Build #1: BTB-Style Guitar

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by Kyle01, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Hey guys, not sure if I should make a thread for this yet or not since it's in such an early stage, but I had the time and figured I might as well.

    I've never actually built a guitar before (but done plenty of kit builds and mods) so this is definitely a new experience for me. Any suggestions or tips you might have are more than welcome.

    Here are the plans as of right now:

    -Bopy: Pine body in the style of the Ibanez BTB basses (actually scaled down to fit a guitar neck and modified a bit, pics of the template are below.)

    -Neck: I haven't entirely decided thus far, I just know that I don't have the equipment to build one from scratch. My original plan was to use an old strat neck that I had lying around but lately I've been thinking of finding a cheap Fender knockoff neck and converting it to headless.

    -Hardware: Still undecided, depends on if I decide to go headless or not. There's a headless bridge I found online that doesn't seem to have a brand, just known as "licensed by K.D. patent." I've seen a couple favorable reviews, and while it's certainly not top-notch, it seems to not be total garbage. If anyone has any experience with these I'd love to hear about it. I really can't justify the hipshot or strandberg type hardware for this build.

    The bridge comes with a head piece, but I worry that If I attach it to a regular strat neck (with the headstock removed) that the truss rod will be inaccessible. I've thought about using a string-through method with ferrules behind the nut, or maybe just mounting a floyd nut behind the regular nut to lock the strings in place. Still haven't quite decided on that one.

    -Electronics: Super simple, just a single bridge humbucker and volume. I have an old Ibanez stock pickup lying around somewhere that I'll use.

    -Finish: Since the wood grain is not the greatest looking and the body is made of two dissimilar pieces, I figured I would hand it over to my art student sister and let her just go nuts with it. Whatever she does I'll protect it with a clear coat.

    I'm trying to keep costs down as much as I can, considering this is my first build and most likely won't be the best guitar ever. Almost all the parts going into this will be spares that I had lying around anyway.

    Here the pics of my progress so far:

    Templates for the body, pickup cavity, and neck pocket have been made.

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    Scrap pieces of pine have been glued together.

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    I thought it might make for a decent travel guitar if I go headless, but that will certainly make the build a bit pricier.

    What do you guys think? Should I try out this headless plan or just give it a regular strat neck?
     
  2. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    couple things, since i started the same way as you.

    skip pine, and do something like poplar, or basswood if you want a cheap wood. pine can actually be kind of a pain in the ass to work with. - atleast i found it to be.

    i did my first and second build with those Irwin clamps, but after that i switched to the metal C clamps, and what a difference. I would highly recommend not using those - especially for the fretboard...

    with that said, looks like a cool build. happy building.
     
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  3. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Duly noted. I'll try and find a lumber yard around here to pick up some better wood. Until then, I think I'll probably give the pine a go just to practice before the real thing.

    Just out of curiousity, what about pine did you find difficult?

    Hadn't even thought that those clamps may not be ideal for this. I'll keep that in mind. The Irwin ones do seem to be bit harder to get fully tightened than my longer metal ones.
     
  4. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    i find pine has a tendancy to tear out when routing. can be frustrating.
     
  5. Pikka Bird

    Pikka Bird Vaya Con Cornholio

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    I'd also recommend you redo especially the neck pocket template. It looks very crooked. How do you make them?
     
  6. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    I traced the neck heel onto the mdf , then cut it out using a jigsaw, dremel, and sandpaper. I ended up cutting too much, so i wrapped the neck in cling wrap and spread bondo around the inner surface of the template then pressed the neck heel into it to shape it.

    The right outer edge is still a little far out, but I figured it would be ok since that edge of the neck pocket is open anyway.

    What do you normally do to make the templates? I felt like my method is little haphazard.
     
  7. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Alright, it took me forever but I'm finally back to working on this thing. Ran into a few issues while cutting the body out and got super discouraged, but recently decided to give this whole building thing another shot.

    I've gotten the body cut out and the edges routed nicely. Definitely had some tear-out with the pine but it's nothing that a little bondo couldn't fix (It will all be covered anyway). I also altered the neck pocket on the guitar from the square one to a more ergonomic type (which made routing a whole lot easier).

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    I'm planning on doing a pretty strong round-over for the back edge, but still haven't decided what to do for the top. I definitely want some sort of contour for my arm, but haven't decided if I should go with the standard forearm cut or do something more like this:

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    I'm still trying to figure out how they made the transition from chamfered edge to straight so seamless. Maybe they used a chamfer router bit and gradually pulled the bearing away from the body at that the ends?
     
