1960s/2020 "Stool Pigeon" 5-String Electric Baritone Guitar




A while ago I was traded a down-on-its-luck '60s Egmond electric bass neck as part of my payment for work on a guitar. I immediately knew I wanted to use it as some sort of baritone guitar neck. When I yanked an Egmond guitar pickup out of another guitar, I realized I had half the battle done -- of course it needed to be used with the bass neck.

On Saturday I knew I was going to be beset with various short repairs and interruptions, so between those I cobbled this sucker together. I tried to use as much salvage from my parts-bins as possible and only the wiring harness and neck plate are new parts. The rest is a mix of oddball parts and even the tuners aren't a matched set. The pickguard, control plate, and truss rod cover are even remnants cut from an old mint green Jazz Bass pickguard.

The body, of course, is the neat-o backdrop for this thing and it's the top of a 1930s oak stool that we used to have behind the shop counter for years. The legs finally bit the dust in a fairly dramatic fashion and I stowed it in my wood stash a few years ago, knowing that I'd put it to use for something. One can't simply make raw wear and tear like that, right?

After putting it together, I was really pleased with the finished product -- with a scale length just shy of 30" and 5 strings, a zero fret, and adjustable saddles, the stringing and tuning options are wide. I opted for CGCGC low to high -- a modal open C tuning -- using gauges 50w, 36w, 26w, 13, 10. The tension feels nice and light with these and so one can manipulate the lower tuning about the same as a normal electric with 10s on it. I initially strung it up and set it up like a "longneck" 5-string banjo, though, with a re-entrant eBEG#B tuning using gauges 8, 26w, 17, 13, 10. I wanted to see what that was like and it was way cool but not as useful to me as having a good low growl.

The single bridge pickup means that tone is always clear and not too muddy in the way most baritones will sound with a pickup in the neck position. It also leaves plenty of room to pick "in the sweet spot" just below the neck's extension. It has a peculiar tone that's a bit Fender and a bit Dynasonic -- sparkle and clarity with a bit of extra bite.

It has a lightweight feel, bigger neck front-to-back (but very comfy with the fresh frets) and, of course, the fret access is superb.

A funky addition is a raised, tiny pickguard that's more of a pinky-rest than anything else. I wanted that for fingerpicking so I could plant my pinky and I'd snagged the idea from a picture in the "Golden Age of Fender" book where a guy had installed a similar, raised, diamond-shaped pickguard (for presumably the same reason) on his Jazzmaster.

Work included: regluing the fretboard, planing and refretting the board with jumbo frets, making a new bone nut, fitting replacement tuners, cobbling-up scraps to make strap buttons, cutting a slot to accept the neck, fitting the pickup and wiring harness, making the pickguard, control plate, and truss rod cover from pickguard remnants, cobbling a bridge from spare parts ('60s bass bridge plate, '80s Strat-style saddles), fitting the bridge, and final setup.

Setup notes: it plays bang-on with 1/16" action at the 12th fret overall, has a straight neck and working truss rod, and is tuned CGCGC low to high where the low C is two full steps below guitar's low E.

Scale length: 24 3/4"
Nut width: 1 9/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 5/16"
String spacing at bridge: 1 3/4"
Body diameter: 14"
Side depth at endpin: 1 3/8"
Body wood: oak
Neck wood: ?
Fretboard: ?
Bridge: cobbled parts-bin adjustable
Neck feel: medium-full C/D shape, 6" board radius

Condition notes: it's cobbled from used parts and strange remnants, so wear and tear is all over it but  at the same time it's desirable













The tuners are donors from the parts-bins -- an older Schaller sealed mini and four '90s-era (?) Fender sealed tuners. They look pretty close from the front and work fine, so no harm done, right?


The neck plate is a brand-new "aged" Gotoh plate. It fit-in nicely.




Comments

Greta said…
Would love to see something like this as a plectrum guitar! Or a baritone tenor. Or something like that.
Dave in CO said…
Very cool, Jake. I love it. If you ever don't want it, let me know!
The main criticism of the later Egmond guitars, were their warping necks - the woods used were generally too soft, too thin and too moist.

It's amazing how this exact part in a long version (probably a B2 Typhoon, 1965-1968), is the base for this Phoenix-like project...
Jake Wildwood said…
I was surprised at how good the neck is on my Typhoon guitar post-refret -- very stable and the truss is barely engaged with mediums on it. I figured this would be OK after sprucing-up and it's holding-steady, too. The Egmond acoustics, though? Oh my they're horrid.
phogue said…
That is obviously insane. I love it.