Budget Guitar Set Up

My friend has an old Silver Cadet by Ibanez from a long time ago.

Silver Cadet Headstock

It has been sitting in a really cool looking hard shell case for years with a broken high E string and a lot of cat hair. Because I am always looking for guitar projects, I offered to clean it and set it up.

Silver CadetAnd so it begins. Strings off. Next is cleaning everything. Putting it back together. Complete set up. Wish me luck!


Camping with Friends

My family and I went camping with friends. We had a great time. Our kids played together. We stayed up late in the evening chatting around the campfire. It would’ve been perfect for my old garage sale acoustic guitar. But I didn’t bring it.

Because in all reality, it wouldn’t have been perfect. No one was there to sing. No one was there to hear me noodle on the guitar. They were there to relax. To roast marshmallows. To make s’mores. To go hiking and swimming.

But these friends are nice. So one night as we are sitting around the campfire and the kids had already gone to bed, one of my friends asked what my current dream guitar is.

Just asking that question in that way…”current dream guitar” shows great insight. So I described how much I love my light and thin SG. I described how much I love my chambered Warmoth strat with the Firebird neck. I explained the recent love for full hollow body, but thin line guitars. Then I described a thinline strat with the back contour that I may need to have someone make for me someday!

The rest of the group moved on with their discussions, but this friend and I enjoyed our conversation. He described his dabbling with guitar when he was young, but stopped because his guitar just didn’t seem set up right. We laughed about how much depth there is to this topic, just like any topic you really care about.

And then we joined the rest of the conversation and moved on to other topics.

But it was a nice reminder of how much I love this stuff!

Letain Guitars

A while back I posted a bunch of pictures of guitars I saw at the Tacoma Guitar show. There was one guitar that I didn’t know the maker of at the time. It was a cool mix of carbon fiber, steel, and wood. I compared it to a Parker Fly that was also at the show.

I finally cleaned up the bag of picks and magazines and ads I got from the show and found the business card of the maker of the unknown guitar. It was Letain Guitars. I went to the Letain website and saw this!

Letain Custom Electric frontLetain Custom Electric back

Isn’t this an amazing guitar? I think it is incredible. I hope Letain Guitars doesn’t mind me resizing and reposting these pictures from its website here. The only question is whether it is semi-hollow or fully hollow.

Ok, there are a few other questions. What does the neck profile feel like? What scale is it? How does it sound? How does it play? etc. I am very curious about this guitar and the possibility of having a modernized version of a Gibson ES-125TDC custom built. That would be very cool!

Unusual Guitars?

While out of town at a training for work, I stopped by a fun guitar shop. I wish I could visit this place on a regular basis. The inventory is so eclectic and changes so often. But it is a bit of a trip and its hours are limited, which don’t match my schedule. Plus I can’t really afford regular visits there. However, I did not buy a guitar this time around!

ovation breadwinner

This visit did not disappoint. I finally got to play an Ovation Breadwinner. The neck felt a bit thick when I first picked it up, but as I played it that feeling went away. It is actually very even along the whole neck. And probably thinner than my old Epiphone Sheraton VSB. The body really does feel as good as I hoped it would. It fit really well when I was sitting. It is compact, but substantial in the right places. And the pickups are very interesting. I liked it a lot.

I also played an unusual guitar that looked like something I would build. It was a Rickenbacker 4001 base style body (with rounded edges) and a bolt on neck (with a very ugly headstock IMO). It had two backwards tilted P-90 style pickups with wings, a roller bridge, and trapeze tailpiece. I was a bit shocked at the price they were asking for because the build quality seemed kind of like the parts guitar I built my daughter, but I liked the overall feel for what looks like a one off guitar. I did love how light it was! And overall, it played well.


And now that I’ve looked it up, it is a bit more unusual than I had originally thought. It is a hollow body! So check out SonicF.

What “unusual” guitar shapes do you like?


It arrived! It is easily half the size of my Ernie Ball VP Jr.

I like it, but it is certainly used. I had to try it out first to make sure it works, even before cleaning it. It also squeaks when I move it up and down, so the cleaning will be pretty thorough.


