My first "Custom" Build

Steve Holt

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 29, 2016
Posts
3,056
Location
Kansas
Hey, builders, watchers, and lurkers!

I've been thinking about this for a while, but I usually end up just building another strat. But I want to build something at least partly inspired by my own imagination. So that's what I started today. I've been tinkering with the design with some free illustrator software I found.

The rough idea

20211105_084917.jpg


I'm not the most creative or artistic person, so I took inspiration from a few places.

I'm going with cherry wood for the neck and body, african blackwood fretboard, maple top, some kind of translucent blue finish for the maple.

I wasn't planning to start until after the first of the year, but I went out searching for a chunk of cherry today in my dad's stash of lumber. It's stuff he bought in the 80s and never used because he had kids :lol:. Now I have a kid, but I'm still stealing his lumber!

I have a really good piece of 2" cherry, but it isn't enough to do the body and neck. But I found this piece for the neck and it was rough! Probably the warpiest most waviest board I've ever seen! But it's been sitting there for 40 years, so I don't think it's going anywhere. My dad said he's pretty sure it looked like that when he bought it.

But you have to appreciate those rough saw marks

20211127_114135.jpg
20211127_114140.jpg


After getting a Neck size chunk cut it out of it, it was still really warped. Luckily it was about 1.25" Thick.

What I ended up having to do is screw it down to my router sled and route/plane one side flat. Then flipped it over and did the other side. Then if was finally flat enough to go through the planer. It looks good and feels good. The end grain is really tight and solid. Seems as good as any of the best maple I've ever used.

20211127_132514.jpg
20211127_132520.jpg
20211127_132525.jpg



Stay tuned for more!
 

Attachments

  • 20211127_143946.jpg
    20211127_143946.jpg
    195.9 KB · Views: 38

Freeman Keller

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Aug 22, 2018
Posts
8,074
Age
76
Location
Washington
Steve, what I think I see in your rendering is an arched top with a flat Fender style neck. Please confirm that your geometry will work before you cut anything. And while it is not as critical with an electric, I learned a long time ago to build guitars that fit available cases.
 

Steve Holt

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 29, 2016
Posts
3,056
Location
Kansas
Steve, what I think I see in your rendering is an arched top with a flat Fender style neck. Please confirm that your geometry will work before you cut anything. And while it is not as critical with an electric, I learned a long time ago to build guitars that fit available cases.

Oh man have I been tinkering and thinking and geometry!! And I've learned a fair bit from your posts over the years.

You're 100% correct. It's something of a les paul body with a fender style neck. I'm not sure I'm talented enough to pull off the set neck and tenon of the LP. So I'm sticking with what I know. But I've worked out some ideas to get the neck pocket cut at an angle to get the strings to the right angle. I've been working on drawings and I'm going to test it out before I commit to my good wood.

By the way you had a post a while back that had a tip about setting the saddle as low as it will go, and then getting the top of the Fret to be level with the saddle at that low point (or something like that, you probably worded it better). But I tried that out with a jazz bass I just finished and it was the best initial setup I've ever done. I strung it up and without tweaking anything it was playing kinda okay.
 

Freeman Keller

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Aug 22, 2018
Posts
8,074
Age
76
Location
Washington
[QUOTE="Steve Holt, post: 11067326, member: 129318"

You're 100% correct. It's something of a les paul body with a fender style neck. I'm not sure I'm talented enough to pull off the set neck and tenon of the LP. So I'm sticking with what I know. But I've worked out some ideas to get the neck pocket cut at an angle to get the strings to the right angle. I've been working on drawings and I'm going to test it out before I commit to my good wood.

By the way you had a post a while back that had a tip about setting the saddle as low as it will go, and then getting the top of the Fret to be level with the saddle at that low point (or something like that, you probably worded it better). But I tried that out with a jazz bass I just finished and it was the best initial setup I've ever done. I strung it up and without tweaking anything it was playing kinda okay.[/QUOTE]

A Fender style screw on neck can be made to with a non flat topped instrument - it will just have an angle different than zero. It will depend a lot on the bridge you choose and the amount of arching you put into the top. But the guitar doesn't care what the shape of the tenon is or how the neck is attached. Screw on necks give you lots of latitude.

Glad to know the bass came out fine. The same rules apply when setting them up, some of the target values might be different.

I'll enjoy watching your build.
 

Steve Holt

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 29, 2016
Posts
3,056
Location
Kansas
Template time.

The idea is to make a little ledge or drop off where the line goes through (see the first picture). If I was doing a painted headstock maybe I'd just paint one half. But this will be natural finish, so I'll see about that on the next iteration.

20211129_182937.jpg
 

Steve Holt

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 29, 2016
Posts
3,056
Location
Kansas
[QUOTE="Steve Holt, post: 11067326, member: 129318"

You're 100% correct. It's something of a les paul body with a fender style neck. I'm not sure I'm talented enough to pull off the set neck and tenon of the LP. So I'm sticking with what I know. But I've worked out some ideas to get the neck pocket cut at an angle to get the strings to the right angle. I've been working on drawings and I'm going to test it out before I commit to my good wood.

By the way you had a post a while back that had a tip about setting the saddle as low as it will go, and then getting the top of the Fret to be level with the saddle at that low point (or something like that, you probably worded it better). But I tried that out with a jazz bass I just finished and it was the best initial setup I've ever done. I strung it up and without tweaking anything it was playing kinda okay.

A Fender style screw on neck can be made to with a non flat topped instrument - it will just have an angle different than zero. It will depend a lot on the bridge you choose and the amount of arching you put into the top. But the guitar doesn't care what the shape of the tenon is or how the neck is attached. Screw on necks give you lots of latitude.

