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Tom Drinkwater

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Reply with quote  #1 

Hey Tappers,

I’m strongly considering adding a tapper to my line up of Oakland Axe Factory instruments.  My personal “must have” checklist is as follows

Relatively affordable (under $1000 shipped)

Portable

Durable

Made from only the best materials and parts

I’m thinking that the one piece body will be made from 70lbs HDU and capped with a Richlite fretboard.  I’ll use an 8 string Hipshot Headless guitar system on it and a single Lace Alumatone pickup.  I’m undecided on the scale length but would probably go with something between 27” and 30”. 

Some design considerations that I have are as follows-

Neck profile

Tappers don’t need guitar shaped neck profiles so I’d be inclined to keep the back of the neck squared off with the edges eased for comfort.  This will give the guitar maximum stability and rigidity and negate the need for a truss rod or additional reinforcement inside the neck.  This will positively impact the affordability of the instrument. 

Overall length

I’d like to keep the overall length well under 36” which can be done easily by keeping the scale at or under 30”.  This will aid in travel and transport of the instrument. 

Options

In order to keep everything as affordable as possible I’d like to keep options down to hardware and pickup color. 

Materials

I mentioned using HDU and Richlite for this and my concern is that wood tends to move, particularly during travel and seasonal changes.

Body shape

As minimal as possible to keep costs, weight and size down.

 

I’d love to hear what the group thinks about this.        


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Owner/operator of Oakland Axe Factory
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I hold either dealer or OEM accounts with ALLPARTS, WDMusic, Amptweaker, Lace, Dimarzio, Bare Knuckle Pickups and Hipshot Products and I do a fair amount of business with Fast Guitars, Best Guitar Parts and Instrumental Pickups.       
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Tapladder

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Tom,

Give some thought on how to design the instrument so that it can be played both standing and sitting.  Most tappers were designed to be played standing, but a lot of players prefer to play sitting.  As a result, players have had to come up with their own solutions, all sorts of gadgets and add-ons, to play seated. 











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Tom Drinkwater

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Reply with quote  #3 
Too true.  It's almost impossible to play tapper without some sort of device.  I'm kind of leaning towards adding just enough body to allow it to be suspended by a guitar strap and to play seated.  We'll see, still in the works. 
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I hold either dealer or OEM accounts with ALLPARTS, WDMusic, Amptweaker, Lace, Dimarzio, Bare Knuckle Pickups and Hipshot Products and I do a fair amount of business with Fast Guitars, Best Guitar Parts and Instrumental Pickups.       
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DF-Mark

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Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
Give some thought on how to design the instrument so that it can be played both standing and sitting.  Most tappers were designed to be played standing, but a lot of players prefer to play sitting.  As a result, players have had to come up with their own solutions, all sorts of gadgets and add-ons, to play seated. 


Hi there! Saw this comment the other day and just wanted to say that playing seated can be quite simple and comfortable ... I guess the shorter scale of our instruments makes that a bit more practical. 

All the best for the new design!





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Explorer

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Reply with quote  #5 
Instead of building up the body, one might just add an adjustable end pin like on cello, and subtle wings to let the knees hold it in place.

Nothing exceeds like excess, so one could also go the route of electric upright basses which can be mounted on stable stands, height-adjustable for sitting and standing.
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Jamsire

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Reply with quote  #6 
I would love for you to build a Bari-Bass tone tapper.
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ixlramp

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Reply with quote  #7 
Tom, late reply but ...
I recommend using a truss rod or 2, as setting neck relief precisely is essential. No truss rod means having to live with one curvature that is likely to be non-optimum.
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Tom Drinkwater

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Reply with quote  #8 
I agree
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Owner/operator of Oakland Axe Factory
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I hold either dealer or OEM accounts with ALLPARTS, WDMusic, Amptweaker, Lace, Dimarzio, Bare Knuckle Pickups and Hipshot Products and I do a fair amount of business with Fast Guitars, Best Guitar Parts and Instrumental Pickups.       
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Tom Drinkwater

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Reply with quote  #9 
My Megatar had two rods, worked well.
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Owner/operator of Oakland Axe Factory
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I hold either dealer or OEM accounts with ALLPARTS, WDMusic, Amptweaker, Lace, Dimarzio, Bare Knuckle Pickups and Hipshot Products and I do a fair amount of business with Fast Guitars, Best Guitar Parts and Instrumental Pickups.       
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ixlramp

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Reply with quote  #10 
Some more thoughts.

The back of the neck having a very wide, completely flat surface seems essentuial to me (i would actually prefer this on any guitar or bass).

I think an adjustable height nut is essential, as this has so much impact on tappability.

A fairly long scale length seems important for good sounding bass strings, Even 30" seems a little too short to me.
Assuming 8 strings in fourths on a baritone guitar type scale, the highest string can't really be tuned higher than guitar top E4, so 7 fourths below will be roughly around bass E1, It seems to me the ability to go down to roughly bass E1 will be somewhat expected and needed.
So assuming a lowest playable note of E1, due to the string mute E1 will be at fret 1. The open tuning would be EbAbDbGbBEAD. D4 is the commonly accepted 'highest practical note' on a 34" scale touch guitar.
E1 at fret 1 requires a fairly long scale at fret 1, so even longer for the open string.

Your suggested scale length makes this point not so valid, but:
One avantage of headless is being able to use guitar strings even on a 34"+ scale.
D'Addario guitar strings have a 39" winding length (the core wire is only slightly longer), so these are theoretically usable on a bass guitar, the only issue is the core wire is not long enough to reach most of the tuner posts. With headless the strings only have to reach the string clamps.

Because a headless tap guitar would have to use guitar headless hardware (bass bridges have too wide a spacing), i would be concerned about not being able to use bass strings for the lowest 1 or 2 strings, due to not being able to fit a bass ball-end in the tuner jaws. Maybe the jaws could be modified or custom jaws could be provided for use with bass ball-ends. I think this issue might somewhat determine what kind of headless hardware you use.
Or maybe, due to the availability of large gauge ERG strings, only guitar strings would be used and something around .080 -.090 would be used for the lowest string. These would have the advantages of being a lower cost string and being more flexible due to not needing a core wire thick enough to cope with bass tension.
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Tom Drinkwater

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Reply with quote  #11 
Guitar strings up to .120” were/are available through Labella in custom lengths. I like the idea of building it around more readily available strings just in case that changes of course. .090 and .080 are great for this i think and are pretty standard from a few companies. Headless hardware can definitely make the most of readily available strings and they work well in Hipshots and ABM’s headless bridges. I am not sure about the string gauges at 34” for E4 but I bet a little experimentation would sort out the guages in short order. I like the idea of a headless 8 or 9 tuned from E1 in 4ths. I would love to try playing a 34” scale 8 string with very slinky strings.
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Owner/operator of Oakland Axe Factory
**************************Disclosure Statement*****************************
I hold either dealer or OEM accounts with ALLPARTS, WDMusic, Amptweaker, Lace, Dimarzio, Bare Knuckle Pickups and Hipshot Products and I do a fair amount of business with Fast Guitars, Best Guitar Parts and Instrumental Pickups.       
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Tom Drinkwater

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Reply with quote  #12 
I also really like the flat neck idea a lot for both playing and building. It streamlines construction.

As for a height adjustable nut I see the benefit but crafting them affordably in small batches could be a real challenge. I would have to figure out a good design. It could be as simple as making a nut that could be easily removed and shimmed from the underside. I prefer something with set screws like on the saddles. A long time ago i conceived a scheme that basically had strat like saddles at both ends of the string.

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Owner/operator of Oakland Axe Factory
**************************Disclosure Statement*****************************
I hold either dealer or OEM accounts with ALLPARTS, WDMusic, Amptweaker, Lace, Dimarzio, Bare Knuckle Pickups and Hipshot Products and I do a fair amount of business with Fast Guitars, Best Guitar Parts and Instrumental Pickups.       
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