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Es-335 Style Semi-hollow: Best Option(s)


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Hey All,

I tried a search on ES-335's but did not have the best of luck. That being said, if there is a link that will answer all of my problems, please feel free to just give me the URL. Anyway . . .

I am planning my first builds, and there are ostensibly three or four guitars I would like to build. Namely, a solid body electric, a tone-chambered electric (solid body just chambered/routed for weight and sound), and a full-blown semi-hollow. My experience right now is non-existent. I am planning to buy and read Hiscock's book on electrics, but my impression is that will not help me with an acoustic-style which an honest-to-goodness ES335 clone is going to to be.

Anyway, my question is, what is my best bet for a novice/rookie-built set-neck ES-335 clone semi-hollow? A kit? Parts from http://acme-archtops.com/ ? Wait until I have done a few solid-body builds, read a few books on acoustic guitar building, and have all of the tools I will need before I even consider a semi-hollow body guitar?

Thanks in advance.

-Cheers

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Dave,

The best place to look for hollowbody construction is the Benedetto archtop book. It goes over everything you need to know about the basic construction of an archtop. Semihollows differ in that they usually have a center block of solid wood inside of them (like a 335). To do this just connect the neck and tailblock.

I made one of these last year and have some pictures to share:

Custom Semi-Hollowbody

And I have some progress pictures detailing the construction here:

Custom Semi-Hollowbody construction

I hope this helps,

~David

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Hey very nice job Myka. It looks awesome.

I made my 335 clone by cutting the body out of 1-3'4" Mahogany and then cutting out the inside leaving (25mm) 1" around the outside rim and a center block section. Then I shaped some profile blocks for front and back and glued them on.

The front and back are about 3.5mm thick Maple which I clamped into place with a clamping ring the same shape as the body. It took lots of clamps but turned out ok in the end but quite heavy. It has quite a warm tone not quite as bright as I thought it would be but I like it. I would remove more wood if I make another to lighten it down.

http://i54.photobucket.com/albums/g111/One.../OCT2006059.jpg

http://i54.photobucket.com/albums/g111/One.../OCT2006068.jpg

http://i54.photobucket.com/albums/g111/One...Image0001-1.jpg

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Hey very nice job Myka. It looks awesome.

I made my 335 clone by cutting the body out of 1-3'4" Mahogany and then cutting out the inside leaving (25mm) 1" around the outside rim and a center block section. Then I shaped some profile blocks for front and back and glued them on.

So how much harder than a solid-body, and harder than a traditional arch-top hollow-body, is that (if at all)?

-Cheers

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Nice work Acousticraft! I remember that guitar build thread. It looks great.

I made my 335 clone by cutting the body out of 1-3'4" Mahogany and then cutting out the inside leaving (25mm) 1" around the outside rim and a center block section. Then I shaped some profile blocks for front and back and glued them on.

So how much harder than a solid-body, and harder than a traditional arch-top hollow-body, is that (if at all)?

I can't say how much harder it is to do either method since both require different skill sets. I can say that there is less involved in routing out a solid piece of wood. It is no more difficult than making a template and routing for a control cavity. Take a look at this template to see how I do these in my Dragonfly guitars:

04.jpg

Or if you want a more 335 style build you can do it this way:

07.jpg

An archtop side assembly is built like an acoustic guitar and steam bending skills to make the sides. This approach will have you build this instead:

20.jpg

~David

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Hi Dave

Take a look at www.upnorthstrings.com. Ken makes laminated tops, backs and sides for a 335. As a book reference take a look at "Making a Laminated HollowBody Electric Guitar" by Jim English. Combined with the Benedetto book ( and maybe some questions here and on other lutherie forums) it will take you all the way through

Cheers

Michael

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Ok first post.

Only started looking into guitar building a few hours ago, so forgive me if I make any painfull errors. I dont want to make a 335 clone to begin with, im going to start with something easier. My question is, is the area underneath the wooden bit going across on the 335 hollow, or is the body split into two chambers?

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That piece is the center block and they are generally solid but I cant see any reason why they cant be hollow apart from where the pups, bridge and tail piece sit. On my next 335 build I will do that as a method of reducing weight as well as using some lighter Mahogany. The piece I used must of had lead in it as it was very heavy. It was an offcut I had had for years to.

