Rickenbacker 325-Inspired Build

Discussion in 'Guitar Building' started by aeleus, Oct 12, 2013.

  1. aeleus

    aeleus Active Member

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    Here's something a little different from the Gibson- and Fender-style electric guitars we normally see: a build inspired by the Rickenbacker 325 made famous in the 1960's by the likes of John Lennon.

    I've always been intimidated to build a "hollow-body" guitar, so this seems like a good first step in that direction. Also, the shorter scale of the 325 (21") combined with the smaller body makes this a good size for my 8 and 12-year-old boys.

    Here's the inspiration:

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    Here's my plan:

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    I've taken some liberties. Neither the slash-shaped sound hole nor the triangle fret markers were featured on the 320/325, but I like them. They are quintessential Rickenbacker.

    I found two 8/4 pieces of hard maple in the garage that are just what I need.

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    I cut the smaller piece down the middle and turned each half 90 deg so they are now quarter-sawn. This will be the neck.

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    The larger piece was just cut to length and joined side-to-side for the body blank.

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    I printed the plan at full scale and transferred that to the blank.


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    It may be small, but it's heavy. Most of that will be routed out later.

    That's it for now.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
  2. KnightroExpress

    KnightroExpress Active Member

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    Very cool! I'm looking forward to watching this one :)
     
  3. jcsimons

    jcsimons New Member

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    unspeakably cool!
     
  4. rena

    rena New Member

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    Nice. Will love to see how this one turns out!
     
  5. ltdave32

    ltdave32 Member

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    Made one myself a few years back.

    Nice to see it happening here! Keep up the good work..
     
  6. aeleus

    aeleus Active Member

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    Thanks for the comments. Here's an update.

    Given the length of wood I had for the neck, I decided the tenon would be a little bit shorter than I would like. So, I borrowed the idea of using a keyed joint for added strength - allowing for a shorter tenon. The mechanical resistance should prevent any creep in the joint as well.

    These are the markings for what will be routed out. This is the underside of the guitar.

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    The initial wood removed with forstner bits.

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    Squaring off the mortise with the router.

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    The tenon at the base of the neck.

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    Keyed mortise and tenon.

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    When dry-fit together, the joint does not want to move in any direction. This should work well.

    The pencil markings on the body are where I'll hollow it out. All this will be covered by a plywood back.

    Next, I'll post my progress with the neck.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  7. aeleus

    aeleus Active Member

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    Now for the work on the neck.

    I started with a rosewood fret board from StewMac. Eventually, I'll do my own fret boards, but this will do for now. This is a fender scale length. I cut the board at the 3rd fret to approximate the 21" scale of the 325. This comes out to 21.4"

    [​IMG]


    Using a down-cut router bit, I trimmed out the wood for the inlays. The straight cuts were easy - just push the fret board back and forth using the block of plywood as a guide. For the angled cuts, I followed the pencil lines by hand and cleaned them up with files.

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    The pearloid sits a little bit proud of the board. I'll sand it all down later.

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    Now for the truss channel.

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    The headstock is shaved down by about 6 or 7 degrees.

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    Drilled out to let the truss rod pass through (dual-action from LMI).

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    Truss rod in place with a touch of silicon to prevent buzzing. The fret board has a couple of indexing pins in place and is ready to glue on.

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    Using the fret press caul from StewMac with my drill press. This is so much easier and quicker than hammering. I only had to use CA glue on one of the frets (I got over-confident and didn't pre-bend the wire enough).

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    Now cut down and shape the neck.

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    I'm very pleased with how the neck came out. Next step is to hollow out and finish shaping the body before joining them together.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
  8. sectorix

    sectorix New Member

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    impressive.
     
  9. aeleus

    aeleus Active Member

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    I did some work on the body.

    Removed most of the material using forstner bits on the drill press.

    [​IMG]


    Carved out the "ramp" using the tools you see here (and the dremel with drum sander attachments).

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    A hole for the controls that sit under the pickguard.

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    The "toaster" pickups from Rickenbacker have long pole pieces. These recesses allow room for them.

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    Here's how a pickup looks from underneath.

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    The holes for the wires.

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    A view of the holes from inside the body cavity.

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    The body all hollowed out and ready to attach the neck.

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    The "cat's eye" or "slash" sound hole.

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    Ready to join the neck to the body.

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    After making it flush. There are some minor gaps, but the neck would not budge at all when I test the dry fit. I had to coax it apart with a mallet. This should be more than adequately strong.

    [​IMG]

    Next comes the plywood back.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  10. Zach.H

    Zach.H New Member

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    Looking great! Love the ramp

    I think I might have found a new contender for my next build.
     
  11. DementedWoodworker

    DementedWoodworker New Member

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    Awesome job so far. I can not wait to see the finished product.
     
  12. petruxa-61

    petruxa-61 New Member

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    Remarkable work and technical decisions, wait a sound!
     
  13. SG John

    SG John New Member

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    Great build! I'm really enjoying seeing this. Can you tell me where to get a rasp like this? it appears as if the blades are interchangeable. Thanks.

    :dude:
     
  14. jcsimons

    jcsimons New Member

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    Not familiar with Ricks - is that neck really how it was done? That is certainly the strongest neck joint I've ever seen - looks like it would survive falling off a 2 story building...
     
  15. GreaseBox

    GreaseBox New Member

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    Microplane
     
  16. aeleus

    aeleus Active Member

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    Yeah, it's probably overkill. :)
    This is not how Rickenbacker does its neck joints. This is more typical:

    [​IMG]

    I used a "keyed" joint because I was concerned that the wood I had for the neck was a bit too short. It also eliminates the possibility of "creep".

    It's not something you usually see from a factory-built guitar, but I did see at least one Gibson model that featured a version of this.
     
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  17. aeleus

    aeleus Active Member

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    Correct. I got the "snap in rasp". It's a handle with round and flat inserts (coarse and fine). Once you get the hang of it, they are great for shaping necks and curves.

    You can see from the picture that the result is not that smooth, but it cleans up easily with a scraper.
     
  18. aeleus

    aeleus Active Member

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    I got the back on. It's a 1/8" birch plywood. I was a little concerned that it might be too thin, but it seems to be in line with what Rickenbacker has used over the years.

    [​IMG]


    Gluing it all together...

    [​IMG]


    Now to trim it. I started with hand tools. I was concerned about tear-out if I used the router. It soon became clear that doing it by hand would take a long time, and the results were less than satisfactory.

    I put the flush trim bit on and it was done in 2 minutes - smooth as I could hope. I still had that small piece left over the heel of the neck.

    [​IMG]

    I put on a regular straight-cutting bit and adjusted the depth so it would just remove the plywood without cutting into the heel while following the line of the curve free-hand. After smoothing it with a little sandpaper, I'm pleased with the result.

    [​IMG]


    Now it's ready for primer, paint and clear coat.

    [​IMG]


    I ended up putting wipe-on poly on the inside. I coated the inside of the top and sides before gluing on the plywood back. After the back was on, I soaked a piece of cloth with the poly and pushed it around with a stick to coat the plywood on the inside. I prefer to keep this as low maintenance as possible without worrying about conditions being too dry or humid for the guitar.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  19. Knarbens

    Knarbens Well-Known Member

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    Awesome work!
     
  20. KnightroExpress

    KnightroExpress Active Member

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    Looks awesome! That neck joint is easily the most solid looking I've seen.
     

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