Building a testbed guitar

I have started building electric guitars, but have been frustrated by the lack of good information about materials and in some cases, methods. I would like to be able to test them to grow my knowledge, and had the idea to build a test bed guitar.

One of my current builds is an unusual lap steel guitar, made to hang from a strap and play while standing. I have been impressed by the simplicity of these guitars, and so am riffing on those ideas. The foundational ideas for the test bed are to build from the stiffest, densest material I can since this seems to be the key to the most accurate representation of the vibration of the string (there are lots of reason to change the signal, but my working premise is that this should occur after the signal is captured in the pickup).

What I have come up with is a 40" long piece of rectangular steel tube (2"x4"), with 1/4" thick wall. Conceptually, this is the anvil that the string (hammer) will vibrate against. Now I need to turn that into a guitar that will be easy to modify. Then I’ll need to turn to data acquisition and analysis (including learning how to play it).

If this sounds interesting to you, I would love to hear from you.

Jim Stiles

This sounds interesting and would love to chat about this. I bet if you set up an informal meet up to talk shop about your ideas and others experience with guitar building it would be something of interest to the community.

Maybe “accuracy” is interesting to explore, but I don’t think it is at all clear what that means when it comes to a musical instrument. In the end you might find that you want what most everybody wants in an instrument - one that sounds how you want it to sound, plays well, and feels good. And in the case of an electric guitar, sounding how you want it to sound includes the effects, amps, cabs, etc.

You might want to ask who had our big CNC router before the Generator did … from what I remember, the previous owner was a guitar maker (and was local). That person might be a great source of info.

Apologies if you have already seen my previous reply to this message and the one to Dennis. I thought I had sent them to the correct addresses, but since they don’t appear in the message sequence on the forum, I figured I should try again. Hopefully I will get the hang of this interface sooner rather than later :frowning:

Gary - I would love to get together and chat. I live in St. Albans and don’t use the Generator shop space (I have my own). I would be happy to travel to Burlington, but am not in a position to host a discussion.

Dennis - I agree that accuracy (of the sort I am referring to) is not central to musicians who are making music. Making music can involve extraordinary precision, but is not always needed. Building complex high quality musical instruments (such as guitars) reliably and repeatedly pretty much does require accuracy. There may be exceptions, but luthiers could benefit greatly from the kind of information I would like to generate.


If you are a member this does not require a shop space to discuss cool ideas or have a general meetup to chat about such things.