Second Build: Headless BTB Guitar

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by Kyle01, Aug 25, 2018.

  1. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Hey everyone, thought I would go ahead and start a new thread for my second project. The first one has been put on hold indefinitely (artist has been busy) so I decided to start work on a new guitar. This one is pretty similar to the first but with some minor changes to the body shape (particularly the neck pocket) and different specs. I'll be utilizing headless hardware, a 24 fret neck, and going with a dual pickup configuration rather than single.

    Quick Spec List:
    BTB body shape
    Licensed by KD Patent headless hardware
    Dragonfire screamer humbuckers
    24 fret Amazon neck (surprisingly nice for what I paid, although the frets probably aren't all that level).

    This will be a pretty picture-heavy thread, I've been taking greater care to document the process than last time.

    Here is the 2x10 Home Depot pine board I picked up for the body blank:

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    Pieces chosen and lined up:

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    Template placed over it to get an idea of the wood grain on the body:

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    Boards ripped and joined:

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    Body cut out and edges routed:

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    Same as last time, did a roundover on the back only:

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    Neck pocket routed. Routed to 5/8" the first time not realizing that the neck heel is thicker than a standard fender by about 1/8" so I had to go back and route it deeper.

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    Close up of the headless bridge I'm using. Kind of a neat little thing, got it off Amazon. It's an interesting mechanism, sort of like a regular guitar tuner but tiny and built into the component. Can't say how well it works but it seems to be of decent quality.

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    Progress so far:

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    The upper fret access on this design still isn't all that great, so I was thinking of doing a small bevel on the lower horn just to clear that sharp corner. Any thoughts on the shape of this sketch? I consulted with the artist and she thinks it should have "longer and swooping lines" for a better aesthetic.

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    This is all I've done so far, next step will be getting the bridge installed then routing the pickup and control cavities.

    Any and all feedback is welcome, and if there is a problem with the pictures let me know. I just started using a different image hosting site and you guys know how finicky they can be.
     
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  2. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    Looks nice so far.

    Have you done “construction grade” SPF (spruce, pine, fir) bodies before? I’m assuming you dig through a stack and pick “the best”. Other than straight grain, what do you look for? Dense & Heavy? Light? More “Sprucey” and less “Piney”?
     
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  3. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    I definitely had to do some digging to find this board. Not all of it looks as nice as the end I cut from but most of it is useable (I'll probably get an additional paint grade body from this one). I mostly just looked for boards that had few knots, blemishes and warping.

    In terms of density or weight, I didn't really put much thought into it. Dense/heavy would be preferable since the body is 1.5" thick, but I probably wouldn't be able to pick a piece out on that criteria alone.

    I can tell you that this board seems less "piney" than the last build I did (that one used premium 1" pine boards). I've gotten virtually zero router tearout on this piece even though it feels quite soft. Maybe the species of pine can have an effect on this, since this one is southern yellow which is supposed to be harder than most other types of pine. The premium stuff looked a lot different and didn't route as well.

    I hope this answers your question.
     
  4. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    SYP - Southern Yellow Pine says a lot. I was thinking it was the regular Spruce/Pine/Fir (I.e. don’t know what’s exactly there) box store mix.
     
  5. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Here's another update:

    I realized the mounting screws that came with the bridge were too small after trying to drill the holes. I ended up having to fill them and bought new screws to mount the bridge with.

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    Not sure what they were thinking with these tiny freaking things, they were way smaller than the hole in the baseplate and were nearly impossible to line up properly.

    Once that was all figured out, I got the pickup cavities routed:

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    Starting to actually look like a guitar now.

    Next up will be the control cavity, which ought to be interesting. I'd like to drill smaller holes all the way through from the top in order to mark the knob locations for the template on the back, but since I'm working with a hand drill I'm a bit worried that I'm not going to be able to align it right. Anyone have any tricks for getting proper knob/cavity template placement?
     
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  6. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Got the control cavity routed out and tested the fit of the electronics:

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    From the front:

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    Here's a shot of the knobs I plan on using. Thought the clear might look neat since I plan on doing a transparent oil finish.

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  7. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Got the beveling and contouring done today. Decided to go with the basic forearm contour and belly cut but tried to really blend them in as well as I could so there wouldn't be any sharp lines.

    Here's the belly cut (sort of hard to take pictures of):

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    And the forearm contour (which exposed an unfortunate knot in the wood):

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    For fret access I went with my original idea, a discrete bevel that keeps my hand from contacting a corner when I play at the highest frets.

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    And a full body shot after the contouring:

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  8. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Got the wire channels drilled in the guitar and did a mock-up with the pickups. I still need to drill the bridge ground wire hole but I read in one of the reviews for the bridge that the entire baseplate is not conductive and you need to find the right spot to place your ground so I'll be testing the conductivity before I start drilling.

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    Got the blank headstock cut off and roughly shaped to fit my headpiece. Almost completely screwed this one up by not securing my neck well enough when cutting with the miter saw (wouldn't typically use it but in this case the headpiece required an 18 degree angle to mount properly) and ended up with a really uneven cut. Had to spend a lot of time hand sanding and filing to fix that one but I think its starting to shape up nicely.

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    I'm definitely not using the headpiece in the way it was intended since it looks to be made for a neck with a zero fret, but I think it will do the job.
     
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  9. Kyle01

    Kyle01 SS.org Regular

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    Made some less noticeable progress recently, got the headpiece and headstock shaping all done and did a lot of sanding. The body is now sanded to 320 and ready for finishing.

    Here's another (more complete) mockup of what this thing will look like.

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    I've been working on getting the control cavity cover done, but I've run into some issues. Since I screwed up my first plan for using a rabbeting bit to recess the cover by putting it too close to the body's roundover, my next plan was to just let the cover sit on the face of the guitar without a recess. But as I discovered today, it looks kind of stupid.

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    I might just scrap this cavity cover and try to make one that doesn't reach so close to the edge of the body. Either that or cut this one down. I don't know what possessed me to order 3-ply material for this, 1-ply might have actually looked ok without a recess.
     

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