Guitar Design Brief

ETHOS

The design of electric guitars has been forever held back by the ties of tradition. Guitars are musical tools, and good tools should be desiged to work in a logical way. Good tools are easy to adjust and to repair and do not get in the way of the repairman or the player. All guitars need maintenance, and a good guitar should be designed to make this easy. Good guitars are also designed with ergonomics on mind – practical considerations for the way that modern guitars are used in the real world.

A guitar should not be too long or too short. Not too light or too heavy. It should balance on a strap AND feel comfortable to play sitting down, with the guitar on either the right or left knees. A guitar should be able to stand against a wall with some stability, and be hung on a wall. Controls should be as simple as possible and laid out in a logical and easy to use manner.

NECK & FINGERBOARD

The guitar will have 24 frets & 25.5″ scale length.
The neck will be made from one piece of Wenge.
The fingerboard will be Ebony.
The trussrod will be removable so it can be swapped out if it becomes damaged or broken.

The neck will use carbon fibre reinforcement so that it is very stiff. Flexible necks are not acceptable in my opinion – especially when they change tuning/intonation just by holding the guitar in a different orientation, or having it on a workbench. Necks that need constant truss rod adjustment to compensate for different temperatures and environments are not acceptable. A stiff, straight neck can be set to a low action with no fear that slight movements of the neck will cause buzzes and choking.

TRUSS ROD ADJUSTER

This will be a rotary “nut” at the body end of the neck, like Musicman guitars. However, when the truss rod goes stiff (as it can sometimes do with age), the access holes in the typical adjusters are too small – any allen key used can almost snap because it has to be quite thin to fit in the hole. The holes must be larger – the hole size could match a standard screwdriver shaft size for convenience.

MACHINEHEADS

Standard Schaller M6 pin design. Non locking. Full size buttons. Locking tuners are uneccessary and actually make string changes longer and more fiddly. Anyone that thinks otherwise has never learned to string a guitar properly. Full size buttons have the physical effect of lowering the tuner ratio, making them more precise. Tuner spacing on the headstock should never compromise ease of use. If locking tuners are specified by the client, they MUST be of the top-locking variety!

HEADSTOCK DESIGN

The headstock will have a 4+2 design. This allows the headstock to be shorter, which adds convenience to the design (shorter guitars are easier to store, transport, play on small stages, and maintain). The tip of the headstock will be of a rounded design as this is less likely to be chipped, dented or snapped when hit against something. it is also less likely to hurt someone if it hits them during a performance.

The neck will be made with one piece of wood, like a Fender Strat, but the headstock will have some back angle. This will mean that the “fall away” at the headstock side of the nut will not have to be as steep, and that the guitar will be able to use a Gibson style nut that relies on string pressure, without using string trees. This may mean that the neck needs to be made using a thicker neck blank than is typical.

NUT

The design should be height adjustable, low friction and easy to remove/replace.

WIRING

All the guitar’s internal wiring should be solderless where possible, at least to allow the easy replacement of pickups, pots, switch and jack socket. An earthing bar with several screw terminals will be fixed inside, to allow connection of all earthing points without soldering to pot casings. The entire cavity and cavity plate will be screened with conductive paint.

POTS

Solid shaft 500k Dunlop SuperPots throughout for quality and longevity. Star washers MUST be used to prevent the knobs from coming loose. A volume pot will be standard, with an optional tone pot. An internal capacitor selector switch will allow the user to change the cap in the tone circuit.

KNOBS

Knobs will be designed for solid shaft pots and have allen key tightening method. However, the allen key size will be bigger than the ones typically found on guitars – this will make the securing stronger and less fiddly. Knobs can be scratch made or existing designs can be drilled out and re-tapped to the larger size.

SWITCH

Dimarzio 3-Way 4PDT SWITCH.

Position1: Bridge pickup only.
Position 2: Both pickups. Internal switches to preset coil split, series or parallel connection.
Position 3: Neck pickup only.

PICKUPS

Dimarzio Super Distortion & PAF Pro as standard.

PICKUP MOUNTING

The pickups will be mounted from the rear of the guitar, via the one large control cavity. The pickup heights will be adjusted also from the rear. The wiring from the pickups to the switch/pots/jack will all be in the same cavity, and all be easily accessible and visible.

SCREWS

The guitar will not have ANY screws as part of the design. Screws are outdated – they eventually strip the threads from the wood and become loose because owners always overtighten them. All screw type fixings will be replaced with threaded metal inserts and bolts. All fixings will be A3 stainless steel (316) as this is the most resistant to corrosion. Bolt head type (hex, Torkz etc to be confirmed).

MAGNETS

In areas where screws/bolts are unneccessary (such as control cavity plates) magnets will be used instead. The edge of the plate(s) will be notched to allow for secure fixing yet easy removal.

JACK SOCKET

Switchcraft mono open-frame jack socket mounted onto a stainless steel plate. Open chassis jack sockets are easy to clean, easy to solder and easy to remove and replace. Plate mounted using 4x bolts into threaded inserts as mentioned above – (four as opposed to two, for strength). Note: the guitar could have TWO jack sockets for redundancy purposes, and/or to give the player a choice depending on a sitting or standing position.

JACK SOCKET LOCATION

The jack socket must be located in such a place that a guitar can easily be leaned against the wall when plugged in, without the jack plug or lead being trapped/strained. The jack socket must NOT be on the face of the guitar, as in my opinion this looks untidy. The jack socket must work with both straight and angled jack plugs, and either type must fit into the jack socket in such a way that they can be routed between the strap and body, in the usual fashion.

SECURITY

Somewhere on the guitar body there must be a hole that goes right through the main thickness of the wood. This will allow a secure steel loop or chain to be threaded through, to allow the guitar to be securely fixed in position. This will help to prevent theft when the guitar is unnatended at gigs, or at home.

FINISH

The finish of the guitar must protect it from the elements and be easy to clean. While wax/oil finishes are attractive, they are not easy to keep looking in top condition. For this reason I would like to use a modern polyurethane or polyester clearcoat. A gloss spec product would be used, but could be matted down for the client if they so choose. Satin finish laquer would be avoided. The finish can be cleaned with a simple damp cloth and any/all modern guitar polishes, waxes and cleaners without chemical reaction or danger of clouding or stripping.