I have an addiction to guitar-building projects

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Comments

  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,207Member
    What an interesting mix of pickups.

    With a self designed body and a pickup mix like this you'll certainly have a unique guitar. Plus a set of pretty unique sound combinations I would think.

    I admire your creative thought processes on this project ... and you courage in stepping out of the usual "copy" guitar building route. cool
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    Cheers Mark! I suppose generally the pickups do conform to the h-s-h type arrangement - i.e 2 thicker sounding pickups on the outside, and something stratty in-between, but yes, the combination is just a bit "different" all the same. I'm resisting the temptation to complicate the circuit with things like a coil-tap for the bridge pickup - that might give a more stratty sound in position 2 (combined with the middle p'up), but I have a strat already which would always do a better job of sounding like a strat... So it will be unique and un-cluttered by switches!

    The creative aspect I am finding stimulating, but also time-consuming - I'm still working on the details of the body design in fact... Got the bridge placement marked out yesterday, also the control chamber rout. I should get the pickup routs marked out today, and I still have to think about how I want the forearm and belly contouring to be done (not too severe I'm thinking). When you build a strat, all these things are sorted out for you already! smile
  • lancpudnlancpudn Posts: 1,393Member
    Hey missed this buildwhistle Gotta say I'm liking the Megiwave design and the black chrome looks really cool, Great job. cool
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    Well, it's good to have you onboard lanc! I hope I can provide a bit of an entertaining journey to follow for the next few months... I must say I'm enjoying myself so far! smile
  • Jamie BaileyJamie Bailey Posts: 133Member
    I must say, your designs remind me of the Paul Gilbert Fireman, not that that's a bad thing! Great guitar.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    Originally Posted By: Jamie Bailey
    I must say, your designs remind me of the Paul Gilbert Fireman, not that that's a bad thing! Great guitar.
    Thanks Jamie! It's funny looking at that Paul Gilbert model - I would honestly say that I wasn't thinking about that guitar at all, and yet I do see what you mean - his design does have the in-turn pointy cutaway horns as well, plus a wave-like line to the base. But it has to be a complete coincidence, or great minds maybe lol! And what's even spookier eek is that the Starfield neck I'm using has a really similar shaped headstock - I'll get a photo up shortly and you'll see what I mean... cool
  • Jamie BaileyJamie Bailey Posts: 133Member
    Originally Posted By: Megi
    Originally Posted By: Jamie Bailey
    I must say, your designs remind me of the Paul Gilbert Fireman, not that that's a bad thing! Great guitar.
    Thanks Jamie! It's funny looking at that Paul Gilbert model - I would honestly say that I wasn't thinking about that guitar at all, and yet I do see what you mean - his design does have the in-turn pointy cutaway horns as well, plus a wave-like line to the base. But it has to be a complete coincidence, or great minds maybe lol! And what's even spookier eek is that the Starfield neck I'm using has a really similar shaped headstock - I'll get a photo up shortly and you'll see what I mean... cool


    Will you be using a scratchplate or not? Just out of curiosity. Your designs all look beautiful and I cant wait to see the product.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    Originally Posted By: Jamie Bailey
    Will you be using a scratchplate or not? Just out of curiosity. Your designs all look beautiful and I cant wait to see the product.
    Thank you for those kind words! blush This is really the first guitar I've made that I really think I can say I've designed, since the others were a strat and a tele - although I guess I did have to think about a few details for those ones.

    I'm not going to be using a scratchplate though - I'd like to show off the swamp ash body www.guitarbuild.co.uk will be making to the maximum advantage. So I have got 3 black chrome pickup rings to use to mount the pickups:



    - I did think about just mounting the pickups directly into the cavities as you often see, but I'm not a huge fan of that really, so the pickup rings is the best solution for me. Actually assembling the guitar all seems quite a long way off at the moment though - I'm still sorting out all the fine details of the design. Today I decided I actually wasn't happy with what I'd done for the control cavity and jack-placement, so have redone it all yet again lol - it really is better now though. Still have to get the pickup cavities marked out, and I may still make the upper horn a cm-ish longer (not sure). I keep just doing a bit of work on it, and it's gradually coming together... will get there eventually! grin
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,207Member
    Originally Posted By: Megi
    I'm not going to be using a scratchplate though - I'd like to show off the swamp ash body www.guitarbuild.co.uk will be making to the maximum advantage. So I have got 3 black chrome pickup rings to use to mount the pickups

    Good call cool - if you go to the trouble of getting a good natural finish one piece body it would be a shame to cover most of it up!

    That was my logic on a self build Tele I tried once:-

    Looked good - shame it sounded crap (despite Duncan pickups)!

