Rickenbacker Baritone?

Exceptional restoration is in the details

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Postby (jeff_ulmer) » Mon Aug 07, 2006 6:54 pm

Extending the fretboard would mean adding approximately another inch onto it, which definately means that the neck pickup is going to be in the way, unless you cut down on the number of frets. The bridge pickup would also be located at a less than optimal node on the strings with the bridge moved back 2" (which puts the bridge just above the tone controls on a 360). If you were trying for the Rick sound, I think the only real option is chopping the neck and replacing it, leaving the rest of the body intact.
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Postby (aceonbass) » Mon Aug 07, 2006 7:16 pm

As far as I know, removing the neck from a RIC 330 or similar guitar involves removing the back and re-binding it when it goes back together...not to mention a complete refin of the guitar. I believe Dale's plan is the best and also the least expensive and wont require a complete refin of the guitar unless you want to (I would, but I'm just that way). Changing the scale will only lose a few frets and since it's a baritone, why do you need two octaves anyway? I did something similar with my custom doubleneck by turning a 3000 bass into a 26 1/2" scale guitar, so I'm no stranger to this sort of thing. The most complicated part would be machining an aluminum block on an angle to support the bridge in it's new location. Once chrome plated, it would look stock. Of course one of us Ricken-nuts would notice but I for one want my mods noticed and appreciated by someone who knows the difference.
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Postby (jingle_jangle) » Tue Aug 08, 2006 7:09 am

Whether it CAN be done, and whether it will look as good as it plays (and hopefully it would be done by someone who knows the mechanics and geometry and has experience in this), are two entirely different matters.

When I hear things like "machining an aluminum block on an angle", etc., it makes my blood run cold. That's really getting into Frankenstein territory. If you truly want your mods to be appreciated by "someone who knows the difference", then do them in a manner that encourages appreciation.

Rickenbacker instruments have a very identifiable visual style that is decades old and like nothing else in the field. To substantially alter this style for the sake of getting it done cheaply and quickly, is to me pure folly, and closer to butchery of a fine guitar.

If you're gonna do it, do it right. Don't sacrifice anything for the sake of having a so-called "Rickenbacker" baritone guitar that ends up as an aesthetic compromise.

That having been said, any 6-string Rick can be made into a baritone. But it involves neck surgery. A 330 or 360 or 381 will need to have the neck removed; a solid-body will need to have the bouts separated from the original neck and a new neck grafted in.

Of course the guitar will need a total refinish...

But, in the end, you'd have an instrument that theoretically would play well and look right, too. Yeah, it wouldn't be cheap, but remember that we all yammer on about how beautiful Ricks are and how wonderfully they play and sound. Why give up part of the whole when with proper care and consideration, you can have it all?

Long experience tells me, though, that no amount of reason will sway an erstwhile inventor who already has the bit between his teeth.
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Postby (firstbassman) » Tue Aug 08, 2006 8:12 am

I, of course, have no idea on the technical ramifications of modifying an existing model.

But just the idea of a stock Rickenbacker baritone guitar is just way too cool.

I have thought about getting a baritone for about three years but have not taken the plunge yet. putting it off.
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Postby (beatlefreak) » Tue Aug 08, 2006 8:22 am

Mark wrote:
"But just the idea of a stock Rickenbacker baritone guitar is just way too cool."

Just the thought of taking a beautiful stock Rickenbacker and severely gutting it in a experiment where you aren't sure of the outcome as far as looks and sound is just way too reckless, IMHO.
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Postby (jingle_jangle) » Tue Aug 08, 2006 8:42 am

Kris, all the more reason to do it properly...

This isn't rocket science, but it is high craft best left to people who have the knowledge and aesthetic sensitivity to accomplish the task with respect for the sound, playability and appearance of a Rickenbacker instrument.

