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As with many others, I have been lurking around these boards for a while, but have never posted. I have been trying to learn while planning my first guitar build. 

I am planning a Danelectro style build for my first go, since it is a fairly cheap approach and I don't want to sacrifice a lot of expensive lumber to my amauturity. The design is a somewhat retro semi-hollow body inspired by both Danelectro and Rickenbacker. 

BobsYourUncleRender.png

There it is as both a single and double pick-up design. My approach here is to make a fairly versatile sounding guitar, that centers more around jangle than dark. Because of this I have a bit of a weird idea for the "single pick-up" design. That is to use a Seymour Duncan P-Rails for the bridge, then to wire it for a second pick-up, using an acoustic soundboard transducer as the "second pick-up", with the ability to blend the two with a 3-way switch. The P-Rail would be controlled through push-pull volume/tone knobs. What I am not sure of is the difference in volume output between an electric guitar pick-up and the acoustic transducer and if the difference would make this idea a non-starter.

Here are my template designs for the body. Option 1 was my first approach, Option 2 is if I want to get crazy with this acoustic transducer idea.

BobsYourUncleBody.png

Here are my drawings for the neck:

BobsYourUncleNeck.png

Specifications:

Body: Plywood core with either MDF or finish plywood veneer

Neck: Maple, bolt-on, 25.5" Scale

Fretboard: 21 frets. Poplar. I got some from my neighborhood finish lumber place. Would that work?

Bridge: Simple Hard-tail, similar to a Dano bridge.

Other Hardware & Electronics: I recently stumbled upon the estate sale of a dabbler in the guitar arts (sad to think about), but I now have boxes of hardware and pots, etc., along with a several of the tools that were already on my wishlist.

Like I said, I have never built a guitar before. I have been reading and watching videos for a few months now, working on the design, and collecting some tools. I would appreciate any comments if you see anything that stands out to you. I am still getting my garage organized and plan on taking a "stay-cation" at the end of January to really take a good crack at the neck. Until then I will be practicing on some sacrificial wood.

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Good call in the Makerspace. Once you have your safety classes done, you'll find that you can get most of what you need to achieve in the workshops. If you're that way inclined, I would heartil

Ah, well that explains a lot of things. Especially your organised layout and marking up. It goes a long way in this game, so you've got good tools in your belt already. Like a lot of CNC homebr

Love the idea, one thing jumps out right away. The thought of not wasting nice wood shouldn't really come into play until you are doing high grade or one of a kind figuring. Even the most basic build

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Love the idea, one thing jumps out right away. The thought of not wasting nice wood shouldn't really come into play until you are doing high grade or one of a kind figuring. Even the most basic build takes time and should have a decent wood invested. This doesn't need to be expensive, just something worth the time and honestly even basic grade mahogany, alder or poplar is way more "workable" than plywoods or construction grade materials. That said, if you want to do it, go for it!

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The design looks great and it's an interesting idea to blend an acoustic pickup. I wonder if you're going to get enough resonance to make it sing, or if it will end up sounding plinky. What kind of sound do you want to end up with?

I'm with Komodo - the value of the time you're going to invest is going to far outweigh the wood costs. I am inching my way through my first build and even with the many mistakes I've made so far, do not regret using higher quality hard wood. Use the materials you want to work with, whatever that may be.

I look forward to following along and learning with you! 

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9 hours ago, komodo said:

The thought of not wasting nice wood shouldn't really come into play ...

I've been thinking about this. Another reason I was heading in this direction is because I do not own a joiner or thickness plainer. But, I have seen demonstrations around here of jigs to use a router to thickness. I also just found a video on using a router table for joining.

I have a table worthy router, the Bosch 1617, but I don't have a router table. So I am going to need to build or buy one. Any recommendations on size of the table? I'm thinking it needs to be at least 24"x30" or so.

I have not looked at construction methods for semi-hollow bodies that aren't the Dano style or an archtop style. Does Rickenbacker chamber out a solid body then put a veneer on the front or back? That might be the way to go. I'll do some research on this.

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7 hours ago, a2k said:

... it's an interesting idea to blend an acoustic pickup. I wonder if you're going to get enough resonance to make it sing, or if it will end up sounding plinky. What kind of sound do you want to end up with?

Musically, I am most interested in twee (indie pop) and shoegaze. For the latter, I thought it might be interesting to get more of the resonance of the guitar to blend in with the string sound that the pick-ups provide. I ready a while back that the Velvet Underground used to put microphones into semi-hollows and mix the signals together. This is part of where the idea comes from.

Maybe the piezo transducer is the wrong way to go. It might be better to put a small microphone in the chambered body.

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you should look through some build threads here to see others building semi hollows. Personally I would do the chambered center and cap it front and back. A2K is right also about watching out for "plinky" the wood considerations apply to that as well. Plywood with all of it's adhesive could very well be dull and plinky, but you never know . . . .I had a prototype body I made from glued up construction grade 2x4's, and slapped a neck and pups on it and it sounded amazing. Pine is extremely resonant and rings like a bell. But it sucks to work with for any fine detail. 

