Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pinups and pinstripes...on a Behringer iAxe!

For many guitar players,wanting to hotrod your guitar is just part of being a guitarist. That means I get to see all kinds of homemade mods to guitars that come through the shop. Here's one of the better attempts, a pinups and pinstripe laden nod to the 1950's. What makes me smile even more is the guitar he chose to hotrod is the Behringer 393 iAxe,a guitar that has a built in USB port for plugging directly into your computer. This is old school meets new school to be sure! Do you like this guitar? Be sure to check out the "This guitar looks a little dicey" article from July. Different guitar,same owner!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

1970's Stratocaster Disaster...with a nice surprise

Folks,here's a prime example of why most people shouldn't try to finish guitars. It's also a fine example of where NOT to put your strap button. Before we get too angry, let's remember that this is before the word "vintage" had anything to do with guitars. This 1970's sunburst Stratocaster was about a year old when it's owner decided he wanted a tomato red guitar. Out comes the rattle-can spray paint and away we go! While it appears he took off the neck,the pickguard wasn't so lucky. Perhaps he wanted a red pickguard as well. It would seem the decision to leave the pickgaurd on probably made the controls difficult or impossible to use. It's the removal of the original pickguard and it's replacement with a "used" one that makes this guitar even more interesting. What should we find when we take a peek under the hood but a completely intact 1964 Stratocaster pickguard and harness! You can even see that the wires in the volume pot were clipped rather than unsoldered,so all solder joints are completely undisturbed. Even with 70's Strats gaining collectability with time,I think the pickguard is worth more than the guitar. You just never know what surprise you're going to find in a vintage guitar.
Yep, DO NOT put your strap button THERE!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This weeks best guitar Cd's - week of 09/28/2010

Neil Young, 22/06/2008 Firenze, Nelson Mandela...Image via WikipediaNeil Young-Le Noise
   There are two rock icons releasing new albums this week,and they sure couldn't be more different. The less said about the Clapton album,the better. That leaves us with Neil Young. Teaming up with producer Daniel Lanois,Young has created something not just unique in his catalog,but unique in the realm of "rock" music. Young was recorded singing and playing acoustic or electric guitar,then Lanois used his prodigious bag of tricks to manipulate the tracks. The results are recognizably both Young and Lanois while at the same time sounding like nothing else they've done. There are videos of  "Angry World", "Hitchhiker" and "Love and War" as well as interviews with Lanois at Neil's website.

Plenty more Cd reviews...     

Monday, September 27, 2010

How to make a control plate cover

Remember the Kramer Stagemaster from last week? One of it's minor problems was that it was missing it's tremolo spring cover and cover for the control cavity. The trem cover was easy to find pre-made;the locking trem style is more universal than most. The control cavity cover was another story. These are pretty easy to make and the only expense,aside from time and tools,is the pickguard material. I get mine from the fine folks at Allparts.
   First,I taped some thin cardboard over the empty control cavity. Using a pencil,I do a rubbing around the edge,then cut out the shape with scissors. Once I'm satisfied with the fit of the cardboard template,a second rubbing shows me where the screw holes are. I then tape my template to the plastic pickgaurd material using double stick tape. A trip over to the band saw makes quick work of the outline. Some minor filing with a mill file cleans up any imperfections in the fit. After I drill the holes for the screws I use a countersink bit to make the screws flush. If I really want to get fancy,I put a little reverse bevel on the inside edge to insure an excellent fit.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Collapsed 1/4" Jack on a thin semi-hollow

Today's patient is a DeArmond Starfire Custom, a Korean made version of Guilds Starfire IV. These are pretty cool guitars with unique pickups,a retro pickguard and cool "D" logo knobs. It has a problem common to many guitars that have a 1/4" jack mounted on the side. When I received the guitar, the wood around the jack had collapsed and the jack was inside the guitar. Even worse, someone had tried to fix it using some kind of mystery glue. What they were trying to glue to what, we'll never know. Provided there is enough wood to mount it on, the common fix for this is to install a metal jackplate onto the guitar. After gently prying and scraping the glue off, I chose the square jackplate, to better cover the damage to the guitar. Despite a bit of cracked finish showing over the binding, it looks reasonably well tended to. Hey,John Scofield has one on his Ibanez signature model so it must be cool,right?
John Scofield playing guitarImage by Willem van Bergen via Flickr

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Get hip to Rory Gallagher!

