Friday, October 29, 2010

Best In Shred Glendale Arizona - Round Two Winners!

Co-winner Ray Goodwin

Another great time was had by all at round two of "Best In Shred" at Glendale Arizona's Sam Ash Music. I thought last weeks crowd was impressive,but this week was absolutely packed! Congratulations to Ray Goodwin and Nikki Nightmare,this rounds two winners,who will go on to face Duane Woods and Adam Gonzales, last week's round one winners, to decide who goes to the regional finals. Be sure to stop by the finals on November 10th as these excellent guitar players make Arizona proud. There will be live music by Primary Funktion. I'll see you there!

Co-winner Nikki Nightmare

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Removing a broken strap button screw

So,for what purpose did we need that ugly homemade tool from yesterdays article? Today's patient is a Fender Jazz bass that belongs to a long time customer. I know that he plays in a punk band who play loud,fast and aggressively. He plays HARD,and has bent the strap button screw so much,it's sheared off and left a nice bit of itself embedded in the wood. Constant heavy use makes the area look like angry beavers have been at it. (Admittedly,extremely tiny beavers.) This is no job for a delicate little screw remover. We need to remove the wood around the screw and pull the whole thing out. Then,we can dowel the area with a nice hardwood dowel. Hardware store dowels will do just fine,but if you have a place like Woodcraft or Woodworkers Source nearby,it's worth picking up a good hardwood dowel. Glue in your dowel,let it dry over night and install your strap button as usual.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How To Make a Screw Extractor

I get most of my non specialty tools from the hardware store,but some days,a trip to Ace just isn't going to happen and you need something done NOW. Here is a screw extractor I made when I didn't have the right size for the job. It's a bit shoddy and it's really a one use only tool, but it got the job done. I keep a bag of scrap metal tubing (available from the hobby shop) of various sizes and lengths. I selected a piece of brass tubing that had an inside diameter big enough to fit around the screw I was extracting. Using my belt sander as a grinder I put a nice bevel on the edge. I sharpened it up using a small diamond whetstone. Using a hobby saw, I cut some teeth into our "blade". You should be able to fit at least three of these teeth on there.
 So,for what purpose do I need such a questionable looking tool? Stay tuned for tomorrows exciting episode of Guitar Omnivore!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jeff Beck- Live and Not So Exclusive

Jeff Beck at the Palais, Melbourne, Australia ...Image via WikipediaJust a quick update/correction for you. In this mornings "Weeks Best Cd's" article,I mentioned that Jeff Beck's new Cd is apparently exclusive to While that's still true,what should be waiting for me when I got home from work but Rhino Records email newsletter. Apparently you can buy the download versions from Rhino and Itunes. It's $7.99 for the MP3 and $11.99 for Apple lossless,FLAC and WMA. So for those of you young'uns that like to carry your music around in your magic telephones and what not, there you go. Whatever the format,it's still Jeff Beck.

This Week Best Guitar Cd's - Week of 10/26/2010

Jimi Hendrix performs for Dutch television sho...Image via WikipediaJimi Hendrix-West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology
  Despite the fact that Jimi Hendrix died when I was about four months old,he has been a "current" artist throughout my life. The amount of "new" Hendrix material is simply astounding. Certainly we must have heard everything worth hearing,right? "West Coast Seattle Boy" proves that idea false with 45 (45!) unreleased live and studio recordings. The 4Cd/1DVD set contains an entire disc of pre-fame Jimi,backing up the like of King Curtis,The Isley Brothers and Little Richard. While these tracks won't appeal to people looking for Experience era fuzz guitar freak outs,I like having an early Jimi set,all on one disc. The other three discs are full of fantastic stuff like acoustic demos for Electric Ladyland,stuff from Band of Gypsies legendary Filmore East New Years Eve 1969 show and a previously unheard version of Bob Dylans "Tears of Rage". The DVD is a documentary by Bob Smeaton (Beatles Anthology) and is narrated by Bootsy Collins.

