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Finished Pics! One for Me - No 2 of a Brace (2) of 6 string electrics

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It was getting too confusing to cover both builds on one thread, so this thread will be just the build I'm doing for myself based on the the piccolo bass I built last year:


I'm going to see if I can further develop the ultra slim, ultra light, curved back approach to produce a full-scale 6-string electric at near to or under 6lbs weight.

Construction is going to be essentially the same as the bass, although I will be putting even more chambering in to offset, at least in part, the weight of the extra pickup and tuners.

As a quick recap, this is the neck blank, with wood originally planned to be shared from a common blank with the Alembicesque build described on the other thread.  The neck is maple/purpleheart/mahogany/purpleheart/maple:



The back wings are mahogany, the top is Camphor Laurel and the fretboard is snakewood.  This is with the top slightly dampened:_MG_2750.thumb.JPG.6226baaea4ef1a3ccc898dfdec2e494a.JPG


Next job is cutting the notch in the neck blank for the top to slot into.  For those who saw what I did in the other build, this slot is going to be in the right place....honest  ;)

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1 hour ago, Mr Natural said:

that fretboard is sweet. It reminds me of a sunset in the desert. that darkish part is the horizon, the light part below it the landscape and the schwiggly lines above it stratus clouds. YMMV. 

Gosh....I was transported into another world with that imaginative description. :happy:

Of course, then reality hit me that some of that vista will have to be cut off because the fretboard is narrower than the blank  ^_^

Anyway, to get over that disappointment, I've made a bit more progress.

Taking advantage of the equipment set up from the Alemic-esque build, I whisked the components for this one through the same processes.

Here are the resulting components:

And placed in position:

The notch has been routed in the neck blank, at around 2 degrees angle so that when the mahogany wings are glued flush with it, the top and body will be at the correct angle to the neck for the bridge height.

Although it looks very similar to the Alemic-esque, it is in fact quite different.

Here, the neck is thinner than the body sections to allow for the convex and concave carves of the top and back respectively. The neck, and thus the body at it's thickest, in the centre, is around 1". But because of the neck angle dropaway, at the tail it is closer to 3/4".

Told you it was different.

Could all end in tears....

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2 minutes ago, Woden said:

Whoa, snakewood is so gorgeous. I've been hovering over 'buy it now' on some stock I found on eBay recently.

It's great stuff.  Pretty good for fretboards, too.  I used it for the multi-scale piccolo bass and it slotted well and fretted without any splitting or chipping.  If you can get some at a decent price go for it...it is usually eye-wateringly expensive in Old Blighty...

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23 hours ago, ScottR said:

That's going to be a skinny little bugger. Really pretty, but skinny. With a desert sunset on the fretboard.


Pretty but skinny....gosh....you must have been talking about me* :wub2:








*Those who have ever seen me or witnessed ScottR's immaculate taste and judgement will know that none of the words in the above statement is true  :lol:

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Next machine set-up for Tim's Alembicesque sister build is getting the scroll saw out to cut the control chamber. So while the router jigs are still out, I've done the main cutting for the main back wing of this build.

This, if you remember, is going to be curved in cross section, so I needed to know just how deep I can cut the weight relief chamber at different points from the neck join. From the back, it will look something (very approximately something!) like this:
The actual cutaway will be on the bottom only. The upper dotted line is just a datum.

So this is how deep I can go in mm. The fact that I can only go 6mm deep near the neck illustrates just how skinny this guitar is going to be:

Still got some chiselling to do, but the bulk is out:

And then at the back, to save a bit of effort, I've routed some carving steps:

So the router can be put away and the scroll saw brought onto the bench for both builds...  :)

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Did the contour steps on the other wing while the router was out:

In terms of weight, the total wood content is going to end up around 5lbs, assuming I don't do any more chambering.  That's fairly comparable with the piccolo bass (which ended up at a touch under 6lbs total finished weight) but the hardware on this will, of course, be heavier.

Just got to cut out the control chamber and the back wings can then be glued to the neck :) 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Got the control chamber cut out and the back wings glued on:


Now they're glued, it's easier to see the back carve contour routes:



I wiped the pair of builds over with a damp cloth.  Once they are properly carved and finished, I think they're going to be a nice looking pair of guitars :)


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8 hours ago, seb said:

I'm playing around with the idea of a carved back for a time now, but the implementation is still outstanding. ;)

... curious how this one turn's out!  :)

Yes - curved backs are nothing new.  Many of the Warwick basses are curved - mind you, clearly weight reduction isn't their objective because they are as heavy as concrete :lol:

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On 25 September 2017 at 1:12 AM, charisjapan said:

Very interesting concept!  Am I correct to assume the guitar is (ahem) "form fitting?"  (it would be, on me! ;))

What kind of bridge?  And low-profile pickups, I would imagine ...

love that snakewood, but never seen it here in Japan.

looking forward to the build.

