Del Rey Guitar Project – sanding

One of the most time consuming steps to refinishing a guitar is prepping the body…unless you have a good friend who seems to really enjoy the work and will do it for you. Great big thanks to my friend who just sent me these pics!

This is a project guitar I got a while back, but hasn’t been a priority.  Again, thanks go to my friend who is taking the lead on it!

Now we just have to decide what color to paint it!

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Hands Again

Got home yesterday afternoon from a good Christmas vacation.  After unpacking and enjoying being back in our own home, I picked up Wolverine and began playing for Boy (although I did not plug in to anything).  He loves to dance, so I tried to play fast bar chords in kind of a funk rhythm.

Then Girl wanted me to make up a song about her prince and princess toys, so I started a bar chord blues shuffle and sang about the princess blues.  It was pretty funny trading lyrics with my 5 year old daughter about how the prince needed to get his act together or the princess was going to have to rescue him.

As I’m playing an A bar chord and using my pinky in the 5th string every 3rd and 4th strum, my whole hand started to ache.  I paused, shook my hands, and went back to the song, but my hand just ached more and more.  Finally, I had to stop, so I ended the singing and dancing with the kids and put the guitar away.

Within ten minutes the ache was gone.

The last thing I did before going to bed was pick up a guitar (just happen to have one on a stand next to my bed) and strum quietly before my wife came to bed.  No twinges of ache, but after tying this entry, I can feel my hands tightening up.

What is wrong with me?  Any ideas?

Home Again

I got home from my vacation to the in-laws for Christmas excited to play the guitar, but more importantly, to plug my guitars in and play through my Vox AD50VT.  I know, not the great tone producing amp of my dreams, but after a few days of amp shopping, I want to reestablish my baseline on what I’ve got.  How does it compare to all the stuff I played while visiting the in-laws.  Will my ears tell the difference?

But I haven’t plugged in a thing.  My pedals just sit in their home made pedal board case.  My amp just sits under its home made dust cover.  I just type up my little blog in my little music corner.  My guitars remain unamplified.

I’ll just go watch a movie with my wife.

Guitar Store Extravaganza pt 3

I did it.  I went back to the first guitar shop from Saturday to check out the Laney LC15R.  It had a 10 inch H+H Invader speaker, 15 watts from an EL34, digital reverb, a line out, and an effects loop.  I liked it, but I could not get a good clean sound (for my tastes) from it.

I plugged back into the Fender Deluxe Reverb just to make sure my ears were ok.  They were.  The Deluxe Reverb sounded just how I remembered it from Saturday.

So I plugged back into the Laney and got closer to a good clean sound, but it still didn’t feel right.  Then I noticed that it was sitting on top of a Peavey Windsor Studio.  Very similar wattage and features, but newer and designed for recording.  So I plugged into that and got a great clean sound.  Then I turned down the volume and turned up the gain to get a nice distortion.

So I went back and forth between the three amps, trying to dial in the sounds I wanted to hear.  I talked with the shop owner about price (all used amps) and left to think about it.

I’m still thinking.

Guitar Store Extravaganza pt 2

Yesterday, after spending quite a bit of time playing with wah wah pedals at the first guitar store of the afternoon, I went to the second guitar store.

I played a Sienna Burst Fender American Standard Strat.  It is a great looking guitar (currently my favorite from Fender right now) but I prefer the American Deluxe model with the three screw neck plate and shaved neck pocket.  It does sound good, like all the other strats in this series.

I plugged into a Fender Deluxe Vintage Modified.  This amp intrigues me.  I want a tube amp that is simple and straight forward, but I also like having the effects loop and other stuff built in as a bonus.  I don’t think I really need 40 watts, but maybe with an attenuator, it would work.  I don’t think it sounded as good (to my ears) as the Fender Deluxe Reverb I played at the other guitar shop (and don’t forget the silver face deluxe reverb that got away), but it didn’t sound bad.  This amp was almost even with the Egnater Rebel 30 on my “want to try” list, but now it is definitely not.  I’ll still try it when I get a chance, but it is not as high.

As I was looking around the shop I saw a group of pedals from a company I was not familiar with: Onerr.  Apparently they are a Brazilian company that are entering the U.S. market.  The only pedal I’m really interested in purchasing sometime in the near future is a digital delay to augment the analog delay I got last time I was visiting the in-laws.  So when I saw the Onerr Digital Delay DGD-2 with tap tempo, I had to try it.  The really tempting thing was that the pedal was deeply discounted as a floor model.  I plugged it in and got some good sounds out of it.  The tap tempo seemed to work fine.  Then I couldn’t get it to work at all.  After playing with it I realized the switch had broken.  Hard to start or stop the delay effect, let alone use the tap tempo, if the switch is broken.

So I returned the pedal to the sales person who then confirmed they have had problems, so they will return all the pedals they’ve gotten from Onerr.

I played around with the Fender Deluxe Vintage Modified amp some more. It has a built in delay effect, so I still played with a digital delay.  I then asked the sales person if they would sell the pedal for cheap as a project pedal (why not try to fix the switch?).  We couldn’t agree on a price low enough to make it worth his cost and my time.

I looked around some more, but that was the end of my guitar store extravaganza!

Guitar Store Extravaganza

Well, perhaps “extravaganza” is a bit too much.  Let’s just call it three hours of hanging out at two local guitar shops.

