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Roller Truss Rod Cover

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Well...I seem to have succeeded with this idea...

The guitar is a LP project I'm working on with a Kahler trem...

...

"The Problem"...

unmoddedhead.jpg

The Gibson style head pulls back at a fair angle (also a weak spot) and the strings also pull quite a bit to either side with the inner strings.

"The Solution"...

rollerheadtop01.jpg

Firstly, Sperzel locking tuners in satin chrome (matches the knobs)

A big truss rod cover made from 3mm aluminium and coated in some thin tortoiseshell (the tortoise and satin chrome is a bit of theme on this guitar)

rollerplateside.jpg

I built rollers out of the ball ends of some old strings and the shafts of some rivets...these will press fit into the holes...potentially the plate adds mass (and so sustain, etc), supports the nut and adds strength to the thinnest part of the neck.

rollerplate.jpg

Here are the parts and roughed out plate...

Anyway...the nut is a new white Tusq XL and is teflon impregnated. The tuning has been fairly stable (especially considering the nut is still not glued in while I'm tinkering with the setup and action) but certainly not 'good enough' and no comparison to my LSR tele...however, this 'solution' is a significant improvement.

...

So...the basic idea is that these very smooth running rollers take off the side pressure from the nut meaning that it only needs to deal with the straight pull...much like a fender, the lean back eliminates any need for 'trees' of course, but do put on a little more 'pressure' on the nut...

Mostly though, I like to add something unique to my projects and find some solutions...particularly if they look good and in this case I think it also adds a little bit of "bling" to another wise 'plain jane' head. The 'decoration' is a thin stainless steel bit of jewelry that I found and filed off the chain attachment and stuck on with double sided tape. A guitar just looks odd when the head is "blank"

This "solution" may also be helpful even if a trem is not used on any guitar that has side pressure on the nut slots, this is the prime place that 'hangups' occur when tuning or even bending strings.

Designers might consider the use of ball ends as string rollers (say for a DIY roller bridge idea) or for more 'outrageous' headstock ideas that have some more radical splaying out of strings from the nut.

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Well, that is a novel idea :D Why didn't I ever think of that? I've made several roller nuts and roller bridges using the ball ends off old strings and hard stainless steel rod. You could even combine a roller nut with your idea, and that would really reduce friction :D

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Thanks...

I did think of a roller nut but rejected it for a couple of reasons...

One...like the LSR on my tele (which would be even better than traditional rollers, but again not suitable for this guitar) a "roller nut" would have to be moved forward in the nut slot so that the 'axle' was in the right place...so a permanent mod cutting into the fretboard so a gamble...what if it 'didn't work'?

Two...the "ball end rollers" would need to be modified...the lower strings would sit "proud" of the rollers (though these could be filled in a drill perhaps to a V to match) while the higher strings would be 'sloppy' and I wasn't sure if I could cut 'slots' in them without going right through to the axle or severely weakening them. How did you manage to avoid these problems? (any pics?)

Three...a teflon or graphite nut is pretty darn slippery and looks a bit more "traditional"...not sure that a roller nut on a single axle is going to be any "better" really...but it's the 'side pressure' that's the real killer (try pulling the strings in like my rollers do and you will get an idea of the tension put on the side of the slots of any nut with splayed out tuners like this...)

Still...they do work really well in this application and I might be tempted to use them in a nut or other application next time...hmmm

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Thanks...

I did think of a roller nut but rejected it for a couple of reasons...

One...like the LSR on my tele (which would be even better than traditional rollers, but again not suitable for this guitar) a "roller nut" would have to be moved forward in the nut slot so that the 'axle' was in the right place...so a permanent mod cutting into the fretboard so a gamble...what if it 'didn't work'?

Two...the "ball end rollers" would need to be modified...the lower strings would sit "proud" of the rollers (though these could be filled in a drill perhaps to a V to match) while the higher strings would be 'sloppy' and I wasn't sure if I could cut 'slots' in them without going right through to the axle or severely weakening them. How did you manage to avoid these problems? (any pics?)

Three...a teflon or graphite nut is pretty darn slippery and looks a bit more "traditional"...not sure that a roller nut on a single axle is going to be any "better" really...but it's the 'side pressure' that's the real killer (try pulling the strings in like my rollers do and you will get an idea of the tension put on the side of the slots of any nut with splayed out tuners like this...)

Still...they do work really well in this application and I might be tempted to use them in a nut or other application next time...hmmm

Over many years, I've collected a lot of ball ends, and there are a few different sizes. While the overall dimensions are pretty much the same, the grooves vary quite a bit. The ones off very heavy bronze accoustic sets tend to have a wider groove on the four wound strings, and these are ideal for normal electric 42/46/48 thou wound strings. I don't have any pics of the roller nuts I've made, but I don't use a common rail to fit the ball ends on. I use a short pin for each roller. Some pretty fine machine work was required to make the nut itself, as I had to machine a shelf at the correct height for each rod to rest on. This way, I had radiused roller nuts which worked well.

