The Infernal Machine: going back to the Old Religion

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by mudfinger, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. st.bede

    st.bede V.I.P. Member

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    (Why am I confused by the little doodads I am seeing? Quick release to swap out PUs? My memory suffers from my lack of sleep, the lack of sleep seems to effect my memory more profoundly as I age... or maybe I need some vitamins).
     
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  2. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    Well, they are strange little doodads that aren't commonly seen on guitars, at least not yet. :naughty:

    But, you're not as confused as you think; my plan is to use the 3-conductor connector as a quick release to swap out the entire pickguard assembly. :shock:

    Quill did all the research, trying out the various options, and he and River are both using these things on their fiddles to facilitate pickup changes. I'm not going that far...one of the nice things about Strats is the way that almost all the electronics are screwed to the pickguard assembly. I'm just using the quickrelease to more fully realize that concept. :thumb:
     
  3. b3john

    b3john Senior Member

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    FWIW, Dimarizo loaded pickguards come in a solderless version, where you only need to make two or three connections with a small screwdriver (just below the switch in this pic):

    [​IMG]

    And EMG reduces even those to quick connects:

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  4. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    Nice pics, John, good lookin' out! :dude:

    I think these sorts of modular connections are the future of guitar electronics. As long as it took me to cotton on to the idea, now that I've actually had the chance to examine Quill's RC connectors up close, I don't see the sense in NOT using them; they're plenty stout, easy enough to install, and will definitely make working on the pickguard assembly that much easier down the road. :D

    Knowing how I do, chances are very high that the Mojocaster's electronics are going to get modded and revised many times before i settle in on something final. Gonna be fun! :thumb:
     
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  5. randelli

    randelli Senior Member

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    Don't just mod it; build separate pickguard assemblies for different applications.

    You could modify your pickguards, by opening the screw holes, to fit around some sort of glass clips:

    [​IMG]

    Then, you could loosen the strings, pivot the clips, lift the pickguard, and disconnect the harness. Plug in a different assembly and retune. You could have one loaded with EMG's, Texas specials, humbuckers - whatever. Total plug and play.

    Did I ever tell you about these crazy ideas I come up with????
     
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  6. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    I play through a Rude Mood. I'm very familiar with your crazy ideas! :laugh2::dude:
     
  7. st.bede

    st.bede V.I.P. Member

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    Randelli and mud... the whole idea of just swapping out whole pickgards on a strat just sounds right to me. In my subjective thoughts, a LP and a tele should be fine tuned to do a particular thing extremely well... kinda like trying to actualize an Platonic Ideal... a strat is just more of a slut. I can not say anything more because I will end up equivocating.
     
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  8. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    It's a difficult thing to quantify, but if the gist of your analogy is that Strats are versatile, I'd have to agree. :thumb:

    I've made very little progress on the Mojocaster; the pickup circuit is still ungrounded, 'cept for the little bit of copper wire I attached to the output jack plate and the bridge. What can I say? I'm broke, the strings don't need changing yet, and I'm having too much fun playing the damned thing to really care. :laugh2:

    One thing that was bugging me, however was the tremolo arm; too high off the deck for me to comfortably palm it while playing.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A little quality time with a vise was in order. :naughty: Here's a "before" shot:

    [​IMG]

    And, an "after" shot:

    [​IMG]

    Looked to me like I had overshot the mark, but just to be sure, I went ahead and reinstalled the arm on the guitar. Sure enough, the tip of the arm rubbed against the body while I was screwing it into the tremolo block. :hmm:

    Once it was on, however, I played the guitar a bit, and was way too happy with it just like that to change anything. :D

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Afterwards, I put some Jeff Beck up on Youtube, and had some fun trying to play along. :laugh2: Seriously, tho, the bridge is much more useful to me now, as I can easily palm the tremolo arm while plucking strings, and use it for all kinda lovely stuff.

    Oh, I did finally get around to intonating and setting the height of the bridge saddles. I'll surely mess around with that some more as I dial in everything to my taste, but as fun as this guitar is to play already, I'm in no particular rush. :thumb:
     
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  9. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    Rather than start a new thread on how I do my setup, which on a Gibson means an "absurdly" low action, I figgered I'd just post it all here, and save myself the trouble. :D

    A couple of really important things for all yall to keep in mind:

    1. I play fingerstyle, and never use a pick anymore; even just a few years back, at least in the studio, I would use a pick for straight funk, but my fingernails sound even better to my ear, and the way I use them now, they don't wear down fast enough to ever need a pick.

