Jump to content

Help Me Work Out Some Issues...

Recommended Posts

The thought I've been working through in my mind and on paper isn't anything that hasn't been done before. It just hasn't been done like this.

I want to have a one-piece micro-bodied guitar that can be placed into different body shells. The "body" would be just barely large enough to house the pups, bridge, and selector switch. The whole thing would be able to be bolted into different bodies. The hope is to have three units: one with 2 HB, one Strat, and one Tele.

Here are the basic plans as I drew them out.



As it stands now, I figure to have threaded inserts in the back of the units. The bodies would be bolted to the unit with these. Most likely, the back of the body would have either ferrules or some other sort of bushing. I've only made one trip to the hardware store so far to see what's available, so that's still a little up in the air. As it stands right now, I'd have two bolts in the heel of the neck at the 21st fret, two on the bottom corners, and maybe 1 or 2 elsewhere.

The bridge is currently laid out with the Gotoh hardtail dimensions. All of the units would have the same bridge. OK, maybe the Tele would have a proper Tele bridge, but maybe not. I'm figuring to have a solid black p/g covering the top, mounting the pups in that, so the Tele bridge may be pointless. The "fill face" p/g thought is still up in the air.

The real challenge thus far has been making the "body" large enough to hold everything, but small enough to be interchangeable.

Electronically, I intend to keep everything as simple as possible. All that will be on the unit itself are the pups, switch, and output of some sort. Right now, I'm thinking to hard-wire the ground and output from the switch straight into a 6" patch cable. The body it's mounted into would then have an input for that to plug into, 1V, 1T, and a traditional jack. This would:

1) move the V & T away from the unit, thus freeing up space

2) preserve the illusion of a regular guitar of whatever shape it is

I figure since there's only 1 V & 1 T, everything AFTER the out from the switch is in a single electrical line, so there SHOULDN'T be any issue with having an extra plug & jack in the middle of the chain. Of course, I don't have ANY IDEA how the grounding is going to work out, but one problem at a time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like a cool idea, but I would try to have the Pickup switch have a connector as well, I think that would work the best, it would allow you to have different positions for it, IE Les Paul's have it up above the neck, some guitars have it between the knobs, Explorers have it on the lower "horn", etc.

Just an Idea.


Edited by StormLeader
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Could use a PCI-type connector on the back of the "body", connects to the electronics in the shell body. That way you could have one "body" unit with three pickups, totally universal, and the choice over what switches or pots you have is just as free as what body shape you want.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Today I got a 6/4 pine stud and went to town on it.




The fretboard is left over from the test neck I did for the headless V. I was wanting to make these units 25" scale, and that's what this f/b is, so it all worked out. It's just held on with brad nails, but it gives me some thing tangible to work with.

I got the body plotted out and the pups & switch cavity routed out, the neck tapered, and some VERY rough shaping on the back of the neck.

After the cavities were all routed out, I planed away the back of the board to the point that I wouldn't be concerned about the whole thing starting to get too thin and unstable. The final thickness comes in at 1 1/4". The pups are only 5/8" deep, and tested for depth with the V's pups. There's still 5/8" underneath them, so that should be plenty thick enough.

The standard blade switches I have show me a minimum width across the body of them as 1". I'd really need more like 1 1/4" for some clearance on both sides, so I'll have to end up using the Asian box-style blade switches. I don't care for them for some reason - they just seem cheap to me. BUT, if that's what I have to use because of space, so be it. A regular 3-way is just way too big. I COULD go with a mini-toggle, but I'd rather not.

When I rough shaped the neck, I left it the full 1 1/4" thick starting at the 17th fret. I went with the 17th because there are a number of shapes (EG: LP) who's bass shoulder connects at the 17th. I don't want s big gap there when the body shell is bolted on, so it's better to leave the heel thicker up the neck. In the long run, that's something that will have to be finessed later on. For now though, I at least have a working plan.

For the body shells, I'll want the bolted-on areas to be thick enough that the ferrules/grommets/bushings/whatever are NOT at risk of breaking through. A full 3/8" minimum SHOULD do it. With most shapes, this won't be any issue. Strats & Teles come in a 1 7/8" all the time, which would leave 5/8 to play with. It's the larger shapes I'm concerned about - the Warlock, Explorer, Iceman, Kelly, etc. The larger the body, the thinner it has to be to compensate for weight. A 1 9/16 explorer would only leave 5/16 at the bottom of the bathtub route the unit will bolt into. The only solution I can think of to this is to have the center of the back of these thinner bodies have a raised panel coming out 1" past the area under the cavity. It may look a little clunky from the back, but better that than a really heavy body.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would try to have the Pickup switch have a connector as well...

