Sunday, February 28, 2010

Observe my main guitar.

It's in a state.

I have removed the bridge. I have placed a black cover on the neck pickup. I have Fender 250K volume and tone pots (the tone pot being a no-load) and a 4-position switch. The jack is wired in and installed. Since this is a top-loader (if you look closely, you'll notice), I haven't pulled the strings when I pulled the bridge, and I don't want to deal with the neck yet. Otherwise, I could probably put the bridge back on, winding the bridge ground around a screw.

But I'm confused about wiring. There's the Fender schematic and the Seymour Duncan schematic, and while I've started doing the SD schematic, I don't understand switches enough to translate.

So, this is where it will stay for now.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Can you call it "electronica" if there's absolutely nothing electronic creating it?


I have done my first wiring repair. It was on my Pee Wee Les Paul, which, with the help of a nut extender, is one of my lap steels. The white wire came off the back of the volume pot, so the buzz was horrendous. And now it's mostly gone.

The action on the the volume pot is kinda weird, so I think a fuller rewiring is in the cards, but as a warm-up to the job I'm going to start on my Tele, I feel very good. Thanks to Seymour Duncan for the wiring diagram (simple as it is) and to Patrick for the iron and solder.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Could Be Another Lincoln

Thanks, Pribek, for linking this.

First Step

I have the jack cup in. I have the black control plate on so I can put it all together there. It is well and truly coming together, and until everything comes around, it remains in a playable state.

Wondering to what extent I should start the pickup work while I remain without the pots to go with.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Package Is Here! The Package is Here!

This is my care package from Guitar Parts Resource. That's a Switchcraft jack, a black jack cup, a black replacement Tele neck pickup cover, some wire, an orange-drop cap, a Fender 4-way switch, a 250K solid shaft pot for volume and a 250K solid shaft No-Load pot for tone.

My goals for the project are: get the guitar as black as possible, with a black instead of chromed pickup cover and a black jack cup; learn guitar wiring enough to be able to help others; to try to get part of that Esquire butt-kicking with the no-load tone pot getting out of the way, and getting most of the benefit of the Baja wiring. I might get a push-pull to get the phase reversal later, but series/parallel seemed like the greater win.

But I can't really put this in the win column yet.

What you see to the right are the volume and tone knobs sitting on top of the guitar, trying in vain to fit through the holes in the control plate. And my knobs don't fit, either.

Yeah, I seem to have bought the wrong pots. I guess I should've gone for split-shaft pots instead. I guest I MUST go for split shaft. Live and learn, right? I was planning on putting the old stuff in place on my old control plate and keeping them like that, but as I don't think I can just get replacement pots quick, I thought I might do what I can -- change the pickup cover, jack, switch, etc -- and finish the rest when I get the 2nd set of pots.

What Fender guitar are solid-shaft pots in anyway?

TDPRI has good posts on seating a jack cup, which is good because the clip and cup are too far for the jack right yet. I intellectually understand the steps for the cover -- remove the pickup, unsolder the tabs, bend them out and away from the windings, remove (heating to loosen wax if necessary), carefully put new cover on, bend tabs into place, solder new ground. Thanks to friend-of-the-blog Patrick for his gift of soldering iron and solder. I'll say more as this job progresses.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Open Letter to the Rolling Stones, RE: Ron Wood

I hope he works out, gets sober, stays sober and can cover the second guitar position for the band. I really do. I always liked Ron Wood. But, if you find that you have to get a replacement, I would like to suggest Lafayette's own Izzy Stradlin. As a former member of Guns 'n' Roses, he knows the ins and outs of doing a big rock show with huge egos. And, as this video shows, he's got that Stones thing down.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gathering Thoughts

I'm sitting at Outback, waiting for the beeper to go off. I don't expect the table for another 40 minutes.

This is as much a diary as anything else, so hello mundane details.

K's on a hunt for hot dogs to feed the kids, seeing how we have the huge wait, so I'm sitting, watching the cute couples stand in line.

I played today. It was good. Between services, I toldthe others the DVD I blogged about and how I thought I did horribly and the drums and bass were great. The leader told us about how he used to do the video editing too, and he'd wince at every little thing too. He showed the other band a service and they had two main thoughts: "too fast" and "I threw clams like a fisherman".

Makes me wonder about my heroes. Did Jimi think the first lead on "Watchtower" was crap? Does Clapton pull out the Beano album at alll, and does he still like what he did?

It makes me wonder. If I had expectations of going pro, I think I'd have to tape and critique everything, but right now, I can accept avoiding some of that self-critique.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New Gear Coming

I have some wire, a mono jack, a solid-shaft volume pot, a solid-shaft no-load tone pot, a 4-position switch, an orange-drop cap and a black pickup cover coming to me from Guitar Parts Resource. I am going to be rewiring my #1.

I have been in the process of murdering out that guitar, a 1988 MIJ Fender Tele, for the last few years. I have a black control plate and knobs, a black Wilkinson dual-loader bridge and a black-white-black pickguard from Guitar Fetish, which got me most of the way. I had, for a while, planned for black Gotoh tuners and black string tress from GFS and a GraphTech nut as the next change, but those are the sort of things that give you a highly-modified guitar that is fundamentally identical to stock. (Not to say this won't happen. I think all-black hardware is just the thing.)

A while ago, I bought a second Tele-style guitar, and a big reason I did was so I'd have a functioning electric guitar while I have my #1 disassembled and unwired. I didn't want to be left high and dry and without an instrument.

