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Seven-string 26-3/4" Scale Ibanez Sabre


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Build specs on this one are pretty simple. A longer scale seven with one bridge pickup configured over a five-way switch with multiple coil tap/phase/series/parallel configs. Bridge is a tune-o-matic and the strings are through-body strung via ferrules. Still a few options to go on this one, but none that will change the project hugely.

Okay, the body is an eBay special otherwise I had the difficult task of either duplicarving or hand making a Sabre. I managed to snag one in mahogany which is great. I originally went into the purchase on the basis that I was going to use it as a template for duplicarving a Sabre out of an alder back/maple topped blank. Since I don't have the workshop space and time to make this happen perfectly like I used to anymore, I decided against this. The bonus is that the body did come with the pickup selector switch surround and the angled front jack hole, saving me work achieving/acquiring these.

First order of the day was to get rid of the nuclear-strength black paintjob Ibanez welded to the body. A tin of Nitromors did this nicely, although the scraper I used did accidentally leave scratches in the underlying sealer coat that will need "to be made gone". The jack rout was a PITA to clean out, so I decided to do it as best as I can, and clean the rest out with sandpaper taped around a dowel later.

Decent quality Ibanez Sabres come with locking trems and two or three pickup routs, so the body needed the cavities infilling which I did with offcuts of mahogany using Brian's tutorial right here on PG. Three blocks of mahogany were used - one 20mm depth blocks covering the two front single pickup cavities, one 20mm depth block for the front trem rout, and one 25mm block for the rear spring and claw cavity. The top blocks were done first of all, as they intrude slightly into the rear cavity. Unlike Brian's tutorial, I chiselled out the corners of the routed cavities rather than rounding off the corners of the infill blocks. The infills were brought back into the body shape using a combination of block planing and 80 grit paper. The top and back of the body where these cavities sit is actually a flat plane, with the body curves subtly extending out beyond them.

The pickup will most likely be a DiMarzio D-Activator 7, with the switching circuit being found here. As long as I can source a good quality five-way switch shallow enough to fit in the cavity then we should have a winner :-D The original tone/volume pot mounting holes are being maintained.

The neck is scratch-made from wenge and Brazilian mahogany. The headstock is a piece of wenge scarfed at 12° onto mahogany with a central wenge lamination. The fingerboard is "indian" ebony which is pretty black with greyish streaks. This will be "ebonised" with Fiebings leather dye after inlaying and radiusing. The fingerboard will have a zero fret installed, and a guide nut. The headstock is gently radiused across it's face (12") meaning the nut will be very slightly curved across it's leading edge also. The truss rod cover will also be slightly curved....lots to think about! The tuner configuration is a simple 4 over 3, with the tuner bushings being recessed into the headstock face. The construction will be bolt-on, despite me wrangling with the possibility of making this a set neck as I will be opening out the existing six-string width neck pocket.

This takes me gracefully onto....inlay patterns!

I would like people's opinions on the following four proposed dot configs. The wave shape of the headstock tip is echoed in the end of the fingerboard, which does restrict the potential positioning of the 24th fret inlays.

1 - symmetrical aligned dots, doubled at 12th and 24th "upwards"

s7_1.jpg

2 - symmetrical aligned dots, doubled at 12th only "inline"

s7_2.jpg

3 - offset side dots, no dots at 24th

s7_3.jpg

4 - "wave" of dots to again echo the idea of waves and the curves of the Sabre

s7_4.jpg

I am also considering unashamedly using Perry's partial wave scalloping concept from 12th to 24th. This isn't a commercial model or one made for a client, so I don't see any issue other than "of course it wasn't my idea in the first place". :D

Hardware is going to be gold throughout, with the paintwork being gloss black. I may even utilise LMII's gold Evo fretwire to tie the schema together....

All comments and suggestions are most welcome.

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I've considered that as well, of all things! The big problem I foresee is the difference in height between the 110 and 74 gold Evo wires. I guess they could be levelled out along with the "drop off" from 12th or thereabouts, but it's a lot of height to dial out for someone of my experience.

