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Making A Small Run Of Seven-string And Eight-string Guitars

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Members who have read or glanced at my eight-string build threads will know that i've pretty much settled on a working spec for my (derived) design. I have however, moved house and no longer have a workshop to build from, which kind of makes everything a little more difficult when wanting to make more!

In light of this, my idea was to spend the cold and wet months designing and building jigs to reproduce the work I did making my first two eight-strings, but in a more repeatable and controlled manner to reduce the random (read: human) error out of the whole process, and presumably increase the quality of output also. Most of the router/drilling/sanding jigs I build are cobbled together to meet a one-off need, and the ones I re-use aren't exactly bullet-proof either as I never envisaged making more than a few instrument using them anyway.

I suppose I would like to hear some good opinion talking me out of my 2008 plan, or at least some good realistic comment on the pros and cons of my idea other than the obvious ones.

The upshot of this is that I want to make a series of seven and eight string extended scale instruments which will compete as an alternative to the (pricewise, and in no other way) Ibanez RG2228. I don't perceive there to be much market for eight-strings anyway, so an amateur builder like myself would be silly to pitch price against an available quality instrument which is already on the market. All I can offer is an alternative which is more or less unique in design, spec and looks which can also perhaps appeal to guitarists outside of the metal eight-string market.

The rough spec I have initially set the mark at is as follows:


- Bolt-on construction

- 30" scale for eight-strings, 27.5" for seven-strings

- Evo FWG110 jumbo fretwire with zero fret and brass guiding nut

- 20" radius (considering 16")

- Five-piece laminated neck of flame maple outers, two wenge laminates and a central hard maple core.

- 13° headstock angle non-scarfed neck

- Four over four headstock with raked tuners and recessed bushings

- Choice of fingerboard. Mostly considering Macassar or African ebony which turn can be dyed instead of using Madagascan. Other woods under consideration are Madagascan and Indian rosewood. Side block inlays, simple "standard" dots or no inlays.

- Custom length 20" (18.5" for 27.5" scale) single LMII double-acting truss rod


- Modified JEM or Zeta styles

- Primarily mahogany or other woods as available

- One or two EMG-808 pickups

- String-through body Hipshot bridge

- Electrics as required (default: volume/tone/[toggle])

- Dual 9v battery box to run an 18v circuit

- Schaller Straploks

Will elucidate further in a short while. Typed all this and my wife wants to go buy wine. Will follow up later....

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Okay, so two bottles of red purchased later....

I have come to the conclusion that one-off builds - although fun and create a lot of devotion to the workpiece - are economically wasteful in terms of usage of materials, time and stress. Also, tooling up jigs for one-offs is just as uneconomical also. I figured that the best medium between these would be to rocket-scientist out the spec on a build and do several at once. Individual differences, such as inlays, binding etc. can still be done between stages, but routing twenty pickup cavities one after another is a much better usage of time (although boring, no pun intended) and changing workpieces between jigs is no big deal if planned correctly.

So that's it. I plan to make a significant maple and mahogany purchase this summer. I have plenty of wenge which i'll find time (and space) to resaw into laminates in the meantime. I'll be getting VERY antsy, not being able to build guitars (easily) for a few months, but i'm sure the bank balance will appreciate this, plus I can spend my time doing small jobs such as constructing tuner hole locating jigs, headstock shaping jigs and getting a bunch of 10mm Perspex templates laser cut.

In the meantime, I have much music to make!!

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Probably not. That said, i've designed (well, refining once I build them and test on pine or whatever) jigs which will do that if the process of building is changed. I could easily build a paddle headstock neck and matching body blank with neck pocket, pup cavities, bridge stuff etc. I'm over in the UK though, so it kind of makes it uneconomical. I'm not planning on doing anything that any motivated amateur builder couldn't do, except I have more motivation to do crazy things than most :-D

The problem with extended scale/range guitars is the balance issue (the Zeta's offset shape works nicely in that respect) and the higher fret access. It does mean a lot of guitar shapes are impractical and need designing out. If your guy has designs to work from the scales offered and has factored these issues in, then cool.

I guess it means, "let's see what the summer has to bring"! Send me a PM with more info or whatever. I'm not closed off to options, but I don't want to blow a reasonably straightforward plan into something overly complex and too far from the original intent.

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Legitimate concerns. The fact that you're in the UK may make it prohibitive for my friend to order a one-off... but we'll see about the production model(s). I figured I'd ask anyways... I'm not a big 8-string fan myself but I had someone ask me if it was possible to make one.

I'll probably show him Soulmate instead... but I'm very interested to see how your models come out!

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I'm not building anything groundbreaking TS, just a simple design with designed-in specs with a repeatable building process. I'm working on the figure of 10 instruments, but this depends on what kind of deal I might get on figured maple lumber and other materials. However many I build, I'll probably do around half as a "standard" spec for ease and simplicity of build, and the others with variations and "unique" additions like tops, binding etc.

I'm possibly going to ditch the added complication of a seven-string and 27.5" scale. It would introduce too many more working procedures and this undermines the point of why I want to do this I guess.

PS. Doug at Soulmate makes some awesome pieces. Totally different kind of target to where i'm aiming!

Edited by Prostheta
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Thanks Erik, apologies for confusing the issue with the “no workshop” thing. I do have space to makes guitars, but it will mean setting up tools in limited or less-than-convenient space as opposed to my previous workshop where each tool and work area were set up permanently. This is why I would like to set up once and repeat the work over several workpieces rather than for one job.

The price point will roughly be around the same point as the RG2228, but when you factor time in, that changes the ballpark hugely. My basic view on this is that the bulk of the work is repeatable and more economical on time, which I can handle gladly. The “standard” model will be a solid colour, same wiring setup, pickup configuration, tuner type etc. I can get a local custom painter I know to do the spray work over the bodies in a solid black with a final clear. If I get any requests for “custom” then the deposit paid will cover the expense of materials and specific work etc. I’m really not too bothered about profiting from this (apart from the experience profit) but having a couple of the finished items is good enough for me.

I figure that any options I may be requested to do as custom, such as inlay, woods and paint etc. can be covered by deposit and preferably be outsourced. Inlay work to HuntinDoug, paint work to the custom bike painter, etc. All the underlying work which normally takes a lot of time is common to all of the builds – body carving, neck build, sealing etc. I don’t want to offer a “total custom” option as this is the territory of one-off builds again. Small personalisation options are a better idea, and this is more than you get with the RG2228…!

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