Friday, July 30, 2010

Fender Telecaster/Fishman Powerbridge install - Part One

Here,on the bench, we have a USA Fender Telecaster. Certainly nothing wrong with the classic Tele bridge with three brass saddles. This guitar,however classic,belongs to a working musician who wants to bring one less guitar to the gig. (Kids,you'll get there eventually,trust me.) After much discussion of price versus performance,we ended up with the passive version of the Fishman VT bridge. The passive version meant no routing for a battery and no forgetting to change out the 9V before the gig,just what the owner was looking for. It also meant no Fishman Powerchip,the piezo volume control that automatically switches the piezo and magnetic signals to stereo or mixes them to mono. The powerbridge has a different mounting screw pattern but luckily,they provide a template. Just align the string holes and then it's over to the drill press we go. I also drilled the hole in the control plate for our switch. Using an On/Off/On mini switch,we have magnetic,piezo or both. From a distance,it keeps the Tele look. At the owners request,it was wired so,using a stereo cable,the the traditional Tele controls stayed the same and the piezo signal would be handled just like a "real" acoustic plugged into the PA system. It was taken
 out for some real world testing and,as I suspected,came back for some control modifications. Stay tuned for "Part Two"!!

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to remove a stubborn volume knob.

  In today's example,we've got a guitar with the original plastic pickguard covering still poking out from under the volume and tone knobs. This can look pretty ugly and as you can see it's started to attract dirt and grime. It's got to GO!   Sometimes,that knob just doesn't want to come off. For you aspiring guitar techs out there,you'll want to pick up the knob and bushing puller, invented by Schatten Design and available from Stewart MacDonald. The newest version is even clear so you can see what going on inside. This is also what I use to extract Gibson style bridge and tailpiece bushings. This baby will set you back about $45 from StewMac.
   Not working on guitars all day? If your budget can't justify a tool just to remove a knob,don't worry. Simply take an old t-shirt or a polish cloth and slide it under the knob. Try to pull directly UP,without tilting the knob. Gently,please;pull too hard and you can actually pull the shaft of the potentiometer right out!
  What do you do if the knob is crammed right down on to the guitar so tightly that a cloth won't fit under? A bit of waxed dental floss can do the trick. It's skinny enough to work under most knobs. Once again,be gentle,go slowly and try to pull directly up. Once you've got a bit of "wiggle room" proceed with the polish cloth trick.
  As always,if any of this scares you,please support your friendly neighborhood guitar tech!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Guitar Omnivore turns 30!!!

Part of this year's twenty. Geez, I'm getting old.Image via Wikipedia
Umm...30 days,that is. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by so far. This self-congratulatory blatant attempt to pad out the material notwithstanding,there's plenty more to come. According to my tracking numbers I've had 140 visitors from ten countries including the USA. Visitors from America came from fourteen states. That's more than I expected for the first month. If  you've enjoyed it,please help spread the word by recommending it to other musicians. Is there something you like,something you hate,something you have a question about? Please leave a comment or two,down below.
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This weeks best guitar Cd's-week of 07/27/2010

1) Matt Schofield-Live From The Archive
      Running on similar jazz meets blues ground as recent Robben Ford,British guitarist Schofield puts his own stamp on the style. For fans of Ronnie Earl and Albert Collins.

2) Halford-Crucible/Remixed and Remastered
     Not just a remaster,this is an entire new mix of the 2001 album by the Metal God. The new mix is decidedly more modern sounding and will be sure to please fans who felt the music was great but the production was lacking. There are also four bonus tracks. More Halford is always a good thing!

3) Blue Oyster Cult-Setlist: The Very Best Of Blue Oyster Cult Live
     What may,at first,seem like the record company scraping the bottom of the barrel,turns out to be very good stuff indeed! Classic BOC,recorded at the peak of their powers between 1974 and 1981. The Cd cover even sports a picture of the band doing their five guitarist shtick,where all five members of the band would don guitars in a six string spectacle.Take that Lynyrd Skynyd! The "Setlist" albums are part of a series from Sony Legacy and include Cd's from Judas Priest,Cheap Trick,Ted Nugent,Kansas and more. The best part? They're $7.99! Stock up on some classic guitar rock for dirt cheap.

