“The Stick” – Streamlined Electric Guitar

No box, no plate, no bowl, no cap—only the stick. I wanted to deliver a project with a purely minimalistic design and using the neck stick without the fanfare of having something to attach it to seemed like the way to go. This one took some thought; it has been sitting next to my bench, at various levels of progress, for months as I was completing other projects. Recently, I found a solution to the problem that was holding me up, so here’s “The Stick”:

The neck/body is a solid length of 1×2 maple and the back cover plate is a length of 1/4×2 oak. I’ve used maple for the necks on my past few guitars, and have been impressed by its resilience, but between the two pickups, the two switches and the 1/4″ jack the 1×2 has been turned to Swiss cheese. I’m writing this as I’m applying the vinegar and steel wool finish, so I’m not sure what’s going to happen when I tune it up. Based on my previous experiences with this maple, the remaining wood should hold given that it will also be reinforced by the oak cover plate. Time will tell…

I decided to install two JSA Nd144 Electromagnetic Cigar Box Guitar Pickups in this guitar. Although I wanted a minimalistic design, I still felt it would be cool to add two pickups with selector switches to make things interesting. I found two micro mini SPST switches on Radio Shack’s site, which helped make this feature possible. I wanted to keep the sides of the stick as clean as possible so I located the switches between the tuners and the rebar bridge. They fit nicely between the spaces in the strings and stayed consistent with the top profile.

For the tuners, I went with the usual Simple Machines (three-hole angle, fabricated thumb screws, steel spacers and rod nuts), since it will keep the components up top and the sides clean. These machines work well in tight spaces and offer a variety of installation locations. Plus, I like the idea of assembling and using my own tuners.

The headstock bears my Staggered Blades logo, which is now carved with a slight bevel to make the blade appear more realistic. The strings are fastened with three stainless steel bolts and brass knurled nuts with brass washers. The nut and bridge are cut from 1/2″ rebar. The headstock strap is made from traditional, gray duct tape and a short binding screw.

Placement of the 1/4″ jack was the most difficult part of this project. The endpin jack that I usually use didn’t work with the thickness of the maple neck/body and if it would have been located at the end of the guitar, it would reduce the stability of the tuning machines by a factor of one center screw. A store bought 1/4″ jack requires about 5/8″ to 3/4″ of interior space then necessitates that one find an installation plate small enough to fit within the confines of the neck/body and cover plate, but large enough to cover the hole.

With these parameters in mind, I decided to make my own 1/4″ jack. I had a 1/4″x 3/4″ steel spacer and a picture hanger laying in the mess on my bench, so I grabbed my tin snips and a roll of electrical tape. Inspection of a store-bought jack revealed that the grounding tab must make contact with the housing, while the hot tab must be isolated from the housing. This prototype eventually became the Jack pictured above.

Follow this link to view detailed, step by step instructions related to making this homemade, space-saving 1\4″ jack:

This homemade 1/4″ jack made all of the difference. It fit perfectly on the side of the guitar and when the oak cover was installed on the back it looked like it was made for the space. The wiring process was time-consuming and required patience, as each wire had to be soldered to the 1/4″ jack and then run through all of the holes simultaneously as it was slowly pushed into the hole.

There was very little room in the electrics cavities so there was no room for excess wire. All wires were cut exactly to length and the 1/4″ jack and switches had to be soldered outside of the installation holes. To ensure the longevity of the contacts, all solder joints were reinforced with hot glue. The oak cover plate fit well, but the center area, just above the wires, had to be scalloped in order to accommodate the extra bulk.

Additional accessories include the oak cover plate which was fastened with flat furniture screws, the rebar bridge and nut, the strap button made from a brass knurled nut and stainless security bolt and the strap and headstock strap made from duct tape.

The oak cover plate went well with the maple neck and also offered additional reinforcement.

The rebar bridge and nut raised the action to that of a steel guitar, though it can still be strapped on like a guitar.

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The knurled nut and security bolt look cool and offer solid strap support and the strap is made from printed burlap patterned duct tape.

Here’s a quick and dirty video for your listening pleasure:

Thanks,

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