I haven't chosen the bridge yet but the neck angle should allow most standard flat-type bridges to be used.  I don't plan to use a t-o-m which would have needed a greater angle.

  There won't be much wood underneath the pickups, but I'm planning on swopping a pair of SD P-rails from a previous build :)

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  • 2 months later...

Having finished the Alembic-esque build, I'm heading back to the sister build, which will be for my own use.

This is where I'd got to before I put it down to finish off Tim's :



Other than the lack of the carve through arm relief forming the 'sucked lozenge' on Tim's, the woods are the same, so the overall look should be similar.

This is the start of the convex/concave carve:


There's a bit further to go but hopefully you get the idea.

Now one thing I'm really, really bad at is spending the time to build jigs.  BUT, I've come to the conclusion that life is too short for hand radiusing fretboards!

So, I've cribbed a design from LedBelliBass on HomemadeTools.net and modded it a bit and here it is in progress:


I'm undecided whether or not to put roller bearings on the lengthways slide or just use guide strips (the whole thing will be mounted on a flat, smooth box-plank.

For indexing, I will use a simple peg and hole system.

I'm hoping I can finish it tomorrow and so kick off re-commencement of this build later next week :)


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Couple of enhancements to add, but essentially the radius jig is done:


The melamine covered shelf I've used is slippery enough to be able to not worry about bearing runners for the lengthways movement.

I tried it out on a bit of spare maple

- IMG_3722.thumb.JPG.fb6506796f7dd014150660f834a10aec.JPG


Pretty good result for a first go:




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6 hours ago, psikoT said:

That's awesome... :blink:   but how do you ensure a perfect radius in the jig?

The ply templates have been marked out just using a ruler and flexi-curve an inch greater radius and the router bit positioned at an inch lower than the bearings line - so an 11" template is giving me a 10" radius on the fretboard.  I will make a flat template so I can use the same rig to thickness the fretboard too 

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5 hours ago, Splintazert said:

Guitar looks very nice so far Andy. I built a lightweight electric a while back and it has been my go-to guitar for most things.

So what is the advantage of your radius jig (that cuts across the width) over one that cuts the length of the fretboard?

You can use it lengthways or transverse, or both.  I'm going to drill some index pin holes at 1/4 router diameter and actually use it lengthways, rotating the rig by one notch per pass.

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Little by little, this project is coming back on the scene.

The major step forward yesterday was trying out the fretboard radius rig for real.

I had made a small improvement to the rig to allow me to index and secure the rig in 1/4 router bit width steps for when I wanted to use it lengthways.  Just a few holes and a cocktail stick:




With everything sorted for a 'live' trial, I double-side taped the snakewood on some straight timbers of the correct height clamped to the rig


I figured that the most likely to be successful would be routing lengthways and indexing with the above mod.

Actually, for some reasons I understand and some I don't, doing it this way wasn't very successful.

First of all, even though the supporting timber was planed and flat - nevertheless over this length there was a tiny bow at the centre.  Easy fix - simply do the radiusing in two passes and add a top clamp near the centre of the fretboard.

The other problem I'm not entirely sure about, although will check a couple of things.  I didn't think to take a photo, but depending where the rig was in the radius, the cutter seemed to cut differently and caused an uneven cut along the length.

So I tried the other way - cutting transverse around the radius and then traversing lengthways in 1/4 router bit width steps.

Much more successful.  However, and maybe here's the clue to the previous issues - see the dig-in line for each pass over 2/3rds of the radius, and particularly at the top:



Easily sanded out, as you will see, but what I think is that the two radius templates aren't quite matched.  So what is happening is that the rig is slightly tilting through part of the sweep, making one side of the router dig in.  This would explain the iffy result going lengthways where this effect would be greatly exacerbated.

If so, easily fixed :)

In the meantime, after less than 15 mins of finish sanding with a 10" sanding block, the snakewood looked like this (and snakewood is very hard stuff):


And it's straight and it's accurate.

So - pre-rig:

2 - 3 days of sanding (in elapsed time due to the effort and boredom)

Result - radiused; sometimes dipping at the ends; sometimes thinner one side than the other; sometimes sanding created twist; sometimes OK


Post rig - even with some adjustments to make to stop the dig-in:

1/2 hour set up; 20 mins doing it; 15 mins finish sanding

Result - radiused; flat; straight; even


I think that's a result :thumb:


Learning experience (apart from the need to make the jig a bit more accurately!):

  • Don't get carried away with the speed and ease and forget this is a router.  And routers love pinging off edges of wood along the grain.  If I'd remembered that, I would have slowed my travel speed right down and preventing this on the very last pass:


Luckily, the lost edge is well within the width requirement...but might not have been :rolleyes:

Rookie error!


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