The guitar is killer I’ll get some clips up later today!
Hey Tommy! Where are those Clips? Slacker! LOL. You got all of us drooling over here. Damn Gear Tease.
Grez. I am looking forward to checking your guitar out when Tommy brings it out East when we play together in a couple of weeks. Make sure you have him bring some of your business cards. When you start deciding what you would want to charge for some of the hollowbody guitars based on the RC Allen templates you picked up let me know. I would be curious about having one of those built around TK’s C.C. pickup.
I’ve started my first from Rc’s molds and will put up a video in a week or two. The guitar won’t be done, but I will have completed all the bending/forming steps that use his tools. This will be a 17″ body, 2.75″ deep sort of in the neighborhood of an ES-5, but with two Vintage Vibe HCC pickups.
Pricing, everything I make falls between 2 and 3k. Solid bodies, are generally 2 to $2,300, Acoustics, semi-hollowbodies and RC hollow bodies are $2,400 to about 3k averaging $2,500. The difference between the lower and higher prices are things like dot inlays or blocks, or nice wood vs crazy high end wood (high end meaning the look, the sound is the same) pickup choice, tuners brands, bridge type……….options basically. There are exceptions that go below or above these prices, but not often.
Grez. Thanks for that info. I am really looking forward to playing Tommy’s first hand next week when he comes out. I am have Skyped with him a few times and he has shown me all of the features and things of his. It sounded very cool over cheap computer speakers, so my interest is piqued. I will be looking forward to the upcoming RC posts.
Thanks Gretschman, I know you and Tommy will have a good time, too bad I can’t be there!
The guitar is killer…just killer. It’s much warmer than I would have expected (for a 15″ lower bout thinline semi-hollow), in a really great way. Tommy talked about the contoured block inside the guitar and how it is a design feature that you take pretty serious. I assume that that is one of your methods for ‘tuning’ the top of the guitar? Coupled with the 250k pots and over-wound bridge, the tones are really cool–love the ode to switchmaster vibe.
I’d like to ask one question (and pleas feel free to not answer it if it’s some how proprietary with your building techniques): I noticed that the butt of the guitar (where the bigsby and strap button mount) is significantly wider than the sides of the guitar–even at the lower bout. It reveals itself as very sexy guitar lines, in my opinion, but I assume that there are more reasons than pure cosmetics for this attribute. Can you elaborate and expand on the why’s and assets of this feature?
I hope this doesn’t come across as a “Dick Headed” question, because it is not meant to be. I was just curious to what made you decide on Lindy Fralin pickups. All of this is just my opinion, and may not be true in your particular case. To me Fralins are just so clean/hi-fi with all of the potting and such that goes into them, that some of that filth in a P-90, that make it gooey, gets lost. I would think with the kind of market draw, that I think of with a guitar like yours, they would want some of that filthiness and might be deterred by the Fralins. Fralin pickups have that reputation for being very hi-fi and almost sterile, and sought out more by the guys wanting a pristine type of tone. They are very good pickups, but not really what a lot of blues players are looking for. However all pickups sound different in different guitars. I know some guitars Lollars sound amazing in , and others that have the same pickup just sounds alright. So I was just curious to the thought behind the choice.
I am by no means attempting answer on behalf of Grez, however Tommy did mention that Fralin is one of the only makers that does the pickups and cover in a version short enough to dog-ear mount on this type of guitar
Hey Guys, I understand what you are saying re. the Fralins, not that they aren’t great pickups, but less potting/more microphonic is good in some circles and I do agree. Two factors made the decision, one was fit, he has a really good low profile dog ear cover mold. Second, he will make them in a 3 wire version, signal hot, Signal cold and shield. Since Tommy wanted a phase invert switch, it’s nice to still have ground be ground when you fip. I spoke with the folks at Lollar and they just wouldn’t make it any other way than just two wires, signal and shield. My normal supplier, BG-Pups, makes dogear versions with the wiring I want, but they are too tall for this body/neck setup. Lindy’s pickups are all made to order, had I thought about it at the time, I certainly could have asked for less or light potting.
As for the body taper, I think that if the rim continued at the full thickness at the center block, about 2″, the sound would be about the same. The top plate is really an acoustic guitar top plate so it resonates nicely. More than a laminated top certainly. And, the same or more than a carved top in the semi-hollow application. There is so little unsuspended top plate, you have to work to make it resonate. For a full hollow-body, I will use a laminated top made from R.C. Allens forms, without the center block I can still get it to resonate. Back to the taper, first, I think it makes it more comfortable than a regular 2″ thick body would be and second, a dead flat top on a larger guitar, 14 to 16″ just plain looks odd to me. A little curve looks so much better. The curve also adds just a little stiffness. I would be a little afraid it might feedback more with a flat top plate as think as I make them, but I never tried this.
Otherwise, I appreciate the positive comments, and I’m happy to answer any questions. There’s always more than one way to do or look at things. I can’t say that I always know best, just that what I do does work, but I’m always looking to make things just a little better. I don’t want to be a mindless factory worker in my own shop. Every time I build one there’s new requests or things to consider or experiment with and that’s part of the fun.
Grez, I appreciate all of that information about the pickups. That was some good stuff. I did not know that about some of the pickups, things like the profile or wiring options. That is good info to know. Again I hope that the question before didn’t come across as “Dick Headed” or that I would have done this why didn’t you kind of thing. It was just curiosity on some of the thought process, and what makes a good builder decided on a pickup when there are so many good ones to choose from.
I am curious about the Lollar comment you made about wanting that 3rd wire and him not wanting to supply. If you want to wire a P-90 to a switch so you can take it in and out of phase, do you have to have a 3rd wire on the pickup? I am also curious as to what having a signal hot, signal cold, along with the shield allows you to do wiring wise and some of the other benefits it gives you. I do not know much about those kinds of things.
I am very curious to this RC guitar you are working on. After reading what you have mentioned about it so far, with construction and pickups chosen kind of things, it sounds like something I have been on the look out for, for a while now. I would love to see some evolution pictures of it like you did with Tommy’s. Tommy speaks very highly of your guitar, and I know we both look for the same things in instruments. It never fails, guitars that he doesn’t like, I do not like. If it makes me go “Ooh that’s nice” he ends up with the same opinion. IF you could when it is finished, have Tommy play it so I can get his opinion on it since it would be hard for me to play it before hand. If he digs it, I may start talking to you about grabbing it.
Seriously, no offence taken from a reasonable question. In a typical P-90, one side of the coil windings is considered signal and the other side is tied to the pickup frame and the shield of the wire coming out, so just two wires, signal hot and the ground/signal minus combo. You can invert this with a switch, but, now your signal is on the shield and the center conductor is ground, so you have no shield. Best case, this could be OK, worst case, depending on the environment, more humm/buzz. In the 3 wire setup, both ends of the coil are brought out separately inside the shield so you can swap the in and the out or the top and the bottom, the plus and minus or whatever you want to call them and your shield is still grounded and not used as a signal conductor. It’s probably not the end of the world to flip phase with just 2 conductors, but my audio electronics design background won’t let me do it!
You get the same sort of thing with humbuckers. Some times they are 2, 3, 4 or 5 wires. There are potentially 5 wires in a humbucker, winding start and finish of the first coil, start and finish of the second coil and ground/shield. Sometimes they are all brought out separately, sometimes many are combined internally and you only have access to some. More individual wires coming out allow for more wiring options like coil splitting or series parallel.
As for the RC guitars, I am making good progress on the first one from his molds. It will be a 17″, 2.75″ deep. I am making a video showing all the forms in use and will post that in a few weeks or so, but I will put up some pics just for fun. I get down to Southern California somewhat often so Tommy will definitely get to check out a RC when it’s done.
A little update from last night’s gig at the beachfire. Big red and I are becoming fast friends. The body pickup is pretty cool. Since I run two volumes the body pickup is independent of a control and always on. Grez and I will eventually figure out a solution. I find it really useful in adding the missing qualities of the Fralin p90’s. Have the body pickup obviously makes everything micrpophonic, I get some crazy overtones with the front pickup. My middle in phase position hasn’t been my favorite but the out of phase sounds great. The embie bridge is a comittment, really a love hate realtionship. I love how it softens the brightness, but on the lower strings I think it might mellow them just a tad too much. I have 250k pots in the guitar. So far I’m liking it. With all that said the guitar is a home run. Plays and sounds great. I’ll get some videos up on the guitar in the next couple days, espcially some band clips.
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