#1
Hey, long time since Ive made a thread or even posted here lol. This is kinda long, just airing out all my thoughts..

Anyway, I've decided I'm going to build my first guitar in the upcoming months, its something I really want to do. The reasons being, there really isn't ever anything at the guitar stores that truly speaks to me, that is something I really want.. and usually the guitars that I do like spec wise/looks wise aren't in stock and are the kinda things that they won't bring in for you to just try out, its a purchase or never try kind of deal which I will never, ever do. I currently have an 85 jap strat that is my baby, I do everything with it, and its currently tuned to drop c, but it's really not geared for this kind of tuning or the music styles that use them (doesn't stop me though).

I want a 7 string, most of the music I listen to these days is 7 string based (periphery, whitechapel, within the ruins, tesseract, circles, vildhjarta, so on and so forth), but most stores, even in toronto only carry a very small selection and that makes matters worse.

I've also always wanted a neck-through, which also come in very small selections, nevermind I don't think I've ever seen a neck through 7 string. I almost bought a jackson SL3 a few years ago, but could only try another jackson neckthrough in store which wasn't the same, so I never pulled the trigger as I couldn't see myself dropping over a grand and not being able to try it. I know just from playing other strats in the stores that even the same models can vary wildly by feel, I can't explain it, they just do, I think anyone here would/should agree with me on that.

So I'm going to build a 7 string neckthrough guitar for my first ever - yes I am crazy right? I'm a precision machinist by day and have really good attention to detail and dexterity and I really don't see myself running into any issues. Aside from the tuners, bridge, electronics and pickups I plan to do everything including making the nut, which I may buy a wooly mammoth bone blank to do, why not go all out?

25.5" scale, 24 frets. I haven't decided on string spacing, but I have little girly bitch hands so string spacing has never been a problem for me so I could probably go tighter, but I figure I'll keep things to about the same spacing as my strat just to keep things similar.

For the neck, I want to carve as thin as I can (bitch hands), but I've noticed that sometimes the shape matters more than the thickness at the 'crown' of the neck radius.. I've played classical guitars with baseball bats for necks that felt more comfortable than ibanez wizard necks (that freaking flat screws me up so hard). Due to this, I'm going to go the laminated neck route. I can't exactly decide on the woods I want which is an issue. I love the look of a nice curly or birdseye maple, but for this guitar I want that nice mid/low dark tone that mahogany supposedly can provide. I also want it to look pretty sharp, so I am considering plies in the order: mahogany-wenge-maple-wenge-mahogany. The mahogany layers will also be plies most likely. I would ideally like the maple to be 1/4-3/8 thick with the wenge being mostly accents at 1/16th, but I can't seem to find 1/16th wenge. I did find 1/4 which I guess I could cut in half and then take down to thickness. Headstock I plan to scarf joint, but my debacle here is with the neck lines - I prefer a strat/jackson style headstock over the gibson one, but the lines from the wood in the neck will look like shit on a strat style Im thinking. Ebony fretboard. Any thoughts on the neck here? I know with the 7 they're under more stress, but I don't see why I would have any issues here really.

The body, I can't really decide here, will probably just go with mahogany. No top for first time, plus I like the curves of my strat and will mostly model after them but a little sharper ala jacksonish.

Natural finish, I love the look of natural wood, no homo.

Not sure on pickups yet. Dual humbucker, 3 way switch, single tone, single volume to keep things simple.

I have a lot of tools I need to buy. Even though I work with metal all day I don't have the necessary tools for things like fretting, nut slotting or really even just carving wood. I plan to use a mill to do the necessary routing for the trussrod, humbuckers and electronic box when everything is still largely square, and then from there just do the rest by hand.

I guess my biggest problem right now is going to be sourcing wood, and the fact that I don't really have a means of planing - I can use a mill to face the wood, but I'm not sure how well that will work.. It should be okay I imagine, but who knows. So does anyone have an sources for wood? Particularly in Canada? Due to the fact I don't have a planer I'd prefer preplaned woods even though they likely cost considerably more.

All said and done I figure Ill put 1-1.5k into this project all together, and if all turns out well, I'll make a baby sister 6 string clone and put 9's back on my strat, heh.

