Fender Precision Bass Jr.

I just picked this up for Jaime from a local pawn shop. Great price, too.

Agile AL-2000: Gloss / shine removal

Here are some before and after pictures of the de-glossing / shine removal that I performed on my Agile AL-2000 Honey Sunburst Flame (Wide):

Before:

Agile AL-2000 HSBF Wide, Before De-glossing

Agile AL-2000 HSBF Wide, Before De-glossing

Agile AL-2000 HSBF Wide, Before De-glossing

Agile AL-2000 HSBF Wide, Before De-glossing

Agile AL-2000 HSBF Wide, Before De-glossing

Agile AL-2000 HSBF Wide, Before De-glossing

After:

Agile AL-2000 HSBF Wide, After De-glossing

Agile AL-2000 HSBF Wide, After De-glossing

Agile AL-2000 HSBF Wide, After De-glossing

Agile AL-2000 HSBF Wide, After De-glossing

Agile AL-2000 HSBF Wide, After De-glossing

Agile AL-2000 HSBF Wide, After De-glossing

I think it looks pretty good– much more like a wood guitar than a plastic toy. I would be happy to detail the process. If anyone is interested, just ask!

Fender Starcaster Pedals are Boss Clones

They’re junk, right? Not quite.

The Fender Starcaster pedals are actually near-clones of Boss pedals. I know because I have personally traced two of them, and built cross-reference guides for anyone wishing to modify their pedals.

I noticed that people have been accessing my cross-reference charts recently. Unfortunately, they are stored in a random spot on my other website. In the interest of consolidating the information I have shared, I am removing them from their original location, and putting them here.

Without further delay:

Cross-reference chart: Fender Starcaster Distortion vs Boss MT-2 Metal Zone

Cross-reference chart: Fender Starcaster Chorus to Boss CE-5 Chorus Ensemble (Analog)

It is worth noting that these effects are not true bypass. They are, however, setup using this bypass. It is easily upgraded with a standard 3PDT switch, and I highly recommend doing this so as to avoid signal bleed when in bypass.

That is all.

DIY Pedalboard Build Pictorial

In an earlier post, I posted some images of the DIY pedalboard that I just finished. I’m going to go into more detail here, in case anyone would like to build their own. It was really easy, inexpensive, and a lot of fun.

Materials
5x Poplar “Hobby boards”, 2.5″ x 24″ x 1/2″ (Home Depot) [<$5]
1x Poplar board, 3/4″ x 1.5″ x 69″ (Home Depot) [<$5]
3x #8 – 1.25″ wood screws, 10 pack (Home Depot) [<$3]
6x 1.5″ wood screws (already had, any wood screws around that length will do)
Formby’s Tung Oil Finish (Lowe’s) [~$5 or so]
Elmer’s wood glue (already had)
1x Velcro, Industrial strength, 2″ x 15 yards (Amazon) [$22 or so]

Tools
Electric Drill
Philips screwdriver / screwdriver bit
Drill bits to pre-drill holes for both screw types
Countersink bit (could use bigger drill bit)
Hand saw / mitre box
Random orbital sander and paper (could sand by hand)
Rags

Assembly

First, here is the SketchUp file for the project. It includes all of the wood pieces, in the proper dimensions and in the proper locations. The drawing is accurate to my build.

Pedalboard Design – Final [ZIP of SketchUp file]

As you can imagine, assembly is quite easy. The first thing I did was to assemble the supports. I cut the 3/4″ x 1.5″ board into six pieces– 3x 17.5″, and 3x 5.5″. The smaller pieces sit on top of the larger pieces, flush on one end. Each support is held together with two wood screws that are hidden underneath the two slats that make the top shelf. The screws are sunk below the surface so they don’t interfere with the slats. I used wood glue between the two pieces. Not pretty, but I used what I had.

Support components

Pre-drilled poplar support components, ready to be screwed and glued.

You’ll notice that in the image above, I have already pre-drilled the holes for the screws that secure the slats to the supports. You will have to check the SketchUp drawing for the proper spacing and layout. The slats overhang the front and back edges of the supports by 1/4″, and the screws that secure the slats are 5/8″ from the edge of the slat. I can provide exact measurements if anyone needs them.

Supports - glued and screwed

2-piece poplar pedal board supports, glued and screwed together.

Once the supports were glued and screwed together, I got to work on the slats. They come pre-cut to 24″, so I only needed to drill and countersink holes. In fact, it was so easy that I do not have any pictures of them until the pictures of the finishing process. Needless to say, you have to drill and countersink six holes in each slat, making sure they line up with the pre-drilled holes in the supports.

From there, I sanded everything using a random orbital sander. I used 220-grit paper, and it was easy work. I then quickly sanded it by hand using 400-grit paper just to get it a bit smoother. Ready to apply the finish:

Pedal board components, ready for finishing

Pedal board components, ready for finishing.

This was my first time using a tung oil finish, which apparently contains very little actual tung oil, if any at all. It was really easy. All I did was wipe it on with an old sock, like waxing a car, until it was covered. Simple.

At first, I was drying them on some styrofoam with nails poked through it, like in this shot after the first coat:

Pedal board slats with tung oil finish, first application

Pedal board slats with tung oil finish, first application.

But I realized that I needed a better solution. I used a wire coat hanger, three plastic coat hangers, and a portable wardrobe rack to hang the pieces. Here is a shot of it after putting 3 coats on the supports, and 5 coats on the slats:

Pedal board components drying on rack

Pedal board components drying on rack.

One thing to note is that between coats, you are supposed to use steel wool to take the sheen off of the finish. I used a plastic steel wool replacement that I picked up at Home Depot. It is the equivalent of fine steel wool, and worked great. It only took about a half a minute of scrubbing per board, so it was a pretty quick process.

After I had put six coats on the slats and four coats on the supports, I assembled the pedalboard. Once assembled, I put on two more coats of finish. I screwed a hook into the bottom for hanging during the final dry:

Pedalboard, assembled, final finish coat

Pedalboard, assembled, final finish coat.

I let the pedal board hang for a day. The finish was drying nicely when I, for some reason, decided to re-read the Formby’s container. It said that drying could be sped up if you used artificial light. I did some quick research, and the finish apparently polymerizes quicker under artificial light. So, in preparation for the Velcro, I placed the board under fluorescent light for two days to cure:

Finished pedal board curing

Finished pedal board curing.

From there, all I had to do was wipe the slats down with some naptha (zippo fluid), and stick on some industrial strength Velcro. I used the actual Velcro brand. Usually my thriftiness would have me buying knock off hook and loop from 3,000 miles away, but I wanted guaranteed quality.

Here is the final result:

DIY Pedal Board - Angle 1

DIY Pedal Board – Angle 1

DIY Pedal Board - Front

DIY Pedal Board – Front

DIY Pedal Board - Side

DIY Pedal Board – Side

And there you have it, my DIY pedal board. I think it turned out pretty good. At under $40, I think it was a pretty good value. I plan on building a power supply to attach underneath the top level slats, attaching a handle, and calling it complete.

It was fun to build, and seems like it will be durable for years into the future.

New DIY Pedal Board

Well, it was time to upgrade from the chunk-o-plywood I had been using as a pedal board. I decided to build a replacement:

I made it out of poplar “hobby” boards from Home Depot, and finished it with Formby’s Tung Oil Finish. It came in around $25 or so, and didn’t take that long to build.

I will be posting the project plans (SketchUp drawing), the bill of materials, and a general how-to this weekend.

More to come!

Squier Cyclone Update

Now that I have had it for a while, it is time for an update on my Squier Cyclone. I am really enjoying this guitar. My previous review is here: Squier Cyclone Review.

I have done a few minor modifications and upgrades. In order:

Chrome humbucker cover / potted humbucker. The bridge humbucker was microphonic. I potted it, and managed to warp the plastic flatwork in the process. The required repair was a chrome humbucker cover, which I bought from Guitarheads.net. I really like the way it looks.

No more shine. I hate super shiny guitars. They look like toys, not instruments. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I like artificially aged instruments, either. I’m just not a fan of most modern guitar finishes. To cut the shine, I first disassembled the instrument. Then, I spent a good deal of time softening the glare by hand, using 000 synthetic steel wool (Home Depot #570872) and very light pressure. Then, I did a few applications of Meguiar’s Scratch X 2.0 to polish it up a bit, and then I waxed it with Mothers Carnauba Wax. It gives it a more subtle surface that exhibits a more natural shine, at least to my eye.