I suppose I should mention the Wilkinson dual-loader bridge. On another guitar, it would allow me to switch between top-loading and string-through each time I restring. But my #1 is a top-loader. When I think Tele, this is the instrument I think of. And part of what you get with a top-loader is slinkier strings. Jim Campilongo says it. Brad Paisley has his Crooks set up with the E and B strings top-loaded to get that. And Billy Penn of 300 Guitars modified a Glendale bridge to try that. Honestly, I went from .009s to .010s because I thought they were too slinky.

Anyway, the mods coming up are more about the coming rewiring, so I'll try to blog that process. Maybe with some video, too.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's a guitar. A pinstriped guitar. I want it.

It's been a while since I've I've done a straight gear-porn post. This right here is a Von Dutch-style pinstriped Road Worn Tele, on the wall at McGuire Music.

I just had to plug it in. Not sure I like the wiring setup — the volume goes from 10 to 2 in a quarter turn and 2 to 1 for the rest — but it feels good and sounds good. Right around a thousand dollars.

Monday, February 8, 2010

And now, a Note from our Sponsors

(Sans Direction has not actually received a penny in sponsorship. Not that I'd mind....)

A Humbling Experience

I got a copy of the last time I played. It's mixed live by amateurs, so it's not all it could be. And I am not high in the mix.

And I'm not entirely sure that's a bad thing. Because there's a lot of things that are mixed back that are good, but there are a few things I did that pop up here and there that just ... suck. It's clear, I'm not bringing my A game.

The rest of the band ... well, I think the bass could be higher in the mix, both in the house and on tape, but I've always thought he played well. The piano guy, who I've played with on-and-off for nearly a decade, is good. The drummer is just amazing. I should really convert this and put some audio up some time.

If I'm not wrong, they just shut me up when I was going too wild, and in hindsight, yeah, it was the right choice. And, while I like the Albert Lee delay trick, it kinda goes outside the feel here. I must curb my tendency to bend. And when you have a noisy single coil guitar, a compressor and a tremolo pedal, you'll hear wub-wub-wub

But, to be fair to me, there are some nice points. It wouldn't feel so "Sans Shreds" if that wasn't what I was looking for. And I've been wanting to get one of these recordings for a while. It's all part of the learning process.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Advanced Strap Lock Substitute

I have done it.

I have seen it on TDPRI. I have thus blogged it. And now, I have done it.

Those are Danco faucet washers, stock number 61805B. I couldn't find 'em at my local Ace, but they were at Menards. They're rubber, so they stretch over the button, and once they're there, they're not coming off. 67 cents.

As you see, I have 'em on Tila, my blonde guitar, but I might swap them with the Schaller strap locks on my #1.

Friday, February 5, 2010

How Low Can You Go? Pt II

That's a new set of strings from Dunlop. And before I get into it, I'll talk about my life of strings. I'm a hardtail guy, which has given me license to go as heavy as I dare. I once had White Bronze acoustic strings on my #1 Tele. I can do blues bends on heavier strings, but when I decided to try to pick up some more of the James Burton chicken-pickin' bend stuff, I went from Not Even Slinky to Super Slinky. And I asked "Where did my tone go?" Right now, I'm rocking Regular Slinky, which to remind you is .010. I think that's about as low as I can go, between the tone loss and the unintentional string bends.

But I'm not the Reverend Willie Gibbons.

He's dropped down to .007. And, as I said, Dunlop's selling 'em. I think I need to get a guitar with way powerful pickups to even make it worthwhile. But I think I'll have to give 'em a shot at some point.

Thanks to Wired for the pic.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Stolen Blackguard Esquire

There's a point in the PBS Jazz series where Wynton Marsalis is talking up Art Blakey, saying how he went to a gangster's house who was holding a drummer's kit on a loan. "You have deprived the man of his livelyhood", he said.

The band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has had their gear vault broken into, losing some choice gear, including a 1954 blackguard Esquire. (Yes, I must obsess on the Esquire. I'm the Teleblogster.) That's just a scumbag move.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Yeah, It Just Might

Just got It Might Get Loud from Netflix. I was a little tired when I queued it up, so I missed a little, so I will give it more viewings, but there's some things that I will get into now.

In the first few seconds of this clip, Jack White demonstrates the creation of a diddley-bow is a way-cool thing. I should make one. And unlike some of the things I dream up, this is well within my technical and financial capabilities. Well maybe not the pickup, at least today.

They cut "Kashmir". Edge, White and Page were jamming on "Kashmir", and that did not make the film.

When I first thought about this movie, I thought that, yeah, Jimmy Page and Jack White are a good match. There's lots of common ground there. But the Edge is much more about using the effects than the guitar. Not a bad player, to be sure, but in a different class than the other two. But he works well in context. Having see it, I cannot fault the choice.

I find it interesting that they end this playing "The Weight" by the Band. Seriously, as the credits roll, they're singing and playing acoustic guitars. Dropped to G, opposed to the A it was recorded. And they took a few verses before they realized it was G Bm C and not G Em C. I think that's hilarious. And seeing how they're primarily electric players, I noticed that they all play the Bm as x24432. I've started to play the Bm7 as x2020x in most situations, x20x0x if the seventh is just wrong.

I'll have more later. But if only for the archive footage of the Dragon and the newer shots of the Tele with a Jazzmaster tremolo, this movie gets two thumbs up from the Tele-blogster.


Somewhere There's Heaven

Tribute to Les Paul at the 2010 Grammys.
Jeff Beck nailed it, and Imelda May sounds exactly like Mary Ford. Just perfect.