#1
Picture here (56k warning).

I'm building a new 9 string for a client, and it's my first extended range guitar (1st string: 0.009, 9th string: 0.090). The guitar itself is 30" scale length with 27 frets, jumbo fretwire. Body thickness of 1.75, contoured highly. Solid brass belt clip is attached to back to custom measurement to allow upright playing position for client with usual Chapman Stick underarm strap.

The body is neck-through, made from two wings of either cherry or ash, depending on availability of good planks, glued to a center stripe of purpleheart. The pickup is a slanted hand-wound humbucker (43awg wire potted with beeswax, which has better microphonic isolation than paraffin) with polepieces on either side of each string. Single volume, single tone (possibly switches for phase, coil cut, etc).

The bridge is a custom low-riding Tune-O-Matic style bridge made from ebony with a bone cap. No tailpiece; string-through retainer (not pictured). Sperzel locking tuners in 5x4 pattern. Bone nut. Rubbed oil finish.

The desired guitar for the client was a Chapman Stick-style 9 string with a slightly larger body and ability to play fairly normally when desired. Economical, budget of $450 dollars (both materials and labor). The finish date is Christmas, which means purchasing supplies within a few days (design was fleshed in the last 10 hours). Did all calculations on cost, and final product will be barely within budget, depending on tuner choice.

Problems to resolve:
  • Truss Rod: one double-action truss rod or two parallel? Neck thickness probably won't support double-action, so it looks like two parallel truss rods, for now.
  • Tone block: should a toneblock be added to offset more weight to the bass and keep it bottom-heavy? Seems like pickup would help immensely, since overwound.
Sincerely, Chad.
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Last edited by Chad48309 at Nov 21, 2011,
#3
I would go dual truss rod for this, or you could look into the offset style if you feel like you could get away with using one.

Also I agree with GS, that pickup seems slanted the opposite way of what you would want it to be...
#5
Quote by GS LEAD 5
Though it would make sense if he intends to do tapping and stuff, and not typical chuggah chuggah........he named it RyanStick, so I guess he wants to make something along the lines of a Chapman stick:?

Yes, in fact that was my basis for slanting it in that direction. As stated in my first post:
The desired guitar for the client was a Chapman Stick-style 9 string with a slightly larger body and ability to play fairly normally when desired.

Thanks for the suggestions so far, gentlemen. I'll look into offset truss rods (which, if anyone has more information on, please feel free to post here). From what I can gather, they are typically used on necks with an asymmetrical back (thinner on treble), and are set in the widest part of the cup.
Sincerely, Chad.
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LP doesnt have to stand for les paul.. it can stand for.... lesbian porn.
Last edited by Chad48309 at Nov 21, 2011,
#7
Quote by GS LEAD 5
Just an opinion, but the hradstock kinda looks like an oversized Fender headstock. Doesnt quite gell with the rest of the body. Just an opinion though.

The idea is to keep zero lateral string pull from nut to tuner. It improves overall tuning stability. The headstock was just thrown together to mirror the asymmetric mass distribution of the body and keep access to the 4th string tuning key. Revision will be based on customer feedback.

Thank you for your input. I will come up with a few alternate headstocks in advance.
Sincerely, Chad.
Quote by LP Addict
LP doesnt have to stand for les paul.. it can stand for.... lesbian porn.
#8
^Why not keep a plain triangular shape? Or a dome? Or a skewed curve? That way you can keep the strings straight from nut to tuner, and make the guitar look a lot sweeter? From what youve posted so far, you seem to have the functionality done. That little circular bob right at the end of the hedstock jars with the rest of the design.

And what did you mean by the toneblock bit? Do you mean to add more low end to the sound?

EDIT: Stickied. I really wanna see the finished guitar.
Last edited by GS LEAD 5 at Nov 21, 2011,
#9
Quote by GS LEAD 5
^Why not keep a plain triangular shape? Or a dome? Or a skewed curve? That way you can keep the strings straight from nut to tuner, and make the guitar look a lot sweeter? From what youve posted so far, you seem to have the functionality done. That little circular bob right at the end of the hedstock jars with the rest of the design.