Upgraded electronics. I replaced the cheap 250k potentiometers with 500k Bourns potentiometers from Mouser (652-PDB241GTR02254A2). I replaced the jack with a Neutrik NYS-229. I don’t recall any modifications to fit the parts, but I have worked on a lot of instruments lately. I might have had to enlarge the holes in the control plate for the new pots. The neck pickup, as expected, had too much treble, so I placed a 500k resistor in parallel with the pickup for the SC-only position. A big part of the electronics upgrade was…

Replacement switching. I didn’t like the 3-way switch included on the guitar, so I replaced it with an Alpha 3P4T rotary switch from Mouser (SR2611F-0304-21R0B-D8-S). I now have four pickup combinations– the standard SC, SC || HB, HB positions, as well as an SC + HB, where the SC and the HB pickups are in series. This position provides a perceived volume boost, and an EQ shift that I perceive as being a bump in midrange content. Nice! I don’t have a schematic drawn up, but I could probably be convinced to do it without much effort.

Replacement knobs. The rotary switch required a new knob. I purchased a NOS Dakaware knob from Ebay (from this guy). I bought some new production Davies Molding phenolic knobs from Mouser (5164-1610AA) for the volume and tone controls. These knobs feel great to use, and look great together.

Planned upgrades. At this point, I think this guitar is pretty much were I want it. It feels great, sounds great, and stays in tune. The only other upgrade I am considering is to put some sort of a finish on the maple parts of the neck. The wood is so light in color that it makes the guitar look like a toy.

More to come!

Tayda Electronics

I’m sure most of you who are already into building effects already know about Tayda Electronics, but if you don’t, you should check them out.

They are based out of Thailand, and seem to be a small company with just a couple of employees (and a dog). They have great prices– ridiculously low on some items– and an ever-expanding selection. They regularly offer coupon codes on their Facebook page.

Shipping can take a while– two to four weeks– if you use the basic, inexpensive option. The express option is reasonably priced. It shaves a couple of weeks off of the delivery time, and is well worth it. I think they pack a bunch of orders in Thailand, express ship them to a US address once a week, and then reship them USPS from there.

The reason for this post is that Tayda blew me away with my last order. It only took 6 days to arrive, even though I chose the cheapest shipping. I wasn’t expecting it until mid-September.

I had a store credit of about $11.25, given to me with a 20% store credit coupon code from my last order. I used that credit, and their 15% off coupon, to place an order that was completely free. 1590A x2, CD4066 x2, DC Jacks x2, trimpots x6, box caps x17.

Check them out!

More Guitar Stuff

I know– I haven’t actually completed a build since starting this site, and I apologize for that. I just haven’t had the time to get my hands dirty, although there is lots of planning going on.

My current projects in development include a tap tempo tremolo (etched 1590TRPC, rotary switches w/ indicator LEDs), a couple of AMZ pickup simulators that I hope will squeeze into a 1590As, and a germanium fuzz in this cool blue hammertone enclosure that was apparently part of my house’s alarm system in 1974.

In the mean time, I have finally managed to hang all of my guitars:

From left to right: 1984 Peavey Fury, 2000s MIM Jazz Bass, Squier Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar Bass, 1980s Yamaha Classical, 1990s Fender Mandolin, Ibanez GAX-70, SX Furrian, Agile AL-2000 Wide, Fender DG-22CE Acoustic, Squier Cyclone, 1993 Am. Std. Strat, 2011 MIM Standard Strat. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

I’m running out of wall!

More to come.

Imported Reviews: SX Furrian, Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass (Short Scale)

I have imported a couple of reviews that I had originally posted at my non-music blog.

Here are links to the posts:

SX Furrian Review

Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass (Short Scale) Review

I have a couple more reviews I need to write. One is for my Arctic White 2011 Fender Standard Stratocaster (MIM), and the other is for my Agile AL-2000 Wide Honey Sunburst Flame.

One of these days, maybe I’ll post about some effects!

Thanks for stopping by and reading.