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Project Wonky Frets and Racing Stripes


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Been a while since I've done a work-in-progress, so here goes.

Target specs:

  • Body - Tasmanian blackwood/celery top pine/myrtle with Tas oak figured carved top
  • Neck - Tas myrtle with blackwood veneer accents, jarrah fretboard
  • Scale length - 26.5" to 25.5"
  • Radius - 16"
  • Trussrod - Allied Lutherie
  • Tuners - Hipshot Griplock 4x3
  • Frets - Jumbo stainless steel
  • Pickups - EMG 707 bridge, 607 neck
  • Bridge - ABM independent saddles
  • Electronics - 1x vol, 1 x 3-way toggle

Always curious to try something new, so this time it's multiscale!

Don't have access to a CNC so need to make a new jig to slot the fretboard. Saw the idea on anzlf.com, so whipped up my own using some scrap MDF, a pair or rare earth magnets and a spare allen bolt I had lying around. Print the fretboard onto a piece of paper at 1:1 scale, stick it to the blank and start sawing:

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After half an hour or so we end up with a slotted non-parallel board:

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Angled nut also calls for an compound angled scarf. Yet another new jig to cut the scarf. If I'd planned this better I would have made one of the two ramps repositionable to allow for different nut angles for other builds:

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Jumped ahead a bit here, but headstock is now on and shaped. Now the trusrod slot gets cut (jig-o-rama!). I much prefer to route the channel from the top instead of upside down on the router table with a fence, as I can see what the cut is looking like as I go:

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Trussrod nut access:

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Fretboard on:

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Body is made from two chunks of blackwood that were just a fraction too narrow to make a single blank. Rather than waste timber I bulked up the middle with some scraps of celery top pine and red myrtle stringers:

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All clamps on deck:

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Indeed! That's a good simple-but-effective jig. I think that the guiding arm could do with a pointer at the far end which displays the angle against a calibrated scale. Short of CNC-cut slots, that would be an immense improvement on transferring the absolute accuracy of a CAD plan through to the real world. Having your eyes in the middle of that chain feels a little like it undermines the initial accuracy of doing it CAD in the first place, if you see what I mean.

I take it that your single red F-clamp was an end-stop for the channel routing process? It all makes me miss cheaply-available acrylic for making templates. :-(

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Curtis! It's awesome to see a new project from you. And I'll say it again--man you always find the coolest timbers.

I'm looking forward to see this one progress.

SR

Thanks Scott. I made the mistake of not documenting Red Planet, and was then out of the workshop for a while on holiday followed by several large tool purchases which took a while to set up and tweak. Consequently this is the first build I've started in about 10 months.

That fanned fret jig is great. I hope you don't mind that I shared the idea elsewhere

By all means. The idea wasn't mine to start with so I can't claim ownership of it. Have at it, says I.

Indeed! That's a good simple-but-effective jig. I think that the guiding arm could do with a pointer at the far end which displays the angle against a calibrated scale. Short of CNC-cut slots, that would be an immense improvement on transferring the absolute accuracy of a CAD plan through to the real world. Having your eyes in the middle of that chain feels a little like it undermines the initial accuracy of doing it CAD in the first place, if you see what I mean.

I take it that your single red F-clamp was an end-stop for the channel routing process? It all makes me miss cheaply-available acrylic for making templates. :-(

Perhaps one of those cheap digital angle-displaying rulers could be attached to the arm somehow? Trouble with that is I'd have to make up a table of measurements for the board and then have to constantly refer to it as I slotted to ensure I was cutting at the exact angle for every fret. I agree it's not the most super-accurate method of slotting a board, but it is cheap to build for a one-off board, and provided I go slowly and carefully I can just follow the printed layout underneath without thinking too much. Actually, with this jig I worry more about getting the fret-to-fret spacing accurate than I do about the slot angles.

F-clamp serves a double-purpose of holding the end of the trussrod jig down and providing a stop for the router. The channel is long enough to cover bass rods plus the extension into the headstock. For a while I was able to get big offcuts of clear plexiglass from the recycling shop at our gabage disposal site for a pittance, but they've stopped stocking it (presumably no-one is throwing offcuts away anymore?). Might be available at a glaziers?

Very Cool! I really want to build a multiscale. This is the kind of inspiration I need. Nice work.

Ta very muchly.

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For a while I was able to get big offcuts of clear plexiglass from the recycling shop at our gabage disposal site for a pittance, but they've stopped stocking it (presumably no-one is throwing offcuts away anymore?). Might be available at a glaziers?

