Guild F-30 end block crack repair

This is an old repair that I never wrote about, but I learned a lot of important stuff from it, so I think it’s worth being documented.

My Guild F-30 was shipped with a cracked end block. I don’t know if it was cracked prior to shipping (bought it from Guitar Center’s used section, so not a lot of pictures), or if it cracked during shipping (the end pin wasn’t removed from the block). Anyway, it was cracked and I took my time figuring out how to fix it.

Frank Ford has a pretty good guide to fixing those cracks. I kept reading this one and going back to it. I think Frank Ford is the authority when it comes to guitar repair and I always try and follow what he does. I know his website looks rinky dink because it’s HTML, but the guy is a wealth of knowledge.

Now to the crack itself:

First a picture of the crack on the outside, taken right after getting the guitar.

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Not the best picture, but it shows what was up.

And the crack from the inside:

 

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Notice that there are these streaks along the crack? These baffled me. They looked like that could be glue, but the crack was still open. Also, They seemed to be “on the surface”, so I figured that if it’s glue it’s not epoxy, which coat the surface, and is probably CA glue. It didn’t make sense for it to be anything but glue, because why would anyone smear something on the end block?

Removing the previous glue is important, because it would prevent the glue I’d be using to adhere to the wood. So I took some acetone, and very carefully got it in and swabbed the crack. The streaks are gone:

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Notice the wax paper inside the guitar. I don’t need any acetone accidentally dripping on the sticker inside and ruining it. Same thing on the outside, I wrapped the top with parchment paper in case any dripped.

Ok, cool, so it’s superglue. Now I needed to remove it from the inside of the crack. The obvious candidates to getting inside the crack were q-tip (not that great) and brushes. I tried different brushes that I had around, but none were long enough and thin enough to reach the entire crack. So I went and got a really thin fan brush. I need to take a picture of it, but it fit in the crack easily. Just dip it in acetone and get in the crack. Like Frank Ford, I used a long clamp to push the end block inward so the crack would open.

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Checkout John Fahey’s How Bluegrass Music Ruined my Life, also parchment all over the top, and cork to prevent damage to the finish.

 

The crack is clean at this point, so it was time to figure out how I’d glue it. Like Frank Ford, I decided to use Titebond Original and reinforce the block from the inside.

I made a reinforcement patch with its dimensions matching the end block. The patch (as you can see in the picture) is beveled: on the top  the beveling starts 2.3cm from the edge, and on the sides it starts 1.6cm from the edge. Honestly, I don’t think the amount of beveling matters that much. The piece is 1/8″ thick in the middle.

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I forgot what piece of mahogany it is, but I got it from a lumber yard, and it’s real mahogany as opposed to whatever tree that looks like mahogany but isn’t.

For what it’s worth, this was my first time making a patch like that. I wasted a lot of mahogany trying to thin it. Shaping it was easy with sandpaper.

I experimented with clamping a bit. One spool clamp through the end pin hole, and thick acrylic cauls on the inside and outside. That was given, and also what Frank Ford does. Clamping it top to back wasn’t so obvious to me. I tried spool clamps, but they didn’t provide enough clamping pressure. Someone suggested trying quick clamps, and those did it – the crack was closed shut.

One way one could get the glue in the crack is using  a filler gauge or palette knife, but what made most sense was get the whole bottle inside the guitar. I just aligned the glue bottle’s nozzle with the crack and squeezed. I got a lot of glue and got it all over the place. That was fine. It’s an easy cleanup.

Check out how much the crack was open when I pried it open with a clamp between the end block and neck block:

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Whole lot of glue:

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Spool clamp coming through:

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Nice and clean before the mahogany patch goes on:

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Patch is on  and clamped:

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A word on getting the patch on: With a long threaded rod, the patch bumps against the braces and it’s impossible to get it on the block. What should be done is pull the rod back so it only sticks a little bit on the inside, then reach in with the patch, hold it against the block, and push the rest of the rod in. Then get the other end of the spool clamp on, and tighten the wingnut. Yeah, I bet if you read this now you wonder why is the wingnut end is on the inside. It’s not easy tightening it from the outside with the quick clamps on.

