Thursday, December 1, 2016

And then I found this . . .

Rick Toone | Luthier . . . one of the most comprehensive discussions if somewhat fragmented between different builds on the ergonomic and technical physics aspects sorry need a better term there but he does take A LOT of care with the physics of guitar building.

And some BEAUTIFUL, if sometimes very unconventional, instruments. Unfortunately each of them cost a GOODLY chunk of my yearly income . . . . .

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Oodles of doodles

Well I had some time on my hands . . . uhhmmm . . . well maybenot really but I didn't feel like doing anything else so.

I had doodled this during some downtime at work, starting from this somewhat firebirdy thingy:


To this

And then 'wasted' most of a (rather expensive) 12 column evidence pad to get to ... this:

Which went into the computer and ended up like this:

Not bad but it has some (I can't define them) problems I think, maybe to long for the width, to much on the left and not enough on the right. I don't know but the balance seems off somehow. And that point at the top has GOT to hurt.

And then I started playing around with the curves and got this:

That actually looks rather interesting . . . . 

And then it turns out I'm not all THAT original . . . do a google search on ergonomic guitar and you'll see what I mean. I must have seen some of them before but can't really remember. And also there is this example:


I'm quite a fan of Ben Crowe and can't believe I didn't remember this. There is also a YouTube video which has a much better look at the instrument . . . 

I'm definitively not in Ben Crowe's class when it comes to building instruments but I might just give this a go in Maple and Wenge . . . with a maple on maple neck I think.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Once again . . . . . .

So here we are . . . once again


As promised a better picture . . . the rain let up for about 15 minutes and the sun peeked through so . . . and YES the 'garden' is a mess, I could have been cleaning that up instead of working on the guitar.

And here it is with the 'other' pick guard . . . . . . the maple faced ply was finished with 2 coats of dark walnut Danish oil (Watco) sanded back and then 'flooded' with natural Danish oil by basically knocking over the can onto it . . . not a procedure I would expect to be repeating but who knows. The pick guard on the guitar is unfinished maple face ply . . . 



And then there was Sunday - haven't we been here before - the new tip on the soldering iron made all the difference in getting it all apart and back together.


And yes, the sharp eyed can spot that the neck pickup is upside down in the pick guard, at least according to the SD name printed on it. There is only 1 switch below the tone control now and it switches between one 0.01 uF cap, off, and two 0.01 uF caps in series (0.005 uF), the 0.033 uF was to much to be useful, going from 10 to 7 on the tone control almost completely muted the high E string. This may be more useful, and I have some green (no orange drops at radioshack) polyester film 0.022 uF caps as well, in case I want to go higher



And here it is all put together again. I did find that my jig for routing the pickup holes is off by 1/32 or so and just a 1/16 or so bigger than it should be. I'll make a new one for the final 'real' one. All the screws are also in now.

The pickups play pretty nice with the bridge & neck . . . bridge PU has the strings right over the outer edge of the poles, while they are pretty much on center for the neck PU.


Sorry for the dark picture . . . . 



Sunday, November 13, 2016


Anno MMXVI die XII mensis Novembris, in qua natus sum:



Better pictures when the weather actually improves here . . . . NOT taking it out in the rain . . . not that that would improve anything probably . . . . . . . .

It's not "finished" . . . . by quite a bit . . . . . crappy plastic nut from . . .  Amazon possibly . . . action . . . the bridge is screwed down almost to the deck and it may still be a bit high (may need one of those nice StewMac shims) . . . intonation, well the saddles are not line up straight, and more or less where you'd expect them to be . . . . but that's just from a rough check I did way back when I first put the neck on . . . wiring . . . hmm, it's not quite wired like the circuit, no treble bleed yet, and there is an 0.033 µF orange drop tone cap hard wired . . . on the wrong end of the pot . . . the tone and volume pot work in opposite directions . . . . OOOPSSS
. . . . so what IS there
    • // P90, serial, parallel, rail // wiring for the two P rails in the top bout for each pup
    • rotary switch for // bridge, serial, parallel, neck // pup selection and the phase switch in the lower bout . . . thought about a 5 position 2 deck 4 pole rotary to put it all on the same switch but I'm not sure I could remember where all the options were . . .
    • volume - no treble bleed as yet . . .
    • tone (with the aforementioned 0.033 µF cap hardwired . . . I THOUGHT - we all know about that right - that I had a 0.022 µF somewhere BUT the lowest I could find was a 0.033 µF . . . 2 X 0.047 µF, 2 X 0.068 µF and a number of assorted caps higher in the range but NO 0.022). I did find 10 or so 0.2 µF caps . . . NO idea why I have those . . . )
    • and a on/off/on SPDT switch (in the very back) that switches the tone pot from the standard Fender configuration / modern Les Paul (i.e. tone before the volume), to the 50s Les Paul configuration (i.e. tone after the volume)
The black dots are NOT connections to the back of the Vol pots . . . yes, I threw me first too . . .
From: Harmony Central by BG76
The top is the standard for a tele, the bottom is the grease bucket mod.
From: Squier-talk by Pictoratus

