Gastank – Headless

The story begins with my recruitment to Siemens, to be a wind turbine technician and travel all over the world. We knew not much about the work in advance, just that it’ll be a lot. And if we’ll have free time, it won’t be that much and we will be terribly tired after the lot of work. So I knew right away that I had to bring a guitar with myself anyway! This would have meant no problem, because the existing one served perfectly. I had a hardcase so it won’t be a problem to carry it halfway around the world. But it turned out, that we had to bring so much more protective gear and work clothes, that my guitar stuff didn’t fit in, which weighs 10 kg itself. Well, back then I realized that I have to make a guitar for myself, which has the smallest possible dimensions and will be sturdy enough to survive a flight even in my luggage.

It was obvious that this had to be a headless guitar, because the head not only increase the size of the guitar greatly, but it is also quite fragile.

Luckily I had a guitar at home, which had a good neck, although its body was just a plywood body. I took apart and looked at, how big can be done without the guitar head. I searched a bit after headless guitars, how to solve the tuning and I’ve already gone to saw it off. Therefore, I’m sure there is somebody who thinks I’m stupid, but then I had to do it.

I found a Fender bridge at home, which was just right to do the tuning system from. Of course it haven’t been this easy. I had been thinking about it for a while, how the device will operate. However, I didn’t really have time, because there were only a couple of days left until the departure, so I did what I could. The dimensions were done, I roughly knew what will be the Bridge like, so I could build the body.

First, I wanted to make a small rectangular body, something like the Bo Diddley (if someone wouldn’t know, he is an old blues guitarist) model. I found a piece of mahagony in the workshop with just the right size (because it’s an easy way to find like this randomly at my place). I grabbed the timber, planned it and cut to size. When I got the rectangular shape, suddenly the petrol-can flashed in, the one in the corner… of course, it was so obvious that I had to complicate things a bit, and have a shape like the petrol-can! I tailored over the body immediately, then rounded the edges and engraved the typical pattern what can be seen on the can.

Since I wanted to make a more simple guitar, I knew immediately that there will be only one pickup in it, with a single volume knob. So I formed the cavities in the body for the pickup, knob and the jack plug. I knew from the outset, that this will got an active EMG pickup, so I made space for the item as well.

Of course there was no more time to obtain this at home, but since guitarshops are everywhere, I finished the woodwork that has to be done, then the rest will be solved in Denmark.

I came up with the bridge while working on the body.  It is extremely simple and works well so far. In fact, six pieces of M6 long nut is in a housing, which doesn’t allow them to rotate. Top of the nuts are welded in, there is only a small hole, on through the string can be stitched. From the rear of the guitar, a couple of Allen bolts go into the nuts and pull them toward the back of the guitar. While changing strings, just have to slew out the screws and strings can be stitched through from the rear, then the screw starts to whip round, and as we start to pull it from the back, it’ll tighten the strings as well. Of course, in this status, can be only tuned by an Allen key, but got it actually very easy and fast, and doesn’t even tune out.

Of course, the other half of the strings had to be fixed somehow. Since the neck, with his head cut off, belonged to a tremolo, had a vice. Well, let’s say it wasn’t in a good condition, but I thought since this was pretty much a standard component, I’ll get one in Denmark too.

Well, I only had time for this at home: the body has been completed with all the cavities, I fixed the neck, made the bridge and also painted the body (mattblack, of course). Unfortunately the neck wasn’t painted due to the lack of time, but still had a little time to surface the frets a bit at least, to sound clearly.

Having finished all these on the morning of the day of departure, so that’s it. I grabbed the guitar, and I threw it into my carryon, and we’ve been already travelling to Denmark.

After the arrival, of course, I couldn’t  just look around after a guitarshop, but fortunately we found one at the first weekend in Herning, which was the “big city” closest to the quarters.

Of course they couldn’t give a pickup and a vice right from the counter, but the shopkeeper was pretty helpful, so I ordered the stuff and he promised that I’ll got them all next weekeend. And so it was. Otherwise, they weren’t more expensive than at home, so I failed nothing on it…

Only the EMG-81 and the Ibanez vice had to be purchased. For this, of course, I had to buy tools as well, but I found some really cool tool in the local DIY, so I’ve had something to work with.

The pickup went into its place relatively easy, only the wires had to be soldered. Well, let’s say, we hadn’t a soldering, but my Zippo suited perfectly to the purpose. Instead of adhesive plaster, it got a bit of Leukoplast as insulation.

I got a pickup frame, we only had to screw up and the electronics was already done.

The vise has not been this easy. I had to realize that what I got, and what was on the guitar, were a bit different from each other. The new vice was a bit higher, so I had to deepen its place by one mm. Its fix was a little different too, this was the cause of the greater problem. The original was fixed with two small wood screw, while the Ibanez from the bottom with metric. I couldn’t drill a hole, so only the wood screw left, which for had to be made a small  sinking in the vice. It wasn’t easy, but using a screwdriver, somehow I managed to solve.

The first stringing’s time has come slowly. I was a bit nervous, how will the tuning bridge work, but it seems, it succeeded. Works perfectly and is very easy to tune with, I am completely satisfied with the system. About the stability, during a loose Denmark-England flight, practically the guitar didn’t even attune! Then of course I want to design one, which can be tuned withouth Allen key, but otherwise this, I cannot say any wrong about it.

Heights of the strings had to be adjusted and the octave, but finally got it all together.

I must say, I am very pleased with the guitar, I think it’s done very well, became a really useable musical instrument. And even its sound is quite good, I haven’t the opportunity to try on a normal soundstuff yet, but I’m sure it will sound amazingly, after all it is an EMG pickup  mahogany body, so everything matches.

And most importantly, I can even take with me to the end of the world, because it is small and lightweight, but very sturdy guitar as well …. the Headless GASTANK  ..