4) Tim O'Brian-Chicken & Egg
      Just off tour as backing guitarist for Mark Knopfler(a guy who might just be able to pick a note or two himself) Tim O'Brian heads in a decidedly more bluegrass direction on his thirteenth solo album.

5) Arsen Shomakhov-On The Move
      His guitar tones might give away the fact that he's woodshedded the American blues greats but his excellent vocals give no clue to the fact that he was born in Russia!

6) Nobuki Takamen-Live At The Iridium
     Japanese born guitarist Takamen urges absolutely HUGE,warm tones and lyrical melodies from his Gibson ES-335. Also a song writer,he puts his own spin on the classic jazz quartet.

7) Robert Cray-Cookin' in Mobile
      This CD+DVD release won't change any minds about Robert Cray. He still rides the middle between traditional and contemporary blues with bits of R&B and pop thrown in. This live album is so immaculately recorded it will add little benefit to those fans who find his studio albums too slick. Most songs clock in at over six minutes,leaving plenty of room for Cray's trademark Strat sound. Buy only if you're already a fan.

8) Masada String Trio-Haborym:The Book of Angels Volume 16
      No guitar here kids,so you'll have to settle for the virtuosity and telepathic interplay between bassist Greg Cohen,cellist Erik Friedlander and violinist Mark Feldman. Feldman,recently heard in the new John Abercrombie Quartet is wonderful to hear in a different context. If you're unfamiliar with the Tzadik record label or are a bit leery of their avant guarde reputation,this is a great place to start. Melodic lyricism,intense grooves and beautiful ballads from one of the most acclaimed contemporary ensembles in the world.

9) Aquarelle Guitar Quartet Dances
     Hailed by some as the "next big thing" in the classical guitar world,this album should turn some heads. There's a piece by Boccerini and some traditional music but the focus is decidedly modern. Works by Astor Piazzolla,Egberto Gismonti,Bireli Lagrene and a world premier from Andy Scott give the UK based quartet a very contemporary sound.

10) Mr. Big-Lean Into It/Expanded and Remastered
       This reissue of one of the best hard rock albums of the 90's comes with four bonus tracks. Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan at their most successful attempt to cram that many notes into a rock context.

Well,what do you think? Did I miss one? Best list ever? Please leave a comment below. Thanks,Phil

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Muy macho 12-string!

Here's a couple of 12-string guitars that recently passed through the shop. It's part of a new trend I've seen in my customers who play a regional Mexican  music called sierreno (except sierreno is supposed to have that little wavy thing above the "n").The first time I saw it,I just thought the guy was wacky,but I've seen it more than once.The owner strings his guitar with a double dose of six string sets instead of the traditional octave strings. Hats (sombreros?) off,my friend! Even considering that some of them tune down a whole step to D,that's a manlier set of strings than you'll ever find me playing.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hear me on the radio tomorrow!

KKNTImage via Wikipedia
Hey folks,just wanted to let you know,radio host Dave Darin has invited me to be a guest on his show. There will be plenty of guitar and guitar repair talk. I'll be on with Ukulele Ray,talking about his last days in Phoenix and his move to Vegas. Call in during the show 602-508-0960 and you could win tickets to see Dennis Miller,July 27th at the Wyndham. The Dave Darin show is on Sunday,8:00-9:00PM on 960AM KKNT.
Hope you listen in!
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Gibson's surprising new Henry Juszkiewicz forum!!!

Image via Wikipedia
The logo of Gibson Guitar Corporation.
Gibson guitars has just launched a surprising new forum,where you can post questions to Gibson guitars Charman and CEO,Henry Juszkiewcz. Gibson claims this forum will be "significantly better than any previous Gibson forum" and "with real-time updates and connections to Facebook and Twitter". I think this is a bold move on Gibson's part and look forward to reading up on all sorts of topics. You do have to register to ask questions,but membership is free,so whether you want to sing the praises of your dream Gibson or just want to ask Henry "What were you thinking with that Hendrix guitar thing?" head on over to the forum and check it out!
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sherwood Deluxe archtop

