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NEW MODEL: TG- 521 PDF Print E-mail

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TG-521 no. 4 "Texas Special"

The TG-521 is my newest original design. The idea came to me May 21st (5/21) of this year - 2015.

I wanted to design a whole new guitar around the 6-inline headstock I first used on my double-neck Guitar/Bass, which is slightly gothic looking - some people have said. The main feature to me is the top of the headstock where the outside curve meets the inside curve, forming a point.

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Till Guitars model: TG-521

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TG-521 Setneck with Walnuc Cap

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TG-250 "Lady On the Beach" Baritone Model PDF Print E-mail

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At long last, I completed my first baritone guitar in 2014. Why I waited so long I'll never know because it is so much fun to play. Actually, I may not know why I waited, but I do know why I started this one. You see, I must've put the drilling template for the bridge holes on the wrong mark and, well... the first Bari-Till was born.

That boo-boo prompted me to learn how to accurately measure out and notch a fretboard slotting template to the 10,000th of an inch. For this particular piece, I went with a 27 1/2 inch scale, which is on the short end for a baritone, because any longer would have made the guitar top heavy. But, while I was at it, I made a 28 5/8" template, too. Both scales are available on custom orders. I'd be comfortable going up to 30 inches, for that matter.

The added length and fatter strings combine for a powerful tone. At first I had light strings on it and only tuned it down to D-standard where it played fine and without too much tension on the neck. But when the baritone set of strings arrived (.016 to .060, I think) I dropped it down to B natural. Whooo-weee! All of a sudden I developed a slow drawl. All I could say was "Yup".

No. 1 is actually no. 127. That's because I number the bodies before I make the necks. This body goes back a few years, the neck is new.

 

 
Double-Neck PDF Print E-mail

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One of the neat things that's happening as I chalk up the years in the guitar making business is that I can build almost anything I can imagine now. And equally important, anything you can imagine. Early on I stuck with just one model so that I could more easily tell what happened when I did little things differently - causes and effects of different woods, hardware choices, angles, switching...
Before long I added a 2nd guitar model with a longer scale, but kept the same experimental approach. Well, after a couple of hundred guitars, all of a sudden I get this very clear idea of how a guitar is going to sound, look and play before I even glue it up. Sure, I still get nice surprises, but nothing completely unexpected. And that new sense has allowed me to become much more adventurous with my designs and concepts.Image

So I says to myself, "Self? Let's make a double-neck!" And away we went.

I never really could figure out why anyone would put a bass and a six string together - until I bought a looping pedal. As a performer, I simply have to have bass to fill in the bottom that my rhythm playing lacks. The looper takes care of that - when I can't find or afford a real bass player. I just lay down a bass line and even a rhythm guitar and percussion track. Then I can sing and solo over the top like I own the place! But it's a pain - and a drag on the crowd to be changing instruments all night. This rig lets you keep focused on the song and keeping the crowd entertained.Image

I don't usually go overboard on materials for prototypes, but a good friend had given me this beautiful piece of Koa awhile back. It is loaded with character including curling, "blistering", mineral steaking as well as a couple of knots that went all the way through. He told me it was recovered from a furniture piece built in the 1800s! Koa is one of the most musical/magical woods I've ever worked with.
The back is book-matched curly Silver Maple, as are the control plates. I've used soft maples on many guitars. It's not too bright sounding like harder maples can be. And it's a real trip to stare into the ripply curl!Image
Both maple fretboards are generously sprinkled with birdseyes. They both have 12 inch radii (usses?) and Padouk fret markers. The necks themselves are 5 piece laminates with 3 maple and 2 walnut bands, reinforced with two-way trussrods. And the headstock veneers are book-matched from very old Lauro Preto rosewood that was cut sometime in the thirties, milled and stored in England for decades before being shipped over here to Santa Barbara about 30 years ago. It's quite a thrill to work with and it ain't so hard to look at, either.Image

Here's a video of me playing this thing a couple of days after wiring it up. I'm running the bass loop through a little Yorkville 1x10 bass amp, along with a live cajon loop and a rhythm guitar track. Then I play lead through a little Randall 1x8 combo with effects until the camera batteries go dead. If you look close enough, you might get an idea of the switching. First, each axe has its own volume and tone controls. The guitar section has a mini-toggle for coil-tapping the Seymour Duncan humbuckers, and the bass has a push-pull pot for tapping that big, fat Dimarzio.
The toggle on the upper horn is for selecting the guitar pickups, while the toggle between the necks is for selecting bass, guitar or both. The little toggle in the bass section is used to select between the two output jacks. You can send either neck or both through either jack.

