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Thread: converting electric mini-guitar to octave mando

  1. #1
    Laps, Banjos, & Mandos rudy44's Avatar
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    Thought others may be interested in my electric mini-guitar to octave mando conversion. I posted over in CBOM initially, and posting here for anyone who's interested. When I saw a $99 guitar with a 22-7/8" scale length, it cried out to be converted to an octave mando. I have a basic guide that outlines the bare esentials of the conversion process available at: http://www.angelfire.com/music2/cons...page10EOM.html
    This is a free hosting site, so it may be necessary to check at different times of the day if you can't get through.
    rudy44

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    I am *very* intrigued by this project. #I have no experience in instrument building, but would love to give something like this a try. #Just a couple of questions:

    You mention sanding the fretboard to the correct octave mandolin profile. #What does this profile look like? #Is it pretty close to the original profile of the guitar neck? #I don't see a mention of re-fretting, so I assume so.

    Did you have to remove the fretboard from the neck? #

    What does the new neck profile look like?

    Thank you for sharing your project. #I would love to have a copy of the complete plans you mention on your webpage when they are finished!




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    Was that a Fender Mini-Strat?

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    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    From what is sounds like, he had to make the fretboard narrower.

  5. #5
    Laps, Banjos, & Mandos rudy44's Avatar
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    "What does this profile look like? #Is it pretty close to the original profile of the guitar neck?"
    The edges of the neck were sanded to taper from 1-7/16" at the nut to 1-15/16" at the fretboard end. The rear was rounded to blend the back of the neck up to the fret edges.

    "Did you have to remove the fretboard from the neck?"
    It's not necessary, that's part of what makes this a easy project. #

    "What does the new neck profile look like?"
    The profile is much like a very small guitar. The rear profile is slightly D-shaped, as I opted to leave a little extra on the sides to make certain the neck was strong enough to resist the pull of the 4 double strings.

    "Fender Mini-Strat?"
    Close...Squier, made/licensed by Fender. This is the best use of this guitar that I can think of! They also make a nice Fender gig-bag for it for an additional $25.

    If I can't find a site to host the guide, I'll make it available on CD-ROM to open in Internet Explorer. Lots of text and pics that documents each step of the process.



    rudy44

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    You did a nice job, but for the amount of work involved in rehaping the neck, making a new pickgard, and filling the neck pocket, you could have cranked out a whole new instrument from scratch.
    That's what I did and would have done. It makes for a more interesting instrument. Next time you do one of these, just make it a ten string cittern. You might not have to narrow the neck.

  7. #7
    Laps, Banjos, & Mandos rudy44's Avatar
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    Hi, Ellie.
    Sometimes you just want to do something for the fun of it! I've already built and play an F style, and wanted an octave without doing any fretting / truss rod install, etc. I've built a few instruments and I think this was definately a substantial time and money saver for me, personnally. I realize YMMV. I'm also a big fan of doing the originality thing when I feel I've got something to say instead of something to play. These import instruments just play too well at the price point to not take advantage of. I've also done a few Mexican Tele conversion to thinlines with bent sides and top/rear figured wood caps. That helps when you slug one around at a bar gig for 4 hours. I know you're familiar with that!
    Love your posts over on MIMF, too!
    Not a big cittern fan, I can't handle 8 strings half the time...
    rudy44

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    I can see where you're coming from. Sometimes franken-strating is very rewarding. I did a six to 12 string conversion with the same size guitar, but did do a new body for it. Those little necks are fun to play on.
    I think having a shop like mine all set up makes me forget how easy it can be for me to just crank that electric stuff out.
    I did notice a fairly large improvement in tone when I switched from the ply mini strat to the solid redwood body on the one I did.
    Yours does look like a fun little beast.

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    Sorry Rudy44, i'm French, and i don't understand this sentence :

    "Sand fretboard to correct octave mando profile " (i suppose the back ?? But what do you do about the existing frets too long.

    You must to do this or no ?

    For the headstock, you glued another part of wood in front of the existing headstock ? Can you make a picture zoomed on the headstock, please ?

    I am interesting by your CD ROM #

    I have the picture of the Mini Strat and after !
    great job !



    Why do you move the saddles ?

