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Body Construction And Other Newbie Building Q's.


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Hiya'. Long time lurker here. I'm finally getting to build the guitar I've been planning for three years (Shop access hasn't been easy to come by). I've been given some advice by other builders that seems counterintuitive and I thought I'd run it by you seasoned builders to see what you think. I'm always open to good advice but sometimes it doesn't always make sense.

1. A three piece body/back is better than a two piece body/back, in regards to sustain, because the bridge and pickups are mounted on one solid piece verses the bridge straddling two separate laminated pieces.

2. A glue-in neck sustains better and has better resonance than a neck through because a neck through cancels out some of it's own string vibration due to it being one contiguous piece of wood.

3. Bubinga, rosewood and Pau Ferro are horrible tone woods for solid body electric necks and bodies because they are oily and not very resonant.

4. A hard maple top on any solid body guitar helps distribute all frequencies and string vibrations evenly so that the guitar resonates and sustains better...

5. More glue joints in a guitar = Less sustain and resonance.

Also, how do the Stetsbar, Khaller & Trem-King compare in the way of tuning stability, Sustain, resonance & tone sucking? I do palm mute a bit and would like to retain the ability to do so comfortably so I'm looking for a near surface mount, non floating, trem or equivalent. I would think the Khaller sucks the most sustain due to the roller guides. Any advice on good trems (Besides Floyd Rose)?

Any advice on which locking tuners are best. I'm considering five in particular: Steinberger locking tuners from stewmac, Gotoh 510-Delta series, Grover locking minis, Planet Waves or Sperzels. I've used the Grovers but have no experience with the others.

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I can't really comment with authority on any of those, being a newbie myself, but much of what I've read points to Rosewood being resonant, but muting the high end quite a bit in favour of a thick bottom end. Of course, when it comes to this sort of thing, I'm more or less reading as many opinions as I can and taking the most prevalent to be closest to truth.

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Honestly, I don't think any of those things will make such a difference that you'd ever notice them. For example, if you picked up the same exact guitar one with a 3 piece back and another with a 2, I'd bet money your buddy couldn't tell the difference at all. Same goes for those other things. Funny thing is he mentions less glue joints, yet prefer a 3 piece body, which entails an extra glue joint that is very big. There are so many other factors that will have such a larger impact on the sound, that worrying about stuff that is pointless. Besides, as I said, there is no way to properly judge these comparisons, it either theory or voodoo, neither is worth bothering with. Just get some wood that you like and build a guitar, seriously. If you worry about each details that in depth, you'll spend another 3 years deciding on what would sound good and even that would be based on someone's opinion, which would probably be bs. I dunno, just how see it. The only woods to avoid are those that are structurally weak, outside of that just pick which ones you like best. Best of luck to you my friend and I can't wait to see how your guitar turns out. J

Tuners: Not sure on all of them, but my preference of the ones I've tried is sperzels. Some people have some minor complaints, but I've noticed no problems and like them. Most of those should do the job though. J

Edited by jmrentis
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I think this advice is spot on, the combination of construction style, wood and electronics in a guitar tends to be like a relationship some combinations just work. I like the idea of not worrying about it, just select the woods that appeal to you and go for it. Really, if you use good pick ups and and plug into a honking amp, you can't go too far wrong, and if the planets are lined up just right or you do some tweaking you can hit the sweet spot. For the tuners its a matter of personal choice but Gotohs are rock solid and stay that way for a long time. Hope it all goes well for you.

Edited by Muzz
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First, how much sustain are you trying to get. I still don't get this quest for sustain. When is the last time that you heard anyone hold a note for 30 seconds. If you need to hold one that longer, install a sustainer or find a spot on stage to use the feedback. As for a 3 piece vs. 2 piece body, no one is going to now the difference in sound. A thru neck design will sound different but not necesarily better. It depends on the sound you want. A well constructed bolt on will sound better than a poorly designed or constructed neck thru. Rosewood works just fine for a fretboard or even a neck. It gives a warmer sound than maple but is fine. From what your friend says, it sounds like he is fine with ebony, and ebony is oily as well. Not to the same extent as rosewood, but it is oily. If rosewood was not a good choice, companies would have abandoned it years ago. More glue joints, are generally not good for your tone. A two piece body is just as good as a one piece, three pieces are very common and 5 piece body are plenty common as well. Beyond that I think you might start affecting tone, but then again maybe not. If you are making a butcher block body, your tone will suck, but 5 piece bodies are fine.

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Hello Squirrel,

I have to admit that I dont read too far into discussions on tone, sustain and resonace. I recall a thread here that was similar to this where the Veterans advised to just build, learn the process and the other aspects will come in time. I thought that was wise advise and followed it. -Vinny

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I'm looking for a near surface mount, non floating, trem or equivalent. I would think the Khaller sucks the most sustain due to the roller guides. Any advice on good trems (Besides Floyd Rose)?

Floyd Rose trems are floating trems. I hate them. Youll get more sustain from a fixed bridge over a trem anyway.

Any advice on which locking tuners are best. I'm considering five in particular: Steinberger locking tuners from stewmac, Gotoh 510-Delta series, Grover locking minis, Planet Waves or Sperzels. I've used the Grovers but have no experience with the others.

Sperzels are very cool. Stienberger ones are ok but the 40:1 ratio means you have to turn them a lot more to tune them up, which is fine for fine adjustments. Grovers have a locking tuner now that uses 2 holes in the tuning rod so you can lock the string in place with less turns.

Sperzels are awesome tho. I have no complaints

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PRS has a guitar with a Rosewood neck and fretboard.

http://prsguitars.com/513rosewood/index.html

The reviews I have read sound impressed. I would take that with a grain of salt except to note that SOMEBODY likes Rosewood as a tonewood. Not sure if it sounds any better/worse than Mahogany, Maple, Walnut, or any other tonewood you would use for a neck. The price might be prohibitive as Rosewood is kind of rare, but it should still sound fine in a guitar.

-Cheers

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I appreciate everyones responses. I agree with Jmrentis and Vinny in that I will continue regardless of the answers and won't let it slow me down. I just wanted to know so that I wasn't making any major mistakes in my design as I wasn't sure how much each factor would compound to the point of detriment; sounds like none of it will matter too much as long as construction quality is high.

For the time being my design is going to be a two piece black limba body with a book-matched birdseye maple top, two piece (laminated) black limba neck w/volute, Madagascar ebony fret board, carbon fiber reinforced neck/fretboard with an LMI double action truss rod, angled headstock. I'm considering the Steinberger tuners because they will allow for a direct/straight string-pull headstock (3x3) and give me more slack for high design verses having to design the headstock shape around the tuner knobs.

The final decisions I have to make are in regards to the bridge and pickups. Has anyone directly compared he Stesbar, Khaller & Trem-King? I don't like floating trems. Does one of these bridge designs hold a distinct advantage over the others? Admittedly, I like the retro look of the stetsbar...

Also, has anyone had experience with Qtuner pickups? Are they really as versatile as they seem? Can I use a Bill Lawrence Qfilter in conjunction with the Qtuner Super High Z's? I'm looking for versatility here. I hope to end up with something as versatile as the PRS 513. Anyone have advice on good pickups? Ultimately I'd love to have two humbuckers that split to give a true P90 sound but I'm not sure if that exists.

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