10/09/2015

1980s/2015 Parts-Drawer Electric Tres Cubano




This little 19 1/4" scale Taiwanese "student" (junk?) guitar has been hanging out for a long time to no particular use. I had the infectious idea to make an electric Cuban tres and spotted this in the instrument rubble. Fair enough! Free is fun, too, right?

I've been haunting the web trying to find a down-on-its-luck old 22.5" scale Fender Musicmaster for a while now to convert to one of these but haven't had any luck thus far -- so in a "spare" (read: middle of the night) 45 minutes I cranked this little hack-job out and wanted to share. Maybe you have something like this in the closet collecting dust? There's always a new life for cheap gear.



The guitar is just a plywood box that I would never even bother selling. It actually sounds halfway-decent (as most double-string-course instruments will) despite that. However, the short scale and general size fit the need. I added the tailpiece so I could mix ball and loop-end singles from my spares pile...


...did a quick, quick, quick level of the frets and added a quick, quick, quick bone nut...


...and did a quick, quick, quick install of a ceramic Strat pickup in the soundhole. This has no cover because I didn't want to bother with cutting the soundhole to fit the cover's oversize nature.


The bridge is hilarious but it works -- hacked the original saddle area off, drilled a few extra "string retension" holes, sharpied the mucked-up bit black, and used screws to (quickly, quickly, quickly) act as properly-compensated individual saddles. It works! Who cares? There's nothing less fun than having an octave course that doesn't play in tune past the 5th fret.

I'm using an "electric" variation of strings so the low octave part of the G is unwound. The string set looks like: 9/18 (G), 15/15 (C), 13/13 (E). There's an alternate tuning where there's a low octave on the E string that's tuned below the low G, but I like things to move a bit more linear m'self...

Alternate tunings abound but the ones I've liked in the past are: GBE like a guitar, GBD like an open G guitar, and AC#E just a step above that (heard in the soundclip).

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