Monday, March 6, 2017

European vs American threading

There is one irritating difference between US and European audio. The standard threads on mic stands. I mean, why is this?
Most boom poles and the like use the Euro standard.

What's the difference? Charles Poynton lays it out for you.

"Europeans don’t use a metric (SI) thread but a 3/8‑inch diameter thread – British Standard Whitworth (BSW), 16 tpi. The Whitworth standard specifies a 55° flank angle (typical of pipe threads), not the 60° angle of the Unified Thread Standard (UTS) or the the ISO metric screw thread. Abbreviated: 3/8″-16.
Many microphones having 5/8‑inch mount are shipped with an adapter that screws into the 5/8‑inch (“American”) threaded hole, and offers a 3/8‑inch diameter (“European”) threaded hole. Colloquially, this is a 5/8″-27 to 3/8″-16 threaded adapter."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Opera

The story of the opera is basically Apocalypse Now, but it takes place in a world where the robots have won the war and now a combat android has to go to the New York City Containment Zone to kill an android that is systematically wiping out the last vestiges of the human race.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

CNC Guitar Tutorial - Flipping over a 3D body



This dude makes some beautiful guitars. kozmguitars.com

It took me a while to comprehend the geometry starting with his glued-together block of wood. Boy these guitars look comfy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

10 luthier shop tips



This is a particularly good set of tips for guitar building and woodworking. Includes ways to clean the fingerboard, using duct tape to remove splinters, clamping weird angles and curved things, gluing on laminate, taping, and making your own fret-removal pliers out of cheap wire cutters.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Oh, and more on the truss rod and mounting

Pay attention. More tips on attaching a neck.

Mounting, Truss Rod, and Finishing tips
     Mounting your neck, I have come up with a simple way to mount the neck, you will need,
1.      A reversible drill,
2.      A set of drill bits in 64ths from 1/16th-1/4"(you will be able to assemble your instrument with this set.)
3.      A quick grip clamp with the soft rubber pads. (optional)
4.      A digital caliper (optional)
     To start, fit your neck to the body, with the body lying flat on a table, or other flat surface, support the neck so it lays flat in the neck pocket, with a yard stick, check the alignment of the neck to the bridge, hold your yard stick along the edge of the neck, from the nut down past the bridge, if your bridge mounting screw holes are drilled, you want the yard stick to be equal distance from the edge of the outside two holes. Note the gap in the neck pocket at the upper end, place a shim of the appropriate thickness at that point.
     Now you will pick the guitar up, stand it on the butt of the body, with the neck pointing straight up, place the quick grip in the cutout, holding the neck tight in the pocket, with the handle on the top side of the guitar; check to see if it is aligned with the shim in place, and also that the heel is tight to the body.  Now find a drill bit that just fits the holes in the body, this will be used to drill a center dimple for the mounting hole in the neck, put the drill bit in the reversible drill, make sure it is tight, now, MAKE SURE THE DRILL IS IN REVERSE, insert the drill bit in the holes, one at a time and just hit the trigger lightly, going backwards, this will just drill a small dimple in the center of the mounting holes. When you’re done with all four, remove the drill bit.
     Now you will need the right size drill bit to drill the mounting holes. In rock maple the drill bit should be no smaller than the shank of the screw. With a digital caliper, measure between the threads on your screw, your drill bit should be no smaller then that measurement, but rather, the same size. On softer woods, you can go smaller, but not the hard Maple.
     Put the appropriate size drill bit in the drill, at this time. Put one of the screws along the cutout to see how far into the neck it will go, look to see that it won't go too far, then place the screw alongside the drill bit in the drill, adjust the exposed length of the drill bit so it only sticks out the length of the screw. Tighten the chuck on the drill, and double check that the length is still right. Go through the mounting hole in the body, keeping the drill bit centered in the hole. Drill your mounting holes. You’re now ready to mount your neck. I also use this method to center the holes for the tuners as well.

     The Truss Rod - single action = single rod. What I do is snug up the rod, don't over tighten. Tighten just enough to where the rod doesn't rattle. With light gauge strings and low action, these heavier 50's style necks shouldn't  need much more attention for some time. Before I do a string change, I'll check the relief to see if it needs to be adjusted; if it needs to be, I will snug it up a little when the strings are off. Always adjust the truss rod with the strings off, or way loose. If you do a lot of guitar repairs, you will notice that the guitars that are easy to adjust with the strings on (Gibson – Gretch - Fender bullets), have a lot more problems with broken or stripped adjustment nuts. When the torque to twist the nut becomes greater than to twist the rod, the rod will twist. That's when the trouble starts. If the brass nut doesn't strip, the rod will twist until it snaps; usually at the anchor (Gretch guitars are famous for this). It takes a little bit more time to adjust, tune, de-tune, adjust, tune, check, but done right, you shouldn't need to readjust for quite some time.
When the truss rod slot is machined from the back, the skunk stripe fills in behind it. When you drop the truss rod in from the top then cover it you have no need for it. If you are setup for the one piece neck and want to put a cap on the top you can still come from the back to install the rod. The benefits of the rod from the back is you can have more bow in the rod verses from the top. The cap is 1/4" or less usually and that lowers the available thickness to work with. This I believe is why fender went to the veneered cap in the sixties. The rod from the back is the easiest and fastest way to install the rod. What I like about it is it seems to need less maintenance then the shallower rod,  like the Gibson's. The Gibson rod adjust easier, but uses more tension and is always under tension as compared to the deeper rod and seems to move more in different climates. A friend of mine who works in a large music store in Reno once told me the majority of his setups were from traveling musicians going  from one gig to the next. The thinner the neck, the shallower the truss rod bow.
The way I'm truing the fretboard these days is to first machine the fret board radius, I do this so I don't have to remove a lot more later, then cut the back profile. I then put a slight load on the rod and sand it true using a edge sander setup horizontally, similar to a stroke sander but not a stroke sander. This way I true the F/B to the way the truss rod acts with the neck. After it is trued, I remove it from the fixture, it will have a slight back bow. When I drop the tension back off the rod, I will have between .003-.006" positive bow. I've had "O"  issues with back bow after changing to this arrangement.

