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Tools of the Trade => Guitar Maintenance [fixing, cleaning, setup, action, intonation, playablility, buzz etc] => Topic started by: Vagabond on February 07, 2019, 03:17:21 am

Title: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: Vagabond on February 07, 2019, 03:17:21 am
I was asked to post pics of my guitar after asking about strings for it.  I am looking for advice on how to rebuild the homemade resonator into something that not only sounds good/better but also looks good and matches the rest of the guitar.

So this guitar is made from a factory rejected body and a after market neck, Epiphone Pro-Bucker pups, Grover tuners, 3 way pickup switch, push pull knobs, a generic tailpiece from Amazon and a janky homemade resonator.  All in all it has 8 tones to choose from but does have a few problems.

1.  The resonator is made from a cat food bowl placed in a 4 inch hole cut into the guitar, a metal guard off a computer fan, the lid of a cat food can, a badly cut piece of pine, and a butchered after market bridge.  It does resonate and the guitar sustains like nobody's business but with some notes and chords the resonator will have a slight rattle.  I believe that is because only the cat bowl is attached to the guitar with the fan guard sitting in it with the cat-food-lid-franken-bridge sitting on it all being held in place by the strings.  You can turn the  bridge with your hand which sharpens or flattens the E strings depending on which way you turn them.  Also I think the bridge isn't cut low enough so the strings get a lot further from the fret board as you move toward the body.  so I'm looking to replace it.

2.  The neck wasn't high enough due to the high bridge so it was modified with extra wood and longer screws to fix it. It is better and sturdy but on close inspection you can see it was amateurishly done.

Resonator Option 1:  I'm constricted by the 4 inch hole and the closeness to the bridge pickup.  Call me crazy but I'm thinking of using a brass replacement kitchen sink strainer to replace the cat bowl, a replacement acoustic guitar bridge or a jazz guitar bridge with roller saddles, a brass blank, and something to replace the computer fan guard, and a rosewood pen blank.  I also plan to lower the bridge to fix the string height issue near the body.  I'm also considering recessing a 4 inch brass hemisphere from a lamp to extend the resonator chamber down into the body more.   I've been reading up on resonator designs and I think this will work.

Resonator Option 2:  Remove the resonator completely and patch the hole with a wood blank then pain the whole body to mask what the previous owner did and put a new bridge on it.

Either way I plan to add a knock off Bigsby tremolo bar to it as I found one that matches the screw holes on the crappy tail piece. 

Anyway, if any of you have insight into resonators and can tell me if the kitchen sink strainer/brass hemisphere recessed in the body thing would work please let me know.

Also, I can't seem to figure out how to post the pics of the guitar and a closeup of the resonator.  Please help!
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: Fox Cunning on February 07, 2019, 10:49:14 am
I've absolutely no experience with resonator guitars, but I can tell you one way of posting pictures.
At least, the way I do it: upload a picture to http://imgur.com/ or https://imggmi.com/ and then share a link here, e.g.
Code: [Select]
[img]https://i.imgur.com/MTMhawl.jpg[/img]
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: LievenDV on February 07, 2019, 08:12:31 pm
oh damn I'm so curious now to see pictures! :)
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: DanniTSI3 on February 07, 2019, 11:10:28 pm
For some reason this thread had me so interested! I want to see this cat bowl contraption too!

Your guitar need a name, like mittens or whiskers

Sent from my [device_name] using JustinGuitar Community mobile app (http://JustinGuitar Community mobile app)
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: Vagabond on February 07, 2019, 11:43:45 pm
Here's the picks:

https://imgur.com/a/omTTPgL
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: batwoman on February 08, 2019, 12:02:33 am
Here's the picks:

https://imgur.com/a/omTTPgL

Amazing Vagabond!  With Imgur, you can get a code to paste into your message so it's embedded here. To do this, click on the image and you'll get a list of codes from which to choose. If you choose the last one, suitable for message boards, this works well. If folk want to enlarge the image they simply click on it.
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: Vagabond on February 08, 2019, 12:22:23 am
Amazing Vagabond!  With Imgur, you can get a code to paste into your message so it's embedded here. To do this, click on the image and you'll get a list of codes from which to choose. If you choose the last one, suitable for message boards, this works well. If folk want to enlarge the image they simply click on it.

