Fret- and Headless Neck-Through Multiscale 6-String (Walnut-burl, Mahogany, Bubinga)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by couchsofa, Oct 13, 2014.

  1. tumblr_nbu8utMl7X1twvu9io1_1280.png

    Since I assembled almost all of the lumber (just some wenge veneer is missing) and started preparing the fingerboard I guess it's getting serious and time to start a build thread :)


    Ebony with maple fretlines. Multiscale, right now I'm thinking 910/880mm and perpendicular at the 12th fret.



    Bubinga - Wenge veneer - Walnut burl. I feel really bad about cutting up this solid piece of bubinga for the wings but it's gonna be a neck-through.
    The back will be curved. And maybe the front as well, I'm just not sure if the walnut will bend enough at 10mm thickness to still do a droptop ... or maybe just do a carved top, or a combination of both ... so many options ...


    No idea yet. Want to try some HBs and talking to a friend about doing something with a DSP.


    I'm not that keen on paying 300€ for a headless system and wanted to make tuners and learn some metal working anyway. So I will build my own once I figured out how to machine this design and the CNC at my local FabLab is up and running.

    Rôckhewer likes this.
  2. Toban.Ivan


    Sep 2, 2010
    huuuuuu.. looks like a great build! Alwais interested in fanned fretless basses.. not something I'm ready for but of course fascinating!

    If I may add my little 2 cents I will consider to extend a very little bit the 2 halfs of the body at each side of the tuners.
    I own and use almost only HL basses that I converted/modded/partially builded and apart 1 modified precision body all the other may absolutely not be posed "standing up" if not with a stand.

    Don't know you but I'm not properly the "precious" kind of guy that treat his basses like little childs. I'm not a destroyer but a little ding here and there never schocked me much.

    Alternatively, cheating a bit, you'll may emulate the Ibanez GWB double strap pins setup.
    This way the bass woody-ass would never touch the ground directly.

    great design for waht we can see right now. What you're planning to do for the "head"? A sort of invisible headpiece ABM/ETS style or a sort of "hybrid headstock" miziomix style?

  3. MPU


    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    Are you planning to use M8 threads for tuning knobs? I've made tuners with M4 and M3 and found the M3 better. M8 has too much travel with one turn of the knob. It will be hard to turn. ABM and ETS use M3 threads on their knobs. You also need only about 15mm travel to be able to tune the strings.
  4. michaelwayneharwood

    michaelwayneharwood Builder of the Wastelands Commercial User

    May 1, 2014
    Owner Melodious Resonance Constructs
    Very nice! I am very interested in seeing how the headless system works out for you, and thanks for providing the detailed drawings and specs you are using for the CNC.
  5. Nice to see another fan :D

    Hmm, I will have to try extending the butt cheeks, it should fit pretty well in the overall sleek and slim design scheme.

    I'm going for the ABM style. Something like this but with truss rod access and a adjustable nut instead of zero fret:


    Aahh, thanks a lot! Just the input I was hoping for.
    I'm not sure how to fix the M3 threaded rod in a manner that prohibits rotational movement. The M8 has a lot of space to machine out a pocket to connect to the heads. Maybe a solder joint (would like to avoid that) or threads and loctite?

    Thanks, always happy share:)
  6. Just curious, do you have any experience with metal machining? I do... for a living.

    Even with a CNC milling machine the rectangular hole of 5x11 mm with the rounded edges of 1 mm that you are planing inside the housing where you want to place the rest of the tuning mechanism will be a nightmare to fabricate over the length you designed it (roughly 60 to 70 mm).
    As I see it, the only reliable and easy-ish way to make a hole in this shape over such a length would be EDM wire cutting.
    My two cents....