Comments, questions, answers, you're ****ing crazy's, all welcomed and appreciated

Are you telling me theyre out of dragons?
They never had dragons..
Who didnt?
The world..
GET THIS GUY OUT OF HERE, FIND ME A DRAGON
#2
I'm going out in a minute, so I don't have much time, but here are a couple of my thoughts:

When you say that you prefer a Strat/Jackson shape, are we just talking 6-inline and angled, or 6-inline and flat (like a Strat or Tele). If you like the flat look, you can achieve that without scarfing and glue a veneer onto the headstock face to tidy things up. For the angled option, you could use a plain block of wenge (or whatever) and scarf a second, thinner piece of maple between the 5-ply and your headstock. That's a classy way of breaking the pattern. Veneer is still an option too.

I see that you've not mentioned a bridge choice and neck angle. Have you thought about these?
#3
Yes, sorry 6-inline is the more proper term, however in this case it would be 7 inline heh. I do want to go the jackson angled route and create a scarf joint, but I was considering carving it all out of the same chunk of wood since I'll have plenty of wood there due to the neckthrough design. I actually wondered about the strength of the scarf joint under 7 string tension?

Glueing the veneer would tidy things up, but the back would still have the line, and being a tad OCD It would annoy me. I like your second idea. The other option is to go to a 4/3 split style, something like mayones does with their necks


Its actually that specific neck that made me decide last night to go with a mostly wenge neck to break up the mahogany of the body wings. I also found out that what I was looking for for the thin pieces was simply veneer (doh!). I really love the look of the padouk in that neck, but I don't think I'll go that extreme the first time.

As for the bridge and neck angle, yes I have thought about these. I am aiming for zero neck angle. I plan to use a bridge like this gotoh:


I have also considered machining my own bridge. The above gotoh is made simply of machinined brass, nothing fancy.. just plated after. But for $60 I might as well just buy the gotoh

I know the neck angle is based upon how high the bridge sits above the body, as well as how high the fret crown sits. Once I have all my components and I can measure the true bridge height I will be calculating it all out to achieve zero angle. I want my action to be as low as I can possibly make it. I know there is potential for screw ups here, but I should be fairly accurate and the bridge should offer more than enough height adjustment. I may just try to find a precut nut to make things a little simpler, but I do know how to adjust all the goodies so I don't see why I shouldn't try.

So yeah, I won't be cutting any pieces of wood until I have all the wood I'll need and then some, all the guitar components, electrical, pups, etc.. as well as all the tools I'll be needing. I guess you can say I'm just in a preliminary planning stage

Are you telling me theyre out of dragons?
They never had dragons..
Who didnt?
The world..
GET THIS GUY OUT OF HERE, FIND ME A DRAGON
Last edited by glenthemann at Feb 23, 2014,
#4
There are no issues with the strength of a scarf joint for a 7 string. There's also nothing wrong with putting veneer on both faces of the headstock. Another thing that people often do is to paint the headstock and use stingers to blend into the natural neck, but that works best if you paint the body too. Don't forget about Jackson's 4x3 either:

http://assets.fender.com/frl/6fb3b1b85f6df7846f488fff82893260/generated/7aa871569aab8256b2defee3b6e1b5c3.png

A bridge like that will give you a string height of ~10.5mm. You can get away with zero neck angle, but you still need to either recess the bridge or trim the body section of the neck through lower by 2-3mm (fingerboard thickness 5mm + fret crown 1.5mm + string clearance 1.5mm = ~8mm). I can almost guarantee that you'll be making adjustments to a pre-cut nut, but it's still worth saving yourself the time.

How are you on fret leveling, crowning and dressing?
#5
Good to know about the scarf joint. With this build since I'm not doing a top I'd like to stay away from veneering the headstock, I think I'll go the 4-3 style for the headstock to show off the wood laminations.

As for the bridge, we'll see how that goes. I only found those gotoh ones so far, I know there are others out there. In any case, I'll figure out what to do once I have a bridge in my hand that I can measure. If I have to recess then I'll recess, if I choose to want a neck angle then I'll put in a neck angle, no biggie either way.

As far as fret leveling, dressing and crowning goes, I've never done it. I don't really foresee any issues there, I realize that its considered one of those "omg you need years of practice to get right" type things, but you level them, use a crown file to smooth the edges, and then you polish em up, doesn't seem too crazy to me. I do have an old tele I grabbed off a friend that really needs the frets entirely redone, I had considered doing this first hand to get the hang of it, but there are some issues still involved with my "ownership" of that one.. so its been sitting.

