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I have an addiction to guitar-building projects

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  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,180Member

    Great set of pictures - the guitar continues to look wonderful. Even the neck ferrules look classy!

    I'm sure I've seen somewhere that standard CTS pots are +/- 20% and that's the normal sort of industry tolerance. So your readings of 593k and 568k are (just) within that range. I would think it best to err on the high side than the low to avoid those muddy tonal waters - too much top end can be rolled off on the guitar controls, but mud can't be cleared if it's already there.

    I noticed sometime that CTS also do more expensive pots with +/- 10%.

    But as we have a standard tolerance that will allow 400k pots to be where a 500k is supposed to be ... I could see that affecting the sound a fair chunk. Also maybe explains why some guitars with 300k volume pots could sound muddier than others with +/-20% being 240k to 360k.

    What a lot of wires in your guitar - you must enjoy soldering! You've given yourself a big wide range of sounds anyway - and you've made the bridge pickup much more usable with those options.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member
    Originally Posted by Mark P:

    Great set of pictures - the guitar continues to look wonderful. Even the neck ferrules look classy!

    I'm sure I've seen somewhere that standard CTS pots are +/- 20% and that's the normal sort of industry tolerance. So your readings of 593k and 568k are (just) within that range. I would think it best to err on the high side than the low to avoid those muddy tonal waters - too much top end can be rolled off on the guitar controls, but mud can't be cleared if it's already there.

    I noticed sometime that CTS also do more expensive pots with +/- 10%.

    But as we have a standard tolerance that will allow 400k pots to be where a 500k is supposed to be ... I could see that affecting the sound a fair chunk. Also maybe explains why some guitars with 300k volume pots could sound muddier than others with +/-20% being 240k to 360k.

    What a lot of wires in your guitar - you must enjoy soldering! You've given yourself a big wide range of sounds anyway - and you've made the bridge pickup much more usable with those options.

    Thanks Mark! The neck ferrules, and other black chrome parts are looking classy I agree - I've got the bridge unit attached, and the 5-way switch plus volume/tone knobs fitted, it all looks great and has a bit of impact contrasted against the nice light-coloured swamp ash. This was the look I was shooting for, so very happy to have achieved it. The pots I'm using are ones that are pretty cheap to buy, but they are pretty decent quality imo - I've had them for a while in both my Shine guitars, and they still work flawlessly after a fair bit of gigging. Re the tolerance, I'm not too worried - with the low price, I can afford to buy a few extra, and then pick out the ones I want to use. Bare Knuckle pickups actually sell special CTS pots rated at 550K, so I think the higher values are possibly beneficial if anything. The bridge pickup - to my mind if this just provides a good, strong, beefy tone, plus can be combined with the other pickups in a good number of useful ways, that's all I want from it.

     

    It does appear to be a lot of wires I know, but actually this was my idea of a simple control circuit, having gone overboard with masses of extra mini-toggle switches before now. So I deliberately didn't allow myself any mini-toggles, which limited me to the 2 push-pull pots - and doing that has forced me to think hard about what my priorities are for the pickup combinations I will really want. It's been a good thing to do... - now I have a clean-looking guitar, with a straightforward control system, which will do all the things I actually need. That's in theory of course, I still can't wait to explore how the beast will sound in practice, especially to try that Seymour Duncan Lil' 59 in the neck slot.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member

    Got a fair bit done yesterday - mainly spent giving the frets on the neck the patented Megi treatment with a level and dress. I had hesitated with this, since the frets had already been planed by someone before I bought the guitar, so had lost a bit of height. But they had been left with a rather abrupt flat topped profile, which I don't like, and also some were showing worn spots from 20 odd years of playing since. Plus (call me conceited   ) I couldn't be sure the previous work had got things up to my standards in terms of getting the frets perfectly level. Anyway - the frets are now looking much nicer, and I have definitely got the surface more level and true, so I'm glad I went ahead. I think there would still be enough height left for another fret dress if needed (hopefully not for a fair few years) and then it might well be time for a re-fret. Just got a bit of fret polishing work to do, and then will post a pic or two of the result.