At the first shop I played a used 50th Anniversary Fender Strat in Olympic White and a Gibson ES-335 Studio in Red (no f holes).  I played both through a Fender Deluxe Reverb amp.  I enjoyed the traditional strat sounds and then plugged in the ES-335.  It really brought out the growl when I dug in with my playing, but still cleaned up nicely when I didn’t dig in as much.  It also responded well to volume adjustments on the guitar.

I also did a little wah wah pedal shoot-out.  They had a ModTone Vintage Wah, a Dunlop Classic Cry Baby Wah, and a Behringer Hellbabe Wah.  I have a Morley Wah that I haven’t been entirely happy with.  I got it used years ago for a ridiculously low price.  It was probably the second guitar effect I ever bought.  I really like the on/off switch and volume control on the outside of the pedal because I can turn it on without impacting the sound (if I have the pedal all the way up) until I choose to.  All of these pedals have the switch on the inside so you have to press down on the pedal to turn on and off the internal switch.

I’ve been a bit unhappy with my Morley Wah because it seems to have a really small range of motion to get the “wah” sound.  What I’m trying to say is that the pedal moves up and down maybe 45 degrees, but the effect only seems to really impact the guitar signal in about 10 or 15 degrees of the motion.

I tried the ModTone Vintage Wah first since it was on sale for 50% off.  I really wanted to like it.  The first thing I noticed was the main body appears to be plastic.  It just did not feel solid.  It seemed to stand up just fine to my playing with it, but picking it up in my hands and it felt like a knock off.  When I played it the engage point where the “wah” really starts was very low.  It started almost immediately, but then it seem to finish way before the range of motion did.  So again, the range of motion that seems to impact the guitar signal seems to be a small portion of the overall range of motion.

I next tried the Classic Cry Baby.  It was a much more solid built pedal except for the bottom plate.  It was still metal, but it felt so thin that I think I could have bent or warped it with my fingers.  I will say that this is a minor complaint.  As for the pedal, it also had a small engage motion that felt too high for me.

Finally, I tried the Behringer Hellbabe Wah.  If I remember correctly, it was all plastic.  It had a number of extra features that I’m sure you can look up elsewhere.  The unusual thing was that it does not have a switch.  The pedal is motion activated.  This was interesting, but was an immediate turn off for me.  I like having a switch on the outside, but could handle a switch on the inside.  There was probably some setting you could do with this pedal, but I couldn’t figure out how to keep the wah on in a certain position like a tone control.  There were two reasons for this. First, the pedal has a spring on it so it is always up unless you push down.  Second, if you don’t move the pedal then it turns off on its own.  The final complaint I had was that there was an audible sound when the wah pedal turned on.  And it wasn’t in an inconspicuous spot because the pedal engaged a little into the note I was trying to wah.

So I came away unhappy with all the Wah pedals.

I did see a Laney LC15R guitar amp that looked interesting, but did not play through it.  Maybe I’ll go back tomorrow?!?

Guitar Teacher

I ran into my guitar instructor from yester yore. He appears to be doing very well and we had a great chat catching up on what we’ve each been up to.  He spent a year with me while I was clerking for a local state judge.  We met once a week during my lunch break and spent as much time talking about music and what we get out of it as we did learning about music.  He tried to teach me the circle of fifths, but I just never caught on.  Then we moved away and only see him from time to time (like when we go visit family for Christmas).

Hopefully he’ll have some gigs in the Greater Northwest soon!

It was a great way to spend part of my Christmas Eve (aside from getting a Jaw Harp for my brother-in-law).

Starcaster by Fender = in-law love

Got to the in-law’s home without a guitar. This was a conscious decision that was made after much consultation with my significant other.  Didn’t even bring my knock-off steinberger by Arbor.
But I had a plan. I emailed my in-law’s next door neighbor’s son to see if I could borrow a guitar from him while I’m staying at the in-laws. No problem he said.
When I got here my brother-in-law’s wife had an acoustic starcaster waiting for me. Her parents had given it to her just a day or two ago and she knew how empty the holiday break would be for me if I didn’t have a guitar.  So she was loaning it to me while I’m here.
That’s extended family love!

Another guitar project purchase

One day, while perusing Value Village (for those of you not familiar with this staple of the Great Northwest, it is a thrift store chain), I found a 1968 Teisco Del Rey with three pick ups.  It had no strings and was painted black with a XXX board wax sticker on it.  The spring for the vibrato arm was missing and the cup the spring sits in was missing, but everything else was there.  So I got it for $9.99.

Upon taking it apart, I discovered that it originally had a sunburst finish that was painted over in metallic blue sparkle, which had been painted over again in this thick black goop.  I started looking for a new cup and spring for the vibrato arm, but couldn’t find anything.  Finally, I got a replacement Bigsby spring and still kept looking for a cup until I thought of the little cups that are used in cheap sliding closet doors.  That’s right, those cheap gold looking metal cups.  It fit perfectly.

I strung up the guitar with just one string and tested the pick ups.  Man, are they ever microphonic!  They are so lo-fideilty and gritty and cool!  As far as I can tell, there is an on/off switch for each pick up and then a master switch for all the pick ups.  One of the switches doesn’t seem to be working.

I’ve had this project stuck under my desk for the last year or so because I haven’t had time to really clean up the body.  It has gouges and chips that need to be filled in.  The paint needs to be stripped.  The electronics need to be cleaned up and that one switch replaced.

It just hasn’t been a priority.

I mentioned this to my friend who refinished the Wolverine guitar (stay tuned for a future post on that one).  He got excited.  So, at his request, I dropped off the body so he can do all the body work and paint it while I’m away for the holidays.  Awesome!