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pan_kara

First Build - A Nylon String Superstrat

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After a some testing and refinish work I have finally gotten around to starting what is supposed to be a real build. The concept is largely driven by my current limitations - my workshop is my balcony, and the most advanced power tools I'll be using are: a dremel, a robosander (with a drill in a drill stand) and a jigsaw.

No router - but no pickup holes to do. I'll have to handle the neck pocket somehow, maybe I'll go find some place with a router for that. As this will be a nylon-string, I'm thinking I could do without a truss rod, doing a maple neck with a wenge center strip.

For now, I'm starting on the body. I got a really nice 1cm imbuia top for this guitar. Hand planed the edges to get a perfect fit:

312031_4062260607362_1924045732_n.jpg?dl=1

and glued it together:

531151_4062260767366_1675418350_n.jpg?dl=1

The body blank is 35mm thick mahogany:

426612_4066336309252_1840823071_n.jpg?dl=1

I'm also planning to add a layer of (flamed) maple veneer between the two when I'll be gluing them together, to form a nice accent line going around the body, separating the imbuia from the mahogany.

Made an MDF template and figured out which part of the top I wan to use. Then pre-drilled it in a few key places with a forstner bit and cut out the rough shape with the jigsaw (still have to do the cutaways, my drill didn;t reach in there before I did the cutting).

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Now I have to do the same to the mahogany, glue it up and then I will see if I can shape the body with the robosander. Judging by the time it took me to do the MDF template, this will be a LOT of sanding...

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Looks like this could be realy sweet lookin. But just a quick warning - Leaving your timbers by a radiater is a bad idea, especialy a body or neck blank during glue up.

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Looks like this could be realy sweet lookin. But just a quick warning - Leaving your timbers by a radiater is a bad idea, especialy a body or neck blank during glue up.

Thanks. They're off in the summer, but I will keep this in mind. I have a habit of placing them there, so I better change that now :)

In the meantime I took the off-cuts from the body pieces and clamped a little imbuia-maple-mahogany testpiece to see how it comes out and to try making the single volume knob that this guitar will have (for the piezo system).

375869_4124145034434_1101363733_n.jpg?dl=1

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Jigsawed out the body shape:

526295_4137850577064_1183508102_n.jpg?dl=1

before I glue the top on I need to finalize the control cavity layout - I will drill it out in this piece and then smooth the edges with a sanding drum. Then I can glue the top on.

I checked what happens when I hit the little piece I glued together with a hole saw and voila:

298864_4130522473866_1742424335_n.jpg?dl=1

pretty clean cylinders.

In an attempt to create a homemade lathe-like tool I jammed one of these in the hole saw and had a go with some sandpaper glued to a wood block while it was rotating (after a failed attempt to use a chisel, lol). Turned out pretty nice, though I still need to shape the underside, which will be the tricky part. Here it is, with some danish oil put on:

423960_4137749734543_2093897914_n.jpg?dl=1

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Okay..it seems nobody wants to say it so I guess I will ask...

i see knobs for pots,you say you aren't using a truss rod because of the nylon strings....anyone?Bueller?

You do realize that magnetic pickups won't work with nylon strings?

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Any idea on which piezo system your want use? Are you going active? Any reason for a single volume rather than volume and tone?

I know, a lot of questions... That knob looks good!

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we see very little in the way of nylon stringed instruments on this forum. It's cool to see such a non traditional setup. I'd like to see a fulcrum tremolo with Graphtech piezo saddles. A classical nylon with a bit of wiggly action would really tick off those classical guitar purists

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Sorry guys for some reason I didn't notice all the comments. So thanks a lot and let me make up:

Yes, this is going to be a piezo-only guitar. I already bought a set of graphtech saddles some time ago and tested out that the setup works reasonably with nylons before starting this. Tested because I got the normal electric saddles (the ones for wide string spacing - ended up having a hard time finding a bridge baseplate that fits) and the acoustiphonic preamp. Here is my test setup <_<

539866_3295152950150_690352350_n.jpg?dl=1

Its a cheap warped pine board that I tested making a scarf joint and a headstock-like-thing on.

