How I Put a Marshall MS-2 Into a Guitar (pic heavy)

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HilditchGuitarsHilditchGuitars Frets: 204
edited April 2020 in Making & Modding
For some reason I never bought one of these amps. I've always been a Marshall fan, they just symbolise the classic rock era featuring legends like Hendrix, Free, EVH, Nigel Tufnel (with the legendary amp that goes to 11!), Jeff Beck, Motorhead.... The list goes on!
A few months into my guitar building journey, I stumbled across an eBay ad for a Marshall MS-2 and instantly had a eureka moment! Wouldn't it be cool to have one of these in a guitar! I did some research and couldn't find anything directly showing one of these little monsters incorporated into a guitar. There are companies out there who have developed their own self amplified guitars (and done an incredible job), but I needed to feed my Marshall craving at the same time!
I need to play catch up a bit here as I'm part way through as I write this. I'll add as many photos as I can, but some processes may have been missed when i took them, so here goes:

Step 1. planning
As with all my builds, i try to think about what I expect the guitar to sound like, how it will perform and what it will look like. I've always like the white Les Pauls, with gold hardware and pickups and black scratch plate. And obviously, Marshall colours being black and gold that's the scheme i decided. Which guitar? My own design called Tao (more info on my website https://hilditchguitars.weebly.com/guitars.html ) was a natural choice as It has a nice big space to house the little speaker.
The wood? as it's going to be painted, and will have a lot of holes routed in it I decided on Ash for it's strength. The weight didn't matter due to the amount of butchering I'd be doing.
The neck is a 5 piece maple/walnut laminate with wenge fretboard. There's a full time lapse clip on YouTube, of me carving the neck if anyone wants to see the process i use.
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  • imageimage" alt="">
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  • The body and neck blanks glued up

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  • HilditchGuitarsHilditchGuitars Frets: 204
    edited April 2020
    Planing the neck blank after glue up
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  • Hardware and the amp in question

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  • HilditchGuitarsHilditchGuitars Frets: 204
    edited April 2020
    Step 2 making the body
    All my designs have templates that i use to cut and route the parts. So i lined my body template up with the centre line and drew around it, then proceeded to cut it roughly to shape on my bandsaw. After cutting, i use double sided tape to fix the template to the body and proceed to flush trim it with my router. Post routing I shaped the horns and put a round over all round the back to smooth the edges. Then i marked out where i wanted the speaker, amp and controls to go, piloted the pot stem holes and routed a scoop around the lower portion of the body (a design feature of this model) followed by routing the speaker cavity.
    I went for a Yin Yang design for the speaker cav, to keep in with the theme of the guitar. I mostly routed it free hand, I drew the design and used appropriately sized forstner bits for the top and bottom curves, then joined them freehand following the lines.
    Self proclaimed Luthier and guitar building addict, professional man-cave dweller Website . Facebook . Instagram . YouTube
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  • Self proclaimed Luthier and guitar building addict, professional man-cave dweller Website . Facebook . Instagram . YouTube
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  • Self proclaimed Luthier and guitar building addict, professional man-cave dweller Website . Facebook . Instagram . YouTube
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  • Self proclaimed Luthier and guitar building addict, professional man-cave dweller Website . Facebook . Instagram . YouTube
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  • Step 2a the neck
    At this point i began work on the neck. I always like to have at least the heel to final shape so that i can use it to get a nice snug pocket on the body. Same process as the body with the template, bandsaw and router. I'll try to do a neck specific thread when i start my next one, this is mainly about the amp.
    I route the truss slot before cutting so i have a nice square piece of wood to work with. once it's shaped roughly i glue the fretboard on, which i slot by hand first. Once it's dry I radius it, flush trim it and then begin carving it (video of this on my YouTube )
    Any inlays can be done before carving, and once it's all shaped i install the frets.


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  • Fret saw with depth guide scribed in
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  • Router radius jig. I used to do it by hand with a sanding block, but wenge is a bugger to sand so had to resort to power

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  • Field Marshal symbol to keep with the Marshall theme. Not my best work, i used sycamore veneer which was a bad choice really!