Here’s what it looked like from the outside:

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And one more after it dried for about a day.

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I think I did a good job!

P-Bass fret level and sending off my Jazzmaster

My friend brought his P-Bass in a few weeks back for a setup. I set it up and eliminated most buzz, but it still had some he was unhappy with. It wasn’t anything that come through an amp, but he likes playing it unplugged, so I suggested I’d level the frets.

I leveled the frets and still buzzes. I leveled it again and added more fallaway, and it still buzzes in the middle of the neck. I tried swapping saddles, I tried shimming the front of the neck pocket, and even the back for the heck of it (even though it shouldn’t really help), and nothing really does it. I tried a straight neck and add some relief – nothing. Only thing that helps is raising the action. I think I did a good job leveling the frets, so I don’t really know what’s up with it. I’m going to need more time to think about it and figure it out.

 

In other news, my Jazzmaster sold on eBay. It was kind of bittersweet because it’s a nice guitar and I enjoy(ed) playing it, but not enough to keep it. USACG’s wrong corners on the body really get to me. So yeah ,that got sold and packed and out the door. So long, my first build! Maybe we will meet again. I hope you end up in the hands of someone who’ll be really excited to play you!

 

Recording and Mixing Hungry Man’s Eater

Hungry Man is a band I’m in and Eater is our first record. I recorded it almost a year ago (with Jon San Paolo’s assistance/tape op-ing) and mixed it a couple of weeks later. I’m not happy with how it sounds and want to put down in writing what I don’t like about it and what I should have done better. If you read this and are interested in listening to the record, you can hear it here.

I think it was recorded well, and frankly, a monkey can setup in Electrical Audio’s studio A and get usable results. The problem was mixing it. Here’s what I think I did wrong and what I’d do differently next time.

– We mixed loud. I didn’t have an SPL meter with me, but I think it was at the very least 85dB SPL loud. This was dumb for a couple of reasons. One is that our ears got fatigued fast and we took no breaks (mixing was done in a day) which made them even more tired. The second is that it was my second time working in that studio (not EA), so I didn’t really know how things sound there, and I think the room was interfering with what I was hearing. Also, when we mastered Bob Weston gave me this great advice – he said to mix at the volume the music will be listened to. With all that being said, the Fletcher-Munson curve says that our hearing flattens as things get louder, so maybe loud is better?

– The bass is too loud. I think that this goes back to monitoring too loud (although it contradicts what I said about the Fletcher-Munson curve), but also to the fact that I play bass and probably had the inclination to push it up. In the room it really didn’t sound that loud. If I were to mix it now, I’d drop the bass down by at least 2dB.

– The snare sounds wonky. This is probably my biggest mistake. The snare sounded beautiful when we recorded, it’s a 5.5 Supraphonc chrome over brass that has an explosive sound. However, sometimes it disappeared in the mix, so I set on fixing that by pushing some mid frequencies. I think I overdid it which made it actually lose some definition and sound wonky. A better idea would have been to compress it a tiny bit. That would have helped it stick out. FWIW, I got the mid frequencies advice from a fellow engineer who does amazing work, but I executed it wrong.

– The kick is.. weird. It’s very full and has this insane attack, but it’s too, I don’t know, pop-punk? What was going on was that I gated the beater side microphone to get rid of the snare there, and I mixed it too loud with the front side microphone. I think the fact that I consistently mixed it wrong with the front side mic is maybe a testament to how I wasn’t hearing things as they actually were.

– The drums disappear sometimes. I could have maybe gotten away with compressing the drums. Just a tiny bit so they don’t drown.

– The record is dark. Hear how dark it is? It was actually darker when we mixed it. I should have eq-ed the overheads and added ~1.5dB at around 10k. Maybe same thing with the room mics. Definitely should have added high end to the guitars and cut some of their low end. I think that part of the bass being loud is that we were competing over the same frequencies a little bit.

