A DIY EGS Guitar

Here follow some instructions on how to get started with your very own EGS build. Feel free to e-mail further questions, and I will try to add to this guide and keep it up-to-date.

Build your own EGS guitar

Planning

First of all, e-mail guitarworks@thestrandbergs.com and ask for permission. The materials on the site are licensed under Creative Commons. You may use them under two conditions: that you ask permission first and that you make your own enhancements public also under the same Creative Commons license.

The body shape

Start by downloading the body shape outline.

Print it out in scale 1:1 and transfer to a paper large enough to hold your complete guitar, including the neck and any headstock you are considering.

Mark a center line and, along this, mark the location of the saddles, the 12th fret and the nut. The body shape outline that you downloaded needs to be adjusted in the neck pocket region and possibly in the bridge region, so it is critical that you do this on some cheap media (i.e. paper or your computer) before starting to shape wood.

In the bridge region, you need to leave sufficient material to mount the base plate while leaving room for your fingers to tune.

This means that if you are doing a fanned fret construction (mixed scale), the shape of the cut-away in the bridge region may need to be adjusted. In this case, you need to work out the exact placement and angle of the 12th fret on your drawing and measure the distance to your outer strings and mark the location of these.

To figure out where the bridge will sit, you ideally have the bridge at hand, but you can work with a printout of a drawing (you can use the installation instructions in the download section). Then, adjust the intonation position in a somewhat forward position (but not all the way, keeping some room for error) and figure out where to position it so that the saddle ends up at the line you drew. If you use fanned frets, each bridge will be positioned at a different distance from the nut (so the line you drew between the E-string saddle positions will not be perpendicular to the centerline).

The red lines in the image above show some examples of how the rear cut-away edge can follow the angle of the mixed-scale placement.

Another consideration is that if your instrument has more strings than 6, you may need to widen the cut-away. To get the proportions of the instrument right, you may need to actually widen the entire shape somewhat in order to accommodate this.

Neck angle/height

Also, in particular if you are designing a set-neck or neck-through instrument, sketch the guitar out from the side. The EGS bridge can be mounted in a two different ways: flat or on a radius.

Here, it is mounted flat (and recessed, which is not a requirement) and the saddles are used to create the radius. The other option is to recess the bridges to match the radius of your fretboard.

The effective adjustment range of the EGS bridge saddles is about 2 mm, but they will look at their best if they are placed in the middle of that range, so it is important to get this right.

The picture above shows how the angle of the neck affects the height of the fretboard/body join. Even a small angle will make a big difference, so take care.

Also, place the intended pickups on the drawing and check their positions. If you intend to glue the neck in, the neck pickup cavity can have an impact on how you design the joint.

String locks/Headstock

Like the tuners/bridges, the string locks are mounted individually. If you mount them in a row, use a spacing of 7 mm.

If you are building a fanned fret instrument with an angled nut, make sure to lay the pieces out to check the layout.

This is an example for a slight angle that puts the holes in line with each other and the strings at a 7 mm spacing. I like to use a zero-fret, which ensures that fretted strings sound the same as open strings and also takes the guesswork out of cutting slots in the nut. If you mount the strings locks at an angle, a nut is recommended however, to ensure that the string spacing is exactly what you intended. Use this nut in conjunction with the zero-fret.

Another consideration is ensuring that sufficient material remains in the headstock for the mounting screws.

Shorten the outside screws if the neck has a radius at the mounting point.

Also, consider where the access to the truss rod is placed. If the truss rod access is below the centerline and a hole is drilled to access it (as opposed to routing a channel all the way to the front) sufficient material can be left to secure mounting.

Think about the height of the string locks in relation to a nut or zero fret.

 

On to the actual build

Many operations are simplified if you have the correct neck at the onset. Fastening the neck is one of the absolutely most critical operations for the function of the guitar, so it’s better to fail early and start over rather than doing a bunch of work on the body and fail to rout the neck pocket at a late stage. I recommend that you start by purchasing or building the neck.

Buy or make a routing template for the neck pocket, draw a centerline, rout the pocket, fasten the neck and then double check/adjust your centerline based on how accurately you were able to attach the routing template. To check the neck alignment, fasten two pieces of string at the E-string positions and pull them tight and ensure that their respective distances from the centerline are the same near where the bridge would sit. Then, using a ruler, measure from the nut to the 12th fret. Mark that exact same distance from the 12th fret towards the body end on both E-string positions. Draw a line between the two points that you just marked and leave this line there until you have drilled the bridge mounting holes. The line signifies the position of the saddles, without taking intonation into account. You also need to check that the depth (and possibly angle) of the neck pocket places the string at a height at the bridge that works within the height adjustment range of your bridge.

