Thursday, 27 October 2011

New tuner, bridge, jack and tubing

This last month I've been improving some details of the testbed guitar:

The tuner has been changed to my slider-based design. It is mounted on an angled plate ensuring that the strings have sufficient break angle over the saddles. The angle also keeps the sliders in contact with the plate. I've used six modern strat style saddles for sliders - when I get around to it, I'll make some better (and prettier) ones from brass. Using the right screw hole for securing the string ensures that the pull of the string tightens the screw. It's got more travel than I need, so I'll shorten it around 5 mm. The knurled knobs are standard DIN 466 brass knobs. I've used two for each slider so the fingers have more grip surface. They're interlocking with one another, giving great utilization of the existing space, but making it difficult to remove one without loosening them all.

The tuner works very well. The grooves and lid that you see on most other headless slider based tuners aren't necessary, as the string pull keeps the slider oriented lengthwise. When I get some tools for making fine thread (M3 and M4 x 0,35), it'll be even smoother.

The bridge is an improvement from my earlier design consisting of two saddles each holding three strings, but is a bit simpler: It is reversed, being fixed to the body in front of the contact point of the strings. This gives me a shorter overall design, allowing for the tuner to be placed closer to the bridge. 

Action is set by lifting or lowering the saddle with the small blind screws in the bottom and then securing with the big inner hex screws. Intonation is set by turning the blind screws going through the vertical flange of the saddle (they press against the big hex screws).

The jack holder is a copper pipe cap - thanks Martin for the brilliant idea. I'll use them for swithces and potmeters as well. The copper tube holds the wires, shielding them from electrical interference. The flexible cable is a piece of gear cable outer tubing back from the days when I was racing bicycles. It allows for the thigh rest to be moved and turned.

It is common among some luthiers to give their guitars a name. Since it's a testbed, and bed is called Lectus in latin, I'll call it Lectus Testus. Yes, it's rubbish latin, I know. And yes, it might actually mean something different.

Added: I just weighed it: 2,5 kg as it is now. That's not too bad.


G L Wilson said...

Fantastic. For a test bed it's turning into a really interesting guitar in its own right.

Kåre said...

Yeah fantastic
Hoping to get a move on with the tbeam-bass i proudly borrowed from you. Love the tuner-knobs. And the beautyfull ruggedness of the handywork - that's great!

Dave said...

Really nice! I'm inspired.

I like the new tuners, but could you tell me their advantage over the standard ones?

Alexander Gorm Øst said...

Thanks guys. We all love our own babies, but I'm glad that you like it too. Kåre, I've bought some M4 knurled nuts like the ones I've used here, so next time you visit, we can swap the oak knobs on the T-beam for these, if you like. If I've got my new thread cutting tools, we can even give it a finer thread, making tuning even smoother.

Alexander Gorm Øst said...

Sorry Dave, my spam filter ate your comment.

Compared to traditional tuners at the headstock end, the advantage of my tuners are first and foremost that the guitar is shorter. An added benefit is that when tuning, you can fret with your left hand and turn the knob with your right hand (assuming you're right handed).

Compared to other headless tuners (e.g. those by ABM), I'd say that the benefit is weight and simplicity. And looks, of course, but that's a matter of taste.

Alexander Gorm Øst said...

Dave, btw, if by "inspired" you mean that you'd like building something similar yourself, I can easily make a list of the necessary parts and process steps. I myself have a modest workshop and limited skills, so you don't need much to build your own.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply, Alexander!

I'm working on a headless design of my own using lever tuning somewhat like the Toone & Townsend, but a bit simpler. I would prefer to use off-the-shelf tuners though.

I also have a 20-something Ibanez with an individually-tuneable Kahler whammy which I really like, but would like to end up with something lighter and easier to find--and cheaper!

Your T-beam's spanish style tuners seem to be a great solution, and I wondered how well they worked for you. I think I would slant them the other direction though. Is there a problem with the different string break angles when using two rows of tuners?

Yes, I'm inspired, and am curious about your design. My main question would be to know where you feel the standard tuners fall short when used in this configuration.

Dave said...

Oops! That was me.

I hit the Anonymous box by mistake.

Alexander Gorm Øst said...

I'm fascinated by lever based tuners as well. The Toone & Townsend tuner sure is a marvelous piece of engineering, but as you hint: It's not very simple. Nor is it very compact. And, I guess it's pretty expensive too. Like most of Rick Toone's designs, it's patented, proprietary, patent pending, licensable, copyrighted, trademarked and what have you, to an extreme degree, so you'd probably have to dig deep in your pocket ;-)

That guy sure takes intellectual property rights seriously, but back to the point:

The main problem of my earlier tuner (see link) is that it's too big an bulky on a guitar, that's intended to be very compact. But the principle could be used well on a more traditional wooden body with a suitable cutaway (e.g. something like Ola Strandberg's design, perhaps with a slightly deeper cutaway - see link). Then you'd only need the two bars holding the tuners, not the long bars connecting it to the body. String break angle is no problem, all strings are within a reasonable break angle. Plus, the tuner pegs have two holes - a top and a middle one - and I use the middle one, so they're at approximately the same height. One other problem is restringing with used strings. They're really difficult to get through the peg holes because of the cramped space.

Still, in your case, I'd be inclined to go with your tuneable Kahler whammy and add some coarse tuners (or string clamps or whatever we should call them) on the headstock end. Something like these (see link). I recently made a different coarse tuner design, that I believe will work well. I'll take a picture of the prototype and do a post on it soon.

If you choose the spanish tuner route, please drop me a line before starting... I've made some mistakes during the construction, that you might as well avoid.

Links (cant figure out how to add them properly in the comments):