My First Hollow Body Build

Maccadude33

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Hi all,

I hope this is the right place for this thread. I have been wanting to build a guitar for some time now (especially since the amp my dad and I built came out so well). I don't have a hollow body guitar in my collection, so I figured it would be nice to build my own. I was going to put the project off for awhile considering the cost of wood and materials around here, but fortunately for me, a friend of my family heard about this idea and decided to donate a hollow body he bought at least 15 years ago. Now I have a starting point! Take a look at this thing:



Anybody know what this is? I'm not sure what body type this is based on. If I had to guess, it roughly resembles an ES-135, a clone of that, or something in that ballpark at least. The wood appears to be maple to my eyes, but I could be mistaken. What's nice about this body is it is comfortably arched and has binding already applied to it. Here's another shot:



As you can see, it's a bit marked up and needs to be properly sanded. There was also an old price tag in the center of the wood, which you can see the residue from in the picture. Nothing I can't fix!



A shot of the back, noticeably more scored than the front, particularly around the bottom edges. Again, I'm confident I can clean it up in no time.



Fuzzy picture, I know, but check it out! Except for that bridge post, it's fully hollow! I can't wait to hear what it sounds like with P90s installed. Before I get that far though, I'm trying to figure out what the best method is to route out pickup cavities and how I would go about installing a Tune-o-matic bridge and a stop bar tailpiece. Anyone have any suggestions?



No idea what's going on here. I don't see how the original maker of this body intended for a neck to successfully screw into those two holes, but it really doesn't matter. I'll fill them in and/or cover them up during the build process.



Still confused as to what kind of neck was meant to go into this (poorly cut) slot. A standard Strat neck is slightly too wide for this slot, so clearly, this wasn't properly designed for a parts-caster type build.



A shot inside the body through the neck slot.

Originally, my plan was to order a customized neck from Warmoth and glue the neck to the body, but after seeing the slot in this thing, I'm wondering if that is still a good idea. I think I could make it work if I widened the slot edges and carved out the area where those holes are, but I'd love to get a second opinion! I'd appreciate it.

All in all, I'm excited to get this thing started. Once I get a neck and put it together, I'll concentrate on routing the pickup cavities and holes for all of your standards controls (2 volume, 2 tone, etc.). I will probably stain the sides and back a dark brown color, leave the top natural looking, and coat it all in a nice wood oil finish in the end.

I am going to build my own 50's wiring harness from scratch to go with the P90s; I would like to have a very linear volume taper, so if anyone has any capacitor/potentiometer recommendations, I'm all ears! Hope you guys enjoy following along and thanks in advance for any advice.
 

emoney

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Definitely an "interesting" tenon planned for that. Goes to show you what's out there on the
market, lol. Before you do anything, you might want to think through this stop tail/bridge plan
because you've got to have something underneath to anchor those to. This being a hollow
body, there's obviously nothing there now. So, you've either got to figure a way to fish a
block of wood through that neck route (not sure it's the route I'd go) or, re-think your plan
for the bridge/tailpiece. Were it me, and it's not, I'd go floating bridge and a tailpiece
that screws into the bottom/end of the guitar, where the bottom strap pin would be.
Look at "jazz guitars" and you'll see what I'm talking about.
 

ARandall

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Interesting looking body. Personally I'd almost go a double attachment - cut/make the neck heel precisely and use something like hide glue, but have a couple more bolts and bolt-on as well during gluing, but from the back rather than the front.

I think you'll have to get the fretboard on after neck glue-in too, but I'm not experienced enough to know all the ways of neck attachment to be certain here.
 

Maccadude33

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Definitely an "interesting" tenon planned for that. Goes to show you what's out there on the
market, lol. Before you do anything, you might want to think through this stop tail/bridge plan
because you've got to have something underneath to anchor those to. This being a hollow
body, there's obviously nothing there now. So, you've either got to figure a way to fish a
block of wood through that neck route (not sure it's the route I'd go) or, re-think your plan
for the bridge/tailpiece. Were it me, and it's not, I'd go floating bridge and a tailpiece
that screws into the bottom/end of the guitar, where the bottom strap pin would be.
Look at "jazz guitars" and you'll see what I'm talking about.
That's what I was concerned about. I don't think slipping supports inside the body would be a good idea either, so you may be absolutely right about a jazz-type bridge. I was only thinking about using a Tune-o-matic setup since I'm used to that on my LPs and I was originally thinking I would approach this like a 335 project... but yes, this is completely hollow. Never mind then!

Any idea what the best trapeze tailpiece I could buy is? I noticed StewMac sells some but I don't particularly like how they look. I'm searching around right now on AllParts, but haven't found anything I particularly like yet. We'll see.

Not sure how we're going to do the neck either but we'll figure it out!
 

Maccadude33

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Interesting looking body. Personally I'd almost go a double attachment - cut/make the neck heel precisely and use something like hide glue, but have a couple more bolts and bolt-on as well during gluing, but from the back rather than the front.

I think you'll have to get the fretboard on after neck glue-in too, but I'm not experienced enough to know all the ways of neck attachment to be certain here.
That's what my dad wants to do, but I would prefer to avoid screwing out wood if I don't have to. I like the elegance of a properly set neck. :D

I'd prefer to have it all assembled at once, but we'll see!
 