     

    I did manage to also get all the hardware fitted to the body yesterday, and that is now complete, and just waiting for work on the neck to catch up, and I will be ready to assemble the two together to complete the build. So just some pics of the lovely bit of sculpture www.guitarbuild.co.uk sent me, now finished and fitted with nice black chrome hardware:

    Really happy with the way that jack socket placement has worked out. image

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,870Member, Moderator

    Looking really classy.  Wish I had the bottle to do a fret re-finish.  Maybe when I get all the building finished and things start nipping at me to do something "guitarish".

  • originalnemooriginalnemo Posts: 109Member

    Can't wait to see it complete! I think you might just have to post a sound clip so we can hear how it sounds as well!

  • dharma66dharma66 Posts: 834Member

    Ive been reading this thread from the start over the last few weeks, and have just got to the end.

     

    I'm just utterly speechless.

     

    i just can't say how massively impressed I am by the whole thing.

     

    Graham, you're a bad influence...you've got me learning jazz, and now you've got me browsing guitar hardware/tool stores 

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member

    Thanks for the kind words chaps, I do appreciate it. Jocko, I know for a fact you would be fine doing a fret re-finish, having seen the thought and care that goes into your own setups and guitar builds and mods. If you have a good candidate with frets that are a bit uneven or worn, I'd say definitely you should give it a go. Nemo - I promise I'll at least do soundclips, and might even produce a video clip - now I've got my new Zoom G3 unit, the recording process should be a fair bit easier. Dharma - you've read through the whole thread? - I think that's amazing of you, it is a bit of an epic I have to say, and thanks for saying such nice things. I hope I have shown that every step has been manageable and do-able without any high-level skills - in a way it's just a case of one step at once, a bit at a time, and sticking at it. The thread does show a few plans that have changed in the course of the build though, including the design had umpteen alterations, and also several parts that I bought which have not ended up being used (that always seems to happen   ). Guitar projects like this are terribly addictive, just ask Jocko about that - he's the real bad influence around here, it's all his fault lol...

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,870Member, Moderator

    Think you may want to try a dark wood body next time.  This walnut looks immense.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member
    Originally Posted by Jocko:

    Think you may want to try a dark wood body next time.  This walnut looks immense.

    I guess I have now pretty much satisfied my love of swamp ash guitars, since this is my 3rd one. So yes, maybe a different wood type next time... ...hang on a minute, what's all this "next time" talk - trying to trick me into another build aren't you, you evil man!  (but maybe you're right all the same). Great to hear you're so happy with the walnut anyway, when I've got this build complete - maybe by the weekend I think - then I will be able to sit back and enjoy the ride watching your progress on your hot rod walnut tele. image

  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,180Member

    Great looking match of the hardware and body - can't wait to see the whole thing. Immense!

     

    "Next time"!!!!! Nice one!

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member

    Cheers Mark! Shock news hot off the press this morning - I have just been cleaning up the neck, and gave it a final light sand with 1200 grit, then cleaned with naptha. At this point, I was going to just give the whole thing (back and fingerboard) a light wipe with almond oil, and call it done. But while I was doing the cleaning with naptha, the wetness was bringing out the grain and natural flame in the maple, and it does look nice like that. The more I've thought about things, the more I can't ignore this potential. So... ... I've decided to not leave the neck unfinished, and instead apply a very light finish, using the Wudtone kit (which I still have plenty of left). I'm not going for a very heavy finish at all, nor do I want anything like a shiny gloss. Just enough to bring out the grain in the wood really, and I guess it will have some protective benefit also. When hardened, I can do a bit of buffing with paper, just to sheen it a bit. So I have just applied a really thin layer of the base coat, and will probably add another later today. This is likely to put back completion of the guitar by a week or so I reckon, but surely worth it for the small time involved. I think I was starting to rush to get things finished a bit, but I really should take the time to get things as good as they can be.