– There are room mics on the vocals, and I gated them so they open up when the singer yells. Thing is, the singer always kind of yells. It’s not like Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana where Kurt Cobain all of a sudden yells while the band maintains the same dynamics. Gating the room mics is a cool effect, but doesn’t work on every record or every song, and I should have known better.

– There was a room mic on the guitars that we ended up not using. I honestly don’t think there was room for guitar room here, but a big part of why we didn’t use the room mic is because it was unusable. It just sounded flimsy. Like someone accidentally left a microphone open, and it sounds bad and off-axis. What happened is that the guitars were in Center Field and they weren’t very loud. I mean, they were loud, but they weren’t absolutely filling the space with sound. The room mic was placed very far from the amps, maybe 25ft or more. It was dumb. Placing it closer I could have gotten something useful.

– We mixed 8 songs AND re-did vocals for a couple of songs in one day. And of course it’s not like we got in and started working. I had to calibrate the tape machines, set up microphones for singing (it’s quick, but still), then break them down, and only then start mixing. Also, I got in a car accident (wasn’t my fault) on the way to the studio, and while I was physically fine, it did cost me 30-45 minutes of dealing with it. I was also thrown off by the whole thing a bit.

To sum what I should have done differently in the mix: lower the bass, boost the high end on the drums, boost the high end on the guitars, don’t mix in so much of the beater side mic, don’t gate the room mics.

Also, next time I mix a record I think I’ll tell the band to get there half a day after me. This way I can listen to everything and take notes on what might need work, and be more prepared. Also, mixing 8 songs in one day is a bad idea. Two days of mixing would have made this so much easier, physically and mentally, and would have given me more time to get things to sound right.

I haven’t posted here in a while, but have been doing some things, though nothing major, but I figured I’ll keep updating.

Still not sure what’s up with the Studer. I posted in the Studer mailing list and gotten a couple of responses, but honestly, they went a little over my head. So I’ve been spending time studying electronics, and it’s been going well – I’ve gotten further than I have before. I’m using the ARRL Handbook from 2012 (it was ~$6 total!), allaboutcircuits.com, and this course I signed up to (it’s free! do it!) but never really completed in the allotted time, but I’m still getting a lot out of it.

Meanwhile I removed the Stop button from the transport and pulled out the burnt lamp. The manual says you need to use a special tool to pull out the button cover, but pressing on the sides with pliers (protecting the button with leather) and pulling did the job. As far as the lamp, the one I have here is a telephone slide base lamp rated for 30V @ 40mA, made by Oshino Lamps. Lookit this little guy:

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It’s not clear to me what is the designation of this lamp and base. Some places say T5.5 others and say T2.x. I called Oshino and they said to email them a picture and they’ll help figure out what base it is, but I never heard back. So I go by the dimensions of it which are 30mm in length and 4.7mm diameter. Here are some places online that have these lamps (links to the actual product): Mouser, Topbulb, and Bulbtronics. I spent a lot of time on the phone with the woman from Bubltronics and she said she’ll try and figure out if what I linked to is what I need, but I never heard back from them. Meanwhile, I found someone on eBay that was selling 50 of these for ~$30. He agreed to break up that lot and I bought 20 for $16 shipped or something like that. Much cheaper than it would have been from any of those places I linked. So yeah, keep your eyes open for T5.5 bulbs with the physical dimensions and electrical ratings I mentioned.

Other than that I changed strings and setup my Jazzmaster because I’m selling it. I actually have someone who wants to buy it, but I’m getting cold feet. I like that guitar and put so much work into it.

And other than that, I have two little projects coming up. A fret level for a friend’s bass, and a rewire of his Jazzmaster. We’re putting a goldfoil in the bridge and rewiring it for separate volume and tone controls and making the rhythm circuit switch into a kill switch.