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pan_kara

Traq Guitars 2015: a crazy ex-strat

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pan_kara    151

I tried to wait with starting another batch of builds until the previous ones were all done, but this is taking too long I CAN'T RESIST. Besides, Etna is really almost done, just waiting for a break in the rain so that I can clearcoat the body. So I have already glued up a bunch of laminate necks and did scarf joints on most of them, plus a few body blank glue-ups. But the project I want to share here is this:

TRQ_1037.thumb.jpg.026ac79c3d7ee386c396ddf504293e5e.jpg

its the remains of a strat body that used to be black. My youngest brother bought it for almost nothing some time ago, and I have been swapping out parts of that guitar since then. Right now the only part left from the original is the neck and I'm building a new one right now. The body originally had a very quick&dirty conversion to hardtail and black spray job, and after I replaced it with a new one I started removing both the paint and the wood glued in the trem cavity and in the end decided that the whole center section was in such a bad state (falling apart) that I basically just cut it out.

TRQ_1038.jpg

revealing a table-top-like laminate construction of the body.

Most of the paint went off after heatgun treatment, the rest will probably be sanded off or I'll spray primer over it, I'm not sure yet.

Meanwhile I had some ovangkol cut-offs from a neck-thru section of a guitar that will someday become "The Angry Druid" (a 2.0 version of "

"). The size of these is enough for them to fill in the empyt space in the center of the strat body, making basically a "half neck-thru" construction.

 

Since this is a scrap build and I'll be keeping the guitar for myself I decided to put all of the crazy ideas I had or wanted to try out into this build. It will retain the strat body outline, but apart from that it will be completely messed up.

At the moment here are some of the features planned:

  • 7-string
  • multiscale (I already got the ABM single bridges for it)
  • 3x single coils wired like Brian May's Red Special (in series with phase switching options)
  • swirl paint job on the body

its gonna be fun.

(for now I need to work out the non-perpendicular scarf joint and its messing with my brain)

TRQ_1039.jpg

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pan_kara    151

Thanks psikoT, that's an interesting build in itself I have to say. About the scarf, here I'm actually in a similar position to that guy, I'll be gluing on a random piece of wood as the headstock. I forgot that when writing my post, the problem that I have is with another neck - I'm trying to build a multiscale bass in parallel and there I'm trying to do the scarf the usual way: cut neck blank - invert one piece - glue back on. Of course the cut surface is no longer parallel to the blank surface after flipping over, and I have to work out whether I have enough wood in the blank to accommodate the headstock dimensions (length mainly). We'll see.

@Scott thanks, I'm not sure there's a lot on Leo there even now, but it will be funny if I manage to basically keep almost ONLY the basic outline

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pan_kara    151

All right, time flies, but it's about time to come back :)

I think I'm back to building with enough regularity now that it makes sense to start posting in my build thread again. So here's some progress report on this guitar. I'm currently running about four builds in parallel.

So first I had to gather together most of the wood to form the neck section. So say hello:

TRQ_5187.thumb.jpg.6a05e4c9aab8bc8ab8076c5665c50a0d.jpg

The stat remains in the top right corner we already know. The ovangkol neck section also. The piece of wood right between them (sort of) is an ovangkol piece that also made a brief appearance in my first post (actually its two pieces glued together...) but not it has 2 or 3 mm of walnut glued over the top. When this goes at the back of the neck section it will get the thickness to the thickness of the body so that it will fit in ok.

On the left we have a small purpleheart plate and some flame maple veneer - these will form some accent lines in the scarf joint and move the headstock away a bit (which I need to do).

Speaking of the scarf - as you can see I managed to cut it, but the piece of neck wood that remained is too small for the headstock so I'll have to bring in this piece of merbau:

TRQ_5168.thumb.jpg.fbe3477dab17dfda82b3cf524ef1a5ea.jpg

It started its life as a floor tile, then got thicknessed to become a fingerboard, but finally I decided that it's going to become the headstock for this guitar. I cut it in half and glued the halves together to have the needed thickness and that's what you see at the top of the previous photo.

Gluing the scarf joint was an adventure in itself as the wood of course wanted to slide in every possible direction and none of the methods I used in the past could be used here. I ended up constructing a weird contraption that basically prevented the headstock piece from sliding in any of the directions it wanted and this appears to have worked:

TRQ_5191.thumb.jpg.84ffee15a922e2319963284075d0b575.jpg

and the end result was this:

TRQ_5193.thumb.jpg.e04413b84697cca45e55d0c4b714e428.jpg

 

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pan_kara    151

well I wasn't THAT dead, but yea- I'm back. thanks :) 

anyway: after a few minutes on a belt sander and some sandpaper glued to a flat surface I got this:

TRQ_5194.thumb.jpg.22b1589dcd6565b720dd5bd8ed16e755.jpg

and pretty soon I realized that this will not accommodate a stretched 7-string strat headstock... so I'll have to glue on another extension .. so another merbau piece will have to hop in:

TRQ_5225.thumb.jpg.c01fc46484274585e399ab4141a40f47.jpg 

for whatever reason I decided to cut out and glue on an L-shaped piece, since I need both the length and the width extended. This should do the trick:

TRQ_5238.thumb.jpg.cdd1b56d30be8fc1dd174adae6285563.jpg

 

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pan_kara    151

Headstock sanded flat and rough-cut. This part is ok now.

TRQ_5240.thumb.jpg.c1d363579ce77915d908f0ce5200020e.jpg

So next is the fingerboard. I decided to go with another piece of merbau, this one actually has some figuring that should flow nicely with the fanned frets. I also did the truss rod channel as you can see in the pic.

TRQ_5271.thumb.jpg.7758120b7248fd6322e1412fab2010c6.jpg

And here's my hi-tech multiscale fret slotting jig:

TRQ_5537.thumb.jpg.e179d1e3a5ca9e62c865eaa88da73c69.jpg

Also, guest appearance in the back - hi-tech jig for squaring-up the sides of the neck section. I'll want to glue the "wings" on next, before I glue the fingerboard, so that I can work on the front and back surfaces of the guitar without the fingerboard getting in the way.

Which will require a bit of though actually, since I think I need to put a tiny neck angle into the whole construction as the fingerboard is going to be pretty thin and I risk having strings really low over the body. I'll have to think about how to do  this properly, but first I'll make the "neck pocket".

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pan_kara    151

Just a quick update, the fingerboard is slotted and roughly shaped (I'll radius it once it's on the neck)

TRQ_5554.thumb.jpg.007cd855ac2acd6e8e2bd68f30406902.jpg

The neck section "heel" has all three sides ready for gluing, after the weekend I'm planning to set up the usual neck pocket jig on the body and to glue them together.

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ScottR    1,356

It's cool the way your fanned fret slots pretty much stay 90 degrees to the grain in your fretboard.

SR

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pan_kara    151

That was the reason for picking this particular board :) it even looks better than I thought now that I've cut the slots.

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ScottR    1,356

Ha! If it were me it would just have been a happy accident. I wonder if that will contribute to the optical illusion of a twisted neck I always see when looking at pictures of multi-scales viewed from the headstock end.

SR

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pan_kara    151

I can still play on the "twisted neck" illusion with the fret dot layout .. still undecided on that.

The weekend brought the neck glue-up. First the neck "pocket" jig:

TRQ_5566.thumb.jpg.ec8263aceb44d33ebb1df34b5db29be2.jpg

Routed down as far as my bit would reach from the mdf templates:

TRQ_5567.thumb.jpg.f0c58d809adee80448b9e946d3a13341.jpg

Then flipped over and did the rest with a bottom-mounted bearing. Then cleaned up a few places, chiseled out the corners and voila - the mandatory tight-fit shot:

TRQ_5568.thumb.jpg.6d1d1340bb9c04090377bfb6ddd21261.jpg

And finally the glue up:

TRQ_5571.thumb.jpg.3c89027017b9bad8fa1c298545cf0435.jpg

 

..cue the "not enough clamps" comments :D

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ScottR    1,356

I am really looking forward to seeing the finished product from this build.

I keep seeing in my mind's eye the guy that drags a rusty pile of junk home from the auto graveyard and shows up later driving a shiny red Lamborghini.

SR

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pan_kara    151

well it aint gonna be Lambo. I messed up, just realized yesterday when I went to lay out pickup, bridge etc locations on the body 

Originally this guitar was supposed to be a 27"-24.75" multiscale 7 string. But at some stage I decided that I since I already have one 7 string that I use any time I need 7 strings, I don't need to build myself a second one, so to make this one different I'm going to make it a 7 string with high A instead of low B. So the scale needed to be shortened, but basically moving one fret down (taking the 1st fret at the new nut etc) would give me 25.5"-something multiscale so perfect for this application.