    What does that amount to? I use alot less kinetic force playing rhythms than my plectrum-bearing brothers. Accordingly, the action on my wound strings is prolly way lower than yours should be.

    2. When I play lead on the unwound strings, being a fingerstyle player, I can play gentle when I need to go fast, and dig in when I want to get all emotive on your ass. :laugh2: Accordingly...pay attention...my unwound strings are HIGHER off the frets than a plectrum-user's would be. So I can really snap those bitches, ya dig?

    Here's how the nut was slotted when Warmoth was done with my neck; note that I have yet to install a string tree on the B and E strings:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Mojo mystery #1; there is no good reason for the nut slots to be even a fraction of a millimeter/inch higher than the height of the first fret. :cool:

    So, the first step in my method to get the lowest desireable action is to deal with the nut slots, which are almost always way too high on production guitars. Why? I have no clue, Fender and Gibson production specs are way outside of my concept of how a guitar should be setup.

    The first thing I do is find a combination of feeler gauges that is the same as the height of the frets. On the Mojocaster, which has some big-ass SS frets, I ended up with this:

    [​IMG]

    You'll note that the painter's tape has some thickness as well, which means that I'll end up slightly "proud" of the 1st fret. Better to be "proud" than "shy". :cool:

    [​IMG]

    Some kinda elastic band to keep the gauges tight to the radius of the frets and fretboard:

    [​IMG]

    You'll note that in the pic above, the strings are all free and clear of the feeler gauges, even with the added thickness of the tape. Too high.

    The tools I'll be using to add some depth to the nut slots:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The pencil is for lubing the slots with graphite after the fact, and the cotton swab is for keeping the rubbing compound in the slots during the process (one end) and to clear the work area for visual inspection as I proceed (the other end). And, yes, those are the cutoff string-ends from the strings that are currently on the Mojocaster. I may go up a gauge to 11s, at which point, I'll have to redo all this. Next post coming up. :thumb:
     
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  10. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    The process at this point is pretty straightforward; the feeler gauges prevent me from making the nut slots too deep. On the wound strings, the rubbing compound works pretty quickly; 10 minutes per string on average, but I'm careful not to push too hard on the string, just letting the winds and compound do their thing. the idea is to polish the slot until it's level with the gauges, but as you'll see later, I didn't go nearly that far on this pass. :cool:

    [​IMG]

    This pic below shows what the top gauge will look like just BEFORE you get the slot to the maximum depth. See how the wear on the gauge doesn't quite touch the nut? That means I still have some polishing to do. I'm close, but not quite there.

    [​IMG]

    Once you get to the unwound strings, everything slows WAAAY down. Lacking the winds, you're using a pretty smooth peice of steel to polish the slot, which means LOTS more time to get the same change in depth. All of the friction is created by the compound itself, so I move the string through the slot more slowly, and use the cotton swab to push the rubbing compound into the slot every couple minutes or so.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a shot of the strings after round 1 of my setup process. The strings are all still proud of the 1st fret, but much less so than they were before. This results in a variety of benefits. Intonation is more precise, for one thing. Less extra effort required to play cowboy chords near the nut, and keep the guitar "in tune" while doing so.

    Penultimately, the relationship between the frets and strings is a Pythagorean triangle. When you fret a note, you're creating a VERY acute triangle that uses the angle between fret and string, the variable distance between bridge saddle and the fret plane, and the "vertical" distance between the fret and the bridge. :slash:

    The closer you bring the nut slots to the height of the first fret, the more accurate your intonation becomes at the 1st position. As you can see from the pic below, not only did I stay proud of the 1st fret by virtue of the blue tape, I even added a very thin shim to the shim stack in order to be 100% sure that I wouldn't go too far.

    [​IMG]

    You gotta be very cautious about doing all this, which is why I added the extra shim; it'll cost me an extra hour or so the next time I do this, but I'm guaranteed never to go too far. That would be instant disaster, requiring a new nut. Ya, ya, Roman gave me a bone nut blank, but that's for later. :naughty:

    Finally, after all that, I took a file to the outside edges of the nut, the idea being to eliminate any interference with my hand while playing in the 1st position. That's the end of round 1. I'll start up round 2 in a week or two; this is how I do. :wave:

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Ivan Van Leeuwen

    Ivan Van Leeuwen Senior Member

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    Great step by step project!

