Custom 8 string build

B. Howard

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I haven't done a build thread in what seems like forever and thought it was about time for one. And this build seemed like an interesting tale to tell. The request is simple enough, an 8 string Superstrat. Think early 80's Charvel and your in the zone.

As has been my experience in all things custom, the simplest requests are often the most difficult. First off there are zero available templates for anything.... neck pocket, pickups, body.... nothing! The next fact is you better have the saws sharp and rough lumber of the proper quality on hand because you cannot order anything like a body blank or fret board from any traditional supplier, they are all too small! Oh, and did i mention we want a 27" scale length? so while a bass neck blank may be long enough, it is still not wide enough.

So I start at the beginning and plane down some rough stock and glue up blanks.


Next up I layout and slot the fretboard and install the dots but when it is time to cut the tapered edges...... My neck cutting sled won't work because this FB is too wide! So I go old school and improvise by tacking the FB to a strip of OSB to get the tapered edges cut....
 
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B. Howard

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Next up I prep the neck for the truss rod and four 3mm round carbon fiber rods. These are being used to help control the wide neck and keep it from developing any twist, especially if the truss rod needs any real pressure ever. The rods are then epoxied into the neck.


After this has set up and been machined flat and true I can glue on my FB. Here again I go with the old tried and true ways and use a binding rope to clamp it on.... But again it is so big it took two of my ropes for regular necks tied together.


I can then cut the neck to it's final size and shape so I can begin the carving....
 
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failsafe306

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Is anyone else having a hard time seeing the text in the OP?
 

DaveR

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Is anyone else having a hard time seeing the text in the OP?
Yes. Like it's black copy against dark grey. Like this... I think he can edit the post and change the text color if he wants to. It's the little half moon inside a whole moon button.

That's a really sweet build though! I've thought about doing an 8 or 7 string but the lack of available information is intimidating.
 

mux164

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This is what I could manage to copy and paste



“I haven't done a build thread in what seems like forever and thought it was about time for one. And this build seemed like an interesting tale to tell. The request is simple enough, an 8 string Superstrat. Think early 80's Charvel and your in the zone.


As has been my experience in all things custom, the simplest requests are often the most difficult. First off there are zero available templates for anything.... neck pocket, pickups, body.... nothing! The next fact is you better have the saws sharp and rough lumber of the proper quality on hand because you cannot order anything like a body blank or fret board from any traditional supplier, they are all too small! Oh, and did i mention we want a 27" scale length? so while a bass neck blank may be long enough, it is still not wide enough.


So I start at the beginning and plane down some


Next up I layout and slot the fretboard and install the dots but when it is time to cut the tapered edges...... My neck cutting sled won't work because this FB is too wide! So I go old school and improvise by tacking the FB to a strip of OSB to get the



Next up I prep the neck for the truss rod and four 3mm round carbon fiber rods. These are being used to help control the wide neck and keep it from developing any twist, especially if the truss rod needs any real pressure ever. The rods are then epoxied into the neck.



After this has set up and been machined flat and true I can glue on my FB. Here again I go with the old tried and true ways and use a binding rope to clamp it on.... But again it is so big it took two of my ropes for regular necks tied together.”
 

BPW666

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Nice build Brian, what sort of truss rod did you put in it? were you tempted to put in more than one at all?
 

B. Howard

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Well that was wierd.... never had that happen before.
 

B. Howard

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Nice build Brian, what sort of truss rod did you put in it? were you tempted to put in more than one at all?
My initial thought was 2 truss rods, the client vetoed that as it complicates set up.... It is a two way rod, a bass rod actually and it just fits lengthwise.
 

B. Howard

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More progress on this. The next thing is carving the neck and that includes radiusing the FB. But again I cannot use my standard radius gauges.... The nut is actually 18" R but that is not a size in the gauge set and the bridge is metric so the compound radius required doesn't even plot close to anything I have. So I'll make a set for this job. I put a layer of packing tape on each side of a piece of card stock and replace the pencil on my trammel set with an exacto knife. measure out the required radius and cut a gauge on the card stock. One for the nut and one for the 12th fret.



The back of the neck is carved in the conventional manner without any templates, I simply shape it to feel nice in my hand.... Pictured also are some of my favorite neck carving tools.


Once the neck is carved I can start on the body. To make an 8 string version of a standard S-type body I simply expand the center. I clamp my neck to the blank on the centerline and mark out the pocket and trail lines off the side of the neck onto the face of the blank. I can now see how much I need to expand the body and can mark out a line to each side of my centerline that mimic the actual centerline of a 6 string body. I can now rout the shape with my standard template one half at a time. Cut one side , move the template cut the other....


I can now use my neck pocket jig to cut the pocket. It needed a slight modification but it was up to the task.


