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Home Made Stringed Instrument - Starting This Weekend

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(@rparker)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Thanks to Kent_eh and this topic https://www.guitarnoise.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=49150 and a subsequent posted of the Jack White guitar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCFXeChXfcI , I've decided to kill some time and do something along this line. My son is going to assist. After a week or so of thought, I've landed on several ideas. It will be a work in progress type of thing. Here's some of my ideas so far.

1: I found a big piece of floor joist out back near the fence. It's 2" X 8". I'm going to cut a 40 inch section.
2: I have a few pieces of self adhesive carpeting. I'm going to line the under-side.
3: There's not a whole lot of ways to make a floor joist look pretty. The beer label thing has been done. I could sand and finish. I could also sand, prime and let my wife go to town with some accrylics or thin oil paints and do a fun little painting.
4: I've got a end-pin style input jack. I'll find some way to rig it without the use of duct-tape. Or not. My son has some colored duct-tape. Hmmmmm
5: I think I want more than one string. I've been thinking along the lines of open-G, but not 6 or even 5 strings. I think I am going with just the three highest - G-B-D - and see where that gets me.
6: The Nut: A bottle is an obvious choice. It also makes for a very high angle. I'm going into the garage to see what else I can use.
7: The Bridge/Saddle: In Jack White's clip, it's a nail. In another, it's a nail with support tension provided by a couple of staples. If I intend to use more than one string, I have to be able to tune the guitar. My goal is to have as few standard components as I can. So, I am going to hunt through by old screws/nuts/bolts bin and find something that I can use to adjust string tension at will. Even if it's bent nails. That got me to thinking, though. Perhaps an old spark-plug socket for the saddle and the bridge/string fastener could be whatever I can rig up to twist. Then the only problem I would have is intonation. Adding 2 strings complicates things.
8: Pick-ups. I've got a squire tele neck and a squire tele bridge pick-up. Both single coils. I'm toying around with the idea of having them both on there and following it up with some really crude and ugly switching mechanism. Or, just having them both active.
9: and finally, the frets....or lack of, I should say. What a great ear training tool this is gonna be. I'll probably use some markers at different notes to get me rolling.

Well, if anyone has any ideas, fire away.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@almann1979)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1283
 

Roy, this is going to be a great thread to follow!! will you be updating it with pictures as the work progresses?
im really looking forward to watching the progress on this!

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)


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(@boxboy)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1226
 

The Park-O-Caster? Alright!
Have fun Roy! 8)

Don


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(@jase36)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 247
 

The Park-O-Caster? Alright!
Have fun Roy! 8)

I'm thinking maybe the Teleparker, after all it is just a plank of wood

http://www.youtube.com/user/jase67electric


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(@rparker)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5492
Topic starter  

will you be updating it with pictures as ther work progresses?That sounds like fun. I'll do that starting with today's progress.
I'm thinking maybe the Teleparker, after all it is just a plank of wood
A big 'ol heavy plank of wood. 40 inches long, 8 inches wide and uner two inches thick.

Mick and I got it cut down. (He did the cutting as I am on meds....dads need to set examples) I did use our incredibly lame pad sander on it for a while and got a good deal of the weathering off. Got a few surface cracks gone as well. One side had suffered a fair bit of mildew. I sanded that and will administer some clorox to it. That side will be the bottom, covered with padding.

I've got the depth measurements for both of the pickups. I need to find the right combination of nut, saddle and pick-up mounts to ensure that I'm at least somewhere within reason for distance between string and pickups.

One question: There is a long magnet under each of them. should they touch or not touch any wood surface? I'm thinking not, nut if anyone knows for sure, pipe in. I might need to make a bit of a bracket out of some scraps. Not a huge biggie. Give my son a task and a power-tool and he couldn't be happier.

Costs so far, waiting to be assembled
$10.66 w/tax for end pin style output jack
$0.00 Plank of wood leaning up against the back fence
$0.00 Squire Pick-ups. I received as a gift some USA pickups for my squire, so these are in a sense free to me.
$0.50 1 sheet sandpaper.
$0.00 3 strings that will come off the guitar I have now that needs new ones.

$11.16 so far. Time to go into the garage and find stuff to use for nut, tuners and saddle.