Plenty more guitar Cd reviews below...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Counterfeit Gibson Les Paul Custom

Here,for your amusement, is a "Les Paul" that a man had recently purchased. Despite being "new" and suspiciously inexpensive,it was only after he bought it that the customer started to realize thing weren't quite right. Thankfully,he wasn't asking me to work on it,he just wanted me to confirm his suspicions. Like many fakes,this one looks decent enough from a distance. There are some grooves cut into the body underneath the 3-way switch and the tailpiece. If these grooves appear on a genuine Gibson product,it's one I haven't seen. (Anybody see this before? If so,please leave a comment.) If that's a design they decided to add,it seems a strange choice. Who gets into pirating guitars to express their artistic mojo? A closer look starts to reveal some faults. The headstock logo isn't quite right,and is poorly applied as well. EMG pickups aren't impossible on a new Gibson,I suppose,but gold pickup screws on a guitar with black hardware? Hey,the truss rod cover has gold screws too! The binding and inlay work is actually pretty well done but that is definitely a cheapo plastic nut. Let's flip this thing over and see what we find. Hmm...Grover tuners and a reasonable attempt at a serial number and a "MADE IN USA" stamp. A peek inside the control cavity reveals inexpensive potentiometers that are certainly not the good quality 25K pots you would find on an EMG equipped guitar. I didn't bother to remove the strings and take a closer look at the pickups. Who knows how they were attached to the wiring. Perhaps they weren't even real EMG's.
The biggest chuckle was supplied by the sticker on the control plate cover. You may be familiar with the "Bench Tested Builder Approved" slogan found on genuine Gibson replacement parts. This sticker not only displayed a shaky attempt at the Gibson logo but also showed off some creative spelling.
  Thank you to the guitar buyer for allowing me to snap a few photos of this fine piece of work. The bottom line? If you know a guitar is a fake,please do yourself a favor and DON'T BUY IT!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Best In Shred Glendale Arizona-Round One's Winners

First round co-winner Adam Gozales
I had a great time at the "Best In Shred" competition at Glendale Arizona's Sam Ash Music,this past Wednesday. Congratulations to Adam Gonzales and Duane Woods,the evenings two winners. They will square off against next weeks two winners and that winner will go on to the regional showdown. Most surprising,the two winners not only played hard tail guitars,they both played Gibson SGs! Not a tremolo bar to be found in this winners circle. There was some really good playing from the other contestants as well. Arizona residents,don't forget to come down and see round two on October 27th. I'll see you there!
First round co-winner Duane Woods

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Changing out a tremolo block

  This guitar is an early 80's Japanese Squier Stratocaster and it's a fine example of why many people think that Fender Japan makes some killer guitars. That crazy looking thing on the headstock is a locking nut that has built in fine tuners,allowing a traditional Strat style bridge. Changing a tremolo block is actually pretty easy,provided you can do the setup after the new trem block is installed. Remove the strings,tremolo springs and six screws that attach the tremolo and the whole thing will come right off. Remove the saddles,keeping them in order for later re-installation. Now is our chance to clean and lubricate any parts that need it. From here,it should be pretty obvious that the block is held on by three bigger screws. Before I install the new block I flatten it on a diamond sharpening plate. This allows better "coupling" between the two parts,for better tone. Skip this step,if you like. After the new block is on,it's as simple as reversing what we just did,then setup with some new strings! Bonus tip: Be sure not to over tighten the six bridge screws,I like to see the thickness of an old string package between the trem and the bottom of the screws.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Changing a single fret

Usually,refreting a guitar involves removing and replacing all the frets. Sometimes,a partial refret is the way to go when the player only plays rhythm guitar and has worn down only the first few frets. The least common refret job is one like this where only one fret needs to be replaced. This poor guy took a fall from a guitar stand and something pushed into a single fret hard enough to dent the fret. You can even see where the wraps came off the wrapped A and D strings. A complete refret doesn't make sense. Our choices are to file all the frets down to the same level as the dents and then recrown,or to replace the damaged fret. My fret pullers make quick work of a single fret. (Actually,I also use a soldering iron to heat the fret for easier removal.Check out that COMPLETELY BOGUS picture of me pretending to pull the fret while I take the picture with my other hand!)  A quick measurement with my calipers confirms that these are really big jumbo frets,so I'll pick out the correct replacement wire. Because the fingerboard is bound,I'll need to cut the tang of the fret so the fret hangs over the binding. Curving the fret to a greater radius than the fingerboard will help the fret stay put once it's hammered in. That leaves the fret end sticking out to be filed down. The challenge here is to match the style of the other fret ends. Some new strings and this guys ready to go!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Weeks Best Guitar Cds-Week of 10/19/2010

Bob Dylan performing at St. Lawrence Universit...Image via Wikipedia
Bob Dylan - The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 (the Bootleg Series Vol. 9)
Bob Dylan - The Original Mono Recordings
  Good times for Dylan fans this week with volume nine of the Bootleg series AND the release of the mono mixes of the first eight albums on Cd! The demos reveal a young Dylan in his early twenties,recording songs for his first two publishers. With just his voice,his guitar and his harmonica,he seems to both arrive fully formed and to grow, artistically. Which is it,then? Perhaps it could be argued that Dyan has been full of contradictions from the start.
   With the success of the Beatles mono box set, perhaps the record industry will,at long last,realise the demand for mono mixes! (Hey, whoever is in charge of the endless stream of Beach Boys reissues at Capitol,you're paying attention,right?) With "the Original Mono Recordings",Dylans first eight albums are available in what many fans (including myself) feel are the "real" mixes.  Good times,indeed!