Well apparently the fretboard printout was done before the design change. So the frets were cut for the long scale version, and the scarf angle was also tweaked for that version... so now it all doesn't fit together... and I'm debating several options

1. I could just cut off fret zero from the fingerboard and move on, placing the nut on fret 1. Drawbacks: nut angle will not fit scarf angle + I already trimmed the bridge end of the fingerboard so I'd have only 21 frets. I wanted 22. Its stupid: adding a whole new string only to extend the guitars fretted note reach by two semitones to an F# (above the E of 24 fret guitars). 

2. I could redo the fingerboard. I can make it such that the nut angle will be the current one, so that problem solved. I can have as many frets as I want (so that problem solved). Drawback: I grew to like the board that I used, with its funny grain lines that Scott commented on. What would I use it for? A future 27-24.75 7-string? Maybe ... (but 22 frets)

3. Go back to original scale length etc - nope, the bridge will shift too far back (and I decided on the high A already)

4. Go with 1. but somehow splice some wood at the end of the fingerboard to get the last fret back .. (I even have the piece that I cut off, I cut all 24 frets initially, but of course it won't fit back on anymore)

 

As I type this I'm gravitating towards 2 ... I did have a 7 string for sale planned for some time in the future, I could maybe re-use the fingerboard then.

:mellow:

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curtisa    465

That's a right kick in the proverbials.

 

1 hour ago, pan_kara said:

3. Go back to original scale length etc - nope, the bridge will shift too far back (and I decided on the high A already)

How far back is too far back? What kind of bridge were you going to use?

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pan_kara    151

I have the ABM single bridges for this one. By design the bridge is more or less where it would be on a normal strat. If I change the scale back from 25,5 to 27 (and the nut doesn't move) the bridge goes back by ~4cm (1.5 inch). That's maybe not completely terrible, but on the other hand the cutaway only reaches fret 17 or something like that (I'm not at home to take a picture at the moment) so without a modification to the body shape the upper positions are basically unplayable.

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curtisa    465

I'd mock it up first before writing it off completely. Given that you're trying to shoehorn a multiscale seven string neck into a Strat body you might find that playability without modifying the cutaways could be challenging anyway.

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pan_kara    151

Well here's a plan of how it's supposed to turn out

strat_thru_design.png

and here's a pic of the guitar with the fretboard as it is cut, so the long scale version. The drawings one the body match the design = the short scale version:

TRQ_5573.thumb.jpg.4691197c90c3d724cb55d8c738dabed2.jpg

Behind the guitar are two fingerboard blanks that I'm considering if I decide to make a new fingerboard - ovangkol (so matching the neck wood)  and B&W ebony (contrasting the neck wood and also with a grain pattern following the frets .. somewhat). I was thinking I could use maple but I don't have any, would need to buy. 

I think I'll turn my attention to the body for the moment while I think about this.

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curtisa    465

OK, I see what you mean now. I'm inclined to agree with your initial assessment - go with option 2 and save the existing fretboard for a rainy day..

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pan_kara    151

Yea, I think I'm gonna do exactly that. Haven't decided on the new fretboard yet plus I had to finally do some overdue jig work - my router planing jig was something I wasn't getting along with since the beginning so that was up for an upgrade, I got a bunch of plexi sheets with the intention of making templates and jigs with those. Basically I think I'm going to slowly transition to the use of guide bushings (in combination with spiral bits) with the router instead of bearing-guided cutters. At least for things like cutting out bodies. I don't have a bandsaw and currently only have a 8mm/1/4" router so it is a bit of a pain.

While I was at it I came up with this very simple arrangement for cutting straight lines with the router. I always did this in the past by setting up a fence and then in one way or another tried to figure out where exactly to position the fence to have the line cut in the exact location I wanted. For things like cutting fingerboard taper I'd usually cut 1mm overside on each side and then sand it down to size. (I did also use a shooting board and a plane for that in the past).

I figured with a guide bushing and a piece of plexi I can set up something that will let me do this very easily and with good precision. So here it is, don't laugh, this is probably the very first thing described in any book on routing with guide bushings, but whatever - I'm going to share this here, maybe somebody will profit.

Start with a relatively long piece of plexi, about 8-10mm thick and set up a straight fence. It could be mdf I guess, though I think for this particular application plexi will work better.

