Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

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hillerheilman
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Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by hillerheilman » Thu May 21, 2020 8:53 pm

Hey all.

So I’ve started another project with my local luthier that I’m pretty excited to share with you guys. It’s still in the early stages, but I think it’s gonna turn out pretty sweet and really improve on my past projects.

Here’s a brief rundown:

-Laminated neck thru design
-Same headstock design as my offset acoustic
-Locking string clipping tuners
-22 Fanned frets (25.5-27 inch scale)
-Heavily chambered wings
-Figured maple top
-3 pickups (Curtis Novak)
-Independent volume and tone for each
-blade style selector switch

Now for a more detailed explanation...

So, let’s start with the idea behind the design itself.
A lot of you probably already know this since I’ve mentioned it a couple times, but I have a condition called spastic triplegia (both legs + right arm) due to cerebral palsy. As a result my fretting arm and hand are affected to the point that only the first two fingers and thumb of my fretting hand are useable. To get around this I came up with a special tuning (CGCEG#B) that enables me to make chords easily with my available digits.
Unfortunately my current electric guitar doesn’t really work well for this tuning, and has a couple other issues that I didn’t really think about at the time that I was putting it together. To be honest I really didn’t know what I was doing at the time, so I’ve set out to design something that works a bit better for what I’m doing now and really take my time to make sure everything works well for me.

The first thing I wanted to do was make sure I’d be able to use my tuning with this one. To do that I’m gonna do a variable scale like I went for on my offset acoustic. This time going for more of a baritone scale on the low strings. My luthier and I struggled to find a variable scale bridge that looked nice for quite awhile, but eventually I came up with the idea to take a right handed 6 saddle tele bridge, flip it, (I’m a lefty) and vary the lengths of the saddle screws to accommodate the scale length. Like this:
Image
(Not set up for the scale yet, just wanted to give you an idea what I’m talking about. We’ve checked, and this will in fact work)

With that out of the way the next issue was the headstock and tuners. I have a lot of difficulty getting the strings in the small holes and cutting them due to my condition. To alleviate this on my offset acoustic my luthier designed this slotted headstock:
Image
Which we’re going to use again here with the same tuners. The tuners are planet waves locking auto trim tuners. Basically they’re locking tuners that also clip the string for you as you turn them. Thus alleviating both my issues.

Next thing was fret access. My current electric is a bolt on neck with quite a big heel, and it makes me less able to get to higher frets. I wanted to be able to get up to at least the 16th fret so that I could capo up a couple steps and still play the same way. So given that the headstock design already requires a laminate neck, I’ve decided to make it a neck thru for the better accessibility.
It’ll be a laminate of maple, purpleheart and mahogany. The wings will be a more figured mahogany that’ll be heavily chambered to reduce weight as much as possible, since that was another problem I have with my current electric. This will all be topped with a flat figured maple top, and the headstock veneer plate will be from the same top.

Last thing is the electronics. My current electric guitar was designed with a single volume and tone, and a rotary switch. I’ve found that I don’t really like the rotary switch, even though it looks cool. So I’ve decided to opt for a blade switch this time around which will have all standard strat positions plus neck and bridge together.
Each pickup will have its own concentric pot with volume and tone. We’re still fiddling with layouts but right now we’re thinking of doing it similar to a strat with the 3 knobs in a slanted line and the blade switch underneath.
As for pickups, I found that my current electric, which has two humbuckers (creamery baby 71) and a p90, is a bit too humbuckery for my taste. So I’ve decided to go with something different.
To that end I went to Curtis Novak and got the following:
-Tele Fat bridge pickup
-Lipstick pickup middle (medium output, strat size)
-Firebird neck pickup

I think that the Firebird will play nice with the tele bridge. Never used a lipstick before but I figured that it’d be something interesting to put in the middle and it as well as the neck pickup fit the look I’m going for in the end.