More reviews below...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cleartone Strings Go Green!

This display at the guitar store where I work gives me a good excuse to talk about a few things.

   I put strings into the same category as picks and distortion pedals,in the sense that we have plenty of great choices. Enough already with new strings,picks and distortion pedals that add nothing new and offer no reason to replace an existing product. I generally greet each new string on the market with a yawn. Having said that,if you haven't tried Cleartone strings,give them a try. They are a rare addition to the list of string brands I use myself and recommend at the shop. They actually offer up a string that has a unique sound and they use a proprietary technique that makes them last about two to three times longer than most strings. C.F. Martin has recently signed an agreement with Cleartone to use their treatment on Martin's extended life strings.

   This is being advertised as a "String Recycling Program";the idea is,you bring in some old strings in exchange for a discount on some new strings. The old strings would then be recycled.  I'm not sure what to think about this. On one hand,I am pro green and wonder if guitar string recycling should become as common as properly disposing of your motor oil. On the other hand,it seems that it might not make sense to spend energy to ship the used strings far away to be recycled. What do you guys think? Is this a genuine benefit to the earth or a marketing ploy? Leave some comments below.

   The current offer saves you one dollar of the price of a new set of Cleartone strings. I am definitely in favor of saving a dollar. Cleartone strings are among the most expensive strings on the market so bring in a set of old strings soon!

In summation, 1) Try Cleartone strings. 2) "Green" isn't always Green. 3) Saving a buck is good,as long as it's for something you want!

Friday, October 15, 2010

How to install a humbucker pickup onto a pickup ring

Installing a humbucker can be a frustrating task. You've got the screwdriver,the screw,the spring,the pickup ring and the pickup itself to handle. The mathematically astute among you will have already figured out that that's five items! Tricky stuff,especially considering that you have only two hands and one item is a spring,capable of springing far,far away to who knows where,necessitating a bit of quality time between your hands and knees and the floor. If you think you may be doing this more than once or you just want the easiest way,at $8.98,you should really consider Humbucker Helpers from Stewart MacDonald. These guys hold the spring and screw onto the ring making it much easier to maneuver! The catch? They don't help with installing anything onto a pickguard,like a Strat or an SG,just pickup rings. The Stew-Mac part number is 0066. These have made my life a little easier. Highly recommended.,_pickups/Humbucker_Helpers.html?actn=100101&xst=3&xsr=12363

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The EpiTurser Partsocaster!

Cooter's, The Dukes of Hazzard MuseumImage by voteprime via Flickr
Being the right age,I watched the Dukes of Hazzard when I was a kid. Due to the homogeneous nature of the plot,I really couldn't tell you much about it,aside from retrospectively wondering "Hey,who's job was it to fix the bridges in that town?". There is one scene that for some reason or other has stuck with we all these years. Bo and Luke were visiting their mechanic buddy Cooter. The Duke boys were unimpressed as Cooter showed of his latest hotrod, a primer laden,beat up wreck. Unimpressed,until he popped the hood to reveal a giant, powerful engine,whose parts were all covered in chrome. I have here,what may be the guitar equivalent of that car, a parts guitar that on paper,shouldn't add up to much.This guitar belongs to a working musician,and like a lot of working musicians,he's not to concerned about the sticker on the headstock.  Its a neck from an Epiphone Stratocaster copy,a blue Jay Turser mystery wood Strat body with paper thin flame maple veneer and a purple Fender MOTO pickguard. Not the most promising of combination of parts on which to build a tone monster. To the rescue comes the chrome plated engine in our analogy: Seymour Duncan! We've got the classic JB in the bridge,a Quarter Pounder in the middle and a Phat Cat in neck. Throw in a couple of wiring mods and you've got a massive amount of tones covered. The JB is wired to a three way mini toggle to allow series/parallel and split and there is a second mini toggle to allow all seven pickup combinations!
 What type of gigbag are we going to use with such an eye catching guitar? Naturally,the blue/purple combo screams out for a...camouflage gig bag!