Red Special Mk. II

Discussion in 'Guitar Building' started by Delayar, Apr 28, 2014.

  1. Delayar

    Delayar Member

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    Hi folks!

    I finally sarted my new project, and the first one here on LuthierTalk.
    It is a Replica of Brian May's Red Special.
    But why "Mk. II"?

    Because I already built one 7 to 4 years ago (yes, it took me 3 years to finish). But with time, the veneer got cracks, and some building mistakes makes are also bothering me, so I don't intend to fix it, but starting again from scratch.

    Furthermore, more detailed plans of the original are available now at the Red Special Library (Red Special - Library Forum ? Portal).

    Apart from some minor details I intend to stay as close to the original as possible.

    For thos of you, who maybe are not familiar with the Red Special: It is really a special and unusual construction. It was handbuilt by Brian May and his father in the 60s, using materials which the had in the house or the workshop.
    The body is made from two layers of blockboard with oak inserts in vital areas (Neck mount, bridge mount). the body is covered in mahogany veneer.
    The neck is made from mahogany with a lacquered oak fretboard and is extremely thick.

    The first picture shows the wood which will be used for the construction of the guitar.

    [​IMG]

    The frist step was to make templates for the body routes.

    [​IMG]

    The template in the upper left corner is for the bottom body blank, the upper right is for the inside of the top body part, and the lower template is for the outside of the top. The fuzzy corners are just because of the paper, which was glued on top of the MDF. The templates themself are sharp.

    Templates for bottom and top inside together:

    [​IMG]

    This also shows the shape and size of the body chambers. The one on the treble side serving also as electronics chamber.

    And all three layers together:

    [​IMG]

    The first step with the actual wood was to shape the two oak inserts. The larger of the two pieces will go into the bottom half. The neck and the tremolo retainer plate will be mounted to it.
    The smaller one sits in the top half, with the bridge and the tremolo knife edge attached to it.

    [​IMG]

    Regards,
    Markus
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
  2. Zeegler

    Zeegler Active Member

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    I'm interested to see how this develops. I'm not a fan of how the guitar looks at all, but it's interesting to see how Brian and his father built this thing.
     
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  3. Delayar

    Delayar Member

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    I finally found some time to continue the project.
    Restoration work on another guitar kept me away from the RS, but as this work is now almost finished, I could continue.

    The next step was to insert the oak core into the blockboard.
    I placed the lower oak piece o the blockboard with double-sided tape. I then stuck acrylic bars next to it, to serve as routing template.

    [​IMG]

    After hogging out a lot of material with forstner bits, I routed the recess for the oak core.
    This is a deviation of the original, where the blockboard is cut out totally.
    However, I devided to leave the upper layers of the blockboard as to have a flat surface for the mahogany veneer.

    [​IMG]

    And here ist the oak glued in place. The piece sits proud of the blockboard. This will be planed level.

    [​IMG]

    Markus
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
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  4. Delayar

    Delayar Member

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    The upper layer of blockboard is prepared in a similar fashion.
    However, I cut and routed the openings for the Tremolo and the electrics first, before installing the oak block.

    [​IMG]

    On the inside, a recess for the oak was routed. Again, a little bit of the top veneers of the blockboard was preserved to provide a smooth glueing surface for the mahagony veneer.
    But that also means the knife edge for the Tremolo has to be installed to the oak piece befor gluing it into place.

    [​IMG]

    The bottom of this pocket is still a bit too thick (it is now about 2mm).
    I will bring it down to 1mm when the block is ready to be glued in, since I don't want to break anything during handling the parts.

    [​IMG]

    regards,
    Markus
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
  5. Knarbens

    Knarbens Well-Known Member

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    I'm not quite sure what you're doing here, but it looks like you're doing a good job! ;)
     
  6. Delayar

    Delayar Member

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    Hi!
    Maybe I should explain some details more.
    The Red Special is very different in construction from other semi-solid guitars, therefore also the build process is diferent.
    Since blockboard has a pine (original) or spruce (most likely here in Austria) core, it is quite soft.
    To give the construction strength, an oak core is built into the guitar. The neck as well as the bridge and tremolo are bolted to this oak core.
    Therefore, inserting this oak core into the two layers of blockboard is one of the first steps of the body construction of a RS.
    I hope it will become clearer as the build progresses.

    Markus
     
  7. Knarbens

    Knarbens Well-Known Member

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    Ah! Now I got it. Just read your first post again and thanks for the info! Blockboard, of course ... now the oak makes sense.
     
  8. Murkar

    Murkar Well-Known Member

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    Very cool! Definitely keeping an eye on this build :) I was also confused by the oak insert until reading further :hmm:
     
  9. Delayar

    Delayar Member

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    Hi!