 The finish - these necks come standard with two coats of nitrocellulose lacquer,  this will hold up well with moderate usage, You can  apply more, just sand lightly with 320 grit dry.   If your going to use anything other then nitrocellulose lacquer, the original finish should be competently removed. What you don't want to do is wet sand between coats, raw wood will suck it up like a sponge, swelling, cracking , twisting, and all kinds of ugly stuff. I dry sand right up to were I get ready to buff.  I use paint thinner (mineral spirits), on the hard finishes; lacquers - urethane's - and such. Be careful, even mineral spirits will swell up the raw wood. Not nearly as badly as water, but it will swell. Be most careful around end grain; the very back of the neck, front of the peg head, and especially the tuner holes. Why you ask, because the tuner holes are almost all end grain, hard to get enough finish applied to seal it from moisture; any kind of moisture. I tape this area off, and dry sand it after everything else is done. I have a lot less problems that way.

Baritone neck

Unrelated: guinea pigs perfecting hover technology.
DC Kunkle has advise for attaching guitar necks. This is specifically the instructions for his baritone neck:


Long scale conversion neck for the Tele style body with no modification necessary for intonation, I start with the 25.5" scale and moved it out two more frets to achieve the 28.629" scale. There's a 10-15 business day build/handling time on these. I try to keep it to 10 but when it gets real busy, it can sometimes take a little longer.
My standard Specs for this neck are as follows:
·        28.629" scale.
·        one  piece Eastern Hard Rock Maple (a standard for bolt on necks)
·        single action truss rod
·        black walnut skunk stripe
·          T  style peg head with stepped tuner holes to accommodate the die cast Schaller/Gotoh style tuners. The big hole diameter is 13/32" =.404" =10.26mm The upper small hole diameter is 21/64" = .325" = 8.28mm
·        T style heel
·         1 & 11/16th  ” at Nut
·        2 3/16th  ” at Heel
·        14" radius Hard Maple fret board
·        1/8th “ flat bottom nut slot, (nut not included)  if you would like a nut, see extras
·        23 frets
     Comes with no mounting holes (see extras)
11  .110" wide, .053" tall frets installed,     I spray two coats of lacquer on the fret board. If you plan to add more lacquer I will sand with 320 dry then buff slightly with fine scotch guard then install the frets. This makes it easy to add more lacquer if you choose to do so. Let me know at time of purchase if you would like me to do that. When I do add more lacquer after the frets are installed, I take and cut masking tape into thin strips by laying it on a peace of glass and using a straight edge and utility knife blade. ( I usually use 12" to 16" strips) You can tailor the width of the strips to best cover the tops of the frets but letting the lacquer bridge the fret board and bottom edge of the frets.   - no fret work. (see extras)
·        7/32" black position marker dots
·        3/32" black side dots
·        standard back cut is vintage U, similar to a 54 T/S round back or a 59 L/P round back, .875" at the first fret, .975" at the twelfth fret.
      EXTRAS    If you choose to have any extras  done you can commit to buy but don't pay, send a message with which extras you would like and I will send an invoice  for the correct amount.
     Fret work.     I can do a fret mill (level) crown and polish the frets for you as an option for an extra $25, if you do not have the experience to do this yourself, this option comes highly recommended. 
     Bone nut.      For an extra $25. I can rough in a bone nut cut in with nut files and left a little high (factory) left loose so you or your tech can tailor it to your own taste. To secure when your ready just put a dab of wood glue on the outside bottom  two edges, install on neck and tighten the strings, the outside two strings is all you need to tighten, let sit for a hour or so and your good to go. You can put all the glue you want to glue this on, but the more you put on the harder it is to replace later on.
      Drill mounting holes.    For an extra $5. I can drill those for you.
     The neck comes with two coats of nitrocellulose lacquer, not meant to be perfect, but it's a good hard finish that will let you put your project together with out the hassle of doing finish work yourself.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fish Bass

Designing an ergonomic bass. The thing I don't dig so much about the bass in that article is that it's designed for your right hand to sit in the middle of the bass. And my interest is in playing near the bridge more comfortably.
Huh. In the early 70's Fender moved the bridge pickup somewhat closer to the bridge.
I found a piece of old pine in the dumpster behind my apartment building. I thought it would be funny to make, instead of a "tonewood" guitar, a trashwood one.
This graphic is relevant to my needs.