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I've considered that as well, of all things! The big problem I foresee is the difference in height between the 110 and 74 gold Evo wires. I guess they could be levelled out along with the "drop off" from 12th or thereabouts, but it's a lot of height to dial out for someone of my experience.

Yeah you'd have some serious levelling to do - or you could try to build a step into the fretboard itself to avoid removing too much meat off the middle frets, then once its fretted knock it down when you do your scallop job.

I've never seen an 8-string TOM.

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I almost like number 4, for some reason the last few don't sit right for me, but its still a cool inlay layout. Number 2 would be really cool, but I'd be worried that once the frets were in that it would look too bunched or the wire would overlap the edges of the dots, if it didn't and there was plenty of room that would be a very cool choice.

Just for the heck of it I did a quick mockup of a similar design idea, I used this one on my own project, but with different inlays and for the 24th fret my inlays wouldn't have fit, so I did a "V" style block inlay that I cut myself and it actually looked pretty cool. Being that your fretboard has a curve I think the two dots at the side works well, especially with this layout. This one took me a long while to layout evenly, wasn't the easiest layout thats for sure. Best of luck on the project. J

prosthetasinlay.jpg

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I've never seen an 8-string TOM either. Probably on the basis that a 12"-14" radius is a bit too much for that style of bridge. 6-string TOMs are known for buckling in the centre over time from string tension, so a 7 or even an 8 would be more liable to do so. I'm possibly going to recess the bridge for this reason, although that would increase the break angle into the top ferrules of course....sounds like it's ruler time!

Yikes....putting a step onto a fingerboard....do-able and a sensible idea, but a scary proposition for me at the moment! I think i'll stay with the 110 wire across the board as it would be adding a logistically difficult step in what is essentially a simple project here. I'm nowhere near tooled up enough as I was in order to be confident in achieving this with the level of accuracy i'd want. That's definitely one to try in future however....hmmm....

I'm leaning towards designs #1 and #4 because #3 seems to have something missing without dots at 24th. #2 just seems incomplete without the 2nd dot at 24th due to the lack of width compared to 12th. I might stick with #4 and use the wave between 12th and 24th as an incorporation to the wave of the scalloping....that would tie both concepts together nicely....

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Cheers JM. Fretwire overlapping is a potential issue, yeah. Nice rational layout apart from my self-inflicted adventure at 24th and 12th, but I don't think it would tie in with the WvScllpng©. :D

Edited by Prostheta
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just pick two wires with similar heights ie. dunlop 6100 and 6105 are the same height but the 6105 is narrower

I'm limited in the size of wire that's available in "gold" unfortunately, Wez :-\

doh!! - should really read properly

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just pick two wires with similar heights ie. dunlop 6100 and 6105 are the same height but the 6105 is narrower

I'm limited in the size of wire that's available in "gold" unfortunately, Wez :-\

doh!! - should really read properly

Have a McSlap©.

Is no-one digging Mc4? I'm sure it ties in the shorts with the hat and all that. McSeuss.

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I like number 4, but I like all sorts of weird things. I say go with 4 :D

Actually, on my build I started and is just sitting there now, maybe I'll have to go with that one....mind if I steal it?

Edited by anderekel
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Your comments are really appreciated on this one. I think that I am going to settle for number 4 however, on the basis that the dots between 12th and 24th wouldn't work in conjunction with the waved upper fret scalloping. I think I can make the two concepts work together nicely, and there are plenty more guitars I can build in future to use the other designs of course :-D

Sabres are definitely a challenge, which is why I opted to go for a body conversion in the face of how difficult it would be for me personally with my reduced working space. I really really would love to do a 1/2" flame or burl maple capped sabre at some point though. My Prestige S is actually veneered with flame maple rather than being a solid cap :-\

Edited by Prostheta
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As I type, i'm binding the edges of the fingerboard in black to hide the fret ends (which you have in your hands, Rick!! heh) and have marked out the fingerboard for a variant on the #4 style:

s7_4.jpg

I've ditched the double dots and maintained the simple wave across the board, as the double dots clash with the wave scalloping between 12 and 24 otherwise.

I may get time to rethickness the headstock a little as i'm more likely than as not to pop a rosewood headcap on there.

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