Demos (OM Hybrid & OM Durian)

Gotta thank my buddy, Kuan Eng of Malayan Guitars for introducing Andrew Cheng to me. Brilliant and talented guitarist, who was kind enough to record a demo of our guitars.

Both these guitars are fitted and recorded with the Supernatural Super Discreet Power (Face Sensor) versions, going through Andrew’s pedal chain (more details in the YouTube links) into an audio interface.

Give them a listen and let me know what you think!
Don’t forget to give a thumbs up to the videos if you like them and subscribe to Andrew’s channel for more guitar gear content.

Sitar

This project has finally come to be. It has been a long desire of mine to produce something not done before; an original design. This is a product of an obsession with Indian Fusion Music, and a fondness of the unique and magical sounds of the Traditional Indian Sitar.

This took almost a year from developing the initial ideas to the final product you will see later in this post. I was fortunate enough to be handed an old broken Sitar by my friend, Samuel J. Dass, a prominent musician who runs his music school teaching traditional classical music and the likes of it. I took it apart to study its construction, bouncing ideas off with Sam himself before settling on the first design.

Mid construction of the first one, I discovered some issues which would deem the instrument unusable, so the first one was scrapped. A few months later after rethinking ideas and methods, I finally managed to come up with what we see here. It’s still not perfect, but this prototype allowed us to determine what worked, what didn’t quite, and what would make it a better playing and sounding musical instrument.

I’m not the type to boast, but man, I am proud of this one, and I think it looks absolutely killer!

Construction is primarily Monkeypod (Raintree), a laminated Rock Maple/Malaysian Blackwood neck with a laminated Rengas/Malaysian Blackwood neck. The stiffness off the neck has allowed the sustain and intonation of the notes to be a huge improvement over traditional Sitars. The thinner, Monkeypod top has allowed the instrument to be far louder as well.

Needed some extra help to set this up, so I had to leave it with Sam for a few days to get that sorted out. After this, I promise never again to complain about restringing or refretting a guitar.,

I’m looking to get this recorded sometime soon after the final setting up is done. Till then, have a great day!

Hybrid Prototype

I am going to stop apologizing for the lack of updates as it is happening too often. But I have been busy in the workshop with students and developing new ideas and working on a couple of personal projects.

Today we look at my take on a hybrid guitar, something which I have always wanted to do but never got around to it. The final push came when a friend of mine, whom my 12-stringer was loaned to asked if I could design something more portable; that he could strap on and carry while he moved around on his motorcycle. I got back to the drawing board and started drawing up new ideas on its design and how to amplify it.

My requirements were; it had to be light and easy to carry around (of course), it had to be somewhat durable and be able to take some beating and hold up well when you carry it around for gigs, it had to sound great like a proper acoustic guitar amplified, and it had to look like a regular acoustic guitar (from the front at least). So it came down to this, enjoy the pictures!

It’s got a thin, 50mm-thick hollowed out body CNC-assisted to cut out of a solid Mahogany block, a striped Monkeypod top, slotted headstock on a solid Mahogany neck, Malaysian Blackwood fretboard, bridge and detailings. Jescar Evo Gold fretwires, Bone nut & saddle, Japanese Gotoh open gear machine heads and wooden bridge pins.

The arm bevel was added for added comfort while playing seated. The shorter, 24.75” scaled fretboard added to its already easy playability, and also lent an added compactness to shorten the entire length of the guitar.

For amplification purpose, I went with Supernatural* by Bradley Clark (of course), the version with a top sensor and 9 presets. I had to modify the original preamp design to make it fit into this body. Sounds amazing when amplified, just like a properly amplified full bodied acoustic guitar. (This guitar is surprisingly pretty loud acoustically as well)!)

*30 July 2022: I have a brand new batch of pickups shipped in if you are looking for them! Please e-mail me for more information. Stocks are extremely limited due to the worldwide chip shortage.

