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Flamesong

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About Flamesong

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    Scotland
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    Filmmaking, philosophy, piano
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  1. Flamesong

    Am I causing my amp to hum?

    I live in a pretty remote place and I don't gig so it hasn't really been possible to test anywhere else so far but I am going somewhere at the end of the month which should give me an opportunity to do so. When I got the e-mail notifications, I just did a quick double-check in another room with two amps and a couple of guitars and got very similar results. One guitar I tried which I hadn't previously was noticeably quieter but when I did a ground check on it, it was actually higher across the board than the others and unlike the others it has no humbuckers (I realise the limited relevance of that if they are not selected but still). The house is rented and it has had at least two electrical inspections in the nine years I have lived here and I have a multitester which says that the earth is okay. It makes me wonder about things like carpets - they were laid before I moved in and I have no idea what they are made from. Anyway, I am not going to be doing anything drastic as far as this house is concerned as I am hoping to move in the next year or so. Hopefully my test at somebody else's house will exonerate my body.
  2. Flamesong

    Am I causing my amp to hum?

    Just a quick bit of additional information. I was a bit perplexed by the meter readings so I checked with another unbranded multimeter and got pretty much identical results so I thought something was amiss. I started checking the resistance of random things like the steel shaft of a screwdriver (0.8Ω), guitar cable (sleeve to sleeve 0.5Ω - tip to tip o.4Ω) then I checked the length of the brand new strings on the 'worst' guitar (when I said worst above, I was only referring to ground resistance, it's actually my favourite guitar), top E 1.1Ω B 1.2Ω bottom E 0.8Ω. One end of top E to the other end of bottom E 1.0Ω. These measurements are consistent between two multimeters which are both digital though the unbranded one automatically adjusts the unit scale. I got the impression from what I have scoured from online discussions that there should be 0.0Ω between the strings or bridge and the ground at the jack shaft so either everything in the measurement department is wrong or all my guitars' earths/grounds (including two Stratocasters) are bad and I can't imagine either, to be honest.
  3. Flamesong

    Am I causing my amp to hum?

    I have not been on here for a while as I have not been well for some time but recently picked up my guitars again and bought a new amp. I seem to be having a problem with hum and it is happening with all amps and all guitars combinations to varying degrees and I found the Diagnosing Wiring Faults in Guitars thread below but it is three years old so I thought I might not be thanked for resurrecting it. However, although my problem seems closest to the second scenario listed, the amps hum but it is reduced when I touch the strings, it does not go away completely, it isn't the full story. As I mentioned, I have the problem with all my guitars and I have checked the earth/ground on them all. According to my (Hilka) multimeter, there is about 1.5Ω between the shell of the input jack and the strings on the worst guitar and 0.8Ω on the best, a Fender Stratocaster and 0.9Ω on a Squier Stratocaster (neither of which I have ever touched, electrically); however, there is 0.3Ω when I test short the multimeter probes so I am not sure how to factor that into my measurements. I thought this was odd so I replaced the battery but it changed nothing. Anyway, I accidentally discovered that the hum only occurs when I am within a few feet of whichever guitar is connected - which is kind of annoying. If the guitar is as close as two feet away from me it hums. If I touch the foot switch on any of my pedals, it stops. It it possible that I am the source of the noise? As far as I know, I have no alien implants (surgical or extraterrestrial) but I do feel like I get more than my fair share of static shocks.
  4. Flamesong

    Second guitar on my journey

    Thanks for the encouraging words. Actually, I think I am slightly justified in blaming the router design - though it's the only router I have ever used (I have two the same) so it might be a universal feature. There is a spring located behind/under the collett which seems to push the bit out. It happened when I was working with the other router which is mounted on a table and it seemed to defy gravity and common sense until I discovered the spring. Now, I just let the bit rest at its own height (I sometimes use bearings as spacers) and not push it in.
  5. Flamesong

    Second guitar on my journey

    I thought about replacing them but the neck is otherwise pretty well made and with my inexperience, I run the risk of messing it up. As I mentioned somewhere, I'm taking incremental steps. Hopefully, if I move in a couple of years, I'll get to make a neck and make mistakes along the way which might not be so disastrous.
  6. Flamesong

    Second guitar on my journey

    Having just reread my OP, I should point out that the guitar I am working on now is not the one I mentioned at the end. That one went a bit awry when the router bit worked loose whilst cutting the body cavity and I ended up with a hole right through the body. I managed to patch it up quite well but decided to put the big experiment on hold. There were some other problems which together made me decide that it would end up being a bit of a chimera and to accept it if not in some way, celebrate it - especially as I was always prepared that the experimental features might be a disaster.
  7. Flamesong

    Second guitar on my journey

    It's actually my favourite guitar of the ten I have which includes a Fender Stratocaster. It has been modified slightly since the photo was taken. What was the kill switch is now a 'bridge on' switch and the kill switch is now below the neck pickup which is more easily accessible. The tone pull-on switch is now a blower. The only drawbacks it has are that the bridge is slightly wrongly positioned - slightly too far from the neck and the intonation is totally maxed out but it is correctly adjusted. Secondly, the neck is pre-made and looked attractive but not until I started playing it did I realise that the inlays are practically invisible without my glasses. I'm tempted to stain the fingerboard to hopefully bring out the inlay a bit more. The wiring inside is a horror show, though. Just as I finished it as in the photo, an old acquaintance died - somebody famous enough to have an obituary in The Guardian and a mention on Radio 4's Last Word. I decided to write a dedication to him under the scratch plate (I like Easter Eggs!). However, when I decided to swap things around, I couldn't rout the bit I had written on and the only way to get the kill switch where I wanted it was to drill a hole from the pickup cavity to the place where I wanted the switch which meant that the scratch plate could not be lifted off without disconnecting the kill switch and the amount of wire made it almost impossible to get the scratch plate into position. I was too eager to get it back into playing condition so once I wriggled it in by fluke, I didn't want to lift it off again. Perhaps I should add that rather than soldering the earth and the jack connections, they are connected by a small chocolate block which was supposed to make the process of disassembly simpler. Next time I have it apart, I'll reinvestigate and see if I can't route the wiring a bit better. Apropos of nothing, there were no bits in the post today so I am still redundant as far as the latest one goes. I'm particularly waiting for some fountain pen ink to stain the wood and a cheap but possibly very complimentary scratch plate. Everything else will be as the completed one above apart from the bridge pickup being a full humbucker rather than a dual blade and the hardware will pretty much all be chrome.
  8. Flamesong

    Second guitar on my journey

    I'm not the best at documenting my progress but having started another guitar I put my 'neck pocket first idea' into practice. I drew a rough outline of the body shape so that I got the pocket roughly in the right place and once I routed it, I bolted the neck in place. From there on, positioning the bridge was much simpler; no need to find a centre line to work from, per se, just place a long rule against the length of the neck and extend the line on both sides and bisecting the distance between them and then measuring the correct position for the bridge for the scale length. To me, this seems to make much more sense than cutting the body and then having the awkward job of trying to line up the neck with all the variable that involves. Once the neck was bolted on, I replaced the rough body outline with a true one. I positioned the scratch plate in line with the neck and projected neck lines where the bridge was attached and drew around it along with the pickup holes etc. I then removed the neck and bridge, attached the cavity template to accommodate the pickup positions etc. and I routed the body cavity - again, a job made simpler by having more flat material to rest the router on. Once the cavity was routed, I finally cut the body (not pictured). Previously, this process had taken me several days (due to having to stop, think about the next move and then preparing) and I completed this in about two hours including the edge routing and sanding into shape - to the point that I am now unexpectedly redundant until some parts arrive. I'm sure that I will find some disadvantage to this approach at some point but so far, so good. The only slight issue I had was that the tolerance between the shape I wanted to use and lump of wood I was using was about 5mm (I had initially designed the body to the limitations of the wood) so I had to slightly adjust the body shape but using a bigger piece of wood, that would not be an issue. Anyway, after this one, I intent to take a hiatus until I move in a couple of years as my working conditions are driving me insane. Half my workspace is in a small shed which does not have enough space to operate any power tools and the other half is my kitchen. I have to work outside when it is dry enough (I had a good day to cut the entire body of the current one) and the constant traipsing back and forth from the shed to my kitchen for tools through the mud can get frustrating and miserable; not conducive to creativity. For the time being, at least, when I have finished the two guitars I am working on, I am going to renovate/customise a couple of guitars which look a little sad amongst my others.
  9. Flamesong

