a11

7 String LED Guitar

Hey Everyone, it’s time for my next project!  I’m going to step away from the hardcore electronics for this one, and focus more on design and cosmetics (whatever that means).  As I previously mentioned (in this post) I’m going to be building a 7-string guitar.  Here’s the specs:

  • 7 String Guitar
  • White lacquer finish (body & headstock)
  • Black hardware
  • Recessed Floyd Rose locking tremolo system
  • Ebony fretboard (with no fret marker inlays)
  • Dimarzio Evolution humbucker pickup in the bridge position
  • Dimarzio Blaze humbucker pickup in the neck position
  • LED backlights in the pickup cavities
  • Two LED illuminated buttons, one to control the lights, and the second that will act as a momentary kill switch for stutter effects.
I ordered both the body and the neck from Warmoth.  The folks over at Warmoth do a tremendous job, and make very high quality products!  Be sure to check them out if you are ever in the market for a custom guitar body or neck.
Here’s a top-down view of the body.  Note the recessed tremolo cavity, and three control holes.  I’m going to install a volume knob, three way pickup selector, and tone knob.

Here’s another top-down view. 

This is a rear shot of the control cavity.  The large size will be very convenient when working with the electronics.  Also, note the rear routed tremolo cavity.
This is the ebony fretboard, with a headstock blank.  Note, I opted for no fret-marker inlays, as I thought the clean, black look was badass!

Here’s the headstock blank.  This will allow me to design my own, custom, headstock shape. 

A closeup of the dark, ebony fretboard.  This will provide great contrast from the pure white body and headstock. 

Here’s the headstock after crafting and cutting a design.  This was the first significant piece of work on this project! 

This is a closeup of the three control layout.  Note, the finish will be a completely opaque white, so the unsightly knot in the wood will not be visible. 

I included a shot of a test fit of the humbucker ring that will serve as the pickup mounts.  You can’t believe how difficult it is to find a 7-string humbucker pickup ring!  Apparently, most DIYers choose to mount the pickups directly to the guitar body.  Not me. 

I placed the control knobs on the body, in order to get an idea of layout tolerances when determining the spacing for my two pushbuttons.  This positioning gives enough room for the electronics, and offers  comfortable access positioning while playing.

Once I had the positioning determined, I drilled two pilot holes in the center (or close to) of the positioning markers. 

Next, I used a stepped drilling tool to enlarge the holes to 15.8mm, which is the size of the button’s threaded barrel.

Test fit of button one – success!

Test fit of button two – success!

 For completeness, here’s a shot of the rear of the button, as seen in the control cavity.

Now for the good stuff!  Here’s a shot of the test fit of the led backlighting that will live behind each pickup. 

Here’s another angle of the LED pickup backlight.  Here’s a link to the lighting I used, if you wanted to achieve a similar look. 

This is a view of the guitar from the bottom, towards the neck pocket.  Since the LED lighting is a single strand of lights, I figured it would be easiest to run the wire from the control cavity, into the bottom pickup cavity, and then straight into the top pickup cavity.  Since a hole didn’t exist to allow me to do this, I had to drill one.  In the above picture, you can see the hole, as I drilled it.

Here’s a top down (neck to bridge) view of the pickup cavities.  This is where the drilled hole ends up. 

In order to accomplish this hole, I had to drill through at a shallow angle, while staying far away from the guitar body to allow clearance to hold the drill.  I ended up having to purchase a (very) long drill bit for just this purpose. 

That’s it for the fabrication on this guitar!  Now it’s time for finishing.  Here, you can see my fancy, custom cut, paint stick installed.  Next up, sealing the body and neck!