C18Q1 Midi guitar

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In a rash moment I’ve bought this collection from @TTony:



So now I need to decide what I’m going to do with it. The only rule so far is that it has to be giggable.
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  • Thereby hangs a tail.

    The Acousti-Phonic circuit board produces an audio signal. The Hexpander circuit board can not. It requires an outboard sound module capable of responding to MIDI Mode 4. The sound module requires its own stereo amplification. You will soon require the services of a roadie to shift it all.  :s
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    WezV said (in @TTony's thread):
    Roland said:
    Roland has given himself a challenge, because now he’s got to build a guitar to house the Graphtech stuff.
    I hope it’s cedar bodied.  I think I am nearly near the point of using the bit I got from your tree... I keep thinking about all all uk wood build after discussing with you, so some of your cedar for the body, Douglas for for the neck....not sure about fretboard yet
    I've got a branch of walnut that's been drying for two years. Being a branch it's probably going to warp over time, so not suitable for a solid neck. We could slice it for a body cap, fretboards, and even laminates for a neck.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013

    You will soon require the services of a roadie to shift it all.
    We'd all like a roadie. When I gigged a midi guitar with a previous band it was to supplement the sound because we didn't have keys. We only needed four sounds: string pad, vocal pad, Hammond, and synth lead. The extra gear was a GR-33 synth which sat on the floor. Synth output was mixed into the back end of the AxeFX chain, and straight into the FX Return of a 2x12 valve combo. This time I'll either do that, or keep the GR-33 in my rack box, and add a couple of buttons and a volume pedal to my floor board.
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 15021
    Roland said:

    I've got a branch of walnut that's been drying for two years.
    Nice.

    I like walnut for caps - where you can see/appreciate the grain pattern and colouring of a nice piece.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    In previous build threads we've noted that the planning stage can be as interesting as the actual construction. So this is a post about planning.

    A key part of any project is deciding which risks you are going to take. In guitar building terms this means what am I going to do that I haven't tried before. As @WezV knows, I have an ambition to build a guitar from local wood. By local I mean within a mile or so of my house. I haven't found any local wood which is suitable for a neck, and once I do it will have to season. So that challenge is probably a couple of years away. The guitar will have a cedar body, but I'll buy wood for the neck.

    For some time the next objective on my personal journey has been to make my own necks. To date I've used recycled necks that I bought through the forum, plus that cheap Chinese disaster that had the frets in the wrong positions. Now is the time to make my own. I haven't decided whether to stick to 25.5", which I'm used to, or go for something shorter. I find it difficult to play Message In A Bottle on 25.5", but easy on PRS or shorter. Opinions welcome.

    MIDI and piezos are low risk. I've done it before, albeit not with a Tele bridge.

    Pickup wise my starting point is an Oil City Californian and Wapping Wharf. I do like the twin sounds that a tapped single coil bridge pickup gives. However I'm tempted to put a P90 neck in this one, believing that I can use piezos, rather than neck pickup, to drive an acoustic simulation.

    Controls will most likely be three volumes (magnetics, Piezo, and MIDI), magnetic tone, and some form of magnetic switching. There will be no MIDI switching on the guitar. I need to see the GR-33 display when I change patches so I might as well switch from the floor.



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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 15021
    Roland said:

    For some time the next objective on my personal journey has been to make my own necks. 

    Necks have always been my stumbling block.

    Shouldn't be, I've done necks.  But under the watchful eye of Mr Bailey. things never seem to go wrong, whereas when I'm in my own workshop, they have a tendency to go plenty wrong!

    Consequently, I've wimped out and have a stock of premade necks that will probably see me though all the guitar builds that I ever do ...

    What woods are you using for the neck, and how are you going to fit the frets?
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    KISS for the first attempt. All the necks you sold me were rosewood on maple, so I’ll be sticking with that.

    The decision is whether to buy a ready slotted board or a blank. I favour the blank, which I’ll slot by hand. To slot and radius I’ll need to make cutting and radiusing jigs.

    Fret jobs I've done before. Previously I’ve tapped the frets in with a plastic hammer. Now that I’ve got a pillar drill I’ll try using that to press the frets in, for which I’ll need to make a caul.

    So lots of fun Making jigs and tools.
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 15021
    Roland said:

    The decision is whether to buy a ready slotted board or a blank. I favour the blank, which I’ll slot by hand. To slot and radius I’ll need to make cutting and radiusing jigs.

    If you think you'll be doing a few, then something like the StewMac jig would make sense.

    If you'll only be doing one or two, then you can mark it out by hand and cut freehand.  Both with lots of care!

    I've got a router cutter somewhere that puts a radius on a fretboard blank.  Bought it back in the days of UKGB from a guy in Vietnam IIRC!
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    For this one I’ll make a perpendicular cutting frame, and measure the fret positions manually. I have a congenital objection to paying StewMac prices for something which I can make myself.

    Last year (ie 2016) ago I re-radiused a couple of necks, during which I made a couple of radiused router sledges. They’ll do for rough radiusing, and I’ll make a concave sanding block to finish off. For this one I’ll use 12” radius. For future necks I want to try different radii, and also compound. The subtext is that, after 47 years of playing, I’m still exploring the impact of dimensional and material differences.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    OK. The new year is here, and it's time to firm up on my Q1 challenge. It's in three parts:
    1. Make a 25.5" scale neck from maple and rosewood blanks. The radius will be 12", and the thinnish profile will match the Yamaha Pacifica neck which I used in an earlier build.
    2. Make and single bind a Telecaster body. The body will have a deep forearm champfer, which makes it an interesting challenge cutting the ledge for the binding.
    3. Mount all of the controls from behind, which means the body top will be quite thin at that point, and fit all the MIDI gubbins into the guitar.
    Along the way several jigs and templates will get made:
    • Telecaster neck template.
    • Fret slotting jig. Actually I might just use a metal set square to guide the saw blade.
    • 12" radius sanding block.
    • 12" radius caul for pressing frets.

    The bits are ordered, or left over from previous builds. All I need to do now is find the time.

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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    edited January 3
    The good thing about rainy days is that gardening and external maintenance tasks languish on the To Do list. Instead I made a neck template and some profile templates.

    Somewhere I read that Fender's 60's neck profile is an ellipse. That seemed the sort of shape which Yamaha would use too. If not then it would be a good starting point. Using drawing software I printed ellipses which match the width and depth of my favourite necks, stuck them on plywood, and cut them out with a scrollsaw. Plywood seemed a good idea. Metal would be more precise, and more durable, but likely to scratch the finish.



    They match the neck perfectly.



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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 15021
    Your image isn't showing.

    I don't think that we've cracked embedding from Google sources since they changed the rules on Picasa ...
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    edited January 7
    Tick tock. Parts are here, but still waiting for the neck and fretboard wood to turn up. In the mean time I’ve made a neck template, 12” radiusing jig and 12” sanding block.

    The concave sanding block was an interesting problem. I wasn’t prepared to mount my router on a swinging jig. Instead I marked out the 12” radius curve on the ends of a suitable block using an off cut from the radius jig as template. The concave section was then hollowed out by:
    - removing lines of wood with the router, using a rounded bit,
    - smoothing the ridges which this created using a bobbin sander,
    - sanding to section using abrasive paper stuck to the 12”radius off cut.
    Sanding by hand meant that I had to be careful not to create a dip in the middle of the block.

    Yesterday I was thinking about the shape of the guitar. Two things that I’m not happy with on recent builds are the 25.5” scale (because of the stretch on MIAB mentioned above), and the strap balance. On my lastest build I pushed the strap button out by 1/4”, but it’s not enough. Last night I drew the modified Telecaster outline on a Stratocaster blueprint, and then pencilled in an upper horn which is somewhere between the two. This will put the strap button roughly where it is on a PRS.


    Still thinking about the scale length.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    Still waiting for wood. This afternoon I had an email to say that the neck and fretboard blanks will be shipped next week. I see that other people have already finished their challenges. There’s not a lot that I can do until the wood turns up.
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 1175
    It's not a race! 
    Mine is finished, but I already had most of the parts as I was planning the build, then the challenge was announced.....and assembling a partscaster is much quicker than building from scratch
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • axisusaxisus Frets: 10901
    Cool! I shall keep an interested eye on this as my C18Q1 guitar is also going to be midi. 
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 9079
    Roland said:
    Still waiting for wood. This afternoon I had an email to say that the neck and fretboard blanks will be shipped next week. I see that other people have already finished their challenges. There’s not a lot that I can do until the wood turns up.
    You should really give it a couple of weeks to acclimatise when it does arrive 
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    Msg from Bailey Guitars to say that the wood has been despatched, and ...

    With everything else that’s going on over the next few months the planned build isn’t going to be completed by the end of March. So I’m considering installing the midi gear in an existing guitar. Decisions, decisions.
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 15021
    Wood from Baileys?  Intriguing ...
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1844
    Only just catching up with the C18Q1 stuff and am particularly interested in this one @Roland

    As I think we've discussed before, I have the same combination of Ghost stuff running through a Roland GR30.  To be honest, other than the cable being different, it's just like using a modest sized multi-pedal.  The whole set up works a treat :)

    Also, very interested in your thought process on jigs - been pretty much on the same evolution myself.

    Watching with great interest.  Don't forget to post the photos (including the home-made jigs! ;) )   :)
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    edited January 24
    This afternoon is the first time in more than two weeks that I’ve had an opportunity to work on the challenge. I wanted to work out where to drill the bridge plate for piezo wires. Following my comment in another thread I measured the existing saddle positions, and soon realised that the node point on a Tele saddle isn’t as obvious as it is on a tunomatic. To get a decent measurement for the piezo saddles I swapped them for the top and bottom E strings on an existing guitar, and corrected their intonation:



    What do we find?
    1. The node points on the two saddle types are at different positions from the saddle front. The difference is 1.8mm, which is over 3 complete turns of the adjustment screw.
    2. The Graphtech saddles use American threads for saddle retention and height adjustment. The Graphtech’s don’t have much height adjustment, and I don’t have any longer spares with the correct thread. Thankfully there’s a compromise height which works.
    3. There’s a tone difference with the new saddles, but not enough to worry about.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    Change of plan. After a little thought I'm going to put the midi gear into this existing guitar, rather than a new build. With everything else I've got going on a new build is increasingly unlikely to get completed before the end of March.

    So the midi stuff will go in like this. I'll cut a groove under the bridge for the piezo pickup wires and drill from that into the control cavity, rather than route the delicate wires alongside the magnetic pickup cables. The cavity will need enlarging to take the midi circuit board and midi volume. The 13 pin socket will go on the edge, near the end pin. Any lower and it will get in the way of my thigh when playing. The battery will go in its own box behind the bridge, with a hole drilled through to the control cavity.



    Sorry @Andyjr1515. This means that the jigs will get documented in another thread

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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1844
    No problem @Roland.  It'll be an interesting project to watch anyway :)
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    Today I started by drilling holes in the bridge plate to take the piezo wires. The wires come out of the Graphtech plug using a pin to release the plastic trigger (arrowed in red).



    The pair of wires side by side measure 1.5mm, and a single metal terminator will go through a 1.5mm hole. To get the second terminator through alongside the first wire through the hole needs to be 2.0mm.

    Having pontificated in this and another thread about where to position the holes I discovered that they would be too close to the string-through holes. I ended putting them just behind the front edge of each saddle.

    After that excitement I drew up the outline of the enlarged control cavity, and cut out a paper template. Extending the cavity will be the first non-reversible activity, closely followed by cutting a hole for the 13 pin socket. Now this is a bound guitar, and I’m thinking about redoing the binding, including rerouting the ledge. This will be much more difficult with another socket hole in the side of the guitar. So I put it aside while I decide on the binding, and dressed the frets instead.

    Normally when I dress frets I take the strings off and let the neck settle, adjusting it back to flat over a couple of days. As luck would have it this neck was dead straight within a few minutes of removing the strings. I seized the chance and levelled the frets, then spent a happy couple of hours reprofiling and polishing them.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    This morning I sanded off the old finish to remove pick marks and other divots. I’m going to refinish and rebind the face of the guitar. I also cut the channel under the Bridge for the piezo wires. Yesterday I bought a Makita mini router to redo the binding. The body face is contoured, and I want to use the Makit bevel foot to follow the guitar top at varying angles when I recut the binding channel. I wanted to get some experience of the new router by using it to open the control cavity. The new router is light weight, and ideal for the shallow channel.

    Don't forget to post the photos 


    I’ve changed my mind about how the piezo wires will get into the control cavity. To get the channel sufficiently deep in the body I’ve had to come into the pickup cavity, and then a new hole from there into the control cavity. This is where my new pillar drill is useful.


    ... interested in your thought process on jigs ...
    For the extended control cavity I was tempted to route it out with the aid of a few ad hoc fences. As things turned out I’m glad that I didn’t. First I drew the cavity outline on paper, cut it out, offered it up the the guitar, and checked the positions of the pots, sockets and circuit board. Then I cut a mask from 9mm ply on my scroll saw.



    Using the piece I’d cut out I drew a larger outline for the cavity cover, and cut that out too. The blank will be used as a template for the cover, and the hole as a routing template.



    Here’s where it went wrong. 

    To start with I drilled out the extra area with a Forstener bit to make life easier for the mini router. With my main router I’d just have piled in, and let the router do all the work. The new router worked well at enlarging the cavity. Then I reset it to sweep across the cavity floor. Halfway through the bit came loose, and cut too deep into the floor. I caught the problem, turned off and hoovered the cavity so that I could check for damage. Not too bad. I can bring the whole surface around the pots to this level, and insert a ply or metal platform to strengthen the wood and support the pots. Cleaned the shank. Set the router up again ... and the bit came loose again. This time it came within 0.5mm of cutting completely through. Thought about it for a while, packed the hole with plastic wood, and gave up for the day. I would have liked to use something stronger, but cyano-acrylic or wood hardener would seep through and inhibit the new coat of wood stain.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    Damage recovery: Firstly the face of the guitar was restained blue, follower by cyano acrylic glue to rebind the damaged wood fibres, and strengthen the damaged area. The Plastic wood filler was then levelled with a router. This time I used my old router, which I have greater faith in. More superglue to fill and strengthen around the plastic wood because it can pull away from the wood as it shrinks as it cures.

    Then back to work. Binding channel recut. This is what I bought the Makita for. I’ll give it 8 out of 10. It’s light, and easy to guide. With the bevel base locked at 90 degrees it does a good job. Much better than my old heavy router. Around the forearm champfer I stopped and adjusted the base angle every two inches, which gave a smooth transition. The bevel base holds the router bit at a constant depth, but I forgot to allow for the width of the bit. As the angle increases the bit bites slightly lower. Of course there’s a three inch section where I didn’t notice this. It’s on the top edge, exactly where I’ll see it as I’m playing. There are a couple of choices: recut and use a deeper binding, redo the champfer to match the channel, or fill the gap with plastic wood. On any other guitar I’d recut or re-champfer. This one is the Recyclecaster, made from a builders’ plank I found in a skip, so it’s going to get the gap filler treatment.

    The original binding was put on with cyano acrylic glue. It sticks too quickly for my liking, and any excess can prevent wood taking colour and finish. @WezV, the fount of all guitar building knowledge, suggested plastic cement. The main ingredient is methyl chloride, or methylene chloride. It is used to make plastic models, and works by melting the plastic which then welds together. In this case I’m hoping that it will weld the plastic binding to the wood.

    Gratuitous picture. As often happens, this doesn’t pick up the true colour, which is dark turquoise.



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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1844
    It's a little concerning that the bit loosened twice...  Did you ever bottom the root cause?
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    Not yet. My suspicion is that the collet on the new router is sensitive to the position of the bit. However I’ve not devoted time to testing that theory.
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1844
    edited February 1
    Roland said:
    Not yet. My suspicion is that the collet on the new router is sensitive to the position of the bit. However I’ve not devoted time to testing that theory.
    This would bother me, Roland.  The position of the bit - provided it is inserted at least up to the (usually) etched insert lines on the router bit shank - shouldn't make a difference.   Loose bits on routers is something that should never happen and it's something to urgently investigate if it does happen more than once.  They spin round far too fast to risk them being anywhere but fixed firmly in the collet. 

    I think either the bits are not inserted deep enough (which might be what you are saying), or the collet is faulty or it simply it hasn't been tightened up enough.  I say the latter because I find my Bosch palm router quite difficult to tighten properly using the lock pin - and Bosch don't supply a second (slim) spanner even though they do provide the spanner slots in the spindle.  I find that I'm having to put the pressure on keeping the spring-loaded pin engaged and not where the pressure should be - ie stopping the circular body from rotating.  It's one of the flaws of the available palm routers - particularly if a second slim spanner isn't supplied.

    Are you using two spanners or the pin?  If you are using the pin, try the two spanners (easier with the motor unit out of the base) and see if you are able to get a bit more purchase on it.

    If you are already using two spanners, then it would be worth taking the collet off and checking there's no swarf or dirt in the slots keeping it from clamping properly. 
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2013
    The second time the collet was definitely tight as it would go. That’s the first thing I checked. I’ve used the same and other bits in the same collet since, and I’ve used the same bit in my other router. This tends to rule out a problem with the bit, or with the collet in general. What I haven’t done yet is to set up a depth test to see whether there’s a minimum length of shank which the collet will work with. 
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