Sunday, February 13, 2011

The wonder of the scratchplate

I'm not actually a fan of scratchplates on guitars, but boy do they make projects easy.

I quickly whipped the old pickups/controls out and started work on the replacements. As the Dave Murray strats have chrome pickup surrounds, this clashes with the volume control on the scratchplate I bought. So I used a round file to turn the relevant hole into a slot, neatly solving the problem.

As it was a fairly cheap scratchplate, there was only shielding on the control section. I removed this and stuck aluminium foil over the whole thing. This came off a roll of adhesive foil I found kicking around at work, I think originally intended for sealing air conditioning ducts. Once trimmed round with a stanley knife it was quite tidy.

Then it was a piece of cake to stick the pickups in and wire it all up. I'd bought a pair of cream Artec humbuckers with a hot bridge pickup and vintage output neck one in an attempt to mimic the Dimarzio Super Distortion and PAF combo in the original. For the single coil I used one that I'd removed from my black Indie Super-T ages ago, fitted with a cream cover.

The Artecs were only cheap but nicely made and with the guitar all back together sound really decent. I wheeled it out for some practice today and it's a really playable fat strat with a chunky neck and very deep tone, not that 'stratty' at all.

In fact after working on this I'm convinced the body is actually mahogany, not the usual alder or ash. It weighs a ton and the grain looks how I'd expect mahogany to. Although I'll be the first to admit I'm useless at identifying wood grain. Chuck in a Wilkinson trem with great big steel sustain block and the aforementioned humbuckers then I can sort of see why it sounds like it does.

So now I've done the easy bit. Next I have to rip it apart and refinish the body which will be my first experiment with Nitrocellulose.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wednesday night guitar abuse

So, my project strat is going to have an HSH pickup layout but there's a lump of body in the way of the neck pickup leg and not enough depth for the screw.

Time to break the router out. I left some of the lump behind so the original pickguard can go back on if I fancy it. The neck humbucker now just fits.

I'm going to learn from the RR2V project and do all the functional bits of this one before making any effort at refinishing. It's a lesson you'd have thought I'd have learned years ago from working on bikes but I get caught out by it every time.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Can you tell what it is yet?

So, I might not know what I want to do with the Explorer but I do have another project in mind.

This time, like my Fat Mild Les Paul I'm going to take an Indie I've picked up secondhand and do a rough take on a signature model from one of the big names.

The Les Paul was kind of obvious, given it pretty much started out a clone but this will be more subtle. So, can anybody guess which artist signature model I'll ape with this?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

How do you solve a problem like Explorer?

So, I've had this lump of wood over a year now without doing much with it. When I first got it as a pile of bits I roughly stuck it together and played it a little but the paint job done by the previous owner is nasty as hell. It's reacted badly with the paint underneath and is still sticky to this day.

I don't really need another black explorer and I bought this speculatively as a project so to just clean it up and put it together would be a bit pointless. My problem is that I don't have any idea what to do with it.

Obviously the badly done Pusheadesque scribbles have to go, but then I'm back at the aforementioned black explorer.

I was thinking that I could perhaps go for a full sheet of treadplate over the front as that's a common look for \m/ explorers.

Or convert it to a 'Holy Explorer', which was Gibson's mad explorer full of holes.

I've also been talking to a friend who paints leather jackets as a sideline and has been thinking he wanted to paint a guitar for a while. My problem is that I simply can't think of anything I'd want painted on it. It's also fitted with a scratchplate and an explorer without one would be better for painting.

What to do?

Indie #30 - 'L-shape Floyd' trans blue

AKA the abomination.

So, is this the best of both worlds or the worst?

You've got a solidy made high end 'import' Les Paul style guitar, mahogany body, grade A flamed maple top, neck and body binding, pearloid trapezium inlays, locking machine heads, sculpted heeless neck joint, high output Alnico 5 humbuckers etc. etc.

Then you fit a Floyd Rose licensed tremolo.

It's also not just any old tremolo but a Japanese Gotoh with locking studs and is arguably better made than pretty much anything else out there, with improvements over the original Floyd. It certainly looks a tad inconguous on a Les Paul, but it works really well and is rock solid stable whatever you do to it.

I've been hankering after one of these for a while. Like the 'Shape floyd' They've always been lurking in Indie's US range but only made it over to the UK as 'custom shop' models before. I nearly bought one of those but held back. Now Indie seem to be having a bit of a clear out/reshuffle and are selling off lots of stock quite cheaply so I picked one up.

My real worry is that this might be them clearing out before they shut up shop. They've been selling stuff so cheaply on eBay it'll be cannibalising any sales from music shops and they just keep dropping the price of things until they sell.

So maybe this is a 'last chance to see' moment. I'll be very sad if they go, I've been collecting their guitars because it's allowed me to build up a varied stable of attractive well made guitars at great prices. They've a few guitars left at knock down prices and the temptation to pick up a couple is high, but it's not like I'm short of the odd guitar.