ARandall

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The issue is the clamping. You'd have to get the shape of the tenon precisely correct on all 4 sides.
 

rabidhamster

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I dont know that I'd want to bolt a neck on that body, I'd cut the top out around those screw holes or a little more and make sure theres a good solid piece of wood in the neck pocket, then set the neck in.
 

Maccadude33

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The issue is the clamping. You'd have to get the shape of the tenon precisely correct on all 4 sides.
That is a good point. If I built my own neck, this would be simple, since I could just fit the tenon to the inside of the body and then glue the fretboard on top of all that, like you suggested, but I'm not sure I want to do all that on this build.

Ideally, I could cut out that whole piece where the holes have been drilled, and after fitting the slot to the tenon, we could glue the neck in to the bottom and sides of the body. That would be pretty straightforward right? From there, I'm sure we could figure out an effective way to clamp it together.
 

Maccadude33

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I dont know that I'd want to bolt a neck on that body, I'd cut the top out around those screw holes or a little more and make sure theres a good solid piece of wood in the neck pocket, then set the neck in.
Just what I was thinking!
 

Maccadude33

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Here's a problem I've run into: who make dog-ear P90s in chrome? Tesla P90s come in chrome, but I don't really know anything about those. I have always loved the look of chrome P90s on all the Casinos I've seen, so I'd like to put those on this guitar as well.

If I can't find any decent P90s in chrome, I'm probably going to go with some Lollars in black or something like those. Haven't really decided which.
 

Barnaby

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Here's a problem I've run into: who make dog-ear P90s in chrome? Tesla P90s come in chrome, but I don't really know anything about those. I have always loved the look of chrome P90s on all the Casinos I've seen, so I'd like to put those on this guitar as well.

If I can't find any decent P90s in chrome, I'm probably going to go with some Lollars in black or something like those. Haven't really decided which.
Just buy chrome covers. There are various ones on eBay and via other parts sellers.

Cool project, too! :thumb:
 

Maccadude33

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We spent some time inspecting the inside of the body. It looks like the neck slot is actually a pocket, and that the bottom of the pocket is not connected to the bottom of the body. It is partially glued to the body's top and inside wall... Not sure how structurally sound the pocket would be after all the modifications we would have to make to it in order to attach a standard neck. I have a feeling I could glue it to the bottom of the wood if I could get to it, so removing a portion of the top is looking more and more like a good idea. Hopefully we can make it work!
 

Maccadude33

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I spent some time sanding the body tonight using 320 and then 400 grit sandpaper. The body is noticeably cleaner and significantly smoother after an hour and a half of work. I don't know if you can really tell from these iPhone pictures, but in person, there is a huge difference! At least in the top anyway, the dark spots on the back of the bottom aren't coming all the way out. I may have to go back and work some more on those edges...





Not too bad I suppose. I'm going to order a neck soon and am currently debating if I should decide to go with just 1 pickup or stay with my 2 pickup plan.
 

FF_Pedals

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This seems like a really cool project. Sorry if I missed it but you said you were going to buy a standard neck? What kind of neck were you thinking?

I can't offer any real help on the neck pocket but maybe you could wait a bit longer and try a couple of other forums to see if you can get some good advice from someone with a bit more experience. It would suck to buy a neck that isn't going to work out for you.

I'm interested to see how it turns out!
 

Maccadude33

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To avoid building my own neck from scratch (something I plan to do in a future build), I was thinking I would buy a neck from Warmoth and adjust the pocket to size. The slot in the body is very close to the width of one of their standard necks, so fitting them won't be the problem. The issue will be strengthening the pocket, but I already have some ideas how I want to do that. Once I remove the top section, I am probably going to add a wedge of some kind to set the neck on. Once that is finished, I intend to build a heel onto the back of the neck to make it look more like a regular archtop neck.

I'll definite do some more research before though! The more info I can get the better.
 

Maccadude33

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Edit: holding off on part ordering, after second thought, I think it may be best to get this body looked at by a real tech/luthier before I start attaching things to it. Even if I secure the neck joint decently, there are only two small shafts running under the top to brace the rest of the body; it's possible I could apply too much stress on the body and really screw it up. I'm going to spend some more time thinking about how I'm going to do this, and whether or not it would be a better idea to just put a regular hollow body kit together first.
 

emoney

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Now you're on the right track. Those 2 small shafts are probably part of what's called "ladder bracing"
over in the acoustic word. You can still electrify it, you just need to approach it from an
acoustic or archtop angle and don't treat it like a solidy body. Floating humbuckers, for example
and the tailpiece/bridge we mentioned, etc.
 

Maccadude33

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Now you're on the right track. Those 2 small shafts are probably part of what's called "ladder bracing"
over in the acoustic word. You can still electrify it, you just need to approach it from an
acoustic or archtop angle and don't treat it like a solidy body. Floating humbuckers, for example
and the tailpiece/bridge we mentioned, etc.
Right. I do need to treat this as an archtop with floating parts.

The problem is that those two internal shafts are extremely thin looking (at least from what I'm used to seeing) and the neck pocket isn't well supported. I would have to add a lot more wood to the entire top area than I previously thought in order for me to feel comfortable enough to attach a neck and not have to worry about the string tension pulling the neck joint apart... I believe it's doable, but it would be in my best interests to build a neck especially tailored to this body, which I currently don't have time for now. I may have to push this project off to the summer so I'll have enough time to do this the right way.

In the meantime, I am considering buying a hollow body kit to put together instead. We'll see what happens!
 


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