Glad to know the bass came out fine. The same rules apply when setting them up, some of the target values might be different.

I'll enjoy watching your build.[/QUOTE]

Question about bridge placement. In the past I've always let my purchased template guide me on drilling bridge holes. I double check to make sure it's close, but this is my first time designing something of my own.

upload_2021-12-1_10-28-2.png


This is the bridge I'll be using. So it appears I'll have under .5" of travel on each saddle. It's a 25.5" scale guitar. Do I set it up so that the high e string saddle, in its most forward position is exactly 25.5" from the nut, or should I adjust that back a bit? I've never done a TOM bridge before - it seems they're always angle a bit anyway. Jags and Jazzies are parallel in relation to the nut. Any advice on how you set this up would be most helpful.
 

Freeman Keller

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Aug 22, 2018
Posts
8,074
Age
76
Location
Washington
I use several methods of locating the bridge. First, run StewMacs fret calculator for your scale and number of frets, then look down at the bottom of the page for the location of different bridges

https://www.stewmac.com/fret-calculator/

Tune-o-matic style bridges 25.562" from nut to center of treble-side post. Mount bass-side post 1/16"-1/8" further from the nut.

The second thing I do is lay out the actual scale on my guitar with the neck in the pocket, Adjust the bridge so the saddles are as far forward as they will go. Put the high E saddle over the scale line on your guitar and mark it. I give the low E saddle about 1/16 more compensation so the bridge is at an angle.

Third, if I have any questions, I run the compensation calculator for the string gauges and tunings I will be using and actually measure the amount of compensation.

The bottom line is that you will ALWAYS add compensation to the scale length and you want to be within the range of adjustment on the particular bridge you will be using.
 

Steve Holt

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 29, 2016
Posts
3,056
Location
Kansas
I use several methods of locating the bridge. First, run StewMacs fret calculator for your scale and number of frets, then look down at the bottom of the page for the location of different bridges

https://www.stewmac.com/fret-calculator/

Tune-o-matic style bridges 25.562" from nut to center of treble-side post. Mount bass-side post 1/16"-1/8" further from the nut.

The second thing I do is lay out the actual scale on my guitar with the neck in the pocket, Adjust the bridge so the saddles are as far forward as they will go. Put the high E saddle over the scale line on your guitar and mark it. I give the low E saddle about 1/16 more compensation so the bridge is at an angle.

Third, if I have any questions, I run the compensation calculator for the string gauges and tunings I will be using and actually measure the amount of compensation.

The bottom line is that you will ALWAYS add compensation to the scale length and you want to be within the range of adjustment on the particular bridge you will be using.

Thanks for the help! I had a feeling you'd be quite a bit more helpful than 3 or 4 google searches on the matter.
 

Steve Holt

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 29, 2016
Posts
3,056
Location
Kansas
Breaking out the big guns tonight! Time to get started on the body. This board is 2.25" x 9 and something like 5 feet long. I cut into it for a project last year though too.

20211201_181957.jpg
20211201_182024.jpg


I was worried the board I'm using for the neck might be from a different tree and not match very well...don't think it'll be a problem. Looks like it's all one tree.

20211201_182528.jpg


20211201_183408.jpg
 

Steve Holt

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 29, 2016
Posts
3,056
Location
Kansas
The design is coming along. I've had a little bit of free time to keep drawing and planning (after I started cutting of course). Measure sometimes, cut sooner than you planned.

upload_2021-12-2_15-23-54.png



I flipped it upside so I could get a better idea of what it would look like as I'm playing especially controls...more on that in a second.

upload_2021-12-2_15-24-35.png


upload_2021-12-2_15-27-29.png


And the back view.

One thing I'm not sold on, and just have as a placeholder for now is the controls. I know I want to do 1 volume, 1 tone, and 2 or 3 mini toggles, though I could still change my mind. But I haven't decided where and how to put them. If anyone has any pictures they want to share of their mini toggle guitars - or a sketch of how you would do it, I'm definitely open to ideas.
 

crazydave911

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Posts
12,859
Age
62
Location
East Tennessee
Sorta a Melody Maker (kinda) with a Fender "type" neck, hmmm. I like it :)

My only experience with mini switches

received_1217918685357715.jpeg


received_589045599212323.jpeg


On the Strat, in one position it does nothing, in the other it puts the neck and middle in series for a humbucker effect (very strong too)
On the 12 string, the main switch is a three way and acts like a Tele, the switch adds the middle pickup to whatever you have selected including all three in middle position.
Not sure if any of that helps, my tastes and likes are certainly not others but you did ask lol
 

Steve Holt

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 29, 2016
Posts
3,056
Location
Kansas
Sorta a Melody Maker (kinda) with a Fender "type" neck, hmmm. I like it :)

My only experience with mini switches

View attachment 925291

View attachment 925292

On the Strat, in one position it does nothing, in the other it puts the neck and middle in series for a humbucker effect (very strong too)
On the 12 string, the main switch is a three way and acts like a Tele, the switch adds the middle pickup to whatever you have selected including all three in middle position.
Not sure if any of that helps, my tastes and likes are certainly not others but you did ask lol

Thanks for chiming in and for pictures of the guitars. I'm more undecided on the layout than the usage. I'll have an on/off for each pickup, when both switches are up it will be parallel, but with both down it'll be series. I know nothing about p90s, so I don't know if they'll sound good in series, but it's worth a shot! The third switch if I decide to do it will be a phase switch. I just haven't decided how to put them in so that it looks pleasing to me.
 




Top