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,870Member, Moderator

    One coat of Tru-oil would give you a satin, protected finish, which can easily be wiped over again as it wears.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member

    True Jocko yes, not a bad thought. However, I'd have to get new Tru Oil in (looked at my old bottle the other day, and the remaining oil had all dried and gone solid). And I have started with the Wudtone now, so I think I'll carry on with that and see where it takes me. To be honest, I don't think there is such a massive difference between the two anyway lol. At the mo, I'm thinking maybe a couple of ultra thin base coats (very much the "wipe-on, wipe-off" method, and then a thin layer or two of the top satin sheen. Perhaps a bit of wire wooling in between coats. I'm hoping the end result will still have that natural "contact with the wood" feel, but also have a bit of sheen and highlight the grain.

     

    I do wonder about this neck - the flame that had been rather underplayed and hidden when it was part of the Starfield guitar seems a bit too good to be just chance. I wonder if there was a more expensive line of Starfields with flamed maple necks (perhaps finished rather than unfinished as this one was) - and they just used this one on my guitar because they'd ran out of more ordinary-looking ones. I suppose the flame is a bit subtle compared to some, so another theory is it wasn't judged good enough for the fancier guitar line, and got demoted. But to my mind, it is worth bringing out the flame and making the most of it. Guitar factories can do funny things some times I feel.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member

    Just looking at the neck now, it already feels dry (the benefit of very thin coats) the grain/flame has been emphasized, and it still feels like smooth wood, with a bit of a sheen. I could stop now in fact - this is clearly better than the unfinished state before, but will probably add at least another thin coat later.

  • lancpudnlancpudn Posts: 1,393Member

    Hey nice one Megi, that stuff seems very workable in a variety of situations. cant wait to see it assembled and finished.

  • john87300john87300 Posts: 162Member

    I think it's remarkable that even at this stage of the build you still remain determined and flexible enough to find even more subtle ways to emphasis the characteristics of the woods.  

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member
    Originally Posted by john87300:

    I think it's remarkable that even at this stage of the build you still remain determined and flexible enough to find even more subtle ways to emphasis the characteristics of the woods.  

    Cheers John - really I knew I could do better than the unfinished neck, and hard not to spend a few extra days on this, considering this project started back in June!

     

    Got some more pictures to look at, firstly a few showing the nice shiny, level frets after a level, dress and polish:

    Frets are not the easiest thing to show clearly in a picture, but I think I've not done badly there!

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member

    Some pictures of the newly finished neck. Over the last couple of days, I've just applied 4 ultra-thin coats of the wudtone base oil, lightly sanding back with 1200 grit after the first two coats, then 0000 wire wool before the final coat. At this point, looking this morning, and after buffing with an old t-shirt, I feel I have achieved a "polished wood" kind of look, which is what I wanted, so that is job done. The grain and flaming has been brought out very nicely, and the patterning changes as light is reflected from different angles - all very nice I feel. The wood does seem darkened a bit - actually looks darker than the body wood now, but I like the look, so don't mind this. Funny that such nice results can be got just using the wudtone base and not the top coat, but there we are. Still got quite a bit of the bottle left, so think I'll do a similar thing to the neck on my Shine 5 string bass, which is also unfinished - that's what I call value for money! image

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member

    Oops, forgot the pictures, silly me! but here they are:

    I am going to wait a day or two for the finish to cure, before attaching neck to body. Then a bit of work on the nut, and getting things setup, also fitting the truss rod cover (I've made yet another one lol) and (gulp) the guitar will be done.

     

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,870Member, Moderator

    I think that is a beautiful neck and you have made a great job of finishing it. Love the offset fret markers.  Really sets it apart.

