Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Previously, On ELECTRIC GUITAR PROJECT, we saw the crazed old man digging and hacking and chopping for what felt like hours, and for what? Who knows! Today the seemingly endless quest continues...

I have an irrational nagging worry concerning this guitar and if I don't do something about it, it'll bug me forever. When I made the pickup notch I separated the neck into 2 pieces inside the body. Technically it's not a thru-neck guitar anymore. I'm sure it's plenty strong as it is, in fact there's still more attachment the way it is than there would be with a bolt-on neck. Regardless of any of that sensibleness, my addled mind can not let it go and WILL NOT rest comfortably until I reinforce that neck, dangit! I know it's an unnecessary waste of time, but I can't NOT do it.

I'm going to drill 4 holes through the neck into the body, by way of the pickup notch, and glue dowels into the holes. That'll pin everything together pretty well. At least it'll satisfy me a little more.

Two holes get drilled on each side. One angles to the left and one to the right.

Then with the help of glue and a mallet, a dowel gets crammed in as deep as it'll go into each of the 4 holes.

After the glue dries I cut the extra dowel away with an X-Acto knife...

...And trim it off flush.
Okay, SHOO! Now I can relax and let it go.

While I had the hand drill plugged in I went ahead and drilled two holes for the shoulder strap buttons.

Here's something else which keeps bugging me. The walnut/maple lamination is nice looking in the body, but I hate the way it looks at the headstock. It disturbs the flow of the tapered headstock since the laminations are parallel. Also, look at the edge. Just look at it! ! You can see a big ugly, out of place, dark stripe of walnut breaking up the maple.

I got some scraps of mahogany and maple veneer and I'll attempt to cover the face and edge of the headstock. I'm gonna try to do a 2-color pattern too. I've never veneered anything before and I hope I'm not biting off more than I can chew. We shall see. . . next time, on ELECTRIC GUITAR PROJECT!

This is a size comparison of a dachshund with a little 2 1/2 year old Chinese demolition catastrophe machine.

She actually loves Lucy, but Lucy doesn't know it. Lucy just thinks MeiMei likes falling on her.
It's like a battle field for dogs. Lucy went in, grabbed some grub, and skeedaddled!

Pet...pet...pet... (POUND! POUND! POUND!)

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Right before he dies he makes a shrugging hand gesture as if to say, "So? Big deal. I've seen better."

Monday, November 22, 2010


I realize this post will only be of interest to a small group but I'm too happy to not talk about it.

Recently Mei and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary. She got me a Fender Jaguar bass for my gift and I got her some shoes she was wanting. That's what she wanted! I believe I came out ahead on that deal. I asked her I don't know how many times to tell me what she REALLY wanted instead of shoes, but she REALLY wanted shoes.

My stringed instrument army is growing.

In the past I bought basses and guitars solely based on their looks. This is the first time I think I did it the right way. I took my old BC Rich bass into the guitar store and compared it to the other basses they were selling all on the same amp so I could get a good comparison. This Fender bass was my hands down favorite. It was so much better than my old one I was kind of ashamed to ask if they'd take it as a trade in.

I like that all the strings seem to be evenly volumed, and each string seems to be pretty evenly volumed across the length of the neck on any fret. That was a frustration on my old bass. This Fender has a thick growling tone with lots of low end bassy tone, but also enough treble to hear the frets clicking and crunching if I want that. It's got steady sustain too.

The tuners are so big and cartoonish I didn't like them at first, but now they've grown on me. These photos seem to bring out the fingerprints. I'm looking at this bass in real life right now and I don't see the fingerprints. I don't know if that means my camera is good or bad.

There are lots of switches and knobs providing mucho variety in tone. So much in fact, sometimes I can't settle on a sound. The more choices I'm offered, the more doubts and indecision I'm faced with. Every button click seems to make a completely different sound which is equally as nice as the last setting I thought I liked.

These are battery-powered active EQ dials. The switch on the right turns them on or off. The 2 dials are for bass and treble.

These switches are pickup selectors.

Then there are the master volume and tone knobs. All of these knobs and switches combined make too many combinations for me to add up, and the nice thing is the combinations all sounds pretty good. On my old bass I had basically 2 settings: (1) kind of usable and (2) everything else which was all unusable.

If I had to name one complaint about this Fender Jaguar bass it would be the cord jack being in the face plate rather than in the edge of the body. That puts the cord more in the way. It's not a huge inconvenience and can be rendered less intrusive with one of those 90 degree jacks.

