The Battle of the hands, Update

Both builds are now well underway!

Construction

As you can see, I went with the thin-line type build in the  end, opting for a hollowed out upper wing, rather than the 335 type, construction as owing to the small size, I figured that this will be a little stronger, also, it gets me using my router some more. First I took excess material out with Forstner bits, then using a new template, I cleaned up the cavity with my trusty Elu router. Ive left a some material in the wing for the pickup cavity and a forearm cut-away.

The lower body block, I have left solid (apart from the control cavity) but i have capped it, with a sandwiched veneer, as with the top wing, so we have some symitry in the design. This will also form the roof of the control cavity.

 

The wings will next be planed and dowel jointed to the body.

 

Body Profiling

I’d tossed with the idea of whether to pitch the body away from the neck. This is something I usually do as standard to about 2/3 degrees for comfort, but as this guitar has a large overlap between the body and the neck, this does throw up some new design and construction issues. The bridge I have picked out however is a Schaller Hannes bridge.  There is a few reasons why I have picked this bridge, but I will got on to this in a minute. The bridge has a minimum string height of about 10mm, the fretboard and frets usually sit around 7mm at there highest, if I don’t raise the neck block above the body, this would mean that the lowest I can have the string height is 3mm, which is not acceptable on a high performance guitar. For this reason, I think that the best combination is to raise the neck joint up a little (this shouldn’t weaken the joint, which is my main concern) but also pitch the neck to around 1 degree, to raise the string height as it hits the bridge.

Hardware

For this build I have selected this glorious Hannes bridge from Schaller, and a set of 3×3 gold Gotoh mini’s. The machines are pretty standard, but I have always wanted build a guitar with gold hardware! The bridge though, is a truly modern bridge. Sturdy and simple, the saddles are pretty much in direct contact with the body, each saddle has a grub screw to indevidually raise the string height, while keeping the bulk of the saddle in contact with the body. The bridge also has a solid base plate for mounting the strings through the body, the real key to this design as I understand it is the saddle material. As quoted from the Schaller website;

“The saddles were developed in close collaboration with Graph Tech. They are made of a special compound material. Teflon is one of the materials used in this special compound. In being a highly effective lubricant material (one of the most effective in the world), it dramatically reduces saddle-related string breakage, since no sharp edges can form on the saddles due to wear.

“This patented saddle material measurably increases the instrument’s sustain by up to 25% compared to brass and steel.

“Your guitar will sound much more harmonious. This is characterized by singing high notes and quick response, not to mention a well-defined, powerful and even tone.”

Bold claims. But even the design of this bridge looks fantastic, everything anchors on the  back, giving strong support with no screws or fixings to hinder the hands.

That’s about it for now, but in the meantime, I’m going to give my electrics a think about. But I gotta say, I really like the look of the Lace Alumitones…

The Battle of the Hands Part II

Following on from Battle of the Hands by Steve Hobson.

Lines are drawn, although more so straights and arcs, rather than lines in the sand. Supplies are rationed (we have selected our preferred neck blocks) but rules of engagement are yet to be agreed…

First off, I want to state this is not a competition! At least not in the true form. As Hobs previously states, this started out as a conversation, one day, sat in his flat drinking coffee and discussing some cool things to do. The design (at least in its 2D form) has been a process of collaboration, although a lot of the leg work was my own, the outcome was a process of deliberation, discussion and refinement. This was ticking along nicely behind a wall of manufacture and building business structure, until we got some good news, it looks like we will be doing at least one guitar show this year (exciting!), so we decided to press on with the battle of the hands! Ultimately the aim is to have two new guitars to showcase, (a lefty and a righty, of course) for the 2018 Guitar Show in Birmingham and possibly further shows.

SB7; The design

As Hobs says in the previous post, the  design, pictured below, rightly follows the SBC ethos, small light, high performance, through body construction, aesthetically striking.

The guitar follows a similar setup to our existing SB3, with a 23.5 or 25” scale as standard (although we intend to offer this at a varying scale and fanned fret option). As you can see, this is our most compact guitar yet, but further than weight reduction, the key to this design is intended to be a combination of good balance, hyper versatility, and super comfort!

The Rules

Both guitars must;

  • follow the same template for the outside (2D) shape of the guitar
  • use the same scale and have the same amount of strings and frets
  • for simplicity, have the same headstock (although this could be discussed in more detail

 

Some considerations for the guitars could be;

  • Pitched body (this could affect set-up and comfort)?
  • Pitched headstock?
  • Neck profile?
  • Heel and Volute?
  • Body thickness (and how this will affect balance over weight)?
  • Contours and shaping (not affecting the 2D/top down shape of the guitar)?
  • Materials?
  • Binding?
  • Neck width/depths?
  • Cavities and hollows?

 

The Outcome

As previously stated, this is not a competition designed to find a better builder/engineer/designer, this is a friendly competition designed to push each other to be the best that we can be. But the outcome will be two brilliant guitars, that will give us a handful of choices to derive a production model and to recommend customers on, for custom orders.

Predictions and first thoughts

Well, I can’t speak too much for Hobs, but I think our visions are shaping up quite differently even just in terms of materials. For simplicity, we have both selected 3 part necks, at a chunky 50mm depth (to allow for a 2 degree neck pitch, if required). Hobs has selected, some nice woods to form a sort of compound body block that works well (visually) with the cherry/maple/cherry and sandwiched veneers neck he has selected. I suspect Hobs will keep his build quite straight forward and opt for some interesting switching options to give a versatile sound.

              

My neck block is similar but replaces the cherry with sapele. It needs a bit more work which is part of why I have selected  it, the grain is unflashy and uniform, so although not beautiful to behold, it will be strong with an even temperament, for adjustment. I’ve kept my body wings quite plain as well, so far I have selected two bits of my grandads wood (I’m told It’s English yew, although, it looks quite different to the other English yew I have), it’s old, full of knots and figures, not to mention some long dead wood worm tunnels (has since been treated). But in the sun, it shines like gold! As the build is small, I’m planning to keep it simple, but I can’t seem to get this voice out of my head, telling me to make it semi hollow…

Battle of the Hands

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.

Let the Battle of the Hands commence!