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komodo

Upcoming build - Red Specially perhaps?

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I've got a neck through build started with truss channel cut, carbon bars epoxied in, headstock and body angle shaped. It was to be a full sized version of this. When I did that one, my goal was a LP / Strat / Tele. The full-sized version was going to be ALL black, with some custom hot P90's I had made for it and a Hipshot Baby Grand bridge. It's rough name was the blackbird, and I had a 12th fret inlay planned. 

So, as I like to frequently change my mind, and exacerbated by a book my wife and kids got me for my birthday "The Red Special" by Brian May, plus my love for Queen . . . . . has me rethinking a little. This design has already been tweaked some, mostly curve refining to something that looks a little like our own psikoT's black guitar. But, since I have actually cut anything and have the center neck-through, it's a wide open game at this point. 
I've also talked with Adeson (Fenton Weil) pickups, who make the original and most authentic Brian May trisonic pickup available and may be able to get some. Hmmmm.

I'm considering redesigning the pickguard for the Trisonics, tweaking the body or totally redesigning it, building it as a chambered or semi-hollow, and possibly using a tremolo of some kind. I'm not sure if I want to give up the Baby Grand, not sure what tremolo I would use, and haven't really considered a completely different shape. Instead of all black, I like the idea of trying to hit the Red Special color, and general overall look. The body is made of white limba (korina) and I'm not sure how well that dyes, I'll do tests on that soon. 

I'm thinking out loud here, and welcome any and all thoughts and suggestions. Especially alternate tremolos (instead of Floyd, standard Fender or Kahler) that could be used with a roller bridge. 

EDIT: Ooh I forgot about the Stetsbar. 

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I've got a couple of half-finished Red Specials in storage right now. I was going to obviate the tremolo on one and do a photo finish on the front such as the cover from News Of The World.

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I'm not one for images on the front of guitars, but that would be amazing. I was always captivated by that cover. Super cool that you are building RSs, that was the thing that got be building in the first place (same for many I suppose). My goal here is to have the RS engine inside my previous design, but I've been messing with the design a lot to maybe capture some more RS elements. I considered no tremolo, but it's so critical to the Queen repitoire, it just seems like it should be there - but I don't want a typical blasphemous Strat bridge. That Stetsbar is kinda old skool looking, like a cross between a Bigsby and something you made in shop class. It somehow seem kind of apropos for a RS inspired guitar.

The interesting thing about BMay's trem is that you don't see it! Coupled with it's effective design, and simplicity, It's hard not to consider.

Fav Queen album? Mine is without a doubt Queen II.

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I wish I did, Chris! I could easily produce one given access to a mill and a lathe, however I don't. The knowledge is willing but the machinery is not able, etc.

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After reviewing most every vibrato bridge option, and considering my original intention, I may try to build something like this. But, not a replica by any means, just the core action of it. By everyone's accounts, it works better than any other vibrato unit. It's sheer genius in simplicity and effectiveness.

Using the Wilkinson roller bridge as a start, I'll fabricate the tail rocker - retaining the spring and bolt adjustment using valve springs as the original. With that and the Adeson / Burns Trisonics, the basic engine of the Red Special is preserved, but from there we go off road. 

I've got a design on paper that has me fired up, but I'm still to close to it to decide if it's build worthy. I'm pulling in subtle and not so subtle design elements, curves etc from several other guitars trying to create something that is it's own beast but has a RS/Queen spirit.

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One of the many RS copyists whose work I've archived over the years. It helps determine a "mental mean" as to what is correct, what works and what simply was pulled out of people's arses. That system is pretty spot on.

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You should see the arguments and pissing matches between BM's tech and the people that make their own RSes. It's a moral minefield of egos and stupidity. Ironic in many ways since Brian and Harold invented this all in a way that is thoroughly inspirational for luthiers in general. An attic guitar built from scrap, ingenuity and simple needs-must, producing an iconic instrument that still plays today....45 years later.

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Exactly! So inspiring. 

