This year has been crazy, but it did allow me to make more guitars than I ever did before. Thus I built #36 one week ago, in 7 days. It began with an idea about how I could use an old pickup. This pickup is a Seymour Duncan Jazz Humbucker I bought over a decade ago and rarely used. I had it on an old beater electric but didn’t like the sound of it on that, so it ended up in my box of parts for many years.
Recently I got it out and decided to mess with it by breaking off the legs so I could stick it right onto the soundboard of my latest Corona guitars, which have a space at the end of the neck deep enough for that to work. It sounded very good, but it just didn’t quite fit, so I puzzled over what I might do with it. Then I remembered an old guitar neck I got cheap at a thrift store some time past. It was a Fender style bolt on neck a bit thicker than the depth of my Corona neck extension, so the pickup would fit there with room to spare. I just needed a way to install it, since it now had no legs.
I hit on the idea of attaching it to the end of the neck with a bracket, like the Johnny Smith pickups on various archtop guitars. I got a metal pickup cover and soldered onto that a brass bracket, then stuck the legless pickup inside the metal casing and soldered it in place. I had a suspended pickup and all I needed was a guitar body on which to install it.
I had lots of miscellaneous wood around, including a nice torrified Englemann spruce top, narrow walnut pieces for ribs, and an old guitar back with a hole in it. All this was perfect to construct a hollow body electric guitar from, so I immediately got to work.
I didn’t worry about the extra thick top of over 4mm since the idea was basically an electric guitar. However, after I glued the braces on it had a very decent tap tone. I put the ribs and top together and prepped the holes for the two pots and the output jack, then attached the back. The top gave out an even better tone when the box was assembled, so I decided not to cut a sound hole or f-holes in the top until I heard how it sounded. After all, there was a decent sized hole in the back already.
I had to modify the headstock to take 3 + 3 tuners, since that was all I had to work with and I don’t like the 6 in line ones much anyhow. I did this and installed the tuners and screws to act as posts for the strings in order to prevent the sideways pull of the strings from yanking the nut out of line. This was ugly but free and worked fine. The tuners were a nice set of Grovers acquired free from my sister. Thanks Val!
So, I got it all assembled and wonder of wonders, it sounds great without a hole in the top. Imagine my shock! Despite the thick soundboard and lack of hole, this thing is loud and sounds a lot like a carved archtop with the strong attack you want in jazz. The pickup is great too and deserves the reputation it has for not only jazz but most any type of electric guitar music you can name.
3 responses to “One Week Guitar Project”
Huh, suspended pickup, great solution! Take my praise with a grain of salt, though – the most radical guitar mod I’ve done is used a steak knife to cut a hole in the faceplate of a Jap Strat so I could fit a Dimarzio humbucker in there. 😀
I did that once, but not with a steak knife!
well, then again, I was 17 😀