I've always been a fan of Canadian power trio, Rush, and in particular their multi-instrumentalist lead singer Geddy Lee. I first saw his twin necked guitar/bass hybrid many years ago and lusted after it from the moment I saw it. However, as I am no longer a gigging musician, and Rickenbackers are notoriously expensive, I thought I would have a go at cobbling something together from cheap parts and spare guitars. Worst case scenario I learn a few things about guitar building, best case I end up with something that actually works :)
Step 1: The Cheaper the Better
Unbelievably, I picked up an encore 3/4 scale guitar on ebay a while ago for the princely sum of £7.50. It needed its jack socket re-soldering, but apart from that it was a fine little guitar. So that was the guitar neck sourced.
Then, an old friend of mine gave me a 3/4 scale Grant bass that I apparently sold to him in the mid 90s. I have no recollection of ever buying this bass or indeed of selling it to him, but he assures me I did. So anyway, that was the bass neck sourced, and both were the same scale.
I started with two small individual pieces of ply-wood so that if I screwed up the neck cut outs too badly I could start again without too much fuss. So, as you can hopefully see in the pic, I simply laid the necks on top of the wood, drew round them with a pencil, and then did the cutouts with a jigsaw. Both came out ok.
Underneath the two small pieces of wood I laid a larger piece of ply. If I did this project again I would probably do it the other way round, with the large piece on top and the smaller pieces underneath, or I would simply use one whole piece of decent wood. You live and learn. As it was, I just had to use wood filler and glue as you can see in the next step.
Step 2: Filling and Routing
I glued the smaller pieces to the larger piece underneath, then used off cuts to make up the rest of the top of the guitar. The screws were temporary while the glue set. Like I say, I'd do it the other way round if I were to do it again.
I used the original guitar and bass bodies as loose templates to draw the body shape and then cut with a jigsaw.
I used an old scratch-plate to figure out where I needed to route the holes for the pickups and jack socket, and I'd already figured out where I needed the bridges to be for the correct scale lengths.
Step 3: Filler
Because of the overly complicated way I built the body, I had to fill the seams of where I'd used the smaller off cuts. I also filled any holes where I'd used screws.
Step 4: Scratch-plates
As with the body, I decided to do the scratch plate in two parts, so that if I messed up the cut outs on one I wouldn't have to scrap the whole thing and start again.
I experimented with different materials and watched a lot of youtube videos, and decided that I couldn't be bothered with the faff of trying to use proper scratch plate material. To get it to look right takes far longer than I have the patience for. In the end I used hard board as it is easy to work with and I had some in the shed :)
Keeping in mind that I wanted to spend as little as possible, I decided to have one bass pickup, and two guitar pickups, one at the neck and one at the bridge, tele style. This also meant I could use a strat selector switch to go between pickups and use only one jack socket and lead. Some of the twin necks I've seen require two jack connectors and completely separate the bass and guitar from each other, but that seemed like too much hassle to me.
Step 5: Paint
ASDA (Wall mart) do a great selection of paint tester pots that I have used before. I think they are £1 each. I've always wanted a grey guitar (don't ask me why), so I got a grey tester pot and painted up the body. Having attempted a guitar re-spray a few years ago, I knew I didn't want to go down that route, so I just brushed it on.
By the way, to quote the best advice I've seen about respraying guitars: if you want your guitar to be red (or green or yellow, etc) go and buy a red guitar. It's the easiest and cheapest option a lot of the time.
Step 6: Pick Ups
I had a bass pick up left over from a previous project, but it turned out to be faulty. However, when I started researching the difference between bass and guitar pickups, I found out that Rickenbacker use guitar pickups on their basses a lot of the time (or did), and I have quite a few cheap start pickups lying around from various projects, so that's what I ended up using.
I went for one master volume and one tone to keep the wiring as simple as possible, and, as previously stated, a strat selector switch. The bridges are both fixed - I'm not a fan of tremolo arms anyway, and I ran ground wires to both. Both bridges came from ebay and cost a few quid each.
Step 7: The Finished Article
I'm really happy with how it turned out. Up close it isn't a perfect build by any means, but it sounds ok, and plays pretty well. The grand total for what I spent on it comes to around £20, so it was considerably cheaper than buying one.
The video is just a short one, done quite quickly for this instructable, so please don't be too harsh.
Thanks for reading.
SCHLEPIC made it!