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First Build - A Nylon String Superstrat

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I'll just have to take the risk I guess. I really don't feel like having to dremel the tangs off from 24 frets :) I'm hoping the neck will hold since

a) its going to be a classical-like nylon string, I'll keep the neck relatively thick

B) I made it a laminate since it was never supposed to have a truss rod (classical guitars often dont have one, no?) - with the wenge center strip and the bubinga outer parts it should be pretty stable... The fingerboard is a pretty thick 0,7mm of ebony.

I could make the fingerboard just slightly concave before putting the frets in, hmm...

Actually. If it moves so bad that levelling the frets becomes unreasonable I guess I can always pull them and level the board again. Hell, I can even just hammer the frets in and let it sit for a few days even before cutting the fret ends off to see if it stays put. I think I'll go with this option.

Thanks for all the advice! Updates in a few days.

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A word of advice. If you use a water-based glue such as Titebond (as I do) then leave the neck a few days after unclamping. The moisture in the glue swells the wood so if you plane and sand it straigh

Looks like this could be realy sweet lookin. But just a quick warning - Leaving your timbers by a radiater is a bad idea, especialy a body or neck blank during glue up.

we see very little in the way of nylon stringed instruments on this forum. It's cool to see such a non traditional setup. I'd like to see a fulcrum tremolo with Graphtech piezo saddles. A classical ny

The fingerboad is already on... so I have to go with what I have. I know I can take that off too, but that's the last resort - if everything goes completely bad :)

I have no truss rod since at the time I was planning this build I wasn't sure I'd have the equipment to do a truss rod channel - hence the decision to build a nylon string as my first attempt. I hadn't thought about possible problems from fretting. So my plan for now is to move on and see - and adapt. :)

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Thanks Prostheta!

In fact this build is taking me so long that I managed to start another two in the meantime.

My problem with the truss rod was the fact that my only router is a dremel. I wasn't sure that would be enough for a truss-rod channel, and I don't want to buy a real router yet (I already invested a lot in various tools, and now I want to see if I can complete any of the builds and get a guitar that plays well).

On the other builds I started to use the dremel for routing jobs. I got a pre-routed poplar blank (rectangular with pickup and electronics cavities and the neck pocket done) to avoid doing the cavities, but then I started another build with a sapele blank - and there I had to do all the routs myself. The pickup cavities done with a dremel and a stewmac base (and some forstner bits of course) made me proud :)


Then with the help of a friend I built a set of rails for the dremel to do truss rod routs - it has some guest appearances in this thread as it is great for smoothing out the sides and the bottom of neck pockets. I did two truss rod channels for dual-action rods with this setup, but both builds are currently on more-or-less the same stage as the Nylon one, so I didn't have a chance to test them in action yet.

Here's one of the necks with the truss rod in place:


I figured for the nylon string I could still live without a truss rod - we'll soon see whether I was right :)

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As planned, I started on the neck carve. I really need to get a decent spokeshave, the one I'm using is utter crap. It was fun on a pine neck I build as a test half a year ago, but the bubinga is killing it. Anyway, this is where I'm at:


I got the thickness down to between 2,4 and 2,7mm (together with the fingerboard), so now with most of the wood off I can fire up my robosander thicknessing jig and get an even 2,4 (maybe gently thinning out towards the nut). Once I do that I'll probably let it rest for a couple days and then do the frets - and I'll fine tune the shape after that.

On the body side, I drilled the hole for the jack and the plate - so now I can plug the guitar in :P


The body is getting close to having the woodwork finished - I just need to do the hole for the volume pot, the cavity cover and the ledge around the cavity for it to sit in. And then its sanding time.

A friend of mine CNC'ed a pair of matching templates on a small machine they use for electronics so now I just have to improvise a guided router bit for the dremel. Probably will tape half of a small bit off and ride that along the template to do the ledge.

The cover - I don't have sheets of wood with the right thickness (and width) and gluing together 5+ pieces of veneer is a waste (and PITA) to me. And plastic sucks. (And I have none :P) I'm thinking of using thin HDF, with a layer of veneer on the outer side (matching or contrasting the body wood). Then I'd paint the inside and the sides with shielding paint (no HDF surface exposed). Finally, I'd finish it all with lacquer or Rustins Plastic Coat, or something like that. Probably RPC, would be a good chance to test applying that stuff before I use it on a guitar.