    Now we're talking about CHUNKY!
    :applause:
     
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  12. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    It's makin sense, right? Hard to tell sometimes if the pics and text I'm posting are getting across to folks. :hmm:

    And, ya, that neck could easily double as a baseball bat or billyclub. :laugh2: It's the biggest neck Warmoth makes, and I really do love it. Super comfortable to play. I play with my thumb over the low E string, and this neck is big enough to really fill the space between my thumb and index finger. Makes playing for long periods of time that much easier. :D
     
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  13. Ivan Van Leeuwen

    Ivan Van Leeuwen Senior Member

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    Great!
    you must be a big-hands man too
     
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  14. FLICKOFLASH

    FLICKOFLASH V.I.P. Member

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    Great thread thanks for sharing
     
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  15. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    Glad you enjoyed it. After reading your threads on eggwhites and fullerplast, I figured you'd get a kick outta how I do. :slash:
     
  16. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    This installment brought to you by MLP brother Quill. :applause:

    A good while back, he experimented with various quick-connect options, and settled on these:

    [​IMG]

    Quill loves 'em, River loves 'em, and that's good enough for me. :cool: When the subject came up between us during some private messages, Quill took it upon himself to make it happen, and very generously sent me all the connectors pictured above, gratis. I really don't have words to express how grateful I am to him for this. Let it suffice to say that his spirit of giving put a big, fat smile on my face, and after all the work was done...I could feel it in the guitar. :cool:

    The version I settled on was the 2-connector version, shown in detail here:

    [​IMG]

    First thing to do was to wire up the output jack. I used vintage-type braided shield to minimize exposure of the hot lead from the pickguard assembly:

    [​IMG]

    Splayed the ends of the quick-connect, tinned 'em, and soldered it all up:

    [​IMG]

    Here's the pickuard assembly as I had wired it up during the initial build:

    [​IMG]

    Here's the "after" shot:

    [​IMG]

    While I was in, I fiddled with the switch a bit to give a stronger connection on the neck and middle pickups. This was just a matter of tweaking the tabs on the switch to create more pressure between the moving parts of the switch. Although my original plan was to use a Q-filter and an active boost with the Tone controls, Quill's generous donation of some very lovely capacitors leaves me with no better choice than to give them a try, and relegate the Q-filter to the 2nd tone control. Never was much in favor of putting batteries in guitars, anyways. :laugh2:

    Dig this:

    [​IMG]

    Much love and respect to brother Quill. :dude:
     
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  17. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    While I'm here, figgered I'd share a couple of pics that light my fire:

    Most Strats leave me kinda flat; but sometimes the body gets shaped just right, and makes my heart skip a beat...

    [​IMG]

    One thing I'm really digging about the finish on the Mojocaster is the way it wears. Nothing like lacquer. It just kinda rubs off, like so:

    [​IMG]

    :D
     
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  18. b3john

    b3john Senior Member

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    Like opposable thumbs separate humans from the rest of the animals, a well contoured Strat sits head-and-shoulders above the slab bodied Teles of the world.

    :thumb:
     
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  19. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    One of a kind guitar design, still blows me away that it is capable of so much. :D

    Well, it's been a couple years, the guitar is really starting to wear in, and I am just as happy with it today as the first day I played it. :dude:

    I really love this guitar! Can you tell? :laugh2:

    Anyways, two years with no tone controls at all was enough; to be honest, the only times I've even thought about it, is while playing slide at gigs. A bit off the top end wouldn't do no harm while playing slide. So, I picked out the prettiest of Quill's capacitors, and installed it. Just finished bench testing a couple minutes ago. :D

    I'm going to spend a little time with the leads going to the output jack, just gonna shorten that harness up a bit. Maybe I'll figure out what to do with the 3rd knob in a couple more years.:slash:

    Gotta say, Quill's quick-connects are outstanding. I don't take very good care of this guitar, but everything under the guard is looking good.

    [​IMG]

    Out of several really cool caps, I chose this one, purely based on looks. :naughty: The pot is a 500k CTS to match the 500k CTS I'm using for the volume control. Thanks again, Roman!

    [​IMG]

    A couple shots of the finished work:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Back to the bench, wanna get this thing buttoned back up, and play! :wave:
     
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  20. rabidhamster

    rabidhamster Senior Member

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    Nice, I missed this thread the first time around apparently, and just realized I'd been necro-liking posts.

    I'd love to see another full on shot of the guitar as it is now, with it's ~2 years wear to the (un)finish.
     
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