Okay, okay. With all that out of the way I think I’ve talked enough. Here’s the shape:
Image
Image
Image

What do you guys think? I’ll have more info and pictures for you as things progress. Things should be happening a bit more rapidly than with my previous project if all goes well.
Last edited by hillerheilman on Thu May 21, 2020 10:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by Shadoweclipse13 » Thu May 21, 2020 9:57 pm

This is cool as hell, not just for the design of it, but for the reason you need/want something with unique functions. When it's all done, I'd be interested to see how the unique tuning sounds too.
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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by Singlebladepickup » Thu May 21, 2020 11:39 pm

Nice pickup combo, this is going to be great

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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by Larry Mal » Fri May 22, 2020 5:34 am

Great choice on the pickups, looks like it'll be a lot of fun.
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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by hillerheilman » Fri May 22, 2020 8:08 am

Thanks everyone! Any thoughts on the shape? At first I thought it was a bit too stratty for the headstock but we were thinking more about practicality in terms of fret access and being able to wrap my thumb over the top at higher frets than we were aesthetics when he came up with this. I’m considering changing the upper horn to be a bit more like a jazzmaster or mustang.

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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by mortron » Fri May 22, 2020 11:07 am

I dig that body shape... reminds me of something like a Carl Thompson from the earlier days. Good company to be in!

The headstock is cool, I like that it's something different. The classical style peghead is something I've always liked and Abernethy executes them well on an offset. I like that yours has a lightness to it without being out of scale... goes with the body IMO. The exotic looking headstock is one thing I love about all my non-Fenders :D I think the body has a very fluid and organic look to it. Like it would be very comfortable to play seated or standing.

I also want to throw out that it looks like it would be a cool shape for a righty as is too. Like some Mosrite descendant.

The use of a Tele bridge in the application is brilliant I must say. I love the aesthetic of it too, and always enjoy how people can keep it modern all these years later. Never considered that its likely the only vintage bridge that is multiscale friendlyish. One caveat may be that the saddles will not have the adjacent saddle to keep it from moving side to side. Perhaps a small nut tightened up against the plate (but loose enough it the screw can spin) would be enough bracing to keep the screw perpendicular to the base plate? I'm bad at verbalizing, and even worse at drawing things out. Apologies.

Looks like its gonna be fun to watch.

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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by hillerheilman » Fri May 22, 2020 11:31 am

mortron wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 11:07 am
The use of a Tele bridge in the application is brilliant I must say. I love the aesthetic of it too, and always enjoy how people can keep it modern all these years later. Never considered that its likely the only vintage bridge that is multiscale friendlyish. One caveat may be that the saddles will not have the adjacent saddle to keep it from moving side to side. Perhaps a small nut tightened up against the plate (but loose enough it the screw can spin) would be enough bracing to keep the screw perpendicular to the base plate? I'm bad at verbalizing, and even worse at drawing things out. Apologies.

Looks like its gonna be fun to watch.


That’s something I hadn’t considered. I’ll have to run this by my luthier and see what he thinks. Thanks for pointing it out.

Here’s our control layout:
Image

We may move the jack to the right a bit, as the arrow indicates. But otherwise this is what we’re gonna go with.

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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by Steadyriot. » Fri May 22, 2020 1:14 pm

Oh that looks really rad! Smart move on the Tele bridge!
A bit of neck angle may also add in the downward pressure on the saddles to help with sideways movement.
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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by Gordon » Sat May 23, 2020 1:40 am

Depending on your hand mobility-range, have you considered a zero fret? I always found them more comfortable to play when fretting next to the nut...
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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by hillerheilman » Sat May 23, 2020 1:59 am

Gordon wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 1:40 am
Depending on your hand mobility-range, have you considered a zero fret? I always found them more comfortable to play when fretting next to the nut...
I’ve seen them, but I didn’t really consider one for this build. I was under the impression that zero frets had more to do with making the open strings sound more consistent with the sound of the fretted ones and less to do with comfort. I don’t know if it’d be more comfortable for me or not but I’ll have to look into it.

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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by Ben17e » Sat May 23, 2020 3:25 am

If a zero fret is something you want to try but don't want to commit to, there is a company making them so they fit into a normal nut slot.

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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by mortron » Sat May 23, 2020 6:59 am

I am coming around to the idea of a Zero Fret...

They make sense in my case because I am not proficient at nut filing yet, so the idea of making a nut that is more of a string guide than a nut seems to be more achievable for the layperson who hasn't invested in the proper tools yet. There is less concern about filing a slot too far or having a hard time getting the action just right.

I've never tried one, but am willing to give a Zero Fret a try if I ever build and fret a neck.

