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Andyjr1515

Piccolo turns nasty - Dark Side build Number Two

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Hi

I said in the other thread that I was kicking off a second 6-string electric build in parallel. It's a bit of an experiment and so I'm building it for myself.

Remember the piccolo bass for Pete?






Those who followed the thread might remember that it is essentially a 4-string electric. Same pitch, same scale length(s), even same neck width. And it weighs less than 6lb!

The curved back (notice a theme developing here?) also makes the neck to body transition super slim. This thing is a delight to play.

So ... a couple more strings .... another pickup - surely this has the potential for a 6 1/2lb electric...

With increasing numbers of born-again and never-went-away players suffering arthritis, and increasing numbers of women players and young players looking for something just a bit lighter - well, you never know.

It will be pretty much the same construction, but the neck will be from the laminated beam I'm also using for Tim's Alembicesque:


...and the top is likely to be using this wonderful (but eye-wateringly expensive) piece of Amboyna from Kirk at Exotichardwoodsukltd.co.uk:


Probably go for ebony fretboard and non-multiscale frets.

So - here we go again :D

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Is there any reason other than complexity to stop you from doing fanny frets?

That top man. It's like an other worldly landscape seen from orbit.

Good on you for making instruments more accessible! The making and repair of stringed instruments needn't be one of the dark arts any more. No longer is specialist knowledge and equipment kept behind closed doors.

Never-the-less, I don't think cottage craftsmen like yourself are a threat to any time-served luthiers. It seems that some middle ground has opened up in the demand for stringed instruments like we've never seen before. The pros will still get their guitars built to demanding spec. The wealthy will still be able to capture the grains of exotic woods forever so we can appreciate the beauty of them even after they're all extinct. Mass manufacturing will still churn out cheap and cheerful utility instruments.

Everyone's happy!






[size=2](tsktsktsk it's not even going to be a six string bass ffs)[/size]
[size=2]Heeheehee[/size]

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I'm pulling up my chair and getting my snacks ready for another riveting build thread :)

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PS. My kit build is going by the working title of [i]Ibanesque[/i]. I think I took the idea from what you said before.

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[quote name='SpondonBassed' timestamp='1501755016' post='3347105']
Is there any reason other than complexity to stop you from doing fanny frets?

[/quote]
If I was doing it simply for myself, I would probably go multi-fret. Yes, it's a bit of faff but only adds a day or so to the build times. But if this is more like a demonstrator, then straight frets will tend to scare less people off. They're quite a conservative bunch are electrics-players IMHO ...

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[quote name='SpondonBassed' timestamp='1501755016' post='3347105']

Never-the-less, I don't think cottage craftsmen like yourself are a threat to any time-served luthiers.
[/quote]

I'm sure you didn't mean this in any bad way, and i have no doubt Andy wont correct you, but trust me when i tell you Andy is no average hobbyist.
Yes he makes the basses from his house, but it has no effect on the end quality of instrument produced.
His bass surpassed most of the instruments I've ever played (including customs), and was only equal to a couple (A couple of Sei).
Like i said, i'm sure you didn't mean this to be taken in a derogatory way, but i just wanted to point this out ;)
Cool build concept again Andy. Look forward to seeing the results

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[quote name='FuNkShUi' timestamp='1501756910' post='3347132']
I'm sure you didn't mean this in any bad way, and i have no doubt Andy wont correct you, but trust me when i tell you Andy is no average hobbyist.
Yes he makes the basses from his house, but it has no effect on the end quality of instrument produced.
His bass surpassed most of the instruments I've ever played (including customs), and was only equal to a couple (A couple of Sei).
Like i said, i'm sure you didn't mean this to be taken in a derogatory way, but i just wanted to point this out ;)
Cool build concept again Andy. Look forward to seeing the results
[/quote]

You are quite right on all counts. You are perhaps unaware but Andy and I have met on a few occasions. I am quite sure he understands what was said. That you thought I was being derogatory was, well, interesting.