Here we've got a beautiful 1950's Sherwood Deluxe archtop guitar. Sherwood was a house brand of Montgomery Wards and were made by the Kay company. This model is similar to one played,for a time,by Arther "Big Boy" Crudup. Models were
typically designated either "standard" or
"deluxe',depending on the amount of ornamentation. Note the unique fingerboard inlay,reminiscent of a sailboat. The gorgeous headstock is complemented by tortoise shell binding both on the neck and body. This guy just came in for a cleaning and setup,along with needing a new pickguard. You can see the dirt outline of the old pickguard on the "before" pictures,so I had a really good idea of what the old one might have looked like! I went with tortoise,to match the binding. I was able to keep the original parts,including the pickguard bracket and screws. After a bit of cleaning,I think this guy turned out nice.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Strange stuff inside your guitar.

I find all manner of strange objects inside guitars that stop by the shop. Usually it's a pick (or two or three!) or a ball end from a broken string. There is also a tradition of intentionally adding something, usually a rattle from a rattlesnake,for extra "mojo". I recall seeing what looked like a dollar bill bouncing around inside an acoustic guitar. Further inspection revealed a novelty million dollar bill. When I asked the customer why,he replied "you know,just in case." Hmm.. Kids also seem to enjoy storing stuff inside mommy or daddy's guitar. This recent acoustic wins the prize in that category!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This weeks best guitar Cds-week of 07/20/2010

1) Jimmie Vaughan-Plays Blues,Ballads & Favorites

      First album in nine years from the Fabulous Thunderbirds founder! Guest vocal spots from Lou Ann Barton and Bob Willis.

2) Helstar-Rising From The Grave
      This two Cd/1 Dvd compilation from Metal Blade covers criminally underrated Texas metal band Helstar. Classic metal in the Judas Priest/Iron Maiden vein,pick this up if you're into Fates Warning or Blind Guardian.

3) What Laura Says-Bloom Cheek
      OK,I admit I'm a bit late in noticing Phoenix band What Laura says. With apologies out of the way,I'll ask permission to please allow me to jump on the bandwagon of what will surely be a bunch of newcomers. Tasty,complementary guitar parts with great tone,warm and slightly distorted,support great vocal harmonies.

4) Walter Trout-Common Ground
      Former sideman to John Lee Hooker and John Mayall releases his twelfth album. Fans of snarky Strat tone will find much to enjoy here.

5) Jerry Douglas-Southern Filibuster: A Tribute To Tut Taylor
      Sometime a musical giant gets the urge to let the public know just whose shoulders they've been standing on. This is Grammy-nominated Dobro master Jerry Doulglas,calling in virtually every resonator guitar master you've ever heard of,to pay tribute to Dobro legend,Tut Taylor.

6) Paco El Lobo-Mi Camino Flamenco
     Unaccompanied except for traditional hand clapping,American ears may find  El Lobos sense of pitch a little off putting but for guitar fans there is much to enjoy.

7) Big Head Todd and the Monsters-Rocksteady
      Continuing their trend of making shorter,more compact songs,Rocksteady displays a production trick right out of the Angus and Malcolm Young playbook. By making the guitars LESS distorted than on 2008's "All The Love You Need" the guitars are actually LOUDER and more upfront in the mix.

8) Steve Smith/George Brooks/Prasana-Raga Bop Trio
      A guitar/sax/drums trio,that melds western melody and harmony,European jazz styles and both Hindustani and Carnatic Indian styles. Prepare to be humbled by the micro-tonal mastery of Prasana.

So,did I miss any great new Cd's? Disagree with a recommendation? Let me know in the comment section below!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Debbie Davies is coming to Phoenix!