   A recent thrift store score of my favorite Rory Gallagher album reminded me how too few Americans are aware of Rory's great music. If you're into blues with a bit of rock,especially Stevie Ray Vaughan,Pat Travers or Robin Trowers,you'll find a whole bunch to like about Rory. He is,perhaps,only rivaled by Roy Buchanon in terms of high talent to low recognition ratio.Not just a guitarists guitarist,he was a great singer and songwriter. In addition to his trademark Strat tones he incorporated acoustic and resonator guitars into his sound.
   Forming the band "Taste" in 1966,they recorded two studio albums,a live album and supported both Cream and Blind Faith before breaking up. Rory recorded his self-titled solo album in 1971 and went on to record a total of ten albums in the 70's,considered his peak by most fans. Rory also collaborated with Jerry Lee Lewis and Muddy Waters and declined an offer to replace Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple.He went on to sell 30 million record worldwide. He received a liver transplant in 1995 but ended up dying of complications later. Fans of the SRV "relic" look would be wise to check out photos of his signature Stratocaster.
   Good news for those of you late to the Rory Gallagher party,or are just missing a Cd or two from the collection. In 2008 his albums underwent a remastering campaign. Because in record company terms,two years ago is a long time ago,his current catalog is heavily discounted on Amazon. Most of his prime Cds are available for $6.99-$7.98! Stock up,and tell a friend!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wedding Guitar Fingerboard Inlay-Part Five

At long last we approach the end of our story. Our fingerboard has been prepped and routed and our inlays eagerly await installation. I'll start by mixing some epoxy with some burnt umber powder to make my own custom color glue. After a liberal dose of brown epoxy we'll install the inlays and let them sit over night. It looks suspiciously like someone has snuck in and covered it in Hershey's syrup. I'll use a radius block with self adhesive sandpaper attached to level the glue and inlays with the board. After I clean up the fret slots,it's refret as usual...tap,tap...file,file and polish...a finished guitar!
If you missed them,be sure to check out parts One Two Three and Four!

That can't be right, can it? It looks...awful.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This weeks best guitar Cds- week of 09/21/2010

Glenn Hughes on a free concert in Sofia, BulgariaImage via WikipediaBlack Country Communion-Black Country Communion
   This is arguably the most anticipated album of the year among musicians circles so I won't belabor the point here. I'll just say that despite being a Joe Bonamassa fan, I'm even more excited to see Glenn Hughes (Trapeze,Deep Purple) on a album that will gain his some well deserved exposure in the US. In case you've been living in a cave for the past year,the rest of the band in made up of Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian. Comes with a bonus DVD. Black Country Communion is expected to tour in 2011.


Monday, September 20, 2010

1986 Kramer Stagemaster Standard

   Here's a sweet 80's shredder guitar that has couple of cool things going on. The Stagemaster was the top of the line for Kramer from 1986 until 1990. This version was only made for one year. It can be identified as an '86 by the flat top body,diamond inlays,non-recessed Floyd and the rectangular logo. It has many of the classic 80's features: pointy headstock,7/8 size body and a 24 fret ebony fingerboard. The Seymour Duncan pickup is stock. Although they were part of Kramers "American Series" they were made in Japan by ESP; not the first or last time an American guitar maker "implied" a country of manufacture.
   The other cool thing I wanted to show you is the effective if primitive headstock repair. We definitely don't do it like that any more! It's important to remember,before we judge to harshly, repair techniques have grown since this was done. A metal plate was installed in the back of the head stock,with holes for the tuners to fit through...and is that a screw poking out the side...covered in latex house paint? Yikes! Since this repair was done early in the guitars life and is still working great,the guitar owner and I decided to leave it alone,but wow,that's sure not how we do it today.  
   After it was setup I did a couple of minor but important things. I replaced the missing tremolo cover and back plate. I replaced the chrome knob with the same style black one it would have come with originally and that ugly home made truss rod cover had to go! On went a cover from my used stockpile and a replacement for the missing T-bar to correct the behind the nut string angle. This 80's rocker has a few more decades left in it!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wedding Guitar Fingerboard Inlay-Part Four

Finally! We've got our nice little pile of inlays,ready to go in. We've got our nice clean fingerboard. Now we've got to make the holes in which to inlay the mother of pearl. First I glue the mother of pearl to the fingerboard using easy to remove model glue. I score around the outline of the inlay using a metal scribe. After removing the inlay,I use chalk dust to highlight the scribed line. With my dremel tool on a router base,I route out the holes. Man,is this thing ever going to be done? Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Some fun photos from around the guitar shop

Here are a few photos that didn't warrant their own article,but still made me smile. Enjoy! Phil
A look inside this Epiphone SG revealed a mystery bonus potentiometer. Please,don't drink and solder.
Gaze upon the worst...or perhaps best,drum head ever. Not even the venerable Gibson J-45 offers up this much potential real estate for the creative mind. Hmm...
Think your Dean ML case is big? At least you don't play the sousaphone!
Archtop ukulele at the open mic! I love it!
This has to be the most optimistic strap scenario I've ever seen. Perhaps he was out of duct tape.
Ever feel like you need to be the member of a secret society to know when your guitar was made? This look through the soundhole of a Takamine F-360S leaves little doubt. Why can't they all be that easy?