Sounds reasonable?

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my (basically nonexistent) experience shows the same. Damn, I have a bubinga drop top for some unspecified future build.. that'll be fun.

I just hope it is stable now, the neck blank twisted a lot in the few months it was laying and waiting to be used. I got an ovangkol blank at the same time - still nice and perfectly flat and waiting to become a neck.

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Waiting for the neck to settle I started on the cavity covers, just slapped a piece of wenge veneer onto thin HDF, now need to sand down to shape and rout the ledge in the body.


After 4 or 5 days I decided the neck has had its time to get familiar with its new shape. In fact it basically didnt move at all. I levelled the fingerboard once more and then sanded by hand down to about 0,3mm deep concave shape. Then went through all the grits up to P600 and put on a good coat of danish old.

Which left me with this:


I'm in love.


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Hammering the frets in was a pain, don't know why. I had to hit the frets really hard to get them to sit. But in the end they're nice and level, and so far no change in neck geometry. I'll dress them without attempting to do leveling, looks like I might need none. Also, I'm not sure how I'd attempt that with a neck that has some relief bulit in but has no truss rod. I guess I'd need to somehow force it to straighten up by clamping - then level - then unclamp.. I'll see if I can avoid that.

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I brought the fret ends level with the fingerboard and put a small bevel - at this point I decided I'd check how the fretwork came out by putting the outer strings on (before dressing the ends etc):


Seems acurate enough, 13th fret is a bit high, maybe one or two more also - I'll do a detailed check later and try to fix them one-by-one. Apart from that, the fret slots appear to have been cut in the correct places (at least to my ears), and everything that should be aligned is aligned. So I'm happy. Looks like the guitar is turning out great. So now I have fretwork -> neck carve -> electronics cavity cover ledge -> full test assembly and electronics check -> sanding and finishing.

Oh, and strap button installation somewhere there in between.

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don't fear the truss-less neck. I did a 5-string bass neck out of ebony a couple of years back- and It's my main bass to this day. The strings pulled some relief into the neck, but not too much. I don't think the nylon strings will have all the tension of the steel wrapped bass strings, so you're going to be fine ( speaking from my experience ).

Can't wait to see the end result.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The volute. I don't really know how it should be done. I figured that to create the correct shape from the headstock side it will be ok to just run into the transition region with the robosander while doing the final thicknessing on the headstock. Here it is:


Then I tried to shape it with files (I need to get finer files), sandpaper and scrapers. I ended up with something like this:


Not perfectly happy with that, maybe I'll end up tuning it up a bit more. I think the headstock wings are interfering, I should have probably moved them further away (i.e. made the hs longer). We'll see. The plan now is anyway to string the guitar up and play it a bit to fine tune the neck shape to my taste (I didn't use and templates for the neck profile). So I might revisit the volute then.

I also made a logo decal, put it on the headstock, sprayed 2 coats of sanding sealer, leveled a bit with P320 and brushed on a few coats of thick nitro. I will try to get the gigantic brush marks out with sandpaper later on.


Edited by pan_kara
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  • 3 weeks later...

I had to spend some time on my other projects to bring them up to a similar level of completeness.

I played this one a bit and fooled aroud with a scraped until I got a nice asymmetric neck profile that feels good in my hand. Now I need to take her apart from finishing, so I need to decide on this. I'm pretty much convinced that the neck will just have Danish Oil, but I'm thinking about the body.

I started oiling an offcut from the imbuia top and its looking really nice. The headstock is done with nitro so I can compare, and to me with such a dark color the glossy nitro finish looks like not the best idea, since its hard to see the features in the wood through all the reflections.

Then again I'm not sure I'd want the body to have JUST oil, I thought of maybe doing the back and sides with Rustins Plastic Coat that I have waiting to be tried out, and juts oil the front. Or is this king of mixing up different stuff in different parts just asking for trouble?

Any opinions?

Meanwhile here's a family photo of all my three projects, in testing with strings on:


Top to bottom these are:

1. the nylon one that this thread is about

2. sapelle body and macassar fretboard (and 2-piece maple neck)

3. my test vehicle for several things - poplar body with poplar burl veneer painted in blue translucent nitro, 3-ply plastic binding, the back painted solid black, 3-piece (flamed) maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard that was taken from my "CMS guitar".

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