I feel like a heel for finding anything at all to complain about though. Not only is this a good sounding bass, I like the way it looks.

In the past when I recorded music, the old BC Rich bass would kill my guitar tracks. It didn't matter if it was an acoustic guitar or an electric, or if it had light or heavy distortion. I could get a guitar to record exactly how I liked it, and then when I added the bass, the guitar would suddenly disappear into the song, or just sound like fuzzy and puny toneless white noise.

The pickups on the old bass were creating a signal which invaded the guitar's realm on the EQ band, cutting into the midrange rather than staying down in the lower bass levels. I could fight with EQ settings for a while and eventually get a sort-of sound from the guitars, but I was never completely successful. It was danged aggravating and unsatisfying. I've recorded a few songs with the new Jaguar bass and the Danelectro guitar and it's fun to record music now. I can just run a wire straight from the instruments to the recorder with no effects pedals or amps in between and they sound great, and they don't bleed over the tops of each other.

Maybe in the future I'll be able to put a music CD together and then if you guys have the stomachs and tolerance for it you can punish yourselves by listening to it. Hopefully afterwards you'll still want to be my friend.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


My pal gave me a gourd with a long straight stem. It seems perfect for a stringed instrument. All I'd need to do is put a fretboard and bridge on it, and then some tuners and a sound hole. Look HERE to see another gourd I turned into a guitar. The unique feature on this new gourd would be the ability to incorporate it's own stem into the guitar's neck.

It may not be big enough for a 6-stringer, but I could probably get 3 on it. That's enough to make chords. It's just another project to throw onto my to-do list. Maybe it'll show up here sooner than later. It seems easy and fun so maybe I'll put other things aside to work on it.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Here's a fairly old drawing I dug up. I remember having completed an epic saga for these guys too, but can't find it as of yet. There were big plans for them at the time but in the end they got pushed aside for other projects. I think the main reason I gave up on them was because they seemed too much like the X-Men as far as their story went. If I can find the story I'd sort of like to work on them again, and give their looks and X-Men-iness an update.

I remember bits and pieces of their story, and I remember all of their powers.

Mental Man has the power to make people think horrible things are wrong with their bodies, such as making them think their hands are cut off, or they have fresh bullet holes.

The Virus is a carrier of all the viruses in the world and has the power to emit them from her body. She basically makes people sick.

Charlie Horse (his nickname) has the power to give people excruciating muscle spasms of bone-breaking proportions by a mere touch to that spot on their bodies.

Rokki can eat anything including poisons. Nothing can contain him because he'll eat through it, whatever it is.

Since I get good responses when I include Lucy in a post, here she is unrelated to anything, just drinking water. I thought the water looked nifty in this stopped moment of motion. Maybe it is related. I can compare the waves in the bowl to the power waves which come from Mental Man's hands. They would be accompanied by a slow, low sound effect "WOOOBA... WOOOBA... WOOOBA..."

Monday, November 15, 2010


This weird thing has been in a desk drawer for 2 decades now. It's a wooden pair of pliers with extra littler pliers built in here and there. I made it back when I was a teenager with a coping saw and an X-Acto blade; hence the cuts are crooked and rough. It's difficult to get a good angle of it so I took a few pictures.

Here's the 2nd one and it isn't any more clear.

And yet another difficult-to-understand photo.

You can fold the tiny pliers handles in to make it look like this.

Then you can fold the medium-size pliers handles in. It looks like regular a regular pair of pliers now, sort of.

When you fold the big pliers handles together it settles into its original form, a stick.
This was not my idea. I saw a picture of one in a book a long time ago and wished I had one. Since they didn't sell them at the store the only alternative was to make it myself.

To make one of your own there isn't really any pattern for it. Just start with a square stick and do the biggest pair of pliers first. Cut as much as you can with a coping saw (or preferably a scroll saw), and then do the rest with a very long, skinny, thin carving blade. Just keep working your way to the middle of the wood, going at it from both sides and meeting in the middle. Take your time and don't force anything too hard. Eventually you'll feel the pieces separate.

Once you get the biggest pliers handles completed, do the same thing in half(?) scale to each handle, and then quarter(?) scale to those new handles. Whatever the scale would be. It's math; therefore it's magic and mystery, and does not compute in my head.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Here's my new favorite toy. A Danelectro DC-59 reissue. I bought it with the money I collected selling Pukey Pals trading cards. See? Booger and poo jokes really DO pay off! Thanks everybody who bought them.

