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Entry for December 2019's Guitar Of The Month is open - ENTER HERE!

norm barrows

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About norm barrows

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  1. a circular saw with a guide board clamped to the work always works in a pinch. the guide board is your fence, and voila you have an inverted table saw. the blade moves in relation to the work instead of the work moving in relation to the blade. but honestly, those little mini 5.5" inch table saws are really nice. i used to use one at home depot when i was building displays and stuff. and they are pretty cheap. around $100 back in the day. might find them on ebay for under $100. a 2" or so cutting depth means they can cut most bodies and all but the thickest neck blanks. perfectly adequate for working with planks, not so great for working with posts.
  2. if the dimensions are correct on the screen, but not on the paper, then the software, OS, and /or printer is not mapping one pixel to one pixel. some sort of scaling is going on. are you using autocad, or some other software specifically designed for mechanical drawing? or just a paint program?
  3. i'm really only worried about the gears. if its on the "wrong side" or turns the "wrong way" or the screw holes / pins are in the "wrong place" - so be it, as long as it works. as it turns out, the fretless guitar project with regular tuners on the bottom and left side of the body just happens to call for 6x LH tuners anyway. but i have a 2nd leftover set of 6x LH locking tuners, and it would be nice to slap them on the LTD m2 at least until the correct parts (6x RH) arrive. i haven't played my #1 axe in probably 5 years now. and it has the new emg 81x in it, which i've never even tried before. i guess i miss my baby. then again, i'm sporting a nice cut on the end of my left hand ring finger from hacking out the neck of the paddle guitar with a kitchen knife, and a nice gouge on the right side of my first finger on the left hand from the sawrasp. got that when i was forming the neck of the fretless project. makes it hard to play full bar chords. so i'll finish a project but can barely test them. the jackson roswell is full repaired, and i completed the minimalist "assault rifle" guitar made from the neck of my 69 fender villager 12 string. the stain tests for the red guitar project were successful, and the first coat of bombay mahogany on the body and neck are drying at this moment - and looking good!
  4. anti-aliasing in the image or the printer or both might be a cause. it will tend to make lines less than razor sharp.
  5. is there a problem with using a LH tuner where one would normally use a RH tuner? and vica versa? as long as the strings still line up ok? i've been unable to find a solid verdict one way or the other. i'm not really owrried about the keys turing the opposite direction. but there seems to some issue with the handed-ness of a tuning machine, and the direction the wire is wound, and maintaining a load on the gears. so i guess the first question is: which way is one supposed to wind the string? counter clockwise on a RH tuner, and clockwise on a LH tuner? or the other way around ? or whichever whay the strings line up straightest? as a musician, i never really thought about this. i'd just slap strings on the way that looked correct - IE tyhe way they were before - and never really paid attention to what direction things were going.. and is there a problem if you wind it "backwards" ? i keep ordering the wrong sets of tuners, 6x LH when i need 3x3, or 6x LH when i need 6x RH. so i find myself in possession of a couple of extra sets of left hand locking tuners. but a planned build might call for RH tuners under normal circumstances. can i use LH instead? do the strings need to wind in a specific direction,. and therefore should line up with one side of the post as opposed to the other? the guitar i'm working on at the moment is a fretless nohead 6 string with conventional tuning machines installed along the bottom left edge of the body. tuning peg placement and the string-though-neck holes at the top of the neck determine string placement across a smooth steel bar zero fret and smooth steel bar bridge, with no string trees, guide pins, nut notches, saddle notches, etc. so tuner peg placement is critical. so which side of the peg lines up with the string is critical. so which way the string winds is also critical. and if that happens to be the opposite of the way the key (LH or RH) likes to work, that could be a problem. but i put the 6x LH on my Jackson Roswell temporarily, when i discovered that it actually required 3x3. and i had no issues. the 3x3 for the Jackson arrived, and i put them on it last night, competing the repairs on the Jackson Roswell. i thought i could put the 6x LH on my LTD m2, only to discover that it takes 6x RH, and the ones i ordered for it are also 6x LH, not 6xRH. so i find myself with a few extra LH tuners, and was wondering if they could be used instead of RH if desired.
  6. The founder of Crimson Guitars always mentions the wobbly kitchen table he started on. I'm working at a small desk from Amazon. But my collection of luthier tools is starting to come together. The sawrasp, fretslot saw, fret rocker, radius gauges, japanese draw plane, fret file, and fret guard have all arrived. And today i picked up a Stanley sure form round file. its a 1/2" diameter round rasp, with a hollow body, kind of like a cheese grater, but long, thin, and round. perfect for places like around the corners of the heel of the neck, and other inside round corners, such as body cutaways for neck access. what is that called? a body cutaway? a neck relief? its not a body contour.... Both the body and neck for the red guitar build have arrived, and both are absolutely FLAWLESS! ready to finish - right out of the box. all the workmanship is perfect. absolutely flawless, perfect. laser sharp correct routing, etc. i couldn't believe it. while the quality of chinese tools has been on the rise over the last few years, i was not expecting this level of quality in woodworking. it looks like a piece from a fine Japanese wood shop. due to the flawless condition of the mahogany body and neck, i've decided that a stain test is called for. i've only used the bombay mahogany on pine in the past. and these piece are so perfect, i don't wan't it to not turn out right. i'd hate to have to take a sander to them to strip off a botched finish. i plan to use the side of the mahogany slab i have for the stain test. tried to get some mahogany at the local ace hardware today, but all they has was some nice walnut. if it weren't for the drying time, i'd be set. i have acres of birch, maple, oak, and pine around me, and i mill my own lumber with a chainsaw. milled all the wood for a 200 foot fence that way. speaking of oak, i'm surprised it not more popular. its dense, and strog - both desirable qualities in guitar woods
  7. actually, i can believe it. the neck from the paddle guitar which turned into the neck for the tail tuner was shaped with a hatchet, a big old kitchen knife, and like one sheet of 60 grit. the fretless tailtuner i'm doing now was shaped using a sawrasp and a small japanese draw plane, and about 3 sheets of 60 grit. turned out awesome. too bad its pine, no truss rod, and no frets. what i need to do is buy a bunch of necks. the one for the red guitar arrived, and the one for the kit rae battleaxe is on the way. but i have another 7 builds planned.
  8. no doubt! that thing is something else. its like a Bugatti - functional art. but i'll tell you, i was very impressed by this month's build of the month entries. VERY impressive. Makes me wish i had a real wood shop.
  9. if you're only building one guitar every 2.5 years on average, whats the point in repeatable results? i dont get it. you just like making jigs? i mean that i get, jigs are cool - sometimes cooler than the part they fab (fabricate). but..... no offense - just asking - i'm a bit confused here. or is it you need the jig to do the job right, so "you gotta break a few eggs to make a real mayonnaise" so to speak?
  10. has anyone played around with asymmetric neck profiles and / or offset truss rods (IE off center) ? i'm doing a build that started as a paddle guitar carved from a single four foot long piece of 1x6. its has since morphed into a nohead bolt-on neck, with standard tuners at the end of the body. the back of the neck is not a U or D or C shape. its thickest between the 4th and 5th strings, and slopes almost straight down to the 1st string. the result is a sort of french curve, with the fat end of the curve at the bass side of the neck. it does not have a truss rod. but if a similar profile were used on a regular neck, moving the truss rod towards the bass strings might be required for clearance. at this point, building necks from scratch seems to be a bit more than i want to deal with. so i dont see offset truss rod necks in my immediate future. just thinking ahead thoughts? comments?
  11. from a cosmetic standpoint, whats the best way to hide unwanted holes in a guitar body, such as unused pickup cavities, potentiometer holes, switch slots, and electronics cavities? ideas i've thought of: 1. plugs / inserts made of wood or other materials, finished to match the rest of the guitar, or with a color coordinated finish. 2. custom cover plates of some sort. 3. dummy pickups, switches, knobs, etc. just for show to fill up the hole, doesn't do anything. any other options? what tends to look best?
  12. so, parts are in for my first real build - my "red guitar" project. basically i have a pre-routed unfinished body, a pre-fretted 24 fret neck, and all the finishes, hardware, and inlays. so i'm thinking: 1. setup the neck - replace silver frets with gold frets, adjust truss rod, level frets. 2. test assembly of hardware. put on neck and basic hardware. see how everything lines up. 3. finish body and headstock. 4. final assembly. neck to body adjustment, bridge height, saddle height, pickup height, intonation. 5. electronics. does this sound good?
  13. the Traveller doesn't have a pre-amp - no battery. but it does have a stethoscope type set of headphones you can plug into a tube on the left side that runs under the bridge. the sound is amazing. either the guitar is just nice and resonant at the bridge, or they might have some sort of high performance (expensive, super sensitive) piezo in it, or they may have taken particular care with piezo placement and securing method (as in "laminated" into the guitar under the bridge). its a fixed bridge, looks to be a rosewood bridge, with a plastic or bone saddle bar - similar to the bridge on my fender 6 string acoustic bridge placement seems to be via two alignment pins (one of which is missing on mine!). the bridge does not appear to be glued or anything,and is simply being held down by string pressure. i've never had all the strings off at once, but with the missing pin, i can slide one side of the bridge towards and away from the nut. but with the strings on, its wont slide far enough out of the way to reveal the piezo underneath. The Traveller goes to a common jack. I was also planning to use a common jack for the "red guitar" project -IE my first real build. but i've decided that the original plan of bridge piezo, bridge emg81x and neck sutainiac is overkill. for an electromagnetic pickup, the optimal position is half way between the ends of the vibrating string. so, the 12 fret for open strings. and half way between the top fret and the bridge for your highest notes on each string - IE about the middle pickup position on most guitars. so the best compromise for location of an electromagnetic pickup is just below the neck. the strings move more there than they do nearer the bridge. this will induce greater flux in the electromagnetic field around the pickup magnets, and thus greater induced EMF (electro-motive force) in the coil wires. yes - i suffered through 2nd year physics. only got a B, and physics is my best subject. was probably partying too hard! <g> So now the plan is to go with just the EMG 81x at the neck position - which leaves me with a bridge position routing i need to fill or cover somehow. wood plug, custom cover plate, and fake pickup seem to be the possible choices. BTW, the neck and body arrived, and i'm ready to start the build. Ebay sells disc, bar, and ribbon type piezos. i have a bar type with preamp that i was going to use for my red guitar project. its designed for an acoustic. it has both a bar piezo, and a mic. 3 band eq, runs on a 9 volt, etc, fits an acoustic body, but is too wide for an electric body. i also have a ribbon style pizeo for the battleaxe project. its basically a bar piezo, but made from a flexible film. it does not have a pre-amp. but i've seen a number of youtube videos where someone will slap a couple disc piezos in a cigar box guitar, plug it into an amp, and it works just fine. and again, we're talking about something that can be easily fixed with just a twist of the appropriate knob in the signal chain - in this case a bit more line in at the front end, or a bit more volume at the back end. i wonder if that's related to the fact that so much of guitar building seems to be almost more about about wood working and finishing and less about engineering musical instruments. so many of these videos i see, these people could just a well be cabinet makers or painters who slap a set of strings on their work when they are done. now obviously they setup the instruments correctly - not saying they don't. perhaps slapping strings on isn't that complicated compared to woodwork and finish. i do have to admit that the hardware and electronics work involved in most guitars is pretty basic. i've taken wood shop, electronics shop, metal shop, plastics shop, mechanical drawing, etc, and i've been playing musical instruments for 52 years, and composing music for 51 years, and fixing guitars for almost 40 years now. but now that i'm getting into building guitars, i'm somewhat surprised at how simple the basics are, and perhaps that is why everyone seems to spends so much time on fancy woodwork and finishes. as a hot rodder, i'm all about performance. form follows function. i have a saying: "cars are for driving, pictures are for looking at". by the same token, i might say: "guitars are for playing, pictures are for looking at". OTOH, nothing wrong with playing a guitar that looks like a million bucks - as long as it works well.
  14. interesting. my experience with the Traveller has been just the opposite. It has a bar piezo under the bridge, and a single coil at the bridge position. one volume knob for each pickup, and a 3 way switch: single coil, piezo, and both. there does not appear to be any additional circuitry. and the volumes of each are very similar, with the piezo having less bottom end. i ran them though the cheapo ebay 7 band eq pedal i got for testing. I set the eq flat, and played the piezo as the baseline tone, when you switched to single coil, cutting 60Hz by 12db and 125Hz by 6 db reproduced the tone of the piezo. and using the single coil as the baseline tone, boosting 60Hz by 12db and 125Hz by 6db made the piezo sound like the single coil.
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