The travel for engaging the pedal is short, but I expected that. If I were doing a lot of swells or ambient stuff, I would probably stay with the Ernie Ball. After cleaning it up, I messed with the adjustment screws to see if I can improve it. I was able to dial in a decent taper so that almost the entire travel of the pedal works for controlling volume. If I want the entire travel to impact volume, then it doesn’t go completely silent when I have the pedal all the way down. So there are compromises.

dod fx-17 insidesDOD FX17 adjustment screws

With those settings on the adjustment screws it does not do the wah very well. I think reviewers who have said you get one or the other (wah or volume control) nailed it. However, I don’t use wah very often and it does work as a wah.

Overall I am happy with the DOD FX-17 wah/volume/expression pedal. It does what I need in the size I need (and the squeak went away with a little lube). I’ll spend the next few weeks reorganizing my entire pedalboard, but for now, here’s a picture of how much space it will generate.

pedal board changesMore posts to follow.

EDIT: And of course once it arrives, Boss announces a small form volume pedal with the FV-30H. It looks cool, but I can’t find any mention of what size it actually is. And I haven’t seen it sitting next to any other pedals. I’ll just enjoy the DOD on my board instead of GASing for something only seen in a press release!

Yamaha starter guitar

When I first tried to learn to play the guitar, my Dad was taking lessons with a Yamaha strat style guitar. I took it over for a few weeks of beginner guitar lessons when I was 15. Then I didn’t do anything until grad school when I first put together the Wolverine guitar.

So I was pleasantly surprised when an extended family member brought me a bag of guitar parts at the family Christmas party. He said his son had taken it apart to repaint it and now it was missing parts. I got to put it back together and replace the parts so it can go up on Craigslist before his son moves away.

First I checked all the electronics and used Deoxit to clean all contacts. I had to glue the backs of the pickups in place (the glue had flaked off).

Yamaha glue


I then polished the frets and cleaned/oiled the fret board.

Yamaha clean neck

After that soaked in (yes, I know I need to clean up my workbench), I found some replacement screws and springs so it would all go together. Next I put it together with one string on it to really test it through an amp. Once everything worked, I strung it up and did a proper set up. There is one fret that seems a little high, but I was able to compensate with slight relief in the neck and raising the bridge on the G and B strings 1/32 in.

YamahaEG112C frontyamaha eg112c back

It actually plays pretty well. Great entry level guitar!

What comes around

…goes around. I’m putting some gear up on craigslist again. When I do that I check out what else is for sale to see what listings are in direct competition with my listings and what the pricing looks like.

In my review of the competition I found a guitar and bass I worked on for friends. These instruments had already been sold by my friends, so I wasn’t upset or dealing with hurt feelings. I was just happy these instruments were still alive. I hope the next round of owners enjoy playing them as much as I enjoyed working on them once upon a time!

Spectrum 2 based

This project has run into an initial snag. I have tried numerous times, but I cannot get a satisfactory centerline based on the neck pocket. So when I draw in my bridge and pick up locations, it just doesn’t look right.


But I’m not giving up. This one is going to have a tele control plate with a jack, small pick up selector switch (neck, both, bridge), one tone, and one volume. The bridge pick up will be a Seymour Duncan JBJr and a Jackson single coil in the neck I picked up from my local guitar shop and repaired. The bridge is a hipshot. And I’ve got locking tuners. I’ve got everything, I just need to get it all lined up.

Spectrum 2 lives

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, well at least it has been a few years, I ran into a Teisco Spectrum 2 at my local guitar shop and loved it! The shop owner let me take the guitar home and measure it, trace it, etc. I didn’t buy it (which I still regret, but finances just weren’t in the right place), but I did hook back up with my friend who works in a cabinet shop to make one. This is the same guy who refinished my Teisco Del Rey. His buddy programs their cad machine and has been creating a cad design of the body. It hasn’t been a high priority for anyone (life and other guitars seem to have gotten in the way). But now it is a reality!

The first body slab is done and other than the neck pocket needing some tweaking (too shallow), we are ready to begin creating a guitar! The body has a maple center with cherry wood wings. I think we’ll go with a clear finish, tele controls, and two single coil pickups in the neck and bridge positions, plus locking tuners and a string through hipshot bridge. This is exciting stuff! Pictures coming soon!

Daughter’s Practice Amp

A while back I mentioned getting an old Kustom practice amp out of the dumpster that just needed new jacks. I had one I could add for the input, but the headphone jack still needed to be replaced. But it worked for testing guitars on my work bench so I didn’t worry about it.

dismantled amp

Well, now my daughter needs something to play her new guitar through. I took the little amp apart and removed the broken jack. Now I just have to get a new one, solder it in, and put it all back together.

amp innards