Wednesday, April 29, 2009

round and round

Here's Tim rewinding an odd old pickup from an odd old guitar. The guitar, an Ovation Breadwinner, presented with no output at the neck pickup. Deeper exploratory inquiry led to the conclusion that one of the two coils that comprise the humbucker pickup was dead, it's thin red copper wire separated at some point along the 3500 feet wound around the Alnico (Aluminum Nickel Cobalt) magnet. Tim has engaged the services of our Schatten pickup winder for this patience game.

clever and time saving

Trevor has fabricated a device to speed the process of bringing up to pitch the many strings of Gibson SG double neck guitar. In this particular example the headstocks are close enough to each other so as to hamper access to some of the tuning pegs. Here is Trevor operating his device.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

cluttered bench: a sign of a creative...


Gary is incorporating mu metal, magnets, controlled voltage, black magic and not a little sonorous incantation to reconfigure a fantastically complex wiring harness that includes (but is not necessarily limited to) a sustainer system and a MIDI system as well as the usual electromagnetic pickups; all artfully crammed into the electronics cavity of this otherwise distracted custom-made solid body electric guitar. Naturally some divination is called for, and Gary has spread his hermeneutic material in the most appropriate place: on top of the guitar.

Note to self: Research instrument anesthetics. Do guitars feel? Would it be appropriate to limit a guitar's purported sentiency during a repair or modification?

Friday, April 24, 2009

"it's exactly what I hoped for"

That's Rob M. spontaneously expressing his satisfaction. His early 60's Stratocaster has benefitted with the addition of a Callaham replacement tremolo. The reason this particular modification makes sense is that many of the older Fender vintage instruments had saddle sets that spread the strings too wide over the fretboard making them easily slide off the edge during play. This particular Callaham tremolo (they have several flavors) has the same six mounting screw hole arrangement as most vintage Fenders but with slightly narrower string spacing. This means we can move the strings inboard slightly without having to cut into the wood at all, which is very appealing to anyone.

We have all kinds of ideas to make guitars better.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

even Satan needs love

This heavy, monstrous seven string custom built electric solid body guitar is being plekked. Even though it is the Instrument of the Devil, and it's owner wields the mighty sword of its demonic power while channeling the Forces of Doom, this Avatar of the Seventh Level of Hades is not above improving its ability to give amplification to the Voices of Darkness by receiving the tender loving care provided by the Angels of Mercy in the Glorious Heavens of Guitar Joy-Peace. Indeed, by forging together in our little Stupa of Shred the mighty Energies of Darkness with the Omnipotent Universal Lovelight true Sonic Satori is realized.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

hot hot hot!

This bass is more than merely distressed. Here Gary is installing the owner's standard EMG pickups and Bartolini preamp system used in most of his instruments. To match the look of this Flamethrower bass Gary whips out a handy dandy butane lighter (no bench should be without one) and is gleefully melting plastic.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

if you can't fix it with a hammer...*

Occasionally a particular task calls for the Barbarian Approach. In this case Glade desires a used and somewhat corroded chrome output jack plate to be flat. It's original shape was slightly curved, not unlike the space time continuum and, like that hypothesis, while charming and elegant in it's consciousness/sentiency reality construct, not reliably serviceable for installation on a flat surface. Happily Glade is not afraid to get down with a hammer, but note his use of the rug to dampen and control the effect of the blow. In the time it took to take this photograph it was ascertained that Glade was facing southwest.

* it's either not broken or you need a bigger hammer.

Friday, April 17, 2009

darkness at the edge of SoMa

At about 4:20PM (heh) all the power went out in a several block radius around the shop. We trooped outside, hung out for awhile and took in some sun; all except for Gary that is, who hurried right back inside and, with the aid of a headset and a battery powered soldering iron, continued working. Such dedication, such fortitude! It was interesting, wandering around looking at all the instruments and thinking that now would be a good time to plug some guitars into some amps because the phone has stopped ringing and we can't do any work anyway but O! that's right...there's no power. Hmpf. Power was restored a little while later and then it seemed inordinately dark in the shop after all that sun outside.

The sunlit outside group shot below (R to L): Trevor, Allen, Tim, Fernie, Glade, Gary and a friend on his way to the ballpark.

In other news: Our little blog is being blogged about! Ava at Jemsite took the time to ask us a few questions and we answered in our way that we have. Take a look at:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

busman's holiday

Here's Trevor installing a Sadowsky bass preamp kit into a brand new Fender Jazz Marcus Miller signature bass guitar. Trevor spent five years in Brooklyn, NYC, slaving in the dungeons of Sadowsky (actually it was a great job!) and only recently (if you call three years recent) made his great escape to California, where, after many adventures, he ultimately landed here. And here is his past, tracking him down. Luckily he's got a lot of experience at this particular task and things went smoothly.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

the frying of the chip...

...a wafer of silicon delaminates within a microlayer of the preamp chip in an Ibanez bass guitar (it can happen to anyone). Current shorts through the emulsion to where current doesn't belong. It burns. Smoke is probably involved and an acrid stench, which can be disheartening.

We replaced the preamp.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"I pity inanimate objects..."

The re-org has cast a merciless light upon the packrat living in all of us. And, because space is limited (to say nothing of time), objects, parts or devices that have outlived their usefulness or are merely dead must by needs be jettisoned.

(it was gone one hour later)

theme song: "...physics isn't the tree as a rocking horse an ambition fulfilled and is the sawdust jealous? I worry about these things..." (Godley & Creme)

Friday, April 3, 2009

working conditions

Sometimes we forget what the weather's doing....we used to have a handful of small windows but, with the advent of condominium building on the street where we live, even that marginal source of daylight is banished. All that's left is what appears to be a once a year event; the surrounding architecture on earth lines up with the sun, and in the back of the shop, Tim's eyeball sees the light.

(Tim's eyeball)

theme song: "...a tiny light from a windowpane a hundred yards away, is all he ever gets to know about the regular light of the day..." (Zappa)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

you can't do it alone...

...and when we need arcane wisdom from the bizarre tech worlds beyond our ordinary capacity we go straight for the source. We go to men who have been there. Men who have returned from there with the hard won wisdom of experience. Men with large brains and great powers. We go to the technological wizards of the electromagnetic signal path.

(Gary, flanked by George Munday [L] & Kirkwood Rough)

theme song: "...lowkey discussions - rumble round the testbed - eggheads in a huddle..." (Godley & Creme)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

samurai sherpa of shred

The re-org is shifting the shop topography. At the center of our tectonic organizational transformation is this man. Tirelessly moving objects from one place to another in an actualized desire of a more efficient operational capacity, he protects himself with a unique system of vestments designed for maximum utility, comfort and style.

In this candid photograph Fern attends as Gary (off camera) expounds.