You may consider Maple (bright), Mahogany (warm middy), even walnut (darker) would be interesting. If you chose a wood like that you could do a simple oil finish vs a far more complex painting schedule. In Austin I bet you have a large variety of woods available. 

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On 1/2/2016 at 7:46 AM, Prostheta said:

I think the bigger problem with Poplar is that it will not retain frets.

I found a good source for fretboards, I think. There is a Woodcraft just down the street from my house, and they sell 4"x24"x3/8" planks of just about every species you can think of. Pretty good pricing, too, about $12 to $18 for the more exotics

That was the first time I have been to Woodcraft. I had always avoided the place, because I figured it had exorbitant prices, but it is actually better priced than a typical hardware store, for better materials and tools.

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Over the holiday I started by building a router table. I don't have a lot of tools, pretty much just a router, circular saw, miter saw, jig saw and a drill, so it isn't the best thing ever, but I have designed it to be ugradable over time. I also don't have a enough money to buy a big enough nice router table, and didn't want to blow $200+ on a crap router table. So I designed a two-layer 3/4" MDF table with 2x framing. It has tracks with 1/4" slots cut in the top layer and 1/2" slots cut in the bottom layer so that bolts can be slid through. The Router will be mounted through a framed hole with 3/4" MDF "lid" (which fits super tight, so I don't even have to worry about fixing it down yet).

Here are the plans:

Plans.png

Cutting out the router hole. I included a second hole because I want to one day mount an oscillating spindle sander over there. Most of the affordable ones I have found have tiny tables, so this way I could have a spindle sander with a big enough table for a guitar body to sit on.

01.jpg

Under table bracing so the MDF doesn't warp over time (will probably have to be shimmed a bit).

02.jpg

After jig-sawing out the mounting holes, before cleaning up the edges with a router.

 

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Okay... Hit the wrong button, and I guess you have like 30 seconds to edit a post.

After jig-sawing out the mounting holes, before cleaning up the edges with a router.

03.jpg

With the second layer of MDF of and the slots routed out. You can see the bolts in the sliding slots.

04.jpg

Here it is with the router mounting lid take out. It fits so tight it is hard to get in and out. It sits on a 1" lip on each side.

05.jpg

Gluing the two layers of MDF together.

07.jpg

I still need to clean up the edges, Put some edge trim on it to protect the MDF and build the fence, which I am going to base on this:

Router_2D00_fence_5F00_fig_2D00_a1.jpg

I don't get my under table mount for my router until Wednesday. At some point I'm also going to have to build a stand for it, but I have two tables that are the same height, so right now I can just span the router table between those two tables.

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17 minutes ago, Prostheta said:

Good plan. Moving towards Torsion box style arrangements are a great way to save on weight also.

Interesting. I have never heard of a Torsion box before. This thing is super heavy. Next time I build something like this I am going to take the torsion box idea into my design.

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Torsion boxes are pretty common. They allow for a light hollow structure that is a lot stiffer than the upper and lower skins might suggest. A lot of woodworkers with larger shops opt to use them for assembly tables or other light working areas. The structure of your table is getting towards being one, however I'm not sure if a true torsion box needs to be closed on both sides or not. I know that you'll need your 3/4" top for the router plate, etc. however I just got "torsion box!" stuck in my head. I don't know if they'd offer any kind of advantage for a router table since the weight of 3/4 MDF is useful!

You're right about the price of router tables. If you have basic construction capabilities, you can easily make something far more flexible. It's only when you get the really expensive tables and fences with microadjusters and the like where they start to look like a reasonable investment.

Mics in the body might be an interesting experiment. A couple of years back I almost added in a soundboard contact mic in addition to the undersaddle piezo for "options". Is this the kind of thing you were thinking of?

I've been slowly putting together a router thicknessing jig design for a few months which I described in another thread....I think I left it in The Design Bar. I'm currently working in borrowed space so it hasn't been much of a priority. Perhaps if the idea is useful to you, I can detail out where it stands at present.

Like Komodo says about woods, knot-free Alder is a great inexpensive material to cut your teeth on or prototype an idea. It grow on trees around here. There'll always be a premium on "luthier grade" Alder from suppliers, however that mostly tends to be a premium price so you don't have to hunt or do anything else with the wood off the shelf. General wood store Alder (or similar) might not be in sizes or grades suitable for a luthier, but with a bit of digging you can find the one or two boards that are. They might not be as dry as required, so cutting them up, losing checks, defects and knots, stacking and air drying is necessary. Again....that's part of what you pay on a luthier-ready blank.

Looking forward to seeing all of the small projects coming together as part of the greater whole. Keep us well in the loop and welcome onboard!

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You're in Austin, huh? Howdy neighbor! I love Woodcraft stores and got my first fretboard blanks there as well. They carry quality products too, but once you get a feel for what you need and want, you'll want to check around on prices. Theirs can often be beat with a little searching.

SR

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15 minutes ago, ScottR said:

You're in Austin, huh?

Yep, just 200 miles down the road in Austin.

