Monday, March 4, 2013

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE strat renovation

This is the zombie strat I recently renovated. It features:
Seymour Duncan Blackouts active pickups
 Fender locking tuners
blocked tremolo (a la Clapton)
mini-toggle boost switch (connected to jumpers on middle and neck pickup)
Henessee strap locks
machined brass inserts in neck joint
distressed finish
bullet casings
zombies breaking through barricade
bullet shell position markers
blood spatter pickguard
Walking Dead homage back plate
apocalypse-battered headstock
maple neck
3 joined piece body (alder or ash)

Gretsch Roundup tribute...

This guitar has a design inspired by the classic Gretsch Roundup. It features an orange- stained body, wood-burned designs, tooled leather-bound sides, a set neck, P-90 pickups, and a special wiring mod derived from GUITARNUTZ.COM. Though it has P-90s, this guitar is effectively SILENT due to its virtually perfect grounding and shielding.


That being said- this guitar does have some issues. I didn't anticipate the polepiece spacing being wider than the neck- I compensated the pickup position as best I could to accomodate this. The neck pickup's bass polepiece (string 6) is farther out than I would like, but it still picks up the string.


The finish is a meld of a semi-gloss finish I applied and a gloss stringed instrument lacquer that I decided to apply later. The finish is not what you would call pristine, but it does cover the body and neck. Since this was a renovation and partially an experiment, I feel less guilty about this fact.


The neck is too narrow- I don't know why. Apparently, that's just how they made the Bradley Les Paul copies. As a result, string 6 and 1 are closer to the ends of the frets than I would prefer. As seen in the video, you can play and not experience problems, but if you wanted to add a lot of aggressive vibrato, you would be likely to pull the string over the edge of the fingerboard and frets. If you think ahead and vibe "into" the neck, you wouldn't have problems.


The bridge and string and stop tailpiece posts sit a little too far to the right on the body, which meant I had to make a custom bridge and a custom string retainer to compensate. The saddles are fully adjustable, so the intonation is perfect- I had just "assumed" that the original post holes would be the same position as on the original top. When I clamped and glued the neck in (with hide glue) apparently it was shifted slightly... which mean the posts had to be adjusted. BUT, after originally placing the posts I did some cosmetic flourishes around the post holes... a totally amateur mistake. (Sigh) So I had to make those extra pieces, and now it's fine, but not what I would classify as ideal.


So, there are some great things about this guitar (wiring, artistic designs), and there are some less than pleasing things to me (imperfect polepiece alignment, a finish that isn't "flawless," bridge posts set slightly to the right requiring a modified bridge and retainer, and outer strings positioned a little too close to the edges of the frets.


I just hate not having things absolutely perfect. I will be glad to keep this guitar, unless someone likes it enough to buy it-  but I will only let that happen if that person knows exactly what the instrument is. Worst case, a learning experience for me that ended up with a functional guitar.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Epiphone SG ding

I just bought this sweet Epiphone SG 400 on eBay, and though it was very well packed it somehow suffered a nasty ding!!! This is one I'm not planning on selling; I'll need to do some cosmetic work... I had considered doing something along the lines of what I've seen online (pics included, not my original work) so this shouldn't interfere. I had toyed with the idea of leaving the body as is, but the destroyed finish has sealed its fate. It's right in a spot that really irritates the underside of your arm too... about perfectly awful. But, it still sounds awesome with actual Gibson Burstbucker Pro pickups installed, and no neck / peg head issues, which is what I worried about in shipping!!

I'm not sure what USPS was up to, but this poor guitar didn't like it. The damage is over an inch long and there are cracked pieces underneath the dent just waiting to flake off... (heavy sigh). Hard to get good pics of it in my dim basement... the flash overpowers everything and it just glows red.

Victorian / Western Les Paul... woodburning and setting a neck.

Well... I've been working on this guitar. It's definitely going in the direction of the Gretsch Roundup. I've done some significant woodburning on the top and back of the guitar; lots to do still, but it's coming along. I'll be tooling some leather for those plastic pieces on the top, and doing some fun leather pieces as trim on the sides of the guitar. I actually found some western-themed leather belts at the thrift store, so I may cheat and just use those on the sides.

Nobody seems to get excited about a bolt-on neck, so I decided to try converting this to a set neck. I carved and routed out a small cavity in the neck that would match a maple piece glued (and screwed) onto the neck that extends through the neck pocket into the body cavity. This is glued in with hide glue, just in case there are issues and it needs to be taken apart, as many guitars end up having that need. It still looks fairly rough, but I'll address the cosmetics later.