Author Topic: Scalloping the guitar fretboard - possibly also renovation of the instrument  (Read 4725 times)

Offline sorveltaja

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Today I sanded the the guitar body, to even out the bumps and such. There isn't much to look at it at the moment. As it will have a satin/matte top coat(s), small irregularities don't matter that much to me.

In the meantime, I also took a look if the roller nut, at it's current position, causes 'out of tune' -phenomena. Indeed it does. It's clearly audible on thinner strings, so I didn't even bother to measure it.

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Again, about the body finishing. I just found out the exact kind of a patterns, that I was originally after. It's called Lichtenberg-effect. Especially, when burned in wood.

It's highly unlikely, that I would attempt to follow that road. At first, there are high voltages involved(as far, as I know). Then, the resulting smoke alone would be a prohibitive factor, if one lives in the apartment.

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There might be slower, low-voltage methods, like using the exciter to produce tiny, hot plasma stream. In practice, it makes similar patterns(depends on the wood used), although in smaller scale.

Too much hassle, I should know by now. But still, if anything usable appears by that, I'll use it for the pickguard. Otherwise it'll have a plain colour.   

Offline vtsteam

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Lichtenberg figure......I had to look that one up.  :beer:
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
www.sredmond.com

Offline Sea.dog

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One or two people have managed to fry themselves playing with Lichtenberg patterning. I think it's usual to use a microwave oven transformer for the process. That's 2kV with a fair few milliamps behind it. More than enough to be lethal if you treat it with contempt  :zap:

Offline vtsteam

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Not likely to try that patterning method myself, but our 117 volt house supply can be lethal, too if treated with contempt.  :zap:   

Nevertheless......  :dremel:
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
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Online awemawson

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Steve is your supply 'centre tap earthed' ?

The 110 volt equipment that I working on in various oil refineries was fed by 'centre tap earthed' supplies so there was only 55 volts to earth for each 'leg' whereas here one leg (neutral) is tied to earth either at the consumers termination box or at the local transformer, and the other leg is a nice juicy nominal 240 volts  :bugeye:
Andrew Mawson
East Sussex

Offline vtsteam

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At the circuit breaker panel we get 240 across the outer two lines with a third center tapped earth to yield 120 (also called 110) to ground (earth?)  and at most house outlets. Some high voltage outlets for things like clothes dryers, stoves, welder have 240 outlets.

I can wire for 240 or 110 therfore, but not 55.

Heh, that doesn't add up.....mixed terminology.....

okay 240 or 120, but not 60   or in other words,

220 or 110, but not 55
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
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Offline sorveltaja

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Body finishing, take one:



I think it's a lot easier to use the iron powder for the topmost part of the body only, and treat rest of it separately. At this point there is some excess powder, making the surface look bumpy. But I'll brush it away, when the base paint has dried. 

Then, phosphoric acid, and after that, copper sulfate to see, if the powder coating is even enough. If not, then some light sanding, and repeating the paint and powder -part.

Offline sorveltaja

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As can be expected, I got lost again with the body finishing. At first, when the iron powder was applied, and let the base paint to cure, I just sprayed different chemicals in random order, letting the surface to dry between them. Result was rather nice, rusty look.

Then I insisted on testing some more, and after all, I couldn't get even close to similar look again 

Conclusion: I'll leave the body unfinished. Surface is smoother than it looks, as I sanded it, to make possible finishing in the future easier to approach. There is still enough iron powder for the magnet to stick:



Next the fret markers have to be remade. I'll leave the staining of the fretboard out, as it is too complex with markers on, and isn't really that necessary.

Offline vtsteam

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In painting (art) that often happens. But then they say you have to destroy before you can create. And you are urged to keep going no matter what.

In the photo, though it does look interesting, kind of like the surface of the moon. Anyway, enjoying your progress.  :coffee:
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
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Offline sorveltaja

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Yeah, although I don't think myself as an artist, that appears to be the case. It's like a sort of continuum, which isn't necessarily much observed, while one is at it.

