It’s spring. I’m back out of hibernation, and SBC have embarked on an exciting new project. What was originally intended as a collaborative project has quickly warped into a competition.
Stu’s been working on a new design, the SB7. From a throwaway comment of “I really like the Gibson Thunderbird. We should do something that kind of shape.” the design has evolved to fit the SBC ethos. Super-light. Super-balanced. We’ve ended up with something nothing at all like a Gibson Thunderbird and completely different to what we originally imagined.
We’d intended to work on this one together, but looking at all our neck blanks ready to go, we’re now building one each – a lefty and a righty.
That’s how I came to be involved in Scatterbrain Concepts. Stu’s boredom of solitude in a poorly lit single garage, and my over-caffeinated lack of something to do of a Sunday afternoon. That was about six months ago, and though the ice-cream guitar’s not quite finished, I’ve learnt a hell of a lot. Some of it’s been a process of monkey-see monkey-do, some of it a case of monkey-see, monkey-think-about-it, monkey-do-different. Some of it’s been supported by hours of fastidious research, and some of it trying out an idea at the moment of fruition. Some things I’ve got right first time. Some things I’ve cocked up, almost to the point of wanting to scrap it and start over. But for all the accidental features of the ice-cream guitar – it’s Strat-like slim neck, it’s ultra-thin semi-carved body, it’s weird goose-neck headstock – I kind of like this quirky little freak. I think it’s shaping up to be a first build to be proud of.
I’ve got a few projects in the pipeline, about which I’m not going to reveal too much at the moment, but they’ll be up here on the site in due course. The ice-cream guitar is nearing completion. It looks like a guitar. It feels like a guitar. It doesn’t yet sound like a guitar, but it’s not far off.
In the next few days I’ll be posting retrospective build reports on this ugly-duckling of an axe. I’ve been regretfully lax with bringing my camera to the workshop, but with the new site up and running I’ve now a reason to be more motivated to keep a more comprehensive photo-journal of my progress.
I’ve got a freakishly long truss-rod access slot, for which I need a freakishly long truss rod cover. I tried recessing a rectangular cover, it’s alright, but not quite a good enough fit. So instead I’ve gone for a spikey/curvy affair to fit around the first tuning peg. It kind of works.
I’ve made up a control cover plate, and I’ve been working on a router template to suit. In the long run, it would make sense to make up matching internal and external templates, and that’s probably what I’m going to do next time.
Everything I’m doing on this guitar is a first for me, but the rear cavity is a first for Scatterbrain Concepts, and something I’ve figured out for myself. Stu’s a fan of the front-mounted control plate, but it feels wrong to cover up the spalted beech with anything else.
I spotted through the control positions from the front, and drilled holes to suit. I could have done a better job of spacing them out more evenly – the spacing between the push button and the volume pot is a little off, but no big deal. I then flipped the guitar over and opened the holes out with forstner bits to form a “well” for each component, setting the depth stop on the drill press to give me a 5mm wall thickness at the bottom of the hole. I’ve made the wells just big enough for each component. I’m pretty handy with a soldering iron, I don’t need a lot of space to work. I then used a dremel to chip out cable routing between each well.
I’ve got a nice long 6mm auger bit for drilling between the control and the pickup cavity, and into the control cavity from the edge of the guitar where the jack plate is going to go.
The most nerve wracking part was drilling the hole for the jack – I’m drilling a 22mm hole through the side of a 30mm thick guitar, so there’s not a huge margin for error. But it worked out fine.
I now need a control plate cover, and to rout out a rebate for it to sit in. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do that yet.