I did at some point put all six strings on and even recorded some video prooving that it makes sound. At this point I wanted to leave it and start on the real thing but a friend of mine spotted it and said "dude, I need a silent classical guitar - can you sell me this?". And so I ended up making a fingerboard from a merbau floor tile, gluing on wings from some unidentified wood somebody threw away, topped it with some plywood and then wenge veneer, oiled the neck and brushed on some nitro on the body and ended up generating... THIS:

582070_3946562874991_547112188_n.jpg?dl=1

I learned a lot along the way I have to say.

So coming back to the piezo setup - as I'm trying to do this with minimal use of power tools I went with a fixed bridge - maybe a nylon-string with a tremolo will materialize some time down the road. B-)

the graphtech system has a single push-pull volume knob (push-pull engages some sort of tone switch) so I'm going with that - hence the single knob. And the knob itself - I like it too. I'm going to be making more of these.

I've been doing some work on shaping the body and the top and cut out the control cavity in the body block, I'll post an update with photos soon.

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Ok, update time.

After the body and top have been jigsawed out I wanted to get the contour closer to final before doing the final shaping with the robosander. This was going really slow with some cheapo sanding drums I had, but thankfully a friend at work let me use a stationary belt sander in his workshop so I was able to sand all the convex curves, and had just the concave ones left to do at home.

Before all that, I laid out the control cavity and cut it out by hand:

246754_4183368794991_2055497998_n.jpg?dl=1

Then I smoothed out the sides with a sanding drum. Maybe I'll make a template, maybe I'll just get the straight lines really straight with sadpaper on a flat block. Not sure yet. Here's what I have now:

3384_4183370795041_555523483_n.jpg?dl=1

and here's how the top is looking in a close-to-final shape:

262824_4183370115024_968191598_n.jpg?dl=1

the maple veneer is already glued to the underside of the imbuia top, so as soon as I finish the electronics cavity and rout out a channel for the piezo wires running from the bridge I can glue the body together.

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Great build! I love slightly left of centre ideas. This isn't too far from how I started building instruments actually.

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Well here's some more experimentation.

First I remembered that I need a channel to run the piezo wires from the bridge. The best thing that came to my mind was to rout one before the top goes on. The downside is that at this point the bridge position will be more or less fixed - so I will have to trust the measurements and plans I have been making. Especially since I have to drill the access holes in the top too.

I guess when I get to making and fitting the neck I will wait with gluing on the fingerboard until the neck-body joint is completely done. That will give me some minimal headroom at least with the scale length. Sideways I will have no freedom so I just have to watch the centerlines carefully :)

So back to the body. I have a routing bit for the dremel that matches the side of the channel, so I just clamped two pieces of wood on two sides to have the dremel base go back-and-forth in straight lines and routed the channel in 10 or so passes. Looks like I could use the same techique (and some extra patience) to do a truss-rod slot when it comes to buidling a neck that WILL have a truss rod.

400787_4212343279335_853739604_n.jpg?dl=1

Next up was drilling the holes thru the top. I realized that my drill stand will not allow the drill to reach the bridge position over the body, so I had to do this handheld. (and start wondering that to do when it comes to drilling the bridge screw holes, and more important - the string-thru body holes...)

The holes didnt end up perfectly even, but as they will be covered by the bridge, I figured this is not critical at this point. I angled them towards the cavity so that when I try to push the wire through the channel later on it naturally goes in the correct direction. A quick mock-up test showed that so far everything is aligned:

218004_4212344159357_1200034959_n.jpg?dl=1

The top is laying on the body piece, though it's not apparent from the photo...

The final thing now before glue-up was finalizing the control cavity shape. The method I came up with was to trace the shape I had to a piece of MDF, cut out that to have a template, and copy the exact shape from the body to the MDF with the robosander:

383545_4212345599393_295310337_n.jpg?dl=1

Then I used various tricks to fine tune the curves and make the straight lines straight on the template. Then I attached the template to the body again and copied the new shape to the mahogany. Phew! Done.

