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H868

first-time guitar build and design

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H868    2

A very fine day to all you luthiers and enthusiasts of this awesome platform! :thumb:

As a total newcomer to guitar building I've already learned quite a lot just reading your posts and browsing through your pics (which, frankly, can also be a bit intimidating form time to time! :D) -- so thanks for that at this point!

Anyhow, as you might have guessed from the title I'm planing to build my very first electric guitar and I thought, well, why not designing it myself too! After heaving read and watched my way through almost all I could find on guitar building (online as well as offline) and since I have neither ever designed nor built a guitar I thought about keeping it as simple as possible. Roughly, thus, I had the following in mind:

  • headless (bridge and locking nut from technology for musicians)
  • 25" scale length
  • bolt on neck
  • glued-on fingerboard (22 frets)
  • depending on the outcome of this probably only 1 pickup

Now I've begun to draw a 1to1 design which I attached below (scaled down to a reasonable size I think).  I was thinking about making the truss rod access (not marked in the drawing yet) at the "peghead"-end of the neck. However, this is one of the points I'm least sure about at this stage. I mean, how to let the neck end in general and how to position the truss rod... Any suggestions? Another thing I'm a little confused about are the dimensions of the neck. As far as I could find out, the standard thickness at the body-neck transition is roughly 1", right? But what about the rest of the neck until the nut - is there some value I can orient myself by?

It would be great If someone could give me some advice here! Also, what do you think about the design in general? (are the proportions ok, etc?)

Of course, the drawing is not fully worked out yet, after all there are still some things undecided. But I think it shows my basic idea of the guitar. :)

cheers,

Lukas

 

H868_forum.jpg

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curtisa    465
8 hours ago, H868 said:

I was thinking about making the truss rod access (not marked in the drawing yet) at the "peghead"-end of the neck.

If you're going to use the T4M hardware for your build, be careful how you plan the truss rod access. The T4M nuts need to individually screwed down onto the "head" end of the neck, and on a six string guitar the mounting screws of the D and G string locking nuts will be very close to the truss rod access. The risk is that either the screws won't have enough material to hold on to, or the screws will punch into the sides of the truss rod access.

On a seven string headless I built using the T4M hardware I had to make up an adaptor plate to hold the nuts. The seven compounded the issue as the middle G nut was dead centre over the truss rod. The second time I used their hardware I made the truss rod access from the body end to avoid this problem:

20160619_114506.jpg20160619_131914.jpg

 

8 hours ago, H868 said:

I mean, how to let the neck end in general and how to position the truss rod

Most people position the truss rod so that the adjuster is pretty much directly under the nut, which usually places the end of the "bendy bit" about midway between the nut and the first fret. The rod doesn't need to run the full length of the neck. As there is so much mass where the neck meets the heel the truss rod would have no ability to bend that part of the neck anyway.

On necks where the adjuster is accessed at the body end, the rod can't be positioned anywhere else but right at the heel, so there's a short section of the neck at the nut end that doesn't get the support of the truss rod. However, in practice this isn't really an issue, as the unsupported section is only a couple of inches long.

 

8 hours ago, H868 said:

As far as I could find out, the standard thickness at the body-neck transition is roughly 1", right? But what about the rest of the neck until the nut - is there some value I can orient myself by?

Probably the simplest thing to do use use some dimensions from other guitars you're already familiar with. I spent a lot of time searching for "optimum" dimensions for the first neck I ever built, but in the end I realised that I already had necks on factory guitars in my collection that I could use as the basis for my first attempt. After I built a few more I got a feel as to what worked and what didn't and branched out from there with my own set of baseline dimensions.

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H868    2

Ah, thank you for the hint about the t4m-nut! I haven't considered that! :rolleyes:  And a nice adaptor plate indeed!

Still, couldn't you avoid this problem by putting the access cavity between the zero-fret and the locking nut? I haven't got any trussrod here at the moment (it is under way) but I imagine about 3/4"-1"of space between the zero fret (or the fretboard for that matter) and the nut. Or would the neck get too weak at that point?

Thanks also for your advice on neck dimensions. I think I might just stop by the local guitar store next week to take some measures :D

 

 

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curtisa    465
53 minutes ago, H868 said:

Still, couldn't you avoid this problem by putting the access cavity between the zero-fret and the locking nut? I haven't got any trussrod here at the moment (it is under way) but I imagine about 3/4"-1"of space between the zero fret (or the fretboard for that matter) and the nut. Or would the neck get too weak at that point?

Sure - you could construct the neck that way. Essentially that's just building a neck and cutting the rest of the headstock off after the truss rod access. I don't see why it would be any weaker than a normal neck.

It does mean that you'll have an unavoidable large gap between the zero fret and the string locks, and that you'll probably have to unstring the D and G any time you want to make a truss rod adjustment. Seems a bit at odds with the streamlined look and convenience of a headless guitar. But then again, if you had a guitar fitted with a Floyd Rose locking nut you'd have to unstring D and G to adjust the truss rod too.

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H868    2
19 minutes ago, curtisa said:

It does mean that you'll have an unavoidable large gap between the zero fret and the string locks, and that you'll probably have to unstring the D and G any time you want to make a truss rod adjustment. Seems a bit at odds with the streamlined look and convenience of a headless guitar. But then again, if you had a guitar fitted with a Floyd Rose locking nut you'd have to unstring D and G to adjust the truss rod too.

mhm, makes sense. As you said though its probably a minor issue, right? Also, wouldn't you have the same or an even bigger inconvenience if you put the access at the body end? i. e. either you'd have to remove the whole neck or have the gap between the fingerboard and the neck-pickup. Or is there another, more elegant way I don't know of?

