View Full Version : Another electric steel string tenor!

05-01-2017, 04:35 AM
Electric tenors appearing everywhere, rather like the proverbial Number 8 bus!
Some background to this one : I have a Risa "kidney bean" electric steel string tenor I use in our ukulele band - it's a really great instrument, but as my fingers have become more arthritic I have problems with the 10 mm string spacing at the bridge and the relatively narrow neck. Then along came this thread which alerted me to Almuse pickups which are hand made here in the UK specifically for smaller instruments, and which have up to 13 mm pole spacing http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?124497-Tenor-ukulele-solidbody

I bought the "Aggressor" 4-wire bridge humbucker which actually has 12mm pole spacing, but wide pole screwheads which work fine with strings spaced at 13 mm. The service from Pete Mallinson at Almuse was excellent - highly recommended.

The body shape was inspired by my Guild S60 guitar.


Finding a commercial bridge with 13 mm string spacing proved impossible and I was about to make my own when I discovered individual string bridges on eBay. These cost under 12 a set courtesy of Black Dog Music, who also supplied the neck screws and string ferrules. Individual bridges are more troublesome to ground, and I used a 0.2 mm brass plate underneath them with a ground wire back to the control cavity.

99780 99781 99782 99783

Shame about the 3rd string ferrule! I used a rather flexible extra-long 2mm drill to go through from the front, and it drifted off line.

This is a utility instrument for my personal use, so I wanted to keep it simple and use whatever vaguely suitable pieces of wood I happened to have around. I didn't have anything thick enough for the body, so it is glued up from a sycamore plank (found years ago in my daughters garden shed) and a chunk of a mahogany mantelpiece. I still needed a few more mm body thickness though, so decided to use a rather beautiful orphaned Tasmanian blackwood guitar back for the top.

A scrap ukulele back contributed the walnut control cavity cover, and the sapele neck came from a walk-in wardrobe door. The ebony fingerboard was a B grade guitar item with rather too many defects.

The aesthetics of all the different woods are questionable, but I think it it looks OK from the front and anyway it plays well and sounds great which is what matters! The 4-wire humbucker is wired up for series/parallel and coil tap switching, so there is enough tonal variation for me not to miss the twin pick ups of the Risa.

05-01-2017, 01:58 PM
This is so beautiful!

05-01-2017, 02:12 PM
Very nice work! No question about the wood choices, I like it.

Jim Hanks
05-01-2017, 03:04 PM
That's some funky goodness right there. :cool:

05-02-2017, 06:06 AM
Thanks all. This is my first and only solid body instrument of any description, so wasn't sure how it would all turn out. Fortunately there is such a huge amount of info out there about building solid body electric guitars - I cherry picked a few great ideas about simple jigs & methods for routing the neck pocket, pickup & control cavities. In the process I became addicted to the Crimson Guitars you tube videos because I just love Ben Crowes presentation style. I came up with a few solutions of my own as well.

I forgot to mention in my opening post - for the benefit of those of us in the UK without economical access to the wonders of Stew Mac and the like, I sourced a number of parts from Tonetech in Stockport:
In particular, a 300 mm long double acting truss rod which fitted my neck dimensions a treat with the nut sitting flush to the end of the neck, and individual left & right Gotoh guitar tuners which are good quality items and saved the cost of buying a set of six.