardware store for the body. It’s a manufactured piece of wood with smaller pieces factory glued together to make the plank you see. The lighter narrow one is a piece of grey gum flooring from memory, for the neck. It is quite dense and feels a little heavy for its size. The darker strip was supposed to be for the fretboard. It’s a piece I had laying around the garage, but on closer inspection I realised it was plywood. Not sure how I missed that when I first picked it up. I think I liked the colour and didn’t bother giving it a second look. Lol

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    I found some other pieces of hardwood flooring. I think the darker piece might be merbau (I don’t know a whole lot about timber types). I am considering using this for the fretboard, however its thickness will need to be reduced. I don’t own any kind of planer so I made this jig to use my router as a substitute planer. The jig hasn’t been tested yet. That is tomorrow’s task.
    48309929-6B8E-4894-B860-ABE28707FE8F.jpeg

    This is the MDF template for the body. The extra neck bit was cut off before using it as a template. I left it there initially so I had something to hold on to while trying the guitar out for size.
    D8B3722D-32EA-45EE-A487-60EBA957B243.jpeg
     
  7. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    The two body blanks cut out. They are slightly oversize and will be trimmed after being glued together.
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    Following someone else’s recommendation from the ukulele forum, I routed some wiring channels in the bottom half of the body. I transferred the location of the channels onto the paper template. Hopefully I will find these channels where I expect them to be when the pickup and control cavities are opened up. The reason for making the channels at this stage was to avoid having to use a long drill bit at an angle later and risk damaging the front face of the body.
    43959D12-6979-4CE9-9EAD-72C91A212C67.jpeg

    The two body halves glued together and left to dry overnight.
    A1C260D2-FA52-4D33-BEEB-95B57C92DA2A.jpeg
     
  8. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    The MDF template can be seen below with the two glued together body pieces above. (The thick chipboard on the bottom is my makeshift outdoor workbench. It’s a kitchen sink cutout from a bench top). The first trimming pass was done with the MDF template on top and I used a router bit with the bearing on top. Then I flipped everything over and with the bit shown in the picture I attempted to finish the trimming. Unfortunately, this second router bit was part of a cheap set of bits and the bearing disintegrated shortly after starting to use it.
    0717DD5E-D2DA-4E4F-8F63-656DC106590C.jpeg

    What was left of the disintegrated bearing. The missing part hit me in the leg on its way to an uknown area of my back yard. Luckily neither the guitar or I sustained any damage from the flying bearing pieces. The trimming was completed with the original router bit that has the bearing on top. It was “just” long enough to reach with the router set to maximum plunge depth.
    F6520022-C613-4111-BE2D-E93E56606F4F.jpeg
     
  9. dazzaman

    dazzaman Tele-Afflicted

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    Obviously you should use the tuning you think is best suited for you. I see from the welcome wagon sub-forum that you started playing violin, and the CGDA tuning that Dave suggested would allow you to easily transfer what you started there with to the new instrument, but I can see the logic of the DGBE if you are thinking in future to go to a guitar.

    I am sure you will get plenty of opinions on this, but personally I would use the tenor guitar tuning since you have more notes under your fingers in a single position, so any chords that you play will have a bigger sound for the chords. I think it would also be easier to learn, and you could also transfer the fingering shapes to a mandolin or mandola in future if you wish.

    But they are not really benefits, rather just what I would do. It depends what you are wanting to play a bit - if you are planning on doing guitar riffs etc then the DGBE tuning is probably better, the tenor guitar tuning is better for fiddle tunes, jazz, and quite a lot of folk and Irish stuff. And you can, of course, try both tunings over time and see what you are preferring - you will need to alter the intonation at the bridge, but that will be easy enough.
     
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  10. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    The back trimmed and the edges rounded.
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    The front trimmed. I left the edges square for now. I may carve some sections to give the front a little more style but need to practice my technique on some scrap wood first.
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    Finally, this is a re-post of the image in my first post above. The various bits of hardware and electronics arrived in the post and I was eager to see how they would look. The prewired control panel is way to big so I’ll make a new panel. I may also only use one pickup and omit th switch to declutter the face a bit.
    89D1D02E-0CFD-4682-854D-7A42181E7437.jpeg

    That’s it, all caught up now.
     
