#1
i have the urge to build a new instrument though im not entirely sure what to build.. ive worked as a luthier before and still have all the tools so no need to worry about whether or not i have the skills

im thinking id like something more on the compact side.. dont really want a big heavy guitar as i may even be doing some traveling soon and would love to have an instrument i can take with me

with this i had the idea of going with something like a steinberger type body, or cut the wings off a flying V/king V style body for something compact with no headstock.. id like to maybe have some string through body ferrules that go into the guitar body and maybe have the tuning pegs inside the back panel where the tremolo springs would be located if i were to use a tremolo (which i will not).. the idea for this is to make the instrument more compact and not leave a headstock or tuning pegs to hang out or bump on something or accidently get hit with my hand while playing.. ive even wondered if its possibly to have holes in the back panel i can stick an allen wrench through for tuning instead of using regular tuners

im not sure if i really need to go through all that trouble to make it a bit more compact and a bit more durable... but im thinking if i do i'll probably use a very simple, maybe even acoustic-style bridge.. possibly a piezo bridge as opposed to using a magnetic pickup because this could also give me the options of doing other things with it because im not sure if im going to go with a normal 6 string

some of the ideas i was thinking of for the strings is to maybe use a wider neck, the spacing and fingerboard of a classical nylon string guitar as i have been considering learning some of the classical guitar techniques which do better with wider spacing and nylon strings

another idea i had was to go with five strings tuned CGDAE, like a cello/violin since i have been putting very heavy consideration into learning some of the violin family of instruments, having a guitar tuned CGDAE allows me to learn the scales but then again i may just be better off designing and building an electric cello or electric violin instead

so as you can see im very flexible in this next project, it could be five string or six, normal spacing or wide, it could even end up being a cello or violin as opposed to a guitar.. i do know this will be an electric instrument, likely using a piezo pickup built into the bridge for ease and simplicity but if i do decide to stick with a steel string electric im not opposed to winding my own custom spaced or even 5-pole pickups, though a 5 string on the width of a 6-string neck and bridge i could just use a pickup with a bar magnet... i've wound my own pickups before

so yeah, any interesting ideas or suggestions?
#2
If you do a guitar, check out the Carvin Holdsworth Headless. It packs a full 25.5" scale with 24 frets into a 31" overall length, and it's set up so that the body protects the bridge/tuners/trem while providing a two-point support (in case you want to lean the guitar). Any reason why you'd go with a five string rather than a six or seven?

Jim Soloway has made guitars that have a 1 13/16ths" wide nut with a neck that maintains that extra 1/8th" all the way to a custom-made bridge. He's also fond of a 27" scale tuned to standard and a 16" radius fretboard. He also makes the guitar with a 15" lower bout, and some *serious* curves in the form of a rib cut and a forearm relief. And I really appreciate a guitar with neck-through construction, as it allows a smooth and deep neck-body join with no loss of strength or fussy bolt work.

There should be no issue with stringing an instrument in fifths (CGDAE...etc.) as opposed to fourths. I've played that before, and it actually makes sense and extends the range.
#3
this is what i sort of had in mind below.. maybe with a light domestic wood.. alder maybe.. as for the bridge and nut, i'll be cutting those myself as well so i can use really any string spacing i want.. with the pickups i need to match if i dont go with a bar magnet or piezo

what do you guys think though? normal steel 6 string, wider spaced nylon.. sort of an electric classical guitar.. a 5 string mandocello/octave mandolin, or just build a straight electric cello or electric violin?.. maybe i could just have enough of a body to hold the electronics, and bridge and possibly bend a metal removable rest that rests on the leg

its a hard decision because im split about 50/50 between wanting to make a guitar vs a violin or cello, and of the guitar im about 50/50 if i want a 5 string tuned in fifths or a six string classical
#5
Try a Google image search on travel guitar designs. Many of the ideas you have suggested, such as having the (conventional style) tuners in the body have already been done and would be worth a look.

