Sunday, May 8, 2016

Back . . . but no progress

Back from the vacation in Europe but of course the HONEY DO list didn't get any shorter in the last 4 weeks . . . and the jetlag (mine and the wife/kids) isn't helping ... Sunday and we're up at ... ... ... 5. Chickens are arriving Tuesday ... NO ... MATTER ... WHAT ... so I better tear apart the defective run so we can get on with building one that WORKS ... otherwise we'll be hunting eggs all over the 1/4 acre back yard ... and experience shows that that does NOT work . . . so guitar projects . . . and everything else . . . is on hold till that's done.

Did get the circuit worked out before I left (I'll post it once it's gotten another thorough check) and got the outline of the body cut on the pick guard wood so I know what I have to work with ... Oh and I got some pick guard material in for the eventual final thing.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

More picking

OK so this is where things started ......

A sheet of optic acrylic with the outline for rev 1 for the pickguard.
And a vacuum (shopvac) driven dremel. Now  the dremel actually does the job quite a bit better than you would expect for a $10 bit of plastic ... I did open it up at one point (it's 2 halves screwed together with 4 Allen screws) and yes even the insides are all plastic but the shaft is, as expected, metal AND it turns, unexpectedly, on 2 sealed ball bearings ... so how did things go ... 

Well this is the result after 3-4 hours worth of work with 2 different bits. First tried the spiral cutting bit ... which is supposed to be for everything except metal ... well ... ... ... acrylic might be the other exception, cutting with it works but that's the long and short ... mostly short ... of it. Feed to fast and things clog up, apply too little pressure and nothing happens. And in between the bit gets hot enough that it partially melts the cuttings and makes a mess ...
The other bit I tried is actually a small conical router bit, thinking that the larger amount of metal and diameter, might keep things cooler and the more aggressive teeth make more of an impact ... wrong ... while slightly better than the spiral cutting bit the difference wasn't dramatic ... SO ... it works but not all that well. I have cut acrylic with a metal blade in a jigsaw before but that presents it's own set of problems . . . tight corners and all . . . 
The picture above actually looks better than the piece which has a pretty jagged edge which will require quite a bit of sanding ... and the edge at the bridge is of course not where it should be . . . 
So plan C ... 0.2xx birch ply ... at least I'm a moderately competent woodworker. I found a piece of birch faced ply at Lowes that looks likely and cut out a piece to work on ... I'll have some time next weekend but then we'll be on vacation for a while so don't expect to in the way of updates ...

Saturday, March 12, 2016


A package arrived yesterday with a lot of bits & pieces  for the electronics of the guitar ... and I was impressed. I have ordered stuff from Mouser before and it was fine, this however was more than just fine. It arrived within 3 days with all the components seperately packaged in clearly labled ziplock bags ... nicely done guys. So now I have everything I thought I needed ... undoubtedly I'll find something I have forgotten ... maybe need more pushback wire ... and have to get off my ... ... ... behind ... ... ... and cut that first version of the pickguard ... ... ...   ... ... ...   ... ... ... after swimming my laps ... ... ...

OK so an update ... unpacked all the bits and pieces and ... checked that I now have everything ...
Yep it all SEEMS to be here now .....

Bit of a scare though ... the volume pot was marked D not A ... some Googling (yep that is apparently now officially a verb WITH a Capital letter ... even autocorrect recognizes it) shows that this is the way Bourns (and that is NOT in autocorrect) codes audio taper pots ...

Now if it will only fit the way I think it should ...
And yes ... it does seem to fit ... going to be tight down there as there are two SPDT on/off/on switches between those two tone pots on the bottom but it'll fit ... I think and there is plenty of space below the pickups for the tone caps ... the test configuration has 4 rather large axial orange drops .........

Oh and I though that I had lost the baggy with the screws for the jackplate ... pffffff ... they were loose in the bottom of the parts box so I decided to install it before they disappeared.
Looks pretty classy if I do say so myself.

UPDATE: saw the photo again today and ... well the 'silverish' rectangle at the top is just a reflection ... fortunately. The line on the right is a (rather less noticeable in real life) scratch though.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Progress ... well some at least

So I'm fed up with the problems cropping up in the production of the blank for the upper / mid area of the pickguard ... so i've decided to go for the EASY solution for now so I can at least get everything put together and test the electrics.