Allen Eden guitar neck. Pre-cut bone nut. Massive blank headstock. I need an 11/16 drill bit for the tuner holes.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Make a bass drum

So I've had this idea, after seeing the Turangaleela at the New York Philharmonic earlier this year and also having seen the Kachanov Singers, that the orchestral bass drum is actually the most expressive drum there is.
And honestly I'm not getting a lot of push-back from drummers on this idea. The drum can be quiet and round. It can make delightful little "canks." It can be muted, it can be resonant, it can be sharp, it can be LOUD. I mean freaking LOUD.

And if you're going to have a concert bass drum, it should be 40" by 20" deep.
Thing is, they cost around $2700.  Also note, though, one of the big tricks is that those come with a sweet stand which completely suspends the drum and lets you tilt it at any angle you want. Which kind of rocks.
But let's experiment with the mind for a while, shall we? Mind. Experiment.

There are some resources on the interwebs for building one's own drums. Thing is the pre-built easily-available drum shells don't get as big as 40".
But there's another way -- building a drum with staves instead of a bent shell.

Stave calculator by Uniontown Labs. It's cool but it doesn't actually go up to 40". And you know you need a 40-inch concert bass drum. But still, it does a lot of the calculations (even if there's a seeming limit in the numbers somewhere which make it output "infinity" in some fields.)

But. Again. Decimal inches? I ain't got time for that. I mean unless we really started making decimal inch rules. Which. I mean I guess I have to be able to find one. But. Ugh. Millimeters. I'd so prefer to work in millimeters.

Decimal InchesFraction InchesCentimeters
Rough Diameter42.1250"42 1/8"107.00cm
Finished Diameter41.8750"41 7/8"106.36cm
Shell Depth22.00"22"55.88cm
Number of Staves20
Joint Angle18.00°
Bevel Angle9.00°
Stave Outer Width6.672"6 11/16"16.95cm
Stave Inner Width6.434"6 7/16"16.34cm
Stave Thickness0.750"3/4"1.91cm
Rounded Thickness0.369"3/8"0.94cm
Board Length Required800"Infinity"Infinitycm
Staves per Width1
Staves per Length20
Board Feet RequiredInfinity'
Cost Per Shell$Infinity

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Trashcaster

Among thing I am doing in my copious spare time is building a short-scale (30") bass guitar.

Not on purpose but it turns out I'm making a guitar that kind of looks like a fish.
It starts with a piece of wood I pulled out of the dumpster behind my building. I went to FabLab and planed it (the jointer there ain't working because it has an unusual 220v plug so it doesn't go into the socket. I really wish it only had a 110v motor -- or its own transformer. Ugh. I don't want to play with 220, but I'm an American, more on that later) and the piece of wood seems to be a piece of pine.
I thought that instead of making the bass out of "tonewood" I would make it out of "trash wood" and therefore the instrument would be a
Trashwood Guitar
Which amuses me but I don't know how that's going to turn out. I have this idea that the contours of the body will encourage playing near the bridge. Furthermore I (perhaps mistakenly) think this is a good thing.

I so wish we could just use the metric system here. Unfortunately all the rules at the Lab are Imperial and so all the detail work needs to be done Imperial. But adding and subtracting 9/32 of an inch from 4.183" (yes, we flop back and forth into decimal inches) is just too much for my little brain. I mean come on, if we're going to use decimal inches can we puhleeze just use millimeters?
Sigh.

Anyway, I get to go on a journey of discovery where I learn how to rout a Strat-style neck pocket. Also I have to figure out if the wiring all goes under a pickguard or if I rout from the back of the bass so that little holes poke up through the wood for the volume controls and jack. I dunno.

Two humbucking pickups. And they should be at 25.25" and 27" from the nut. Just like Ethan says.
I'll be experimenting with the MM 4 string bass humbucker by Warman in the neck position. The website says it is "Overall size, excluding the 3 mount holes is 90mm x 48mm and 20mm overall depth."
And the bridge position will be their Jazzbar.
So 25.25" is 641.35mm. That's where the neck pickup wants to be.
The bridge pickup wants to be at 685.8mm.
We will round these numbers off.
The neck is 762mm scale.

The ideal neck pickup position is therefore 121mm from the bridge.
The idea bridge pickup position is  76 mm from the bridge.

My calculations show they will just barely fit.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

EB0 2 pickup demo



It's all good times. New pickups in the EB0.

I wired the guitar like a Jazz bass but without a tone control.
I routed freehand without any damage to the finish. I went to drill the hole for the wire from the pickup to the volume pot and I punched a small hole all the way through to the back of the guitar. I'm not showing you that.
Conclusions? The position of 25.25" from the nut on a short-scale bass is the best "neck" position. Putting another pickup even closer to the bridge will get more of that midrange honk the kids love so much these days.