A brand new design added to my catalog, the Kronos shape seems to be fairly versatile in regards to different set-ups and genres - anything from jazz to thrash metal to possibly even some country twang.
The following shots feature the initial contouring stage. I use a router to get some of the wood out of the way in a hurry so I can take over with a grinder and rasps. Just using a round-over bit by itself is too mechanical for my tastes... it's not organic enough. Once I start sculpting the comfort contouring on the belly-cut and forearm areas, the other contours will blend and play off those. The guitar really takes on a life of its own at that stage. It's a lot of work - elbow grease, constant observation, and lots of aesthetic choices - but it's well worth the effort in the end.
This is a one-piece walnut top, if you haven't noticed. There's a touch of sapwood along the edges, but that'll disappear the more I carve it down by hand.
The main body is constructed of a wood called "soft maple" around here. It's a local wood that I procured from Steve Chapman's sawmill and I'm so far very impressed with its characteristics. It's dense, but not as dense as, say, Eastern rock maple. Soft maple has a nice, pleasant tap tone to it. In the process of working with it, I notice what sounds my hands make on particular pieces of wood and this one sounded very lively, especially so as I began hollowing it and refining the interior.
This is a 25" scale neck that I was originally building as a conversion neck for a Fender. I decided it would work perfectly with this Kronos. I like the association of the stinger on the butt-end of the body with the point on the headstock - they almost seem like they were designed by the same guy!
Note the type of bridge I have planned for this guitar. It's a floating bridge, much like that of a jazz archtop, only this top will be flat where the bridge is located. With a string-through arrangement for the string ends, placed so they emerge from the body in the best spot to create the optimum break-over angle, this set-up really works nicely, although it's not as robust for rock'n'roll as a bolted-down, cast hardtail bridge might be, but this isn't really that kind of guitar.
Or is it?
Les Claypool does quite nicely with his basses that feature just such a set-up, constructed by Carl Thompson. Fun stuff.
There are 22 frets in the photo, but I'm going to cut that down to 21. Egad, you say. How will I play those screamin' highs? I won't. I don't. And you probably don't either. Much. I want to get the neck pickup as far up the strings as I can to tap into that mellow jazz tone.
In the process of final assembly and setup, I wanted to document this guitar in this state, before it was completely assembled.
I've completely changed my mind about the neck for this guitar. The upper horn lends itself so well to balancing a longer neck that I decided to use a neck that I've had hanging around waiting for the right instrument. It's a 25.5" Fender scale, 24 frets, with a drop-down 3x3 headstock sporting my logo in goldleaf under the Tru-Oil finish. That's a longish neck that risks being neck-heavy on any other guitar. It's constructed of walnut with some black-dyed maple laminated in and carved asymmetrically. Nice neck. I'll leave the other photos with the previous neck in place on this page, as a testimonial to my adaptability, though. :)
The finish I've used on both neck and body is my usual Tru-oil finish, although for this one, I decided not to put on as many coats and fill the grain as I usually do. I like it. The back wood is soft maple that I've stained a bit. The natural color is a buff tone, but I wanted a little more drama. The slight figure on the bellycut side is quite stunning in person. It really accentuates the carved contours of the guitar.
I was planning on doing a similar bridge setup to my Del Fuego, but decided on a floating bridge instead, although I inlaid a piece of ebony into a cavity I routed, so the bridge - resting on that piece of ebony - will remain just a little more bump-proof than usual. The more rugged construction will allow this guitar to be thrashed on a little more without changing the intonation. As I've mentioned before, I'm a huge jazz guitar fan and like to build my guitars with jazz playing in mind - traditional, contemporary, or fusion - though they can certainly be used for any other genre. I've been told by some that P90 pickups aren't exactly jazz-oriented and I have to ask back, "When were you born?" P90s have been a jazz staple for decades. They're one of my favorite pickups of all time and even the installation lends itself to my contoured guitars.
If you've noticed the small holes on back, those are simply locators for the original allen screws I had planned on installing to adjust the original bridge like on the Del Fuego mentioned above. I can still install a bridge like that in this guitar, though I'll cover those holes with small black-finished screws.
The controls of this guitar are one simple volume knob and a 3-way pickup selector switch. I like simplicity. As I've mentioned elsewhere, if you play with a wah-wah pedal, you've already got a tone control in your drivetrain, so another on the guitar isn't always necessary. I do install them most of the time, but this is just not one of those times. You may have also noticed that I'm not putting a control panel cover on, because, well... there's no control box. I'm installing the controls through the jack hole on back that gets covered with a Strat-style boat-shaped jack plate. Some folks like it back there. Some don't. It solves a couple issues for me.
The string-through element of this guitar is the same as the Del Fuego, with a brass plate and attached groundwire under the walnut insert on back. It's an elegant, homegrown solution, which is something I prefer a good amount of the time.
Guitar hardware has evolved to be rugged and practical, which is a good thing, but sometimes my preference is for something even simpler and more unique than that. It's not about which is better, just more personal and meaningful to me, the craftsman. If there's no detriment to the sound, the sustain, or the playability, then why NOT incorporate something more organically designed? In fact, I really like the way a guitar with a wooden bridge and tailpiece sound. Stringed instruments on the whole have been using 'em for centuries.
Here's what I have in mind for this guitar:
semi-hollow soft maple w/1-piece walnut top
Neck: walnut w/black-dyed maple, drop-down 3x3 headstock, dual-action trussrod
Fretboard: rosewood, 24 frets, 12" radius
Pickups: black P90s
Switching: volume w/3-way pickup selector
wooden floating bridge
Tuners: black Grover 3x3
Finish: Tru-oil over all
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