 

 

 
The Archives PDF Print E-mail

These guitars are no longer available for sale, but if you see something you like, maybe I can reproduce it. Thank you to everyone who bought them!

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Meet Shorty Joe PDF Print E-mail

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Shorty Joe is built for speed and comfort. With its 23 1/4 inch scale, the next note is never far away. Obviously, kids will find it easy to play, but I designed it with professional musicians and songwriters in mind. Every time I pick it up I find new musical inspiration. And everyone else who plays it finds their own.

At 23 1/4 inches, it's sort of like playing a full size Gibson guitar with a capo on the first fret. Each fret is that much closer to the next. And it takes less tension to bring the strings up to pitch, so string bending is easier and a little vibrato goes a long way. Blues players will dig that aspect. That's why a lot of guys tune their fullsize guitars down to E flat... it's just easier.

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Shorty Joe!

I once heard Bob Dylan say in an interview that he sometimes writes songs with a capo on the second fret because he likes the voicing of an open G chord, but prefers to push his voice in the key of A. Well, Shorty Joe can easily be tuned up to a full step higher, so that an open G shaped chord comes out sounding like an A (I'm gonna have to give him a call!). When tuned higher, the added string tension really makes the woods come to life! Kind of like a mandolin... or maybe a Tacoma Papoose.

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Gratuitous Full Frontal View

Like all of my guitars, Shorty Joe will undergo continual refinement. The first few models have solid one-piece curly maple bodies, bolt-on necks with 2 angled singlecoil pickup routs. But I've already glued up a few different wood combinations with different pickup configurations for the next round. Number 1 has a one-piece maple neck with a straight headstock. But number 2 has a laminated neck (maple and purpleheart) with a slightly tilted headstock. Some of the early changes will simply be a matter of finding optimum angles and materials. But Shorty Joe is already one of the most comfortable guitars I've ever played. It has good intonation and stays in tune - which are two things I find lacking in most "student size" guitars.

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Generous Belly Relief

One of my goals with this model is to keep the cost down, or, at least to have a lower cost version of this model. It will have minimal contouring and probably only one P-90 pickup (sound familiar, Junior?). But I promise that they will still be handmade, like every Till Guitar... in the USA.
This might also be the model where I begin to introduce help. Until now - and currently, I work alone. Of course, adding help will depend on sales. I think it's time that American made guitars made their way back into American music stores. So, if you happen to be in a store that is light on domestic inventory, I'd thank you to ask the manager to look into carrying my guitars.

Shorty Joe is currently available on a custom order basis. But stay tuned for a few "Private Stock" issues.

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Slimmed Down Symetrical Headstock

 

 

 

 
Wood Bezels and Plates PDF Print E-mail

Image I've made my own pickup bezels and control covers for my guitars since day one (1996). An idea born of necessity because I didn't want to drive all the way into town or wait the week for two little pieces of plastic to arrive by mail.
Of course, I also remembered that Paul Bigsby made wood bezels for his first solid body electric guitars back in 1948. Good enough for me!

I have a neat, old Stanley overarm pinrouter that is perfect for little things like these. Actually, you'd be surprised by how many tools are involved in the making of a bezel: Table saw to width, radial arm saw to length, router the inside, bandsaw the outside, then router the outside, drill press for the screw holes, then thickness sanding/beveling before finish sanding. Then hand sanding. Then more hand sanding...Image
I try to make as many pieces at a time as I can because the setup is pretty intense. I could probably make about a hundred pieces in one day if I set my mind to it - and I had enough highly figured woods. In any case, I usually make more than I need, so I'd like to offer the surplus to any luthiers out there who might want to dress up their guitars. Just send me an email to start the discussion. I'd even be glad to make pieces out of the wood you send me.

Mind you, these are not stamped out by a computerized robot like every other wooden bezel I've seen on the market. I have no use for those things. My satisfaction comes from the effort involved in making them. I make humbucker bezels, singlecoil bezels for Strat or Tele neck sized pickups, Tele control plates... I even made a square jack plate out of ebony when I had to have a guitar at a show before a metal one could arrive. It turned out so nice that I made more.
Just let me know what you need and I'll see if I either have one or can make one custom.Image

 

 
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