TRQ_5577_zpsqs1fhlix.thumb.JPG.b6e609c48f3c7d4ce4a1f59e42d032ed.JPG

I put a 10mm straight bit in the router and run along the face, cutting a ledge. The width of the ledge is somewhere around 6-8mm and the depth matches the depth of the guide bushing when attached to the router base, like this:

TRQ_5580_zpsyr1g48hm.thumb.JPG.0c5bb03a45663bcbd710b1c268a76b82.JPG

So now I switch over the router to the base with the bushing and install the cutter that I want to be using with this jig - in my case a straight 6mm cutter (to be eventually replaced with 8mm spiral). I take the fence off and use the bushing to guide the router along the ledge that I just created, with the 6mm cutter trimming off the edge of the plexi below the ledge:

TRQ_5581_zpsgn7ntre2.thumb.JPG.1823879874d4e72fa54e9ae855877502.JPG

And this is pretty much it. (modulo some cleanup and maybe getting the surfaces a bit more smooth with sandpaper).

From now on any time I run with this bushing and this cutter, the bit will cut exactly at the edge that I've just created. So any time I need to cut at a straight line in a well defined location, I just need to position the prespex such that the edge is precisely where I want the cut to be and then run the router along in however many depth passes I feel like doing. Bonus: If I drew a line where the cut is supposed to be I can see it through the plexi since it's transparent.

Really, the only way I see that I could make this more fool-proof would be to have this not at the edge of the plexi sheet but inside, so that the router cannot rock forward towards the edge. 

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pan_kara    151

Anyway, use case - I used this to trim to fingerboards yesterday evening. The trick here is to secure everything down so I used the dogs in the table to lock down the fingerboard (putting another one below so that I don't route into the table surface)

TRQ_5703_zpstg9o0ikt.thumb.JPG.a8c4831f1137fce0cf59bb12260c64da.JPG

and then clamped down the prespex from both ends, fine-tuning the position of the edge of the cut:

TRQ_5704_zpshf4eqonk.thumb.JPG.173624e355c4b0d372b9bb32b6c11bce.JPG

then its just a few quick passes (maybe I could do one with a spiral bit, but I prefer to do several to avoid tearout), repear for the other side and done

TRQ_5705_zpsgaw7tsn6.thumb.JPG.92f85e8ba323d1884621cf5e1bc8dcbf.JPG

result:

TRQ_5706_zpsbk9bw1jh.thumb.JPG.18c20cf03dc33a00614c683ced73c9bf.JPG

 

There, maybe its stupidly simple, but works great. 

The middle of the same prespex sheet will have a channel for routing for truss rods, also with a guide bushing - I think I saw that done by @KnightroExpress and that triggered the idea.

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pan_kara    151

Some incremental progress on this build over the weekend. I'm finally getting along with the planing jig and flattened the front of the guitar:

TRQ_5721.thumb.jpg.b71153da3d7b11a00e553e2396efa34c.jpg

I'm leaving the section where the fingerboard will go untouched for now, when the fingerboard is in place I'll flatten the remaining bit. Routing down throught the sealer layers exposes more of what the body was made of - apparently it was pine blocks covered from the top and bottom with plywood. I'm slowly starting to eat into the plywood now.

Here's a shot of the back after planing:

TRQ_5723.thumb.jpg.082b7992fc1ceaef030944ebc2fd1aca.jpg

and the body clamp-down mechanism - a lmi neck clamp run through one of the dog holes in the table:

TRQ_5722.thumb.jpg.c65d627b0937443bf52286bbb282b258.jpg

 

In parallel with this build I have two other guitars going and a bass.. and mistakes are not exclusive to this build. I've been binding two fingerboards recently, before gluing them to their necks, and .. what's wrong with this one? :blush

5a158c1663bbc_TRQ_5731_zpssuftnwcv(1).thumb.JPG.3e0d882c42ab1a414430cc5c8e4da8b9.JPG

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Mr Natural    238
On 2/7/2017 at 5:27 AM, pan_kara said:

 and .. what's wrong with this one? :blush

TRQ_5725_zpsqxqliiqs.jpg

side dot markers out of place? I think that is what I see on that white binding. towards the nut end

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curtisa    465
On 2/7/2017 at 9:27 PM, pan_kara said:

and .. what's wrong with this one?

That's easy. There's a guitar missing.

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