Following on from the other TMI guitars I've made this year this one has been a bit of a long term project/idea as I wanted to build something similar to this back in the Wosrite days but never had time. There was a very small batch of "official" Ramones Mosrites made by Semie before he died that were hollow Ventures models stripped back for Johnny's style. I'll do a blog on them when I get time but when I first found out about these rare beauties I wanted to make my version of it.
The "Jr" has always been a favorite of mine. Any Jr really. The idea of a single pickup and wraparound bridge makes so much sense to me as I've always been a straight up rhythm player. Not that Jr's can't be used for more, but they excel at straight up R'n'R.
Being that the P-90 and Mosrite pickup (very similar) are my favourite pickups and the wraparound bridge is my favourite bridge/tailpiece the Jr (and early LP) takes these elements and blends them into one wonderful little package. Also that I love hollow and chambered guitars for the way they interact with volume and tones this turns out to be a very ME guitar indeed.
The body is (mostly) the same as my previous TMI guitars as I'm perfecting the internal bracing system with different shapes and less material. This is made like the others using sustainable plantation laminated timber glued in layers with the internal chambers all cut out previous to assembly. This alows me to make any shape I want, in any density I want and any thickness I want using the same basic materials. This one is 40mm thick and more chambered than some others I've made.
The body has a centre block, or web really that is incorporated in the middle two (or more if the body is thicker) layers and gives the body something to attach everything to. The neck pocket, pickups, bridge and tailpiece are all attached to this block, which varies in width depending on where in the body it sits.
The top and bottom bouts and horns are completely hollow making them very light and vibrant. The "shape" of the guitar effects tone very (VERY) minimally and nearly all the presence of a guitar body comes from that centre block from the neck pocket to the strap button. At higher volumes/gain the mass outside this area can come into play but the bulk still comes from this centre piece.
The neck is one of my TMI necks I get rough made and hand finish shaping and finishing myself. As I've said in previous blogs I simply don't have time to make guitars completely from scratch any more and most of my favourite manufacturers outsourced the timber (and electronics) elements to more experienced makers and essentially assembled guitars, and, it means I get to make some guitars.
This is a maple neck with a 22 fret rosewood fretboard and bone nut with a double acting trussrod in a 25.5" scale. I used to be all about short scale guitars and loved Jags over JM's but at some point I "got" the longer Fender scale and now prefer it to both short Fender scale and Gibson scale.
The bridge is a Wilkinson adjustable wraparound as I tried four different wraparounds on this and this one sounded great. I like the light weight ones on some guitars but I find the lighter (less mass) the guitar body, the thinner the light weight ones sound. I actually don't like them on SG Jr's and Specials. I put a very heavy non adjustable/non intonated one on this and it sounded great but the intonation was slightly off and this one sounded great and intonated perfectly.
The pickup is one of my Mosrite style T-90's that i made especially for this guitar. It is based on a sixties Mosrite pickup and wound to 13.5K with A5 magnets so it has some output but stays clean and crisp. My friend Tony tried this guitar in the shop through an old Fender Bandmaster and couldn't believe how clear the pickup was.
In keeping with the stripped back Jr theme the pickup goes to a volume pot and then out.
The scratchplate shape is one I came up with for an early Mosrong Jr back in the early 2000's and have used the idea on a few models since including the prototype Royale and the Vibratone Dlx. It was probably subliminally influenced by some great Japanese manufacturer but it works well on offsets set the "right" way.
This was a great guitar to build as it was the culmination of many ideas I have had for many years. The Mosrite Ventures Model II is one of my all time favourite shapes and the Jr is one of my favourite ideas so the two just worked so well together. I've built Mk II Jrs before (in Wosrite form) but developing these new TMI guitars from the hybrid to this has been fun and therapeutic and has made me enjoy guitar making again, which is something I stopped for ten years due to time and life.
My goal was make 10 TMIs this year (on top of everything else) and this is the third so far with another one almost ready to finish painting and assemble and two more in the works. I might just make it after all.