Guitar Maker Book

While browsing through a local used bookstore I came across Make Your Own Electric Guitar by Melvyn Hiscock (2nd edition).  It looks like a really good read, was the right price, and may push me over the hump of making my own guitar from scratch.

I still have the Teisco Spectrum 2 project out there.  My friend’s friend has been steadily working on the CNC designs in his spare time.  We should be jumping into building the body in the next few months.  This project still won’t include making a neck.  I redid the plans to include a standard fender style neck pocket instead of the slightly smaller original neck pocket.

I still have this dream of making a fleet of Spectrum 2 bodies with the CNC designs and adding the straight forward Fender style necks…each with a different wood, finish, tuning, pick up, and bridge configuration.  Wouldn’t that be awesome!


Finally Cleaned that Squier

While watching tv the other night, I thoroughly cleaned and restrung that squier affinity strat I got for a buddy’s project.  It was gross.  There was so much gunk on the fingerboard I had to get out windex. I then scrubbed it again with lemon oil. Not just spread lemon oil on the fretboard and then wipe off the excess, I actually scrubbed.  Once the lemon oil had soaked in, then I wiped off the excess.  The body also needed a thorough cleaning.  It was pretty gross!

I didn’t take the pickguard off.  It was painted with some sort of black paint with sparkles.  It looks like they painted it with the electronics still on it because the pickups are fused into place and there is no break in the paint on the front of each pick up.  Plus, the fingerboard of the neck was so gross, I was a little afraid to open it up.

And why did the original owner keep white knobs when everything else was made black?  The sparkle black paint job with little nicks of white plastic pick gaurd coming through is actually kind of growing on me, but then I’m distracted by the incredible worn down knobs and wonder how this all came together.  This thing was played!

However, it works and it was cheap and it will make a great little guitar again… once it is all done!

Does it live again?

I’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog how cool I think the Rickenbacker 480 looks.  It was made between 1973 and 1984.  It is a six string guitar with a 4002 bass body. They just look awesome, but they aren’t made anymore and I just watch their value go up on eBay.

Until this posting.  Apparently there is hope that a 480 may be possible.  It probably will still be well outside my price range, but feast your eyes on this:

I know this is a twelve string.  And I know they are saying it is a 481 (angled or fanned frets if I remember correctly), but isn’t that awesome!

Vox test drive

I want a hollow body! I’m thinking B.B. King’s signature Gibson.

I’m thinking Johnny A.’s signature Gibson.

Well, actually, I would like a hollow body. I’m just musing about a double cut awayhollow body.  It has to be a double cut away for some reason.  I don’t know if it is playability or looks or what, but that is what I prefer.

My local guitar shop started carrying Vox guitars a while back and was kind enough to find a Vox 99 for me to try too!

I’ve tried the Vox 77 before and really liked it, but was afraid to even think about laying that much cash down for a laminate wood guitar that looks like a hollow body SG…

which isn’t a bad thing, but what about my desires for something a bit more classic looking (cue B.B.King).

The 99 and the 77 have the same pickup configuration, but the 99 has the “vintage” voiced pickups.  The necks, tuning machines, frets, and bridge are pretty much the same. They have different horns, which is pretty obvious.  I plugged the 99 into a Fender Super Sonic amp dialed in to a pretty nice clean tone.  I started on the neck pick up and only got one sound I really liked with the pickup configuration switch all the way up. There are three choices, but the middle and bottom selections just sounded dark to me.  Perhaps they aren’t designed for a clean sound, but the top selection was very very good. I really liked that sound on the neck pick up!

Then I tried the bridge pick up.  Having the configuration switch reminded me of the Seymour Duncan P-Rails with Triple Shot pick up rings I have on my Warmoth project guitar.  Each position provides a different sound that provides a lot of flexibility.  I didn’t really find any sounds I didn’t like, but I think the middle position sounded best for the bridge pick up.

Also, the wrap around contour of the 99 is very cool.  The body of the guitar is not flat, but actually curved.

It is great for sitting and standing and hugs your body as you play.  I like it a lot.  But the big classic horns were annoying.  The upper one dug into my chest when I was sitting down.  I probably shouldn’t hunch, but I’m not spending this much money on something that isn’t comfortable in all playing positions.

So I got the 77 back out.  The wrap around contour is still great and the horns are better shaped so there was no digging into my chest.  There was also something that made me like the regular “CoAxe” pickups over the “vintage CoAxe” pickups. I can’t describe any actual difference in sound, but I liked them better on the 77 over the 99. The neck pick up was still only really good with the voice selector up in the top position, but the bridge pickup sounded great in all three.

The reality is I’m not getting either one any time soon, but it was a great opportunity to learn more about my likes and dislikes in guitar gear.  Thanks to my local guitar shop!

Pink “Montana” Bass Makeover!

It’s makeover time!

