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Custom Guitar specifics:


Dr. Ellwood

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This is a off shoot of the Witkowski guitars thread. We where talking about CNC produced guitars as opposed to hand built SOLID bodied guitars. There was some dialogue about interacting with the custom builder and you as the customer getting in on specifying how the neck should be developed. How many of us could tell the builder exactly how we wanted the neck to feel? How would you describe to him exactly what your wanted him to do? Would you try to relate how a vintage Strat felt like,or maybe a PRS you have played or maybe you could say I like the old vintage Strat feel except the PRS was a little too narrow but I want it to fill the palm of my had a bit more OR.... could you find a factory built neck that was perfect? Would you try to find the perfect neck for your guitar, then cut female templates of the neck contour say at the first,fifth,twelfth and twenty second frets, then have the builder sink these shapes and blend in between the control templates? My opinion is that your interaction with the builder would be almost meaningless and beyond a couple of suggestions on guitars you have played, you would be pretty much out of the picture and would end up with a neck that is identical to a factory neck IF your lucky! Hand built SOLID body electrics are silly. However maybe I'm wrong? ...am I???
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I had one made for me, and it rocks. If I ever have another one made (unlikely, given my hand and arm issues..>) I'd have the same guy do it again, with an even simpler setup... one P-90 mid-mounted, a Ghost MIDI pickup, with the Ghost Piezo. One volume control and a volume by-pass switch. That is all I need.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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OK, you're wrong. :D

 

Necks come in various flavors, and if you know the characteristics you prefer, then you shouldn't need to go to specific measurements to get something comfortable.

 

The neck is either thick, thin, or medium, and the fretboard radius is either flat, round, or somewhere in the middle, and the width is either wide or narrow.

 

Personally, I'm a chameleon:

 

- my strat has a neck like a baseball bat sawn in half lengthwise, with a medium fret radius.

- my SG is a low profile neck, and pretty flat radius, a lá the fretless wonders.

- My Hamer 335 copy is somewhere in between.

 

So I wouldn't get too wrapped up about specific measurements, just look at the general characteristics and ask the guy to get in the ballpark. I don't expect him to tell me what kind of music to play, so I would just as soon leave the luthier to their craft.

 

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Yes Bill, and how did you tell the builder you wanted the neck developed? What did you say to him?

 

Like most of us, I have several guitars. I asked for the best of all of them, and he suggested that I go with the compound radius. I like that the neck flattens out... my first electric guitar had a totally flat fretboard and though not practical for long hours of playing, there is a certain appeal to that feel on the higher frets. I wanted a little more meat to the neck, as I find that thinner necks (in depth) fatigue my hands when played for long periods. I went with a medium width, for similar reasons. (you have limits there due to pickup screw spacings, but I was okay with one of the standard spacings.) Basically, I didn't tell him what I needed..... he, as an experienced luthier and the guy who works on my guitars and knows my instruments, led me through the process, asking all the right questions and leading me down the right path. Had ne not done so, I probably would have said, "duhhhhh...."

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I'm not sure I'd want someone to make me a custom guitar. I kinda like the ones that are already out there a lot--those companies already did about 90% of the job for me. I prefer to take those and have folks work on them to get the last 10% just right for me.

 

As for necks, I couldn't say which kind I like best--they're all cool for different reasons...

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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OK, good answers as usual. I'm aware of the basic shapes offered by the large manufactures like PRS etc, I just thought there might be some more specific info you would get into like shapes at certain fret loacatons, like a section through the neck at 5 or 6 or more places along the neck and then developed from there in between the control sections, guess not..thanks!
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In the 1970s I tried my hand at building guitars, before pieces/parts became so available. What I found out after drilling a lot of holes, is that the major manufacturers have mostly got it right in terms of spacing and placement.

 

I did like certain things that have been mostly lost over time, like straight string pull and solid body mass of the Explorer/Vee/Moderne; the chunky necks of the 50s Les Pauls; the incredible richness of the tonal variations of the 1960s Gretsches.

 

But after building through the body sandwiched necks of most every wood combination possible, laying acoustic pickups in almost every part of a guitar body and neck, and trying to cram one of every pickup into the space between the bridge and neck, and puting every switch combination known to man, as well as multiple preamps and tone controls into the body cavities.... well, I'm just happy these days with good intonation, a good feel, and a great sound from one or two passive pickups. Most all of the music that I like has been recorded from some combination of Strat/Les Paul/Fender amp/Marshall amp. There is a lesson there for players with limited horizons such as myself. This may not work for a Todd Runtgren or Eric Johnson type of player looking for more or more differences.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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i would ask for a fat neck, and a radius less than 12 for smooth chording yet not a string choking 7.25.

i would tell the luthier what i wanted the guitar to do and not do.

p90's and a three way. nice rounded edges to the fretboard so it feels broken in.

i want to hear the wood when it rings out.

a mohogany body and a smooth rosewood fretboard that isn't overly dry and porous in texture.

only 22 frets and a single cut away, either a solid mahogany with a carved to or a understated maple top. locking tuners and a wrap around tail piece.

oil finish please.

i wouldn't specify a direct copy of a previous guitars neck but rather use terms like "fat" and "palm filling"

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i would ask for a fat neck, and a radius less than 12 for smooth chording yet not a string choking 7.25.

i would tell the luthier what i wanted the guitar to do and not do.

p90's and a three way. nice rounded edges to the fretboard so it feels broken in.

i want to hear the wood when it rings out.

a mohogany body and a smooth rosewood fretboard that isn't overly dry and porous in texture.

only 22 frets and a single cut away, either a solid mahogany with a carved to or a understated maple top. locking tuners and a wrap around tail piece.

oil finish please.

i wouldn't specify a direct copy of a previous guitars neck but rather use terms like "fat" and "palm filling"

 

Zan, have you seen these?

 

http://prsguitars.com/singlecutstandardsatinsoapbar/index.html

 

 

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