    I continued with routing the upper layer of the body.
    I routed the cahmbers in the upper layer. The picture shows the inside.

    [​IMG]

    Also, the recess for the knife edge in the oak core was routed:

    [​IMG]

    With the knife edge:

    [​IMG]

    The tremolo I use is this one: Original Style Tremolo Set for Red Special Guitar New Conditions Brian May Queen | eBay

    Furthermore, I planed the oak core of the bottom layer. The rough work was done with a router, the fine tuning was done with a hand plane.

    [​IMG]

    That's it for this time.

    Regards,
    Markus
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
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  10. Delayar

    Delayar Member

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    Hi!

    Today I continued with my RS build, and I hope some of the construction details become clearer with todays images.

    First I routed the chambers in the lower blockboard layer

    [​IMG]

    The bolts of the tremolo, which are used to attach the springs and adjust the spring tension are attached to a metal anchor block, which is embedded within the oak core. In the picture the bottom layer is already routed to accept the anchor.

    [​IMG]

    As the top layer was routed likewise, I made a test fit of the tremolo:

    [​IMG]

    You can see the knife dege attached to the oak core, and the spring bolts are screwed through the trem block into the anchor.

    A sideview, with the tremolo bar depressed by hand as to mimick the neutral position with strings:

    [IMGhttp://members.chello.at/freebird/Red_Special/RS_MK2_019.jpg[/IMG]

    And this is how it looks with the top layer attached as well:

    [​IMG]

    So, luckily, everything fits perfectly.

    Once the tremolo is removed again, I made a picture of the openings for the bolts.

    [​IMG]

    Here is a view of the routed body layers, in a bookmatched view. They are now ready to be cut out and glued together.

    [​IMG]

    Here is a view of the electronics cavity (still a test fit):

    [​IMG]

    I hope the construction of the guitar is now clearer, as it deviates a little bit from the usual guitar.

    Regards,
    Markus
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
  11. Adam

    Adam Well-Known Member

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    Your work is very clean :yesway:
     
  12. Delayar

    Delayar Member

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    That's the result of carful planning. (and of tiding up before making a picture;) )

    Markus
     
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  13. tone57

    tone57 Member

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    Very cool approach to the tremolo.

    Kudos!
     
  14. Adam

    Adam Well-Known Member

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    That trem design is from the 60s if I remember correctly :D
     
  15. Delayar

    Delayar Member

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    Yes, it has been around for some years. It was designed by Harold and Brian May in the 60s.

    However, i don't know of any other trem using a similar design. So it is unique.

    Markus
     
  16. tone57

    tone57 Member

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    Yeah i had rather hoped i had edited my post in time.
    I knew it was familiar, but in the raw seemed new.
    ahh well.

    saw Queen at the Fabulous Forum in LA in 1980 or was it 79... no matter.
    First time i ever saw the opening act get booed off the stage.
    They are still around so i won't name them.
    They were pretty good too. Just couldn't fill the Forum with their kinda-50's rock sound.. They were actually able to put their entire setup on the neck of the runway Freddy would use later that night to get out into the audience.

    Saw that happen a couple more times later on in my concert days, but that was the promoter's fault. Stuck a country group with Renaissance and Gentle Giant for instance Alex Cooley was stupid like that sometimes.
     
  17. Knarbens

    Knarbens Well-Known Member

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    The two body pieces and the tremolo system with all the milled details look so complex and very well done! It's crazy how father and son came up with such a complex design back then.
     
  18. Zeegler

    Zeegler Active Member

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    Exactly what I've been thinking. Is that really the same way the original was built? Mind boggling!
     
  19. Delayar

    Delayar Member

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    I don't know how much experimenting took place before the final construction, but yes, the original is constructed in the same way.

    Markus
     
  20. Delayar

    Delayar Member

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    Slowly it starts to look like a guitar.

    Before glueing up the two layers, I cut out the body shape.
    [​IMG]

    The first step of the glueing process was to glue the upper oak insert with the knife edge to the lower layer. The anchorblock is inside, of course.

    [​IMG]

    The original RS uses screws instead of the dowels I am using. I didn't want the screws to show through the veneer later on, so I used the dowels.

    The small block at the electronics cavity will support the overhanging part of the top layer.

    [​IMG]

    Glueing up the body. I use the templates as calmping cauls, as to prevent me from placing the clamps where the cavities are.

    [​IMG]

    The guitar body, ready to get some veneer:

    [​IMG]

    Here you can see the position and function of the small support block:

    [​IMG]

    Best regards,
    Markus
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017

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