TMI Custom CBK

As you probably know this place started out with me making guitars back in the mid/late 90's after my endless (unsuccessful at the time) search for a Mosrite Ventures Model II. After making about 110 guitars between 1997 and 2009 I stopped to concentrate on the shop and dedicate more time to that and helping my scene develop and grow. 

In 2017 I started making guitars again in a very different style with my standard TMI guitars and after a couple of years I started making my TMI Custom guitars from ideas and designs I'd developed from this new start. The TMI guitars were made for my (then) shop and friends and I made TMI Customs for friends and the site.

I decided that for my 25th anniversary this year I would make a few guitars for the site and friends to celebrate what started all of this and after a slow start due to supply line issues I finally got a few under way with more coming. I managed to start 3 of which the first 2 are now finished and have new homes (or are on their way) and 1 more in the final painting stages.

The TMI Custom JRS SB75 went on the site and this TMI Custom was made for a friend with the upcoming TMI Custom hitting the site before the end of the year. I have 3 more in the early painting stages with another 3 in the preliminary gluing and shaping stages. With restrictions on space in my small, crowded workshop I've decided 3 at a time is probably the best number to work on in stages so ...


When Chip came and asked if I could get him a nice Mosrite from Japan we talked about options and money and ended up considering a handmade Tym guitar instead as I was finally making them again. He was wrapped at the suggestion, and we talked about making a Mosrite style guitar but then I mentioned that since I was starting completely from scratch, he could essentially choose anything he wanted. 

We had talked about the double Florentine cutaway hollowbody before, and we eventually settled on this as the new guitar design.

I showed him several I had around the workshop including Firstmans, Idols and Honeys and we decided on using a Firstman as a template as it had nice sharp points that didn't curve in too much and a really tight waste for its size. I traced around the Firstman and started making the chambered laminated pine body while he thought about other options.

When I make custom guitars, I essentially make them how I would want them and the "customer", knowing what I love and how I do it comes along for the ride. It's one of the reasons I don't make common Fender or Gibson copies (or shapes). There's enough of them in the world and I just can't get excited about them.


So, Chip knew what sort of necks I made. What sort of pickups I made and wanted just that. While I have (and would) make guitars with other people's pickups and hardware if the build calls for it, I prefer to make everything (or most of it) myself to be closer to my vision of what I want to make. It bugs me when I see really cool handmade guitars (or any custom-made stuff) with generic hardware as it always seems like they just couldn't be bothered finishing it properly.

So the neck is based on a Mosrite design with a big volute and zero fret and this one is made from a 5-piece laminated mahogany with a dark south American slab down the middle. The Indian rosewood fretboard has 24 frets not including the zero fret and Chip didn't want any fretboard markers on the face with just side dot markers in the nub end binding. The neck is "slightly" wider (if you see Chips hands you'll know why) than my usual necks at 41mm at the string guide and 54mm at the body end but very shallow at under 20mm along its entire length from volute to body joint. 

The pickups are based on my standard Wosrite pickups with handmade wooden and plastic bobbins with segmented magnets and hand wound with #44 AWG however, as I do, my brain started drifting away with ideas and this set have self-tapping screws as pole pieces with the A and B poles being longer and screwing directly into the body and neck tenon to attach them to the guitar. This was just a thought I had as I was building this guitars pickups as I'd just wound a couple of my FMF T-90's for another guitar and started thinking about the magnetic flux of the mounting screws on a P-90 sitting between the poles.

I wasn't sure how this would work but I have to try stuff when my puny brain thinks of it otherwise it bugs me relentlessly. I'm really glad I tied this as it appears to work really well and may (who knows cause every guitar is different?) offer a different feedback/sustain by being mounted directly to the neck/body kinda like EVHs love of screwing HBs directly into the body rather than hang them from a surround or scratchplate. I'm sure Chip will let me know if I need to make another set, but early tests are VERY positive. 

I did in fact make a new bridge pickup last minute as I couldn't get enough volume from the original bridge one I'd made as I mounted the bridge pickup hard against the bridge to give it LOTS of treble and bite as Chip loves his Tele tone. The original set were wound at 10K for the neck and 13K for the bridge but with slightly lower volume output I made another bridge one at 15K and it plays really nicely with the neck one now.

With the large (400mm across and 55mm deep) chambered body made and bound the colour was chosen from an old Kawai I had here at the workshop. We both thought a traditional tobacco burst would look awesome on this, so I painted a see through brown and added a thin rim black burst and a burst on the back of the neck and everything was then given several coats of clear. This all stood out really nicely with all that white binding.

With everything in place and polished I made the string guide, neck plate and output jack plate and then sat down with a cup of tea to think about a tailpiece. Chip was keen to not have a vibrato, especially a Bigsby which suited me fine but what was I going to design for this one? 

Mosrite made a hard tailpiece that was an aluminium L section with a polished timber insert which I've always loved for its simplicity and aesthetics. I grabbed some offcuts and made a similar but more elaborate version of this design. After shaping and polishing the 2 two pieces I screwed them to the top and BAM, there it was.


The bridge is a modified Ric style bridge that I use on some builds for aesthetics and the narrower string spacing I use on my guitars. I do make my own narrow spacing bridges but this one just looked right on this guitar.

Electronics are master volume and tone for each pickup which can be dialed in individually so you can choose how much, if any, of each pickup you'd like in the mix. With the bridge pickup being very bright and tight and the neck being more rounded and fuller they mix together really well. 

While the big body is hollow (technically chambered) it has internal bracing and supports built in before assembly, so the bridge and tailpiece are well anchored in thick blocks and the neck pocket/block runs all the way to the back strap button in varying thicknesses and has angled support struts running back to the edges at about the bridge pickup. This gives it a very hollowbody sound without any feedback associated with thin tops. The fake F holes also help here. And the whole thing weighs in at 3.7KG. Pretty light for a guitar this size.

This is serial number 0139 and was a fun build for a good friend, and I hope he plays and uses this guitar live so it looks a little bit more well-loved every time I see it. 

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