Relining a Guitar Case

Relining a Guitar Case

This project has been moved to the main Darkling Designs Website.

To view the full project please click the following link.

http://darkling.poppameth.com/relining-a-guitar-case/

 

Before

Original Condition

Original Condition

 

Removing the lining.

Removing the lining.

After

All Done

All Done

 

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Project Preview – Relining a Guitar Case

I’ve been working on relining the case from my Roadstar II guitar. It’s a TKL chipboard case with a faux fur lining. It had evidently been in storage a while and picked up a nasty musty smell I couldn’t get rid of. The only way to remedy that was to rip all the lining out, seal the wood, and reline it. The project is nearing completion. I should have a pictorial guide up by the end of the week if I can get the migraines to leave me alone. It didn’t help that someone decided to delete everything on the camera’s memory card, but I managed to recover those images before they were overwritten.

Stay tuned.

Project Preview – Pedal Board Case

I’m in the process of building a case for my Little Holey Vengeance pedal board so I can actually get the pedals mounted and use the damn thing. Right now I hate to mount them and basically have nothing to protect them when not in use. This is the first case I’ve built so I doubt it will turn out perfectly. I’m building the frame out of 3/4″ plywood (left overs from the speaker cabinet) and the top and bottom will be 3/16″ birch underlayment grade plywood. I’m covering it in olive green vinyl to match the board and lining it with brown velour. The vinyl isn’t really meant for this application. It’s more of an upholstery type vinyl so it isn’t taking the glue the best. I’ll make it work though, even though I’m not foreseeing the seams turning out well. I got the vinyl cheap though. Plus I got to see the pretty girl (Denise) at the fabric store. Now that I’m single I can look all I want and not feel guilty!

I’m hoping to have the case finished up in a week or so. I’ll get full project details up with photos at that point.

Ibanez RG530 Roadstar – Phase 1

This project has been moved to a compiled project portfolio at http://darkling.poppameth.com/ibanez-rg530-roadstar-ii-rebuild/

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Ibanez RG270DX Tremolo Upgrade for Cheap

Overview

This is a little guide detailing my recent project of upgrading the stock tremolo on my Korean Ibanez RG270DX. I was originally considering putting a Gotoh 1996 in it like the RG470 project I recently did. However, I decided I didn’t want to sink $180 into a tremolo I didn’t use that often so I found a far less expensive option.

The stock tremolo on the RG270DX isn’t all that bad. The base plate is not hardened steel like the higher quality tremolos. I’m not sure what it is, but it looks more like brass in coloration. The other drawback is that it’s a single locking tremolo, meaning that it has a locking nut but does not have locking saddles. After doing some research on the internet I found it mentioned several times that this tremolo could accept Floyd Rose locking saddles with no modifications. After a little more research I found that the best quality saddles of this type are the Schaller ones or the OFR saddles you get directly from Floyd Rose. Unfortunately these saddles run about $20 each, which get’s expensive enough that I may as well just put the Gotoh on the guitar. I did however find a good alternate set of saddles at StewMac. They are replacements for the OFR and only cost about $20-$25 for a set of six, depending on what color you want. Obviously, these aren’t going to be of the same quality as the OFR saddles, but all reviews say they are still very good. It seems that they are cast metal instead of formed steel. Again, I’m not sure of what kind of metal they are. I decided to go ahead and take a chance on them.

So for this project I’ve spent roughly $22.00 on saddles, $5.00 on a new set of posts and bushings from StewMac as well, and about $5.00 for a set of saddle shims. $32.00 isn’t a bad investment to turn a single locking tremolo into a double locking tremolo. Let’s move on to the details.

Dis-assembly

The first thing I need to do is remove the strings from the guitar and remove the springs and tremsetter from the back of my guitar.

Old Tremolo

Old Tremolo

Tremolo Cavity

Tremolo Cavity

Springs and Tremsetter

Springs and Tremsetter

Now let’s look at the new saddles I got from StewMac

New Saddles

New Saddles

And a comparison shot next to the old saddles. The sizing is almost identical.

Comparison

Comparison

Before proceeding with the tear down, I’ll take the time to measure each saddle position from the front edge of the base plate to the front of the saddle peak where the string rests. I’m hoping that by doing this I can duplicate these positions with the new saddles and avoid a massive headache setting the intonation, which is never easy with a Floyd style tremolo.