I haven't made any roller nuts for several years, as I no longer have access to an engineering machine shop. Three friends of mine were the directors of an engineering firm, and they used to do stuff for themselves out of working hours. I frequently went up the with them to use some of their machinery, the most useful of which was a 24 inch throat bandsaw :D Unfortunately, the company went into liquidation about 12 years ago.

Roller bridges can be done by hand with a few basic tools, as there is more space between the rollers, and it is relatively simple to modify a TOM to take rollers :D

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Great Idea; about time sombody came up with one around here.

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Thanks, I intend to do a thread on this guitar, it is becoming my main guitar after the tele but still needing some tweaks...

I modded the kahler with this thumb screw that will lock it to fixed with a couple of twists...

kahlerlock01.jpg

You can see the tortoiseshell theme in the pickups :D so the truss rod thing is in keeping with the "look"

It has some innovative electronics hidden in it too, 22 pickup selections with 4 push pull knobs but the guitar looks very business like.

...

The ability to lock the bridge and avoid the locking nut opens up a whole new avenue to explore...but I'll keep that under the hat like this idea until it is shown to actually work...

btw the thumb screw idea only works really with this stud style version as the flat mount the hybrid locking screw is too close to the body...shame as it is so much better than the allen key grub screw that is used

...

To replicate this approach, I used rivets as the axles...here is a pic...

rivetrollers.jpg

All ball ends are a little different...the rivet things were a great idea as they look neat and there is a bit of a pinch just below where the roller would be at the 'head' of the rivet pin to hold the rivet on. This will ensure a tight fit in the hole and locks tight in the aluminium. The bass is kind of think, but the added mass does make quite a bit of difference and adds strength and looks good. I quite like the 'flow' of the shape with the way the headstock curves out.

...

I have tried to work on details for my guitars, here's an idea I don't think I have shared before that works a treat...

jack03.jpgjack03.jpg

A suitable "O-ring" provides a really neat non-slip washer to avoid any possibility of the jack socket coming loose and even provides a tiny bit of 'spring' to it...looks cool too!

...

The idea these days for me is to try and come up with lots of little details to make up a superior whole rather than get embroiled in years of development of one 'super' idea...I think it is paying off much better these days!

It's not all words and typing you know...just occasionally I actually work on the darn things...

In fact, this worked out so well...I'm already thinking of a and even collection parts for a sister to this one...we'll see how the future Kahler mods thing goes.

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The nut on my input jack comes loose all the time. It drives me nuts. I never thought to just put a washer or a nylon nut there. Thanks for the ideas!

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Used to be that when you'd buy a 3/16" thick Wilkinson roller nut, it would come with a truss rod cover with 4 rollers just like you positioned them, except on the Wilkinson, the rollers were a little closer to the nut. Can't find a pic online, but there's a pic in the 90's StewMac catalogs.

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Used to be that when you'd buy a 3/16" thick Wilkinson roller nut, it would come with a truss rod cover with 4 rollers just like you positioned them, except on the Wilkinson, the rollers were a little closer to the nut. Can't find a pic online, but there's a pic in the 90's StewMac catalogs.

I was not aware of that, though it is an obvious solution to the problem. I did see a New Zealand makers guitar, one of it's features (besides wood that is apparently 1,000's of years old) is a fender-ish head but with the 3 higher tuners at an eccentric angle and small rollers to guide them over and retain a straight string pull and double as string trees. Didn't use ball ends but I suspect they would work as well. I've sat on this idea as something to try, but not needed to do it till this guitar.

The placement of the rollers the way they are is purely an aesthetic thing, they could be right up close to the nut, but I like the way this arrangement arranged the strings and cleared the tuners still more.

...

Having played the guitar a bit since this mod, and quite a bit before the mod, the tuning is now extremely stable with trem use, so that is a success...

However, I do think there is quite a noticeable difference in adding this quite big slab of metal firmly fixed up there...it is 3mm thick plus perhaps 1mm of plastic on top of it and adds a bit of stiffness and mass to the head and this vulnerable neck scarf join.

Such things have been offered before...

fathead

• More Sustain

• More Overtones

• More Balance

FATHEAD works on the principal that by increasing the mass of a guitar’s headstock increases the duration of string sustain. The FATHEAD effectively triples the mass at the headstock which dramatically increases sustain, extends tonal range and eliminates all “dead spots” common to most guitars and bass guitars.

