Hollow body advice please

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Verne Andru, Dec 3, 2005.

  1. Hello master luthiers:

    I'm about to embark on building up a hollow-body guitar and need a bit of advice on how to proceed. I'm getting a body like this:


    which is already routed for a dano neck [I just so happen to have a spare needing a home]. I need 2 tones to round out my guitar sound palette - a traditional "jazz box" and a steel acoustic - and was wondering if I could get both out of this guitar.

    My thinking at this point is to put a "jazzy" humbucker in the neck position and a piezo tunomatic at the bridge with a trapeze style tail piece. I would appreciate any thoughts, suggestions, whatever you may have to guide me along.
  2. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Here's where to go. Trapeze tailpiece, piezo bridge, and flaoting humbucker coming off the end of the fingerboard. That would be the ideal setup IMHO.
  3. I've never heard of a "floating humbucker" before - any links you can provide? Suggestions on the piezo bridge would also be helpful. The best sounding piezo's I've heard are on the PRS Hollowbody II, but as near as I can determine they are customized L.R. Braggs. Seems some sound like crap so I want to avoid a mistep if I can.
  4. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    I have exactly one of these "longhorn" bodies myself waiting to be assembled! A guy gave it to me that i let spend the night at my house a couple nights as 'payment'. Mine is not routed for a neck yet though, and I'm not sure what to do with the body.....I was thinking maybe making it a bass......

    LR Baggs makes a tuneomatic bridge with piezos....

    as far as the 'floating' pickup.....


    i hope by guitar you meant guitar, and not a bass guitar....
  5. Yeah I mean a guitar-guitar. I have a dano double-neck I converted from a 12/6 to a 12/baritone and have an extra neck kicking around. I know this is a bass forum but thought if you guy's can luthier a bass you can luthier a regular guitar.

    That's pretty sweet payment for a couple of nights sleep-over! It's funny - I've been looking for a longhorn body for about a year [love the look - they're so funky] and came up empty. Within the last few weeks they seem to be popping up regularly.

    Thanks for the links. I can figure out the mounting for the Kent Armstrong but I don't see how the Benedetto gets mounted.

    On the LR Braggs - would that fit in a wooden base plate or is it intended to be mounted in the body of the guitar? As you know, the longhorn body is completely hollow and there would be nothing to mount it to.

    Any suggestions on wiring, pots, and such? If I go with a suspended humbucker there's virtually no way to run wiring or mount the pots and jack except fishing through the f-holes. I don't have the body yet, so I'm not sure if there's enough room to do any inside work. I just took another look at the PRS DVD and they have quite a big plate along the edge of their hollow body with 2 jacks and a battery compartment. Guess this would be an option if it doesn't compromise the stability of the body. Suggestions? Thanks for the help so far.
  6. BTW - Dano used to make a longhorn bass and baritone - same neck, just different number of machines. Jerry Jones still offers them but I think they are the masonite variety. Anyway, Allparts and Danoguitars.com both sell baritone and bass necks. I got my baritone off Allparts booth on the last day of last winters NAMM.
  7. A quick google answered most of my questions - but here's one a voice of experience is needed for:

    Is there a tonal difference [or any difference/issues I should be aware of] between keeping the body intact and using suspended pups vs. routing and mounting a standard pup?

    Thanks for the help.
  8. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Here's a link to the suspended humbucker: http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Electro...Kent_Armstrong_Suspended_Jazz_Humbuckers.html

    I am sure there is a tonal difference between routed and non-routed archtops. I really am not experienced enough to tell you what that is, and the radical body shape of this one will make this situation even more different. If you are going for that tru jazzbox guitar feel, a suspended humbucker is the way to go. With this situation, though, you are going to want to think of a good way to mount the controls, too. This may require some routing. Routing and mounting the pickups may be the right way to go here, though. With it being a flat topped hollow body, and installing controls through an F-hole sucks, you could route the pickup holes, and setup the wiring harness through those holes. Also, I would look to see if this body has a bridge block, so you could determine whether a floting bridge or a fixed mount bridge is feasable. Most floating bridges are made for areched tops, not flat. Also remember that you are probably going to end up mounting a strap pin to the back of the neck joint, so using a plate may not be a good idea, but using screw ferrules would be better. This thing could turn out to be very cool. I wasn't a fan of the longhorns until I played a longhorn bass, and those are spectacular. Let me know what decisions you come to!
  9. T-34


    Aug 11, 2005
    France, Paris region
    Basically, they use suspended pickups to let the top vibrate freely. "True" archtops are fine acoustic instruments. Imagine cutting additional hole or screwing the pickup on the violin top. :rolleyes:

  10. That's kinda what I thought but needed confirmation from a pro.

    Thanks Trevorus. It appears the way Benedetto does it is to mount the pup and the controls on a pickguard which saves having to route anything. I guess one could run the wiring out a jack/strap button at the bottom of the bout [not sure if my terms are right here or not]. That would really only leave the issue of what to do with the piezo electronics/battery assembly. I may be able to do a setup so it's mounted on the pickguard as well.