It is good that you know his work however. You might appreciate my intent better if instead I said that he is a gifted amateur luthier. Actual apprentice trained luthiers are not going to have to down tools and go home because of his work. Having said that, it would be difficult not to choose Andy when deciding whether to go to an untried luthier or the man I know and trust because I've seen his work first hand. If I owned a Sei, I might not be saying that though.

TFTF (Thank feck tomorrow's Friday)

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Andy?

Slight diversion; I was looking at Sei's website just now and I see that they have a bridge with an optical pickup. Have you any knowledge of those?

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I'm cool, folks :) (Not to be misinterpreted - as a certified old git, I'm really NOT 'Cool') i.e. I'm cool with being a hobbyist and to even be mentioned in the same sentence as Sei is VERY flattering :)

No - at the point this ever started to feel like a job, I'd run a mile. Being a hobbyist, I can afford to take time and risks that no commercial venture could. I can pick and choose the projects that interest me and can look in awe at the quality of a number of other builders I know without having to be at all defensive.

Happy chappy, me, as long as this stuff continues to be of any interest :D

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[quote name='SpondonBassed' timestamp='1501758654' post='3347150']
Andy?

Slight diversion; I was looking at Sei's website just now and I see that they have a bridge with an optical pickup. Have you any knowledge of those?
[/quote]
No....and for goodness sake don't mention it to Mick just in case he asks for one :lol: ;)

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[quote name='SpondonBassed' timestamp='1501758654' post='3347150']
Andy?

Slight diversion; I was looking at Sei's website just now and I see that they have a bridge with an optical pickup. Have you any knowledge of those?
[/quote]

That will be the [url=http://lightwave-systems.com]Lightwave[/url] system.

When it was originally launched it was also available for selected luthiers to build into their instruments. Zon and Sei amongst others offered this option. These day AFAICS it is only available on [url=https://www.willcoxguitars.com]Willcox Guitars[/url], so the only way to get the system into your own build would be to buy a bass with it fitted and cannibalise the bridge units and electronics from that.

The amount of electronics inside a Lightwave/Willcox bass is staggering. I used to own a Sabre A Bass which was mostly hollow - the top half was chambered normally and the bottom half plus a large section under the bridge housed the circuit boards and battery pack.

BTW as well as the optical pickup system the Lightwave also incorporates a piezo element in each bridge unit.

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[quote name='BigRedX' timestamp='1501760349' post='3347179']
That will be the [url="http://lightwave-systems.com"]Lightwave[/url] system.

When it was originally launched it was also available for selected luthiers to build into their instruments. Zon and Sei amongst others offered this option. These day AFAICS it is only available on [url="https://www.willcoxguitars.com"]Willcox Guitars[/url], so the only way to get the system into your own build would be to buy a bass with it fitted and cannibalise the bridge units and electronics from that.

The amount of electronics inside a Lightwave/Willcox bass is staggering. I used to own a Sabre A Bass which was mostly hollow - the top half was chambered normally and the bottom half plus a large section under the bridge housed the circuit boards and battery pack.

BTW as well as the optical pickup system the Lightwave also incorporates a piezo element in each bridge unit.
[/quote]

Yes. I was reading that from a link on the Sei webpage.

It is an interesting idea because it allows non magnetic strings to be used with an onboard line out to an amp or a desk. Piezo on its own has certain undesirable characteristics that might be favourably complemented by an optical device. It is also said to be a better signal if the guitar is MIDId up.

From what you say it would certainly be beyond my current ambitions. Technically though, it tickles me.

[i]Also, Mick might have to buy a Willcox Sabre and knobble it for parts if he wants you to make one Andy so I think you're okay for a bit. Hang on... he's standing right behind me isn't he? Oh Hi Mick. Good to see you mate![/i]

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[quote name='SpondonBassed' timestamp='1501773816' post='3347282']
[i]Also, Mick might have to buy a Willcox Sabre and knobble it for parts if he wants you to make one Andy so I think you're okay for a bit. Hang on... he's standing right behind me isn't he? Oh Hi Mick. Good to see you mate![/i]
[/quote]

LMAO!!!...Is Mick's real name Leroy Jethro Gibbs perchance?

