Saturday, October 30, 2010

LC (Inductance Capacitance) Meter

High quality, LC  (Inductance Capacitance) meter, purchased during my late night Ebay shopping sprees.
This insures that the components we use are at the specifications that they are supposed to be. It runs off
USB power and will soon to be built into a permanent box.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Announcing the Birth of the 12 string Koa Healy Acoustic Guitar

Trevor Healy, who repairs guitars with us over here, has a line of custom built acoustic and electric guitars.  He just finished this beautiful Healy Koa 12-string.  The photos do not do it justice.  The tone is clear and smooth and plays like butter. While visiting Hawaii, the customer bought the Koa right from the man who cut down the tree. The customer is also an avid abalone diver, and all the inlay was cut from abalone legally dived for in Mendocino County. The top wood is Engelmann Spruce and the neck is Mahogany. The fingerboard, head cap, bridge and binding are all from one piece of Macassar Ebony. Two sets of open back Grover tuners were modified to fit 6 per side, end to end.  

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rewinding a Supro "string through" pickup.

    From what I understand Valco made Supro for National and other brand like Oahu.  I am not sure on all the details.  This pickup turns up on many different brands of lap steels. The strings pass through a small opening between the coils and the top metal plate.  The coils share the same magnetic polarity and achieves hum canceling by having the coils out of phase.  Since no strings over lap 2 coils at a time the sound is not out of phase.  The magnet or magnets (one is sometimes a piece of silver painted wood) are on either side of the coils and act as a spacer between the bottom plate and top plate.  The magnetic field is unique and strengthened by the upper plate.  The coils are made of what I call fish paper and are very hard to wind.  On this pickup the pole piece insert was broken and we had to recreate it before winding the coil.  We have seen a few different gauges of wire on these things and spoke to Lindy Fralin about it.  He has rewound so many of these it is his opinion that they grabbed what was on the shelf and went to work.  Both Lindy and Jason Lollar who has just come out with his reproduction of the pickups are amazing resources on pickup history and design.
Putting on the wire, controlling the tension and scatter wind by hand.
Here we are using the StewMac/Schatten coil winder.
The 4 metal clips need to be lifted to get to the coils
Here they are!
Looks like a kids project.

Here is the rebuilt pole-piece housing.
Thank you Leo, you are magic!
The magnets are on each side of the cover plate.
You can see how little room there is for the strings to pass through between
the cover plate and coils

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fingerboard, Frets and Inlay

      Here's another contribution to our side dotting bonanza.  A friend of the shop has been building guitars for a little while and asked us to help out on an early guitar not yet completed.  The fingerboard was installed and slotted, but the radius needed to be flattened. We planed the fingerboard to a 12" radius, refretted the guitar and installed the top and side dot inlays. 
Trevor ready to drill
Home made drill bit extender
New frets and inlay

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rebuilding a 1932 Martin 1-17

The magic glue pot 

Bar fret is like it says, a solid bar......
Good view of the fret
New bridge with intonated saddle

This  Martin  1-17, about a 1932  guitar came in needing lots of TLC.  There were almost no fret sticking out, 1/2 of the bar frets had been replaced  with modern tang frets in a very messy way, the neck set was so off, the string height was high and un-playble, the wood bridge was shaved down so low it would not hold a saddle and there were various cracks on the body.   But it sounded good and our client wanted to play it, as we like to say "it has good bones"
On a guitar this old we wanted to get it back together as original as possible.  So we recreated the original style bridge and used new bar frets  (Thanks for the frets Glade and TJ) and pit it back together with hide glue.  Hide glue is kept warm and has and very short working time since all your parts have to be in position before the glue cools.  
SO, Off to work.
Remove the bridge and flatten some of the bow out of the top with heat and clamps.  Make a new bridge to the original spec of the guitar.   Reset the neck to the correct angle to match the bridge and saddle for the desired string height.  Clean up the fingerboard so it could be refret with the original style Bar frets,  NO EASY TASK!   Once the frets are in they need to leveled and crowned.  We got it close by hand and used the plek machine for the final level and crowning.  We were able to reuse the original ebony nut which was a very nice touch.  When we got done the guitar had a beautiful tone and was a dream to play.  

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tricky Truss rod Repair on a 60's Gibson 335, 12 String

We happened to get two broken truss rods in one month.
Judging by how much rust was on the broken end it had been sitting for quite some time.
You can see in the first photo how much rod is sticking out from the nut.
As the nut is turned it kept pulling the broken rod out, not tightening it.
"This is going to be fun" Says TIm
The plan,
Locate the end of the rod.
Cleanly peal back the binding and remove the fingerboard from over the area, remover the broken truss rod and anchor.
Make and install the new truss rod.
Glue the fingerboard and binding back on.
Test the new rod.
Light touch-up leaves the whole thing undetectable.
SUCCESS!!!  More than likely better than new.
Since the rod is not attached at the body end it is pulling out
Ready to go..
Using ultra string Neodymium magnets to find the broken end that needs to come out.
Adding the heat
Tea Time!!!'s off clean.  The broken end stuck in there.
New larger steel block ready to thread the new rod into.  You can see the rod peeking out.
In place ready to buckle down
Alignment is very important, 2 hidden locator pins help.
Add Glue.
Perfect!  The neck straightened right up will all 12 strings with ease.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Adding Electronics to an ALL METAL BASS.

This bass was built by Kevin at Electrical Guitar Company.  It appears to be milled out of solid aluminum.  The front and back are hollowed out and bolted together and the neck goes down through the center.  The neck seems solid and the frets are magically pressed in.  I have never seen anything like this, it's amazing.  The owner uses the same EMG's and Bartolini preamp setup in all of his basses.  Since the controls are usually preset for live performances I hid the controls so they can be adjusted with a small screwdriver through the holes in the back.  Just a volume control......  I took an aluminum rod, glued the trimpots to that and used stand-offs to keep it mounted to the back of the bass with a small space between the pot and the metal.  To solve the battery box issue I got a metal flip box from ESP to blend in with the metal motif.  It worked out great and completely solid.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Strat Truss Rod Repair, or what happens when the truss rod spins and spins.

The fret is pulled, nut is out, fret slot is cut through.
The heat is applied
 The tough part, correct amount of heat and very carefully removing the section.
Perfect!  You can see the old block still in there.
New larger block, fits tight and more solid.
Tapping the block
The Fit!!
Checking the length of the new rod
Fingerboard back on,  can not see a thing.
Ready to put it together and play.........
This Strat had it's truss rod adjusting nut rust onto the end of the truss rod.  When it was loosened it un-threaded from the block that holds it in place under the 1st fret.  Not only would the nut not come off but the rod would not thread back into the existing block.  What had happened is the plastic "straw" that goes around the truss rod got bunched up at the top end and blocked the threads.  The only way to do this correctly was to remover the nut from the truss rod and replace the upper block with a new piece of steel that will hold the rod in place.  First step was to remove the 1st fret and lightly saw with a .08" blade down through the rosewood to the maple.  You can see we heated the rosewood fingerboard with a heating blanket to soften the glue, then removed off just the 1st fret area of the fingerboard, nice and clean.  We could then remover the old block, clean up the slot, make and new threaded insert and fit it in.   Re glued the fingerboard exactly how it came off, a little buffing, replace the fret and no evidence of the repair ....  That is how it is done!