282170_4212347199433_442533839_n.jpg?dl=1

Next step - glue the body and start on the neck!

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For your hand drilling you might want to think of using a block of wood drilled in the correct locations. You could drill this out on the drill stand so your holes are perpendicular and then use it as a guide when drilling the body.

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thanks, I was thinking along similar lines. I have a bunch of off-cut pieces from the body so I figured I could probably use them to make drilling templates for the bridge, maybe for the tuner holes too - there drill clearance is not an issue, but precise positioning of the holes is. We'll see when I get there. Now I want to glue the top on and get to work on the neck. Neck building scares me :P

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Didn't get a whole lot done over the weekend... one thing I learned is that the jigsaw is not an appropriate tool for making long straight cuts. :P

Now I need to borrow a rotary saw.

So this pile of neck blank wood is patiently waiting (instead of spending time in clamps):

483110_4225659012220_1391961317_n.jpg?dl=1

I've been also playing around with a headstock design, here's a test shot:

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I made a bunch of templates, worked on some other projects and glued the body. Here's "before":

62035_4225658332203_1379001232_n.jpg?dl=1

and here's "during":

396488_4225658532208_126023471_n.jpg?dl=1

I'll post "after" when I clean up the sides.

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great idea to shield the cavities before gluing too. Notes taken! :) looking good man :)

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Thanks Pestvic! At least I got one thing right

:)

Shifting my attention towards the neck now. The body gets robosanded piece-by-piece, trying not to annoy the whole neighborhood with the piercing sound. I think I managed to screw up my drill a bit by pressing to hard on the sanding drum, so now its a bit loose.

:unsure: So I'm changing the technique to make sure the template following wheel has always something to rest on on the other side - ideally I want to make a MDF "table" with a hole fitting the thing for this purpose.

But back to the neck.

First - I looked through the off-cuts from the body top and found a really nice piece for the headstock faceplate:

266714_4263742204276_1021749519_o.jpg?dl=1

I borrowed a rotary saw and had a go at the neck blank pile.

The wenge-flamed maple-bubinga mock-up is what I plan to use for this guitar.

209641_4263743564310_1659123151_o.jpg?dl=1

The cuts are not terribly straight but close enough I think, as long as I can clean them up afterwards. For this I figured out that I'll be needing a shooting board, which will allow me to use my favorite tool - the hand plane. So I quickly put something together to see if this has a chance of working:

51926_4263744084323_179112131_o.jpg?dl=1

I'm also perfecting the knob-making process, managed to make another 3 almost-there attempts and now I have one more improvement lined up - I'll post the complete process once I'm confident I can get it to work fine.

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I finally finished sanding the body contour. Phew.

616036_4289000995730_1474487473_o.jpg?dl=1

after taking the template off and sanding the top a little I got this:

472119_4289024876327_1955618183_o.jpg?dl=1

This imbuia is looking amazing! Here its still a bit dull, but when wet all the details pops with color and contrast.

What I'm trying to figure out now is how to shape this body further. I could just round over the edges and leave the top flat - like in a classical guitar.. I could add a forearm contour and go through the top, like in the pics I found here: http://www.tdpri.com/forum/bad-dog-cafe/344456-forearm-contour-maple-top.html ... or I could lightly radius the top, not reaching the edge (the top is 1cm thick).

I did this to a sapele body I'm working on in parallel, mostly with a hand plane. Planing this imbuia burl might be a lot trickier, but could look pretty nice ..

Here's how the sapele body came out:

337109_4289898978179_2092083300_o.jpg?dl=1

opinions, anyone? I'm leaning towards the radiusing option... An additional benefit would be the slight departure from symmetry in the figuring as I dig deeper into the wood.

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I fully agree. A bit of drop-off at the rear end might be nice, however that makes it stray dangerously close to carved-but-not-carved? The first time I saw your Imbuia I immediately thought that it was Camphor burl! Especially that photo with the saddle where some of the grain looks very waxy in reflected light. I love Camphor burl and I really want to snag some for a bass, however Imbuia looks like it could be a contender also. Research time!

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