(Throughout this description I refer to Fender gutars, Stratocasters, Telecasters and Jazzmasters, these are all trademarks of Fender)
Well here's something different..... After building replicas and restoring old guitars I thought it was about time that I designed something original. Being a bit of an old rocker and believing that everything good was produced in the '60s I decided that I wanted a guitar that looked as though it was built in that era and incorporated as many of the features that I like from other guitars from this age......
Yep I could have just put a Tele bridge on a Strat and called it good but I think Telecasters and Stratocasters are too iconic to go messing about with and generally any modifications to either usually leaves you with a Crapocaster... I've designed and built many guitars before but none have really worked out how I'd hoped so I felt that it was about time to have another go, having quite a strong idea of what I wanted.... I'll explain more in between the pictures, so here's a taster of the finished guitar before we get to the construction pictures.
Here's the basic shape template ready to draw around and use as a routing template. Although it resembles a Jazzmaster or Jaguar it is quite removed from the shape.
I chose to use poplar for the body--it has a straight grain, is easy to work with, very light and has good tone properties.... The only slight downside is that it's a tad soft and easy to mark.
Back to a few of the design features now... I don't think that you can combine Gibson and Fender guitars, they are too different. For me it's one or the other, I guess I'm more of a Fender fan but it's fractional, I prefer single coil pickups for the versatility in sound and some of the other features just make Tele's and Strat's so special.... Now what I did want most of all was a Tele bridge pickup arrangement and the ability to get those in between Strat tones, so it was to be a Tele bridge with two other single coil pickups... I also love the countoured body of the Strat and I love Tele Thinlines because they're so light.... something else I wanted to combine.... back on to the construction.
The body was cut out from one piece of poplar with a centre joint then 'sandwich' cut...because.......
I wanted to hollow out the inside.. notice the routing template screwed on top of the body, but first the majority of the wood was drilled out with a Frostner boring bit, it just saves mess and gives the expensive router cutters a longer life.
Here's the two halves of the bottom of the body hollowed out.
And the top back of the body with a hand carved slope to allow for the 'belly' hollow on the outside of the body.
Inside shots of the body ready to be glued together, yep you've guessed it my favourite colour surf green! the inside of the top has been painted as you'll be able to see through the 'F' hole.
The body parts trial fitted together. Internal carving has also been done to accomodate the arm chamfer on the top of the body.
Gluing the bottom halves of the body together...
...and joining the body halves... it's handy to keep the scrap pieces from cutting out the body and use them as clamping cauls.
Here we go the groovy 'F' hole was cut before gluing, but things are taking shape.
Looking nicer with a bit of sanding..
And the hollowing on the back....
Well things are starting to take shape... notice the symetry between the control plate and 'F' hole. I've also got the Tele bridge in place and routings for the pickups. The body is so light (something I really like about the Tele thinline), it's also just going to have a simple volume and tone control, does anyone use the two Strat tone controls? There's also a push pull tone pot fitted to have bridge and neck pickup selection.
So I'm getting my favourite things on the guitar, Tele bridge, three pickups for the out of phase Dire Straights sound, contoured hollow body..... I know the body looks like a Fender Jazzmaster/Jaguar but it is quite different the plan view is more Tele like at the back and the proportions are slightly smaller than the Jazzmaster.
The control plate is cut from steel and will be chrome plated, notice that one knob is off the plate and the other appears to be on it although to keep the knobs the same height the knob on the plate bolts to the body not the plate.. you'll see later
Here we are a bit through the spraying in the middle of coats after some sanding...Along with a Strat and Tele body.
And here we go masking off before applying tinted lacquer to give a lighter shading under the hardware etc.... Yes I'm going for a relic look as a) That's what I do. b) I like it! and.....c) The guitar was meant to look as though it was built in the '60s. Now you can also see the large hole in the control plate for one of the knobs.
Well may as well jump forward to the finished result... The rest of the build was pretty straightforward, the neck is a standard construction and the remainder of the painting process is nothing unusual, just standard vintage stuff...
Here's a close up of the body... I was unsure whether to go for a cream or tortoise guard obviously I opted for the later and I like it with the surf green and cream pickups. One of the things that I like about the design is the symetry between the control plate and funky 'F' hole
You can see details of the control plate and now know what I mean about the knob mounting, which I think is a nice unusual feature, also to avoid screws on the plate I've doubled up the pickup selector switch mounting screws for the plate
And here's one of the headstock ... The guitar is named after my gorgeous wife and yep that's the best I could do as an image of her!!!!
Also engraved neck plate....
Here's the back of the guitar....Surf green always comes up nice relic'd
And a close up of the bridge, you can just catch the engraving on the bridge, letter "D" and serial number D0001...
So there you are.....
Here's the specification for the Dina guitar....
Thinline body cut from poplar, hollowed with a solid centre block
Maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, vintage 7.25 radius and vintage frets, slim profile, bolt on.
Pickups are Bareknuckle, Bridge is'52 flatpole for a Telecaster (TM), Irish tour middle and neck for Stratocaster (TM)
Electrics are 5 possition switch for usual pickup selections additional push pull tone for bridge and neck pickup and all three.
Finish vintage nitro cellulose, white undercoat, surf green colour coat, clear lacquer all relic'd
Like I say I've built several of my own design guitars before and whilst they've been ok and tick all the boxes regarding function I haven't felt as though they've been anything special. but this guitar has far exceeded my expectations it's so light and a joy to play, without even plugging it in the sustain and volume are exceptional, you can feel the vibration of the strings through the body. I feel that it combines many of the great features of vintage guitars, looks unmistakably 60s and unique.
I plan on making a limited number, although this guitar # D0001 is not for sale... The good news is that number 2 is already well into manufacture, although the overall shape is the same there are some different features..... Watch this space...