A neck of proper length and proven construction, set properly into a Rick body yields a predictable outcome--a baritone guitar with the appropriate dimensions, that has that Rickenbacker look.
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Postby (beatlefreak) » Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:28 am

In any case, a baritone conversion would involve another neck being installed, with proper fret spacing to take into account the heavier gauge strings and longer scale.
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Postby (cmuk) » Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:47 am

Paul, I couldn't agree with you more and I know a man of your unparalleled craftsmanship would produce an outstanding baritone.

As I have hopefully stated in my earlier posts, there is no way I would start to mess with the beautiful lines and timeless style of a Rickenbacker guitar. I don't believe producing a new neck to baritone scale in the Rickenbacker style would contradict this either.

I'm very interested in producing this if Paul is up for it. I'm on the lookout for a 330-style with a broken or repaired neck, and/or cosmetic damages.

Given that a refinish would be required cosmetically, does anyone have any suggestions? e.g. checkered headstock a la banjoline? would you get away with full width vintage inlays and neck binding or would that weaken the neck too much? double bound body? third pickup? would it need different tuners to cope with the thicker gauge strings?
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Postby (jeff_ulmer) » Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:40 am

I don't think you need to make too many modifications in terms of beefing up the guitar due to the heavier strings, since although they are heavier, the lower tuning offsets the tension. You'd need to calculate the difference in tension, but comparing my Fender baritone and regular scale guitars, the neck is practically the same in all but length. Mondern stock tuners should be fine.
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Postby (aceonbass) » Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:53 am

I agree with Paul that the best way appearence-wise would be to make a new neck. I just personally feel that replacing the neck would lose too much of the original "Rickiness", besides being very expensive. The aluminum block I propose would have the same footprint as the stock bridge plate and take it's place. Finding a guitar with a broken neck would make the decision obvious and they do show up from time to time on Ebay. I don't think the additional string tension a standard tuned 27 1/2" scale neck would have would be beyond the capabilities of a standard Ricky guitar neck. I use a set of RIC 95403 .010's om my 26 1/2" scale.Image
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Postby (jingle_jangle) » Tue Aug 08, 2006 3:04 pm

Um, expense, Dane?

I've never considered Rickenbackers to be guitars on which to cut costs, and most of the restorations that I do are on Ricks on which a former owner had decided to go budget on in one way or another, often with disastrous results, sometimes with humorous effects.

I visualized from your original post that the angled aluminum block which you suggested would have the same footprint as the original bridge plate. That takes care of the view of the conversion, head on. My first impression from this view would be "why the hell is the bridge way down there?".

As I changed my point of view to more 3/4 view, I would be dismayed at the obvious nature of this kluge. Rickenbackers have a certain delicacy to their design, besides an obvious purposefulness. To my eye, this is a quicky-cheapy way of doing a job that needs proper consideration and attention.

Ref: my comment about the inventor mentality. When I was in the toy industry, I worked with many inventors on their outside submissions. Not one had the complete picture of technology, design, and cost; all were interested in pushing through an idea and most thought they had a method to design and manufacture it that suffered from process myopia. Not to tar anyone with that brush, I still believe that aesthetics and function are best served by the methods I describe.

Clive: I'm interested in doing such a project. If you wish, I can locate a suitable 330 for you and save you the trouble of shipping.

Did you say checkerboard headstock? Here's one I did recently:



Image
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Postby (sloop_john_b) » Tue Aug 08, 2006 4:34 pm

Is that your acoustic, Paul?
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Postby (atomic_punk) » Tue Aug 08, 2006 5:22 pm

Paul, can you bind a headstock without a refin?
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Postby (jingle_jangle) » Tue Aug 08, 2006 8:48 pm

Not my acoustic...

Steve, very tricky but can be done...degree of difficulty depends on the color...in every case, the conversion varnish must be redone over the new binding.
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Postby (melibreits) » Wed Aug 09, 2006 12:44 pm

Ohhhh geez, I'm drooling, and I haven't even seen the whole guitar yet....

Show us some more, Paul! Image
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