December – March updates

Nothing fancy. Worked this week on an Aria Precise bass (a P-Bass knockoff). It’s a pretty neat bass, but needed a new volume pot and I felt like the neck was weird – I ended up maxing out the truss rod for acceptable relief.

I also had to replace the pickguard on that bass (owner wanted a different flavor, is all), and that required a lot of filing, scraping, and sanding to get it to fit right by the neck and over the pickups. A razor blade with a burr works really well for scraping here. Files are not great. The best tool for getting the pickup openings right is to take one pickup cover, put sticky sandpaper around it and use it to shape the openings. This maintained the right radii of the corners.

I also set up a friend’s Guild M-120. All Mahogany, made in China, and it sounded and played great. Fretwork was pretty much excellent, and the neck is straight with a very responsive truss rod. For that price, you really can’t go wrong with those guitars.

Also re-wired an EV RE 664 with an XLR connector and at the same time eliminating the Hi-Z output. I’ll make a post about that later.

I also finished (in December) my second rack. It turned out pretty well, about as good as the first one did. I had a few mishaps, the biggest of them was that even though after I dry-practiced for more than 5 times, when I came to glue it together, things weren’t square so I had to take it apart while the glue was starting to set. It was incredibly stressful and I had to clean the glue out of the joints with a lot of water, which warped the the wood a bit, but like I said, it turned out fine. I’ll probably write a whole post about the new rack, but for now here are some pictures:


Also worked on a few other guitars in the last few months, as well as my own Stratocaster. I “inlayed” a piece of mahogany in the neck pocket:

Also leveled its frets. Also it probably needs a new nut.

I’m also building some drawers for my works area, but more on that when they’re done next week hopefully. Maybe I’ll write a whole post about it.

That’s pretty much it other than little jobs.


Jaguarillo gets new pickups and setup

This guitar is a friend of a friend’s. I worked on his acoustic before and I guess he was happy enough with it to come back. Sweet!

Jaguarillos are Jaguars but with two strat pickups and a humbucker in the bridge. The guy wanted to change the pickguard, and replace all the pickups – Novak lipsticks in the neck and middle position, and a Manlius Stud-Bucker in the bridge.

The pickguard needed some work because the humbucker wouldn’t fit. The radii of the corners were too big:


I already started working on it when I took this picture, see the bottom left corner.

I did the whole thing with files (Nicholson Handy File and a round file) and a razor blade turned scraper. It came out ok (forgot to take a picture), but not my best work. It would have been much easier to do with a router.

The rest of it was straightforward, except that when I put it all together I noticed that the tremolo clicks when actuated. This is a thing with the cheap, import tailpieces, and it can be avoided depending on how high or low the tremolo arm is set up. However, the owner of this guitar wanted me to set up the lock so the guitar can stay in tune if a string breaks, so I had to go in and start filing.

Mike & Mike Guitar Bar posted about this before, so that’s where I got the idea. You can read what else they wrote about import tailpieces here. Basically, I filed every surface so it is flat. I think that at the very least the molding marks should be knocked off, but if the plate is off the tailpiece and you’re filing, might as well go the extra mile.

There was one little problem that is worth mentioning – the Stud-bucker had only two leads – hot and shield. So the middle+bridge position were out of phase, and flipping the leads couldn’t fix it. The reason it couldn’t be fixed is because then the shield (and pickup casing) are hot, but the rest of the metal parts (and strings) of the guitar are ground. Then if the player touches both the pickup casing and the strings, or bridge, or any other metal parts, the signal will short. FWIW, Manlius offers these (and I assume all humbuckers) with coil taps, so the polarity of the pickup can be flipped. Here are a few pictures I took after it was finished: