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Seventh String of a Seventh Son


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Hello again everyone!

It's been a year since I finished my explorer and I'm getting the itch again! This is one which has been in the pipeline for ages, but I wanted it to be right and it has slipped down the order a bit. As it happens, it works out quite well - This will be my seventh guitar build/renovation project, and to celebrate I'm biting the bullet and making it a seven string! :rock

At the moment, I'm sourcing parts/measurements/info/ideas but here are the current specs (subject to change through revealed ignorance!).

   * Through-neck (with contrasting lams)

   * "Black nickel" hardware all-round (if possible) with a medium-dark, figured top and contrast binding over a darker body

   * Probably two passive humbuckers (although not ruling out actives totally)

   * Ibanez RG/S/JS inspired body, but subtly more asymmetric - generally aiming for a clean super-strat look but not a flat-top

   * Asymmetric 4-3 headstock (matching body top)

Right now, I can't decide between a multi-scale or a floating trem. I have long wanted to try out a multi-scale and with the benefits much greater for extended range instruments it seems a good time to do it! (I know that you can get hold of floating multi scale bridges, but to my eyes they are quite bulky (and horrifically expensive!).)

It will be a while before I can start all this due to being on secondment with work in Spain, but I thought I would get a page up to collect some ideas. I have a couple of questions to start.. any help offered would be greatly appreciated!

1) Do I need to consider strengthening the neck beyond a normal DA truss-rod and the laminates for the sake of string 7 / long scale length? 

2) I was thinking along the lines of a 26.5" - 25" fan with the perpendicular between 7 and 12. A 27" bottom would be nice, but I imagine that makes the fan quite tight(?). I'm not sure what the rules are here in terms of permissible scale differences. Any pointers regarding multiscales?

3) What are the best options for single-saddle bridge parts? So far I'm aware of ABM and Hipshot, but neither come in the black nickel finish I'm after (everything has chrome or black and I'm not bling enough for gold!)

4) Do people prefer a slanted nut, or a zero-fret and straight nut for multi scales? or is it another case of "bone vs plastic etc" where the jury is out?!

Below are the current sketches for the floyd-based design - I found an "Imbuya" top online which looks a promising candidate! I have some cool ideas for fret markers, but I'm keeping them under wraps for now..

I'll upload plans/ target woods as they materialise  to keep the ball rolling. Again, any help would be much appreciated!

Cheers,

D

SevenStringDesignV1.thumb.png.2871531b37

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7 hours ago, Stavromulabeta said:

1) Do I need to consider strengthening the neck beyond a normal DA truss-rod and the laminates for the sake of string 7 / long scale length? 

All things being equal, no. A single trussrod will be sufficient at the scale lengths you're looking at. If you use unstable woods in your neck (heavily figured timber, spalted timber, timber with low inherent strength) or are going for something really thin then consider adding reinforcement.

 

7 hours ago, Stavromulabeta said:

I was thinking along the lines of a 26.5" - 25" fan with the perpendicular between 7 and 12. A 27" bottom would be nice, but I imagine that makes the fan quite tight(?). I'm not sure what the rules are here in terms of permissible scale differences. Any pointers regarding multiscales?

No rules, just whatever suits the application of the completed instrument, be that playing style, client requests or comfort/feel. I personally wouldn't exceed more than about 1.5" fan difference from top to bottom, as I feel that extreme fans must make certain hand positions quite uncomfortable and negate the benefits of multiscale construction.

 

7 hours ago, Stavromulabeta said:

What are the best options for single-saddle bridge parts? So far I'm aware of ABM and Hipshot, but neither come in the black nickel finish I'm after (everything has chrome or black and I'm not bling enough for gold!)

Not sure what black nickel looks like. Is that anything like Gotoh's Cosmo Black?

Multiscale builds already require the use esoteric components, so choice of finish will be limited even further beyond black, chrome or gold.

Technology for Musicians make individual saddles, but only in the three standard finishes.

I've seen some people use Wilkinson saddles on a custom baseplate to make up mutiscale bridge assemblies.

