If you read the intro to these series of blogs, it will not be a surprise that I don't plan ahead when building an instrument. (unless somebody asks me to build one) There are no drawings, there's no list of parts and there is certainly not a budget. The way an instrument will look in the end depends solely on the (free) materials that are available and scale length and amount of strings just depends on how long and wide a reclaimed piece of wood is that's been used for the neck. Whether it's going to be acoustic, semi-acoustic or electric depends on the box I'm recycling or the thickness of the materials that er used. In this case, I had sheet metal from an old dishwasher, a piece of a hardwood window frame and several of-cuts from my latest serious project (the build of a complete library for 40.000 books). which are 25cm wide, 2.2cm thick pieces of pine all between 30 and 50cm. I decided that this were the right ingredients for a semi-acoustic, electric 3 stringer with a scale length of 25 inches and a body with a maximum with of 25cm and a length of around 45 cm.
I did cut the neck (just a nice straight piece of hardwood, which I can't identify but it smells really toxic when it's going thru the table saw blade), cut one of the pine boards in two and glued them up in my shop made "bar clamps". I took a paint can of which I thought had the right size and just drew out a "guitar kind of" shape on one of the pine board, which I would use as a template for the sheet metal front and back. As I do have a few of these old machines standing around, there's a lot of sheet metal to be recycled and it might be a good idea to keep that template for future projects. I cut the front and back out of the back of one of the dishwasher, simply because that was the only piece that was removable without cutting a side out of the machine.
As I am not a good welder, in fact, the only thing I can do is "bake" 2 pieces of metal together that will be separated again when you put some pressure on it, I figured out in an early stage that the main structure had to be out of wood.
I made a few copies of the template and experimented with putting them on top of each other, finally to decide that 2 layers would be thick enough compared to the overall size of this "steel body" to be. At this point, I had to decide which kind of pickup I should use. Now, this is an important part of any build because it will cost money. I live in a country where importing materials from outside the EU is almost impossible. The tax is ridiculously high and it can take up to 3 months before customs releases parcels. There is one exception though, and that's parcels under 15 Euro that are sent from China. It seems there is some agreement between Portugal and China about it. I must say, I never had a problem with parts coming from there, so if I don't have any secondhand "old guitar" parts in stock, I use the option of ordering from the other side of the world. I do not like 6 string pickups on a 3 string, but the "long coil" elements are ok because you don't see the six separate magnets. The "pickup set" I'm using this time was 6 Euro's including postage, and I'm sure it will sound OK as I used a few of these before, although normally I try to use rodpiezo's under the bridge as much as possible, because it gives you more room for creativity on the top.
I rounded off the edges and took out as much material from the inside as possible, to still make it at least a semi "hollow" body, and glued them together.
It's a process with lots of improvising and making decisions as you go, but that is the nice thing about recycling.
Still a lot of filing and sanding to do before I can start with covering the back and front with the metal sheets but the project is on the way!
The metal was not easy to work with, but I finally managed to get it in shape and make it look like really "scrap".
Here's a video on the process up until now!
Next time it's all about making thge sides... and yes, it's going to be in leather!