    Single Coil (N) / Series / Single Coil (S) Switch

    Wow! That is enormously simpler than I could ever have imagined. Thank you so much. I do feel a little foolish because I ought to have got out of the habit of thinking that short circuits were always a bad idea when I had spent months looking for a nice looking push normally on/momentary off switch to cut the signal as a kill switch then realised that actually shorting it out was just as effective if not preferable for some reasons.
  10. I have a bit of an odd experiment that I want to try out for my next guitar. For it to work in the best possible way, I really need to be able to switch between single coil (n), series and single coil (s) on each of three dual rail pickups. Ideally, this would be done using three on/on/on mini-toggle switches. I can see how simple it would be to connect the switches to select single coil (n) and (s) but it doesn't seem possible to offer the series option without interfering with the single coil options with it being necessary to connect the coils together. I have a couple of weeks before I plan to start on a kind of low-tech prototype but if anybody has any suggestions, I'd be grateful as it might save me a great deal of frustration. Thanks.
  11. Flamesong

    Oak for body

    Thanks for the comment. I'm sorry that I didn't do much of a progress report. I'm actually a filmmaker in my other spare time but although it sometimes occurs to me to document what I am doing, I really like to focus on whatever it is I am actually doing and I suppose the brutal answer is, I can't be bothered but for reasons I find good. Also, I used to work as a graphic designer and I always hated people seeing work in progress or looking over my shoulder. Anyway, to answer your questions: I can't really comment on how good the oak was to work with as I have nothing to compare it to. The only other guitar I have constructed was ash but it was a kit. Actually, just a few minutes ago, I was comparing the two as apart from the body, they have exactly the same hardware setup yet sound incredibly different. The oak sounds cleaner but I think there is more, as yet undiscovered, than just the wood causing the difference. The tone knobs have much more effect than my other guitar despite them both being wired identically (I copied this one from the other) and exactly the same capacitors. The wood was a little knotty and I managed to locate the knots where is wasn't so important. I wasn't too bothered about the imperfections of the wood - I actually find them very attractive. I used orange fountain pen ink to stain the wood and treated it with a couple of coats of satin spray lacquer. One issue which I anticipated but didn't know what to do about until it was finished was the balance. I had intended for it to have just a jack socket strap anchor with the other anchor just above the neck plate but once I tried the neck on, I realised that was not ideal so I added another anchor at the end of the neck pocket and one in the conventional place below the bridge. These two seem to be about right but it isn't too bad using the other anchors. As far as pickups are concerned, I am actually on a very tight budget so I'm not using anything top end that I know I can replace later when I have a bit more money so the pickups are imported dual rail humbuckers each having a humbucker/series switch and there is a pull switch for the bridge pickup on the lower tone knob. Also, there is a push kill switch. I find that I only use humbucker option when I have two pickups selected and have one in series, the other humbucker otherwise the sound is very thin. For the next one, I need to research some new switching as I need to have a three position switch with the options single(n)/series/single(s) and so far I haven't found a way to do it. I couldn't sleep lat night trying to figure it out and ended up conceiving of something which could be a monster - so maybe I need to reel my ideas in a bit. I might spend a few weeks experimenting with some pine offcuts before I commit any more oak.
  12. I already posted about my second guitar in a thread I started about using oak for a body after I found a piece which could be big enough for three bodies on eBay. Anyway, two months after finding the piece of oak and eventually taking the leap and buying it, I have finished my first oak bodied guitar - though I concede that owing to limitations of space and gear, I was cornered into using a pre-made neck - but I intend to do some tests with scrap wood to see if it might be possible to make a neck using a router table rather than a bench saw. I had made some sketches of a body shape I could make which would use a standard Stratocaster scratch plate (I'm taking an incremental approach to my ultimate goal) and implemented a solution to one of my biggest guitar annoyances; guitars falling over when there is no stand available and came up with the fin shape. This both created the problem of where to put the input jack and provided an answer - in fact, I think the answer might have been conceived before the problem was realised. However, having the input jack where it is did pose another issue - the internal plumbing under the bridge - so the angle of the fin would have to be right to avoide undermining the bridge and remain aesthetically pleasing and this took a lot of work in illustrator as the shallower the angle of the recess the less attractive it looked - not only that but every time I changed the recess angle, the angles all the way across the top of the body had to be changed to compensate otherwise it looked lumpy. Eventually, I thought I had cracked it and the anchor screws from the bridge would miss the jack access hole by about 0.25 inch. Unfortunately, not ever having owned a guitar with a hardtail bridge, I naively assumed that the strings just fed through the bridge from the side opposite the saddles - I hadn't realised that the strings went through the body and that I would need to add ferrules or a ferrule plate. So, at the last minute, I decided to use a ferrule plate as individual ferrules might not line up neatly on the back given the imprecise tools that I have. When all the string holes were drilled and the ferrule plate was in position, I felt quite chuffed but a bitter blow came when I drilled the holes to secure the ferrule plate as one went through the jack socket access hole. It was disappointing but easily fixed, I simply cut the end of the screw off - I figured that if the end of the screw was exposed in the hole, the exposed threads weren't actually doing anything and the strings would actually be acting in the same direction anyway - it's not as if the screws were acting in opposition to any forces. When I finally strung it and started to set it up, I found that the bridge could have been located slightly better - giving a little more adjustment leeway for intonation. Talking of which, I had quite a lot of trouble adjusting the intonation and thought I have created a pig and got pretty annoyed with myself. Maybe I was tired, maybe I was just impatient, maybe I was forgetful but after a good sleep, it dawned on me that in all the activity involved in putting it together, I had forgotten something which I had learned when I first tried to play a guitar, 40 years ago and which is part of every guitar player's fundamental knowledge; new strings stretch! I had a little trouble with the neck pocket. It was seemingly perfect - it was so tight that the weight of the body could be supported when holding the neck at all angles. Again, I felt quite chuffed at that - I had created my own neck template which was almost identical to one which was later shared to me on here from a guitar making magazine. But when it came to preliminary assembly, the neck pocket was too shallow and because I had, by this time, cut out the body shape and sanded it down etc, there was hardly any body for the router to rest on. When I originally routed the neck pocket, I used the offcuts from the body to hold it in my Workmate and rested on them but I had since cut about 1mm with sanding and so there was a ridge between the body and the off cuts. Consequently, the neck pocket lost all its tightness and even sufficient straightness to require me to then re-rout the pickup cavities which had a knock on effect to the scratch plate position. I have resolved that in future, although I might outline the body on the wood for guidance, I will rout the neck pocket before cutting the body shape (making sure it is the right depth) and then position everything from that point. Apart from the practical advantage, it would also mean that if it gets messed up, worst case scenario, I have wasted a bit of wood - not hours of work. Maybe this is standard procedure but it wasn't the way it was done in the various YouTube videos I watched beforehand. So, I made plenty of mistakes (many - some I haven't mentioned) but I have learned a lot from them and enjoyed the challenges they presented. But I also got to implement the lessons I learned from the first guitar which was a kit from which I discarded all but the neck and body and one or two bits of hardware. I have already started thinking about my next project but I have some ideas which may not have been tried before - at least a Google search has not gleaned any evidence - maybe they have been tried but the results were so disastrous that they have been kept secret.
  13. Flamesong

    Oak for body

    I just finished my oak guitar - as somebody who wanted to make guitars for over 40 years and have always felt that it might be beyond me, I can't quite describe the feeling I have from thinking that this was just a bit of wood I saw on eBay two months ago today; though I concede that the neck was pre-made with a paddle headstock. It still needs some work in that the intonation needs tweaking etc. The shape was basically designed to accept a Stratocaster scratch plate but with reduced profile. One thing that I find annoying is how guitars tend to fall over if there isn't a stand around so I made the fin so that there were two points of contact with the ground. The jack is of the strap lug type but there are two strap anchors at each end - at the neck end, they are just above the neck plate and at the end of the neck pocket. This was a bit of a last minute inclusion as I got a rush of anxiety about the guitar's balance. Anyway, I already have ideas for the next one which I could say are in a way, quite literally revolutionary but I need to do some experiments first.
  14. Having explored Leo Lospennato's site, I ended up ordering one of his books and will order the other next month so the free magazine downloads have paid off for him, I hope.
  15. Thank you very much for the advice. I've been away for Christmas and New Year and quite eager to get back to my guitar. I take on board what you said and as I mentioned, I have the offcuts from when I cut out the body so I can use them to act both as a firm clamping buffer and platform for the router. I have the right kind of bit which I used the first time but as it is the most critical bit of the whole body (in my inexperienced eyes), I am probably a little hyper-nervous about it. And thanks for the magazine links, they will no doubt be invaluable. I just noticed the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain pictured in issue 1. One of my favourite ever moments was seeing them live - the front row was occupied by a young ukulele players club, all under about 15. When UOGB played Smells Like Teen Spirit, the young kids were all headbanging - I loved it.
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