Saturday, December 31, 2011

'The Grape'

I got a really cool cigar box, from my friend Ed, and I turned it into a nice-playing three-string,  electro/acoustic guitar.

There is nothing exceptional about the design, but I did make the tailpiece to look like the headstock.  The scarf neck is cherry with a piece of zebra wood laminated to it, and the fingerboard is maple with handset frets and a little grape cluster adornment at the end.  The nut and saddle are Corian -- geez, that stuff is nice to work with, and the final result is great. 

There are times when simple is better, and I think this is one of those times.

Bridge Positioning Tool

Locating the bridge on a guitar isn't brain surgery, and there are several ways to do it. 

One way is to use a fret locater chart and a metric ruler to mark the fret positions, and then to measure the distance from the nut to the twelfth fret.  Use this distance to measure from the twelfth fret to the position where the bridge is to be located.

Another is to copy the measurements from another guitar, and mark them on your new build.

Or, you can make a special gauge from some material (wood, plastic, metal, etc.) which has little notches cut out on the edge to indicate where the frets and bridge should be.  This is what I've been using, and it has worked great.  But, I wanted something different and a little more sexy than a stick with notches.

If you don't mind spending $38 plus shipping, you can purchase a really cool little tool from StewMac, which will do the bridge location job very simply.  But, when I looked at what I would be getting for 38 bucks, I decided I could make the same thing for about a buck-thirty-eight. 

A couple pieces of discarded oak and maple, a brass rod left over from when I was using it for nuts and saddles on my earlier creations (cut long enough for it to be used on short-scale builds or on long-scale bass), and a nut and screw from the many bins in my shop, a drop or three of super glue, and voila . . . I got a real honest-to-gawd adjustable bridge positioning tool, which even looks better than the 38-buck deal, and it works perfectly.

Here it is, a simple, adjustable bridge locater.

A quarter-inch maple piece is shaped (it can be square or rectangular --
I just like things a bit more sexy) and drilled to accommodate the brass
 rod, which is glued in place.  The rod is flush with the outside of the
 piece, which is the surface that will rest against the nut.

The half-inch oak piece, shaped just like the maple, is drilled slightly
larger than the rod, so that it will slide easily on the rod.  A hole is drilled
through the top to join the other hole, and a nut is countersunk and
glued in place to accept the turn screw, which will lock the slider in

A shallow slot is cut into the base of the oak slider, so it will rest on
the twelfth fret. 

The finished tool is ready to use. 

Place the tool on the fretboard (after the frets are in place) with
the tool resting snugly against the nut.  Move the slider to a position
where the notch rests on the twelfth fret, and lock it in place with the
turn screw.

Lift the tool off the fretboard, turn in around 180 degrees, rest it once
again on the twelfth fret, and mark the bridge position, which is defined
by the end of the tool.

It's that simple, and effective . . . and only a buck-thirty-eight!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To all my friends, and to the people who view my site,
I wish you a very Merry Christmas,
and the most prosperous and
Happy New Year 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bruce Likes the Indian

This is my buddy Bruce salivating over his new guitar. Already he's changed the name to 'Big Chief Buffalo Nickel' to match the theme of the amp.  I like the hat, but I'm not quite sure what the 'Ho' represents.  Merry Christmas B!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

'Smoke Roots'

I built this three-string electro/acoustic guitar for my friend Ed who owns Woodland Cigars in Delaware.

The body is from a cigar box made exclusively for his shop, by Carlos Torano.  It is a really cool box with  what appears to be Spanish cedar sides and a cedar and perhaps birch laminated top, which contrasts well with the black walnut neck and maple fretboard. 

A mahogany veneer finishes off the scarfed seven degree headstock, while a fabricated tailstock string retainer makes it easy to change strings when the time comes.  Corian nut and saddle maintain a low string action for finger style pay.  Frets are all hand set, as usual for my guitars, and the poly finish really makes this sleek little devil look good. 

