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Chambered Solid Body


thespen
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Hey guys, I'm looking to build a chambered solid body electric. I'm just wondering if theres any special routing pattern or anything that would give the best results. I've looked at warmoth style routing but I was thinking of doing the chambers a bit more open instead of small and packed together. Any info I could get on the topic would be appreciated.

Thanks!

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It really depends on what kind of tone you're looking for.

I'm doing a PRS style, chambered body out of jatoba for a jazz player. The chambers are mostly for weight saving. But chambers depth and pattern has a role with the tone. I usually route between 1/2" - 3/4" deep, on the 'largest' part of the guitar. I noticed that adding a chamber there add some clarity, and prevent 'muddiness' sometimes associated with thick mahogany bodies. You can see the route on the following picture. The small route on the small wing is for weight saving only. Or maybe it will make a difference?

It's hard to tell. Acoustics are not something that are easily 'tested'. You can route the same pattern, on the exact same body type and wood, and it may sound different. I also noticed over time, that a smaller control cavity, makes the lower wing vibrate a little bit less. The tap tone has less sustain. Harmonics on higher strings are harder to get.

This topic can be debated on and on.. I think there is no exact science when it comes to chambers routing patterns. You have to try it to really understand the subtle differences it can make. Personally, I won't start using precise electronic components to analyze the frequencies and bla bla bla. Some builders will do it, but I don't need to go that far to get a good sound from the instruments I build. Sometimes it doesn't sound right, or not exactly like I was wishing for, but this is trial and error.

Picture022.jpg

Edited by MescaBug
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I also noticed over time, that a smaller control cavity, makes the lower wing vibrate a little bit less. The tap tone has less sustain. Harmonics on higher strings are harder to get.

Are you saying that a smaller cavity will produce less sustain and harmonics? So infact it would be benificial to route a large cavity? I would have thought it would be the other way around...

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Not necessarily.. but that's what I noticed on 2 exact bodies. Wood was mahogany, but not from the same boards...

Tap on an empty glass, and then tap on a glass full of water, or sand or whatever. You'll notice that the empty glass will sustain far more longer than the full one. Sound frequencies are transmitted through the air. So more air = more vibration? Yes, but not necessarily.

Keep in mind that vibration doesn't always mean sustain. Some wood will absorb a lot of vibrations, and eat up the sustain. Even if you have tone chambers. A solid body can vibrate more than the one with chambers. Example;

- Imagine a guitar entirely made of ebony. It will probably sustain forever, even if it's not chambered because ebony is very hard and very good at transmitting vibrations.

- Tap on a glass-shaped piece of solid maple. You'll notice that the sustain will be similar to a glass half-full of sand. Because maple transmits more vibration than sand.

- Compare a solid body electric, with a hollow-body, and then an acoustic. The note on the acoustic will be louder, and sustain longer than the solid body.

It all depends on wood quality, chambers depth, shape and size. You have to know exactly what kind of tone you want. And to get that perfect tone, you'll need precise equipment to analyze different patterns. Not an easy and cheap task I would say.

Edited by MescaBug
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Hey guys, I'm looking to build a chambered solid body electric. I'm just wondering if theres any special routing pattern or anything that would give the best results. I've looked at warmoth style routing but I was thinking of doing the chambers a bit more open instead of small and packed together. Any info I could get on the topic would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Have a look at Scott French's tuning fork chambers -- I just love the idea of knowing that something like that is inside the guitar, even if you can't see it.

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This discussion raises an interesting thought for me. How does a chambered body on an electric guitar actually effect the signal induced in the magnets of the pickup by the vibration of the string?

The output signal on an electric guitar is a function of the movement of the string across/through the magnetic field. I can see how a rock solid body/neck combo would allow a string to vibrate longer (thus longer sustain).

So how does the introduction of chambers into the construction of the body effect how long the string vibrates? It would seem that the chambers would actually absorb some of the vibrations, thus reducing sustain.

Then, how do they chambers effect the mechanical vibration of the string other than having a dampening effect? There has to be some effect because i perceive a different tone between these two construction styles. I do understand there is a difference between tone and sustain, but I dont know how the chambers effect the former.

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Awesome link, Mick! But what if there's something wrong with the electronics eventually, and you don't have an "unsightly rear access control cavity cover" with which to get at said electronics?

Either way, I want to play one of his guitars so bad...