Not a horrible idea, but that would serve to complicate things in the long run. I DID give that one some thought, but decided it'd be too much.

This would make me want to take the Tele body core and put it into a Les Paul-shaped body rim.

Tele guts in a LP, Strat guts in a Warlock, etc, etc, etc. It'd be fun playing with different wood combinations as well.

The current theory is to have the "LP" unit be all mahogant, the Strat be all maple, and the Tele be ash. The problem with the ash Tele unit is that I've never seen an ash neck. There may be structural reasons it's not used. More research is necessary, but I'm not there yet.

Could use a PCI-type connector...

A quick Google search tells me ARE YOU FREAKING NUTS? I'm noy very good with electronics & wiring to begin with. There's no way in he11 I'm even going to THINK about putting in PC-like circuits in there.

That being said, it's a damn good idea. I'm just not capable of doing something like that. Drop in 3 HBs with good tapped-properties and it'd be a beautiful thing. You just wouldn't be able to get a real Tele vibe going. But if you're going to go that far, why not just do a Vari-Axe?

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Thats the sort of connector I'm on about. So all the pickups and the bridge ground wire go STRAIGHT to that, no electronics in the "body" itself.

Then, in the shell body, you take the wires off the female connector, and wire up the guitar as you would normally. As long as you remember what wires are what pins, you could have an explorer body that has a 3-way and coil split switches, but then plop it in a strat body and you got the 3 knobs and a 5-way switch.

See what I mean? No "smart" electronics involved anywhere, just moving the wiring from one place to another using those connectors. I just thought it'd look a bit smarter than a 1/4" patch cable. Just my opinion though, tell me to shut up now :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thinking about that one for a minute....

All of the wiring for the main units would need to be somewhat universal.

A simple 3-way in the body would be fine for a 2-pup unit, but not for the Strat.

A 5-way switch in a Strat body, then a 2-pup Tele unit.... that one wouldn't work out very well either.

All of those things could be sorted out of course. It'd probably be best for someone who actually LIKES doing electronics.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting idea, not sure the ultimate practicality of it. This has been done a few times and I know there are a few patents about as well that you could look up to get ideas...none have been commercially successful. I think Dan Armstrong has something as well as the sliding pickup idea and other oddities...but there have been a few others.

It reminds me of a similar idea they had with cars that I thought would be great...interchangeable bodies on a complete chassis...a pickup, a convertible, a station wagon...just bolt on the style of choice for the day...again didn't catch on because it was soon realized that you would have all these car bodies floating around.

I suspect the difference in sound would be minimal from changing the body, but the pickups can make a big difference. People have proposed sticking pickup modules in from behind into a standard body shape as well in various ways...again, never quite made it commercially.

I think the Mason guitar, whatever it is called, with the side pods might be something up your alley john and may have featured something like this and some unusual VT and switch placements...

Still it is a challenge...


What you propose seems ok, a standard jack after the selector would work, you would have to have pickups and such that use the same value pots of course. You might consider putting the switch in the body and so you could use a stereo plug for two pickups ok. But there are heaps of connectors about, some just clip together to make connections with standard wires...you may consider as a prototype for instance, recycling some stuff out of computers, like those power supply connectors or various others...you don't really need that many connections between the pickups and the body. I've used things from time to time in various guitars...I found for instance that it has been useful on an old strat that I did sustainer stuff on, to be able to slide out the scratchplate to work on things...so I had a simple connector in there to the jack socket typical of a powersupply plug, a bit smaller than a standard jack...a mini jack would be easier for that matter...but there are millions of options...good luck

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A simple solution for that would be to prepare for the worst case scenario - a 3-humbucker superstrat setup. But of course then you have to deal with the aesthetics of having three humbuckers on an LP, or a strat, or a tele... etc.

Couple your switcheable body idea with a quick-change pickup system, ala EMG quick-connectors but with clips instead of pickup mounting screws?

I can see this getting complicated before its finished... :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can see this getting complicated before its finished...

Me too, which is why I'm looking to make intentional choices to keep it simple.

Interesting idea, not sure the ultimate practicality of it.

It ain't about being practical. It's about doing something funky & unique.

Edited by avengers63
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why not have a central body type, that you could just "assemble" into the other shapes?

Im sure your could find a shape that is included in the bodies that you want to change to. Basically a main piece, fully functional on its own, with attachments that could make it into a Strat, Tele, or whatever else.

In example, you could take a Rhodes V and turn it into an Ibanez Xiphos with a few attachment pieces.

I had this idea awhile back too, except that the main shape of the "Hub" guitar would have tone dials/Pick up Selector/anything else in the general places where they would be on any guitar, and then you take parts/additions and build off that. Im sure someone could devise a system of snaps, locks, even pegs that would work.

Hell, I might try this sometime.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...