A plain triangular shape is symmetrical, and the guitar is asymmetric all over. The body is, the tuning pegs are, and so it made sense that the headstock should be. Again, I have some time to make alternate headstock designs, so I will. This was mostly to be a visual marker to myself that I want asymmetry on that end, in that direction.

Quote by GS LEAD 5

And what did you mean by the toneblock bit? Do you mean to add more low end to the sound?

No, I meant using a large chunk of brass to bet set in the wood in place of the ferrules. It would add more weight to the body, to pull it down in that direction and balance the weight of the tuners. It really depends on how heavy the finished pickup is. The bridge is wood and bone, so that won't give a lot of weight on that end. Electronics won't make much of a dent, either.

Edit: thanks for the sticky. I'll do at least a few daily updates from now until I deliver, then record a couple tracks with the client.
Sincerely, Chad.
Quote by LP Addict
LP doesnt have to stand for les paul.. it can stand for.... lesbian porn.
Last edited by Chad48309 at Nov 21, 2011,
#10
Today, I emailed a local sawyer and confirmed the design with the client. The sawyer didn't respond, but their website says they have cherry in stock, in the dimensions I need. They also have walnut, and I'm going to see if I can get a walnut stripe for the center to glue the planks to.

I haven't, however, found a good line on 1/4" fretboards that extend out to 3.5" at their widest point (minimum). I'm not picky about species, since the goal of this guitar is to remain economical. If I still can't find one by early next week, I'll just make one out of Corian as an experiment.

The client corrected my draft (which assumed .090 9th string and .009 1st string) and told me he is actually planning on tuning to (from 1st to 9th): A (.007), Eb (.010), Bb (.013), Gb (.017), Db (.024), Ab (.032), Db (.042), Ab (.054), E (.068).

This makes the build harder, in some areas, and much easier in others.

I am now positive that I can use either double truss rods (if I really, really want) or an offset truss rod (should I decide to make an asymmetrical neck cup) without many problems. My bridge design will hold up to the string tension without cracking, of that I am also confident.

However, the .007 string does not typically play nice with string-through-body mounting instead of a tailpiece. I could fabricate my own tailpiece out of polycarbonate or wood, but depending on the break angle from the ball-end, this could do nothing to help string stability.

I'll mull it over tonight with some narcotics.
Sincerely, Chad.
Quote by LP Addict
LP doesnt have to stand for les paul.. it can stand for.... lesbian porn.
#11
I like the idea of the brass toneblock. Misha Mansoor's (Periphery) Decibel db1 has a nice chunk of brass underneath the bridge. When I pointed it out to him, he said that it does help make a difference to the tone. I think brass is supposed to help obtain more clarity and punchiness or something like that...

EDIT: I also just got the idea, looking at your headstock, to remove some of the wood between the tuners. You could reinforce it or something if you'd like, and I'm not sure if that would cause concern with stability of the headstock, but here's what I was thinking of in terms of what it would look like:



And here's an example of a Blackmachine headstock... I thought it might help judge how much wood can be taken out without affecting stability.

Last edited by Pac_man0123 at Nov 23, 2011,
#12
Quote by Pac_man0123


Blimey, that looks a lot like a Parker Fly headstock!

I reckon that sort of thing would look pretty cool...
Quote by Kensai


Awesome guy right here
#14
Wait, 450 for that? As in he's paying you 450 total for this? Christ man, either you're the most humble being in the world, or you're insane

Either way, can't wait to see this done.

My things:
Bowes SLx7
Washburn WG587
Washburn X40Pro
Washburn X50
Washburn HM24
Washburn WR150
Laguna LE200s
Arietta Acoustic
First Act
Valveking 112
VHT Deliverance

#16
Quote by Pac_man0123
I like the idea of the brass toneblock. Misha Mansoor's (Periphery) Decibel db1 has a nice chunk of brass underneath the bridge. When I pointed it out to him, he said that it does help make a difference to the tone. I think brass is supposed to help obtain more clarity and punchiness or something like that...

Yes, I'm going to plan a route for it, but it may be prohibitive because of cost.

Quote by Pac_man0123

EDIT: I also just got the idea, looking at your headstock, to remove some of the wood between the tuners. You could reinforce it or something if you'd like, and I'm not sure if that would cause concern with stability of the headstock, but here's what I was thinking of in terms of what it would look like:

And here's an example of a Blackmachine headstock... I thought it might help judge how much wood can be taken out without affecting stability.

