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Need Some Advice

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After wondering about how they make the holes for the pickups, I stumbled upon this forum and have considered making my own guitar. My grandfather was into wood working a lot (Built half my house.), which gives me every tool necessary from what I know to make one.

Well to get started I have a few questions, mostly about how to get the right sound out of it. (I'm pretty much new to guitars too, I've been playing for almost a year but I've only had one electric guitar.) But I usually play with a lot of distortion or overdrive, I want to make a guitar that will be good for more rock and metal as opposed to cleaner genres. (On a side note, I have been looking for a Dimebag Darrell [Pantera - Damage Plan] sound in particular. I know he used to take out the mid tones, run that through a silencer and then put the mid tones back on the amps and that he used Randall Warheads... But I'm gonna need a job to afford one of those cause I was considering just getting a Spider II halfstack for less then the cost of just a head.. :D)

From what I know I was thinking and EMG 81 and EMG 84 for the pickups and either an alder or mahogany body. I have heard that alder got the best tone out of that specific pickup combination. Also, is active pickups a good decision? All I know about them is that they take an extra battery, I have no clue otherwise what they change from passive pickups. Other then that I was thinking a matching wood type neck (Unless otherwise is better.) and a rosewood fretboard.

Another thing I was wondering about was the electronics. If possible I would like a knob for Bass, Middle, and Treble. From what I have seen on the stickies, I don't know if that would be easy or not.. :\ Also, can the electronics be bought pre-assembled and ready for use?

One other thing I was wondering about, could I use say aluminum or some other type of metal for the fret inlays? The reason I ask is I wanted a special design on the 12th fret that I don't know how I would order - or how much it would cost and my dad is a machinist that can easily make it out of metal (Maybe even other non metal materials, I will have to ask him what type of machines he has access to.). Also, how would I put that in the fretboard itself, for the dots all that is needed is to drill a hole but how would I make the slot for the custom inlay, possibly a metal cutout stencil and using a router to get the basis of it and fine carve it with some hand tool?

So far what I have is a mock-up I drew of what I want it to look like in the end...


(I want to have a floyd rose on it instead of a bridge, they are just hard to draw.. xP)

And I also have a TurboCAD 2D file of it that I got from the sticky, slightly modified. I figured I could split the blueprint into the head and the body, and then split those into 8 1/2" x 11" images to print out. Then I would glue (Or tape..) the images onto a piece of cardboard and cut out the shape, tremolo slots, pickup slots, and tribal marks (Cut out the tribal marks so when I am painting I can lay down a few black coats, then when its dry tape the cardboard cutout over the body and use it as a stencil.). Then from the cardboard I can mark the wood to cut with the bandsaw, joint the edges, and then route the edges and route out the pickup/tremolo/electronics slots. But that is all I know offhand, but I have found this nice tutorial. :D

So any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated, I like to plan ahead of time so I know my plan when the time comes to make this. B)

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Hello and welcome to the forum

My first thought is this: You have to get yourself some more basic knowledge! Get a book or two. The internet is fine for additional info but you will have to cover the basics first. I always recommend Melvyn Hiscocks book “Make your own electric guitar” It covers almost all of your questions except for the finishing questions. Melvyn is also a very nice (and funny) person that posts here from time to time. Another book that is often recommended is Martin Kochs book (don’t remember the name) but I don’t have it and don’t know if it is good or not.

Regarding using aluminium (aluminum for all you yankees) for inlays I use it all the time. It is easier to shape than Mother of Pearl. It can be polished to a smooth even surface too. Aluminium doesn’t corrode so it doesn’t have to be polished all the time like brass or similar. The “metal cutout stencil” is called a template and is one way to go. The other way is described in Hiscocks book.

Regarding using a Floyd Rose for your first guitar I would not recommend it. The trouble of installing one has kept me from doing one and I have been building guitars for 15 years.

Regarding the sound and quality of wood you will get a different answer from every person on this forum. The same goes for the passive/active pickup question. Do a search and you will find numerous threads about this. There are active tone circuits (EQs) available, but they all require a battery. An alternative to that, and something that might suit you, is a varitone. They cut out different amount of mid but works without a battery. BigD (a member of this Forum) sells that and so does Torres (Stevie Ray Vaughns guitar tech if I’m not mistaken).

Good luck

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Regarding using a Floyd Rose for your first guitar I would not recommend it. The trouble of installing one has kept me from doing one and I have been building guitars for 15 years.
I agree with you in theory. For newbie it's not an easy job, but for a newbie building a guitar is not an easy job. Reading your first thread I think it can be do-able for you. Why I come to this comclusion is, that you access to a lot of the necessary equipment. And your approach makes sense.

First the choice of wood. For guitar you're after (with EMG pup combo) Alder or Mahogany makes perfect sense. Read up on both woods do search on Alder Tonewood on this site and you will find tons of information about this wood. Tone is perceptive and it's like explaining the color red to a blind man. So read up, and make a pick.

The Alder body would be tid bit lighter, and maybe bit easier on your tools.

You have the drawing of the guitar you want to make. You need to copy that to MFD template and use that as routing template.

For neck wood: Maple would be a good choice. It's nice to work with, and can be finished super smooth.

Fretboard: order pre-radiussed and preslotted from LMII.com. Saves you sh*tload of headache.

For Floydrose.......you need to be good with Autocad and should be able to create good templates.

Look [url=http://www.floydrose.com/instructions.html]here

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I was a bit shocked when I read that the drilling for a floyd rose would be hard, on my current guitar, it didn't look like there was much to it.. \: But I think I can manage to do it if I pay extreme caution to accuracy. I have researched a variety of wood and I have pretty much decided on alder, mahogany would have too much of a warm tone for me and I will stick with the EMG 81-85 (Misstyped in the first post with 84.. :D). Thanks for the site with the fingerboards, I was planing on just ordering one of those before since that part seemed hard.. :\ I will consider buying that book, it sounds like a informative book from what I have read about it.

For the electronics, I figured it would need a battery which isn't much of a hassle for me. Only thing is, how long will the battery last? Could I rig up a 9v power jack so when I am practicing I can just plug it in instead of wasting my battery life (I play it 2-5 hours a day so I wouldn't want to run through a new battery every week.. \:D Other then that if you can give me some links for these electronics it would help. B)

Edited by TheGreatWhiteDope
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kahler trems are easier to install than a floyd...all you need is a small-ish rout 1 " deep.

regular duracell 9 volt batteries last me over a year in all of my emg equipped guitars,so forget about that problem...bass,mid,and treble?i just don't get this...your sound would change every time you bumped a control by accident....

mahogany is great with emg...so is alder

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Umm, I don't think I have ever bumped my tone or volume knob... it is not 4 controls but they are still pretty out of the way. Bass, Mid, and Treble may be a bit overkill, I just mostly care about mid control but I figured if I go for that, why not go for it all.. :D I just made sure and I do have every tool necessary to do this. I'll post back when I start this project (If that is okay, I know in some forums, thread bumping is discouraged, but I don't see a problem if it is meaningful.).

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