My company buys it from time to time from plastics supply houses, who typically are catering to sign making outfits. Said sign companies will have offcuts at various times, so perhaps an arrangement could be made with them to save you some when they have them. They are going to dispose of the offcuts in some manner anyway.

SR

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Out of the clamps and trimmed to size:

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Neck pocket jig time. A couple of strips of tape on each side reduce the route size by a bees' dick to ensure the neck is a snug fit:

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Couple of minutes with a sharp chisel to square up the corners:

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Moment of truth:

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Pickup cavities:

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Managed to land squarely on the pre-routed cable channels. Double depth cavity ledge is for providing clearance under the EMGs for the cable and connector. Seems a shame to hide the racing stripes with the pickups:
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My company buys it from time to time from plastics supply houses, who typically are catering to sign making outfits. Said sign companies will have offcuts at various times, so perhaps an arrangement could be made with them to save you some when they have them. They are going to dispose of the offcuts in some manner anyway.

SR

The last time I visited a glaziers shop (+10 years ago at least) they had buckets full of them on the showroom floor for a few bucks per piece. That was long before my interest began in building guitars, and I can't remember what kind of sizes and thicknesses they had available that might be useful for this kind of work. Signwriters are a good suggestion. Might also be available at a boat builders' workshop too.

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This rather complicated looking contraption is what I use to drill the angled jack recess. First drill down about 30mm with a 3/4" forstner bit, and then switch to a 1/2" forstner for the remainder:
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ABM saddle mounting holes and control recesses:

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Carve depth set around the perimeter and pretty much done for the weekend. Ready to start the contouring:

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I have considered registering over at anzlf.com, but for whatever reason I've never actually gotten around to doing it.

Bit more progress to report. Headplate (focus, dammit!):

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The big squeeze:

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And carve done. The "raindrops" on the body is just some epoxy that's being used to fill some pinholes in the top. Difficult to get a sense of the contours on this one as the top is such a pale colour:

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Neck cut to taper. 20mm at fret 1, 22m at number 12. Tried using the new spindle sander to rough out the volute. Teeny bit off at the bass side, but nothing that won't carve out. Would be easier to execute with a volute perpendicular to the neck centre line (dang wonky frets!):

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Problem - trussrod cover required, but you don't want to use nasty black plastic. Solution - make one out of timber. Problem - how to pattern-route something so small without losing fingers? Solution:

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Dang man, those are some extremes to make a truss rod cover. I just cut mine out on the bandsaw and sand it to shape on the disk sander. Then bevel with a sanding block.

No disk sander here. Anyway, now the jig is made I can spit these things out in a few minutes each. Plus I can change the edge bevel to a different profile by switching router bits.

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I just forget to add one. And cavity covers.

My borderline-ADD brain won't allow me to forget to add one. Have to have something there otherwise it will bug me for eternity...or until I devise a new way to make the trussrod access look dressy.

A cavity cover is next on my list of things to do in between waiting for parts to arrive (decided to ditch the stainless steel frets and get some plain vanilla fretwire on this one).

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Wow, more luthiers with mental issues. If only this pattern weren't a joke. My Aspergers requires that I don't put myself into a position where my focus disappears, leaving tasks unfinished. New things capture it far too easily. Specifically, having an instrument strung up for a test and leaving that way forever....hahah....setup? Hmm. That means taking strings off. Ooooo! An Ironbird! Yeah....interesting times....

That is a seriously nice bit of thought on the routing jig. My eye screams that it would be safer as a one-hand-either-side jig. Sort of an arch with the truss rod cover in the middle. The way I rout, I rotate workpieces against the bit to increase control. Three-point stability of a wider-based triangle as opposed to a tall narrow one if you can see my mental representation of the forces involved.

Again with the mental issues. haha

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Good points on the tiny template jig. The arm extends about 3" past the front edge of the wide crosspiece, so there's a fair bit of a gap ahead of the business end. The arm itself isn't (and wasn't!) meant to be used as a handle, just a method of holding the workpiece in the firing line of the cutter. The idea is to hold the big chunky piece. Next step is to add a couple of handles to either side of the crosspiece so that I'm able to grip and manoeuvre it around properly, but as a proof-of-concept it works really well.

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Dang man, those are some extremes to make a truss rod cover. I just cut mine out on the bandsaw and sand it to shape on the disk sander. Then bevel with a sanding block.

I was thinking the same thing.

I just bandsaw and then bevel with the file!

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  • 1 month later...

Yeah that top is killer.......your tops are always killer. Every time I see a picture of a multiscale neck all fretted up and not yet attached to the body, it looks twisted, like it got wet and someone grabbed each end and tried to wring it out. :blink: Messes with me head, it does.

SR

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