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erikbojerik

In Progress: Travel Guitar

22 posts in this topic

Reduced-sized F5 mandolin shape

1 pc mahogany solid body

1/4" quilted maple cap

7-layer bound top (flat)

Lace chrome dome bridge humbucker

one chrome dome volume knob (TBA)

Schaller fine-tune hardtail bridge

25.5" scale, maple neck w/bound ebony FB, 16" radius

4-bolt neck w/bushings

jumbo frets

locking string retainer from Washburn Wonderbar trem system

bone nut (TBA)

The neck is designed to be taken off regularly; the whole thing weighs under 3 lbs. It fits into my airline carry-on bag along with my V-amp and iMic and 3 days of clothes. With my G4 Powerbook and Logic Pro, I'm ready to record ideas & demos whenever I'm on travel (which is about the only time I have for musical creativity these days...).

This one represents a lot of "firsts"; first complete guitar from scratch, first drop top, first neck, first binding job (in preparation for a real F5 mandolin project...). It carries scars from a former life as a string-thru and tuners that used to live on the back of the body (a miserable failure). Still need to clean up the pickup rout, make a cover for the back, and buff out the top.

Travel.jpg

Edit: smaller photo size (doh!)

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beautiful

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Very nice!

I was also playing with the idea of "hiding" the tuners on the back, any pics of how you did yours? Do you still tune it that way?

Cheers

Goran

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The tuners used to be mounted on a shelf routed out on the bottom end of the body, so that the pegs lined up with the string-thru holes (pic). So the ball-end of the strings would be at the nut, then the strings threaded through the body, then splayed out on their way to the tuning posts. This meant that the strings had 2 bends to make, 90-degrees over the bridge, then varying angles (from 0 to 70-degrees) between the body and the tuning posts. The result was a huge increase in string tension between the bridge saddles and the tuning posts when trying to tune up; I almost couldn't turn some of the keys the tension was so high! I broke 2 sets of strings playing around with various permutation of this, then gave up and went with the Schaller bridge (which I'd originally thought might work, but wanted to try the tuners first). It might have been better if I'd had rollers behind the bridge or something, but even then stringing the thing up was a giant pain (and not quick).

With the Schaller bridge, I just string up normally, then plug into a tuner and use a set of needle-nose pliers to pull each of the strings up to tension one at a time, using the end of the neck as a fulcrum. When it's close to being in tune, as close as I can hold it, I lock it in place at the string retainer, then go to the next one. The fine-tuners take care of the rest.

This way, you can unbolt the neck and the ball-ends of the strings slide out from the fine tuners. When you put it back together, you secure the ball-ends, put the butt-end of the neck into the pocket, crank it flat then bolt it down. The reproducibility of the tuning is pretty good, better than I'd thought possible.

DN11.jpg

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That is Major Cool!

I like it, very creative, and planned out well!

:DB):D

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Well, you just saved me a lot of work! I was toying with putting the tuners in the back of my bass, but It looks like I'll be having a headstock now!

Great job, by the way. I can't wait to see it with pickup, knob, etc.

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Thanks for the kudos. The binding is from StewMac, 2 inner layers of white-black and the outer layer of white-black-thick white. Bent to shape by soaking in boiling water, glued on with StewMac's binding glue.

Skibum, I remember you were thinking of doing something similar with your bass. I could not make it work, the tension on the strings between the bridge and tuners was just too much. I've seen other travel guitars that use roller bearings to help with this, but the strings still take two 90-degree turns so the string tension is doubled between the bridge and tuners. Mine had more friction, so it was probably more than double for me; I was even breaking my 0.048 E-strings where they bent over the hole in the tuning post.

The Schaller bridge saved the day. I was worried that the fine tuners didn't have enough range on them, but they worked out fine. You can even use the 2 screws on the bridge posts to increase the tension on all the strings (if you run out of room on the fine tuners), but then you're actually increasing the scale length slightly. But that's a small compromise for a guitar that fits in my luggage!

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All I can say is that that's a great Idea, innovative and useful. Great, keep us posted!

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how did you handle teh frequently dismounted neck? regular screws or something else? wingnuts?

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Just regular bolts from Home Depot, phillips head. I had to cut the lengths off because of the contoured heel, but I just screw them into recesses in the back of the neck pocket (with washers under the bolt heads) and away we go.

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What you guys need is something like this Folding Guitar

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With the Schaller bridge, I just string up normally, then plug into a tuner and use a set of needle-nose pliers to pull each of the strings up to tension one at a time, using the end of the neck as a fulcrum. When it's close to being in tune, as close as I can hold it, I lock it in place at the string retainer, then go to the next one. The fine-tuners take care of the rest.

erikbojerik,

It seems like a great concept, especially considering the high price of "real" headless tuners. I think I'll use it for a project that I'm planning.

Can you tell approximately how much you can tune with the fine tuners? An octave? ...just to get an idea of how precise I'll have to be when mounting the strings with the pliers as you describe.

Btw, it's been some years since your post. Is the guitar (and the tuner system) still working to your satisfaction?

Alex

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Hey Alex, thanks for digging this up!

Yep, I've taken this guitar on many trips along with my portable V-amp and it has met all expectations. The only problem these days is that I have to put it in my checked luggage to avoid hassles going through airport security with the tools I need to use this thing (screwdriver and needle-nose pliers)!

The fine tuners on the Schaller bridge are "fine", way way less than an octave. The range is no more than a half-step. With new strings, I actually have to loosen the string retainer and pull them a little tighter. When you stretch the strings with the pliers, you need to be plugged in to your tuner and get it as close as possible, then tweek with the fine tuners.

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In past headless discussions, I (and others) have mentioned the possibility of using a "surrogate" headstock. You could probably build one and it'd still pack up neatly into your travel bag. Thinking outside the box, you wouldn't even need it to be a full headstock. One or two tuners at a time would be enough, and you could just "snip as you go".

The pliers method sounds fine, too, mind you-- especially if new strings require additional work once stretched.

Don't most locking nuts do 2 strings at a time? Any chance of a close-up on your nut? ( lol )

Looks great, though. Congrats on a job well done!

Greg

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Erikbojerik, you're welcome. It's a truly innovative and fascinating guitar.

It sounds like very little you can do with the fine-tuners. But if it is possible to get quite close with the pliers, - as your reply implies - it's good enough for me.

Good to hear that you still use the guitar - and that the tuner system has stood the test of time.

Btw, I read with great interest about the earlier tuner system on the travel guitar with strings through the top and tuners on the back. Do you think it would work if using some graphite or teflon saddles (e.g. Graphtec) plus a shallower angle of bend over the bridge? Not that I've tried it, but I'd believe that it would reduce the tension while still allowing sufficient downwards pressure on the bridge.

Greg, I've tried to find locking nuts with individual bolts for each string. Seems that they are hard to find, though i did see a Washburn Wonderbar locking nut on ebay (can't find it now, but I did save the picture). Perhaps we'll have to make them ourselves.

washburnwonderbarlockingnut.jpg

I assume it's the same one as erikbojerik uses.

It sounds interesting with a surrogate headstock, but I can't really picture what you have in mind. Would it be something like the Planet Waves string winder/cutter/stretcher/tuner? (which - to my disappointment when I found out - is only a winder when put on top of an existing tuner).

If it relies on one or two traditional tuners, won't it be cumbersome to have to remove the strings from the tuner peg each time - if a simple pair of pliers can give you sufficient precision?

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Ding! We have a winner! Tell him what he's won Bob....

That Washburn Wonderbar string clamp is exactly what I used. I wish they were easier to find.

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