In July 2013, I bought a set of six Jeanrenaud 73CC5P DPDT parallel slide switches from Manuel Angelini (http://doxyworld.com) in France for the Red Special replica guitar build I was planning. These are essentially the same items that Brian May fitted to his original guitar back in 1963/4 and probably cost very little, but are extremely difficult to find now.
Since the metal bodies of the Jeanrenaud switches are narrower than modern Switchcraft variants, having original items (or accurate modern replicas) allows a builder to replicate the switch frame and control cavity dimensions of the original Red Special. If the control cavity is the same width, then the pickguard design can also be the same as the original unlike with the Burns and BMG Specials. The alternative solution is to modify a set of modern Switchcraft 46200LRX series switches to fit the original design guitar body. Andy Guyton took this approach on the run of fifty original Guyton Red Special replicas.
In 2015, on an enthusiast web forum, I was asked whether it would be feasible to design and 3D print a hybrid style actuator with the smaller Jeanrenaud switch tip mated to a standard Switchcraft style body. This would allow a Switchcraft switch to be dismantled and modified so at least the protruding tip would have the same aesthetic appearance of the original, even if the rest of the iceberg was modern under the surface. I duly worked up a very intricate design in TurboCAD.
Using the high resolution images and dimensions that I posted on the web forum, Tim Grocott from Norwich, U.K. became interested in taking the project forward to make a set of replica Jeanrenaud switches for his proposed Red Special replica build. We collaborated on a design and he got some metal chassis laser cut from aluminium sheet by Sorb Engineering – a company I had previously used to make a StewMac style stainless steel fret slotting template – and worked up the plastic actuator design and got them 3D printed. I cut the bases (‘wafers’) from 2.0 mm phenolic resin sheet (Tufnol) and thicknessed these down to the original dimension of 1.8 mm.
Around this time, Andy Guyton of Guyton Guitars was developing his next project: a production run of twenty ultimate Brian May Red Special replicas based on the two 1970s and 1985 era reliced props he made for the Bohemian Rhapsody movie. Andy contacted Tim to request a batch of 120 switches. For maximum authenticity, he got his own metal chassis cut from steel sheet as per the original items. I cut a batch of 180 wafers using my Stepcraft 2/840 CNC machine in my garage to cover this order and give Tim some spares to sell and experiment with.
It is quite satisfying to see a project gestated by two amateur enthusiasts develop to a level where a professional luthier considers the endeavour worthy enough to buy into it, not to mention that I have made some small parts for a low volume production run of high end boutique replica guitars. I can’t wait to see the finished Guyton “Time Warp” Red Special replicas in all their glory. I am sure the lucky owners will appreciate and enjoy these beautifully crafted instruments and the many hours of intricate work that went into them for decades to come.
Below this text is a selection of images illustrating the story, some are copyright Andy Guyton and were first posted on his Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/p/B8KRQedHmyr/
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