Sunday, October 16, 2016

Long time no see


Wow has it been five years since I've touched this blog. That's kind of scary.

Recently a friend reached out to me asking if I had any guitar stuff I would donate to a community music project he works at. It's pretty obvious that given I've barely touched my guitars in the last 3-5 years that I don't need all of them. So I thought what the hell I'd dig him something out to have.

It's at this point that I had to make a choice and that became kind of hard.

I suffer from collecting mania, which is why I've quite a few guitars, and the flipside of this is you don't want to get rid of them. I had a few project guitars left unfinished but putting one back together would delay my having something for him massively.

Finally I've settled on this 70s Columbus 'lawsuit era' Les Paul copy. It's the exact same model as the first guitar I ever owned, although the actual first guitar was sold off years ago so this holds no real attachment for me. I bought it in a fit of nostalgia cleaned it up slightly then did little with it.

Better examples of these Japanese copies are slowly morphing from 'firewood' to 'collectible' but this isn't the latter. With a plywood body and numerous finish chips and scrapes it's just old.

Nonetheless it plays pleasantly and nobody will miss it if it gets trashed so it's a good donor instrument.

One thing that does suck about it however is the pickups. Unlike the better copies this has quite basic single coils stuck on a humbucker baseplate and fitted with a cover under which it's 50% air. There's no vintage mojo, just cheap old pickups that sound grotty especially once you up the gain.

From my guitar modding days I've got a ton of pickups sitting in boxes including some taken from an Indie Les Paul so I've quickly swapped these over this evening. Indie fitted quite decent Korean made hardware and these Alnico magnet medium output pickups have transformed the old Columbus. The pots are still scratchy but it's 40 years old, what do you expect. If I thought I could get the original witch-hat knobs off without breaking them I'd swap them too.

There may be the odd bit of guitar fettling in the near future, I can hear those unfinished projects calling to me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kinda shameful Mr Juszkiewicz

Here it is, the aforementioned shonky Gibson gig bag. This really is a shameful piece of tat, the only one I have worse than this is a black vinyl thing from the 80s that came with something I bought.

I know that SG studios are cheap but they'd be better not giving you anything in my opinion.

It's a real contrast with the Gibson hard cases which are pretty nice. I've noticed that it's been two months since I updated my blog and that's because I've just been too busy to mess around with guitars. I've been stretching my playing a bit but not messing about with them. Now we're in the rundown to Christmas things will be quieter for me and I may actually get to do some fiddling.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gibson #3 - SG Raw Power

The polar opposite of my Gothic SG, light vs dark.

Maple body, neck and fretboard, classic '57 pickups, Klusons etc. etc. vs Mahogany body and neck with ebony fretboard, EMGs, Grovers and so on.

Unusually for a Gibson it's a three piece neck and being maple this should really be tough as old boots. So less worry about the classic SG headstock disaster.

The only thing I don't like about it is the weird dark smoke scratchplate which you can just about see through in the light. I'd have preferred a bog standard 3-ply black one.

Plays very nicely, does the usual twin humbucker Gibson thing, but with a much brighter more airy tone.

What I don't quite understand is how Gibson can get away with the gig bag it came in. The flimsiest piece of tat I've seen for ages. You wouldn't expect to get this with anything but a real cheapie.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Re-use

So, I used the jig I made ages ago for the Mockingbird and ground down the nut shelf on the RS10V. Nothing very exciting to look at but it's made the guitar much nicer to play.

I may need to go back later and shave it a little more but it'll do for now.

It's still very 'tinny' sounding though.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A little wobble

So I made myself a deep, oversize routing template for the RS10V by moving the acrylic one I had around. Annoyingly, the router chattered and put a little wobble in the front edge but I figured I could just manually skip it.

With this fixed to the front of the guitar using double sided tape I worked at getting it done. Sadly I failed to keep the router out of the wobble and ended up with a little wobble in the guitar body.

It's been done to two different levels, lower at the back so that the tremolo has a serious upwards and downwards range.

With it all back together it looks OK and the wobble isn't too obvious. Maybe I won't start on that custom guitar project just yet though.

It's now properly playable although the nut is still high and the nut shelf needs routing. As expected the combo of carbolite fretboard, Floyd Rose and odd EMG Selects means it has a very 'thin' sound. I may stick some Duncan Blackouts in it to compensate, although I've also got a JB/Jazz combo lurking in a box.

I'm still not sure what to do about the finish. It looks great in the photos with flash but is very dark and muddy in real life. It's scratched but not broken through and could probably be polished up OK. This would save me a refinish of the body but when I cut the end of the neck off I simply can't help but have to reshape the end. Which may lead to taking the finish off at least the neck.

Epiphone #1 - '58 reissue Korina flying V'

Not a new purchase, I bought this before I even started the blog but it's been on loan to a friend for about 18 months.

I've always liked flying Vs and when I was a student in the late 80s I had one of those enamel guitar pin badges which I eventually lost at some gig or other. I'm pretty sure that was of a '58 Korina V because I remember the colour and V tailpiece.

There have been a few different generations of these with minor differences, this is one of the old Korean made models with Grover machine heads instead of Kluson copies. Nowadays they're made in China.

I did a bit of reading round the subject before buying and it seemed these ones had a really good reputation but were know for slightly iffy electrics.

When I collected it I could tell immediately the electrics were dodgy. It suffered from bad microphonics and the pots were nasty. Nevertheless it's a very pretty lump of wood. I've seen some that are made of three pieces and joined untidily but this is nicely done down the centre line. The grain runs roughly parallel to the sides of the V so meets attractively in the middle instead of being horizontal like some I've seen.

Due to the crummy electrics I rewired this with some Kent Armstrong alnico Rockers and decent pots. It now does the twin humbucker classic rock guitar thing very nicely. The pickups are lively without being out and out ceramic metal monsters.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My first custom guitar?

All this modding has to lead up to making something of my own. Or at least partly my own. After all if I do that I won't have to sand what feels like inches of hard finish off before I can put a finish of my own on.

Some time ago I bought these two flying V Bubinga tops from the guy who runs Eve Guitars as they were having a clearout.

I'm thinking of something unambitious for a first project and just making a body to fit an existing neck. I've already got the BC Rich Virgin I stole the Speedloader for the RS10V from and it has comparatively little resale value despite having a very decent bolt on 24-fret neck with ebony fingerboard. Buying a similar neck separately would undoubtedly be more expensive unless you go for one of the bazillion cheapo strat/tele necks on eBay.

The Widow headstock is not a favourite of mine, but it is pretty damn large and I reckon it could be reshaped while still leaving space for some machine heads if you're careful. Being from a Speedloader guitar it's not currently drilled for any so you've got free reign.

Looking at it I can 'see' an exaggerated triangular V style headstock inside the current outline. With it cut down to this you could then probably face it with a piece of Bubinga veneer to vaguely match the top and carefully refinish the sides of the headstock to avoid having to redo the whole neck.

I'm also thinking I could use the body to make a 'bridge to neck template' from some of the window pane sized pieces of acrylic I have. So I'd end up with one template that includes the neck pocket, bridge and pickup routes one on strip ensuring they end up perfectly spaced and aligned.

This would be pretty inflexible and only suit this one combo of neck and bridge but means I could have a couple of goes at this on scrap wood, probably some old worktop, before trying the actual body.

I've got loads of hardware, pickups and so on kicking around so all I really need is a 40mm thick body blank big enough to make a flying V from.

Don't hold your breathe though I've got a lot of sanding to do first.