Resonance and sustain is very good, which undoubtedly comes from the interesting box construction.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Scarf Jig

I decided a while ago to vary the manner with which I create head stocks for my guitars. 

So, I commenced to search for information about how to make a scarf joint, which is the design of most commercial acoustic guitar necks.  A scarf joint is the design which makes the headstock set at an angle to the neck.

There are any number of sites that make recommendations, and most of them suggest cutting the angle with a handsaw and doing the finish planing and fitting with hand tools. 

After studying the recommended process, I decided that creating a scarf joint didn't need to be such a cumbersome and labor intensive process, to say nothing about the production inconsistencies which can result. 

I built a simple jig to fit on the table of my power saw, and voila, there came a perfectly sawed and angled headstock.  And, I can easily vary the angle from 7-12 degrees, and the angle of the cut remains constant from neck to neck.

In the first photo, you will see the simplicity of the jig. 

The base is a piece of 1"x10" pine with a length of screen door moulding fitted to the bottom as a guide for the base to move accurately along the guide slot in the table of the saw.  A dowel handle is glued into the base for safe movement of the jig through the blade. 

The angle guide (protractor) pivots on another dowel at its leading end, and a small eye screw was tailored to act as a angle lock pin at the trailing end of the base.  All that is needed is to decide what degree of angle to cut the scarf joint; set the pin in the proper hole; insert the blank neck stock into the guide (second photo -- notice the small retainer piece near the leading edge of the angle guide, which holds the stock in place throughout the cutting); clamp the neck firmly in place and cut the angle. 

The position of the neck stock in the jig will determine where the cut is made, which in turn determines the final length of the headstock.

Once the cut is made, the neck and small severed piece is removed.  The small severed piece of stock is flipped 180 degrees and glued to the opposite side of the neck, forming the angled headstock desired.

It's that simple, quick, accurate and not very labor intensive, which all works for me.

When the glue sets (usually 12-24 hours depending on what glue is used)  other pieces can be added to complete the design; shaping of the headstock takes place; some type of veneer is added to the top to hide the scarf joint; and the neck is then finished and ready for installation.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Some Places I've Been, and A Few I Haven't

I have been in many places, but I've never been in Cahoots.  Apparently, you cannot go alone.  You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

I've never been in Cognito.  I hear no one recognizes you there.

I have, however, been in Sane.  They don't have an airport, you have to be driven there.  I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I'm not to much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt.  That is a sad place to go.  I try not to visit there too often.

I've been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

Sometimes I'm in Capable, and I go there more often as I'm getting older.

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense!  It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart!  At my age, I need all the stimuli I can get.

I may have been in Continent, and I don't remember what country I was in.  It's an age thing.

'The Forest'

Check out this song by Bemuzic, it's awesome.

She is playing a 3-string cigar box guitar, through an SD-MAH3 GuitarFuel amp.  Pretty impressive.

Monday, December 5, 2011

'Big Chief Buffalo Nickel'

I mentioned in a previous post that the 'Indian' guitar sold to a Montana fella who wanted me to build a matching amp to go along with the git.  He's already renamed the guitar.  It's now 'Big Chief Buffalo Nickel', because his favorite bluesman is Leon Redbone, and one of Leon's song titles is the name Bruce picked.

Well, I've learned that the Indian Tabac cigars are not the most popular, so boxes are not as readily available as other smokes, which made it difficult to create a 'matching' amp.  Besides, I didn't really get all that excited about using a similar box for the blower . . . it would be too boring.

So, I got to looking through the hundred or so cigar boxes that I've collected to keep my hobby going, and I spotted the perfect shell, a Saint Louis Rey cigar box that is just the right size for an amp.  And, in this case, the basic box design lends itself perfectly to the build.

Ideas started to rattle around in my mind and I called my son Jay to see if he could put his Photoshop genius to work on some art for the box.  Of course, he said yes, and I was off and running to my shop.  I wanted this amp to have a little 'old west' flavor to go along with the guitar, but I won't bore you with design details, because you can see that in the photos loaded here.

