Oakland Axe Factory headless development

Discussion in 'Dealers & Group Buys' started by Tom Drinkwater, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. Tom Drinkwater

    Tom Drinkwater ERG/ERB Builder

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    I've given alot of thought to creating a headless tuning system over the years. My first designs were almost all straight pull affairs like the ABM single string bridges or the classic Steinberger design. While that system works well I've never gotten past the bulk of it or the idea that you really need the system to be mounted so far back on the guitar. The system itself influences the guitar design too much for my tastes. There are enough limitations on guitar design already so in my head at least I couldn't go that route, I knew deep down that I needed to create something from scratch.

    It came to me as I was sketching out my first draft of the single cut headless 8 string guitar. Why not use a rocking lever under the bridge? It is out of the way and light weight. It is easy to use and utilizes a minimal amount of parts. We're talking "crowbar" technology here, literally. I immediately constructed a crude prototype and was surprised by how well that worked! Like a mad scientist I scribbled down every thought on the design as my head was immediately filled with every conceivable aspect of the system. Some of the immediate concerns were about the optimal shape of the rocker and how much room will it need to smoothly tune the string to pitch. Another troubling thought was about what to use for a knob on the top side of the system. The prototype utilizes a phillips head machine screw and that won't due on a guitar. I though about milling a head that could be adjusted with a guitar pick or having special knurled knobs made for the system. As of today the jury's still out on the adjuster knobs.

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    Here are some pics of the first prototype that I frantically cobbled together seconds after the initial idea had hit me.

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    As you can see from the last pic I was using a gallon jug of glue to simulate string tension. The next prototype will be tested in a more natural way with a mock string clamp and a string scale of around 27".

    Here is the sketch of the guitar design based on my SC model. I have since made a second version with a slightly smaller body as well.

    [​IMG]
     
    MJS, OrsusMetal, Empryrean and 14 others like this.
  2. SamSam

    SamSam GAS problems Contributor

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    Loving the design. The smaller body is great too!
     
  3. Thrashmanzac

    Thrashmanzac plays in 69/42

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    i love this idea :)
     
  4. JaeSwift

    JaeSwift Of Blood and Sawdust

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    Looks great, very innovative idea as well. Can't wait to see this on a real axe!
     
  5. mphsc

    mphsc lover of fine woods

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    I really like your designs & thought process more & more with every addition/comment added. As well as smaller bodies. :lol:
     
  6. Tom Drinkwater

    Tom Drinkwater ERG/ERB Builder

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    I'll make a priority of getting a pic of the smaller body up here today. The smaller body was JaeSwift's idea and I really like the looks of it.
     
  7. SamSam

    SamSam GAS problems Contributor

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    I best get my deposit money and standby.
     
  8. ForThisGift

    ForThisGift SS.org Regular

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    I am excited to see where this goes. I love the idea of a more conventional looking headless.
     
  9. Thrashmanzac

    Thrashmanzac plays in 69/42

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    just a quick thought, the tension on a standard tuned 6 string can be upwards of 70kgs, will this tension force then be tranfered to the pivot system of tuning, effectively placing an upward force on the thin routed out top of the cavity that houses the tuners? if so, have you thought of reinforcing that area of the guitar? sorry if this is a stupid question, my understanding of free body force is a bit rusty.
     
  10. ikarus

    ikarus SS.org Regular

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    Is there a chance for a limited run of these headless eights like the BFR run?
     
  11. technomancer

    technomancer Gearus Pimptasticus Super Moderator

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    Interesting idea, except for using a screwdriver to tune with. I'd give myself two string changes before I'd slip and gouge the hell out of the top of the guitar :2c:

    Aside from taking into account my own clumsiness I like it :yesway:
     
  12. SamSam

    SamSam GAS problems Contributor

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    The screw is just for the prototype :yesway:
     
  13. ForThisGift

    ForThisGift SS.org Regular

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    You should invent a specialized tool that comes with that guitar capable of adjusting all moving parts, like a multi-tool.

    If you please, it could be crafted from gold and encrusted with some sort of gems for decoration. It will be the tops in guitar maintenance systems.

    Also, I would totally be interested in getting one of these in a limited run (or otherwise for that matter).
     
  14. Razzy

    Razzy [10]

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    I hope you patented this great idea before posting it on the internet.
     
  15. Tom Drinkwater

    Tom Drinkwater ERG/ERB Builder

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    The top will be a minimum of .25” so that should be plenty of wood between the mechanism and the bridge. I’ll be able to fine tune that when I’m making my second prototype here hopefully this week.
    Will I be able to do another BFR run?
    Since the taxes went in for the year I’ve been crunching numbers on Excel and looking at what I need to do to get this business where it needs to be financially. First off I had to determine how many guitars I can realistically build in one year, how many labor hours I have available and how much I need to earn in a year to justify doing this. After that was calculated I had something to go off from and that led to some interesting options. My minimum price per guitar ended up looking like it was ending up somewhere in the mid to high $2k range so I decided to look at organizing my builds into quarterly production cycles of 5-8 guitars with a base price of around $2k and it looked like it could work. By ordering parts for 5 guitars at a time you save hundreds of dollars in shipping. Sometimes you can even get bulk deals on big orders and that also helps alot. The key is to build at least 5 guitars per quarter. So in essence every quarter will be like the BFR run. I’ll be able to post regular updates to facebook with pics, and I may even be able to offer some of the options at a discounted rate if enough people from a production cycle want the same thing. Another plus is that I’ll be able to more accurately estimate completion times.
    The next question of course became what models to offer. I read somewhere that as a small business owner you can’t be everything to everyone and that made sense to me. I also read that while it pays to specialize you need to remain at least a little flexible. I like being able to offer a selection but I am only one person so I think I’m going to be offering the headless single cut multiscale in 6 through 10 string configurations and a bass model, also with different numbers of strings and scale lengths. With this business model I can cater to more than just one type of musician while keeping the prices reasonable.
     
  16. Tom Drinkwater

    Tom Drinkwater ERG/ERB Builder

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    I don't care if someone else wants to use this idea. I think the DIY guys may like it alot. My hobby guitar builder friend Mark will love this. He is the only person to have every made a headless, multiscale, 8 string acoustic.
     
  17. JaeSwift

    JaeSwift Of Blood and Sawdust

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    I think a possible easy way to prevent this is to put some sort of pads (kind of like string retainers) between the screw with the spring and the pivot system. I guess it depends how much force you would need to tune it though as more force equals more risk.

    The ''guitars in runs'' model sounds like a very solid idea; should be great for us SS.org'ers wallets as well as we can get some lovely high quality axes at the same price as a higher bracket Prestige Ibby (Remember the girl with low self esteem?:lol:) . I love getting custom axes and such but I hate long waiting times so it's pretty awesome this will be able to prevent that.

    And crap, I'm gonna have to save up again :lol:
     
  18. Tom Drinkwater

    Tom Drinkwater ERG/ERB Builder

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    The tension should be pretty manageable. This next prototype will hopefully give me the info I'll need to see how far back the tuning knob has to go in relation with fulcrum and the load.

    By doing the guitars in a production cycle I shouldn't be locked into certain specs either. Each cycle could have pretty much any configuration available to include basses with different scales and numbers of strings.
     
  19. Tom Drinkwater

    Tom Drinkwater ERG/ERB Builder

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    I forgot about the girl with low self esteem! lol.
     
  20. JamesM

    JamesM The Armada

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    Really liking the looks of this.

    Although, I think in practice, eventual little thumbscrews (size necessitated by spacing) wouldn't allow for enough moment generation to comfortably tune the thing under tension...
     

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