Thanks, I hope you could see the photos.  The thing needs some tweaking and I've thought about changing the resonator out with one built from a brass kitchen sink strainer and a brass 4 inch hemisphere (from a lamp).  I think that may work better as I read up on resonators.


Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: batwoman on February 08, 2019, 12:27:39 am
Thanks, I hope you could see the photos.  The thing needs some tweaking and I've thought about changing the resonator out with one built from a brass kitchen sink strainer and a brass 4 inch hemisphere (from a lamp).  I think that may work better as I read up on resonators.

I think you are amazing and so creative. Yep I could see the photos.  Can't wait to hear it.
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: DanniTSI3 on February 08, 2019, 04:05:53 am
Wow! So ingenious! Now a vid on how it sounds!

PS. I'm not joking about the name! Please call your guitar Mr Whiskers!





Sent from my [device_name] using JustinGuitar Community mobile app (http://JustinGuitar Community mobile app)

Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: DavidP on February 08, 2019, 09:55:54 am
Thanks Vagabond ... looks pretty cool.

I'm curious how the resonator influences the amplified sound?  Or does it only come into play when playing the guitar unplugged?
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: Fox Cunning on February 08, 2019, 04:29:48 pm
Very cool and ingenious indeed! Now we want to hear it ;D
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: Vagabond on February 27, 2019, 06:48:30 pm
Thanks Vagabond ... looks pretty cool.

I'm curious how the resonator influences the amplified sound?  Or does it only come into play when playing the guitar unplugged?

It does add a hard to describe tone when playing acoustic.  I can touch the resonator while the guitar is sustaining the note and hear the tone change as I stop the mini-resonator from vibrating but the rest of the guitar cavity keeps going.  It doesn't seem to change the tone when playing electric.

I am having an issue with the neck.  The old man who built it used a Gibson LP replacement neck instead of a neck cut for a hollow body.  He used extra wood and a shim to raise the neck.  The neck is actually still too low but as I've been playing it the extra wood he used has shifted and the shim has bent the fret board so now the 15th to 22nd frets are not playable.  The neck has also twisted slightly so the fret is lower at the high E string and higher at the low E string.  The neck has also started to break loose from the body. 

So now I'm trying to decide whether to get a custom neck made or to just get a cheep DIY hollow body kit and move all the hardware to it and loose the resonator.  The body is still good, all the issues are from the neck.  I've had the thought to get a baritone neck made for it and have a baritone hollow body.

The old man refuses to talk to me or acknowledge that he made a mistake in the build.  All I wanted from him was some of the money back to cover the cost of getting a new neck.  I think his pride does not allow him to admit he messed up.  He just goes on about how much time and money he put into it.

Ah well.  Any ideas?
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: Vagabond on March 05, 2019, 03:45:44 pm
I took the guitar to a guitar tech instead of a Luthier to get a second opinion.  I'm waiting for him to look it over and call me.  I think at worst I'll need to replace the neck.  I'm thinking if I have to do that I'll try to get a custom baritone scale neck made for it.
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: Vagabond on March 19, 2019, 04:15:51 pm
Figured I'd just make a quick update - I found a Luthier in a smaller town that is willing to fix it properly and glue the neck making it into a set neck for $400, thats the best price I've found.  I just can't do it right now.  So I'm thinking of grabbing a vintage hollowbody that someone's ripped all the hardware out of and transfer my hardware to it.

I won't throw the this neck and body away, I'll just keep it until the day I can afford to fix it.
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: DavidP on March 19, 2019, 08:23:51 pm
Thanks for the updates.
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: Vagabond on March 21, 2019, 06:52:59 pm
Decided to fix the damn thing myself!

I don't like the idea of spending $400 to fix a guitar I purchased for $200 and I don't like the idea of scrapping such a beautiful looking guitar and moving the electronics to another guitar.  So I've decided to fix the neck and at the same time swap out the bridge and the resonator to something that not only looks better (i.e. like its supposed to be there) but also sounds better.  I believe I can do the repair on the neck and make a new resonator bridge for $60 - $80.  Here's how:

The Neck:
-  I experimented last night with coins from my daughters piggy bank and it looks like a wood shim the width of two stacked quarters will lift and arch the neck very close to where it should be. 
-  Another shim (just to fill the gap between the fret board and the body to fill the gap.  I can do this for under $10.  Just will take a little experimentation. 
-  I am also going to replace the nut with an adjustable brass nut with runs $22. 