That’s right!  My buddy with the pink unlicensed “Hanna Montana” bass has decided to move beyond the funny looks and into something else.  He’s already removed the “Hanna Montana” decal, but the first step will be simply swapping out the pick guard from white to black.  We’ll keep the white pick up covers a la Paul Simonon of the Clash.

Then we’ll reshape the headstock from the pointy Johnson headstock to something more old school low profile Fender-esque (think Sting).

Then we’ll either add a black racing stripe or paint the entire body olympic white (again, a la Paul Simonon). And we’ll probably pain the face of the headstock black too (again, think Paul Simonon).

It should be a fun project! And I’m already done with the pick gaurd!

Personally, I’m hoping for the black racing stripes on the pink body, but it isn’t my call.  Obviously I’ll keep you posted.

Note in My Pocket

I found a note in the pocket of my jacket with a time, date, and radio station written on it.  Thanks to the internet I was able to look at their playlist and found the song that was played at that time on that date on that radio station.  Here it is:

I don’t remember hearing this before, but I like it. It has some great guitar solos and the effects on it are great toward the end. I guess I still agree with myself when I wrote it down for whatever reason. I hope you do too!

To Drill pt 2

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of one of my local guitar shops, I was able to use a reamer for a much safer way to expand the hole in my Ibanez AW100 acoustic guitar. Stan was nice enough to let me come in during my lunch break to use his work bench and tools.

The reamer is tapered, so once I had the initial hole to the 1/2 inch mark, I then used a drill bit to make the entire hole a uniform half inch diameter. I then used a guitar cable through the hole to pull the end pin jack through. It worked well. Then I used a small Alan wrench to keep the end pin jack from spinning while I tightened the nut with a slim wrench.

The install went fine.  When I got home I used some double sided tape to attach the piezo pick up under the bridge.  After I try it, I may move it around to get a different sound from the piezo pick up.  Once I find the best sound, I’ll hot glue it in there.

Put a strap on it and everything seems to work great!

Strap button pt 2

I did it. I installed a strap button on the neck heel of my Ibanez AW100 acoustic guitar. It was pretty straight forward after already doing this to my Olympia OP-2 parlor acoustic guitar.

First I put some tape on the general area I wanted to put the strap button.  Remember it should be on the bottom side of the neck heel (the part that is pointed toward the ground when you play – generally that is the treble/small strings side). And low enough that it won’t get in the way of playing anything on the upper frets, but not so low that the guitar wants to fall forward.

Then I drilled.  Then I put soap on the screw.  Then I screwed it in.  Then I put on the strap. Done!

New acoustic stomp box

I had so much fun the other day with my newly electrified acoustic guitar and homemade acoustic stomp box, but I have admit that the stomp box was too small for my foot.  And the double sided tape worked great for the piezo pickup, but not for the speaker. So after a few trips to local thrift stores I found a low profile jewelry box that was almost four inches longer than my foot.
I tore everything out of it, drilled a hole to fit the jack (Again, had to do some carving to get the fit right), and used double sided tape to attach another piezo pickup from a radio shack buzzer.

The thing I really liked about this jewelry box was the big rubber feet. But I didn’t like the carved top of the jewelry box, so I flipped it upside down and moved the rubber feet to the old “top.”

It fits very well under my foot when I play and I can leave the heel of my foot on it and tap with no problem (couldn’t do this on the smaller one).  It actually sounds pretty good! I also found an old Behringer EQ pedal that has made it much easier to boost the lower frequencies for more bassy thump and less trebly tap.  It isn’t a must, but it helps. It’s like a cheap little easy button.

I also like this jewelry box because the wood is pretty thick. I can attach my original acoustic stomp box speaker with screws and not worry about the screws coming through.  That may be tomorrow’s project.  Or next week.

To Drill Or Not To Drill

…That is the question.  I’ve finished all the modifications (for now) I want to do to my kids’ Olympia by Tacoma OP-2 parlor guitar.  It was a great test subject for DIY piezo pick up installed with a jack on the side and a strap button on the neck heel.  Everything seems to be working just fine and I am ready to do the same things to my Ibanez AW-100 acoustic, but I’m nervous.

The piezo pick up is all ready to go and is attached to an end pin jack, but I’m nervous about drilling into the back of my guitar to install the end pin jack.

I read a lot of forums and this article from Stew Mac about the dangers of drilling and how you can mess things up that require a lot more work.

But also know this guitar is not very valuable and at the end of the day I just have to do it. I got out my 1/2 inch spade (paddle) drill bit just to see just how it would work and got more nervous.  There was nothing I could do to keep it centered if I started to drill. The hole for the end pin is big enough that the center spike of the spade bit would float around until the outer sections of the paddle would dig in. Based solely on the drilling I’ve been doing on the jewelry boxes I’ve converted into acoustic stomp boxes, I know I will not hold it steady. So I didn’t drill.  This is the only 1/2 inch drill bit I have.

I may go to my local guitar store to see if they’ll let me use their reamer, but that won’t be happening today.  So stay tuned for my acoustic guitar end pin jack install.