Quality TV

Well, quality TV with the help of the 30 second skip on my DVR.  I’m watching the Grammys right now…

  • Lady Gaga and Elton John were kind of cool with their faces smeared with soot.
  • I like Broadway.  I like Green Day.  They should not mix as proven by the Grammys tonight.
  • Beyonce’s guitarist is playing a Zakk Wylde half SG/half Flying V Gibson guitar with the target logo.  Cool.
  • Cover of “You Oughta Know” by Beyonce and her all female band was good till the writhing on the floor.
  • Hoping for Bob Metzger when Seal announced some blah, blah, life time award thing-y for Leonard Cohen.  Sorely disappointed.
  • Pink brings back Circus of the Stars and a sprinkler.
  • Slash plays (what I think was) the November Rain solo in the wrong song…on purpose.  Glad he didn’t autotune with T-Pain.
  • Zack Brown Band can sing
  • Leon is still alive.
  • Taylor Swift’s skin is so soft that it looks blurry on camera.
  • I missed the Michael Jackson 3D thing about rain forests because I was looking for my 3D glasses.

Caught up to live television and I just can’t take it.  I’ll have to watch the rest tomorrow…or some other time when I have 15 extra minutes.

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Angus Young on a budget

I’ve mentioned it here (and here) in other entries, but here is my 1965 Epiphone G-400 with Maestro Vibrato tailpiece guitar.  I got it used at a local shop and it had a big chunk missing from the bottom side of the edge.  I did some cosmetic repair (paint) to keep the chip from getting worse and it has been an excellent guitar! It is made in Korea with Grover tuners, Alnico V humbucker pick ups, 2 volume, 2 tone, 3 way switch, etc. (see basic info here).

I don’t know what it is about vibrato bridges, but I just like the way the strings feel when I play a guitar with one.  This one is nice and stiff.  I can use it when I want, but it just gives the strings a nice feel to my fingers compared to a fixed bridge.

Anyway, here are some pics:

Raise ‘em right?

Here’s a follow up to the old post I posted two days ago.  Does that make sense?  Just read this old entry and comment…if you like.

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So I hope my last entry didn’t come off like some tyrannical father who’s away from his family all day and reprimands his kids for the slightest infraction.  Oh, well.  This is the internet.

So our one month old was inconsolable last night.  Finally, I set him down on the couch to get something that had rolled under the oven.  When I came back he had stopped crying and was staring in wonder and awe at the three guitars hanging from the wall.

I know my three year old daughter loves music.  She loves to sing and dance.  She loves to listen to music.  She loves to sing to my guitar playing.  And I know she humors me by strumming her little $20 fixer upper acoustic I got her.  But to see my new born son staring at those guitars was pretty funny and felt just plain good.

Let me tell you a story… again

The wife and baby are out with friends.  The 3 year old is sick in front of the tv.  The house is clean and I have no real responsibilities until the 3 year old has to go to bed in two hours.  What do I do?

I check email.  I read guitar blogs.  I look at guitar gear I can’t afford.  I lament not playing the guitar for almost two weeks at work or at home.  I fill the time while accomplishing nothing until I’ve got about 35 minutes before the 3 year old’s bed time.  Then I decide to just plug in a guitar and actually play out loud.  No headphones.  No quiet, don’t disturb the baby playing.  Nothing constructive, just plug in, turn it up, and play.

My fingers won’t work.  They feel like swollen sausages.  It’s hot and all the fans are cooling off bedrooms for kids to comfortably go to sleep in.  I’ve been hot this entire time, I’ve just ignored it because I wasn’t actually doing anything.

I’m not only hot.  I’m dehydrated.  My playing sounds worse than usual.  I can’t put together normal chord changes.  I start to think I really do suck.

So I get a drink of water.  I wash my hands.  I stretch out a bit.  Then I pick up my guitar again and start to enjoy myself.  My sick 3 year old comes running in with her little acoustic.  We have a blast banging on our guitars (once I turn my amp volume down to a level my 3 year old says is “just right”) for the ten minutes left until bedtime.  My fingers limber up.  I feel better.  I start playing better.

As we put our guitars away and I usher my 3 year old up to her bedroom for the ritual brushing of teeth, story reading, and prayers I think to myself, “Why did I wait to play?”  I can’t play out loud anymore.  I can’t use headphones because I don’t want to miss hearing the 3 year old yell out in the night, puke, or have to go potty.  Now I’ve got the time to do all the stuff I did before picking up the guitar.  Why was my initial reaction at having free time to sit at my computer?  Why did I practically dismiss the possibility of playing the guitar until so much later in my rare free evening?

I can only blame habit, sleep deprivation, and duty.  With the new kid and my desire to take as much stress off my wife I almost never play the guitar “out loud.”  And I don’t feel I can sit down and play for longer than five minutes at a time because there are always things that need to be done: rocking a fussy baby, changing diapers, cleaning the house, playing with the 3 year old, preparing meals, etc.  I want to be involved with my family and all the responsibilities that come with it.  I’m afraid if I plug in my guitar I’m unplugging from my family.  It is a palpable fear and it isn’t a bad thing…until it keeps me from enjoying the guitar when it is perfectly reasonable to do so.  Like last night.

Del Rey Guitar Project: Headstock clear coat

Here’s the latest progress on the headstock.  After trying to keep the carved out section of the headstock a natural wood color, it was decided it didn’t look very good.  My friend and I both agreed that it did not have the desired effect we thought it would.  So now the entire face of the headstock is painted.  The sides and back will be kept the natural wood with a satin clear on the back of the neck and glossy clear on the back of the headstock.