Thanks for the pictures. I'll speak to my client about it. He currently wants to inlay his band logo (not pictured, for privacy) in the space that would be available for removal.

Quote by Wisthekiller
May I recommend putting an inward curve on the bottom so it'd be more comfortable to sit with (and as a bonus, if you did it a certain way, sitting with it would be possible in standard OR classical position)?

The guitar is designed to be held upright and tapped (with a under-armpit strap and belt clip, the way a Chapman Stick is held), so that's not supportive of the playing style this is designed for. I'll speak to my client about it, but I'm fairly certain the basic body shape has been, for the most part, finalized.

Quote by valennic
Wait, 450 for that? As in he's paying you 450 total for this? Christ man, either you're the most humble being in the world, or you're insane

Either way, can't wait to see this done.

He's a good friend from sometime back, who is supporting me well in my new business venture as a custom luthier. My goal is to provide good instruments to musicians at reasonable prices, since it will provide a larger client base. Most working musicians who could do the most with better instruments cannot afford a completely custom instrument. If I can provide that service competitively enough, I can tap into a market that is largely ignored. It's just business.

Quote by GS LEAD 5
450?
I think I know who to go to for my uber epic custom guitar.....

And a high A?
Is it even possible to have such a high string on a 30'' scale?

You're going to be on a waitlist for some time, so flesh out your idea in writing and commit to some basic specifications. It makes your build quicker and cheaper. This is a golden rule for any custom luthier you go to.

Garry Goodman at Octave4Plus Strings makes a .007 string (link) that seems to work okay for up to 28.625". However, I heard he made 30" strings, which are now discontinued. I'm now trying to figure out if a .006" string or even .005" will be able to tune to pitch with less tension.

Edit: I completely forgot to give a progress update.

The client has extended the delivery to January 20th at the latest. Which is fine, since I'm still shooting to start final assembly on Christmas.

I spoke to a local sawyer about finding some 8/4 cherry planks at least 4' long and 5" wide. He told me that it's 5' a foot in pieces that start at around 8', of varying width. I think he's implying that he'd rather I come out to select my wood by hand, rather than trust him to find something to suit my needs. Still no words on whether everything is knot-free and straight-grained, too. He also says he won't have 8/4 walnut (for the center stripe) for about 1-2 weeks. I'll most likely wait and pick up at once, since I can't beat his prices online.

Scale length is now flexible and final size is dependent on a response from Garry at O4P strings. I sent an email asking what is the longest scale length that's still relatively stable for .007" strings tuned to A4.
Sincerely, Chad.
Quote by LP Addict
LP doesnt have to stand for les paul.. it can stand for.... lesbian porn.
Last edited by Chad48309 at Nov 23, 2011,
#18
Quote by Chad48309

He's a good friend from sometime back, who is supporting me well in my new business venture as a custom luthier. My goal is to provide good instruments to musicians at reasonable prices, since it will provide a larger client base. Most working musicians who could do the most with better instruments cannot afford a completely custom instrument. If I can provide that service competitively enough, I can tap into a market that is largely ignored. It's just business.


Ah, well that's quite an honorable goal man, just try not to keep your plate too full, or you'll face the downfall of the new, but popular, luthier. .

As far as that guitar goes, have you guys thought about maybe making it a fan fret? That would solve the high string issues.

My things:
Bowes SLx7
Washburn WG587
Washburn X40Pro
Washburn X50
Washburn HM24
Washburn WR150
Laguna LE200s
Arietta Acoustic
First Act
Valveking 112
VHT Deliverance

#20
Quote by GS LEAD 5
^Thats actually a good idea, that would make the low A 30'' but shave off just a bit and drop the high string to 29, maybe even 28.5?

Fanned frets have been considered, but it might not be in my friend's budget. Whenever I install fanned frets, I have to purchase a license from Novax Guitars. So, not only is there the cost of that, but also making a non-standard miter box for the fanned frets. Not to mention I simply have to charge more for the service.
Sincerely, Chad.
Quote by LP Addict
LP doesnt have to stand for les paul.. it can stand for.... lesbian porn.