I have also been exploring the local specialty wood suppliers in Austin. Just in my neighborhood (I live across from an industrial district, turns out) there are 5 specialty lumber yards and three cabinet makers (the latter being irrelevant but surprising)!

However, as somebody who doesn't yet have a planer and no way to deal with rough cut lumber, a finish cut piece to almost the exact size needed for a fret board is exciting.

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Got some work done on the fence for my router table. I am going to have to wait on the mount and then use a temporary fence to rout out the slides for this fence. But, everything is cut out and ready to go together.

fence1.jpg

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Today I started work on my template. I got my plans printed at the local reprographics shop, some 1/2" MDF and some spray adhesive. I decided that rolling up the sheet then unrolling it would be the easiest way to get the print onto the board flat, I also used a paint roller to help press the sheet down evenly.

01LayingOut.jpg

It worked out extremely well. Even though I did feel every hair on my arms stand up as I sprayed the adhesive. Gross stuff.

02GluedDown.jpg

I don't have a band saw, and I have found my jig-saw to be a bit wonky in its ability to provide a solid vertical cut. I then tried to use my drill and a forstner bit, but the pressure required was a bit much and was going to be exhausting. My drill press isn't a great piece of machinery, and it has a tiny table, so I used a scrap piece of MDF to create a larger table for it.

03DrillPressTable.jpg

04Dusted.jpg

After the first drill I realized it was going to take forever because of how much dust was created, to the point that I couldn't see the drawing. I took my shop vac and tied the hose REALLY close to the bit, which sucked up about 95% of the dust. No picture of that, because it was off to the races with that working.

05Drilled.jpg

I had a few close calls, but overall it worked pretty well. Then I used my jig saw just to cut through the gaps between holes.

06Cutting.jpg

Now I have a spiky template.

07SpikeyTemplate.jpg

Later this week I get a set of spindle bits in the mail to use my drill press as a spindle sander, which I will use to finish off the template. Hopefully I can manage not to screw that up. So..... body template started. At least, the template for my template.

I should also have the router table finished this weekend, as well, after getting in the under-table mount.

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I was just about to respond "torsion box" then continued down and saw Prosthetas responses LOL. Yes I believe a torsion box needs the skin on both the front and the back to create it's strength, but in your case for this table I think you'll be fine. Adding that bottom skin would make it essentially flex free. Hopefully it's flat when it's glued and screwed. cause it will be that way forever. My table saw out feed table is a torsion box, and the side table (side feed? extension?) is an open frame essentially like you have and mine doesn't move though it has the saw fence bars attached front and back as well.

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4 minutes ago, komodo said:

I was just about to respond "torsion box" ...

Yeah. I had never heard of a torsion box before. I was just using standard balloon framing techniques, 2x construction. That is my Architecture background showing. I am going to have to get more educated about fine wood working techniques.

The table is now glued. It is very flat and very stiff. It isn't going anywhere, I don't think. Not any time soon. And if it does warp after a year or so, I spent all of $50 on supplies for it, and two evenings of work, so I think it will have done it's job well. At that point I can take my new knowledge and do a better job.

I did get a bit of glue in one of the tracks, but I am going to be able to file it out. Just as soon as I can find my files.

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Exactly. Torsion boxes have far more crossed struts, and they tend to be finer. For the same volume of framing used there, the structure can be made stiffer, however as @komodo says (I forgot whether this was the case or not) there needs to be two skins. More of an observation than a recommendation. The most common torsion boxes are internal cardboard honeycomb doors.

Forstners are slow work on MDF and plywood. As soon as the cutter draws a complete shaving that sticks and rotates instead of being ejected, everything slows down or stops. It got me thinking as to whether a smaller diameter brad point might be faster in spite of the greater number of holes....

I reviewed a "better" jigsaw a few weeks back, @sirspens for thicker cutting work. I don't think you gain much moving up the range. They all still seem like cutting with a pool noodle.

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If you shop for a new one, I highly recommend Bosch. I think you either acquire tools, buy good ones, or cheap ones. They are all valuable, but there are a couple that I chose to spend money on and they were worth it. Jigsaw, bandsaw, and without a doubt the best was a Hakko soldering iron.Soldering was ridiculous and frustrating before that, now i love doing it.

Your guitar is going to turn out wonderful.

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5 hours ago, Prostheta said:

Forstners are slow work on MDF and plywood...

There were a couple occasions when I had to back the bit out because it was spinning in place, but surprisingly few. Overall, from the time I drilled the first hole until I was done drilling holes was only about 10 minutes. That is longer than it would take on a band saw, obviously, for less precise work, but not too bad for my first build with my limited set of tools.

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Those Hakkos are dangerous since they don't turn themselves off from what I recall. Brrrrr.

Funnily enough, the jigsaw I borrowed was a Würth jigsaw, which is a rebranded Bosch. Whilst I was cutting 40mm Alder and Birch, they'd be totally different on MDF, definitely.

10 minutes is not bad! I've looked over more than one other student's shoulders whilst studying my degree and seen them burning up Forstners in the middle of workpieces. When it comes out black and blue, you start to wish that on the operator....especially when finding them back in the racks in that unusable dead state!

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