Fanned Fret Innovations make individual saddles, but only in chrome and black.

Rondo Music occasionally sell their individual saddle assemblies as spare parts. Quality may be questionable at the prices they charge.

 

7 hours ago, Stavromulabeta said:

Do people prefer a slanted nut, or a zero-fret and straight nut for multi scales? or is it another case of "bone vs plastic etc" where the jury is out?!

No idea. I've only ever done a slanted nut. Visually I think it looks better than a straight nut behind a slanted zero fret, but again that's down to personal aesthetics.

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Thanks so much for the comprehensive reply! Good to know that I wasn't too far off with what I had found so far,

I think the neck is likely to be maple-based, with bubinga/padauk or similar stringers. So I don't think inherent stability will be a problem, 

 

Possibly a 27"-25.5 would be the way to go then. I made my explorer with a 25" and that is really comfy with a more relaxed rock/blues playing position. I don't think going back to 25.5" will make a difference for the heavier style music I will play on this one.

 

Yeah, the black nickel is I think a floyd-rose term, but I managed to find matching hardware on AxesRUs. It looks a similar idea to the Gotoh, perhaps a little lighter. I just like having the edge taken off the chrome a little!

http://www.beyondeleven.com/Floyd-Rose-FRTPS5000-p/FRTPS5000.htm

http://www.beyondeleven.com/Floyd-Rose-FRTPS1000-p/frtps1000.htm

Thanks for the heads-up on those suppliers, There is some interesting stuff there - particularly for headless constructions. The ABM or cylinder styles look much better than the more start-style saddles!

Strandberg seem to have some great ideas in that department, but the hardware isn't available separately  (also their variable trapezoid neck shape is intriguing! Maybe something to play with on another build).

 

I thought it would probably come down to pure aesthetics on the zero fret. There was some talk of lower actions and it seems a bit easier to construct, but i agree I'm not 100% convinced by the look either..

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I agree that the laminated neck should be quite stable, and not need additional reinforcement besides the truss.

I like the 27/25.5 scales. I think the more extreme differentials would be quite awkward. 

I bought some of the Rondo single string bridge segments. They're only available in black, They look pretty good for the price.

I think the zero fret is definitely the easiest, and what I've used so far. Getting the intervals perfect on an angled nut would be pretty tricky, but they look really cool.

After building my first multi-scale, I'm really caught up in this. Enjoy the project!

 

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I would go one further, saying that a slanted nut/zero fret and a twisted headstock scarf are a good approach. It maintains a more even angle by string over the nut/zero fret. I've a half-built bass which is waiting in the wings which has this very same idea. The compound scarf angle is simply cut at the same angle as that of the nut/zero fret.

IMG_7024.thumb.JPG.cc2c2f38554d786810a65

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Seems like a slam dunk for the 27"-25.5" with an angled nut then!

Good point about the slotting, I can envisage a nifty little jig to sort that out when the time comes though. Running out of parallel lines is my main concern! I suppose it means that your order of operations is a bit more critical than for a standard neck.

That idea of a slanted headstock/scarf is something I was pondering, but struggling to visualise exactly! I don't suppose you have any pictures which show it side-on do you? (p.s. that is a mean bit of carving there! very organic)

Thanks for all the input guys, it's nice to discuss things after having it just rattling around in my head! :huh: I'm excited to see what I come up with too, at this point it could really be almost anything! 

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Ahhhh, it's all so clear now. One of those things where you immediately think; "oh sure, of course it's that simple!" Only to try and visualise it and come un-stuck! 

That's a neat trick with the second line in the perspex. I could see how setting up fences to run a saw down before planing would work but the routing like that seems an easier option for removing the bulk.

On the explorer's straight scarf, I marked it, cut by hand and then hand-planed  back to the precise line - that wasn't actually too bad and came out nicely. My dad has passed on his old-school mantra of shunning power-tools and jigs to pointless levels. That said, I do like the fine control you can have with hand tools for this kind of thing. I find it saves me a lot of worry (if not time!).