Early images
Raw material, cut - not sanded

After sanding it down some

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@anonymous)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 8306
 

lol i love it


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(@almann1979)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1283
 

Great pics roy - did i mention i am well into following this thread? :D
im so bad at any sort of DIY that this fascinates me - cant wait to see the next stage.

great idea!

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Cooool project Roy! 8)

I can wait for the final. Awesome. Enjoy!


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(@rparker)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Topic starter  

We've got lift off!!!!

Nothing much done on Saturday on anything. This morning was a little better and I got to work on it periodically throughout the day. This morning started with the carpeting of the bottom. It's some semi-adhesive stuff my wife and son picked up for a different project a few years ago. Leftovers are free, right? As far as the semi adhesive bit, it only took a few small nails to get it to stay on really well. Yes, that is a Rolling Stones coffee mug.

The next parts were to decide on the nut and the saddle/bridge. I settled on one socket and one, um, something metal as well. I don't remember what it was. It's a saddle now.

I knew I needed to have the nut and saddle higher than the pickups, and that the pickups needed to float. I used two pieces of 2X4 at the ends and an old bit of wood I had as the pickup mounts. I had all the screws and rubber bushings still, so that part was a breeze. I just pre-drilled all of my holes and went to town.

Here're are a couple angles. first, the nut end:

and the bridge end

And an angle looking down:

I ended up using a really crude system of nails to hold the saddle in place. I used framing nails as you can see, and I simple fastened the string to the nails by running one end through the other end with the ball, slipping it over the nail and pulling tight, The other end was not so simple.

Being a 3 stringed instrument, I needed a way to be able to tune. Keeping with the spirit of the project, no tuners were purchased. I took the strings, made them as tight as I could and knotted them around screws above the nut. I could then, in theory, loosen or tighten the screws to raise or lower the screw head which would in turn change the tension (via length).

It worked. Not great. Talk about some cheap tuners. Phew, these things are horrid. BUT, they do work.

Next step was to simply tie the wire ends on to the input jack, just to get an idea if it's all going to work or not.

It does. G-B-D. I played a little of Rollin' and Tumblin' Blues and general farting around. I've got a few issue with it. It goes out of tune really easily. Plus, of course, there's the playing by ear. No fret marks. Anyhow, the issues that I'll toy with next.

#1: No ground, so it is noisy. Not as bad as I feared. I'll figure something out.
#2: Low volume. I didn't have to crank an amp wide open or anything, but I do need to raise the pickups a bit, I think.
#3: I have not decided on my crude switch to go from one to the other or both pickups.

Here's the height issue:

Oh, the strings were off my MIM Tele. they needed a change. Soooo, total project cost so far is still $9.99 + tax for the input jack, some scrap wood, an old socket I never use and other various bits of left over crap from being a pack rat.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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Awesome Roy! :D


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 cnev
(@cnev)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4478
 

Roy I like the note book full of all the high tech engineering layouts and schematics!

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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(@boxboy)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1226
 

This is a cool project, Roy. 8)
Love the screws* as tuners...

* For fine tuning: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_screw_drives#Robertson

Don


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(@almann1979)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1283
 

good progress roy!!!
keep up the updates, this is a great project!

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)


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(@gnease)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

you're a speed demon, Roy! I spent 3 1/2 years on/off building my lapsteel -- and essentially, it is what you have there. uh, waitaminute …. mine has only one pup

-=tension & release=-


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(@rparker)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5492
Topic starter  

yeah, cnev, nothing but the highest quality of specs for me.

gnease, that might be, nut I have a suspision that yours is so much more defined that mine will ever be.

Don, good thought on those different screw heads. It's got me thinking allen-wrench heads.

I do need to low the nut and bridge down each about 3/4 of an inch. I also need to move the nut back further so that the string does not have to hit the wood between the nut and "tuners". I also broke my pipe cutter while trying a new piece that I think will be better suited the nut and saddle. I'll try to fix that this week and go to town on her. It's a nice. slow project. Just what I needed.

But, the proof of concept has been met.

Oh, gnease, how should I wire to get rid of hum? I've just got two wires each from the pivkups. black and white. Should I introduce another wire to this and wire it from the electrics to a piece of metal on the guitar like a nail or something?

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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