If you follow my stuff you'll know last year I built ten TMI guitars just to see if I could. As I've explained in previous blogs the TMI guitars are an attempt to make an affordable handmade guitar here in Brisbane using sustainable plantation body timbers and premanufactured necks that I finish by hand here. Most of the hardware and all of the finish work is all done in house here by me.
Along with that idea I am also making TMI Custom guitars which are guitars that spark my interest or ones that need a little more custom made work/parts to make them properly. This idea may or may not require making a custom neck like this.
This is the second TMI Custom I started this year although I finished this one first as I was making it with a time frame in mind. The other one, which is heavily based on a Mosrite will be available in the shop when it's done.
I've made a few Epiphone solid body copies over the years including Wilshires and Crestwoods but this is the first single P-90/wraparound Coronet style one I've made.
The idea of the TMI Custom is similar to the standard TMI range with bodies made from sustainable laminated timber with chambers (hollow body) built into the assembly process. They all have a solid centre block that runs from the neck pocket to the strap button with neck, pickups, bridge and tailpiece all anchored to it. The "wings" are hollow with, in this case, a 7mm top and back giving an overall thickness of 43mm making this a little over 10mm thicker than an original Epiphone, but lighter due to being hollow.
With the neck on the originals hanging out of the body so far this design needs a custom made neck as the "Fender" style ones I get made don't have the tongue to attach to the body. I could make the body to suit that style neck but this is much cleaner and feels more original. Of course the originals were set necks but I personally think the disadvantages of a set neck outweigh the advantages so I prefer to make bolt ons.
The necks are made of PEFC and FSC certified ash and Asian mahogany laminated to make a 5 piece neck. This is a very strong and stable construction method for necks and, as discussed before, I much prefer the join to NOT be down the middle of the neck right under the trussrod slot. I use the ash down the centre as it is hard and stable and then the softer Asian mahogany for shape. There's a few species defined as this type of "Philippine mahogany" or Meranti and you can find some nice pieces that contrast against each other, if you're into that kind of thing.
The fretboard is rosewood that I have plenty of from my old guitar building days and this one is 25.5" scale with a zero fret, which in later years has become my favorite set up. I've always loved zero frets but the longer Fender scale only made sense to me when I started playing a heavier, more distorted tone, which this length holds really well.
The neck is shaped off a Mosrite neck with "a little" more meat on it as I know everyone doesn't love those necks as much as I do. It's just under 40mm at the zero fret and 52mm at the pocket. It's a 16" radius with medium frets and small dot markers at the 12th and a double acting trussrod. It also as a big volute which is something I take from Mosrite and I'm a HUGE fan of for keeping the headstock rigid.
The pickup is a T-90 I made with 13500 winds of #43 giving me just a little tip over 15K and I used big A5 slugs to keep it full sounding. I don't pot any of my pickups but I sealed this in enamel to try and keep it under control with that much output. I moved the pickup right up against the bridge to bring a little treble back in and being such high output it still has plenty of volume. The bridge is an intonated wraparound to keep everything in tune.
This model has such a simple electronics set up with just a master volume and tone and an output jack. I don't usually shield pickups and cavities but I thought with such a high output single coil I might on this one and it's surprisingly quiet.
The finish is, like all my builds an acrylic lacquer that I mixed myself and is actually a very dark green/blue metallic. The neck is finished in the same clear lacquer as the body.
This is such an elegant little design and so simple to make and assemble being a slab body and such simple electrics. I'm a huge fan of LP Jrs and anything no fuss with a P-90 and a wraparound. While this is definitely not a strict Epiphone Coronet copy (hollow body, long scale, zero fret, overwound single coil, 3 a side headstock etc) it is heavily influenced by the post '63 non symmetrical Epiphone with the early "big batwing plate" but it would have weighed nothing if I'd made it the original thickness, so it "feels" a little less, "toy like" to hold.
As discussed in earlier blogs I'm making one at a time orders for TMI Custom stuff and a few people have contacted me about making something special so once I've finished the other one I started first, feel free to contact me with an idea you can't just go an buy. The standard TMI guitars, mainly in the 127 range will be available through the shop as they are finished.
This one is off to it's new owner. Onto the next one.