Friday, December 04, 2020

The Double Neck Guitar is Finished!

The idea of a double neck bass/guitar is something I've been interested in for a while. I've built a lot of kits over the last couple of years and I decided this would be the last 'kit' I did, before I moved on to trying to make my own bodies and eventually necks as well. This is a much more difficult kit than the usually ones, due to size and the addition of another guitar neck, as well as the associated wiring and pickups.

So understand that before you get into it. Especially if you plan on customizing it like I did.

Now the schematics I got for this originally had both necks always 'on' (or 'live') and the two switches were each three-way pickup selectors. I didn't like that setup so I made a number of changes in the wiring.

First I took the upper switch and made that a selector for which neck was live/on. You could do 'Bass - Both - Guitar', depending on the position of that three-position switch. I left the bottom three-position switch on the guitar to its normal 'Bridge - Both - Neck' selection. However, the selector switch that was in my kit was a five way, which I didn't care for. So I replaced it with an actual three-way. While functionally the same, I didn't like having two positions that were neck only, and two that were bridge only - which is how you had to wire up the five-way to make it work.

Second I had to change the Volume / Tone pots to deal with the new switching set up. The initial design was one volume, one tone, for each neck. I wanted to have separate volume controls for each pickup, not unlike most Les Paul's, so what I ended up doing was buying four 'stacked' pots. Each pot has two knobs. The inner one is volume, the outer one I wired for tone. So every pickup now has an individual volume and tone control. This made the wiring a little more involved, especially as the outputs from each neck had to go through the selector control between the necks.

The third major change I made was I added a second stereo type output jack. The main jack only puts out whatever you have the neck selector switch set to, while the stereo jack always puts the guitar pickups out on one channel and the bass pickups on a second channel. Each channel is always 'live'. This would allow you to wire two different amplifier stacks, simultaneously. Otherwise you'd need an A/B foot switch (you do NOT want to run a bass through a guitar stack; you can blow out the amp with the lower bass frequencies).

The paint job is a metallic water-based paint. I shot two coats. On top of that I shot 15 coats of clear gloss (water based) - except for the back of the necks, I shot clear satin on those (I find a gloss finish to be too sticky when playing). I do believe I should have used four coats of grain filler instead of just two, I think the back would have looked nicer, it is a huge piece of wood.

I used conductive paint in ALL of the cavities. I hate hum and the stuff works. I put copper foil on the back of the plastic cover plates and made sure everything was well grounded.

I used Teak oil on the fretboards - three coats.

The frets did need a fair deal of leveling. They weren't pressed in very consistently from side to side either. I have a leveling bar, which makes the process a lot easier. But then you have to recrown, and  polish, all those frets. Which is this case was like 48 frets.

I don't put the truss rod covers on for about a month or two, because the necks do need time to settle in.



The holes for the wire routing coming out of the pickup cavities are too 'high' in some cases. Especially with the extra wiring I was running. So I had to widen some of those holes and make them 'lower' so I wouldn't have to worry about the pickups interfering with the wiring and vice-versa.

The small pilot holes for the tuner machines on the guitar neck are really poorly placed. It would have been better not for them to have been drilled at all, as they weren't uniform, which means the tuners don't exactly line up. I could have done those better myself.

One of the bass pickups was bad (South pole bar coil blown). This one took me a long time to track down (weeks) - I thought I had mis-wired something. Soapbar pickups are also Expensive! $300 is about what you're going to pay for a pair. Fortunately I found a pair of Seymour Duncan's on sale during Black Friday, so I only had to pay about a hundred bucks for a new set. (I have S & D on most of my basses). Part of what made it hard to find a replacement for them is that the size of the soapbar pickups on this bass is NOT one of the standard sizes. It's more like a 5-string size.

I also didn't like the way the bass pickups are routed through the guitar pickup cavity. It made changing bass pickups with the strings on really challenging. If I were to do it again, I'd drill a separate passage.


In General:

I would definitely rate this bass/guitar double neck as one of the harder kits. Especially if you're planning on changing the way it works. I bought this back around May of this year, but I had three other guitars to do first: two Les Paul's from kits (6 & 12 string with after market pickups and pots), and a custom Jazz Master that wasn't from a kit that required very special parts and wiring.

