Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Talk about modding or building your own guitar from scratch.
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epizootics
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Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by epizootics » Fri May 10, 2019 10:17 pm

Ok, I shall yield to the public pressure ( :whistle: ) and start a thread about my little experiment with Danelectro-style construction & various methods I wanted to try for a while.

It is named after the most beautiful song ever written:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Rdm8LItAHs

...because of how it looks on the inside (is that stretching it?):

Image

(note that I scribbled the lyrics to the song onto the guts of the guitar prior to gluing the top on for extra mojo; but I can't post pictures of that, otherwise that mojo will evaporate :ph34r: )

Image

Image

Technically speaking, it has a 24.625" scale maple/padauk neck with a 12" radius, Jescar medium frets, pine sides and an antique bit of cherry I salvaged from a closed-down sawmill last year in the middle. The tremolo is a Hosco unit, which is pretty much exactly the same as the MIJ trem (I had both in my drawer and compared them, they are perfect twins but for the 'Fender' engraving, and to be fair, the machining of the Hosco is better than its Fender brother, on which I had to correct the slot with a file to get to work properly). Pickups will be two mini-humbuckers encased in unplated Firebird covers, wound to the old Epiphone specs. The tune-o-matic is a cheapo Kluson (12 euros!) which feels solid enough for the task and on which I intend to do a bit of work to get it to work with the tremolo (those V string grooves are just silly, how have they been going for so long?)

This guitar started as a reaction to the Catfish (see previous build), which took me a year to complete, partly because I had to do most of it outside of my flat (cutting stupid-hard stainless steel in the kitchen anyone?) but mostly because it was so badly planned out. I wanted to finish the Lungs within a month and not spend more than 24 hours' work on it. Needless to say I am going to go overtime with it as I already spent 22 hours working on it. Yup, I did time the operations just to see what took me the longest in order to plan ahead better with my other builds. Guess what? Trying to find my mechanical pencil and my one reliable square (which I am now going to paint bright orange) is where most of my time disappears.

Here's the latest pickugard design - I think I'm going to lose that small plate under the knobs and make a rear access hole:

Image



Now, I might need to make a string tree for that thing. The neck has a straight, Fender-style peghead and my calculations tell me the break angle at the nut might not be sufficient, even though the D and G tuners are located where the G string tuner would be on a Strat neck. My hope is that the extra sideways angle will help (the string is not going in a straight line from the nut to the tuner hole) but I'm not sure. I don't want to go overboard with friction since the trem will already have a non-rocking bridge to cope with. Any thoughts on that?

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Amon 7.L
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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by Amon 7.L » Sat May 11, 2019 5:12 am

Publish pressurizer here ( :fp: ) is much obliged to see this dedicated Lung corner :D

I already commented in the "what's your workbench" thread but it won't hurt to say it again: I love it.
The design is very neat and I like your attention to detail such as the shape at the bottom of the fretboard that mirrors the top of the headstock and the body shape itself.
For some reason, when you have a fully simmetric body, once you put it in playing position, it starts looking off, but you managed to counteract the issue with the minor tweak at the horns that makes it work absolutely flawlessy. Very well done.

The new scratchplate design is a straigh-on improvements, I can Imagine the central being black anodized aluminium to enhance the chrome of pickups and outer metal plate.
I do also agree on getting rid of the small plate under the control knobs.

Speaking about break angle at the nut... yup, you are most certainly going to need 2 string trees or a retainer if you want a smoother leeway to the machine heads.
I've been in the same situation when I was building a Univox replica:
Image

I was instantly hooked by your danelectro inspired Lung as my Maya side project has a very similar MDF sandwiched construction and I'm absolutely looking forward to see how you're going to approach the finishing process. MDF sucks paint like a vampire would do with an IV bag.

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by marqueemoon » Sat May 11, 2019 6:01 am

This is so cool.

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epizootics
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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by epizootics » Sat May 11, 2019 9:53 pm

Amon 7.L wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 5:12 am
Publish pressurizer here ( :fp: ) is much obliged to see this dedicated Lung corner :D

I already commented in the "what's your workbench" thread but it won't hurt to say it again: I love it.
The design is very neat and I like your attention to detail such as the shape at the bottom of the fretboard that mirrors the top of the headstock and the body shape itself.
For some reason, when you have a fully simmetric body, once you put it in playing position, it starts looking off, but you managed to counteract the issue with the minor tweak at the horns that makes it work absolutely flawlessy. Very well done.

The new scratchplate design is a straigh-on improvements, I can Imagine the central being black anodized aluminium to enhance the chrome of pickups and outer metal plate.
I do also agree on getting rid of the small plate under the control knobs.

Speaking about break angle at the nut... yup, you are most certainly going to need 2 string trees or a retainer if you want a smoother leeway to the machine heads.
I've been in the same situation when I was building a Univox replica:
Image

I was instantly hooked by your danelectro inspired Lung as my Maya side project has a very similar MDF sandwiched construction and I'm absolutely looking forward to see how you're going to approach the finishing process. MDF sucks paint like a vampire would do with an IV bag.
Thanks for the kind words (& social pressure) :)

One thing I'd like to find out down the line with those Danelectro-type guitars is how thin and patched-up one can go with the frame before the guitar becomes unstable. I kept all of the wood grain parallel but I've seen a lot of people assembling their frames with the grain being perpendicular between some of the pieces. I guess the MDF/masonite/whichever panel material is used for the top & bottom bring a whole lot more rigidity to the body than I assumed. I used 5mm (13/64") MDF and it almost feels too rigid.

The 17-piece glue-up approach you used for Maya's body is totally badass! Looking forward to seeing it taking shape too :)

In terms of finishing, I was going to try and use an alternative approach. I don't have a spray booth, nor could I inflict having one in the flat to my wife and cat, and it got me thinking - the point of spraying paint is to creates a thin layer of plastic on top of the guitar, so why not apply something that is already a thin layer of plastic to it? Sticky vinyl wrap is exactly that - so I'm going to give it a try. It is cheap, easy to apply, and doesn't gas off for days and days. It also won't get absorbed by the MDF like Reeses Peanut Cups by a greedy child. I'll still give the MDF a few coats of shellac to seal it and make it less absorbent (which is something you can also do prior to painting too! Shellac is my go-to first coat on whatever I'm making).

For that annoying break angle at the nut, I was thinking of making a string retainer like those you found on the old Guyatones. I was thinking I could file down a flat surface on the underside of the rod, where the strings come in contact with it, and attach a thin layer of PTFE/teflon there (by mechanical means rather than chemicals, because PTFE is an absolute pain to glue to anything).

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by MC3 » Sat May 11, 2019 10:35 pm

"nowhere to collapse the luuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnnggg"

I really dig how this looks

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by Rgand » Sun May 12, 2019 3:14 pm

This is looking cool. Loosing the small plate under the knobs is a good idea.

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by Amon 7.L » Mon May 13, 2019 4:18 am

Super cool, I'm really digging your idea of going with the sticky vinyl wrap!! I can't wait to see how it ends up, keep us updated!

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by valley_parade » Mon May 13, 2019 4:24 am

That body shape is really cool, and I like the pointed end on the fretboard.

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by epizootics » Mon May 13, 2019 9:33 pm

Cheers guys!
I didn't get much done over the week-end, but the neck is now pretty much carved, just needs smoothing up. I'm hoping to get a few very light coats of nitro on it before that Spring weather gets crazy again.
Today will also be pickup winding day - two mini-hbs for Lungs and a couple of Mustang pickups for this -

Image

My brother is turning forty in a couple of weeks and I wanted to make him a little guitar to accompany his best Lou Reed impersonations. It is a modified version of the Bobkat, I'll be reusing a neck I already have so it should be a quick one. Body will be a very old slab of Douglas fir I've had in my workshop for a year or so. Too many guitars on my workbench!

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by Rgand » Tue May 14, 2019 6:24 am

What a cool thing to do. Your brother should really like that. It's a good design.

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by epizootics » Tue May 14, 2019 9:54 am

Hopefully...He spends a lot of time exploring caves (we come from an area where a lot of our prehistorical ancestors lived in holes in the rock in the mountains), so I'll try to make the finish 'caveman-ish'. Whatever that means.

Today's progress:

Image

Neck was sanded and is now drying under a fair bit of shellac, both to give a bit of color to the maple and protect the padauk against UV rays. Spraying nitro tomorrow if the weather's OK.

...and made a template, cut out & routed the outline for my brother's guitar:

Image

Phew. Time to hoover & rest.
Last edited by epizootics on Tue May 14, 2019 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by Amon 7.L » Tue May 14, 2019 11:12 am

You're marching on pretty good, bud.
What kind of bridge are you going to mount of your brother's project?

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by epizootics » Tue May 14, 2019 12:56 pm

Well, to make it truly primitive, I feel I have to go for a wraparound bridge, but I might go for something weirder if I get the time to play around with my angle grinder...

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by epizootics » Thu May 16, 2019 5:53 am

Done with the shellac on the neck, that Padauk is now shimmering like mad:

Image

(I know it'll darken with time, but I've had this fretboard in my flat for about two years and it never lost its orange tint in spite of being kept in the light...fingers crossed...)
Off to the yard for some nitro now!

I also got some more work done on my brother's axe:

Image

All the templates are ready (for pickguard, the big cavity under it and the neck pocket), I'll do the routing tomorrow . Not a homemade neck but the most comfortable one I ever owned, off my very first electric guitar (a Squier Fat Strat...I can't say I'll miss the body & especially not the pickups).

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Re: Lungs / Adventures in MDF

Post by Rgand » Thu May 16, 2019 6:24 am

That neck really looks great. Those woods really pop. Good progress on both.

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