    And another two cents.... you can use a m8 thread, only with a finer pitch, m8x0.5 would be ideal, this is the same pitch as a standard m3 thread.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2014
  7. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Really nice body design. That looks like a standard 2d CAD line drawing. Are you using splines to get the curves to blend so nicely? I always seem to have trouble blending curves. Looking forward to your progress photos.
  8. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    Very nice. I love the body design.
  9. MPU


    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    ETS and ABM have M3 thread on the knobs and string clamps. You can Loctite the screw to the string clamp when assembling the tuner unit. If you want I can send you a pic of an ABM individual string tuner parts.
  10. GMC


    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    I bought the hipshot head piece separately a few times. It's the best available commercially and it's worth the expense. It's quite close to the Status-Graphite design which is by far the best design to date.
  11. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    The Steinberger tuning screws have a flat machined on them with a set screw in the tuning knob to keep them tight, seems to work fine. I applaud your ambition making your own tuners.
  12. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Agreed – that part can't be milled. It would have to either be done with wire or sinker EDM, or if it were a high production part it could be done by broaching, or if it were aluminum, custom extrusion.

    Also, the base for your saddle has two sharp inside corners at the front end [edit - I think it's the back end] that are impossible to mill. You'll have to add fillets to the edges running vertically, to allow for the radius of the end mill that will cut the part.

    I suppose you could arrange to have both parts 3D printed by SLS or DMLS, but be prepared for a surface texture and porosity that will make it fall short of most people's cosmetic expectations.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2014
  13. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Sub a dub dub
  14. I have no experience in working with metal apart from what I learned at university studying engineering, which is all theory (Mechanics, Steel Construction, ...). I added the rounded edges to account for the tool radius. Milling that deep in the part is one of the problems I could identify with the design and shouldn't matter as much when the length is reduced in the next design iteration (35-40mm should be possible to mill on a CNC mill with the proper tool head, right?).

    Not quite as sophisticated as CAD :D I'm using bezier curves in GIMP. This is what I started with, the design for my last build: tumblr_n2ui5wznh31twvu9io1_1280.png

    That would be awesome and help me out a lot! :woot:

    Yeah, I haven't figured out how to adjust that part. But 3D printing is not an option here. I printed the pickups for my last build and they turned out great with just a bit of sanding and lacquer but I'm pretty sure that the PLA/ABS wouldn't hold up to wear and tear of the strings.
    I thought about increasing the height of the saddles in order to accommodate the intonation screw-hole on the bottom but I have to check how that affects the action.

    Wow, thanks for the great replies and insights so far!
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2014
  15. With a radius of 1 mm the maximum diameter for the milling bit will be 2 mm.
    Rule of thumb for milling bits length is 4 to 5 times the diameter, if you go longer you potentially are entering a world of problems.

    And even if it might be possible on a CNC milling machine you will probably have a difficult time finding a milling bit in this diameter at this length.
    Another thing you should consider is the cost for these kind of (special) bits, in the end you might be better of with just buying a headless bridge.
  16. MPU


    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    Here's ABM. imagejpg1_zps08e31f21.jpg

    Barnaby likes this.
  17. Thanks, MPU! Not what I was expecting, but now i get how they keep the head from rotating and attach the knob to the threaded rod.
    And how it is machined with the cavity in the bottom ... I'll have to draw something like that ;)
    So, I guess the screw travels through the head on the ABM bridge, which makes the head potentially higher, than fixing a threaded rod to the head and screwing it in the knob.

    I went ahead and designed a version that's open on the top, which has the disadvantage that it needs to be mounted on an angle to keep the head from floating, but should be rather easy to machine.

  18. MPU


    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    The screw goes thru the threaded knob, then thru the body of the tuner and to the threaded hole on the string clamp.
  19. Hmm, just as I thought. I made a quick mock-up of a bottom-loading bridge with set screw on the string clamp ... might also do one with a shorter knob and threaded rod through the clamp.

  20. Triad

    Triad Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 4, 2006
    Good luck! Sounds like a nice project and I wish you to spend less time than me trying to figure out how to make the tuners :)
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