Measuring for Intonation

Measuring for Intonation

Next I’ll use a pin gauge to get the shape of the old saddle set. This works fairly well for recording the existing radius of the saddles if you don’t have radius gauges. You can get a pin gauge fairly cheap at any home improvement store. I usually use this for measuring the shape of window casings that I have to cut ceramic tile around.

Measuring the Radius

Measuring the Radius

Measuring the Radius

Measuring the Radius

Now I want to remove the old saddles from the base plate. First I’ll use a flat head screwdriver to loosen the string tubes from the rear of the tremolo.

Removing the old saddles

Removing the old saddles

After I’ve broken them loose I can finish removing them with just my fingers.

Removing the old saddles

Removing the old saddles

Next I need to use a hex wrench to loosen the bolts holding the saddles on the plate.

Removing the old saddles

Removing the old saddles

Removing the old saddles

Removing the old saddles

They slide right off without having to completely remove the bolts. This is the empty base plate.

Bare Plate

Bare Plate

I’ll mention a few things of note here. Notice the large hex screws in line with the tremolo arm holder. These screw hold the block onto the base plate. These may be of interest to you if you ever consider upgrading the block to something like a larger brass block in the future. Also notice the staggered pattern of the screws that were holding the saddles on. There are multiple holes for these to allow for greater adjustments to the intonation. I ended up moving one of these to the back hole to make the new saddle fit better. The old one was barely being held at the very tip.

Next I’m going to clean the plate while I have it apart. I’ll use an old toothbrush and a can of compressed air to get the loose dust and other crud off of it. Then I’ll wet a rag with denatured alcohol to wipe away any built up residues and other gunk.

Cleaning supplies

Cleaning supplies

Denatured Alcohol

Denatured Alcohol

I’m using alcohol because it dries quickly, does a good job of cleaning, and isn’t so potent that it’ll take the finish off the metal.

Next I’m going to examine my knife edges for damage. Considering the cheap nature of this no name tremolo, they are in very good shape. There is very minimal wear on them. I’ll take a fine half round file and gently file them back into smooth round outs while I’ve got the tremolo out of the guitar. I should mention that these edges should be checked for damage at the beginning of the project. If they are in really bad shape they may not be useable and a new tremolo would be a better route to pursue instead of this low cost upgrade.

Filing the roundouts

Filing the round outs

Re-assembly

Now lets start putting things back together.

The first thing I want to do is swap out my pivot posts, which have some wear on them from over 15 years of use. In my other guides I showed you how to pull the bushings out of the wood and tap new holes for new bushings and posts. In this case, the new posts from StewMac are nearly identical to the old Ibanez posts. They are so close in fact that they screw right into the old bushings. That means it’s pointless to pull the old bushings. I’ll just swap the stud itself this time. I will note that these posts take a different size wrench than the old ones did and they don’t come with that wrench so I’ll have to add a few more wrenches to my guitar case.

Stud comparison

Stud comparison

Now it’s time to place the new saddles on the base plate. This is just like taking the old ones off only in reverse.

Installing the new saddles

Installing the new saddles

And here they all are after I measure them back into the same position as the originals and tighten them down.

New saddles installed

New saddles installed

I will note here that after stringing the guitar up and getting it all back in tune I discovered some string buzz due to the radius being slightly out. Most RG series guitars have a neck radius of about 16″. Most Floyd saddles are designed for a 14″ radius, which is not quite as flat. That means that my outer strings ended up being a bit too close to the fretboard in relation to the inner strings. To remedy this, I removed the high E and B saddles and placed a shim under them. The shims are just thin pieces of metal with a hole in them. They lay directly under the saddle to boost it up and the screw that locks the saddle to the base plate goes through the hole to hold it all in place. So far I just did these two saddles, but I may have to shim the low E as well once the strings stretch out completely and I get the entire assembly tweaked.

Now let’s see the tremolo once it’s back in the guitar.

New saddles installed

New saddles installed

I always put a drop of TriFlow Superior Dry Lubricant on each post when I put the tremolo back in. This is a thick liquid that dries very fast and leaves a thin layer of teflon behind with no sticky residue. It provides great lubrication to the knife edge without leaving a residue for dirt to stick to.

Strung Up

Strung Up

I also add a drop of the same lubricant to the peak of each string saddle where the string lays over it. I’m careful not to let any lubricant run down into the saddle where the block is. This can cause the string to slip out of the block. Just plug the hole with a paper towel while lubricating the peak.

Strung Up

Strung Up

I now have it fully restrung and the springs and tremsetter back in place. I’ve got it all pretty well balanced out. I’ll have to make some adjustments to the tremsetter once I get all of the stretch out of the strings and then I’ll start testing it. So far it sounds fine and the intonation came out pretty well perfect, just as I was hoping for. We’ll see how well it handles diving once I get the tremsetter adjusted.

I hope someone finds this guide helpful. I’ve seen a few questions about how to do this in the past. I’m sure this will work on other tremolos as well but you’ll have to figure out if the saddles will fit the tremolo you have in mind.

With all that being said, I’d like to conclude this guide by leaving you with a picture of my balls, which I can now proudly display thanks to my new locking saddles.

My Balls

My Balls

 

 

Guitar Speaker Cabinet Build

Background

A couple of months ago I picked up a used Blackstar HT-5H (5 watt hybrid guitar amp head) on Ebay dirt cheap for a friend of mine. I needed a cabinet to pair it with and after looking at prices for a while, I decided I may as well build my own since I had a whole sheet of leftover cabinetry grade plywood in my basement. Thus the project began.

I have a few photos to show you of the project. Unfortunately I didn’t take many progress photos as the build progressed. Most of these are from after the construction is pretty well done. I have never built a speaker cabinet before and I wasn’t expecting this to turn out well enough to make it into a guide. Lucky me, it turned out much better than expected!

So I’ll insert some photos here and make a few notes about what I did.

Materials

Here is a basic list of materials I used.

  • One 4’x8’x3/4″ sheet of oak faced cabinetry grade plywood
  • One 2’x4’x3/4″ sheet of oak faced cabinetry grade plywood
  • One 4’x4″x3/4″ solid red oak trim board
  • Various screws
  • Wood glue
  • 3M Water-based Contact Cement
  • Black Tolex
  • Plastic Corners
  • A handle
  • Rubber feet
  • Speaker (12″ Warehouse Guitar Speakers Veteran 30 16 Ohm 60 Watt.)
  • 18 AWG speaker wire
  • 3/8″ Techflex
  • Various heatshrink tubing
  • Stain (Minwax Special Walnut)
  • Varnish (Pratt & Lambert Satin Varnish)
  • Black Paint (Pratt & Lambert Accolade interior flat acrylic – base 3 with 6 ounces of black tint)

I’ve probably missed a few things but that’s all I can think of for now.

Here is a list of tools used in this project.

  • Table saw
  • Circular saw
  • Jig saw
  • Scroll Saw
  • Palm router
  • Drill
  • Drill Press
  • Dremel
  • Belt / Spindle Sander
  • Files
  • Scrapers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Hammers
  • Hand Saws
  • Dovetail Template Block
  • Brushes
  • Rollers
  • Rolling pin (stop laughing)
  • Staple Gun
  • Clamps
  • More types of sandpaper than I care to mention.

And so on. Again, I’m sure I missed a few things. That’s the majority of what went into this project. The other major factor was a hell of a lot of time. I work full time and do computer work on the side so I was limited to what little free time I had. This project took about two months from start to finish. If I were working on it full time I’d say two weeks would be a good estimate of build time. One of the most time consuming factors is waiting for varnish to dry. The paint dries fast since it’s water based.

Design Notes

We started off by taking some measurements of the head itself. The Blackstar HT-5H is about 9 inches deep, 17-1/2 inches wide and 8 inches tall. Our goal was to build a cab that was roomy enough to get good sound out of the selected speaker and be a good fit for the head. We ended up with a 21 in wide by 21 inch tall cab. The front has a little slant to it so the top was 13 inches deep and the bottom was 15 inches deep. We also opted for a 2/3 covered open back design, meaning the back is 2/3 closed by wood panels and 1/3 open. Guitar cabs are thankfully pretty forgiving of these parameters unlike hi-def audio applications so we didn’t have to be too precise.

Photos

Stained and ready for tolex

This is the cabinet after it’s been stained and varnished. We joined oak faced cabinetry grade plywood using hand cut dovetail joints, wood glue, and wood screws. I filled the holes with Timbermate putty and sanded it all smooth after routing rounded edges on the cabinet. The face boards are solid red oak.

stained and ready for tolex

Here is one more view from the other side. The dark stripes inside are caulk I used to seal the joints entirely.

Front view

Here is the face of the cabinet. We’ve applied black tolex from Mojotone to the sides. We’ve also added black plastic corner caps like Marshalls have. I think I would do the caps a little different the next time. They didn’t fit the best due to the size of their radius and the slant on the cab. Metal corners would have worked better. We stretched an inexpensive grill cloth from Mojotone into place on the baffle. That was a real pain to get straight and took longer than expected.

side view

A side view of the cab. It’s a little dirty, but still looking good.

handle

This is the faux leather dog bone style handle we went with. These are really designed for Fender combo amps. It caused me a bit of grief later. I ended up having to modify the amp head by adding feet extensions to it so it would clear the handle correctly. The Blackstar head has very tiny feet.

face plate

This is the custom nameplate with model number I had etched for this.

rear speaker view

This is a rear view. We used a Warehouse Guitar Speaker 12″ 16 Ohm 60 watt Veteran 30 speaker. It’s a clone of the Celestion Vintage 30 with slightly scooped mids. The black paint is Pratt and Lambert Accolade. The stuff covers great is one coat. It’s expensive though if you don’t happen to work for the paint store, which I do.

rear speaker view 2

Here is a better view of the speaker. I custom made the cable as well.

cabling 2

This is a closeup of the cable. I used 18 AWG speaker wire. I twisted a pair of them together for the positive pole and another for the negative pole and then reverse twisted those pairs together. I then covered them with 3/8 inch techflex jacketing and some heatshrink tubing at the ends.

back panels

These are the back panels. They’ve just been varnished with Pratt & Lambert Satin Varnish. I really like how it flows and looks. I varnished the whole cabinet with a total of three coats, sanding between coats with 1000 grit wet or dry automotive paper. Once the final coat was on I lightly buffed it with 2000 grit paper to smooth it out.

full amp

This is the finished product. Not a bad match in my opinion. I have yet to modify the legs on the head in these photos so it’s sitting askew.

full amp 2

Here is a side view. I polished it up with Armor All so it looks better now.

amp back

Here is the finished back. Notice the ridiculously heavy speaker cable. I made this out of Mogami 12 AWG cable with a super thick shell and Switchcraft oversized plugs. I still had to grind out the plug openings a bit to make the cable fit them. I could likely push at least 500 watts though this cable. I’m pushing 5 watts with the Blackstar. Call me the king of overkill.

locking jack

This is the Neutrik locking 1/4 inch jack. Also notice the plate I had made up so you know exactly what wattage and impedance the cab is. I hate it when manufacturers don’t label these things clearly.

Cover 1

Here are the custom covers we made up. It’s been ages since I sewed anything. My mother on the other hand, has started making everything from quilts to pocket books for people. So of course she decided to volunteer for this project. We went to the Fabric Warehouse in Waynesboro and bought some perforated vinyl at a great price. Thanks Denise!

I had my doubts about my mother’s abilities with this material. Unfortunately, I was correct to be worried. She did the best she could but she’s never worked with this type of vinyl before and her seams aren’t the best to begin with. They look okay from afar but up close they show some issues.

Cover 2

The head cover isn’t too bad. She got the seams pretty straight and the proportions weren’t bad.

Cover 3

The cabinet was a different story. There was a lot more material to handle and it kept moving on her during the actual sewing. As you can see she has issues with the proportions and her seams weren’t so good here. There is some puckering as well. This is after we attempted to fix it once. We may make another attempt but now that the sides are sewn it may be impossible to fix without ripping it all apart. She said it about drove her crazy working with it so it might be a while before any fixes are considered. I may have to try my hand at sewing it myself. I’m not looking forward to it though.

Conclusion

That wraps it up for now. We may build another one of these in the future with a straight face and make a mini stack out of it. This will do for now though. It’s sounds decent for an amateur cab with a low dollar head on it.

Making Your Own Instrument Cables – Part 2

Updated Information

This is an update with alternate methods of crimping from the original instrument cable article. This project has been moved to the Darkling Designs Website.

Please click the following link to view the full guide: http://darkling.poppameth.com/making-your-own-instrument-cables-part-2/