The Smith Family Melobar Guitar - the real story of Melobar from Ted Smith -

Monday, June 9, 2014

Building your own Tel-O-bar and using stands

UPDATE 112916  We are building a couple of DIY Tel-O-bars that will be with a MIM Tele on top unfinished, and a Body with Melobar neck unfinished, for sale in January. Which should make it easy for a Do It Yourselfer to put what components pickup wise they want, choose 6 or 8 string set up on Melobar neck and use StewMac for paint to finish, at a third the price...check back the first of 2017

One of my Tel-O-bars mounted to just a simple music stand is and it works really amazingly well but this guitar is a good example of why the design of the Tel-O-bar double neck is really critical. The body was off by a quarter inch and it changed the entire way the guitar fit your body and didn't work except on a stand

I love these double necks when they are done right and due to the fact I won't be building them anymore...if you want to build one for yourself, I have the correct measurements traced out.

I really love the double neck Melobars. Sometimes I wonder if Melobar would have gone a lot farther if it had started out this way. Due to the fact I can't get out of the guitars what I put into them from people who want to buy them ($2,600 I make $12 an hour but no one has paid over $1,800 which is less than $6 an hour so I can't afford to do it) I don't mind sharing with anyone wanting to build one on their own.
The Double neck version actually makes the Melobar neck sit in a far better position to play and I love the angle for both necks when sitting or standing. If you ever get a chance to play one built correctly you'll know what I mean.
The design angles are critical though. Killer, the guitar in the post above, had a Mexican built body a 1/4" wider than what most Tele's have and it threw off the design enough to make the guitar NOT fit my body and angle of play. So you do have to pay attention to that.

Where you cut that body on the "donor" Tele is going to make the guitar work or not.

Here is a shot of my Mosrite Melobar being cut and it is one of my favorite guitars.

Note how the bodies did not line up, but what I focused on was the angle and the total distance from head tip to head tip (9.5 inches). The bridges should be pretty much at the same position or with the Melobar neck bridge slightly more forward so your right hand will just drop down.
When using the donor method like this; you have to often put a thin piece of plywood on the back, screw them together, then test the feel of the guitar to see if the neck angles are where you want them.

Once you decide how much to take off the Tele (or Strat) side, I will laminate on a body then hand cut the bottom of the body to fit.

You will have a bow in the back like this.

The weight is a big should be able to get it under 9lbs by routering out under the Melobar neck and taking a lot off the back of the body.

Here you can see the curve I put in the back of the body like a Strat; so your arm comes over the body more comfortably and the curve where your chest hits the guitar to make it fit your body better. This also takes off more weight yet keeps the guitar very well balanced.

Also note the bar hole between the necks or you could go behind the Melobar neck.

If you want a to size blue print with the jig I use for the right cut angle on the Tele side and the body size for the bottom, router and wiring diagrams; it's $65 including close up photos from all angles for the body shaping.
It's not an easy project but not impossible for a DIY - well worth the fun the guitar is to play and the power of having both styles at your finger tips. You need a Melobar neck of course and a donor Telecaster or Strat.

Hope that helps anyone trying a DIY Tel-O-bar project; all I ask is that you do not call it a Melobar unless you used one of Dad's original Melobar necks, and not to call or email me with any questions. I don't have the time and I didn't have anyone to ask but had to figure it out by trial and error myself - You'll do fine if you just mock up your prototypes and take the time to make it fit you personally. Good luck.

Here is one Aaron Jennings just completed from the plans