I'll be machining myself radius blocks for the fretboard, I'm going to stick with a single radius, a pretty flat one, and I'll use that for the fret levelling as well (obviously). I may also make some neck radius gauges at varying fret intervals just so everything stays pretty consistent as the neck grows towards the 24th fret.

So yeah, I've never built a guitar, I haven't done much other than rewiring, adjusting pups, truss rod, etc.

Is this the part where you tell me I'm crazy?

Are you telling me theyre out of dragons?
They never had dragons..
Who didnt?
The world..
GET THIS GUY OUT OF HERE, FIND ME A DRAGON
#6
It's definitely worth considering the compromise on the bridge front, where you zeep the zero angle and essentially recess the entire body front. Both of the recessing options are easier than a neck angle though, which can be a pain.

You shouldn't have any issues with the fret components. The only reason I asked is because a lot of people don't consider it as part of the build. They spend ages mulling over wood choices, body shapes and hardware, but not playability. One of the best tutorials around is by Sully Guitars on YouTube. Give that a watch and try it out on an old guitar or w/e. I'd also advise you to grab an arbor/drill press caul for pressing the frets, because it's easier and more accurate than a hammer.

I'm not really clued-up on much 7 string stuff, so I'll also say that researching neck reinforcement would be a good idea. I know that your wood choices are very strong, but carving thin is still a risky business and carbon fiber rods are readily available. Take a look and see what people do.

Why would anyone tell you that you're crazy? I don't think that anyone came out of the womb with guitar building experience, so everyone will have a first.
#7
Yeah, while I have the ability to measure out minute angles it would definitely be a whole lot easier to just have everything flat. I checked out some hipshot bridges and they're really low, I may go that route instead.

I'll check out those tutorials, I appreciate the recommendation. I have access to an arbor press so I could go that route. I had planned to make a jig to preradius the fretwire and I'm pretty handy with a mallet, but that is a good option as well.

I am trying to research the neck reinforcement/stiffness end of things, I definitely don't want to snap a neck that I can't replace. The thinner the better for me imo, but as I said in the OP I've played some baseball bat sized classicals that felt like butter and some ibanez wizard necks that were toothpicks but felt like utter crap so I think theres more to the design of the radius than simply just thickness.. I'm not sure lol. As I carve the neck I'll be aiming to maintain a certain thickness at the center and carve the rest to what feels right as I go I suppose. Then I can make templates of it for future builds, as I am sure there will be many should this all go well.

As far as the crazy thing, well, I do realize I am jumping in the deep end. I see a lot of posts where people reccomend just basic builds to get your feet wet, prebuilt/carved bodies and necks, etc. I'm going totally from scratch and doing a neckthrough which appears to be seen as an "advanced" type of build. Either way, it's what I'll be going for. I know my first build won't be perfect, but I'm pretty certain it'll come out pretty close to stellar... if I mess something up, well, it'll just be a learning experience

Are you telling me theyre out of dragons?
They never had dragons..
Who didnt?
The world..
GET THIS GUY OUT OF HERE, FIND ME A DRAGON
#8
I think this is a great idea! I like when people aim high. Kit builds get so boring haha.
I also think, having done one myself, that a neck thru appears to me to be one of the easiest ways to attach the neck. No tricky neck pockets! The only hard part is putting in a neck angle. Which is why a thick fingerboard and a low bridge is a good idea for a beginner.
You may want to consider a longer scale length, though. That low string might be a little too loose with a 25.5" scale length.
Bari Build

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#9
Yeah I keep hearing that, but the majority of 7 strings out there are 25.5" and I have little girl hands and can't even make a 1-6th fret stretch on a 25.5 as is lol.

A lot of the music I like is detuned well below the B so I'll be going pretty heavy on the string gauge anyway.. Aye, thinking about this and guitar building and how I'll spend a good amount of time crafting a flawless nut makes me think I need a guitar for each tuning I could possibly play. lol.

I've decided I'm going to use a dual action truss rod like something from LMII which requires only a 3/8" channel and I'll flank it with two carbon rods, size undecided but the idea is there. That will allow me to make the neck relatively thin, I hope

Are you telling me theyre out of dragons?
They never had dragons..
Who didnt?
The world..
GET THIS GUY OUT OF HERE, FIND ME A DRAGON
Last edited by glenthemann at Feb 24, 2014,