FATHEAD lets the string ring out louder, longer and with better balance.

FATHEAD was invented and patented by Aspen Pittman, owner and designer of the famous Groove Tube Amplifiers.

fathead_w_pic.gif

This doesn't go as far as that perhaps, or at least I'm not pushing the claims...but it does seem to affect the sustain and overtones...I played this guitar a few weeks without the plate and a few hours since. I wouldn't want to overstate the effect of my 'plate' but I do think it adds strength to the join being located at the top rather than underneath. Also, it is very stiff but being aluminium very light so not risking making the guitar head heavy...the rollers may well be like string trees on a fender and dampen vibrations behind the nut (you will notice that with locking staggered tuners and no string trees, on an LSR and fender head they still needed to put in tiny rubber dampers behind the rollers to stop these on strings with a fair bit of length behind the nut)...

The end results are...

  • that it covers the truss rod adjustment
  • Is decorative
  • Fixes the tuning stability with the rollers and trem
  • provides reinforcement to the vulnerable neck scarf
  • the nut is supported but a substantial still mass of metal
  • It's light weight but stiff
  • Adds mass and stiffness where needed and so exhibits a bit more sustain and overtone balance, much like a stiffer neck or adding mass to a headstock does...

The only 'down side' is that behind the nut bends are more difficult because the plate is quite thick and you need to push the string much higher than just behind the nut...I actually do use behind the nut bends a bit for harmonics, but I guess that's what tele's are for :D

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The nut on my input jack comes loose all the time. It drives me nuts. I never thought to just put a washer or a nylon nut there. Thanks for the ideas!

Yeah...I know, most plumbing supplies or hardware stores sell o'rings and they work a treat...for a vintage look you could install it behind the plate and you wouldn't know it's there.

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Since we are talking cool little ideas, I came across an idea in Adrian Legg's old "customizing your electric guitar" book the other day that had slipped by me. One of his guitars had active electronics in it, so he installed a "mercury switch" in it that sense when the guitar is 'upright'. So, when he is done playing, he puts it on a guitar stand and the battery is disconnected and the guitar is "off"...saving power and no noise from the thing sitting there plugged in with an amp on. (I suppose there is a jack switch as well so it is off when unplugged in it's case)...

Pretty cool idea, I always thought there must be a sensible use for the things :D maybe one day I'll try that as well...

Anyone else come up with or have come across little ideas that make a difference?

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Everybody's favorite game : 'I'm drunk on Friday night, but can I still operate a scanner ? '

Here. (PSW's looks better)

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Everybody's favorite game : 'I'm drunk on Friday night, but can I still operate a scanner ? '

Here. (PSW's looks better)

Hahaha...well nothing new under the sun...however...they didn't kill a plastic tortoise Like I did...

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Since we are talking cool little ideas, I came across an idea in Adrian Legg's old "customizing your electric guitar" book the other day that had slipped by me. One of his guitars had active electronics in it, so he installed a "mercury switch" in it that sense when the guitar is 'upright'. So, when he is done playing, he puts it on a guitar stand and the battery is disconnected and the guitar is "off"...saving power and no noise from the thing sitting there plugged in with an amp on. (I suppose there is a jack switch as well so it is off when unplugged in it's case)...

Pretty cool idea, I always thought there must be a sensible use for the things :D maybe one day I'll try that as well...

Anyone else come up with or have come across little ideas that make a difference?

Plus, you can get that staccato machine-gun type effect if you do the

(@ about 3:03) :D

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Holy crap, that's brilliant :D

Even is somebody invented first, that's still incredibly innovative, especially using old ball ends like that.

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Thought I might throw a few more "ideas" used on my LP project...

Along with the roller truss cover and the TusQ graphite nut, locking tuners are important...

sperzellockingtuners.jpg

Westhemann gave me a tip on these sperzel locking tuners and they are excellent for this project. Unlike the EZ lock wilkinson's I tried (hence the obsolete screw holes) and figured would be ok if I was using a locking nut. These satin chrone things match the knobs and look there (mix of satin and chrome on this guitar) and are surprisingly light...plus, they work and cheaper than some by a pinch...cheers wes

Here's a closer look at the bridge, pickups and knobs...again, the chrome and satin chrome going on...bit of tortoiseshell in the high output 'buckers to tie in with the head plate thing....all kind of subtle touches but important to make for an overall "look". You can see one of the knobs pulled, very discrete...

LPepickupbridgeknobpull.jpg

The back plates are matching cream plastic, matching the binding and pickup rings...the camera makes them look a bit 'white' but they are cream and kind of blend well.

LPecovers01.jpg

Traditionally these are screwed in, however...having considered something 'tricky' like magnets to hold them on as an alternative...or just using the traditional screws...I went instead with double sided tape for a clean look. You can always wedge them out if required, but how often does one really need to get into those cavities if the wiring is good?