    I don't think I like the two piece not very well book matched body designs any more - though I see a lot of those type of body finishes in the shops, so I guess they must be popular.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    Originally Posted By: Megi
    I'm not going to be using a scratchplate though - I'd like to show off the swamp ash body www.guitarbuild.co.uk will be making to the maximum advantage. So I have got 3 black chrome pickup rings to use to mount the pickups

    Good call cool - if you go to the trouble of getting a good natural finish one piece body it would be a shame to cover most of it up!

    That was my logic on a self build Tele I tried once:-

    Looked good - shame it sounded crap (despite Duncan pickups)!

    I don't think I like the two piece not very well book matched body designs any more - though I see a lot of those type of body finishes in the shops, so I guess they must be popular.
    Cheers Mark - re the bookmatched flame tops, I think it's one of those things that needs to be done really well to pull off - mediocre veneers with a so-so sunburst just pretend to be something they obviously aren't. I've always thought your Hagstrom looks pretty nice, so they must have got that one right.

    As to the sound of your tele build, I have to suspect it was down to neck and/or body used. I do doubt there was anything lacking in the SD pickups. As I've said, the Starfield I've dismantled for this build had a poor sound, especially on the bass strings, and I've always thought it was down to the body, and perhaps a bit the trem unit (the 2 screw-in pivot posts were a bit wobbly without the pressure of the strings). Further, I would say that an electric guitar needs to have a good, zingy acoustic tone - even if that is not very loud, it should be resonant and alive.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,207Member
    Originally Posted By: Megi
    As to the sound of your tele build, I have to suspect it was down to neck and/or body used. I do doubt there was anything lacking in the SD pickups.

    I have suspicions that there maybe wasn't anything hugely wrong with any one part of that guitar - certainly all were decent looking specification and not that cheap - but that it was the combination of those parts put together that didn't work.

    Or maybe I had an unrealistic expectation of the sort of sound that would be produced I suppose.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    Well, sorry that one didn't work out for you Mark. frown I think expectations can be an important thing - if we have an imagined sound we want to create, perhaps quite difficult to know how to get there. When I built my tele, in a way I was thinking to make it as tele-ish as I could - so went for vintage tele spec pickups, ash-tray bridge with brass saddles, maple neck, ash body. And that does seem to work for me, but maybe I've just been lucky! Hoping this current build works well too.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,207Member
    Originally Posted By: Megi
    When I built my tele, in a way I was thinking to make it as tele-ish as I could - so went for vintage tele spec pickups, ash-tray bridge with brass saddles, maple neck, ash body. And that does seem to work for me, but maybe I've just been lucky! Hoping this current build works well too.

    I think your well considered choices and matching up of materials based on what you know works, and based on well established existing successful combinations, means you'll be way more "lucky" than the average!

    I think my Tele was an unfortunate project, and I'm amazed looking back that I had the enthusiasm left for another go when I did the Strat self build. My attempt at that Tele was down pretty conventional lines - it had a Alder / Maple flame burst top body (reduced price for cosmetic imperfection), and Maple/Rosewood neck. The hardware was all decent Wilkinson gear including the traditional brass saddle bridge but with compensated shaping to the saddles for correct intonation. I had thought that the Seymour Duncan Alnico Pro II Tele pickups would have been a nice finishing touch.

    If anything I gave that build as much chance of working as I did with the self build Strat that was my only self build "keeper". Hmmm - maybe the maple top was a bad idea for the sound though?

    I think the body / neck / pickups / hardware combination on a guitar is a bit like 4 musicians in a group - you can have 4 that are very talented ones, but put them together and it sometimes just doesn't work - while conversely 4 less talented ones working together can be in a combination which produces much more than the sum of their parts would suggest.

    Sorry - raking up my old pains on your thread. Obviously not over the disappointment yet!

    I'm looking forward a huge amount to see how this goes. Watching one of your guitars take shape almost stirs enough in me to persuade me to try a self build again ... almost! grin

    Good luck! smile
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    I think your well considered choices and matching up of materials based on what you know works, and based on well established existing successful combinations, means you'll be way more "lucky" than the average!

    Well that's kind of you, and I hope you're right! grin I suppose "playing it safe" might be another way to put it - sticking to established combinations of woods and components. I guess also I've always gone for quality parts - the Axesrus necks I've used before are very good, and www.guitarbuild.co.uk provide great quality guitar bodies. This guitar is a slight departure from that formula, as I'm using a neck from a previous guitar (which appears good at least)- so hoping it works with guitarbuild.co.uk 's body when it is made - I'm sure the quality of that will be high. I'm going to post the neck and some other parts to guitarbuild when the time comes, which will help them ensure that everything is as good a fit as possible - so giving things every chance to succeed as it were...