There are some sources that claim that with the Tone AFTER the Volume the 'need' for a treble bleed is largely gone as the modification in the circuit does not result in a marked decrease in the highs when rolling off the volume . . . . . we'll see . . . . . of course now decreasing highs with the tone pot DOES decrease the volume . . . can't have everything . . .

So here are some photos from the 'work' . . . . .


I got annoyed with all the ground wires - never mind the possibility of wiring an unintentional 8) ground loop - so I decided to 'waste' some of my copper foil for grounding, this is just after reassembling the harness on the guard so it's not tied in yet . . . nor was the tone installed . . . 


Still not tied in, but the tone has been installed with the on/off/on switch . . . I thought it now would be simple mater resoldering all superfluous ground wires to the copper . . . but . . . well see below . . . stupidity intervened . . . 


And you would think that that large piece of foil between the pickup cavities (sorry the angle is wrong but trust me, it's at surface level) would be plenty for a connection with the guard . . . right . . .   . . .   . . .  RIGHT  ... ... ... ... ... ... ... WRONG, without a screw in that area . . . well a bit of pressure does the trick but that would make playing a bit hard, so now there is an interconnect at the screw over the cavity below the bridge . . . . works like a charm now . . . . and what's that white 'thingy' at the back in cavity . . . take a closer look . . . 


So here is the lead to the plugin . . . the mantel is soldered to the copper shielding/ground - you can just about see the soldered lead to the bridge thimble at the extreme right. The white thing is a double screw connection, it's rather large and may not fit in some crowded confines but a JM has - mostly - loads of space so why not make life simple when I know I'm going to futz with different pick guards . . . 


Ready for the ground rewiring and testing . . . see if you can spot what I first forgot about . . . switching on the amp resulted in incessant extreme hum . . . any guesses . . . no . . . you can see the solution on the pick guard at the right edge between the pickups . . . yea . . . ground . . . REALLY . . . forgot about that, it's been a while . . . so I was ready to unsolder all kinds of things . . . and had in some instances . . . it was a BEAR to get some of them back . . . . . . . . . . . found one wiring mistake in the connection of the neck pup to the switches . . . and that was it - well after I had diagnosed the grounding problem - despite the fact that the multimeter says that the P90 side (or the rail) side of the pup is out of the loop ticking the pole(s) with a plastic covered paperclip (MUCH easier the handle than the old screwdriver and still plenty of signal) still results in an audible - if MUCH attenuated - signal . . . not sure if there is a 'sneak' circuit somewhere . . . if so I can't find it and the multimeter says NO ... but that may just be because I'm not measuring in quite the right place ... BUT I EVEN get that answer when measuring the output direct ...  ... ... ... or if this is just something the p-rails (and possibly other humbuckers) do because of the shared magnet (and close proximity of the coils) or ... or ...  or ...

. . . or maybe it's just peculiar to this wiring situation . . . . . . .

Anyway an hour (or two) later and quite a bit of frustration with the crummy soldering iron tip gets us . . . here . . . with a new set of super slinkies . . . not my favorite but I got them cheap . . . and I figure I'll go through a couple of sets while dealing with the next stage


The pick guard is in place and the neck is back on (check that the right screws are in the right holes . . . contoured heel . . . wouldn't want to put the long crew in the short hole and go through the fret board). One drawback of the current config with the 22 fret overhang . . . can't take off the pick guard without taking off the neck or the bridge . . . with the locking tuners it can be done without ditching a set of strings but it's a bit of a bore loosening the stings, screwing out the bridge . . . Oh well, it'll stay like this for a while ... while I figure out the rest of the electronics . . . . . The other iffy thing is that the pickups are 85 mm side to side at the height adjustment pads and the rout is . . . 85 mm side to side best as I can determine, the neck pickup didn't want to go down past a certain, rather high, point . . . first though some of the wires had caught beneath it, there ARE rather a lot in that area. But no, in the end I think it got caught on the edge of the rout as a little persuasion managed to clear the problem without anything else going obviously pear shaped . . . an 85 mm peg in an 85 mm hole doesn't have a lot of clearance . . . . 

