The Vibratone was my first design that I made in any real sort of production starting back in 1997. This one was made in 2007 and I made another one at the same time that my book says had a symmetrical headstock. I remember selling it on my site back then but don't remember where I shipped it to (I don't keep very good records) but if the owner reads this I'd love to hear from you ?
It is essentially a flipped over Fender Jagstang with the top horn (now bottom) moved slightly back for better higher fret access. I made this model in a few different versions including an aluminium neck and aluminium neck with Perspex (acrylic) body and this deluxe version with a bound German carved body with bound neck and my Mosrite style pick ups. I also made a Rhythm version that I will blog about soon.
Most previous versions had slab bodies usually made from Queensland maple of Victorian ash (or Perspex) but I had made other pine and mahogany versions as well. This deluxe version I decided to make out of pine as it was my favourite body timber. I'd started using pine for bodies early on as i like a light solid body guitar and there are few different types of pine in Australia, and some of them are world class for building guitar bodies out of.
The only real issue is of course, how soft it can be so it does tend to dent easily if mistreated, but I have never been precious about keeping guitars immaculate as I think ALL guitars should be played and abused.
Making the body was similar to making the Wosrite deluxe bodies I was making at the time and these were thicker than the standard slab version Vibratones as I think German carves always look better on thicker bodies. It brings out the carve nicely. Like my Wosrite bodies I routed the binding channel when the body has been shaped but is still a slab to get a nice line to work the carve from. Because the German carve changes depth and width as it moves around the body, and I did everything by hand, I'd mark out the carve roughly on the face and start taking wood off with a trimmer, and then a file and eventually sandpaper. The hollow Jaguar/Les Paul/Mosrite I built was done the same way but it was a different type of body/construction from that point on.
I'm a fan of bolt on necks as I've said before. I think the advantages of a bolt far outweigh the disadvantages of a set neck and I have built myself guitars that have gone through several necks as I change my mind on profiles, radii and scale lengths.
The neck on this is Honduran mahogany but I mainly used Queensland maple (and Vic ash) for necks as I like the way it works and feels. I'm not sure why I went mahogany on this one ? Maybe because it was a "deluxe" , and I probably had pieces lying around ? The fretboard is jarrah, which I used for nearly all of my necks.
This one has small dot markers as I like the look of un-fussy fretboards, even on deluxe models. I've always loved the small dots Mosrite used in the sixties. This one has my preferred choice of a zero fret and I used a very .......... Fender headstock although very much oversize as I love big headstocks for looks and sustain, but they must be supported well with good strength, which is why I made the trussrod adjustable from the body end, otherwise they hinder sustain badly.
I tend to make my necks THIN, and probably too thin for most tastes but it's one of the reasons I fell in love with Mosrite (apart from the looks) early on. I have small hands and have trouble falling for a guitar with a big neck.
I decided to fit my Wosrite humbuckers to this one. although they're the same size as the single coils, which I tonally prefer, so they could be swapped out if I wasn't happy with the tone. I have a push/pull pot on the tone knob to switch the pick ups to single coil so I can still get close to that sound if I need it. My standard Vibratones tended to have my favorite P-90's unless the customer ordered something specific.
This version also has a Mosrite style roller bridge and Tiesco style vibrato, which is based on the Mosrite one used by lots of Japanese manufacturers in the sixties and is a great vibrato for flutter. With a little work these "cheap" vibratos along with a good roller bridge can hold tune really well.
I loved the Jagstang when it came out (still do) but I really think I prefer it upside down now ? Or maybe I'm just more used to it since making so many of these. The scratchplate design was something I came up with for my Mosrong (budget Wosrite) series early on, and used again for the Royale model, which I made with Nicke Royale from the Hellacopters for his signature model. The design changed slightly on the Royale but I'd always loved the sweeping look that's inspired by the bizarre Japanese guitars from the sixties.
I'm not a huge fan of sunbursts but I think it suits some guitars and I like it on this one. I messed around with the idea of a "custom colour" like Lake Placid but thought the slightly darker, three colour burst suited the shape, and the binding nicely. I finished it off with a burst to the back of the neck too. I think my favourite colour scheme for these was light blue with a tortoishell scratchplate. Always looked very classic.
It's a fairly light, very resonant guitar with a nice thin neck, so ........... it's pretty much made for me, which is good, since it was.