  • lancpudnlancpudn Posts: 1,393Member

    Those frets are looking in A1 condition Megi, That's a fantastic job. Good clean shiney frets make a guitar play so much better.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member

    Thanks chaps   - I am really chuffed with how the neck is looking and feeling now, the body is so good (thanks www.guitarbuild.co.uk for providing the foundation for that) that I really felt the neck needed to "step up to the mark" and provide a similar standard. It's clearly made from a lovely bit of maple and rosewood, which is great, but I do feel the factory had not done much to make the most of it, in it's former Starfield life. Guitar factories can be strange places I find - they will do some things to a very high standard, and then let themselves down with badly thought out design details, or inexplicably shoddy work on just one bit of work, for no clear reason. I guess this is perhaps down to their being no one person in charge, overseeing, and caring about the whole guitar building process. It's sometimes seems to be guitar building by committee to me, if that make sense. Well, this is just my opinion, based on some guitars I've had and looked at over the years. And of course there are some very good ones out there also I know, shouldn't be having a rant here lol!

  • The23rdmanThe23rdman Posts: 1,560Member

    I am drooling over that neck, Graham. I really can't wait to see this beauty - damn, it's almost worth a drive up to see it in person!

  • john87300john87300 Posts: 162Member

    The neck looks amazingly tactile just from the photos, in the "flesh" it must be hugely satisfying, well done that man! I'm intrigued by the idea of yet another truss rod cover, I thought the last one you made had got the level of bling just right!

     

     

     

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,870Member, Moderator

    That's the thing about building your own guitar.  Nothing is set in stone until it is completely finished.  And even then it can be modded.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member
    Originally Posted by The23rdman:

    I am drooling over that neck, Graham. I really can't wait to see this beauty - damn, it's almost worth a drive up to see it in person!

    That would seem a lot of fuel to burn just to look at a guitar neck 23rd, although you would be welcome - I suppose I could show you the strat and tele also. For anyone wondering, 23rd has proposed sending me his Shine for me to do a fret level and dress on. image

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member
    Originally Posted by john87300:

    The neck looks amazingly tactile just from the photos, in the "flesh" it must be hugely satisfying, well done that man! I'm intrigued by the idea of yet another truss rod cover, I thought the last one you made had got the level of bling just right!

     

     

     

    It is quite nice and tactile yes, although this morning I find myself thinking maybe I should try just one more thin coat of wudtone, just to get it a bit smoother. At the moment there is just the subtlest kind of... well "roughness" is way to strong a word, but moving my hand along the neck, there is just a bit of friction there. This is nothing that would affect the playability of the guitar, more a matter of taste I suppose. Perhaps a bit more buffing is what's needed, I'll have to think about it...

     

    PS forgot to say, but there is a similar fine judgement call going on with the truss rod cover - a case of getting just the right, tasteful amount of bling if you like...

  • The23rdmanThe23rdman Posts: 1,560Member
    Originally Posted by Megi:
    Originally Posted by The23rdman:

    I am drooling over that neck, Graham. I really can't wait to see this beauty - damn, it's almost worth a drive up to see it in person!

    That would seem a lot of fuel to burn just to look at a guitar neck 23rd, although you would be welcome - I suppose I could show you the strat and tele also. For anyone wondering, 23rd has proposed sending me his Shine for me to do a fret level and dress on.

    I know - it was just a flight of fancy. image

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,697Member
    Originally Posted by Jocko:

    That's the thing about building your own guitar.  Nothing is set in stone until it is completely finished.  And even then it can be modded.

    Absolutely, could not agree more. It's like setting out on an adventure really, possibly why we always feel a little deflated when the adventure is over (but at least we then have a new guitar), and one thing that keeps pulling us back for "just one more project"...

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,870Member, Moderator

    Try this for finishing your neck.
    Product Details
    It is like T-Cut for wood. Gives an amazingly smooth finish.
    Amazon UK stock it. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Birchwood-Casey-Stock-Sheen-Conditioner/dp/B0009TNNYC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381222973&sr=8-1&keywords=stock+sheen+and+conditioner

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