A Danelectro guitar has a sound all of its own. It has a very crunchy, hollow, air-cutter sound. It even sounds good unplugged. That thin aluminum nut is partially responsible for the unusual sound.

And in case you were wondering: Yes, it is shielded... TOTALLY shielded.

After some research I found out the sound comes from the cheap materials they use to build it. They were originally built with cheap materials to make them more affordable, but as an unexpected bonus the cheap supplies actually made them sound better. They use poplar, which is one of the cheapest good hardwoods you can get. The guitar is very lightweight and feels almost hollow. Also they don't paint them; they cover them with Formica kitchen counter top material. As it turns out, layers of paint and lacquer will hurt or deaden the sound of a guitar.

Volume and tone knobs are stacked on the DC-59. The black ring is the tone, and the white in the center is the volume. There's one stacked knob for each pickup. The 3-way toggle switches from the bridge pickup, to both, to the neck pickup.

Lipstick tube pickups are unusual these days. They're fixed to the inside of the body, and are not adjustable like most pickups. There's a thin strip of wood for the bridge. That's not typical for an electric. When I look really closely at the wooden bridge I see a slight concave valley down the length of it, so the strings only touch at the sharp outside edges of the wood, and not in the middle.

Size comparison.

If you are thinking about getting an electric guitar you ought to consider one of these. They sound great, they're comfortable and easy to play and they're affordable. This one was $275 which is pretty danged cheap for how good it is. Also they tend to go up in value every year because they do limited numbers of a design, and then move on to something else. Once these are all sold, that's it. Some of the sneakier dealers like to buy up a bunch of these, hold them for a year, and then pull them out and sell them for double their original prices.

Jimmy and Jimi both played Danelectros at one time or another, and so did Elvis.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


This guitar is gonna get finished even if it kills me! In the last episode I finally got the electronics figured out. Now I'm going to start cutting notches in the body to hold the electronics.

I traced out the size of the pickup where I wanted it in the body, and then I stepped it out a little bigger to give the pickup some wiggle room.

The screw shank is just under 7/8" long, so a 1" deep notch should work fine and give me comfortable room for wires too.

Since the body is 1 1/2" thick I have 1/2" to spare. That's good!

I put tape on my drill bits at the 1" mark so I wouldn't drill too deep. I measured from where the 1" diameter started, not the center points that extended out.

Oh oh! The center points are 1/2" long. That's bad. That means the tips of these bits will just penetrate through the back side of the body. This means I need to stop drilling a smidgen before I get to the 1" tape mark.

I tried hog-drilling this notch out in my shop on the drill press, but my tiny drill press didn't have a long enough reach. Instead I just used a hand drill back in the house, right there in the living room. I had to hurry and get all this drilling done while Mei was at work.

Here's what it looked like after I drilled out as much as I could.

The rest was cut out by hand with a flat chisel.

Tada! It ain't the most beautiful notch in the world, but none of it will be seen once the pickup's plate covers all the edges.

When I drop the pickup into the notch I have good depth, and breathing room on the sides. Even though I couldn't go the full 1" depth with this notch, the plate which holds the pickup will also have some thickness which will raise the pickup a little more. At the pickup's lowest setting I should have roughly 1/4" of space underneath for wiring. That's plenty.

Now to get rid of the evidence before Mei gets home. Trust me, you do NOT want to experience the wrath of a mad Chinese woman.

We're babysitting on the weekends. This is MeiMei. She's 2 1/2 years old. I call her Hurricane MeiMei. After a couple hours I didn't even recognize my house. She got into EEEEEVERYTHING. Every room, every door, every drawer, every toothpaste tube, every glass ornament, every button on every appliance. Every. Tiny. Little. Thing.

Days later I'm still finding evidence of her being here. My clocks were set to new individual times and my guitars were all tuned to new experimental half-half tone chords. I noticed I was getting very warm today and I looked at the thermostat and found MeiMei had fiddled with the dial until it was 10 or 15 degrees higher.
In this picture you see her playing with a potato chip bag clip. At one point I saw it clipped to my dog Lucy's ear, and Lucy was having a fit trying to get it off. When I looked back at MeiMei she was sitting watching cartoons as if nothing had happened. She's adorable though, so even when she's doing the most evil thing in the world it's difficult to say NO to her. It's like her super power.
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