I've never used a 5th tuning, but the idea of learning it, ala mandolin, seems to be a popular idea among guitarists. But maybe the long reaches associated with big intervals would be a problem on a long scale like the guitar.
#6
well a mandocello with just four strings tuned CGDA typically has more range than a guitar, adding the fifth string grants you even more range.. downside is chords will be a bit more difficult as the spacing is going to be wider.. determining the scale length for this instrument could be difficult because if you go too long youre going to be placing a lot of tension on the neck, and the neck being longer itll give more leverage to warp it

i think a 24.75 or 25.5" scale as common with guitars would sufficient and it would also make positioning the frets easier, i dont see why these scale lengths wouldnt work, they seem to work fine for drop tuning anyway, but im not opposed to lengthening the scale a bit if necessary.. im thinkinking i may go with a double truss-rod given that the 5-string fifths tuning will add a lot more tension between the first and the last string which could cause the neck to want to twist around a central truss rod, so having two would allow me to have a bit more on the higher tension strings

for the body though im thinking of basically starting out with a flying V but hack the wings off past the bridge to make it more compact, in the absence of a tremolo (i dont use them anyway) i could easily cut myself an acoustic style saddle for the new string spacing, and a new nut too of course.. then have the strings go into a cavity in the back of the body where i will have some mechanism for adjusting the tension on the strings for tuning.. if i can put tuning pegs in there i can

does anyone know if any tuning machines that i can adjust with an allen wrench as opposed to knobs or is this a part ill have to custom make?

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on the other side of things if i decide to go 6-string EADGBE i will space it wider like a classical guitar.. for either this or the five string im strongly thinking of going with nylon strings and use either a piezo (for simplicity) or an optical pickup to be different to pick up the vibrations.. an optical pickup would use lasers or LEDS shining on the string with a photodiode behind the string to detect fluctuations in the light it receives based on the frequency of the vibration of the string.. i will probably build a small onboard pre-amp into the guitar body to clean up the noise of using either type of pickup

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i do eventually want to learn violin or cello, however if i go with the 5 string guitar tuned in fifths i can learn the new tuning and the new scales with an already familiar type of instrument and cut my learning curve going into the violin family of instruments much shorter.. so that will likely be a future project at some point where i will probably build a 5-string prior

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the direction im leaning now is the trimmed V body, no headstock, scale length is undecided, cocnealed tuning pegs, wooden acoustic style saddle and bridge, most likely an underbridge piezo pickup, built in pre-amp, classical guitar style string spacing, 5 strings (which will be about the same width as a 6-string with standard spacing), and the piezo pickup will open me up to using any kind of strings i want, i could go between steel and nylon with just some truss rod adjustments to compensate for the tension

so i guess the only decision i really have to make since the two instruments im considering will have the same neck, same body, likely same scale length, same pickup, is whether i want to go with 5 strings tuned CGDAE or 6 strings tuned EADGBE, and this will also determine the actual width of the neck as well.. so once ive determined that i could completely design this out in autodesk inventor and make up some templates for carving the body, and some profile templates for shaping the neck... since this instrument will be more classical styled i will probably have a full length, flatter 16" fretboard radius
#7
basically what i'd like to know to aid in making this decision is if anyone who has played 5 string guitar or cello could tell me some of the differences theyve noticed between the scales and chords of the 6 string vs the 5, any limitations or advantages they may have noticed?
#8
I'd like to see you make an electric mandolin (look up Fender MandoStrat) and then also make it headless. I've quite enjoyed learning mandolin scales after guitar, and they're the same as violin and viola.

Also, can you imagine the portability of that? A headless solid-body mandolin? Need pics if ya do it
#9
yeah, that would be very portable, 5 strings could also add the C string making it like a mandola as well for more range.. question is whether to actually go five strings, or make it 10-string with five courses, doubling up on them in the mandolin fashion.. im just not sure mandolins really have the sound im looking for, i really like how violins sound, but not so much mandolins
#10
I'd go for 5 strings. Doubling would be a lot more work for not a whole lot of return if it's electrified. Also, if you want the sound of a violin, I'd take a look at the E-bow (pretty sure that's the name) that gets sustained sounds on instruments without a bow.
#11
if you made it fretless then you could accurately replicate a violin with something that played more like a mandolin or guitar
#12
i dont think ill go mandolin, it would be more portable but i think a headless guitar itself is plenty portable, so i think thats about the size i'll shoot for, and i am leaning just going with a 6 string if i go guitar.. if im going to want to eventually learn cello or violin then i will just go right to that instrument

i think ill just do both.. a six string electric nylon string classical guitar and a probably 5-string electric violin/viola.. i can use an octave pedal if i want cello sounds