The guts of the amp are the same as all my other amp creations . . . GuitarFuel SD-MAH3 harness . . , because the GF harness is simply the best there is to choose from.  It's a little pricier (a little) than some of the other junk you can find on the web and eBay, but 'you get what you pay for', a super product, and my friend Ty Falato is a great guy to work with.

If you like what you see, let me know.   But, if you don't like it, go roll a smoke and and in a couple minutes your attitude will change and you'll be wanting me to build something for you.

Here's the git and the 'matching' amp:

This just might be the coolest amp I've built, and it goes to a great friend.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

This Is My First Art Center Gig, and I love It!

The rush one gets from seeing someone enjoy your special creation is really cool, especially when it is direceted at something unusual you've created.

The Holiday Art Fair has been going on for about a week and I've been fortunate enough to have sold three guitars and two amps.

The 'Freak' amp went to an unidentified buyer, who played around with all the others and decided he had to have that little boomer to blow sound around his digs.

A Montana Nascar fan, who commissioned me to build a guitar as a tribute to Dale Earnhardt, couldn't live without the 'Indian' and immediately renamed it 'Big Chief Buffalo Nickle'.  He wants me to build a matching amp for him, so I got a little work to do before Christmas.

As I mentioned earlier, the 'Stratocrapper' went to a rocker in Columbus.  And just today, the 'Spider' and the 'Casa Magna' amp went to a new home in California.

So, it's goodbye to some of my favorites, but I will be building the next 'favorite' soon.

If you see something in the gallery or on the sidebar listings that appeals to you, let's make a deal.  Just give me a call or shoot me an email note.  I sure we can work something out.

New Sign

I had Matt, the head doodler at Spazz Monkey, create a sign for me to hang with guitar and amp displays.  It is such a cool three dimensional arrangement using my logo and one of my guitars for the basis.  The thing is made from vinyl covered high density foam board and weighs about as much as the tail feathers on a sparrow.  These guys create all sorts of logos for some of the top universities . . . Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, etc.  If you want a special, kick ass logo designed, give Spazz Monkey a call at 419-709-7344.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The 'Stratocrapper' Is Gone

I received a call this evening from the Mansfield Art Center, to announce that someone had purchased my toilet seat guitar, the 'Stratocrapper'.  It's a moment of mixed emotions.  I liked that damn thing, and it played so well.  But, the buyer is happy, and that makes me feel good.

Geez, I hated to see it go, but I can always build another, right?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

While rummaging through junk at a secondhand store today, I happened onto an old lamp shaped like one of Persian origin.  I rubbed on that sucker and make a special request . . .

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Holiday Fair

Finally, today I put the finishing touches on the exhibit for the coming Art Center Holiday Fair.

Seventeen guitars and ten amps for discriminating buyers to choose from.  There are three-string, four-string, and six-string choices, and the amps are all battery powered GuitarFuel harnessed creations.

The setting is an alcove on the second floor, which is like a mini amphitheater, where the sound bounces around very well and can be heard throughout the entire center.  I've supplied an amp cord for anyone who wants to take their favorite for a test run.

Check out the three-dimensional TotalRojo sign made by my friend Matt at Spazz Monkey.  It features a copy of one of my pinstriped six-strings to enhance the logo.

This is what it looks like.  What do you think?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Amp Creations

I worked my butt off the past two days creating eight new amps for the Art Center Holiday Fair, which is opening November 19.  These will compliment the 17 guitars I have displayed.

All my amps carry GuitarFuel AD-2W or SD-MAH3 harnesses, which are either 3w or 5w little monsters.  It's easy to tell the difference when looking at thephotos . . . the 2W has only two control knobs (Volume-On-Off and Tone), while the MAH3 has three control knobs (the extra knob is for 'Gain').

Like all my stuff, I've named the amps in order or presentation . . . 'Rox'; 'Exodus'; 'The Freak'; 'Naked Lady'; 'The Brick'; 'Temple Hall'; 'Casa Magna' and ''Louie'.