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Finally, some progress in form of removing 3mm wood from the end of the fretboard:



I also managed to make new fret markers. What comes to the headstock, to keep the 'woody' appearance, I'm thinking of gluing 0.5mm veneer/plywood to its top surface, as it has ugly dents/nicks and holes in it.

After that, general sanding of the neck's maple part, to remove years worth of grit and dirt, to restore its natural colour.   

Offline sorveltaja

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Today, most of the neck was sanded and lacquered. Fretboard turned almost black, without any dyeing. What's left, is the headstock:



I got overly excited, when sanding the edges of the glued veneer/plywood, and removed bit too much.

That led me to the idea of headstock binding. It's basically using thin strips of wood, or other desired material, that is glued in the routed 'channel', and then trimmed/smoothed flush with the two connected surfaces. 

I'm not sure about that yet, as it would require a special routing/milling fixture(s), to get any decent results. It's again about looks, and/or testing 'diy' -methods to see, what the outcome is.

If I end up going that route, I doubt that I'd use wood or other strips to fill the channel, as there are, on the top of the headstock, pretty steep curves. More likely I'd fill it with black or other dark coloured filler.

On the other hand, simpler way could be to replace the glued plywood with new one, and be more careful, when sanding its edges. 






Offline sorveltaja

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Headstock with new veneer:



I simplified the shape a bit, as it doesn't have to resemble Ibanez or any other brand. That way the finishing, and possible routing for the binding should be a lot easier.

Offline sorveltaja

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Testing, how to remove chrome plating from the tuning machine parts:



I have never been much of a fan of reflective/chromed parts in a guitar.

First I tried rotating steel brush, for the tuning pegs at the bottom, which wasn't such a good idea, as the base material is zinc, or some kind of soft pot metal.

The ones above them are more succesful, because they are 'reverse plated', using stainless steel pot as a cathode. The electrolyte, or solution used was phosphoric acid. Current was about 3 amp.

Parts were immersed 5-10 seconds at a time, and observed, until whole chrome layer was etched off.

Same treatment was used for the uppermost parts, that are made of brass.

Reason for the stripping of the chrome out, is to allow the parts to be naturally coloured by oxidation/patina(and also by sweat from my paws).

Tuning machine housings are also chrome plated, but they would have to be pried open, to get the inner parts out of the way. So I'll probably leave them as they are, unless some crazy ideas appear.

Offline Sea.dog

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Be aware that the solution, after you've stripped the chrome, is very toxic. Google Hexavalent Chromium.

Offline sorveltaja

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Seadog, thanks for warning. Phosphoric acid, that was used, is a part of cleaning solution, that forms quite dense foam, when the submerged part bubbles, and then perhaps lessening the release of fumes(maybe it's an intended property of that specific solution, can't tell).

In general, I'll try to avoid skin contact with any of the metal-treating solutions, at all costs. Might sound funny, but I have a habit of wearing safety goggles, when handling such liquids.

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Truss rod cover in the making:



Same material(0.5mm plywood) is used. As the headstock is tilted, that piece needs to be bent to follow the two angled surfaces. It was boiled in water about 10 minutes, and then lightly clamped, until it dries, and hopefully keeps its form.

Offline sorveltaja

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There isn't much left to do with the neck, so now it's time to put the pickguard on the table:



I used a printed Stratocaster's template to locate the holes for the pickups. Obviously material between holes needs to be removed.

Currently I have only the covers, but not the actual pickups.

Some nice set of Yngwie Malmsteen signature ones would be jolly good, but they are beyond the budget at the moment. Maybe at some point in the future.

In the meantime, I've been looking, what the local dealers have to offer. One that isn't so far from me, has Kent Armstrong single coil for the bridge, but not for the neck. For it, a mid-priced Seymour Duncan could be the choice.

What comes to the middle pickup, I think I'll leave it out for now, to keep the cost down. Besides, when I had a Strat-style guitar, I hardly used it, because it had so thin sound. Of course it has its uses for those, who can handle the rhythmic stuff(like ska or reggae). 

For the wiring, I'm thinking of using Les Paul-type one, with three position switch, and volume pot for each pickup. Tone control(s) would be optional.

Once I get the pickups, there is again another opportunity for aural testings.

