Sunday, May 31, 2009

Quick (and final?) update

The £100 challenge is over for another year, or until someone else decides it would be a good idea to start a new one.

If it is re-started, I'm not sure that I'd bother participating in it again. It starts with a lot of enthusiasm but the various entrants then fall away and both challenges ended up with just 2 finishers. (And yes, I finished both times!)

You can make a guitar for £100 in a month, but those constraints impose compromises, naturally enough most of them are about quality. And I don't need to make any more compromised guitars - I'd rather try to develop my skills in making something without those constraints.

So I'm not planning any further updates to this blog. My various guitar building/buying activities will continue to be published on my other blog (<< click the link if you want to take a look).

I've also set-up a separate website dedicated to Kawai Guitars - specifically the KS-10 / KS-11 / KS-12 range from the late 1970s. Why? Have a look at the website where I explain all ...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

'tis done ...

Here it is ... finished around lunchtime on Sunday.

The original 1-piece cherry wood Tele body has been routed (the black areas) to take about 3mm off the depth of the body and then sprayed (which is why they're now black!) to create a contrasting area. Purely for looks (beauty is in the eye, etc) rather than any functional purpose. I've then sprayed the strip on the headstock with the same gloss black paint.

The neck p'up is now a mini humbucker. This replaced the p'up which was a bit weedy. I've also replaced the bridge p'up with a stacked single coil. Both new pickups needed some extra routing - the mini HB because the slot wasn't big enough, and some more depth in the bridge p'up cavity.
The 2 mini toggles are coil splits for the HBs. Yup, I could have used push/pulls on the tone and vol, or even used 1 DPDT mini toggle (I think), but I used 2 separate ones instead. I needed the soldering practice!
The standard tone control will eventually be replaced by an active control, once I've enlarged the control cavity to be able to fit the active control's PCB into the cavity. There's no way it'll fit in the standard slot, not with all the 5-core cabling in there too. Obviously, there's also now a rear cavity to hold the 2 mini-toggles and the battery pack for the active control.
I also replaced the standard chrome cavity cover with a black one, and the output jack socket is also black.

Finally, round the back, the standard chrome neck plate is gone, I used the router again to create a recessed area around the screws (for router practice as much as anything!) and I've used 4 black screws to fix the neck on.

Total cost of ALL parts is around £85. Even if I add in the cost of the finishing oil and the whole can of black gloss spray paint, the cost is still under £95. The active tone control would break the £100 challenge limit, so it's lucky that I couldn't get it fitted in time. Maybe that's a job for next weekend.
In terms of time, I got it done over a couple of weekends, which I think is a pretty good return on time.
I also want to get some heavyweight strings (I'm thinking 12-52s) ... and I'm going to leave this guitar in open G tuning. It's going to be my Stones/Quo rhythm beastie!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ready for some paint

Now it's time for a bit of pain spraying. I did try wood stain first, but that didn't turn out so well. So, rubbed the body down some more and bought some paint instead. All nicely taped to protect the bits that I don't want painting ...

After a few coats ("apply many thin coats rather than few thick coats" was the advice that I aimed to follow) of paint, and it's looking quite good. The pics don't really show it, but there's a nice glossy finish.

In fact, I was so pleased with the way that the body looked that I thought I'd try a matching area of colour on the headstock, so a bit more sanding, a bit more taping off the "no paint here please" bits, and out with the spray can again ...

If it's all turned out well, there should be some future posts with pics of the completed body.
If it doesn't turn out so well, only the neighbours will see the result ... coming out the top of our chimney!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

This weekend, I have mainly been sanding.

Then I tried some staining ... which led to some more sanding!

My original idea was to stain the 2 routed front sections in a different/contrasting colour. I had some wood stain around, so tried it. And it looked badly horrible. So out came the sanding paper again, and I rubbed a few more fractions of a mm off the top of the body. Now I'm trying to work out how to finish it.

A quick test fit of the various components, just to make sure that all was OK (I'm using different pickups to the originals)

Both the pickups are humbuckers from Iron Gear (thanks to Keith at Axetec again). The neck is a Rolling Mill 2 (a mini HB as you can see), and the bridge is a Steel Twin (2 stacked coils). The mini toggles will split both of the pickups, and I've got an active tone control (a "Vintage Tone Booster no less!) to add in as well.
That lot should make for some interesting sounds from this guitar, as well as the standard Tele twang.
I'm thinking about leaving this guitar in open G permanently, with some heavy strings (12-52s ?), for a heavy Stones-esque rhythm machine ...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Today I have mostly been in my workshop

Seeing as how it's no longer freezing out there, I decided to start my £100 challenge guitar, #2, today. Only 2 weeks late.

I was going to start yesterday. But apparently yesterday was "Valentine's Day". Which meant an 8am trip to Tescos' flower department, and a hurried lunch reservation. So, no guitar work yesterday. Excellent lunch though.

I'm basing this year's guitar on last year's. After I built the Cherry Tele last year, I really didn't play it. It wasn't really a great guitar. It wasn't really good either.

So, I decided to try to make it into a better guitar as part of this year's challenge. The work will involve:
- making the guitar look a bit more interesting
- making the guitar more comfortable to play
- making the guitar sound better

I have a vague plan, and I've ordered the bits from Keith at Axetec. All I needed was some new p'ups (Iron Gear again) and a stereo output jack.

Here's some progress pics ...

The "plan" is to stain the freshly cut areas (which are currently very white!) in a contrasting colour to the rest of the body, and to do the back of the neck in a similar contrasting colour.
The neck p'up will be a mini HB, coil split via one of the new switches. The bridge p'up will be a Tele shaped/sized stacked HB, again coil split via the other new switch. I've then got an active tone control which will replace the standard Tele tone pot, with the battery going into the rear cavity.
That should sound better. Or different.