    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    I think my Tele was an unfortunate project, and I'm amazed looking back that I had the enthusiasm left for another go when I did the Strat self build. My attempt at that Tele was down pretty conventional lines - it had a Alder / Maple flame burst top body (reduced price for cosmetic imperfection), and Maple/Rosewood neck. The hardware was all decent Wilkinson gear including the traditional brass saddle bridge but with compensated shaping to the saddles for correct intonation. I had thought that the Seymour Duncan Alnico Pro II Tele pickups would have been a nice finishing touch.

    If anything I gave that build as much chance of working as I did with the self build Strat that was my only self build "keeper". Hmmm - maybe the maple top was a bad idea for the sound though?

    It all sounds like good enough stuff Mark, so somewhat surprising it didn't gel really. SD Alnico Pro II's should have been lovely I would have thought. Maybe the maple top as you say, but I wouldn't know really... Maple on it's own is supposed to be a very "high frequency" kind of wood - lot's of highs, not so much bass, good sustain but perhaps a bit unbalanced. But in combination with another wood - that is a well established formula.

    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    I think the body / neck / pickups / hardware combination on a guitar is a bit like 4 musicians in a group - you can have 4 that are very talented ones, but put them together and it sometimes just doesn't work - while conversely 4 less talented ones working together can be in a combination which produces much more than the sum of their parts would suggest.

    It's a good theory, I'm sure there is some truth in that. I guess I am tending to the slightly different theory that a guitar is only as good as it's weakest part - the "weakest link" theory you might say. Or to use the band analogy, a band is only as good as it's weakest member - actually that analogy doesn't work too well, a good drummer can really flatter less able musicians I find, but I digress. Actually, I'll say there is some truth in both viewpoints, even if neither tells the whole story... smile

    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    Sorry - raking up my old pains on your thread. Obviously not over the disappointment yet!

    I'm looking forward a huge amount to see how this goes. Watching one of your guitars take shape almost stirs enough in me to persuade me to try a self build again ... almost! grin

    Good luck! smile

    Not at all! It's taking me a while to get the design finalised, and as you know my builds proceed at a leisurely pace generally, so it's nice to discuss related issues like this along the way. Please do chip in whenever you like.

    I would say don't be tempted into another build yourself unless you can identify a clear need for a certain type of guitar, which you could best accomplish by building - really I've no need for another myself, but I just couldn't allow that Starfield to sit as parts, sadly gathering dust on a shelf, any longer - had to do something about that situation! smile
  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,870Member, Moderator
    I am in a similar situation. I have a high quality Tele neck just sitting doing nothing and as my Mrs has signaled that another build wouldn't constitute proliferation under the Strategic GAS Limitation Treaty I might just have to build something. Added to that the bonus of being able to blame Megi (sorry Graham), I'd be foolish not to!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    Originally Posted By: Jocko
    I am in a similar situation. I have a high quality Tele neck just sitting doing nothing and as my Mrs has signaled that another build wouldn't constitute proliferation under the Strategic GAS Limitation Treaty I might just have to build something. Added to that the bonus of being able to blame Megi (sorry Graham), I'd be foolish not to!
    Oh please do blame me! very happy if I'm providing a useful function in that regard... grin Although I can't help thinking there is something circular going on here, since a certain person's tele provided me with inspiration for my first build. And look where that leads us now... whistle

    Do tell about that high quality Tele neck please J, curious! smile
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    Yesterday the set of machine heads I ordered from China arrived through the letter box - so I make that 9 days from ordering, which is pretty quick really. Hope the other bits coming from over there are not much further behind. I paid a ridiculous sum of £6.55 including postage for these.



    What are they like? Well, I would say they are not quite up to the quality of the Wilkinson "Easy Lock" set I have on my strat, or the locking set I have on my tele (these: http://www.axesrus.co.uk/Axesrus-Schaller-Style-Machine-Heads-p/jn-07.htm ) - both of which are faultless I've found. But... they seem close enough - in terms of functionality, I doubt they will be lacking in any way. The finish is just a little less good on careful inspection, and a couple of the machines feel very slightly uneven to turn through their range, nothing very terrible though - I suspect in use, with the string tension there, this will not be noticeable. Basically, I think they will look smart, and do the job required - if that turns out not to be the case, I can always swap them for some Wilkinsons or similar.
  • martinsmith99martinsmith99 Posts: 364Member
    Do you sell your creations eventually, or is this out of the question?
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    Originally Posted By: martinsmith99
    Do you sell your creations eventually, or is this out of the question?
    I have to admit I'd find that hard - it's not easy for me to sell any guitar, even if it's just one I bought. I guess if someone tried one of them, and wanted something similar, and was prepared to pay the cost of the parts, plus a bit more on top for my time and trouble, then we could work something out - especially if it was a parts-caster strat or tele. But this guitar will be a one-off I reckon, for one thing I doubt I could find another Starfield neck to use.