    They're shipping the body today and I expect it by this time next week. My understanding is that it's completely hollow with no bridge block. Here's a shot of it on end showing that it is an archtop though not as extreme as some:

  11. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    You could use a larger pickguard, and also run the electronics with a 12 volt garage door opener battery to conserve space.
  12. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    thought this would be a good excuse to take and post a picture of my longhorn buddy.... :smug:

    please keep posting your progress so I can get ideas on what to do with mine cuz it's a shame to keep let it sittin'.....
  13. Nice longhorn JSP.

    This is where I'm at currently after digging around for info. I'm leaning toward an ebony bridge like this:


    The stuff I've read on tuneomatic types are that they don't transfer the sound to the body as well as the ebony. As far as pups go - the Benedetto is ridiculously expensive [I'm in Canada] and the reviews on them are not that great. Kent Armstrong has some side mounts that are much more reasonable. Best pricing I've found is at pickupcentral.com.

    The reviews on the Fishman tuneomatic are not that great and the Fishman system is quite expensive as well. I have an RMC equipped Godin and while they sound pretty good [with and op amp upgrade] they don't transfer the subtle string dynamics like vibratto, pitch bends, etc. The way the Fishman is designed leads me to believe I'll run into the same situation and the reviewers state it has a definite "piezo" sound.

    I'm leaning toward the K&K Pure Archtop system. The piezo's mount just inside the F holes under the top and run out to an endjack. The reviews claim this is the most authentic sounding pup system and when I think about it it appears to me that this system would "hear" more of the tonality of the interplay between the strings and the body as a system than a bridge-mounted piezo.

    A couple of questions - there are 2 types of tailpieces available - metal and ebony/wood. The higher end archtops use the wood type while the quasi-archtop-electrics use the metal. Any ideas on the difference in tone between the two? Are there grounding issues that the metal will handle better than the wood? It appears to be standard practice to drill a hole and mount an endjack - will this compromise the body as in the above example of the violin?

    Thanks for the time and help. It's great to be able to bounce ideas around - makes the whole process a lot more fun and informative.
  14. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    Have you posted this over at the MIMF forum? I think you might get some more ideas/suggestions over there..... I'm still gonna watch you're project progress no matter where it's posted though.
  15. Don't know that one - care to point me in the right direction?
  16. Rodent

    Rodent Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Regenerate Guitar Works
  17. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    they have several sections/forums over at the MIMF. I believe they have a 'hollowbody' building specific forum over there. Check it out.
  18. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    I have one of these bodies as well! Mine has a guitar neck on it. Technically it's a Coral Longhorn.

    (1968 Coral Longhorn)

    Mine doesn't even say Coral on it... I can't remember what it says though, and I don't have it here.

    There shouldn't be a problem with routing the top for pickups.. that's the way they did them.
  19. I could have the body routed like they were done originally, but I'm liking the idea of a traditional acoustic archtop treatment. Cutting up the body and mounting pups [which is what I was originally going to do] would turn it into just another electric and I already have lots of flavours of those.

    I understand it has a sound post in the bridge area like a violin but I've heard nothing about a bass bar - perhaps JSP can take a peek in his and confirm what's inside. Mine's on a truck rumbling across the country and hopefully will arrive in one piece mid-week.

    Theoretically the body should act as a resonating sound chamber just like a violin or traditional archtop - not as big as an archtop but bigger than a violin - so it really comes down to whether the sound is appealling or not. This project isn't mission-critical - I've got lots of other guitars and I'm doing this one for fun and to see what I can coax out of it.
  20. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    I just took a peek and YES, there is a 'sound bar' in the bridge area. It's actually a circular, round piece of wood that I would guess to be 1.5" or so in diameter.
    I'm not sure what you mean by 'bass bar'.
    I think all your ideas are great so far. I would go with a Kent Armstrong floating pickup as well, and those K&K transducer pickups seem pretty neat and they both won't break the bank either.
    The place where I get stuck is understanding how to create an 'angled' neck joint, like on les pauls. I'm sure there's a way to build a jig, but I suck at making jigs. That bridge you pointed out looks real nice too, though.