Klein build

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RolandRoland Frets: 4067
A bit late to the lockdown build party, but here we go.

The next build was going to be an incremental improvement on the last one: a small, lightweight headless guitar, this time with Hipshot tuners and headpiece. Then @octatonic started a thread about Klein ergonomic guitars. Now I’ve always wondered what a Klein feels like to play. The only way to find out is to build one.

So the body outline is fixed. It will have a J Custom fixed bridge because a) I’ve got one, and b) I don’t use a trem. The headpiece I’m not sure about, I’ve ordered a couple of different types from the internet, and will see which is the most appropriate. With the weight of the J Custom the body is going to be relatively heavy, so I’ll give up the pretence of using light weight wood. I have a length of mahogany type wood which is left over from a window ledge. I was going to use for necks. Instead I’ll glue it up into a body blank.



Meanwhile I’ll think about pickups. Maybe tappable humbuckers
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 27636
    edited May 31
    Looking forward to this.
    ABM is the best headpiece imho.

    https://abm-guitarpartsshop.com/ABM-GUITAR-PARTS/Headless-Systems/Guitar/Headpieces/ABM-7080b-Black::260.html
    You'd need to use a zero fret or a traditional nut with it.
    http://uptheoctave.com
    Audio Production Reviews and Technique.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 4067
    I like that ABM design. Unfortunately it doesn’t allow truss rod adjustment. I’ll see what the Chinese options are like. If I don’t like them then I’ll buy some brass and make my own
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 27636
    Roland said:
    I like that ABM design. Unfortunately it doesn’t allow truss rod adjustment. I’ll see what the Chinese options are like. If I don’t like them then I’ll buy some brass and make my own
    Do the truss rod adjustment at the other end, like a Musicman guitar/bass.
    It is what Chris Forshage does.
    http://uptheoctave.com
    Audio Production Reviews and Technique.
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  • althyalthy Frets: 83
    Great! can't wait to see it :)
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 4067
    Which neck? I’ve got a couple of part made necks cluttering up my workshop, and was thinking of using one of them for this build. Maple on Ovangkol, or Ebony on Maple.


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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 27636
    Klein spec would be a Rosewood neck.

    http://uptheoctave.com
    Audio Production Reviews and Technique.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 4067
    This isn’t meant to be a particularly faithful copy. I will stick to Klein’s body profile rather than go Canton or Forshage. When it comes to hardware I’ll branch out. I’ll be using the J Custom bridge, and I haven’t decided which pickups yet. 
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  • JGTayJGTay Frets: 76
    Ebony on maple would look very nice 
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 1900
    Ebony on Maple gets my vote!
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 27636
    Agree, ebony board would look great.
    http://uptheoctave.com
    Audio Production Reviews and Technique.
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  • DrBobDrBob Frets: 2358
    Definitely Ebony on maple 
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 4067
    Decision made, and it’s ebony. Not for aesthetic reasons, but because it needs to be 24 fret, and the Ovangkol neck isn’t. We like mock ups don’t we? 



    Bright eyes will notice that the body blank has a straight line at the back, rather than a big cutaway. That’s because the J Custom is longer than other bridge/tuners, and I hadn’t decided how far I wanted it to project when I cut the outline. My scroll saw will sort it out later.

    Now to order some pickups, and get the cavities cut before i profile the body.
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  • GuyBodenGuyBoden Frets: 534
    Excellent, it's looking promising, I think that the heavy Steinberger type bridges do help to balance a headless well, especially if they have a light weight body.

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  • RolandRoland Frets: 4067
    This is likely to be a heavy body. The blank is 50mm thick, and I decided not to hollow it out before glueing the two 25mm sections together so that cavities don’t compromise the severity of the chamfers I want to put on it.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 4067
    edited June 11
    Well the first headpiece turned up, and proves how little you can trust ebay sellers:



    It’s designed for a fan fret neck. The chances are that the seller is not familiar with guitars, and didn’t know. I could make it work on the 22 fret neck, it fact it would be quite a feature.

    Before anyone asks, yes those nut slots look wrong. I’ve filled them with veneer and blue* prior to fitting a zero fret.

    * I hate auto-correct, but sometimes it’s amusing
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  • PeteCPeteC Frets: 168
    A really interesting build @Roland    That mock up looks very promising.   I can almost hear some Bill Frisell coming from the screen. 
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  • GuyBodenGuyBoden Frets: 534
    Roland said:
    Well the first headpiece turned up, and proves how little you can trust ebay sellers:



    It’s designed for a fan fret neck. The chances are that the seller is not familiar with guitars, and didn’t know. I could make it work on the 22 fret neck, it fact it would be quite a feature.

    Before anyone asks, yes those nut slots look wrong. I’ve filled them with veneer and blue* prior to fitting a zero fret.

    * I hate auto-correct, but sometimes it’s amusing

    I looked at those string clamps, the double hex grub screws look a good idea, pity it's not straight.

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  • MLten80MLten80 Frets: 160
    edited June 12
    Nightmare!! I have an 18° hipshot ish black baseplate going cheap if you did decide to go multiscale lol  
     Shame looks like it would have been the ideal part 
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 4067
    Today I’ve been in my happy place, hand carving a neck.



