I've just been starting up as a builder slowly since I got my first CNC a few months ago. I've been learning the CNC ropes, as they say! I've made several parts guitars of my own design and thought I might have a crack at launching my own models, of which this will be the first under the name Katz Guitars. I call it the Clubmaster. I am a freelance designer by trade but I've recently decided to focus my efforts building on my passion for guitars. I'm lucky enough to have two '65 Jazzmasters, a '66 Jazz Bass, an early '60 LP Special and a '61 ES330 on the bench and these inspire my design direction.
Mods if you think this belongs in the Builders / Retailers forum then I will move it as soon as possible. Really I'm looking for criticism and opinions from other builders, and thoughts about specification from other players. I hope that's ok!
So the general concept is a guitar that is a real technical player, but with more of a mid-60s aesthetic and possibly tonal palette. I've become a bit unsure about certain things and would really appreciate the guidance of others on here, your feedback and comments are much appreciated.
The scale length is 25-1/2" and it is a bolt on neck in the Stratocaster / Jazzmaster tradition.
Woods are roasted maple for the neck, roasted swamp ash for the body and Macassar Ebony for the fretboard. I keep an open mind as regards the tonal affect of using torrefied wood. I certainly notice a certain loudness / clarity to the unplugged sound of my own vintage guitars and from what I have read, the process of baking maple and swamp ash in high humidity removes much of the water content and seals the wood with a more resinous reduction, in theory mirroring the long term natural aging process. They are reputedly more stable under temperature and humidity changes. It will also enable me to offer a raw neck option even in combination with a colour matching headstock front / back and stinger, where the colour follows the roundover around the edges of the headstock, which I think will be a cool feature.
I plan to use a vintage style single truss rod because I have found double rods to be very heavy and often bright sounding, with relatively less communication of vibration through the fretting hand. The rod will adjust at the heel, but a u-channel will be cut between the neck pickup cavity and the neck cavity so that the rod can be tweaked just by removing the pickguard and the neck doesn't constantly have to be taken off, reattached, tuned up, measured, rinse and repeat.
I will be using a Zero-Glide nut and Gotoh HAP-M vintage style locking and post adjustable tuners in combination with a recessed OEM Stetsbar vibrato to offer superb range and tuning stability. I have designed the tail plate to incorporate a cover to hide the adjustment screws of the unit which will be accessible by removing four screws. The plate does not obscure the string anchor point, so the plate will only have to removed to change string gauge or switch between floating / down-only vibrato operation. I have since redesigned the plate to attach with just 4 screws to make this easier. The plate is completed with a Strat style jack plate at the back, which is intended to be used with a 90 degree jack to feed the cable over the strap button. Does this seem like a sensible or stupid idea? Does it look ridiculous?
The treble cutaway offers superb access, and I plan to feature a contoured heel as standard.
I'm not a hugely technical player myself, so I would really appreciate feedback on the following.
At the moment the spec is for a 12" radius on the fretboard, 1.650" nut width and tall and narrow 6105 frets. I'm unsure whether stainless frets would be worthwhile on a model like this? I'd like to hear from players on this, whether the vintage tonal choice of the traditional material might be outweighed by the practicality and longevity of stainless.
Another point of contention is neck thickness. My instinct is to go with a medium / deep C profile, but like I say I'm not a technical player. What would you expect or want if you were looking for a guitar like this? Something a little flatter or thinner?
Finally, how should I map out the controls? I was thinking a coil tap on the bridge pickup would be good so that the rhythm circuit plate could be used instead as a solo circuit which bypasses the volume control and engages the overwind. But series / phase options might be interesting for a 3 pickup model to get Brian May style sounds also. The third option on a three pickup would be to use a 5-way Strat switch for the standard controls, with the rhythm circuit offering a bank of on / off switches to set two sounds and get the neck and bridge together if desired.
Many thanks for reading, that ended up being a lot longer than I'd planned! I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions, even (maybe especially) if you think it's stupid!