The wiring is interesting too...perhaps next post...pete

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Three...a teflon or graphite nut is pretty darn slippery and looks a bit more "traditional"...not sure that a roller nut on a single axle is going to be any "better" really...but it's the 'side pressure' that's the real killer (try pulling the strings in like my rollers do and you will get an idea of the tension put on the side of the slots of any nut with splayed out tuners like this...)

Still...they do work really well in this application and I might be tempted to use them in a nut or other application next time...hmmm

I have to disagree here.

The string doesnt care what direction it's bent. 13 degrees down over the nut from headstock angle is still 13 degrees. 13 deg of "splay" to the side, is still 13 deg..... Do you think the nut cares what direction the string gets bent? 13 det down on the nut... 13 deg to the side of the nut?

Now consider-

A shallow headstock angle like 11, and a decent of "splay" to the tuner might be a total combined angle of 15-16-17....

Imagine for a minute. Take a piece of music wire- Stiff wire- that you can put a bend in, and it holds the bend... Bend a 17 deg angle in it... leaving 5-6" to the end- Like the bend would be the nut location, and the end of the wire is a tuner....

lay it flat on a table so the bend is to the side. This would be wide splay, with zero neck angle. Take the bent end off the table and let the tip of the wire drop down about 1 1/2" below the table top.... Now you're looking at a sizable splay, and a 13 deg neck angle....

Note that I didnt actually do the math to get the angles in my example precise... but you get the idea of what I'm talking about.

And this is why I say what I quoted is wrong. Angle is ANGLE. The less angle the better, except a certain amount is necessary to stop string vibration past the nut. Headstock angle.... or side angle, is still angle, and looking at them both combined, you'll see the difference in angle between straight string pull and 13 deg head, is not VERY different from 11 deg angle with some splay.

What it really comes down to, is how well the nut slots are filed. I have a 2 post modern strat bridge with 1/8" bone nut with quite a bit of splay on a 13 degree head. The strings dont hang up in the nut at all. It's a non issue.

Which brings up a 2nd point....

If your idea works so well.... you wouldnt need to figure out how to lock that bridge...

The only time this doesnt boil down to nut slotting properly, is using a locking nut, or a roller nut.

The build does look nice though.

Edited by postal

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The build does look nice though.

Thanks...

Otherwise, I kind of disagree on your points to a degree.

"angle" provides pressure on the nut, if straight the pressure is all down and so there is your friction surface, add 'splay' and you are adding in addition to this friction to the side as well. Now, on a fixed system, this is ok...but with a trem in constant use, the bend in your wire is constantly being straightened and bent as it rolls. Splay provides extra side pressure to the slots as well as downwards force...it's importance is with the tremolo system.

You get tension over the nut with the angled back headstock, this is a given on this kind of guitar. The rollers are free and supply no extra pressure there....just relieve the side pressure from the nut itself. A lower headstock angle may well be a good thing, as on a fender, but this is the nature of this guitar design.

The guitar was played without the rollers for some time before adding them to the build...a roller nut like an LSR was not practical for this build...but even there side pressure would have adverse affects, see the wilkinson link from when they made them and required much the same idea.

Which brings up a 2nd point....

If your idea works so well.... you wouldnt need to figure out how to lock that bridge...

I think you are missing the point on the bridge locking thing. Kahlers are a full floating device and come with this 'hybrid' capacity that works well to create a fixed bridge...my thumbscrew mod is to make that possible on the fly. It certainly is not to do with tuning stability!

I haven't broken a string even with these trems for years, but all the same, there are techniques that require a fixed bridge as opposed to a floating trem. One that I do use for instance is 'oblique' harmonics...bending harmonics behind the nut while others ring through...a trem plays havoc with that kind of thing. Similarly, any altered tuning like drop D is going to throw the whole trems balance out...unless it is locked! Interestingly, I think I hardly ever have used the locking prefering it in trem mode, but it is good to know it is there!

Another aspect that I have been working on designs for is using a kahlers fine tuners as a kind of palm bending thing for a b-bender like effect. This also of course would require being able to lock the bridge to be successful...with this thumbscrew thing, it can be locked or unlocked and used as a trem guitar...so having both as required with a few twists of that thumb screw.

The guitar is extremely stable tuning wise, a bit of vaseline on the rollers helps I've found, once tuned out of the case I generally play with the trem for perhaps 3-4 hours without requiring retuning to any great extent on this or my tele with a similar system.

So...the features are not a necessity...but they are advantageous.

Perhaps others could chime in if my assessment is wrong, but tests on the guitar have shown these mods to be highly effective.

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