Well that's what it's going to be, much as a comfy wooden box is sounding like a better plan for a first build. I'm making this for my brothers birthday on 28 March, and then aim to make 2 more also as pressies.
So far I have the gallon oil cans and the idea of a dirty amplified slide sound that primarily comes from the acoustics of the can rather than the amp. Beyond that it's an adventure and any help on my way is greatly appreciated!
I'm leaning towards a 3 string though a 4 string is also a possibility. Fretless. Standard scale length but the shorter end of standard may give it a bit more grit as well as twang? Anyone played about with that?
I like the idea of trying to keep the inside as metal as possible for the acoustics, so I'm thinking a threaded rod from the neck through the body and out the tail end to hold the tail piece.
I'm thinking a piezo, or two, may give more of the inherent can sound than a mag pup. I've read about insulating them well, and guess this would be even more important in a can. Size - no idea about whether a larger or smaller piezo would give a better sound. One piezo set in the can under the bridge for the main sound, and one maybe catching some other good sound in there but off that "sweet spot".
The bridge won't be fixed. Where I'm floundering a bit is whether the bridge position would be better closer to the centre of the can, or towards the back as I see it in most examples (possibly influenced by using a 6 string neck). And with that, would I lose much in the way of acoustics by not bracing the inside (except for the neck to tail rod and the internal plates that would go wioth that). A bridge placed nearer to the centre of the can would probably need the can being braced to prevent it severely denting... I guess?
As this is designed for amplification, I also wonder if any soundholes will help or hinder the acoustics as picked up by the piezo. I can always see how it sounds without and add something later or on version 2.
First I have to clean the old cans. The outside is easy enough, but the inside will need to stay rust free, so it seems clutch cleaner is the thing there?
There's lots more to work out but the above is the meat of this dish. I'll take pics as I go for your entertainment.
So far so good, heaps of screw ups, learning loads, but got as far as some testing and it sounds awesome, exacty what I was aiming for. The acoustic sound is raw metal gorgeous, the clean amped sound works well, and then putting it through my transparent overdrive and drive pedals, chucking in some reverb and it's in a different dimension altogether.
I've been playing around with so many set up variations it's too early to say for sure, but the piezos I bought seem weak. I happened to be changing my mum's smoke alarm and took the piezo from the old one. It's big and seems to work the best.
I'm still playing around with bridge placement (which is about 25in scale in the centre of the can, and 30in plus near the tail) and bridge types to get the sweetest resonnance. Some tidying up to do, should be done in a couple of days.
The biggest screw up was the neck position - strings way to high, but pretty much sorted that now.
Here's a couple of pics from a few days ago.
Finally done, and unfortunately had to go to it's new owner before I had chance to record it, but hopefully I'll get to do that at some point.
So much learning involved, and such fun!
So it has two piezos, a small one in a plastic bottle cap filled with glue and wedged between the through rod and the body just under the bridge, and the other bigger one sitting further back just blu tacked on the rod. There's a three way switch for either or both pick ups.
The scale is 25 inch thought the bridge can be moved for a much longer scale, which sounds lovely!
Apart from the wires and plastic bottle cap it's entirely metal inside - which I suspect makes a big difference from having wooden blocks in there.
The fastener for the back was a trial - hunting for scrap bits I had I finally found the dream ticket, two pins from a plug (UK) fastened onto a small bolt.
The neck - didn't read up on finishing it and rubbed in a few layers of raw linseed oil. Not really the finish I wanted. So, after letting that dry in, I added a couple of coats of shellac, rubbed in with tissue paper. That work beautifully. Only a very few small bits of tissue to scrape of with my finger nails at the end, no trouble at all.
I could have done with a tool I could operate to tighten the bolts on the threaded rod inside that hold the neck in place (can see in the last pic). Ended up only doing them finger tight which isn't enough - the neck eventually becomes a bit loose and they need to be redone.