  10. #10
    Laps, Banjos, & Mandos rudy44's Avatar
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    Hi, mandolman!
    "Sanding the fretboard to the correct octave mando profile" means to sand the SIDES to the correct width that you desire. I did this by holding the neck vertically on edge against a small tabletop belt sander. #You are reducing the width of the fretboard AND frets at the same time. After the sides are reduced in width, the rear of the neck is re-rounded to blend in to the new fretboard width and the fret ends are beveled and sanded smooth.
    As far as the extra piece of wood is concerned, if you check the website photos carefully you will see that a small portion of the existing headstock (where the Squier logo is located) is cut off, flipped over, and reglued to the upper section to make the headstock wide enough to reshape for the new tuners.
    Thanks for the picture comparison...it helps to see the before and after side-by-side.
    Saddles are re-done to accomodate 4 double courses vs. six single strings. The stock saddles on the mini-strat are cast individual pieces.



    rudy44

  11. #11
    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    Um... Not to rain on your parade, but since you're doing all that work, why not just make a new neck? You can just bolt it on, right? I think something hockey-stickish would look cool on that Squier (a la Fender XII - I dunno, a Squier VIII?). Plus you could keep that original neck just in case these become valuable in say, 1000 years, LOL. Oh, and if you make a new neck, might as well get that position marker in the right place..

    ps Switch to blade pickups (you're probably gonna want new pickups anyway) and you can skip the rerouting/pickguard fabbing..

    pps Give up the idea of 8 strings and just go with 5 (as per Niles H's recommendations) and it's even cheaper still! This is probably what I'll be doing, as I'm a lazy, untalented hack!




  12. #12
    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    On second thought, yours already looks like a Fender XII! (Sorry, I'm sure you planned it that way.. DOH) I forgot the hockey stick headstocks were on the jag-bodied twelve stringers..






  13. #13
    Laps, Banjos, & Mandos rudy44's Avatar
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    delsbrother,
    I've been fooling around with instrument construction for 20 plus years, so this one was a quick and dirty project to see how inexpensively I could put together a good playable instrument.
    As far as making a new neck, it was a time and money saver for me, I could have gone the new neck route, also. The area where a beginner is most likely to have difficulty is fret work. #I did this project to specifically avoid the more-exacting fingerboard slotting / fret installation work so others with less experiance and/or tooling could duplicate my results.
    As far as duplicating the look of a Fender symetrical headstock design, it was a matter of praciticality for me. I took the path of least resistance to re-shape the headstock to accomodate the A-style Shallers.
    Blades would be nice, but using the stock pickups allowed me to bring this project in for a total of under $200.
    Thanks for the comments!



    rudy44

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    Rudy--
    Well done!--I have one question.
    How did you decide to slant the pickups toward the bridge
    on the treble side of the strings? I usually find the exact
    opposite works best for me. The bass strings are usually
    too floppy and sound better when the pick-up reads them
    near the bridge (less vibration, and less horrible "wobbly"
    sound.)The treble strings ring more and sound less harsh to
    me with the pickup near the neck position. --thanks Joel

  15. #15
    Laps, Banjos, & Mandos rudy44's Avatar
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    Hi, Joel.
    Just following the standard protocol of normal electric guitar pickup slant. I think this may be due more or less to the pick's path over the strings being parrallel to the pickups...this would diminish the chances of the pick interfering with the pickups somewhat if they are very close to the strings.
    It may be due to the slightly longer scale, but the G and D strings still have a fair amount of tension on them...no wobbly sound to my ears. I'll keep this in mind for further projects of this sort, though. If you check the website info, I did state that a planned revision would be the elimination of the pickup nearest the bridge. That much edge definately isn't needed with these instruments!
    Check back on the site if you're interested in further information, I think I have enough space to put all the photos and text up, but free hosting limits my daily bandwidth usage so sometimes you may have to try at different times.
    rudy44

  16. #16
    Laps, Banjos, & Mandos rudy44's Avatar
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    Okay, Guys and gals,
    I have posted the aformentioned complete guide to electric mini-guitar to octave mandolin at:
    http://www.angelfire.com/music2/construct/page1EOM.html
    Unless someone would like to host this at a location that is a little less server-bandwidth restricted it may be necessary to try a few different times, especially if traffic for the page is somewhat high.
    It's the best I can do without incurring additional expense for information that I freely distribute. That brings me to within a couple of lines of text from my 20 mb limit!
    rudy44

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    I keep seeing this topic as "converting an electric mixer to play mandolin." It is driving me nuts. Either I need new glasses or a few frozen drinks.

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