Another thought: On the topic of sustain, I wonder if using a piece of quartersawn wood for the body would aid sustain? My reasoning being that quartersawn necks tend to be much "snappier" and responsive than flatsawn pieces. Of course, getting a piece of quartersawn wood wide enough for a body might be the challenge in and of itself :D

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^ I was just thinking that, its a real nice idea to eliminate control cavities (though to be fair the covers arnt that much of an eye sore) the only thing I can thing of is that you would to poke the electronics through the pickup routes, and then use some kind of lever to position them into the hole in the top and then screw the washers and nuts and then knobs on.

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Awesome link, Mick! But what if there's something wrong with the electronics eventually, and you don't have an "unsightly rear access control cavity cover" with which to get at said electronics?

Either way, I want to play one of his guitars so bad...

Another thought: On the topic of sustain, I wonder if using a piece of quartersawn wood for the body would aid sustain? My reasoning being that quartersawn necks tend to be much "snappier" and responsive than flatsawn pieces. Of course, getting a piece of quartersawn wood wide enough for a body might be the challenge in and of itself :D

Well, if you've looked at his work, then you can see that if anyone could pull that off, he's the man. He's probably one of the most inspiring electric guitar builders out there. He's a member here, he pops up now and again, so you can ask him.

As for sustain...I've been using my Digitech Punkifier for that these days...turn the 'punk' on full and it sustains for days. :D

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How does a chambered body on an electric guitar actually effect the signal induced in the magnets of the pickup by the vibration of the string?

Then, how do they chambers effect the mechanical vibration of the string other than having a dampening effect? There has to be some effect because i perceive a different tone between these two construction styles. I do understand there is a difference between tone and sustain, but I dont know how the chambers effect the former.

Here's what I think....

The characteristics of the body are reflected into the strings when they vibrate. In other words, when a wave travels down the string and hits the bridge, the bridge and body determine how that wave is reflected back up the string. This must translate into favoring of certain frequency ranges.

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Wow, tons of great info thanks alot guys. I think I like the tuning fork idea so I may go with that, I'd definitely need a control cavity acess panel though as I love to experiment with wiring alot. I plan to have an f-hole on top as well so this may turn out to be more of an extremely thin semi-hollow instead of the chambered solid body I originally intended it to be :D . Either way I've gotten alot of good feedback that I will definitely use in the build I hope to start it soon just waiting on some wood I ordered. As for the ideas you guys brought up about tone and sustain being currently in school for a physics major I could definitely try to prove my electricity and magnetism courses are worth something by shedding some light on the subject of the pickups. As you can well guess having the magnetic field travel through materials will affect it and in most cases reduce it so right away I would say this means more wood would weaken the magnetic field and result in less sustain. Having a solid block of wood surrounding the pickup would then change the field, every nuance and change of density caused by the grain would impart a different change to the field. If the guitar had chambers the field would travel through them as it does normally through air outside the guitar and would be unaffected though it would still be changed as it has to pass through some wood along the way. I originally asked the quesiton because I have no idea what sounds best tone wise. I would reason that the large chambers would give it a very bright sound as the resonating effect of the wood is taken away and left only to the air. Anyhow I'll certainly post whatever I have when I'm finished which may not be for a while due to said physics major :D.

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Wow, tons of great info thanks alot guys. I think I like the tuning fork idea so I may go with that, I'd definitely need a control cavity acess panel though as I love to experiment with wiring alot. I plan to have an f-hole on top as well so this may turn out to be more of an extremely thin semi-hollow instead of the chambered solid body I originally intended it to be B) . Either way I've gotten alot of good feedback that I will definitely use in the build I hope to start it soon just waiting on some wood I ordered.

As for the ideas you guys brought up about tone and sustain being currently in school for a physics major I could definitely try to prove my electricity and magnetism courses are worth something by shedding some light on the subject of the pickups. As you can well guess having the magnetic field travel through materials will affect it and in most cases reduce it so right away I would say this means more wood would weaken the magnetic field and result in less sustain.

Having a solid block of wood surrounding the pickup would then change the field, every nuance and change of density caused by the grain would impart a different change to the field. If the guitar had chambers the field would travel through them as it does normally through air outside the guitar and would be unaffected though it would still be changed as it has to pass through some wood along the way.

I originally asked the quesiton because I have no idea what sounds best tone wise. I would reason that the large chambers would give it a very bright sound as the resonating effect of the wood is taken away and left only to the air. Anyhow I'll certainly post whatever I have when I'm finished which may not be for a while due to said physics major :D.

Now, if you could only learn to write in paragraphs.... :D

Anyway, there was a discussion in another thread about the effect of the swimming pool route on the stratocaster. Similar idea, I think.

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