Thursday, April 18, 2013

Silencing The Hum From A Very Noisy Squier

A customer wanted vintage pickups installed is his not-so-vintage Squier.  The neck, middle, and bridge pickups he gave to install had been taken off of a 1964 Strat.  They were in great shape and even came with the original capacitor.

But before I started the task of replacing the pickups I plugged it in and played it a bit.  It had a pretty nasty hum....well into the unacceptable range.

Below is a not very good pic of the Squier's innards.  A quick examination showed the likely cause of the annoying shielding in the pickup or pot pockets, unshielded signal wires, and minimal shielding on the underside of the pick guard....not to mention a few suspicious looking solder joints.

I'm a big fan of using conductive paint to shield the pockets of a electric like this one.  It's fast, neat, and from my experience, very effective.   Below is a pic of how I masked the Squier before applying the conductive coating to the bottom and sides of the pockets.  I also thoroughly cleaned the pockets of dust, debris, and finger oils in order to get the best possible adhesion.

Here's what the Squier looks like after 3 coats of the conductive coating.  A quick visual inspection and check with the multimeter shows that every surface, side, nook and cranny of the pockets are electrically connected.  That's what we wanted in order to have the best possible chance of silencing the hum.

If you look closely, this pic shows how I connected the newly conductive pockets to ground.  I used a small wood screw through a star washer and soldering terminal to get a solid well-gripping connection.

To complete the shielding portion of this job, I lined the entire underside of the pick guard with conductive foil and I replace all the unshielded signal wires exiting the cavities with shielded ones.  And I upgrade the 5-position switch...the original was a bit flakey....even the smallest amount of side pressure caused the pickup signal to cut out.  One last thing...I re-soldered all the cold looking joints just to be on the safe side.

I put it all back together with the vintage pickups installed, strung it up, tuned it up, and plugged it in.  Wow, what a difference.  Absolutely no hum and the new old pickups sound awesome.  I think this customer will be very pleased.

Stay Tuned.....

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bringing out the Banjo

It's been a while since I played any 5-string banjo but there's a chance that I'll join in with a local group performing at a party in our neighborhood next weekend. So, I pulled out my very old Stew Mac parts banjo, which I built nearly 40 years ago, out of its case to dust it off and tune it up.

It still sounds and plays great... but I'm very rusty.

Here are a few pictures... one day I'll do some inlay in the fret board.

Stay Tuned...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

2013 Update

A lot has been happening over the course of the last several months.

1. I am building a new shop.

Location of new shop, getting started

2. I got my own official shop dog named Jethro.

Jethro, the sleepy new edition to Left Brain Guitar Repair

3. There have been several guitars that I have worked on over the last few months, more on that to come soon.

Stay Tuned...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Have I Gone Viral Yet?

As the final step to complete the Left Brain Guitar Repair website I wanted to include a video to give you all an idea of what I do in the shop every day when working on your guitars.

We set up a a video camera in the corner of the shop and recorded a full day of work on an Alvarez 12-String. After the video was done, we sped it up it to give you a 3 minute version of what we do all day, added some great music, and put it on YouTube for everyone to see.

I call this A Day In the Life of A Luthier at Left Brain Guitar Repair.

Stay Tuned...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Shop Dog - Bailey

We have a shop dog visiting for the weekend! She is my daughter's dog, but she has been spending more and more time with me lately... and when she does, she spends the whole day with me in the shop.

She lays around watching me work, keeping an eye out for visitors, and relaxing on the floor and out in the sun.

If you come to visit the shop you will certainly get to meet my 4 legged companion.

Bailey on the porch

Bailey laying in her beanbag outside of the shop

Bailey laying in her beanbag, again, outside of the shop