28 Edycja Rawa blues Festival, Katowice Spodek...Image via Wikipedia
The cover of Debbie Davies new album "Holdin' Court" portrays an Elizabethan queen playing a Stratocaster guitar. I suspect it's both a literal interpretation of the album title and perhaps a subtle reminder that yes,women actually play the guitar. In Davies case,not just play the guitar but command it like a queen! This time around she forgoes her usual vocal approach and does an instrumental album. While I'm certain some fans will miss her admittedly charming voice,this is great chance for us guitar fanatics to hear what a truly gifted guitarist she is. Playing on six originals and five covers,we get to hear a variety of styles from the two and a half minute barn burner "Okie Dokie Stomp",the Albert Collins reminiscent "Fishnet" to touches of surf tones on "Zoom-in'". This is blues done with variety and taste. Davies, a Strat girl,will be bringing at least one of her tricked out Strats to town soon. She mainly plays one of three Strats,a recently acquired Fender Road Worn with Custom Shop '69 Reissue pickups,a Fender '62 Reissue with 1995 Ltd.edition pickups and Graph Tech saddles,and seen in the picture above,a mutt Fender,also with Graph Tech saddles,with a Gibson humbucker in the neck,a Joe Barden in the middle and a P-90 in the bridge!
Debbie Davies will be coming to Phoenix on July 24th with Robin Rogers. Doors open at 8PM and tickets are only $12.>

Friday, July 16, 2010

This guitar looks a little dicey.

Here's a customer modified Epiphone FlameKat in for a setup. He took the already dice laden guitar (fingerboard inlays, switch cap and knobs) and added seven more! He glued one to the end of the Bigsby style tremolo arm and one apiece on each tuner shaft. While I've got to give credit for creative follow through on a theme,it did make it very difficult to get new strings installed!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

John Petruccis drummer!

Some guy named Mike Portnoy stopped by Glendale,Arizona recently. Apparently he is the drummer in John Petruccis band. Huh... who knew??  Anyway,if Iron Maiden and Dream Theater stop by your town,don't miss it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New John McLaughlin!!-To The One

John McLaughlin performing at the Crossroads G...Image via Wikipedia
 Like a lot of guitar players,John McLaughlin was my "gateway" to the jazz world. As a teenager who loved Van Halen,Tony Iommi and Billy Gibbons,I wasn't quite ready for Tal Farlow and Lenny Breau. Then I discovered Mahavishnu Orchestra. The power,the glory,the double neck jazz guitar through a Marshall! McLaughlin introduced me to Miles Davis,who now competes with Frank Zappa for real estate in my CD collection.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to remove a stubborn backplate.

Sometimes,with the swelling of the guitar body,or a tad bit too much finish in the control cavity,the back cover plate on your guitar does not want to come out. Prying or poking with screwdriver or razor can easily lead to scratches on your guitar.
Here's a tool from your local auto supply shop that can help. Its original purpose is to hand lap valves. Basically it's just a stick with a suction cup on each end.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Throw that gel packet out!

Here's a tip for everybody,but it goes out especially to my fellow Arizona residents. Please,throw the little packet of silica gel that came with your new guitar into the trash. First,it is intended to soak up any extra moisture on its trip from overseas. We,as desert dwellers,want MORE moisture,not less. Second,the silica gel doesn't magically work forever. It stopped working a long time ago. Keeping it in your guitar case is doing you no good. Also,don't eat it!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Alden 9908 Tuxedo Guitar

Here's a sweet guitar that came through the shop recently. It's Aldens version of the Harmony H45 Stratotone. Alden was a catalog/distributor who did not put a specific brand on their guitars but would sometimes have a floral design and a letter "A" like this model. Early 1962 versions of this model had a different pick guard with an "atomic" logo. Both versions are hollow bodies with one pickup and a switch that would turn the tone knob on and off. It's a pretty cool way of squeezing out a rhythm/treble sound out of a one pickup ax. There was also a similar solid body version made in the late 1950's
Check out that sweet Delta Radio capacitor! Pot codes indicate it was made 1964 which matches with its later pick guard. All this guy needed was a new switch and a new set of strings and it was ready for a few more decades

Friday, July 9, 2010

Lee Ritenour + 6 String Theory = Guitar Heaven!

