Here's the prototype of the idea I had to make some guitars this year for my 20th anniversary.
I don't have a lot of details yet like pricing and availability as I've JUST got this prototype up and running with 3 more similar ones nearly finished but I thought I'd share some pics and info as the post yesterday on social media went absolutely nuts.
I've had this idea kicking around in my noggin for some time but never got around to doing anything about it. As I thought I'd like to make some guitars for my 20th anniversary this year it became abundantly clear that I wouldn't be able to make them the way I used to where EVERYTHING was made by me, by hand. The time involved is why I stopped making guitars in about 2007 after making about 115 guitars completely by hand.
This "idea" means I don't have to do as much "hands on" work, which took a lot of me to come to terms with. If it has my name on it, I have to make it but with the shop taking up SO much time now with pedal building, record label, instores etc I needed a mind shift.
I've always loved and been influenced by 60's Japanese guitars and after realising that all my favourite manufacturers didn't ACTUALLY make guitars, as they didn't have timber processing and cutting facilities, or electronics manufacturing on site. They essentially farmed this work out to qualified companies that already did this work and were delivered all the parts to assemble a guitar I realised this old idea could work in much the same way.
The bodies are made here in Brisbane and are cut on CNC machines to my specs. They are 3 and 5 piece bodies but I'll just concentrate on THIS version for now so as not to confuse things. There's a similar "all timber" version of these as well, but that's another blog.
These are 5 piece bodies of laminated material which are essentially frames in the shape of the guitar with a spine that runs from the neck pocket to the end pin. The three pieces are all different in internal shapes with the top needing all the mass to mount things like pickups, bridge and tailpiece. The centre piece is the bottom of the neck pocket and the back piece has bracing for strength. These are made from .... whatever?
The front and back are recessed into these pieces and are a composite board consisting of aluminium and polyethylene (a type of plastic) which is VERY strong, light and comes in many colours.
This means only the outside "frame" needs to be painted and can be painted the same colour, or a complimentary colour with the front and back panels. All of these 5 pieces are then glued together for maximum strength giving a hollow body with all the bracing and strength needed to take the tension of the strings.
The necks I am working with a factory in China who are making rough necks to my specs and I am doing all the final shaping, sanding and painting here. There may be other necks available but for this exercise they will all be these maple with rosewood fretboard, 25.5" scale necks. It took me a LONG time to get these sorted but the time saved in manufacturing my own necks, which I used to do completely by hand, is immense and means I can (hopefully) take on this project.
Pickups are all made by my good friend Mick Brierley in Adelaide although this may change as he has expressed concern with keeping up. I just told him I'd make less :) They should be available in most pickup types but I have a set of prototype pickups here from Mick that's a design he didn't make but I wanted to try. If these work well they will be the basis of the most common pickup available and can be made in humbucker or single coil in the same cover.
We'll see what pans out pickup wise but my intention was to only use good quality hardware that you didn't have to change to make it "better" like all Gotoh hardware where possible.
The vibratos are made here by me and are based on the offfset vibrato although hardtail, Bigsby and other options should be available.
Scratchplates will be aluminium and/or plastic depending on the guitar. All nuts will be bone unless the customer is vegan/vege in which case we'll use synthetic.
The whole idea of this design is that I can make guitars without the incredibly lengthy process of making everything myself but I will paint, assemble and do the final work on all the guitars here at my workshop between other tasks.
As the neck pocket and bridge location are the only "constants" in this design the shape is almost irrelevant. I went with an offset for the prototypes purely because we already had that shape in the CNC. I will be making some of my old shapes like the Vibratone, Versatone, Johnny and Scimitar as well as some new shapes based on those wonderful 60's Japanese guitars.
The frame of this guitar here is actually .... MDF with the composite boards attached. The centre piece is made from marine ply and along with the front and back panels takes most of the string tension. With the frame being mainly for shape and thickness it means I can try many different materials and I've got prototypes made from Balsa, renewable forest sustainable timer ply and hybrids of all of these almost ready. As long as the CNC can cut it, I'll give it a go but I'm particularly excited about using renewable timber for the main parts as I've always said we shouldn't be cutting down rain forests to make something as silly as a guitar.
These should be available in right or left handed (and 12 string) as the majority of the work is done by a machine that doesn't really care which way around it cuts and since I shape the headstocks and assemble here, it won't matter if the body is the "wrong" (kidding) way around.
Like I said, it's relatively early days so I won't know pricing and availability until I get further into the process but I have plenty of necks, vibratos and prototype bodies here to keep me busy for now.
Like everything I make, these will be limited and sporadic as I still need to find time to make them. This is the only way I can do stuff. It's what Tym guitars is about. I don't do preorders or holds on ANYTHING I do and these will be no exception. I'm hoping to make some for friends who have helped me greatly over the years and make some to put in the shop for general sale as I get time.
This is a prototype so some of it is a bit ... rough. More info coming as I know what's going on. As yet I have no plans to make basses like this but who knows? Until then, enjoy the pics.