  11. JayneV

    JayneV Tele-Meister

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    Thank you for the detailed reply dazzaman. I guess it is easy enough to change the tuning later like you said. The violin is tuned GDAE so three of the strings would have the same tune. There is still plenty of time before I am ready to string the instrument.
     
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  12. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    First, I like the design. Well done!

    Tunings are mostly personal preference, I don't think there is much difference between the Bari and a TG...a few extra frets for the TG. I think you can find strings to tune either way with each.

    I like tuning in fifths (CGDA) for "notey" stuff and DGBE for chordal. It is nice with the Bari in that any guitar chord grid/sheet can be read directly...but transposing from Uke specific stuff is a little awkward, moreso for CGDA.
     
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  13. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    You should only be flush trimming about 1-2 mm off your wood with a flush trim or pattern bit. The bulk should be removed before with other tools/machines. That will reduce bit wear and tear out.
     
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  14. dazzaman

    dazzaman Tele-Afflicted

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    Sorry, I should have clarified. Yes the notes are different, but the fingering patterns remain the same, a tenor guitar is just tuned a fifth below a violin and mandolin.
     
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  15. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Looks like a fun project.

    A mod I'll do on my Teles is the "Bill Kirchen" mod of rotating the control plate. Perhaps you'll want to do that as it may fit the style. Turn the plate around so the switch is to the back with volume up front and tone in the middle. Switch is rotated before attaching to the plate so you have the usual operation of forward being the front pickup.

    If you go to a single humbucker pickup, provided you have a four conductor pickup to start with or dismantle and break out the additional wires, you can use a Tele 4-way switch and from one pickup get 'neck' side bobbin/parallel/'bridge' side bobbin/series humbucker. If the pickup is low and the screw poles raised higher, the one pickup covers a lot of tones. I do this in my Tele Esquire-H.

    .
     
  16. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    That is beautiful work, JayneV.

    "I may also only use one pickup and omit the switch to declutter the face a bit."

    Look online for "pickup positions and harmonics" for some guidance on where your pickup should go. Some places under the strings are better than others.

    Here's a build I did that is a single pickup with no switch. It has just a volume control. A single pickup with minimal controls is not as limiting as many people think.

    I expect John Backlund hizzself well pop in here and offer you words of encouragement; he's a pretty cool cat.

    Please keep us posted!

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
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  17. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    And exactly like a cello :) making a great deal of chords only two finger affairs. But if your goal is to ultimately learn guitar DGBE is the ticket.
    I hate seeing all that wood wasted on that fretboard. Could you not have someone resaw a thin piece for you? My experience with Aussie woods is limited and rough. I ruined one fretsaw slotting desert eucalyptus for a bass fretboard and I'm currently using jarrah for my lapsteel but thank God no real frets lol.

    Belatedly, welcome to the forum :D, I'm always glad to see more ladies here, the creativity is needed to stir things up :lol:

    Dave
     
  18. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's

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    If you "axe" me, ukuleles have nylon strings. So even if it has only 4 strings and you tune it like a uke that is a geetar. You are welcome.
     
  19. WalthamMoosical

    WalthamMoosical Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    For making coherent with learning guitar I don't think the exact voicing is so important; what matters is using the same interval set, modulo octaves. That is, up a fourth -- up a major third -- up a fourth, the conventional guitar intervals for the top three intervals; the ukulele commonly boosts one of them (the "D" of a conventional guitar and the lowest-pitch of the highest four pitches) up an octave, probably to permit lower variation in string gauge among the four strings. (Violins and mandolins are conventionally given three intervals of fifths.)
     
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  20. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Jayne, what a crazy idea, I love it! Unfortunately one of the most fundamental decisions you should make when designing any musical instrument is how you are going to string it and tune it. Which leads directly to what scale it needs to be.

    Knowing the scale and tuning will let you choose strings - you want to be sure that they are compatible with your bridge and your pickups and provide the tension that you expect when you play it.

    Scale will also let you lay out the neck - it looks like you are making the joint pretty high and that you plan to have 24 frets.
     
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