Another matter... I'm kind of unsettled with the body shape. On the one hand I pretty much want to stay kind of traditional, on the other hand, you see so many headless guitars with rather small and unique bodies - for a reason I suppose. Are there any rules of thumb regarding the overall balance of a guitar? weight or size ratios between neck and body and such?

Btw.: your HM6 "Halcyon" is beautiful indeed!!

 

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curtisa    465
11 hours ago, H868 said:

Are there any rules of thumb regarding the overall balance of a guitar? weight or size ratios between neck and body and such?

Btw.: your HM6 "Halcyon" is beautiful indeed!!

Spoke wheel adjuster trussrods are one option that can look quite neat. You've already mentioned that you may only install one pickup, so the other option is to add a little pocket where the neck pickup would normally be to fit a regular allen key. Yamaha do this on some of their basses:

$_86.JPG

 

It's also easier to stretch the D and G strings apart at the body end to fit the allen wrench into the truss rod adjuster, than it is to stretch the strings apart behind the nut. This means it's possible to adjust the trussrod while still strung up. It's a little more fiddly than adjusting at the nut end of the neck, but a lot less fiddly than making up an adaptor plate to hold the T4M nuts, or having to remove the D/G strings to be able to fit the allen wrench in.

 

Quote

 

Are there any rules of thumb regarding the overall balance of a guitar? weight or size ratios between neck and body and such?

Btw.: your HM6 "Halcyon" is beautiful indeed!!

 

Thankyou.

As far as I'm aware there are no basic formulae for describing the optimum balance. I will say that without the headstock and the weight of the tuners, a headless guitar naturally balances differently than a regular guitar, Predicting what to change for better balancing based on body shape alone will be a black art, but my gut feel is that your body shape would probably be fine. Klein Guitars, for example, are designed primarily for balance and ergonomics, and they look far more weighty than your design.

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Norris    207

Welcome to the forum

The balance is affected to a certain extent by where you locate the strap buttons. From your design I assume you'll put the button on the back of the neck? Nice design by the way.

I don't know if a headless guitar is the simplest build you could start with, but you have some excellent examples on here to follow

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H868    2
On 5/22/2017 at 1:01 AM, curtisa said:

You've already mentioned that you may only install one pickup, so the other option is to add a little pocket where the neck pickup would normally be to fit a regular allen key. Yamaha do this on some of their basses:

This is it! I like that solution, thank you!  :thumb:

On 5/22/2017 at 1:17 PM, Norris said:

Welcome to the forum

The balance is affected to a certain extent by where you locate the strap buttons. From your design I assume you'll put the button on the back of the neck? Nice design by the way.

I don't know if a headless guitar is the simplest build you could start with, but you have some excellent examples on here to follow

Thanks for the welcome and the compliment Though in the meantime I have made a  slightly altered version, not sure yet which I prefer... :) I'll attach both versions below. What do you think?

Regarding the strap buttons, yes, I thought I put the front one at the back.

So what's news:

Yesterday I talked to a friend of mine who's working at a workshop at the institute for architecture here in Vienna. Originally, I just intended to ask him whether he could do me the favour and print my drawings 1to1... In the end he offered me to use their laser! :D Now, I think acrylic glass and such would be a bit over the top for a first build and also I don't want the project to become too expensive (after all I might just screw this up big time!).  But some preliminary 3mm plywood templates are a great start, don't you think!?

Anyhow, I prepared myself to convert the drawings into some usable files tonight. Pickup, Potis, trussrod etc just arrived today so I figured I can also check and recheck the exact measures. The only thing that's missing now is the t4m bridge and locking nut. And therefore I am a bit worried about my dimensions: In my drawing I assumed a string spread of 35 mm at the nut (42mm neck width) and 54 mm at the bridge. Since when I started I didn't know what hardware I'm going to use I just took some random average I found somewhere on the internet.

Now, the spec-sheet Alberto from t4m sent me says that the min. string spacing at the nut is 7mm, while at the bridge it's 10mm. It also says that the width of any single unit of the nut is 7mm. So my measures might just work as they are, right?

Curtisa, could you verify this and maybe tell me a bit more about your experience with this hardware?

 

Really nice that one gets so much help around here!!

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H868    2

... hm, how do you edit posts around here? Anyhow, here a the two final versions I will choose from. I think I like the one with the upwards-pointing horn a little better, but then again.... What do you think?

des1.jpg

des2.jpg

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eubie    53

The upwards pointing horn has a more traditional look, which I think is at odds with the overall non-traditional look of your guitar.  For my money, I'd go with the downward pointing horn.  Either way, I like it!

-- se

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H868    2
14 hours ago, eubie said:

The upwards pointing horn has a more traditional look, which I think is at odds with the overall non-traditional look of your guitar.

That's what I'm thinking too. I just find it rather hard generally to imagine how it's going to look "in real" and so I've probably tended to feel more on the secure side with the "classic" horn-shape.

1 hour ago, Norris said:

Personally I think the top one - a bit more BC Rich than Telecaster :D

:D nice!  I wasn't aware of the BC Rich models actually, really neat looking guitars!

Thanks for your reassurance! I'll stick to the original plans then. If everything works out I'll be able to start building next week! :hyper

Next steps will be lasering (or routing) the templates and wood selection. My grandfather used to keep a huge collection of planks in his workshop which we began to sort a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately I didn't get to really look out for suitable pieces, so that's still to be done - hopefully there's some clean wood I can use. Anyhow, as far as I could make out there's plenty of basswood, ash (european) and also some walnut and plum. (and tons of oak... but as I read it's not very recommendable; maybe as a top or for some part of the neck if I can't find something better?)

cheers,

Lukas

 

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Norris    207

If you have some plum that could be nice. I had some that was logged up for my wood burner and it split all over the place as it dried out. Lovely looking wood though

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