Customizing Guitars

This happened over a year ago, but I finally found the pictures:

I got home from work last night, changed my clothes, and eventually made my way to my home office to check email and maybe, depending on our one month old, record a little song idea in A# (or is that B flat?) I came up with at work during my lunch break.  I noticed something white on the body of my black 1974 Epiphone Crestwood.  I bent down closer to find a smiling “Sunny Day” sticker stuck to my guitar.

I quickly looked around to find matching stickers on my office chair.  I called for my three year old and luckily my wife came with her to stop me from really reprimanding her.  Apparently a friend had been over to play and they had put stickers on everything.  My wife already got them in trouble.  So I just took the sticker off and quietly told my daughter to never put stickers on guitars.  She lowered her head and said she was sorry.

This morning, before heading off to work, I decided to hang this guitar from the wall instead of keeping it on the stand in my office and replace it with my daughter’s ¾ body parlor acoustic I got for $20.  I picked my Crestwood by the neck only to find another sticker under my hand.  It vividly brought back last night’s conversation and I remembered my admonishment of my daughter about never putting stickers on guitars.

Did I just ruin a potentially great luthier and guitar player by telling my daughter to never personalize or customize her instrument?  Did I just take away any possibility of her taking ownership of something she loves?  How many people, especially kids, cover their guitars in stickers?  How many custom paint jobs, guitar builds, pic up swaps, etc., were all instigated by wanting to put a cool sticker on a guitar?  To take ownership of an instrument and make it theirs?  I’ve done it with my Wolverine guitar.  I’ll do it with future guitar projects.

Will my daughter?

Probably.  She’s young.  She’ll bounce back.  And more importantly, last night’s sitcker lesson wasn’t about personalizing a guitar, it was about respecting other people’s property.

Besides, she can put stickers on her $20 acoustic!

Del Rey Guitar Project – painted headstock face

Latest update on the Del Rey guitar project:  The face of the headstock has been painted by my good friend who is doing all the heavy lifting on this project!  Thanks once again go to him!

Pictures of Stella

Ok, so I posted about this purchase a long time ago (well, it feels like a long time ago even though it has only been a few months since I started this thing).  Here are some actual pictures of my Epiphone G-400 Korina (nicknamed Stella).  Enjoy! I know I do.

Del Rey Guitar Project: bridge & pickguard polish

For those of you not familiar with the model of Del Rey I am rebuilding (with a friend’s help being the bulk of the work), it has a metal pick guard.  This one is scratched up, but you can still easily see the alternating polished and brushed stripes in the metal.  I’ve spent the last few hours with a dremmel and polishing compound trying to get the scratches out.

Upon taking a break I asked my wife which side she thought looked better.  It was the side I hadn’t done anything to…I think I’ll stop for a while.

Just a side note.  Always wear protective gear.  I started without anything, then added eye protection, then gloves, and  then a face mask.  All of these steps were each in reaction to a small injury.  First, polishing compound got in my eye.  Second, my hand got rubbed raw when I slipped with the dremmel.  Third, a metal fleck stabbed me in the right nostril when I was using a small metal brush attachment on the dremmel to clean out a corner of the bridge.  If you try this at home, start with all the protective gear.

Wolverine Upgrades: New Vibrato Bridge

I got the Gotoh Wilkinson VS100  Tremolo/Vibrato from Warmoth and started to work on installation.  The old bridge was a cheap vintage style vibrato piece with six screws and a wobbly arm.  I got it set up, but ended up tightening the springs down so it hardly moved.  It still didn’t stay in tune all the time.

The Wilkinson has two pivot points that screw into posts that are installed in the guitar body and feel a lot more solid than the old one with six screws.  However, it didn’t seem to fit very well in the old slot.  So I hunted down someone’s CAD designs for routing a strat body for a Wilkinson (thank you internet!).  My brother-in-law was kind enough to convert the CAD design into a pdf (he’s a doctor of engineering), which I used to figure out that my old bridge had been half an inch too far out (no wonder intonation had been so tough!).

I contacted Warmoth and they said they could see what they could do.  Well, they worked their magic with the CNC machines to reroute the hole for the Wilkinson in the right place on the body (and routed out the slot for the LSR rollernut on the neck).  If you look carefully, you can see the exposed wood in the slot that used to be painted black.  It worked out beautifully (but ignore the very bad, very ugly filling I did of the original 6 screw holes)!

Here’s a few pics!

As I’ve said before, the addition of the Wilk, with the LSR rollernut and Schaller locking tuners, have vastly improved this guitar!  It stays in tune.  Not just while a play, but when I set the guitar down for a few days or when my kid plays with/hangs on the whammy bar…it is still in tune.  Right now I have the bridge floating so I can go up and down.  It is so smooth and goes right back to neutral after any push or pull.  I am very happy with these upgrades!

Del Rey Guitar Project – neck pt 1

Work on the neck begins.  First, a friend of a friend was nice enough to re-fret the neck.  Now my friend who did the body work has started on the neck.  He sanded down the back of the neck and the headstock and is now putting primer on the face of the headstock in preparation for a matching green face!  The sides and back of the neck and headstock will remain the natural wood color with a satin finish on the neck and gloss on the headstock.  Here are the pictures he sent yesterday!