V7 my first multiscale built, some years ago…
A, nowadays, well known metal act from Thessaloniki, Kin Beneath Chorus, starting to grow and I and there supporting, in my ways, this growth. I know these guys very well, for years – George Papas, one of the guitarists, is my logo designer, for which I am very thankful. The other guitarist is Anestis-Syd-Sidiropoulos, with whom some years ago we started designing his first 7 string multiscale guitar. His choices were a king V shape, 25’’ to 27’’ scales and an inverted Jackson Headstock. The vertical fret was my choice to be the 8th, because as a guitarist I thought it would be the most functional solution.
It’s clearly obvious in which instrument this guitar is based, although the alterations in the construction method, along with a multitude of tweaks all around the guitar, makes it distinctive and differentiates a lot the two instruments. I would like at this point, to give credits to Nick Pavlakis (drummer at the time of Kin Beneath Chorus) for his help in the headstock (more of that in a while).
Looking at my stored woods, I pick up three exceptional pieces. A big block of, at least, 50years old maple, a piece of wenge and one of mahogany. All of the them, very old and stored for many years in a solid, steady (humidity wise) environment. I am going to use the maple and the wenge to built the neck, for a neck through and the mahogany for the wings. At the same time, Anestis is searching for the top of the guitar and at his first attempt he chose, a thin 0.6mm layer of a very beautiful wenge. Although, I thought that it would not suit the construction I have in mind. On a second attempt, Anestis, finds a very beautiful piece of wenge, with a grain that will bring out the V shape of the guitar and will give us a 10mm top.
I start, by building the neck into dimensions, that can cover the 7string fretboard which, by the way, I built from exceptional quality, pure, black ebony. At this point, is where, in order to continue with the construction, a series of critical decisions have to be taken. Once again, Nick Pavlakis, comes to the rescue, by giving efficient and clever advices and solutions. Let’s see the issues we had so far and how we managed…
- Question No 1. In which angle the headstock is going to be tilted?The problem here is that, if this tilt is like all the standard guitars, and the majority of the multiscale on the market, with single angle (two side angle with the arris omnidirectional to the symmetry line of the neck), we’re going to have a triangular blank space between the end of the fretboard and the point the tilt starts, that means that as a 7 string, we’re going to end with a very long headstock. That long headstock will lead the guitar into unwanted frequencies. Furthermore, the aesthetics of the guitar, will be severelywounded by this design disharmony. For all those reasons, I decided to give the headstock a double angle, which tilts it backwards and then upwards by , achieving not only a phenomenal visual result, but also an even more stable headstock, while keeping the harmony of the overall design.
- Question No2. How we’re going to build the headstock? In order to form the whole headstock from the main neck beam, to avoid gluing maple extensions to the maple of the beam, that had to be at least 18cm wide. That’s absurd and against my philosophy to waste so much wood. At this point, Nick designed a headstock, mirroring the body, with two mahogany pieces on the sides (visible from the rear) and a 4mm Wenge top. The final result is not only beautiful, but extremely solid and stable as well.
- Question No3.How am I going to calculate the precise placement of the frets and How am I going to cut the fretboard accurately? The solution was given by an exceptional fret calculating program on the Internet (fret calculator), with which I print out an 1/1 copy of the fretboard. Now I have to built a tool to cut them. Eventually, instead of building a tool from scratch, I used an extremely accurate radial circular saw, with a special 0.6mm cutting disk attached.
- Question No4.Will, just gluing the top to the body, be enough? If I use a wooden block (as everyone uses) with a fixed width, because of the shape and geometry of the bezels (they start small, around 3m at the neck and they widen as they reach the end of the horns), at some point, near the end of the body, we would have visible, apart from the top wenge, the mahogany of the body as well. That was something that, on this guitar I didn’t see fitting visually at all. In simple terms, I wanted the top to follow the outer bezel line. So, I had to plan the top of the body at an angle defined by the triangle formed from the centre line of the body and the points of the horns, where the bezels start (outer line). The opposite had to be done to the top (wenge)as well, for them to match. The problem now was that I had to design the process, so I could have the maximum accuracy, and without having the proper tools.
Question No5.What does ‘‘proper tool’’ means? We can use two groups of facts to determine the proper tool for each job. The first group, includes critical facts and the other includes, all those facts, that show up according to the situation. In the first group, we have the fidelity of the final product -minimizing the chances for a mistake, the high quality of the final product and most important, keeping safe from any possible accidents, during the prosses. The second group, which includes the first, also includes factors like time taken until completion, total cost, how many workers etc. Taking out the time factor and having only a router with a 12mm bit, I built my own assembly. It was actually a πshaped arrangement, consisted of the base and two vertical walls with different height, in order to create the angle I wanted. I attached the router on two aluminium beams and I clamped the guitar at the base of this assembly. In that way, I planed the top on one side. Next step was to clamp the guitar and to the other side as well. The same was for the top wenge. The final splicing was astonishing, so that, when I slid the pieces together, they remained attached, even without glue! Highest CNC accuracy with actually, no equipment. The only catch here is, that the measurements taken and the building of the initial assembly, were meticulously beyond any imagination, therefore, time consuming.
- Tuners: Hipshot Classic Open Gear 18:1
- Nut: handmade out of phosphor bronze
- Frets: Sintoms Pyramid Shape 2,8 x 1,4 R1,25 – nickel silver with 18% nickel content.
- Pickup: Seymour Duncan Nazgûl™.
- Bridge: ABM 3210b Black single bridges.
- Controls: fully shielded cavities with bronze leaf, welded by hard with solder
- Side mark points: Luminlays fluorescent position marks green.
My own impression.
I was always quite worried about the intonation of this instrument, throughout the whole construction period, even more because it was my first multiscale. Finally, with the guitar complete and set up before me, I have to say that I cannot describe how satisfied I am. The intonation is perfect and the tone is amazing. The feeling when holding this guitar, is quite heavy. It is a very solid and robust instrument, that gives a massive feedback to the player. It is more of a ‘‘weapon’’ rather than a mediocre piece of musical gear hanged from a holder in some music shop. The weight is balanced, a little bit to the heavy side and the balance when suspended on the belt is quite neutral. The only thing I can say for sure, is that this guitar was built for Big guys, because me, being a small guy, while building this guitar, I was thinking of Zakk Wylde playing this guitar.
I had an extensive photo gallery of all the stages of the construction, but while fishing for squids one night in Cavomaleas, my phone and therefore all the pictures, vanished at the bottom of the sea. The only photos I have are the ones, OrfeasHorinopoulos, took somewhere in Thessaloniki.