The New Resonator: 
- Replace the stainless steel cat food bowl with a 100% brass container that is the needed 4.5" diameter and shallow enough (2.5") to fit in the cavity but is deeper than the cat bowl.  I also found a copper coated brass mini vase that would word as well with a skinnier neck widening into wider base at the bottom.  The vase would more closely resemble (very loosely) the resonator cone.  However I'm still deciding which one to use as I'm sure the radically different shapes will change the sound.  Prices are different on both.  This is where the price variance at the top comes in.
- Replacement rosewood biscuit bridge.  I mean after all it ought to look like an authentic mini resonator right?  This is $8
- Brass circular blank.  I'll use my sister-in-laws metal crafting tools to convert this into the traditional looking "spider web bridge" that I'll mount the biscuit bridge too.  These come in packs so I'll have plenty of them to experiment on to get the bridge height right.  I also have an adjustable height bridge I can use to modify the biscuit bridge if need by to adjust it.  I'll also user one of the blanks to create the cover.

So that's my crazy plan.  I'm going to do it in two phases.  First the neck with the existing cat bowl resonator.  Once that works (or if it doesn't) then I'll make the brass replacement resonator.

If you all are interested I'll take photos to post my progress.
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: DavidP on March 21, 2019, 07:23:55 pm
Sounds fascinating.  Please do post pictures.
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: Vagabond on March 29, 2019, 07:22:09 pm
Quick Update:

I bought a steel protractor and took some measurements.  The neck is a 1/2 inch too low and has a 0 degree tilt.  Not good!

After doing a hella lot of research I've decided on the following actions and have ordered the parts needed and the wood needed to fix the neck:
- remove the cat bowl resonator completely, it isn't adding volume and the metallic ringing on some notes is frankly annoying.
- modify a wooden acoustic guitar sound hole cover to hide the hole.
- replace the mangled non-adjustable bone bridge with a replacement brass archtop jazz bridge with roller saddles which will work better with the knockoff Bigsby tremolo.
- replace the bone nut with with an adjustable height brass nut.
- Switch from the heavy bottom steel strings to a lighter .009 - .046 bronze strings.
- Raise the neck a half inch and angle it back 4 to 5 degrees using a combination of a cut wooden door stop and a shim
- replace the silver volume/tone knobs with a set of handmade custom knobs that I've got to honor my father who died Thanksgiving morning. 

Sounds easy but I know its not.  I've decided not to glue the neck yet.  I want to replace the neck with one that has the same abalone that the guitar body has.  Once I can get that I'll glue the whole thing but that won't be for a couple months.  Its a better quality neck than the one on it and will look nicer.

I've been told setting and archtop neck is the hardest job on a guitar so if I pull this off I'll be very proud of myself and I'll have saved myself at least $300.  If not, then I'll by a DIY hollowbody with a set neck and move the hardware to it.  I hope to salvage this one though.

If you have any helpful tips please post them.  Thanks.
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: Endureth on March 30, 2019, 02:24:49 am
Here's the picks:

https://imgur.com/a/omTTPgL


Very cool
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: Vagabond on April 04, 2019, 06:08:32 pm
Here's a link to all the pics.  It shows the guitar and its oddness and its issues: https://imgur.com/a/p9X3Avy

The only thing thats changed while I'm waiting for parts to arrive is I'm thinking about replacing the neck with one that has the abalone trim like the body and hasn't had the height cut.  Ironically the neck needs raised almost exactly as much as the dude cut the neck down. 

Any ideas on how to remove the weird "L" shaped wood piece on the body where the neck attaches that has not purpose?
Title: Re: My Homemade Crazy Hollowbody with cat bowl resonator
Post by: DavidP on April 04, 2019, 07:17:34 pm
Thanks for sharing.  Back does look good. Find the homemade resonator quite bizarre.

Good luck as you progress.