Edited by Acousticraft
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Dave,

The best place to look for hollowbody construction is the Benedetto archtop book. It goes over everything you need to know about the basic construction of an archtop.

Thanks for the pics and book recommendation. The Benedetto book in on my short list of guitar-building books I will read to prepare for my first builds.

I realize the skill involved for making a solid-body electric are different than those involved in a semi-hollow, acoustic, or true archtop, but is it necessarily better to start with a solid body and move on to semi-hollows and archtops, or is a semi-hollow that is totally chambered out like a semi-hollow (ala. PRS Archtop) and capped just as easy? I am assuming a semi-hollow Lucille-style would be pretty close to acoustic/archtop design territory. Any recommendations on which one to try building first?

-Cheers

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I realize the skill involved for making a solid-body electric are different than those involved in a semi-hollow, acoustic, or true archtop, but is it necessarily better to start with a solid body and move on to semi-hollows and archtops, or is a semi-hollow that is totally chambered out like a semi-hollow (ala. PRS Archtop) and capped just as easy? I am assuming a semi-hollow Lucille-style would be pretty close to acoustic/archtop design territory. Any recommendations on which one to try building first?

Again none of these styles is easier than the other, they just have different skills necessary to building them. I found side bending one of the most natural processes when I first started building acoustics. So I would not deter you from starting there if that is what you want to build. You are correct that a semi-hollow 335 would be pretty close to an acoustic archtop. Not exact of course but for a beginning step towards building a hollowbody guitar you will learn much more and get closer to your goals if you start with a semi-hollow rather than a solid body.

Your first post suggests that you want to build something like a 335. So why not build one just like that? You can use a pre-laminated top or carve your own. If you plan it out carefully you will do just fine. I say go for it.

~David

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Your first post suggests that you want to build something like a 335. So why not build one just like that? You can use a pre-laminated top or carve your own. If you plan it out carefully you will do just fine. I say go for it.

~David

I think I might do just that. I ordered the Benedetto book.

If I DO decide to carve my own top, would I be best using Maple for the back and sides and Spruce for the top, with a Maple block for the middle, or are there other woods that would work better for an ES-335 application (Limba, Mahogany, Rosewood, Cedar, etc.)? Can I just order the wood from some place Gilmer and request a back & side acoustic set, cut to size, and just carve the Spruce wedges??

-Cheers

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Dave,

Great news! I think you will totally enjoy the experience of building one of these. The way most 335-style guitars are made is to use maple for the back and sides and either spruce or maple for the top. I would suggest using spruce since it produces such an amazing tone. Maple is nice but spruce has so much dynamic range, overtones, etc that I would choose that first. The center block is usually mahogany but you can use limba spruce, or cedar if you want. Something not too bright is what I go for.

So it sounds like you are going to do a carved top and a flat back? If so then yes you can get an acoustic back and sides set, spruce top set, and a center block (and a neck materials). If you are not worried about high figured woods Gilmer always has student grade materials. These are woods that are tonally and structurally excellent but are plainer in figure and grain patterning. I have made some excellent guitars out of this grade of wood and for a first project it will get you going without a lot of cash. Talk to Marc Culbertson and he will get you what you need. Just make sure you tell him that you are doing a flat back because 335s typically have a carved back (or pressed/laminated).

I would suggest that you do carve your own top. Spruce it is much easier to carve than maple and with patience and persistence you will be able to carve a nice top. Also the 335 design is pretty forgiving comnpared to a full hollowbody. You have the center block taking all of the stresses.

Let us know what you decide to build and what woods you get.

~David

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So it sounds like you are going to do a carved top and a flat back?

What is the difference tonally between a carved back and a flat back? If a carved back will sound better or be more comfortable, I might as well start with a carved front and back.

Thanks for the heads up on the student-grade wood. I just want it to sound really, really nice and warm. As long as it looks nice and understated, I do not need it to be a really high-figured top or back.

-Cheers

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Not exactly sure what the difference between a flat or carved back would be since I haven't built a flat backed guitar like this before, only a carved one. My guess is that since the back is attached to the center block the difference will be slight. A carved back does look great though. I think either would make a nice sounding guitar.

If you are going for a warm tone I suggest mahogany for the neck. The one I made was spruce top, maple back and sides, and mahogany neck and center block and it was very warm and resonant. I would make one like this again except maybe with a slightly smaller body. The 16" wide 335 is too big for me. The last one I made (routed body) was 14-3/8" wide at the lower bout. It was much more comfortable for me.

~David

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Not exactly sure what the difference between a flat or carved back would be since I haven't built a flat backed guitar like this before, only a carved one. My guess is that since the back is attached to the center block the difference will be slight. A carved back does look great though. I think either would make a nice sounding guitar.

If you are going for a warm tone I suggest mahogany for the neck. The one I made was spruce top, maple back and sides, and mahogany neck and center block and it was very warm and resonant. I would make one like this again except maybe with a slightly smaller body. The 16" wide 335 is too big for me. The last one I made (routed body) was 14-3/8" wide at the lower bout. It was much more comfortable for me.

~David

Thanks for the reply. Well, since I am going to be carving the front, I might as well do the back as well.

So, it looks like I am doing carved front and back, spruce top/back/sides, mahogany neck and center block. I will have to track down an ES-335 to play to see if I want to do the normal width or trim it down a bit. I think I should be fine with a 16" body; I think my acoustic and Agile Cool Cat Prestige only cut into my arm because they are so thick and the thinline ES-style should not do that. Still, I might as well make sure reality matches my theory in my head in this regard.

-Cheers

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Let us know what you decide to build and what woods you get.

~David

I talked to Marc at Gilmer Wood. Super nice guy to me, very helpful. I am going with an ES-335. After talking to me about what I wanted, he recommended Mahogany or Maple sides and back (I went with Mahogany for a warmer sound), Mahogany center block (quartersawn for a bassier, rounder sound), Mahogany neck, and Spruce top. He seemed very excited and enthused about getting me the wood with the best tone and tailored to my personal specs. That got me very eager to do this project and to really do a nice job on it. I should hear back from him about the wood this week or next. Dealing with Marc was a very pleasant experience.

Hopefully the Benedetto book comes this week so I can start reading in greater depth on the process. I need to read the book and I will ask Marc how long I should let the wood sit and acclimate to my environment before using it. That should give me a nice timeline for when I can safely start this project.

Thank you for the encouraging words and advice thus far!

-Cheers

Edited by Dave I
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Let us know what you decide to build and what woods you get.

~David

I talked to Marc at Gilmer Wood. Super nice guy to me, very helpful. I am going with an ES-335. After talking to me about what I wanted, he recommended Mahogany or Maple sides and back (I went with Mahogany for a warmer sound), Mahogany center block (quartersawn for a bassier, rounder sound), Mahogany neck, and Spruce top. He seemed very excited and enthused about getting me the wood with the best tone and tailored to my personal specs. That got me very eager to do this project and to really do a nice job on it. I should hear back from him about the wood this week or next. Dealing with Marc was a very pleasant experience.

Hopefully the Benedetto book comes this week so I can start reading in greater depth on the process. I need to read the book and I will ask Marc how long I should let the wood sit and acclimate to my environment before using it. That should give me a nice timeline for when I can safely start this project.

Thank you for the encouraging words and advice thus far!

-Cheers

Yes, do keep us posted on your progress. I for one am very interested in what you come up with. :D

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Dave,

That is awesome! An all mahogany 335 will make an excellent instrument. Mahogany is also very nice to carve and bend. Great choice for materials, abd I am glad you got to talk in depth with Marc. He is a very helpful guy and knowledgable too.

Let us know when you get the book and have any more questions.

~David

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HI Dave

Check out my website www.diquattroguitars.com and have a look at the hollow body i finished in March . If you have any Questions i will be happy to help you out.

Do you have any inside shots of the PRS-style hollowbody? That one is really nice looking. Just curious how the body is designed and what you hollowed out on it. Is it a semi-hollow or fully-hollow design? Nice job on it either way.

-Cheers

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HI Dave

Check out my website www.diquattroguitars.com and have a look at the hollow body i finished in March . If you have any Questions i will be happy to help you out.

Do you have any inside shots of the PRS-style hollowbody? That one is really nice looking. Just curious how the body is designed and what you hollowed out on it. Is it a semi-hollow or fully-hollow design? Nice job on it either way.

-Cheers

Hi Dave have a look at my site under currant projects and you will see pics of the inside of the guitar.

Also have a look at Edromanguitars.com and look at the section were they cut the top off a hollow body prs .You will see good photos there.

Edited by rdiquattro
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