Some associate Zero Frets with different things... I feel the sound being similar to a fretted note to be a take it or leave it thing. Similar I suppose to the idea that you can play a note on the E or A, but there is different energy. Same note, different vibe. Cheap guitars that had it may have had it for a variety of reasons, one being to avoid the aforementioned poorly cut nut. Conversely you may not see them on others because they knew how to cut nuts consistently and every inch of fret wire and every half inch of wood adds up over time, so why add cost? Just theories... I'm no zero fret scholar lol.

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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by antisymmetric » Sat May 23, 2020 1:43 pm

So many good things going on with this guitar- you've got a good luthier and I think he's privileged to get to do your project. The Tele bridge idea is brilliant!! Re the possible sideways movement of the saddles (if it turns out to be an issue), maybe increasing the break angle/ downforce would be enough to cure it- I'm wondering if new holes for anchoring the strings could be drilled in relation to the saddles' altered placement. It may look weird/clash with some existing holes, etc, but this is just to throw the idea out there. You could have an angled set of string ferrules on the back of the guitar, which would be in keeping with the fanned fret concept. (This is all assuming you're going for string-through, as I couldn't see any holes for top-loading.)
$0.02. ;)
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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by Dieca » Sat May 23, 2020 2:36 pm

Love that body shape, the rounded bottom of the body reminds me of the old yamaha bb basses, very cool. I think you could get away with fattening that upper horn to get into more jaguar/mustang territory without compromising the thumb over the upper frets access.

Had a quick noodle in that tuning (up a tone so it worked on my mustang), very cool, and a really ingenious way to overcome the obstacles life has thrown at you. Bet it makes you approach playing in a different way too and gives you your own distinct sound. Care to enlighten us on the chord shapes you use for it?

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Re: Something Offset 2: Electric Boogaloo

Post by hillerheilman » Sun May 24, 2020 8:41 am

antisymmetric wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 1:43 pm
Re the possible sideways movement of the saddles (if it turns out to be an issue), maybe increasing the break angle/ downforce would be enough to cure it- I'm wondering if new holes for anchoring the strings could be drilled in relation to the saddles' altered placement. It may look weird/clash with some existing holes, etc, but this is just to throw the idea out there. You could have an angled set of string ferrules on the back of the guitar, which would be in keeping with the fanned fret concept. (This is all assuming you're going for string-through, as I couldn't see any holes for top-loading.)
$0.02. ;)
Yeah, we are going for string through. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit and I’m thinking that since we’ve planned to make the neck angle a bit greater than you’d usually find in order to leave some room for adjustment in the event of any warping, that will increase the downward force sufficiently. If not we’ll figure something else out, I’m sure.
Dieca wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 2:36 pm
Care to enlighten us on the chord shapes you use for it?
Sure can! It’s not anything particularly special though, just basically an open tuning that’s tweaked slightly so I can make some basic chords. So like I’ve said I only have the first two fingers and thumb working on my fretting hand. I’m not really able to move my hand in a way that lets me use the tips of my fingers like you normally would, so the whole thing kinda relies on barring strings.
(For reference, I’m referring to the thinnest string as string 1, and the thickest as 6)
So strings 4, 5 and 6 are tuned to a C power chord. 1, 2 and 3 are an E major chord. So if I strum 5, 4 and 3 I also get an inverted C major. You can of course move those around as needed.
For another example, if I wanted to make a Dm7 chord, I’d wrap my thumb around strings 6, 5 and 4 on the second fret, and bar with my first finger on strings 1,2 and 3. Then if I wanted to change that to D7 I’d simply move my thumb down to cover string 3 as well. To change that to major 7 I’d then add my second finger one fret up on string 1, or go up one more fret for regular D major. These can all be moved around also, obviously.
You could pretty much do the same kind of thing with any open tuning. I just wanted to start on C because I’m used to playing pianos that are that way, and I wanted to have easier access to 7th chords. Hence the slight tweaks.

For scales, I’m not very good at switching notes super quickly with my fretting hand and doing runs and such. So what I’ll usually do is hold whichever of those chord shapes is most convenient for the scale I want, depending on key and which string I want to start on, and then use those notes and tap or bend the rest with my left hand.

Hope that explanation made sense :D

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