I have just a few minutes ago purchased two sets of valve springs. One was from a Honda CB350 (which I used to have!) and the other from a Yamaha TT600. I wish they were older Brit bikes, but these matched the rough dimensions, and were cheap compared to Norton Commando springs. I've also discovered something horrifying. My design I've worked on started with the full-sized version of that mini guitar above. From there, I started tweaking curves, I ripped the top one and back upper bout from Oni guitars, the bottom horn is straight from the Red Special, the upper horn Is a lengthened version of that triangular horn, and the overall body "vibe" has some Rickenbacker and Teisco type elements to it. The horrifying part is that when I stepped back and looked at it, it was very close to Chris's guitar that he won the GOTM with this last year. The whole design was a complete progression to the end so I know it wasn't a subconscious relationship, but it's really startling. I'm not a builder for money/business so I may build it for myself if I still like it after I live with it for a while. It's pretty different from anything I've done before.

I've got a second that I like pretty well that is similar, but has a blatant use of the top of a Rick 4001 scaled for a 6 string. I'm going to go ahead and drop them in here, I'm curious as to what you guys thing, especially Chris! I've got lots of weird lines and stuff in there, as reference lines of places I could do dish cuts, shaping, possible pick guard shapes, what a Kahler would look like, etc. I like the idea of the Teisco very steep shaping on the edges, The centered edge/bumper like binding,  as well as the Rick rear downward "flare cut", and the Rick tiered pick guards. All things that could add to a total "mood".
 

@Prostheta one thing you may find interesting, is that I've never been fond of the RS tremolo arm and the way it is attached. If I was doing a replica, it would be the same. But since this is a departure, my plan is to build the rocker block the same way but I'm going to use the arm from an SG/Firebird tremolo. I used to think they were god awful ugly, but it seems so right for this. Because of the similar attachment, I should be able to screw it directly to the block but I'll do it without the large nut popping up.  

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I love the third design....very heavy on the pickguard but has a lot of style and visual balance to it. The fourth's rear bout looks maybe a little light where the forearm sits, or perhaps too heavy on the control side?

The third one has me; it's more or less a singlecut and has some funkiness that reminds me of @verhoevenc's RayGun designs. Very very cool. Makes the headstock look somewhat conservative though!

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Thanks. Yeah, the third is the one I was referencing earlier and saying it was very close to Chris's. The pick guard area is really a few options all piled on each other in Illustrator. Only one of those would be used, or two of I did some kind of tiered thing like a Rickenbacker. I just wanted to live with it for awhile and work on building the tremolo and trying to get the Trisonic pickups. 

OR - I may skip this entirely and work on the 8-string multi-scale Cthulhu. Taking it slow at this point!

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Some movement . . . .

I'm getting to the point where I may put the 8-string Cthulhu in hibernation (again) and pick up steam on this one. The main reason is that I've got my motorcycle valve springs for the tremolo, and most importantly I have FINALLY secured a set of Trisonics. These aren't just any Trisonics, certainly not the of the shelf current Burns models or even the Brian May signatures. These are similar to the Adesons. but use original parts leftover from the Greg Fryer builds and are being built exactly to the Red Specials specs. To say I'm excited is an understatement, as I've been trying to source these for more than two years.

:hyper

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This replica builder had trouble getting Adesons (like I did) and contacted Greg Fryer to get some made. Fryer said no but he would sell a bunch of parts left over from the John, George, Paul builds. This was after the Red Specials 1998 restoration by Fryer. This set was built from those parts. 

How close do you have to get to be related? BM may have fondled these parts . . .they are built identically . . . there's mojo here. I can feel their hearts beating. :)

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4 hours ago, Prostheta said:

Is Adrian Turner/Adeson not making the pickups any more?

Don't know. I had contacted him about two years ago to inquire about pricing and options but then held off.  Not too long after their website was mostly taken down. All of the options and pricing and ordering info is gone. When I contacted him late last year he said they couldn't keep up and had suspended ordering for 5 weeks. but, that was a long time ago and it was never brought back. 

I know he was helping Burns with the design of the thinner Strat sized versions and probably other stuff as well. I'd pretty much given up until I serendipitously ran across what I have now. 

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Yes, Burns sell those pickups. I am sure that somehow production has been absorbed back in. I doubt that Adrian was making much money off them for the time and effort put in.

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It is my understanding that the way Burns makes them and the way Adeson makes them is different. Adeson makes them the original way with all the original materials, whereas the Burns are basically modern single coils.

 

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From what I remember, I believe that Adrian acquired the original (air coil?) winding machinery. I'd like to get myself a set of original style pickups before they are lost forever. I've always wanted a Red Special with a fixed bridge in black ("Black Queen" or "Black Special") with gold hardware and multi-ply binding, plus a trem-equipped white version with the Innuendo artwork on the front.

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