Some great ideas building up now. I can't wait to get started! :hyper... but for now I'm consigned to drawings and templates until I get back home to the garage and my tools! :(

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@KnightroExpress took the idea and made it perfect. If I can get ahold of some thick Perspex I'll make up one myself at this end too. A great jig to have in the workshop.

As an aside, when I made an Explorer headstock a few years back I elected to angle the grain direction of the scarfed piece to better suit the "banana" headstock. It made more sense from a structural standpoint and removed a hell of a lot of the short grain.

exp9.jpg.9e62a97e83e2565347d41e59e249b84

 

This is how I arranged the scarfing (drawing done on a guitar I didn't build!). I've got to say that I still don't feel 100% comfortable with the weirdness of the method, but the guitar is still in the land of the living with no apparent detrimental effects so hey. In reality the grain wasn't parallel with the headstock, more like 3/4 that way from being straight.

expscarf1.jpg.483d21fc8cc0fbb3d2bc9da71f

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  • 1 month later...

Good to see that slanted scarf in practice. I did align the grain on my explorer's headstock, but from a separate piece on a straight angled scarf. 

Well, it's been a while away but I now have a pretty much final design to pick over.  I'm really pleased with the look which is clean but incorporates some touches that I have fancied for a while now. I think the multi-scale really makes the shapes "pop" as something more special!

  • 7 strings
  • 27"-25.5" multi-scale with 7 as my "straight" fret
  • 1xSingle-coil and 1xhumbucker (Tone Zone 7 or Illuminator)
  • 3-way selector (HB / Split-coil+SC / SC)
  • 1 Volume / 1 Tone
  • Hipshot GNOC single saddle bridges
  • 5 piece through-neck with stringers for contrast
  • 4x3 headstock with Hipshot open tuners
  • Likely a flamed maple and bubinga neck with a dark fretboard
  • Cream binding

One:One:One - 27-25,5.png

The fret markers are an idea that I've had for some time. Each is the binary representation of it's fret number (filled = 1, empty = 0). I'm an engine software engineer by trade and so it seemed a nice - if very geeky - touch to bring that in! It's particularly pleasing that apart from 19 (10011), all the numbers are symmetrical other than the octaves!

I'll fill the "ones" in a contrast to the fret board, possibly with body offcuts and outline in cream to match the binding.

 

I will put it all into TurboCAD in due course as I am really seriously considering a 300x400mm CNC to play with for inlays and templates. TurboCAD has been a bit of a learning curve as it really doesn't seem as intuitive as the SolidWorks that I learned at uni.. Does anyone know a good method for transferring in and scaling the body shape? The lack of a curve tool which I can come back to edit after placing points is making this part very tricky!

Any TurboCAD gurus in the house?!

D

Edited by Stavromulabeta
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Thanks Knightro! It's something I've had swimming around in my head for ages, and now I finally have an appropriate axe to put them on! Also as this guitar is all about the sevens (7th project, 7 strings, even 7th fret straight) I thought "The One:One:One" might be a good moniker too! The three dots also makes a nice little motif to carry through the design.

Where did you find SolidWorks?? I tried to buy a personal use copy direct and they basically told me to get packing or buy a full comercial package! If I could get hold of that I'd be flying!

 

@Prostheta, I'm starting from scratch in TC but I learned "CAD" as it were on SW in uni. So far I made up a 2D drawing of the fretboard to CNC but the body/headstock is more tricky,

At the minute I just have the design sketched out in Apple Keynote as it has a really nice little bezier tool for playing with the shape. I have imported and scaled the image in TC and was hoping to trace the outline but the curve tools are proving tricky to get right in one hit! Once I place each segment, it becomes locked and I have to start again....

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Dassault offers the SolidWorks student edition for $20 for military vets (that's me!), so I got it straight from the source. I'll have to rebuy every year to keep the license current, but that's still a great deal. I'm sure there are some...uh... less-than-legal sites that you can find an older edition on, but I'd make sure your antivirus is up to par before venturing into those shady areas.