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Here's a couple of photos of the one I used to own, the space under the black plastic on the back is FULL of electronics.





The combination of the optical pickup and piezo works very well, although there is is still a good deal of handling noise from piezo which isn't helped by the amount of chambering in the body, and TBH the space hollowed out for the electronics is actually a lot bigger than the actual upper bout chamber, so even the "solid body" model is still fairly hollow body!

Also the optical pickup takes some setting up - firstly you have to align the LED and sensor vertically with the string and then you have electronically balance the signal from each string by adjusting a series of preset pots that can only be accessed by taking that huge back cover off. All in all it's a bit of a faff, and you really ought to do it every time you change the strings, so while the system potentially lends itself to lots of string type experimentation, the reality is that once you've found a set that work for you, those tend to stay on it. I was lucky in that I really like the first replacement set I tried - TI Jazz Flats - and so I never go around to checking out anything else.

Having said all that I'd definitely have another one if I could find a tasty looking fretless 5-string.

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[quote name='BigRedX' timestamp='1501783129' post='3347374']
Here's a couple of photos of the one I used to own, the space under the black plastic on the back is FULL of electronics.





The combination of the optical pickup and piezo works very well, although there is is still a good deal of handling noise from piezo which isn't helped by the amount of chambering in the body, and TBH the space hollowed out for the electronics is actually a lot bigger than the actual upper bout chamber, so even the "solid body" model is still fairly hollow body!

Also the optical pickup takes some setting up - firstly you have to align the LED and sensor vertically with the string and then you have electronically balance the signal from each string by adjusting a series of preset pots that can only be accessed by taking that huge back cover off. All in all it's a bit of a faff, and you really ought to do it every time you change the strings, so while the system potentially lends itself to lots of string type experimentation, the reality is that once you've found a set that work for you, those tend to stay on it. I was lucky in that I really like the first replacement set I tried - TI Jazz Flats - and so I never go around to checking out anything else.

Having said all that I'd definitely have another one if I could find a tasty looking fretless 5-string.
[/quote]

Nice one.

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On account of my choice of fretboard wood, I've had a change of mind over the timber for the top of this one.

Instead of going for the Amboyna, I'm going for the same species of wood as the Alebic-esque electric ongoing on the other thread, that is, Camphor Laurel.

These are the bookmatched pieces, glued but not yet cut - you tell this is off a tree!:


So the reason for the change?

It's because of the fretboard I'm going for. As this is to be a bit of a showcase build (assuming I get it right! :rolleyes: ) I've gone the whole hog and bought a ridiculously expensive piece of Snakewood from the States. UK Customs are delighted with me....

Trouble is, Snakewood is pretty close in colour to Amboyna - hence the change to get a better contrast.

Here it is with the camphor dry:


And here is closer to how it will look once it's had the finish applied:


Should look pretty nice when it's done :)

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Wow, now that is some fine wood.

How soft is the camphor laurel? Are you going to void fill?

[Edit - having read your other thread I'm guessing ebony dust?]

Edited by honza992

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[quote name='honza992' timestamp='1504214833' post='3363515']
Wow, now that is some fine wood.

How soft is the camphor laurel? Are you going to void fill?

[Edit - having read your other thread I'm guessing ebony dust?]
[/quote]
The only proper working on it so far I've done is true up the join line and bandsaw the outline, but it seems similar to figured walnut to me.

Yes - the voids will be filled with z-poxy mixed with ebony dust (I keep a jar from all of my fretboard radius sands :) ). The wood so far has turned out to be significantly more stable than it looks.

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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 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.... :D

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Probably tears of joy...

I'm liking this....even though it's a [i]geeeetar.[/i]

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[quote name='TheGreek' timestamp='1504288958' post='3363965']
Probably tears of joy...

I'm liking this....even though it's a [i]geeeetar.[/i]
[/quote]
:D

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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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