(Still) Building a Shovel, last minute advice needed (lots of questions/first build)

OK guys, I've not given up on the shovel build a la Justin Johnson https://youtu.be/V9-ltPsbw9g but money and my own frustration with numbers really put me off it for a bit. 

Heres where Im at: I own a shovel! I have also confirmed thru the man himself the scale length is a standard 25.5. When I posted before, I got really hung up on measurements and things not lining up but at this point Im just going to ask a question then go with it, so lets get started!

1: Being the scale length IS 25.5 and my bridge location is somewhat limited, is it OK for me to measure 25.5" up from the bridge to find my nut location?

2: When I use the StewMac calculator and my eyeball for converting decimals to tape measure, my "fret" marks still dont line up like either the production model or the original does. As a new builder and player, Id like them to be pretty dang close if I can. The question is, since its a slide guit, does it really matter that much? Are the more for reference no matter what?

3: Is there a "best" tuner to use on this thing? Im going thru the thin (.25" ) plastic handle and will be adding washers no matter what.

Thats about it. I know I have a ton more little things but Im going to just wing most of it and hope for the best...

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1 = yes . 

2 =  Doesn't matter  "as much " but still important .  if you have a regular  25.5 guitar use it to make a template ,  with  long paper /cardboard  etc  to mark your spots .

3 = get some enclosed tuners .


remember round side down .. (gear part toward body ) otherwise they may strip on a guit like this ,

Ditto-ing Pick here.

A) stop trying to copy the exact look of the other shovel git (specifically fret/nut relation to handle/shaft joint),  you should be enjoying making it your own, and as long as the basics are right it will a joy to play and look and feel great.

B)  pick your bridge location, your pickup location, and a range where the nut might could be put, and then lay out your tap measure and see what's what.  Your git can be anywhere from 24-26 in scale length and it will be right smart good to go.

C) If you are making a slide git, do the fret marks last.  build her, string her up, grab a slide, open the chromatic tuner app on your smart phone or use a $7 clip on tuner in chromatic mode, and use the tuner to tell you where to put the marks

thanks, thats more or less what I was going to do. 

Regarding "A" on your list, the only reason I was worried about copying his was the all important fretting/scale thing. For the life of me I couldnt figure out how he used 25.5 and ended up with one of his fret marks at the line where the shovel meets the handle and i thought I was doing something wrong that I couldnt see, and in turn would ruin this whole thing. 

Im really excited to get this thing going. Working at a hardware store really makes life easier with this stuff... lol

If you want a fret mark to line up with a certain place on the instrument body ( whether shovel, cigar box, pumpkin, etc ) .. you'd have to work backwards - measure from that place on the instrument the distance from that fret ( or a fret ) and then subtract that distance from your scale length and place the other end..

IE - 

<---- scale length -------------->

bridge--------Fret-------------nut

Would have to likely get that exact brand/model shovel to match his and even then it might come down to variations at the factory for the shovel (and/or the guitar )..

you know, for as much overthinking as I've done, that NEVER occurred to me and now I feel like a doorknob. FML

And its not even an aesthetic thing (altho that is nice too) but more of me worrying my math was wrong somewhere. But still, Ill try it and see what the results are. 

Right after I slam my head in a car door.

For your tuners, a piece of aluminium 1/2" thick screwed or riveted to your handle will stiffen the plastic handle and make it better for mounting the tuners, or even a strip of good wood, if you can spread the load of the tuner along that plastic handle a bit it will make it more secure

OK,  i think I had an epiphany and I feel like a moron. 

So, my original hang up was that I couldnt get the scale and fretting to make sense off the shovel he used. on JJ's, it showed the 9th fret at the shovel joint, and when I do the math the 12th fret hits there. I couldnt reconcile why there was a ~2.5" difference in the measurements!

Well, after rewatching the videos over and over still trying to figure out what the hell Im doing wrong, I noticed that theres a slight difference in our tools. His has the "foot steps" curving opposite as mine in all the pictures and videos of HIS guitar. So I started looking at the handle (which I did before, because I wanted to see if he replaced any factory hardware) and HIS looks to be a hair shorter. 

EVEN THO our model numbers/brands are the same, they are made differently for some reason and it seems mine is just long enough that I got a few grey hairs trying to figure out how my magical tape measure was adding inches...

I feel like a jackass now, but I also have found a bonus. I WANTED the 12th fret to be noticeable, and not only is it "in the useable area" but its definitely in an easy to find spot. 

Thank you all for your patience with me.

BINGO! and congratulations.

different factories or before/after a retool in the same factory can account for 'things' with the same model number being different.  TVs, lamps, replacement carburetors, table saws, commercially produced electric guitars, air bags, ....

I jumped on here to offer one other idea, get a collection of Gitty's fret templates for different scales, and you can hold those against your shovel, box & stick, toilet seat & metal conduit, etc., for a visual idea of how things line up.

Give youself a break and do not over think the build. For example the first Les Paul electric guitar was a wooden 2x4 with strings and hand wound pickups.

Build the shovel guitar, keep the distance between the nut and bridge around 25”.  If you want “fret markers” tune the shovel guitar to GDG then take a electronic tunner, your slide and mark with a pencil where the basic cords are. ..open will be a G, slide down a bit on the top string until the tunner shows a C, mark with a pencil, slide down and mark where the tunner indicates D mark it...so on and so forth....mark the basic cord positions 1,4,5,8. 

As you play the shovel guitar you may want to raise the strings, lower the action use a different pickup, etc.

I use the pickups slides from MGB Guitars.

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