So here's another TMI guitar I made about a month ago and has been in the shop for people to try out. I'll be announcing my plans for TMI stuff very soon but until then here's the details on this particular one.
This was another idea I've had in my head for some time. I've owned guitars similar to this idea before and one of my favourites was a Wandre which uses an aluminium neck and centre spine that builds a plastic body around this mechanism.
I had intended on buying some aluminium box section to use as my "spine" but after looking around I couldn't find the exact dimensions I wanted and then this extrusion hit me.
This is a high grade aluminium extrusion used for 3D printers and CNC machines and comes in LOTS of sizes. It's listed as it's dimensions and this one 3060 meaning it's 30mm high and 60mm wide. It's very light and very strong (stiff) as it can't flex when being used in things like CNC machines. It's also pretty cheap so it was the perfect material for making my guitars spine out of.
The idea of this is, like the Wandre, the aluminium spine takes all the string tension and the body can essentially float there, around it.
The neck, bridge and tailpiece are all securely attached to the extrusion and then I built the body around it. The extrusion "slides" into the body and was lightly glued to stop it moving or vibrating. The neck is attached to the extrusion like a normal bolt on neck, with the screws running through the anchor parts of the extrusion and the bridge is attached to a block of aluminium I set into the body that sits on the extrusion. The tailpiece is attached to the extrusion with two hardwood plugs set into it and the strap button is just bolted to the tailpiece.
The body is made from laminated wood like my other TMI guitars with 2mm ABS plastic top and back and is completely hollow. It doesn't have, or need a lot of it's own strength as all the tension is on that extrusion.
The body is traced off one of my Mosrite Celebritys because, well, I love the shape and I'm constantly inspired by Mosrite in all my guitar building ventures (no pun intended)
The pickups are my hand made T-90's and surrounds and don't attach to the extrusion at all. I wanted to make the pickups "floating" as well so using standard P-90 mounting screws would have attached the pickups to the extrusion.
The neck is my usual TMI neck I get rough made for me and do the final shaping and finishing here at the workshop to save me time and allow me to make these guitars with the limited time I have. The neck plate is made from scrap aluminium and cut into the shape Mosrite used on most of their guitars and basses.
The bridge is one of my TMI bridges although with a pre-made base plate as I haven't got around to designing them yet. I'm hoping to run these bridges on most of my TMI builds when I get time to finish the design properly.
The scratchplates are hand cut aluminium based again on the Mosrite designs to keep the Celebrity look going.
So ..... how does it sound I hear you ask?
It sounds like a hollow body guitar. It has great attack and sustain without sounding too metallic. The body does resonate but not like a normal 335 style hollow body. It doesn't vibrate as much as one and has a more open sounding resonance to it. The pickups sound clear and strong and don't pick up the aluminium vibration and resonance like they would if they were attached directly to the extrusion.
Over the years I've made guitar bodies out of lots of materials from plastics to acrylics to plywood and MDF. I don't personally subscribe to the myth that body material effects the tone negatively to great degree. My Dan Armstrong sounds AWESOME, and it's acrylic. My Wandre sounded AWESOME and it was plastic. I've made acrylic, laminated, masonite, MDF and even pallet bodies that sound great and I've made hybrid bodies that sound as good as any I've heard, from any manufacturer or era. For me, in the pie graph of what makes a solid body electric sound like it does, the body is a VERY small piece of the pie indeed.
I'm going to mess around with this idea more but I'm currently trying to get a small "production" of TMIs off the ground to sell in the shop. This will include a "shop model" and commission designs as well as signature models, all still completely made by hand by me, but, that's all about to be announced so until then, enjoy this.