    But the short answer is no, the ones I've done so far have just been for my own ownership. I hope these blog threads do show how it is possible to build your own guitar though, and the sort of stuff that's involved.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,870Member, Moderator
    If someone wants me to build a guitar for them I will. But I would never sell a guitar I built for myself. Even the guitars I modded I won't sell. That is why I gave away my "girls" during my recent cull.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    I think we are basically similar in this regard Jocko - it's hard to sell something that you've invested time and personality in. But if I knew from the outset it was for someone else, then I'd be very happy to build a guitar, and make it fit what they wanted to the best of my ability.
  • JamieSutherlandJamieSutherland Posts: 49Member
    I always like adding a little bit of me to every guitar. A custom scratch plate to my Epiphone, then I have my own 'refurbished' strat with its flamboyant looks, I also like having electric tape on the neck of my classical guitar to remind me where frets 6 & 7 are. Odd, I know, but it is now out of habit as at the time I was playing in Bb too much!

    I couldn't sell any of those, ever. but I have a Spear Gladious SP that I tried modding which didn't turn out so well, then I realised the guitar just wasn't for me, so I put it back to how I bought it (mostly) and I'm selling it off.

    I don't think I could bring myself to build for any one else, I can deal with my own flaws in the build, and wouldn't want to burden any one else with them razz
  • zoglugzoglug Posts: 314Member
    Another Megi build! Looking forward to seeing this evolve!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    Originally Posted By: zoglug
    Another Megi build! Looking forward to seeing this evolve!
    Yes, another one lol - thanks zog - things not moving very fast lately, but I'm getting my plans sent off to Phil at www.guitarbuild.co.uk this week, and then hopefully there should be a bit of a CAD stage to finalise the design and get everything perfect. Preparation is key to getting a good result I think, and I prefer to go a bit slower and get things right. Will get some more pics and stuff up soon, cheers!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    Finally managed to find some time today and get my design work on the body finalised! I think there is a bit of a pendantic perfectionist in me that can cause me to take quite a long time with something like this lol. crazy But anyway, some new pics to look at last:

    One issue I've had is getting the neck pocket marked out accurately, including the positions for the 4 bolts - this is one of the things I ended up doing to help:

    I then just had to transfer from that bit of paper to my full-size body master-plan. Still can't be sure it's perfect (in fact I'd bet that it isn't...) but I've done my best, and also will be sending the neck to Phil at guitarbuild.com so he can do his own measurements and make sure of things.

    Another insignificant part which arrived from China, namely the cylinder jack:


  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    OK, what's next? Oh yes, the final bits got here from China this morning - the 2 black chrome control knobs:

    I've shown them in the intended positions on my plan, you can also where the cylinder jack is going to go through to the control routing.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    And so on to the (really, honest guv) final, final, final version of my body design - this has a slight change to the upper horn which is a little longer now. Also the lower cutaway is a somewhat different shape - in part of necessity when I'd figured out the shape needed for the neck pocket, but also I think it looks cool and should give really good access to the highest frets. Despite saying I was done, there have also been further changes to the wave-indent on the base, to get the cylinder jack and control cavity placement right. Hope you approve!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    ...You can see I've marked out the positions for the bridge with the string-thru holes, plus the pickup and control cavities. Also I've shown where I intend the forearm contouring and belly contour to be. I took a shot showing the finalised version next to the first one, which does show how much of a cumulative effect all the tinkering has had:


    Hope you agree it is better now... Well, I like what I've done anyhow! smile
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,748Member
    And just a couple more shots with the neck and hardware laid on the plan, giving an idea of the guitar this is hopefully leading towards:


    (haha - just noticed my feet again lol)



    - I must confess I had been wondering if I really shouldn't have gone for gold hardware... but no, I now do think black chrome is right for this guitar, against the light swamp ash, with the grain showing, I think it will be a striking looking axe. I'm also very pleased with the design in general - distinctive and different I think, but also practical (I hope!) and would look OK in anything from a heavy-metal band (which will never actually happen lol) to a jazz combo (which will! grin ). Kind of looks a bit prog-rock ish as well to me, which I like.

    So there you have it. Tomorrow I will finally get the plan sent off to the chaps at www.guitarbuild.com and I think it will then be a case of getting the design onto a computer-friendly format with CAD stuff, and eventually, actually made! So plenty more to come. smile
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,504Member, Moderator
    The off-centred dots on the fretboard compliment the non-standard body shape - a nice touch.
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