    Spokeshave and cabinet scraper to get to this stage. I’ve left the head end square until the other headpiece arrives, or until I get tired of waiting. Next stop side dots. I’ll let the neck settle before levelling the fretboard and putting in the frets.

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  • PeteCPeteC Frets: 168
    Nice work.   That neck looks amazing 
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 4067
    edited June 14
    Thanks @PeteC. I’m wondering whether that grain will stay straight. Having profiled the neck to match my elliptical templates I decided to take the thickness down to 21mm between the 3rd and 5th frets, rising to 23mm at the 12th. One of the joys of building necks is being able to profile them based on feel.

    So we get to the decision on side dots. Normally I’d put 2mm black dots into the maple fretboard. However the fretboard is only 3mm deep. The obvious (to me) solution is to centre the dots on the line between light and dark wood. Should I stay with 2mm, or get something bigger? Should they be black or white? 

    Time for a tried and tested approach - go and have a cup of tea, and if that doesn’t work have a beer and think about it over night. This is turning into a two pint problem.
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  • GuyBodenGuyBoden Frets: 534
    edited June 15
    Looking good, nice work on the neck. Neck building looks to be so difficult, I appreciate the skills involved, but it's way beyond my ability. Excellent work.

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  • RolandRoland Frets: 4067
    edited June 16
    Side dots and frets today. I decided to use 2mm black dots in the Maple fretboard, and line them up against the Maple/Ovangkol boundary. Nothing exciting. Today’s innovation was using a fret shaped caul in my drill press:



    It felt quite strange not using a hammer, with its tap tap Tap sequence. The drill press is much faster, and you don’t run the risk of deforming the fret profile. Still, it’s easy not to trust the new technology. I kept peering at the frets. They look tight, and don’t budge when I experiment with the hammer. I’ll file down the fret ends tonight, but will give the neck a chance to settle down before levelling.

    The fretwire is Jescar FW47095 EVO Gold. I like the colour and hardness. Those red handled cutters were bought specially to cut it, and don’t get used for anything else.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 4067
    A consequence of the lockdown is that my local diy sheds have stopped cutting sheet materials, and run out of mdf. The body template used up the last of my mdf, and I can’t buy any more. So I’m having to make neck and bridge templates out of the remnants. The neck cavity is routed to 19mm depth, which means that the fretboard just clears the body surface. The wood, whatever it is, machines beautifully. For the first time I can hold the body and know that the neck is in the right position.



    Next step is to route out a cavity so that I can inset the J-Custom bridge/tuner block by about 5mm. Before doing that I‘m pausing to confirm that I do actually want to use the J-Custom, rather than a surface mounted Hipshot which would be less work and lighter.

    The build is coming in at 3.5kg. That’s allowing for reducing the body thickness from the current 50mm, heavy chamfering, and hollowing out an oversize cavity for the controls
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  • DrBobDrBob Frets: 2358
    Looking killer !

    I’ve wanted a Klein since the 90s but it’s just never been feasible with their rarity/cost.

    Seeing what you’re achieving does make me wonder whether I could make one
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 4067
    @Dr Bob. The standard Klein design isn’t that difficult to build. You could buy a flat neck, ie not one with an angled Gibson style head, and cut the head off. You’d need the tools to cut your own body out of a slab of wood: jig saw, router and sander. All of the metal parts are available, although a workable tuner bridge isn’t cheap. 

    My problem is that I like trying different ideas. This time it’s a curve body, machine screws and inserts for the neck joint, some fancy pickups, and a modified control layout. I’ve spent two days sticking wooden knobs onto the body with double sided tape, and trying how they would work in different playing positions. I don’t like the 5-way switch over near the neck as it is in the Klein design,



    and if I put the switch behind or above the knobs then the control cavity has to be small and cramped, and there’s not a lot of wood around it



    Ash tells me the Brass Knuckle pickups are in the post. I’ll try them for size before finalising the control cavity shape and position. 
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 4067
    The pickups arrived in Saturday’s post, which allowed me to determine how thin I can make the body. I want to mount the pickups using threaded inserts, which means 35mm. Since I’ve got 50mm to play with I’m going to make the most of it, and curve the body in three dimensions around the player. So much for following the Klein design, but the end result should be even more ergonomic.

    With contour lines marked out I assembled the router planing frame and started work. My ancient router doesn’t have any form of chip extraction, so it’s messy work.


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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 2446
    Great progress so far, @Roland and I like the idea of 3D curves being added :)
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 19736
    I was going to say it's good to see something different being made here.

    But then I realised that most of the M&M builds are different in one way or another!

    So it's good to see one of these being made and your approach to solving the different challenges that this design creates.


    Tip for the extraction ... just clamp an extraction hose somewhere on your jig - probably towards the front as you've already got the barriers at the side/back, maybe to the underside of your sled.  It won't capture all the bits, but it'll grab a lot of them.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 4067
    I’ve tried clamping the vacuum hose to the jig, but it only picks up a small amount of the debris, and often gets it the way. Instead I clamp the hose to the workbench, or to the beam above it, leaving half a metre or so loose, and hoover over the jig between router runs.
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