Is That A Fret Scale in Your Pocket or Are You Just Glad To See Me?
The Story of the Revelator 8 Guitar Neck (Part 1)
Sure, it seems like a simple enough concept right, just add two more strings to a 6 string guitar right? What could possibly go wrong?
Well that’s what I thought at first when I was approached by Drew Creal to design his Signature Pasquale Revelator 8 String Guitar. I mean, the physics of all stringed instruments in the modern western musical temperment are pretty much the same right, so how hard could it be to just add more strings? We had already successfully launched our Revelator 7 Guitar the year before at the Chicago Guitar Show so was it really a challenge to add one more string to our already existing templates?
Well let’s just say that there are always new challenges that lie ahead no matter what you are doing.
For our next step into extended range instruments we really wanted to expand our musical frequency and potential so we went for the big guns and decided to use a 27.5” fret scale to really bring out the low frequencies in the bottom register. This is a full 2” longer scale than our Revelator 7 guitar which was designed to bring a 7 string guitar experience while still feeling like a 6 string guitar. The Revelator 8 was definitely taking things to the next level.
Once we decided on the scale size I tracked down a 27.5” fret scale template from Luthier’s Mercantile International. Unfortunately the LMI fret templates would not line up with my Stewart MacDonald Fret Slotting Miter Box so I had to order the entire LMI slotting kit complete with templates and miter box and Fret Saw. It was an additional $179 expense that I was not really looking forward to, however even though I didn’t know it at the time, I would soon be glad that I ordered the whole kit.
I got busy designing the neck. The first thing we had to do was decide on which bridge we were going to use so we could decide how wide to make the heel. We were using the Mighty Hipshot 8 String Fixed Bridge, but I had decided that I was going to make a universal set of templates that would accommodate any bridge that we offered so it would have to be wide enough to handle an 8 string Floyd of a Kahler bridge.
I settled on a 3-1/8” neck heel where the neck meets the body so that there would be plenty of room for all the strings. I also wanted to make sure that we had plenty of wood making contact with the neck pocket so that we would get a solid transfer of vibration from the neck to the body. I also wanted to keep our custom contour heel so that there would be complete access to all 24 frets. It was imperative that we get the right length and depth of the neck pocket so that the extra tension from the strings would have enough support to keep the neck stable. I added an extra ¼” of length to the neck pocket so that we would get the support we needed and then I scooped out an extra ¼” of wood from the lower body horn so that full fret access would still be attainable.
Now here is where you learn to expect the unexpected…
I designed a 3-1/8 wide neck and ordered a 27.5” scale template that required me to buy a whole new miter box to use. I wasn’t happy about that fact at first but I sure was glad that I did because my trusty old Stew Mac miter box that I had for years would only accommodate a 3” fingerboard. I didn’t even consider that in my equations. This is probably why Stew Mac didn’t even offer a 27.5” fret scale template in the first place.
Nonetheless the LMI Fret Miter Box was set at 3-1/2” wide which was plenty wide enough to handle our 8 string fingerboard. In fact it would probably handle a 9 string guitar fingerboard if I am ever stupid enough to make one of those.
So now that we had our heel dimensions, we needed to set a nut width that was accommodating for all 8 strings, yet still felt comfortable. I settled on a 2-1/8 nut width so that the strings had enough distance between them for fretting clarity but also still had the feel of a guitar neck and not a boat paddle.
The scale length was good, the heel width was good and the nut width was good. We only had one more challenge left to go…fitting 8 tuners onto the headstock.
For the headstock I knew that I did not want 8 tuners in a row. This would certainly have been ergonomic suicide if we had decided to do that. (For more details on that, see my blog article called “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Headstock).
I also knew that I wanted something classier than 4 tuners split on each side so I decided to do a 3/5 split (or a 5/3 split if you want it reversed). This configuration combined with our sleek and classy Extended Range Bayonet Headstock gave the final design a definite edgy look. It’s classy enough to play in a Jazz Ensemble, yet it is still metal enough to bludgeon Jon Bon Jovi to death.* It’s everything you want a guitar to be.
Thus the neck design for the Revelator 8 Guitar was done. All that remained was to make a fingerboard template that would allow an access hole for our heel mount spoke truss rod and we were once again off to the races…
Stay tuned for our next blog “Sportin’ Wood” when we discuss the wood choices we made to meet Drew Creal’s demanding musical palette.
See Ya There…
*Pasquale Custom Guitars uses the term “Bludgeon Jon Bon Jovi to Death” as a hyperbole to represent everything that is cool and awesome and powerful about Heavy Metal Music. It is NOT to be taken literally. Pasquale Custom Guitars does not condone or support in any way the beating and/or death of Jon Bon Jovi, or any member of his band, or any member of any Bon Jovi cover band, or anybody who is foolish enough to like Bon Jovi, or anybody who is foolish enough to like any Bon Jovi cover band. We are also not stating that Bon Jovi and his music are gay in any way but come on…you figure it out. To clarify this issue further let me state that PANTERA RULES, Bon Jovi Sucks … Up Yours!