Oh and Radioshack has 3/16 replacement tips . . . you may want to shorten them a bit for use in a Weller soldering iron but a Dremel and a cutoff wheel . . . and a grinding stone . . . did the job just fine - but remember they are HOT after that . . . yeah forgot . . . stupidity and all . . . And came away with some 0.022 and 0.010 µF caps (green poly metal film, no orange drops, but buying just 2 orange drops at mouser or digikey and paying the postage . . . yeah) so one of those can go in . . . . as soon as I find a 1000 pF for the Treble bleed . . . trying to limit the times disassembling the new baby . . . 





Monday, November 7, 2016

Not without a keeper

I really shouldn't give in to my impulses without extensive checking .... and I DO mean EXTENSIVE.

So the wiring from the pickup got partially reversed . . . that is the white and black leads got switched . . . so maybe that's the only wiring mistake . . . if it is the ONLY one I'll count myself lucky . . .

Here is the revised schematic . . . once again . . . .


Sunday, November 6, 2016

ERRATUM 2 . . . where did my brain go

When I started building the circuit today I realized when testing the switches that . . . If the switch bat is pointing N, the switch connection is going S . . . . . so while the connections work as intended the switch bat positions were . . . switched.

So here is the right way of soldering things together . . . . .

Unless you have the same kind as OCD as I have you may want to take this is stages though . . . . first do one DPDT set, then the other, then the phase and maybe the rotary switch and then work down the chain doing the volume and tone controls . . . .


So here we are ready to start . . . just after I figured out the problem outlined above so there is a hand draw 'thingy' somewhere around showing how to wire up the the DPDT switches . . . you can see one set on the scrap of plywood next to the other set on the soldering pick guard . . . the multimeter is an absolutely essential piece of equipment . . . (although a led with a battery and 2 leads would do as well) . . . to test electrical continuity . . . or . . . discontinuity . . . . . . .  remember it's just as important NOT to have electrical connections as it is to have them . . . otherwise why would we need switches . . . ALWAYS check the disconnects as well as the connects.


And here are the connections on the first set .. .. .. not my neatest job of soldering ever but I can blame part of that on the old tip . . . I NEED a new tip, the yellow wire going off to the left will eventually become the neck hot . . . . 


And both sets on the pick guard with the phase switch in progress . . . 


And work on the rotary switch . . . always see if you can minimize the distance of the interconnects . . . here the 5 pins that need to go hot at one point or another are ALL next to one another . . . makes things that much easier . . . unfortunately the interconnect for the series switching and the grounds are not so conveniently located . . . 


And here it is all wired up . . . well back to the volume control anyway . . . what a rats nest . . . and the multimeter so far tells me that things connect and disconnect as I would expect . . . which means that either my expectations are probably wrong or there is some connection I haven't tested that doesn't do the expected thing . . . . 


OK I couldn't resist so even after 4 hours soldering I HAD to wire up at least one pickup . . . haven't tested it yet so we'll have to see if it's all correct but it looks pretty impressive . . . . . . . . . . .



Saturday, November 5, 2016

ERRATUM - and a new circuit schematic

OK so there is a mistake in the circuit schematic a few posts back, the DPDT switches don't do what they are supposed to do . . . my bad . . . I changed things around and moved elements and . . . well things got screwed up somehow. Here is the corrected version:
Note that straight crosses of wires CROSS and do NOT connect whilst Ts of course connect.

Note that the 2 single pole switches are on/off/on allowing me to switch between tone caps (or switch the tone off altogether) and to test the two different treble bleeds. In the final version one treble bleed will disappear and that setting will be a volume bypass using a DPDT switch to completely eliminate the volume pot (and possibly the tone as well) from the circuit . . . . the tone switch may or may not survive in the final version . . . . I'll have to see how much difference the different caps make, I have a plethora of values I can test . . . .

And here is the check that the DP switches now work as they should . . . . . . it's basically a DPDT version of the SD triple shot switching which lets me either ground the coil that's not being used or in the case of at least 1 of them switch it out of the circuit completely.


Before you go WOW THAT'S COOL, I WANT IT . . . let me build it and check that it actually works in the next week or two OK . . . . . . DEAL