For a neck-through body like the EGS Pro, I do things in the following order:

  1. glue laminates of neck
  2. band-saw away and shape section on underside of neck portion
  3. insert truss-rod (while sides are straight and can be used as guides for router)
  4. shape contours of fretboard (so that it can be used as a router template later)
  5. cut fret slots (while it’s still thin and easily fitted into the slot-cutting jig)
  6. glue fretboard (while it is flat so that it can get optimal clamping pressure)
  7. use router to shape contours of neck (using fretboard as template)
  8. rough shape back of neck
  9. radius fretboard
  10. finish fretboard (add inlays) and fret neck
  11. glue sides (and top)
  12. finish shaping
  13. rout cavities for controls and pickups
  14. sand
  15. fit all hardware and string up to check playability
  16. finish/polish
  17. done

For a neck, I would do things the same order, with the neck being completed at step 10. Then, I would complete the body with the following steps:

  1. glue pieces of back if necessary
  2. rout the neck pocket as described above
  3. rout the tone cavities
  4. rout pickup cavities (with some clearance)
  5. finish shaping contours of body
  6. glue top, if applicable (the body itself will act as a router guide to clean up the top)
  7. cut neck pocket and pickup cavities through the top
  8. rout cavities for controls
  9. sand
  10. fit all hardware and string up to check playability
  11. finish/polish
  12. done

Mounting the string locks

The same screw that mounts the string lock in the wood is used as the seat for the string. This means that it can be replaced if it ever gets worn. To access the screw, remove the locking screw. The string lock itself is secured against rotation by a 2 mm diameter locating pin. So, to mount the string locks, you need to drill two holes: a 3 mm deep 2 mm hole for the locating pin and a 14 mm deep 1.5 mm hole for the mounting screw.

Grounding the strings

The EGS hardware is anodized, which is a process that renders the pieces not conducting electricity. So to ground the strings, you need to remove some material from the bridges. Follow the instructions in the FAQ section on http://guitarworks.thestrandbergs.com. A zero-fret will help ground the other strings if only one bridge is grounded. Otherwise, it is possible to use a piece of wire or aluminium/copper foil to create contact between each of the string lock mounting screws. This will then connect each of the strings with each other electrically.

ENJOY! And don’t hesitate to ask questions.

12 Comments

  1. I’m writing to ask permission to build a Strandberg style guitar. I’m interested in building a 7 string, fanned fret, headless guitar. I love the body shape the Strandberg has.
    Please let me know if there is more design measurements (body size, etc.) I can download. I just started looking at the website, so if it’s there, can you point me in the right direction?
    Thank you,
    Jason

    • Jason, this article itself is the best place to start. The downloads section has some more information.

  2. Dear Ola,

    Your ergonomic guitar system is inspiring. With this note, I would like to officially seek your permission to build a Strandberg style guitar with minor modifications (different horn shape, a set neck construction, and different control layout) so as to make it more personalized. All credit will be given back to you and any mods made will be shared publicly – on forums or social media – and attributed back to Strandberg.

    I, and on behalf of my luthier, will maintain adherence to the Creative Commons License on all websites where the build is made public by attributing to you. As I am commissioning this build for personal use, my luthier and I have an agreement stating the nature for one personal build and not making it a commercially viable option for others. If other individuals wish my luthier to commission an EGS after seeing any update pictures of my build, they will say “No, you need to seek permission from Strandberg” and refer them to guitarworks.thestrandbergs.com to understand the license, the plans, and seek your permission.

    I hope the above can ease any concerns and ensure that we (my luthier and I) are adhering to the licensing agreement of the available designs.

    Sincerely,

    • Dear Fariz,
      thank you for your kind words and thoughtful notes. Unfortunately, I have had to restrict the license to self-builds for non-commercial purposes only, so I can not allow you to use a luthier to build it for you.

      Best regards,
      Ola

  3. Dear Ola.
    I am in awe of the beautiful guitars that you manufacture. I would like to ask for your permission to build myself a guitar based on your design. All credit for the guitar will of course belong to you. I have only build one guitar so far, so i’m looking forward to this challenge. I’m pretty shure that i will purchase your fixed bridge system and use it in conjunction with a sligthly modified strat-style pu combination.
    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Till,
      thanks for your message. Please send us an e-mail with your request and your interpretation of what you have to and what you are not allowed to do, and I will grant permission.

      Best regards,
      Ola

  4. Dear Ola

    I was wondering how you place a fretted nut, like height and if a certain kind of fret wire is used? (7 string/fanned fret)

    • The fret is placed centered where the edge of the nut/end of fretboard would be. Since the string rests against it all the time, you definitely want the zero fret to be stainless. And generally speaking, people prefer the string to sit slightly higher at the nut/zero fret than the remaining frets, so either use a taller fretwire, or put the zero fret on a small ledge (0.2 mm or so).

  5. Hi,
    I’ve been told you stoped selling your bridges due to massive work but I’m going to ask anyway.
    I’m about to build a multiscale 7s for myself and wanted to know if your headless system is still available.
    I’d love to get your gear.
    Thanks in advance!

  6. Hi,
    first of all excelent job, awesome inspiration for building a custom guitar for my self.
    I have a question, i developed my design for guitar, and type of wood and all tools and everything, and searched all kind of videos and specs for building a 7 string guitar, but i have a little problem, and i need your advice for neck trough guitar… does need to be fretboard in slight angle from the body or it can be in straight line from the body???
    Thanks in advance, Nenad
    P.S. Sorry for my bad english :) cheers!

    • Hi Nenad,
      thanks for your kind words. With regards to the angle, it all depends on the height of your bridge, the thickness of your fretboard, height of fretwire, and so on, so unfortunately, it is not possible to give a general answer.

      You will have to sketch it out and see what you need to do in your particular design.

      Best regards,
      Ola

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