Lee Ritenour performing at Stockholm JazzFest09Image via Wikipedia
I'm not a big fan of the "artist plus randomly selected guests" format so it was with a bit of trepidation I approached the new Lee Ritenour...until I saw the guest list. I was absolutely stunned at the list of some of the best guitarists on the planet. Over twenty of them,including John Scofield, Steve Lukather ,BB King, George Benson, Slash, Pat Martino, Neal Schon, Keb'Mo, Taj Mahal, Andy McKee, Joe Bonamassa, Mike Stern and Jonny Lang! Also appearing,making his debut recording,is sixteen-year-old guitarist Shon Boubil,grand prize winner in Ritenour's Yamaha Six String Theory guitar competition. Producing and arranging,Ritenour blends rock, blues ,jazz, acoustic, country and classical into a seamless celebration of guitar. In addition to playing guitar,vocals are heard from BB King, Robert Cray, Vince Gill, Keb' Mo,Taj Mahal, Joe Bonnamassa and Jonny Lang. Joining this truly all-star guitar crew is an A-list rhythm section including Joey DeFrancesco, Larry Goldings, Tal Wilkenfeld, Nathan East, Vinnie Colaiuta and Simon Phillips.This one is NOT to be missed!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Play a Little Guitar: Hank Vai

Play a Little Guitar: Hank Vai: "Guitar demi-god Steve Vai not only was executive producer of 'Crazy,' the story of legendary guitarist Hank Garland, he also had a small ro..."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How to repair a loose end pin.

These old school style end pins have a habit of loosening up over the years as the wood of the guitar shrinks. This can end up as an embarrassing onstage moment or a dropped guitar! This repair is quick and easy but not for the feint of heart. One bad move and you could really mess up your guitars finish. You will need some super glue and super glue accelerator (or just lots of time) and some Q-Tips.
First,let me be very clear. We are NOT gluing the end pin to the guitar. The idea here is to build up a small layer of super glue to make the end pin hole slightly smaller. (Did I mention we're not gluing the end pin to the guitar?)
Take a glue dipped Q-tip and carefully swab the inside of the end pin hole,then repeat the maneuver with accelerator. Try fitting the end pin. It could take just one time through or it could require several passes. Go slowly and be careful. If this makes you nervous please support your friendly neighborhood guitar tech!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Rikk Beatty

Guitarist Rikk Beatty stopped by Glendale recently to do a clinic for Digitech. Check out his custom finish Ibanez Prestige! He demonstrated the Digitech RP1000 and JamMan Solo. If you have forsaken multi-effect pedals as "tone killers",you might want to check out the RP1000. It features an impressive focus on keeping your
  sound intact,regardless of what amp you use. Even with over 160 effects the RP1000 keeps the simplicity of a stompbox.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Guitar Shorty

Guitar Shorty at the 2008 Ottawa BluesfestImage via Wikipedia
David Kearny,AKA Guitar Shorty,was born in Texas and raised in Florida,where as a teenager,was a student by day,professional musician by night. By the age of sixteen he was playing with Ray Charles. Moving to New Orleans he fronted the house band at the legendary Dew Drop Inn where he played with such greats as T Bone Walker,Big Joe Turner and Little Richard. At the ripe old age of nineteen,he went out on the road with Sam Cooke,winding up on the West coast. It was in Los Angels where he met his wife Marcia, and in the bargain got a brother-in-law named Jimi Hendrix! Shorty and Jimi were friends until Jimi's death. Shorty,a W.C. Handy award winner, won a Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues Album of the Year for 2007's "We The People" album. He will be appearing at Phoenix blues mainstay The Rhythm Room on Friday,July 9th at 8PM, to support his new album "Bare Knuckle". Tickets are available from Ticketmaster and directly from The Rhythm Room.

Friday, July 2, 2010

How to read potentiometer codes.

You can sometimes get help in finding the age of a guitar by reading the potentiometer (volume and tone pots) codes. After World War II there usually is a six or seven digit number on the pot that tells you the company,year and week it was made. Although many guitar makers purchased pots in such bulk that pots are sometimes years older than the guitar,it can help to give a window of possibility.
106=  Allen-Bradley Corp.
134= CentraLab
137= CTS
140= Clarostat
220= Jensen
304= Stackpole
328= Utah/Oxford
381 = Bourns
465= Oxford
In a six number code the fourth number is the last number of the year and the fifth and sixth numbers the month. In a seven number code the fourth and fifth number indicate the year and the sixth and seventh,the month. Volume and tone pots do get replaced,of course,but these codes can help in cracking the sometimes baffling birth date of your guitar.
Here's one that indicates a CTS pot made in the 27th week of 1978