Speaking of SW, I'm glad you found it intuitive, as I've been slightly hesitant to make the jump to 3D.

And as for free CAD programs with easy curve tools, check out eMachineShop. It's not the most full-featured software in the world, but it's free and fairly user-friendly.

Edited by KnightroExpress
Added some info
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I agree with the emachineshop, Andrew told me about it last week and after a couple nights of it (I've never messed with cad before) I'm stating to get the hang of it and really liking it!

Edited by 2.5itim
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Okay, well I use TurboCAD purely for 2D work since that is where my CAD experience comes from. If I had to choose a 3D package, it would be Solidworks. If you're doing 3D in TurboCAD, that is where my experience ends.

When placing curves, you need to choose which ones you prefer or require. When tracing an image (TurboCAD is poor for this) I tend to use Bezier rather than Spline By Control Points or Spline By Fit Points. Again, choice is down to personal working methods and requirements.

After finishing up a curve, use the Node Edit tool (active tool indicated to the left) to modify them. These vary by how you created the curve in the first place:

Spline By Control Points

Image1.jpg

 

Spline By Fit Points

Image2.jpg

 

Bezier

Image3.jpg

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On 3 April 2016 at 3:30 AM, KnightroExpress said:

Dassault offers the SolidWorks student edition for $20 for military vets (that's me!), so I got it straight from the source. I'll have to rebuy every year to keep the license current, but that's still a great deal. I'm sure there are some...uh... less-than-legal sites that you can find an older edition on, but I'd make sure your antivirus is up to par before venturing into those shady areas.

That's a great deal, credit to Dassault for that! Best of luck learning it. I found the way that you can preserve dimensions between entities in each sketch very useful. It allows you to start drawing when you aren't completely sure of the final dimension - e.g. if you wanted to align a few things but weren't sure if they should be 5 or 7 mm from an edge.

@2.5itim, I will have to try eMachineShop - I've heard the name bandied about a bit.

 

@Prostheta, thanks very much for the advice! That node edit function is precisely what I was looking for! Unfortunately I haven't had the time this week to have a go. I think I might give it a go tonight - I'm still working on becoming human again after some Spanish partying on Saturday at the moment... 

At this point I'm working in 2D just to produce some accurate plans which I can print at scale to get a feel for how it will look in real life. I'm not sure i can face learning a new package in 3D as well!! (useful as it would be for experimenting with top-carve ideas)

 

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  • 5 months later...

Right. It's been a while since this one progressed!

So, I've moved back to the UK after my 2 years in Spain, I found a flat with a garage and it's on. I've spent the day getting the man-cave up to scratch, but still some way to go on that front..

I thought I would update though as whilst visiting my folks in Derby I managed to head up to Exotic Hardwoods and bag some great stuff.

For the top (and after much deliberation) I chose this stunning Camphor Burl piece. The plan is to bind this with the same ivoroid/black pinstripe combination as I used on my explorer. It's 15mm, so thick enough for a bit of carving on the top too.

IMAG3426.jpg

 

I also grabbed some padauk and wenge to put together some lams for the through-neck. I just used some spare maple that I had at home, but I'm thinking of going for something a bit different.. perhaps sycamore or even ambrosia maple to get a little more interest to keep up with the front! I only had some thin maple bit to hand, but you get the idea.

IMAG3428.jpg

Fretboard-wise I'm a little undecided still. I found a great piece of cocobolo which will certainly find a home sooner rather than later, but I wonder if it might be a bit "busy" to match with the top.. It seems a shame to go back to rosewood, but it might be a bit more fitting.

IMAG3431.jpg

 

For the body, I got some dark-ish mahogany. Again, I think it's probably better to keep the focus on the top peice to avoid it clashing too much with several heavy figures.

Anyway, needless to say I am totally psyched for this build. There's been some incredible stuff on the forum which has got me well and truly inspired! Hopefully I can get started soon!

Cheers! D

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