1940s/2016 "Shield" Electric Tenor Guitar

Update: I replaced the tuners with metal-buttoned ones of the same type. The "keystone" style tuners had an annoying rattle to them. These are tight and good to go. See below pics:

Now back to the original post...!

Parts, parts, parts! I've had some parts floating around and yesterday I took a "workshop vacation day" and spent some time doing my own stuff instead of "real work." This one combines a 40s Del Oro (Kay) tenor banjo neck that I'd previously hacked-up, a pine shield from when I was a kid at the SoCal RenFair, a spare Alnico Dano-style "lipstick" pickup (Korean-made), and a 4-string electric guitar bridge. It's only a step away from a "cigar box guitar" and I know it.

It's a totally-weird partser but it plays spot-on and sounds excellent. The thin body also makes it extra-lightweight so it feels like a baritone uke instead of a solidbody electric. That same thin body made hardware and neck mounting a bit of a bugbear -- as you can see, I've housed the jack in an old cookie-cutter to give it legroom and, down the post, you can see how I've canted the neck angle forward to align the strings down to the Fender-style bridge.

Still, the neck is straight and it plays with 1/16" action at the 12th fret -- right where you want it.

The griffin, I think, makes the funkiness worth it. When you have this in playing position, the griffin is more upright/walking, too.

I have this strung GDAE (octave mandolin) style with fairly light strings (36w, 26w, 17, 11) for the 23" scale length.

The lipstick pup is simply screwed right onto the body. I have it "adjusted" to roll-off the unwound strings by leaving the bass side of the heel slightly thicker. It's not obvious to the player but it sure works.

The bridge is string-through. The jack is a Switchcraft unit and there are no controls -- simple, simple, simple.

The "control route" (as in: I chiseled it quickly) is hidden by some sticky pickguard material that was cut very fast and then screwed-down after-the-fact. The "strap" is an old belt that I've finally found a home for!

Five bolts are better than four, right?

I used my drill press for the neck bolt holes but, obviously, not for the string-through-bridge ones. Oops! It works -- who cares?

Here you can see the crazy neck-angle "trick." It's actually a pretty cool thing as you get a lot of string clearance near the end of the neck but a more natural height near the bridge. This also pushes your arm out into a more natural posture.

I'm wondering if an acoustic made this way would be more ergonomic...


Robert Gardner said...

Pretty magnificent, especially the scratchplate channel covers. You are the da Vinci of odd instruments...

Greta said...

Is that thing for sale?