  8. Soya

    Soya Poor person Contributor

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    You basically stop moving the router while the bit is still spinning, since it cuts a circle anyway.
     
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  9. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Wow, for some reason it didn't even cross my mind that the cut would be circular and taper the wood by itself. Thanks, I'll do some tests with it tomorrow.
     
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  10. Soya

    Soya Poor person Contributor

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    Only thing to watch out for is to not let the bit be stationary for too long, as it has a tendency to burn the wood.
     
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  11. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Here's an update:
    Got the neck pocket routed (just using an old squire strat neck for now):

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    The back edge is now rounded over:

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    We decided on a sharper bevel (sketch in the first pic), but I am having a tough time making them look good on scrap. I've been doing the main cut with the router then trying to taper the ends with a sanding block for a more pointed look, but I'm struggling to make it look even. I'm wondering if there is a better technique for this, because currently I can't see myself getting good enough to feel confident doing it on the actual guitar.

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    If I can't make this work I'll probably just go with my previous idea for the bevel, sure would be a lot easier.
     
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  12. Soya

    Soya Poor person Contributor

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    Just basically patience, a good eye and a flat sanding block is needed. Also, it might look rougher because it's on a flat side, not around a curve like on the actual guitar body.
     
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  13. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire grossly incandescent

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    a rasp would also be an easy way to put that bevel in.
     
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  14. Bobro

    Bobro SS.org Regular

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    There's pine, and there's pine.

    For generations, they've been breeding "supertrees" with pine and other softwoods. Don't know if it is still done, but in the old days a sharpshooter with a small caliber rifle would go into the woods and shoot cones off the tops of the tallest straightest trees. (learned this when I took a Wood Technology course). My American grandfather, who built over 100 houses, showed me the difference between "real" pine and supertree pine- look on the endgrain. If the growth rings are very wide, it is not virgin forest pine. Supertree pine is weak and hard to work with without getting tearout. How much lighter and weaker? A lot- my grandfather was of the opinion that the California building codes, which were established long ago, were now substandard because modern pine is that much weaker. Haven't worked much with pine myself, but I have with redwood, similar story. Old growth redwood is amazingly dense and creamy, and deeply colored. Totally different story when making a guitar body.

    I have some salvaged 19th Century larch (similar softwood) and wow is it nice, firm and creamy to work, with a nice tap tone, too- I'd never use modern "farmed" larch.
     
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  15. Grand Rabbit

    Grand Rabbit SS.org Regular

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    Very interesting stuff there, Bobro. So the sharpshooters knocking the pine cones off of the top of the tallest, strongest trees would make the pine population, in theory, grow stronger, right?

    Lookin very good, Kyle01. Definitely cleaner than my first build!
     
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  16. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the feedback guys, I appreciate it.
    Made some more progress in the past few days:

    Got the control and jack cavity routed (using a single mini volume pot so all i needed was a circular hole)

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    Got the pickup cavity routed (definitely need to make a new humbucker template, this one's a little crooked. I guess that's what pickup rings are for. Also seems like I might need a smaller diameter router bit for this, the pickup's baseplate corner didn't fit properly without some dremel work.)

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    Neck ferrules are all set up since I had to attach the neck beforehand to align the bridge and pickup properly.

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    All that's left now is carving out that forearm bevel, then finishing. Should be interesting to see what the artist decides for this one.
     
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  17. JimF

    JimF SS.org Regular

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    Loving this build! Will your soldering not be super tight in that cavity? I suppose I'm fearful as I hate soldering!
     
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  18. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Thanks man. It will definitely be tight, but the mini pot fits in pretty nicely. I'll probably use more wire than I need, then solder outside the cavity and push it all in there overtop of the pot. If it ends up being too tight, I'll drill my jack cavity all the way through so it will be open on one end.

    I feel you on the soldering though, I can't stand doing it. It seems like you need to have 3 hands to do it properly.
     
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  19. JimF

    JimF SS.org Regular

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    The extra wire is a great idea! I was soldering the other day and I thought three hands were needed!
     
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  20. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Took Knight's advice, went and got a rasp from home depot today to cut that bevel. It's not perfect, but I'm quite satisfied by how it turned out.

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