Offline sorveltaja

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Forming of the pickup holes went well. Holes for the screws will be drilled next:



Then holes for the volume pots and the switch. Values of the pots, I'm not sure yet. Maybe 250k for starters. More about that, when I get the pickups.





Offline sorveltaja

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One thing, that I had completely forgot - a jack plate. Piece of steel for it:



It's 0.7mm thick, and has enough meat to make 35-40mm, round plate. Of course, I had to test, how it receives copper, once the covering lacquer layer was sanded off.

I have done quite some pcb etching on previous projects, and as a side result, there is pretty much exhausted sodium persulfate solution, that has, I guess, plenty of copper in it.
When dipping a metal part(brass or steel) into that solution, it gets a copper layer. It doesn't seem to work equally on different kinds of steels, and just peels/rubs off, though.

The plate above, it's some sort of soft steel, and the copper appears to stick well in it. As the layer is very thin, when the oxidation of that base metal starts, the copper layer may degrade also, unless sealed with something like lacquer/varnish.

So I'm going to 'copper plate' the whole piece, and then put it in an ultrasonic cleaner(or perhaps heat it), to see how much of the copper remains.

But enough of that babbling. Generally, I prefer the jack plate, that is on the top surface of the guitar body, instead of being in its 'butt'. Also I prefer using 90 degrees angled plugs, as they don't protrude/be in a way, like straight ones do.


Offline sorveltaja

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Today some shopping. I got the neck pickup that I was looking for, but the bridge one was out of stock. So how about using something, that I already have laying around - Wilkinson P-90:



It barely fits in the cavity, so as the pickup cover is slightly tapered(wider on the bottom), I'm removing about 1mm of its side surfaces, to remove the taper, and slim it a bit as well. As it's already a night time, I'll finish it tomorrow. Still, some wood needs to be removed from the guitar body, to get the pickup positioned straight.

Obviously the pickguard needs to be modified for that pickup too.

Overall, that p-90 pickup is a low-output one, which doesn't bother me, as I intend to use it(and the rest of the guitar also) for clean, or slightly overdriven Strat-like sounds, as an alternative for the other guitar, that has a lot 'hotter' humbuckers in it.

Offline sorveltaja

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Pickguard is now ready for finishing:



There was a gap on the lower side of the new pickup hole. I filled it using the 'super glue-baking soda' -trick.

Next thing to do is to wet sand whole pickguard, then perhaps a rusty finish to match the body.

Offline vtsteam

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I'm very much enjoying your finishing. I'm imagining a road warrior guitar, unearthed in the desert by the last rocker on earth.
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
www.sredmond.com

Offline sorveltaja

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Steve, thanks. Yeah, mad max, or should I say, madmodder max guitar.

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I think the finishing is now done:



I tested, that the pickups are ok, and give signals, before putting the strings in. For some reason, the neck pickup isn't exactly at the center. I'll let it be that way, as a reminder of the distinct perfection of imperfection.

What's left - if nothing else appears, wiring of the pickups, pots, and the switch.


Offline vtsteam

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Very cool.  :thumbup:
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
www.sredmond.com

Offline sorveltaja

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Guitar is almost finished:



I added a brass strip between tremolo and jack plate(ground), as that connection keeps the hum down. Usually it is hidden inside the guitar body.

Only the volume knobs need to be made, or printed. I'll leave the printed roller nut housing on, until I get a longer 1.5mm drill bit, to make a final one, out of brass.

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In general, although the body finishing could be better, that guitar feels now more usable for soundscape painting. Only time will tell, what things might need to be improved.
Tremolo could also be better, but it works well enough, and is smooth, when used one-way(pushed down).

Pickups produce strat-like sounds, which was one the goals. It's easier to get the intonation adjusted, once the roller nut was moved, to where it's center should be at( zero fret).

--
So it's time to wrap up this project. I'm already thinking of what the next one could be about. Maybe it'll have to do with building a time machine audio effects, but as the previous projects were about that, perhaps something totally different.

Offline vtsteam

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Really nice, sorveltaja.  :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :beer:
I love it when a Plan B comes together!
Steve
www.sredmond.com