Step 1: disassemble the neck (it'll just get in the way) and paint the cavities with conductive black paint ... this will cut down on interference AND give the wood some protection.

Well that came out upside down ... anyway this was what it looked like at the start .... I haven't tested the XGP conductive paint yet and while the brush supplied looks like it will be sufficient a 'real' brush probably did a somewhat better job.

And here is the final product .... even without taping the edges I managed to avoid major bo-boos ....

Step 2: draw a/the outline for the pickguard (and the cavities for positioning the switches) on a sheet of acrylic (Optix from Lowes in this case)
Step 3: cut it out ... a lucky find was a $10 vacuum driven rotary tool with a spiral cutter and some 80 grit sanders ... so I need to get some 120 grit sanding drums and I'll be in reasonable shape ... for the initial pickguard in testing it worked fine with my shopvac when feeding slowely ... 

The initial Electrics will consist of:
- 2 x 3 pole 4 pos rotary switches
- 1 x Oak Grigsby 2 pole 4 pos lever switch
- 3 x 2 pole 2 pos slide switches - or toggles - probably - may need 1 x 2 pole 3 pos ... or maybe 2 x 1 pole 3 pos
- 2 x 500k B pots
- 1 x 500k A pot
- 2 SD P Rails pickups
- assorted caps & resistors for tone & treble bypass

The rotaries will be the pickup selectors for the P Rails, the lever the neck / bridge pickup selector, pots for 2 tones & volume. One of the slides will be a phase switch, one will switch a treble bypass on the volume and the final one will be a cap selection switch for the tone ... these last two are primarily for testing and may not survive in the final configuration ...

Anyway I'll post the schematic once I've worked it out.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Update . . . again

Well people I'm still working on it . . . . . the manufacture of the blank for the pick guard is driving me up the wall . . . and that's just the design for the material . . . .

I think I have if figured now though . . . here is the current manufacturing process (subject to changes at any time for any reason)

1. Cut a sheet of 1/16 (or so) aluminium to the design of the guard (under the strings and up) - update: looks like it'll be more like 1/64 . . . and only a "rough cut" for the outline
2. Key / scruff the whole thing to give the epoxy something to hold on to - update: sand it (40-80 grit) to remove the oxide layer and clean with acetone . . . test epoxy and gorilla glue
3. Cut the holes for the controls
   - current thinking is 2 4 position rotaries (3 pole) for pickup selection (rail, both par, both series, P90 on the Duncan P Rails) in the top cavity - update: interchange 2 & 3
 4. Glue on 1/16 exotic wood (Wenge / Red heart / Yellow heart linear mozaic) - update: drill holes as appropriate first.
 5. Cut wood to aluminium sheet
 6. Finish and install

And then put a 'regular' pick guard over the bottom cavity which will contain . . .

  - Oak/Grigsby 4 position (2 pole) switch in the bottom horn for switching neck, parallel, both, series
   - tone & volume in the usual places . . .
   - which leaves me 1 position (she has a les Paul style side jack) . . . either a 2nd tone (so individual neck and bridge tones) or . . . something else. I've been playing with the idea of a capacitor switch & phase switch in that position but have come to no firm conclusion yet . . . probably will have to make a scratch guard and j... just do it . . . (with apologies to Nike).

Here is a sample of the current front runner pickguard material for the bottom


I'll have to get it to decide if it 'works' though . . . . . . .

Thursday, December 24, 2015


Yep . . . it's been 2 months since the last one.

Real life still getting in the way.

Nope . . . nothing really new to mention . . . except that the house is finally reaching a stage that I can put in a new work table so I can get back to the guitar project again (as well as some other things that have been left hanging ... or got hung up ... in the last 2 months. In the mean time I've been playing it without the electr(on)ics and with the (crappy plastic) pretty much unadjusted nut I put in to get it stringed . . . . it actually already plays pretty darn well . . .

Here it is in it's current state next to it's sister.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Picking at the guard

Well the list below is moving along so I had some time to work on the guitar.

Still working on the pickguard ... some progress. Made a number of proposals from stiff cardboard to start with and then ... transferred to a piece of 1/4" poplar hobby board for testing. Turns out 1/4" is slightly more than the gap so it'll need to be sanded down some ... about 1/16th later ... not bad for the first try

 ... the bridge end needs some work.