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Thread: Fanned-Fret Conversion Strat Neck

  1. #1
    Member B'Lark's Avatar
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    Fanned-Fret Conversion Strat Neck

    Why hello there everyone, I've got a quick project that I'm gonna document here because why not!

    So I've had the plan to do a similar full build along these lines, but alas money is not kind enough to cover a full build right at the moment. So I am going to be making just a neck for my Squier Vintage Modified 70s Strat, since the neck on it just wasn't doing it for me.

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    Now it is also a Fanned fret neck, but one that will be a direct retrofit for the guitar as it stands. The couple of technical specs, 25" - 25.5" scales and will be perpendicular at the bridge, and everything else should basically be the same. Woods are also going to be Qld Maple for the neck itself, and QLD Walnut for the fretboard (which I am going to Ebonize, so that I end up with an all black guitar)

    So, being a straight headstock instead of scarfing it this time, that was pretty easy. Measured the depth of the truss rod down, and bandsawed off a chunk of the top. After that routed in the truss rod channel, and hit it with the spindle sander to get the curve down. I think next week I'll also chisel it down to make it match the angle of the nut too

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    Then prep'd the fretboard to be cut. Again it's pretty straight forward so far, just planed down one edge to flat to keep it solid in the slotting jig next week. This time though I've drawn the lines on the wood itself instead of gluing on the fretboard template. We'll score the lines in before cutting it just to make sure it's all nice and easy.

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    And that'll be all for today. Gotta wait on a Truss rod and a new fretsaw, hopefully that'll all be here next week and we can get most of the way done

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  3. #2
    Member B'Lark's Avatar
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    Huzzah more progress. Felt kinda minor today just looking at things, but cutting fanned frets takes too much time haha

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    Frets all cut. Walnut and a brand new fretsaw made it much less painful than last time, having to move the jig for every single fret still gets kind of tedious though

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    Made a little MDF template of the original neck's heel. That was also so much easier than last time too (since I had to do that from scratch). Then routed the neck heel on to the new neck blank and hey presto, new neck heel that's a perfect fit.

    Fun stuff next week!! Gluing them together, sorting out the headstock. Might be able to slot two lessons in and have it totally done next week!! Excitement!!!

  4. #3
    Overlord of Music FrankenWashie's Avatar
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    Nice work B'Lark, the blank seems a tad oversize, fair bit of stock removal to do. How do you calculate all the angles and positioning for the frets?
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  5. #4
    Overlord of Music Simon Barden's Avatar
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    You only really need draw lines on the fretboard where the top and bottom E strings will sit on the fretboard, then mark on the fret positions for each string at the relative scale lengths of 25" and 25.5", then simply join the dots - the angles look after themselves.

    Hopefully B'Lark hasn't measured the scales at the edges of the fretboards, but hopefully 2mm or so in, otherwise he'll end up with a very slightly longer scale on the top E and a very slightly shorter scale on the bottom E than he was expecting.

  6. #5
    Overlord of Music FrankenWashie's Avatar
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    So the 1st string is at 25" scale and the 6th at 25.5" relative to the bridge and the ADGB fall between the two yeah?
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  7. #6
    Overlord of Music Simon Barden's Avatar
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    Yes. That's how I'd do it. Of course you can do any fan fretting design by deciding on the two scale lengths then picking start and end points for the first and last frets. But if they are all slanted (so \ at one end and / at the other), then it just makes it a bit harder to get a suitable bridge that has enough adjustment to cope. You can of course slant your bridge, but the more you slant it, the narrower the relative string spacing becomes, (and any pre-cut slots wouldn't work) so you'd either need to find an extra long bridge or make your own. On basses, you can use the individual string anchor bridges, but I haven't seen anything similar for guitars (though there probably are some lurking out there that I haven't seen).

  8. #7
    Member B'Lark's Avatar
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    Washie: I get them with a wonderful online app called FretFind2D (http://www.ekips.org/tools/guitar/fretfind2d/) It's totally customizable, and then I just exported what I wanted to a PDF and took it in to Officeworks and got them to print it out.

    And yea still a bit of work to do on the stock. Unfortunately there was a crack in one end of the wood, so the headstock is going to end up around the wrong way and won't fit as it is, so will also have to glue some of the wood from one side on to the other. But fortunately, I'll be able to whip up a routing template for the headstock using the Strat's headstock, so shaping it will be a piece of cake.

    And yep Simon, I've always got that little bit in my mind. My first fretboard blank for my other Multiscale build was done measuring along the edges, then tried to line it up with the printed out template and got super confused as to why they didn't line up with one another. So it's now something that I always keep track of. And since FF2D makes you choose the overhang I do also know exactly how far in the nominal scale lengths are too.

  9. #8
    Overlord of Music Simon Barden's Avatar
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    Glad you're on the ball, B'Lark. A useful bit of software.

  10. #9
    Member B'Lark's Avatar
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    Gosh, I'm so good at keeping projects going aren't I.

    So I'm getting back in to building things. Got my life a bit sorted, got a job and dropping my uni load a little to help give me a little more time to work on things, and this is one that needs finishing because I love my Strat's pickups, but don't like the neck.

    Now, a couple of little things have changed since last time I posted, I was originally planning on making it 22 frets, and extending the fretboard out over the heel, but I decided that would be too much faffing about and I couldn't be bothered doing that, plus I'm not usually THAT pressed for the extra frets.

    I had another lesson a couple of weeks back but naturally forgot to take any photos. In lieu of those, a recap is in order: I ended up doing a lot of organisation things, ensuring everything was lined up, gluing an extra piece of wood to the headstock, as I originally copied it down upside down from how I want it to be and wasn't going to have enough wood there. And finally also routing the fretboard to the neck heel, and planing down the edges of the fretboard down straight and true!

    Then today:

    First thing that needed to be done was get the headstock extension down flat with the rest of the wood, with a dodgy spokeshave and a spindle sander. No pictures because I remembered halfway through the lesson that I probably should do that

    Following that, we cut off a piece of Walnut to use as a headstock veneer, sanded it down to half a millimetre, then stuck it and three other veneers on the headstock, because the headstock was a little bit thin initially.

    The brain-teaser we had was "how are we gonna get these veneers to sit nicely in the curves that have been sanded in?" Fortunately Matt had some little pads around, meant for guitar cases and such, which in combination with a few bits of wood did the job fairly nicely. I really do hope it does stay that way, but it seems all functional for now.

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    And alright, it's not exactly glamorous at the moment, but hey, when ever are half-finished projects. I'm still really happy that the veneer does go all the way up over the curves pretty much as I wanted.

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  11. #10
    Member B'Lark's Avatar
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    Then while that was drying, I started fretting!! I did also have to tidy the edges of the fretboard up a little, I'd been a little sloppy in matching the routed heel with the rest of the neck, but nothing that a few passes with a planer couldn't fix.

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    And totally done, that's a wrap, perfect neck.

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    I may have run out of time to even clip the ends of the frets but that will be a super easy job next week.

    Should not be too much more to go after this. Will have to clean up the ends of the fretboard in order to get it fitting nicely with the veneers on top, clear the truss-rod channel back out, glue the fretboard on, shape the headstock (i.e. rout straight from my Strat's headstock so that will be SUCH a piece of cake), rout the neck to the fretboard, shape it and then hopefully, happy days. May my prototype be as good as I hope it to be.

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