A good deal of what slowed me down was waiting for the switch and pots I ordered after deciding to change the way it was wired. The entire thing was finished end of October and then I spent weeks trying to figure out what was wrong with the bass until I finally took out the pickups and found one had a blown coil. Then I sat on it for weeks more until I found replacement soapbar pickups on a Black Friday sale and then had to wait for them.

I may upgrade the guitar pickups as well, seeing as I just put a much better set of bass pickups in it, but for now I think this is enough.

I also put D'Addario strings on both necks and not the strings that came with the kit. I like flat-wounds on my basses these days, and the D'Addario guitar strings are worth the money as well. 

Edited to add: I just discovered that the nut on the guitar is bad. The high E slot was cut too deep and now it buzzes on the first fret. So I need to buy a new nut and replace it. Not happy about that, replacing nuts is a pain in the ass. This thing has had MORE problems, all due to shoddy manufacturing. This is why I won't be making any more chinese kits.



Thursday, November 19, 2020

This is why I'm getting out of Audiobooks

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

The Double Neck

 I didn't want to listen to any news today, so staying away from the computer seemed like a good idea. 

Instead I spent the day in my shop working on the Bass/Guitar double neck. At this point I'm just waiting for the dual volume / tone pots (I ordered four so each pickup gets it's own). And the stereo jack. This guitar will have two jacks: The first one is a mono jack and you use the selector switch on the guitar to choose between bass or guitar. The second one will be a stereo jack, where both outputs are live all the time: One channel will be Guitar the other will be Bass. This way you can use separate amplifier stacks. 

Here's what it looks like at this point, without strings or the pots:

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Book 3 of Dan's Inferno is on Amazon

 So yes, in a day that's been 2020 encapsulated, at least there is one good thing! My latest book under my pen name, Jan Stryvant, is now live!

Dan's Inferno, Book III - Heritage


Here's a pick of the cover (one of these days I'll figure out how to make them linkable again - blogger changed UI's a few months ago).


Friday, October 23, 2020

Audio Version of TakeTwo now available on Audible

That's right! The audioversion of TakeTwo, read by the esteemed Andrea Parsneau is now available for sale on Audible. 

Link -> TakeTwo 

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Tales Around the Supper Table

 Hey everyone, I've got a short story in this anthology that just came out: Tales Around the Supper Table

This is an anthology of Texas Authors edited and published by my friend Jim Curtis (Old NFO). All of the authors in this book are friends of mine and they're all very good writers. The current series 'Dan's Inferno' actually started out as the short I was going to submit until it ... sorta got away from me and well, I wrote something else :-)

There really isn't any central 'theme' to the anthology, but there are a lot of good stories in it, so by all means go take a peek!



Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Double Neck Bass / Guitar

So yesterday I took the body off the stand and took a couple of pictures. On the first one, you can see that there is a fair deal of orange peel on the body. That's because it needs to be level sanded, and then polished. Not sure when I'll get started on that, maybe sometime during the evenings in the coming week. On a body that big, that's going to be a long job.

The back of the necks are completely finished. Because they're a satin finish (as I've mentioned before I hate gloss on necks, it makes your thumb and hand stick, they don't slide as well). I also need to level all of the frets. The guitar frets have issues as you move up the neck (away from the pegs) the bass a little as well. Now that I have a leveling bar, the leveling goes a lot faster and is easier. Recrowning and polishing though still take some time.

I also posted a picture down below with the necks set in place, just to give a few ideas of what the finished product will look like. The bass pickups on this one are 'Soapbar' pickups and I was looking to get higher quality ones, but Soapbar pickups are over a hundred dollars a piece! I don't know if I want to go that route on this one. I may see if someone makes any kind of 'adapter' so I can put a different style pickup in there, but I'll probably just go with the cheap ones that came with the kit and upgrade later if I don't like the sound.

The guitar pickups are regular humbuckers and I think I'll probably go with the kit ones for now and change them later if I don't like them. I'm still thinking of changing the wiring and I've figured out two options, both of which involve replacing the pots that came with the kit with dual pots, so regardless of selector position, the pots will always be directly wired to the pickups. Basically each pot would control two pickups. The choice right now is one knob or two concentric knobs. With one, the pots are physically slaved together. With two, you can adjust them independently. I'm leaning towards the second option. 

Right now I suspect I won't have this one finished until the end of October, soonest. Then I'm going to see about getting a planer / joiner and a bandsaw and see about making the bodies at least, from scratch.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Dan's Inferno, Book II is now live!


Sorry I didn't post this earlier, but I had to run into town this morning for a meeting and it slipped my mind when I got back.

But Dan's Inferno: Book II - BeDeviled, is now live on Amazon!





Saturday, September 19, 2020

Finished the Clearcoat

I don't have any good pictures right now, not any that would really do it any justice at least, (the one on this post is after only 5 coats), but I finished the clear coat on the new guitar. 15 coats of gloss on the body, ten on the paddle (that's end of the neck where the tuners go) and six satin on the neck. 

Tomorrow I'll take it off the stand and hang it someplace out of the way for a week or so. At some point I need to check all the frets and see which ones need leveling, crowning, edges rounded off, etc. I also need to oil the fretboards. Those will get about three coats of Teak oil. 

At some point I should probably order new pickups for it. Put something better than the ones that came with it, as they're undoubtedly cheap ones. I'm debating drilling a second pickup jack in it as well. Right now the design calls for a selector switch, that lets you pick bass or guitar. I'm debating a dedicated bass jack, which would allow for separate amp setups. You really don't want to run a bass through most guitar amps, as they have a tendency to destroy them. But if I do that, then I have to redesign the volume controls as well. So still just a thought.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Now it has paint...


I'll start clear coating later in the week, maybe over the weekend. That takes about 3 days (five coats a day for three days). Then it sits for a week or so to cure. The back of the necks get satin finish, the rest is gloss. The reason for that is gloss finishes have a tendency to stick to your fingers and your hand doesn't slide up and down them as well as on a satin finish.

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Next Guitar Project

 Normally I post these on Facebook, but I'm trying to avoid that for a while. For those that follow me there, you know I build guitars as a hobby. Normally I either buy a Chinese made 'Kit' or I buy a body and a neck from places like Warmoth and I pick up the rest of the parts myself from various places.

I then paint and finish it, then install everything. This isn't just a simple matter of spraying it with paint and bolting it together, there's actually a fair deal of work to do and mine tend to have a high gloss finish when done. There's also a lot of set up that goes into a guitar after it's assembled due to the tension of the strings, and what kind of 'action' you want on it.

Today I started which may be the last of the 'kit' guitars. I really want to start making my own necks and bodies. I think I'll start buying equipment for that soon (Planer / Joiner and a band saw mostly). The reasons for doing that is I can now put a 'kit' together in a month or less (usually less, a lot less) and this is a hobby that I want to take up time. So if I start making those parts, it will increase the time of each build. 

This current project is a double neck guitar. 6 string and bass. I laid the first coat of paint down on it today. I'll spray the second coat tomorrow. There was one 'oops' with the headstock on the bass, but I can clean that up tomorrow when a respray. The necks are almost perfect with one coat. The body is going to take a second coat. This whole thing is so big that I used up almost an entire bottle of paint on it (they're small bottles, and usually one will paint about two - plus I normally -don't- paint the necks). 

I'll post some more pics after the painting is finished. But here's a picture of it before any work is done:

Thursday, September 03, 2020

No, I have no idea why POI#8 (The Seven Worlds) is being blocked by Amazon

 And I have NO IDEA when it will be allowed for sale again, if ever.

I called them up and all they know is that they have their thumb up their ass and that's about it.

Normally when there are 'quality issues' you get a warning. Well they didn't give me one, they just pulled the book. (and the pulled it last night because there weren't any issues when I was there last night looking at other stuff). So I fixed the issues and re-uploaded around 9am today, and they TOLD me it was back up for sale 4 hours later, but it wasn't.

Again, I called them, they didn't do shit because customer support at Amazon now is in India and they don't know anything about Amazon and can't do anything either. All they do is make excuses and tell you that they can't do anything.

So I don't know when the book will be back on sale.

EDIT: It finally went back up, after 24 hours. NOW they're telling me I need to add a logical table of contents (this is something they started forcing on people a few years ago). Problem is -> The book already has a logical table of contents. 

So yeah, I'm being harassed for some reason. Maybe because I bitched that the quality department wasn't doing their damn job and just left me hanging for a day?