I designed this to be a workhorse, gig-ready machine, so I added a passive pickup system as well, just in case the player runs out of power mid-gig with no spare battery on hand.

You can choose to use either the active Supernatural, or the passive K&K style system, or blend them both depending on your gigging needs.

I chose a slotted headstock to relief the guitar of some weight. The position of the tuners also keep it from being knocked out of tune when you stuff the guitar into a gig bag. The rear of the guitar allows access to the preamp, a quick battery swap and a bigger hole for future repairs and servicing of the pickups and other electronics:

This is a project I would very much like to develop further in the future. Perhaps also to add in a mechanism for a removable/collapsible neck, we’ll see. Here are some pictures of the work in progress:

Hollowing out the body by CNC
Braced and designed like an acoustic, only with a thinner body.
Detailings, purflings and binding.
Before sanding
Arm bevel added
First coat of tobacco sunburst
Final fitting of electronics

Thanks! Hope you enjoyed the pictures. The next post will be something exciting and far more complex!

EDIT/UPDATE:
Sound demo by Andrew Cheng

First Electric Guitar

Apologies as I have been missing once again for the longest time. I’ve been busy working on learning up the design and programming skills for the CNC and Laser machines that we just got.

On the side, I’ve been busy working on a 12-String Guitar order from a client, and also this electric guitar. How this guitar began was merely a request I made to Jeff to show me the techniques needed to produce a carved top guitar. One thing led to another, and before I knew it I was working on putting together a 7-String, Carved Top, Double Cutaway Electric Guitar.



This would not be the first electric I have ever made, but it is the first electric that I’ve made for myself. I’ve made a couple over a decade ago and also put together quite a few during my days at The Acoustic Shack.

The body is of Khaya Mahogany, one of my favorite woods to work with, producing very clean cuts, and turning into a nice golden brown when finishing is applied (not seen here bough). The top is a gorgeous book matched Angsana top, also one of my favorite woods to work with.

The slab
Cutting out the rough shape with a bandsaw
Routing cavities

How did the choice of a 7-String come about? Jeff had lots of 7-String hardware lying around, mostly of old projects in the past. Also, I’ve never had a 7-String before, only owning a Les Paul, Stratocaster and an Ibanez RG.

Putting it all together

For the neck, I went with the usual 7-piece laminated Nyatoh neck used on the acoustics. They are far more stable and sturdy, making it the ideal choice.

The lizard inlay has no reason behind it. There were a few of these lying around, so I decided to get it carved out on the CNC as practice.


Inlay
Angsana top after first coat of lacquer
Spraying a Tobacco Burst
Round 2 of lacquer on
After sanding and buffing it up

Pretty happy with the outcome of this, totally unexpected as I didn’t even think it would be a complete guitar. It’s been quite enjoyable and a pleasure to work on this, and I might have to rethink my initial decision to only build acoustics. But we’ll see about that.

Here is the complete guitar, and once again, I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I have enjoyed building this guitar.

Getting my buddy Tim who is a genius on electronics to wire it up. Then it’s off to my buds Brandon Gomez and Kieran David for some recording in the studio.

Have a great day.

JJ Mango 12-String completed!

Finally managed to get this strung and set up, and also to finally take proper photographs of it. I am very pleased with the results, lots of sustain and resonance. At the bottom of this post you will find a video of a quick recording I have managed to do with it, with special thanks to Jeff Yong for playing it. I busted a finger on my right hand when i got it sandwiched between a couple of bricks while helping with some light construction, so no playing for a while. That said, I’ll be fine, just give it a week to heal.

I hope you do enjoy the pictures as much as I have enjoyed building this guitar.

Sound port and beveled armrest. The sound port brings the sound closer to the player, and the armrest ensures hours of comfortable playing.

The end graft is inspired by my bud Karan Singh at Bigfoot Guitars, I think its an extremely neat and simple design, without appearing too easy to make. I love it!

The video I promised: