ThePearDream's Project Thread

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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by ThePearDream » Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:07 am

I have a few projects to update.

1. Last month I had posted to The ARIA 1802t/1803t - EPIPHONE ET 270 DATABASE thread about a Domino Olympic that I purchased. Since then I've done a fair amount of work on it.

From the information available on the web, my best guess on the year of this guitar is 1969. This would mean it predates the Aria/Epiphone versions by a few years.

I popped the neck off to do a refret. Here was the marking on the heel. I have no clue what it says. I took one semester of Japanese in grade 9, skipped half of the classes, and got an F minus minus minus.
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Starting to take the frets off:
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The wood was pretty dry and fragile, so there were a few minor chips. The worst was by the 15th fret. But even this one was minor. I resurfaced the board and sanded up to 12,000 grit. I found it interesting that the two dots at the 12th fret are smaller than the rest.
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Then it got a fresh set of frets with a level, crown, and polish and a few applications of StewMac fretboard oil (which is the only oil I've tried that doesn't turn waxy in a few weeks). I also replaced the plastic nut shimmed with paper and super glue with a proper bone nut and found a replacement for the missing headstock badge.
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I disassembled the tuners, gave them a cleaning and lube then reinstalled them. A few weeks of playing with the tuners convinced me that they needed upgrading though. The G tuner was so stiff that I had to use my string winder when tuning.

Since the tuners have a Schaller type F mount screw pattern, I tried looking for Kluson Revolution F-mount tuners without a collar. The only ones I could find anywhere were in gold though. Ultimately, I ended up purchasing a set of the collared models, which required opening up the holes in the headstock. I was reluctant to make a permanent mod to a 50 year old guitar, but in the end functionality trumps everything else. But, the button style is the same, the bushings look almost the same and the screw pattern is the same.

The original tuners were installed a bit wonky, so I plugged the screw holes to get a fresh surface for mounting the new tuners. No pics of the new tuners, but they make a huge difference to the usability.
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On to the body.

Here is a comparison between an 80s MIJ strat pickup on the left and the Domino pickups on the right:
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The Domino are slightly wider, being in between a strat and tele bridge in the width of the bobbin. The Domino are significantly taller though (around 50%). The poles are clearly smaller as well. I measured the bridge pickup at around 10k. I wasn't able to get a reading from the neck, but it is definitely functional.

This guitar should have had pickup covers originally, which are now missing. So I drew up some new covers and had them 3D printed. The originals would have had holes for the pole pieces I believe, but I chose to do a closed cover.

Here are the custom covers next to a strat cover.

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Then I rewired everything. None of the pots or switches were original, so used all new parts. Currently it has just one three-way lever switch for the neck and bridge. The middle pickup is a dead strat pickup that is just there to fill the hole for now. Each pickup has a tone knob and there is a strangle switch.

I am considering a few options for the missing middle pickup.
  1. A custom pickup to match the other two
  2. An off the shelf pickup with a custom printed cover to make it look like the other two
  3. A surface mounted pickup like a gold foil
The last few things I've done are to purchase a reproduction trem arm, put a stainless washer under the jack, and replace the flat head intonation screws. It's worth noting here that the roller bridge has metal rollers rather than the plastic used on some other versions of this shape.

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This thing is playing and sounding awesome now. The pickups, despite the high reading, are nice and bright without muddiness, but have a good midrange grittyness. When I put them through my Topanga they really nail that garage-y/surf-y Man or Astroman? sound that I love. This was a steal for $200!

What's next?

I'm going to keep things as they are through the winter. In the spring I'll work on removing the bad maroon finish. I did a test scraping on the rear and I believe the original (laquer!) finish may be able to be saved, provided the person who did the refinish didn't really mess up the edges or corners.

The original finish is a faded fiesta/coral type of color
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It would have looked like the Domino Spartan shown below:
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If the original finish is too messed up or if I damage it too much while removing the maroon, I'm leaning towards a Daphne blue color as seen on the Olympic below:
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Finally, I need to source originals of and/or reproduce the truss rod, neck screw, and jack cavity covers.

2. The Talman refinish is complete and reassembled. I need to get good pics taken, but it looks great.

3. The Mahogany Blaster build hasn't had any progress. I have a neck, but need to wait on good weather to paint the headstock black. I also need a name so I can order or make a decal.

4. I have a new updated take on the shape I've been prototyping. I'm planning to do a quick build of this version in the coming months. I have most of the parts on hand already, and just need to make the body and pickguard. It will be ash with a clear finish and a black acrylic guard.

As previously mentioned, this is inspired by Gibson's experimental late 50s shapes, the St. Vincent signature, Brutalist architecture and my perennial inspiration - Bauhaus design. It has no complex curves, using only simple arcs and a handful of straight lines where necessary. I've been thinking about an offset tele build for awhile, but had trouble settling on an existing shape and decided to come back to this one (it's not easy to tell, but the waist is offset 13°). It's tele-ness should be apparent, but the only tele part is actually uses is the bridge.

Image

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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by loveinathens » Wed Nov 27, 2019 3:46 am

Omg I thought that brutalist Tele thing was a Millimetric at first!

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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by ThePearDream » Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:39 am

loveinathens wrote:
Wed Nov 27, 2019 3:46 am
Omg I thought that brutalist Tele thing was a Millimetric at first!
You flatter me sir. I'm a fan of the Millimetric aesthetic, but am nowhere near that level yet.

I took advantage of a Black Friday deal that Ponoko is running to get some templates and parts laser cut. Their new pricing structure is great. You no longer need to purchase an entire sheet of material, just the portion being used. The old pricing wasn't a big deal for mdf or acrylic, but it made metal parts prohibitively priced, requiring you to pay hundreds just for a sheet - plus the cost of laser time. With the new format, I was able to get the control plate cut from stainless for just under $30. In addition, there was a multi-part discount and a 25% off Black Friday discount.

Because the neck I'm using for this project already has a decal, this tele-ish thing is named "Eradicator!"

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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by loveinathens » Sat Nov 30, 2019 4:42 pm

ThePearDream wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:39 am
loveinathens wrote:
Wed Nov 27, 2019 3:46 am
Omg I thought that brutalist Tele thing was a Millimetric at first!
You flatter me sir. I'm a fan of the Millimetric aesthetic, but am nowhere near that level yet.

I took advantage of a Black Friday deal that Ponoko is running to get some templates and parts laser cut. Their new pricing structure is great. You no longer need to purchase an entire sheet of material, just the portion being used. The old pricing wasn't a big deal for mdf or acrylic, but it made metal parts prohibitively priced, requiring you to pay hundreds just for a sheet - plus the cost of laser time. With the new format, I was able to get the control plate cut from stainless for just under $30. In addition, there was a multi-part discount and a 25% off Black Friday discount.

Because the neck I'm using for this project already has a decal, this tele-ish thing is named "Eradicator!"
I'm loving the reference! Also, holy shit I didn't know Ponoko stuff was this much more accessible now! Gotta check for plates.

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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by tribi9 » Wed Dec 11, 2019 8:08 pm

ThePearDream wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:07 am
I have a few projects to update.

1. Last month I had posted to The ARIA 1802t/1803t - EPIPHONE ET 270 DATABASE thread about a Domino Olympic that I purchased. Since then I've done a fair amount of work on it.

From the information available on the web, my best guess on the year of this guitar is 1969. This would mean it predates the Aria/Epiphone versions by a few years.

I popped the neck off to do a refret. Here was the marking on the heel. I have no clue what it says. I took one semester of Japanese in grade 9, skipped half of the classes, and got an F minus minus minus.
Image
Your neck says Zhonghua, the symbol for China.

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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by ThePearDream » Thu Dec 12, 2019 7:21 am

tribi9 wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 8:08 pm
ThePearDream wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:07 am
Image
Your neck says Zhonghua, the symbol for China.
I appreciate the input. I don't think that is correct though. It does look like the first character in Zhonghua (中华). The second character is missing though. In addition, there is the extra stroke on the bottom right of 中. I'm not sure if the extra stroke should be connected or not (maybe there was poor ink transfer from the stamp), or if it is just the corner of the stamp. The closest characters I can find are:

虫 meaning insect or bug
史 meaning history, or the proper name of "Hiroshi"
or ignoring the extra stroke, 中 by itself, which could mean all sorts of things, middle, average, the surname of "Naka", the proper name of "Ataru".

Of course this would be simpler to figure out if anyone else had every taken pics of the markings on one of these, but I haven't been able to find anything else out there. At the end of the day though, it's past doesn't really matter, only it's present state does.

I was being a bit self deprecating earlier. My knowledge of Japanese is indeed pretty rudimentary. But, in a previous life I was a military cryptologist/linguist/analyst, so these kinds of puzzles aren't totally foreign to me. *rimshot*

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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by tribi9 » Thu Dec 12, 2019 2:26 pm

I don't think that's an extra stroke on the bottom, but instead the corner of the stamp too. But who knows and its one of your other guesses? It could be the last name of the guy that put it together.

The character is half of Zhonghua in Chinese, but Kanji uses the same symbols. So if the guitar was made in Japan then yes, it will mean something else.

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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by ThePearDream » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:03 am

Holy cow, two months since I've updated this thread. I have been working on a few things though. I recently bought a cheap photo backdrop/lighting setup so I could take some decent pictures of a few guitars I'm selling. While I had it set up this weekend I took some pics of recent projects.

This thing has been done for a month or so now. It's not the prettiest piece of ash, but I wasn't aiming for beauty. It is super comfortable sitting and standing and with a slightly heavier body it balances better now - total weight is around 8 3/4 lbs. I did a quick finish with 4-5 coats of water based poly and a rub down with synthetic steel wool for a satin look to contrast the high gloss acrylic pickguard. I ended up buying new pickups from Bootstrap, rather than reusing some I already had. Neck is a Squeaky Clean P90 (very Jazzmastery), bridge is an Original Recipe (51 style). I'm really happy with the control locations. The tele neck doesn't look right with the body though, so I'm planning to switch that out in the near future.

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I also grabbed some better pics of the previous guitar's mate. This also has a Squeaky Clean P90 neck, with a no-name p90 bridge and is tuned to open C.

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Also, I hadn't posted any pics of this thing all finished up yet. This is likely the final version of this multi-phased project. The vibrato plate is laser cut from my own design, I believe I posted it earlier in this thread. The vibrato guts are from an import model. The arm was cut down shorter and a new tip was installed.
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Better pics of this too:
My rotary switch crapped out pretty quickly, so I replaced it with a simple toggle. I'm not missing the OOP setting, so no big deal.
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This shows how goofy the tuner holes were drilled on this Chinese neck.
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Lastly, some quick updates on what has become my most played guitar since I built it. I swapped out the Squier VMJM pickups for a set of Bootstrap Lake Surfers. I'm really happy with these pickups for this guitar, they're very versatile. I also changed the value of the resistor and changed the switch to one with a red cap on my experimental rhythm circuit switch (located between the tone knob and jack). Lastly, I upgraded the cheap Chinese locking tuners to Gotohs. I know this thing isn't for purists, but between JM pickups, a lightweight body, a perfect neck, and rock solid tuning, it is such a joy to play. The wear I've put on the fretboard in 2-1/2 years is a testament to that.
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The body has been collecting some wear as well, with multiple dings and lots of finish checking:
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Actually lastly, I'll just drop this here without (much) comment, 3D print vs original:
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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by Rgand » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:14 am

Well! Good pictures of some fine guitars. :w00t:

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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by ThePearDream » Sat Feb 22, 2020 10:45 am

Thank you very much Rgand!

In regards to the the final pic on my last post. Those would be covers for Yamaha SG2 pickups. OSGer and fellow Coloradan Sonicchris and I did some good old fashioned bartering and I created a 3D model from a partially melted vintage cover in exchange for a set of templates made from one of his SG2s. I have to say these templates are super nice and professional looking. My skills aren't currently up to par to be making the neck portion, not yet at least. So, these will go on the shelf for a little while, until I can make a decent neck. That said, If anybody is looking for a replica SG2 or SG3, contact Sonicchris, not me. I've never seen one of these in person, while he has and currently owns multiple. He is also a much more experienced builder than I am. I will gladly let you buy some of my 3D printed covers though and have some of the SG3 and SG12 double covers ready to be printed as well. I won't post to my shop in this section of the site though.

I have no definite plans for these yet, but stay tuned.

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Speaking of necks, I had started building one last fall. I had ran into some problems while thinning the headstock, first with my bandsaw, then again with my ROSS. I thought it was a lost cause, but I believe I found a way to save it. It required rethinking and minimizing the headstock shape. I think this shape will work on my sticker bomb prototype shape. I will paint the headstock white to hide the extensive screwups. Considering that that body was also patched up multiple times, it's a fitting pairing. I think I did a really nice job on the back carve though.

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I have 4-5 neck and fretboard blanks in my shop ready to go. Maybe by the time I go through them all, I'll be ready to tackle the SG2 project.

I also have this body arriving today:

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Brand new CV Jazzmaster body, 4lbs poplar.
This will be getting a Charcoal frost refinish to replace my soon to be sold CFM strat and my baritone neck will move from my Sonic Blue body to this one.

I'm not sure which way to go with the pickguard, parchment, black, or tort.
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I'm leaning toward black. Maybe a cool Decoboom guard?
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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by Rgand » Sat Feb 22, 2020 11:04 am

Interesting stuff, here. Nice job of minimizing the headstock on that neck you made. A painted headstock will add to the guitar it goes on.

On your JM, the black PG is too dark and the Tort is too bright. Can you find a darker tort to put on there?

That's a nice set of templates. I look forward to seeing you make that one.

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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by ThePearDream » Sat Feb 22, 2020 11:12 am

That's just the dressing room tort, I would look for something darker if I went that way.

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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by Rgand » Sat Feb 22, 2020 11:25 am

ThePearDream wrote:
Sat Feb 22, 2020 11:12 am
That's just the dressing room tort, I would look for something darker if I went that way.
That would be perfect.

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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by ThePearDream » Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:38 am

Another month gone by? Nevertheless things are progressing here despite pandemic conditions.

For the baritone Jazzmaster body, I have two cans of Dupli-color graphite metallic standing by, waiting for some consistently good spraying weather. I managed to snag a Classic Vibe Tort pickguard for a reasonable price, so it has a perfect fit and is a decent looking, dark tort. I also grabbed a set of SQJMJM pickups, just to get the bridge pickup, so I can pair it with a SMVMJM neck pickup. My sticker bomb Open C guitar has a similar combo of an A90 neck and P90 bridge that works really well together and I think it will work well in the baritone as well. Also, I am heavily considering adding a lipstick pickup in the middle position.

I am about ready to double down on my neck building efforts. I designed a jig to help me with radiusing boards. I had some portions laser cut to use as routing templates so I could recreate them from better materials and also had some acrylic laser cut for a custom router base. I also have a fret slotting miter box ready to go, along with a full set of templates from Faction. I have five maple blanks ready to go along with five fretboards (2 katalox, 1 maple, 1 granadillo, and 1 pau ferro). I'm not particularly interested in making a maple/rosewood strat neck or other easily available neck types. I want to learn this so I can build odd scales or use less common and/or sustainable materials.

This last week I took my Domino apart and have removed all of the Maroon finish. Unfortunately the original finish is not in a state to be restored :( . There was too much sand through on the edges. So, I will be giving it a new finish. After seeing the rear covered with the original coral color, I think I'll keep it as close to that as I can.

For the mahogany Talman/Jazzblaster I also made progress. I finally ordered a neck decal last month and got that applied. I just need to wrap up the finishing and order pickups.

Lastly, I just wrapped up a few pedals. A few years back I attempted and failed to build a Tube Screamer from a kit. The instructions were really vague and the components were cheap. Fast forward a few years and I decided to try again with a better quality kit from Aion Electronics. So a few weeks ago I successfully built their Rat clone and I'm really happy with it. The enclosure looks professional, the components were high quality, and the instructions were clear. When I ordered the kit, I went ahead and ordered a few pcbs at the same time. Yesterday, I completed two builds using Aion pcbs and am really excited about them. I used powdercoated enclosures from Tayda and created/stole all of the graphics myself in Inkscape.

First is a Naga Viper clone:

They called it the Hydra, and I'm calling mine "Gorgon Boost"
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Second is an EP3 preamp:

The text is a portion of cypher text from Kryptos
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Since they were running a sale this weekend, and I expect to be staying in for a while, I ordered four more pcbs: a Tremulus Lune, a Manx Loaghtan clone, a Centaur clone, and a Foxx Tone machine clone. I already have graphics ideas for 3 of the four.

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Re: ThePearDream's Project Thread

Post by ThePearDream » Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:25 am

I finished up my fretboard radius jigs yesterday. Shown here is the 9.5" sled and a flat sled (primarily for thinning the headstock), I also have a 7.25" sled. I will probably remake them from 3/4" mdf later, but I only had 1/2" on hand and this didn't seem important enough to be going out in the middle of a pandemic.
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I tested it out on a piece of Katalox and it worked really well. Except for a small goof from not using enough double stick tape, the board came out close to perfect. 2-3 minutes of sanding with a radius block and it was ready for fret slotting. So, I set up my new fret slotting jig and after 15-20 minutes I had the board slotted for 25.5".
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I'm really thrilled with how well things turned out. My only complaint is that I was out of dust masks and they are hard to find right now - so I inhaled a bit of Katalox dust, which definitely irritated my throat and sinuses. I guess I should have at least put on a bandana or something - lesson learned though.

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