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  • Better with frets on, Jescar Gold Evo

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  • Heel joint, with threaded inserts

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  • Step 3 the body cont'd
    Happy with the neck joint i went back to the body to route out the remaining cavities for the controls, pickups and the amp PCB. First i established my scale length and marked it on the body. With this, i could decide where my pickups would sit. I'm going to use humbuckers with gold covers, as yet unpurchased. So i marked them out, used a forstner bit to remove the bulk and flush trim them with the router again.Then onto the bridge, a tunomatic, and tail bar mounts. I wanted to get these in place before routing for the battery box for the amp, so i knew where to avoid. After they were drilled i enlarged my pot stem holes using a forstner bit again as they give a nice crisp edge and don't tear out. plus a 2mm drill bit is the perfect pilot size for my set, so you can get a really accurate hole location.
    I like to plan where the controls are going from the front as it's got to look and feel right, and be easy to play without knocking and settings off in the middle of a huge solo. And by piloting through first, it shows me on the back where i need to be with the cavity. I have templates for the cavities and matching covers so i wanted to keep within these shapes. Again I marked out the area based on my pilot holes, used my forstner bits to remove the bulk of waste and flush trimmed with the router. Getting the depth was quite nerve wracking as I had to go down to 2mm to accommodate the board for the amp controls. I admit I was in a rush to get going so didn't measure the depth of the board before making the body blank (d'oh)
    At this point I decided to look into the wiring of the amp to see what i could remove from the circuit. the answer was the input jack only. I'm pretty good with electrics but I couldn't see a simple way of removing the speaker out jack, or AC input so I left them in thinking they could be a cool little extra? i had to extend the speaker cavity to hold the board for them. Then, carefully planning around my bridge posts, i marked a routed the cavity for the battery box to power the amp.

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  • All front cavities routed and holes drilled
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  • Speaker cavity extension, rear cavities routed and neck ferrules marked out
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  • Jack socket hole
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  • Quick test of the components and layout. I'm happy with it.
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  • Which brings me up to today. I applaud and thank you if you made it this far! I'm currently waiting on a 14mm firstner bit to arrive so I can drill the ferrule holes and get on to painting the body. I'm not going to moan about Royal Mail as they're having a hard time at the minute with all that's happening. So I'm quietly waiting, eagerly watching the post every morning like a child at christmas. But for now... TBC...
    Self proclaimed Luthier and guitar building addict, professional man-cave dweller Website . Facebook . Instagram . YouTube
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  • monofinmonofin Frets: 1115
    Stunning craftsmanship and a great idea.
    Looking forward to seeing the completed guitar

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  • monofin said:
    Stunning craftsmanship and a great idea.
    Looking forward to seeing the completed guitar

    Thanks! I'm always humbled and grateful when at least one person finds my work interesting. Shows I'm not alone  =)
    Self proclaimed Luthier and guitar building addict, professional man-cave dweller Website . Facebook . Instagram . YouTube
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  • SteveFSteveF Frets: 345
    Definitely an interesting idea!
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  • SteveF said:
    Definitely an interesting idea!
    Thanks, I couldn't think of any reason why not. My only concern was feedback (confirmed in preliminary tests) but I'm confident I've found a solution.
    Self proclaimed Luthier and guitar building addict, professional man-cave dweller Website . Facebook . Instagram . YouTube
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  • MattNovakMattNovak Frets: 860
    Lovely work. Quick question re: the jig, do you use a larger radius 'arch' than you need? Just thinking that if the arches were 12'' radius but the bit was an inch below, it'd be a 10'' cut.... 
    www.theflyingacesband.com
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  • MattNovak said:
    Lovely work. Quick question re: the jig, do you use a larger radius 'arch' than you need? Just thinking that if the arches were 12'' radius but the bit was an inch below, it'd be a 10'' cut.... 
    Good point. I hadn't actually thought of it. But I think keeping the router perpendicular to the jig means it just follows the shape to repeat the pattern. I didn't notice a difference when I sanded it with my block, and I still had a gap when I tested my wire against the board before fretting so I guess my luck was in?
    Self proclaimed Luthier and guitar building addict, professional man-cave dweller Website . Facebook . Instagram . YouTube
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  • MattNovakMattNovak Frets: 860
    Its early, I may have completely under-thought my comment :D 
    www.theflyingacesband.com
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  • HilditchGuitarsHilditchGuitars Frets: 204
    edited April 2020
    Don't play it down, it's valid. And I've worked it out...
    If I follow the jig keeping the centre of the router base on the curve, then yes it will change the radius slightly, as the bit will be following the curve as if it was attached to the pivot point. So I keep it perpendicular to achieve the same radius as the jig.
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  • I think.
    But the purpose is to remove waste quickly, and I sand the machine marks out afterwards anyway so I'll get the same radius as my sanding block.
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  • PeteCPeteC Frets: 256
    The ultimate custom practice axe!  . Love the concept and the build thread.  
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