I can now start to lay out the location for the Floyd Rose bridge.... And while they give a lot of numbers on the FR site in regards to dimensions of the unit, most of it is useless for the needed tasks of locating pivots and cavities.... So I just strip it down and lay it out the old fashioned way with calipers, dividers and a fine pencil. I locate the bass side stud first as it allows play side to side and finish with the treble one once I am dead positive of my alignment. At this point I have drilled holes that are snug to the studs. I will drill for the anchors at the end before finish prep, this way I do not need to press in and remove the bushings to get an accurate check of the layout.
 

B. Howard

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To finish up the body I need to make the cavities for the Floyd Rose tremolo. With no actual templates it is still rather easy. I lay out the cavities and waste out most of the material on the drill press with a forstner bit. I then use my handy router hook jig to cut one side at a time to the proper line. If you do not have a router hook, you should!


For the pickups I decided to make a template. I make these out of fairly soft 1/4" MDF. It cuts and sands very easily making fitment a breeze and when I am happy with it I harden the edges the router bit pilot bearing will ride on with thin CA. I make a test cavity in some scrap pine to be sure it cuts a proper cavity after the CA.



The arm bevel is done with a #3 bench plane and took all of 5 minutes. The tummy cut is a little bit tougher. I lay out both edges of the cut in pencil and then simply make a kerf cut with a sharp crosscut saw that connects the two lines about every 1/2 inch. These pillars can easily be knocked out with a sharp chisel leaving the cut roughed in very well. It is then finished with a set of cabinet makers rasps. a coarse one followed by a finer one.


Now aside from final sanding this is ready for finish. We'll pick this back up after the grain fill and do a flake finish in bright white.
 

SlingBlader

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To finish up the body I need to make the cavities for the Floyd Rose tremolo. With no actual templates it is still rather easy. I lay out the cavities and waste out most of the material on the drill press with a forstner bit. I then use my handy router hook jig to cut one side at a time to the proper line. If you do not have a router hook, you should!


For the pickups I decided to make a template. I make these out of fairly soft 1/4" MDF. It cuts and sands very easily making fitment a breeze and when I am happy with it I harden the edges the router bit pilot bearing will ride on with thin CA. I make a test cavity in some scrap pine to be sure it cuts a proper cavity after the CA.



The arm bevel is done with a #3 bench plane and took all of 5 minutes. The tummy cut is a little bit tougher. I lay out both edges of the cut in pencil and then simply make a kerf cut with a sharp crosscut saw that connects the two lines about every 1/2 inch. These pillars can easily be knocked out with a sharp chisel leaving the cut roughed in very well. It is then finished with a set of cabinet makers rasps. a coarse one followed by a finer one.


Now aside from final sanding this is ready for finish. We'll pick this back up after the grain fill and do a flake finish in bright white.
Hi Brian, I've been woodworking for quite some time, but I don't think I've heard of a router hook jig. Is that the plexi guide in the first picture? Please elaborate. :)
 

B. Howard

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Hi Brian, I've been woodworking for quite some time, but I don't think I've heard of a router hook jig. Is that the plexi guide in the first picture? Please elaborate. :)
Yes that is a router hook. A simple template that allows one to cut along a straight line to a complete and definite stop. You can cut almost any cavity one side at a time with one of these. I make an initial cut after drilling out the waste on each side of the cavity about 1/4" deep. Once the perimeter is established I can use a pattern bit to cut it to whatever depth I need.

That pic shows a partial cut... I actually extended the cut to the right so that when the hook was used from the adjacent side the perimeter was complete. Not shown in the pic is the other end of the hook which is mirror image of the one we see.
 

SlingBlader

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Yes that is a router hook. A simple template that allows one to cut along a straight line to a complete and definite stop. You can cut almost any cavity one side at a time with one of these. I make an initial cut after drilling out the waste on each side of the cavity about 1/4" deep. Once the perimeter is established I can use a pattern bit to cut it to whatever depth I need.

That pic shows a partial cut... I actually extended the cut to the right so that when the hook was used from the adjacent side the perimeter was complete. Not shown in the pic is the other end of the hook which is mirror image of the one we see.
Cool, makes sense. Gonna have to give that a go.
 

B. Howard

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I got a bit sidetracked with some other projects in the shop and the finish on this took a fair bit of time as it is actually a 4 layer finish. But here it is all done and ready to ship out to it's happy new owner. It features a Floyd rose set decked to the body, Hipshot tuners, Seymour Duncan Sentient pickups, glow in the dark side dots and of course the carbon fiber stiffeners in the neck. Wired real simple with a volume and a 3 way switch.Scale length is 27" and the neck was made wider than typical to customer specs.

The finish is a Pearl white with micro-flakes added for extra sparkle.








 

Skyjerk

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Damn, that white flake finish is gorgeous :)
 




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