Category Archives: fender

The Jazzmaster!

jazzmaster

It works now.

Maury filed down the bad frets (there were a lot of them) and dressed all of them, tweaked the truss rod and cleaned the fretboard. I installed the new Mastery bridge yesterday and it’s a completely different animal now.

I still need to change out the tone control. The stock pot is a 1M value, and that lets way too much treble through when it’s wide open. This guitar was originally designed to play surf music, so the icepick treble kinda makes sense, but not for what I want to do. I’ll probably drop it down to 250k, which is the standard for single coils.

Bassman demo

Here’s a quick demo, just to whet your appetites. This amp needs some TLC (scratchy pots, noisy switches, old filter caps), but it still sounds pretty great. The first half of the track is on the normal channel. At around the 1:24 mark I jumper in the bass channel to add some low and mid-bass frequencies. I haven’t been able to get the volume past 3 yet – it has the capacity to get really, really loud.

Once again, I’m using my G&L ASAT Bluesboy w/Lollars, both pickups engaged (until the very end, where I switch to the neck pickup for the jazzy stuff). Guitar – cord – amp. No effects.

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Telecasters

For a long time now, a telecaster has been on my want list. It hasn’t been high on the list until lately. A Les Paul took the top slot on that list up until I was able to check that box off a couple of years ago. I have been looking at teles for a while now, and I think that I have decided on the one that I want.

My big gripe with teles is that the two pickups are pretty unbalanced. The bridge pickup is big and beefy and the neck is thin and anemic. Going into the tele hunt, I knew that I wouldn’t want a traditional tele pickup in the neck spot. I want either a humbucker or P-90 style pickup. I’m a fan of humbuckers but I already have a Les Paul, and I want something decidedly different. I’m afraid that the hb just wouldn’t sound like a tele anymore. I’m leaning toward the P-90, which is basically a fat single coil.

Unfortunately, Fender doesn’t really have a P-90 option that still looks like a traditional tele. I have pretty much decided to go with a G&L at this point. G&L is the company started by Leo Fender after he left Fender Musical Instruments. According to many people, Leo got it right the second time. Anyway, the guitar that I’m looking at now is the ASAT Classic Custom. It has a P-90 in the neck and a tele bridge pickup. It comes with the option of a solid or chambered body, and I’m still undecided about that. I’m leaning toward chambered, but I go back and forth. I’m also inclined to stick with a rosewood fretboard, since I’ve never used anything else.

Anyone care to chime in?

More Stulce Clips

I recorded some more clips of the Stulce, this time with my strat. I played with the lower gain settings more this time so that you can see that this amp is not a one trick pony. On these clips, I’m using my ’94 American Standard Strat. I’m sticking with positions 5 and 4 (neck and neck/middle) throughout.

Setting 1: gains at 9:00
This is a very clean tone, even when you hit the strings really hard. The tone is really full and lively. At the :44 mark I step on my Tube Screamer clone (currently using mosfets, germanium and 1N4148 diodes for clipping) so that you can hear how the amp takes pedals. I have the pedal set with the gain at 9:00, the level at 3:00, and the tone is neutral.

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Setting 2: Gain 1 at 11:00, Gain 2 at 9:00
Raising the level of the first gain stage gives us a little more breakup, but it’s still pretty clean.

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Here’s the same amp setting with the TS (same settings as last time).

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Setting 3: Gain 1 at 9:00, Gain 2 at 11:00
This time, I reversed the gain settings from clip 2. This setting sounds a little cleaner than clip 2 to my ears.

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Setting 4: Both Gains at 12:00
It’s starting to get pretty crunchy with this setting, but it’s still very touch-sensitive and cleans up well.

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Setting 5: Gain 1 at 12:00, Gain 2 at 2:00
Crunchier still. It cleans up a little, but not quite as much (listen to the arpeggios at 1:30). I really like this setting on this guitar. The Hendrix-style double stops at :55 sound really cool on this clip, IMO.

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Setting 6: Both Gains at 2:00
This setting is getting to be a little too saturated for my tastes – at least with this guitar and these pickups. This guitar just can’t really handle very much gain without getting pretty muddy.

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Rewiring the Strat

I spent some time this afternoon completely rewiring my strat. I took all the pots out and started from scratch.

It turns out that I was using 500k pots for my volume and tone controls. For a strat, this is way too bright, so I soldered a resistor across lugs 1 and 3, bringing it down to a little under 300k. I used those two pots for the tone controls and used a 250k pot (which actually metered at around 240k) that I had lying around for the volume.

The wiring/soldering is much cleaner now. I separated the ground wires from the wires that actually carry the signal, shortened them, and used wire ties to clean everything up. It looks more professional and, unsurprisingly, sounds less noisy now.

I still need to do the treble bleed mod, but I don’t have any .001uF caps at the moment. I’ll need to remember to order one next time I place an order for pedal parts. This is a really important thing to do, because prevents your tone from losing treble when you turn the volume down. Right now I can’t turn down at all without turning to mush.

Updates…

I have really been neglecting this blog during the past week. So, if you anxiously refresh this page hoping for some new content – I apologize.

My Tascam US-122 showed up today. I installed the drivers from the CD and my MacBook didn’t recognize the interface. I went online and realized that the old drivers don’t work with Leopard, so I downloaded the new driver and everything works now. I haven’t recorded anything yet, but hopefully I’ll be able to do that tomorrow. If I get a chance, I’m planning to record a demo of my amp. Check back for that.

I have been experimenting with the clipping section of my Tube Screamer clone. Basically, you can mix and match different types of diodes to get different levels of overdrive. I’m currently using a combination of MOSFETs, 1N914 germanium diodes, and 1N4148 diodes. I’m not sure how it compares to the other settings that I’ve tried because I don’t really remember what the other modes sound like. I need to put several of these things on a switch so that I can go back and forth between different clipping types to decide which ones I like best.

For the record – I don’t really understand the technical aspects of what I’m doing, so don’t ask.

I have been noticing some issues with my strat lately. Specifically, it’s too bright overall and the volume and tone knobs have some weird things going on with the taper. I opened it up last night and was kind of shocked. I’m not an artist with the soldering iron now, but I’m way better than I was when I wired this thing up the last time.

Another thing that I noticed was that I used 500k pots on everything. I’m not sure exactly why, but that’s one thing that’s making the pickups too bright. I also wired it so that the first tone knob is a master tone that controls all three pickups. It was a good thought, but the bridge pickup is too bright to use the same setting as the neck pickup. I think I’m going to rewire it so that the first tone knob controls the neck pickup and the second knob controls the bridge.

We’re playing Rise by Robbie Seay Band this weekend at church, and it sounded pretty excellent at practice tonight. The lineup for this weekend is really good. We have a new guy playing drums for us and he’s pretty stinking good, even if he talks too much – just kidding, kind of =). Our bass player (and sometime drummer) is nailing the bass part, which is probably the most important part of the song. Maury and I are playing guitar, as usual. It’s a solid band.

We went to the beach today. I can’t wear my contacts at the beach because of the sand, so I wore my glasses. I was wading with Jack (the water was up to my chest so I was holding him), and we were letting the waves hit us. There were some pretty decent waves and one of them caught me by surprise and knocked my glasses off. I guess I’ll be shopping for new glasses. Awesome.

I guess that’s pretty much it. Oh yeah, I’m on Facebook now, so check out my profile and feel free to friend me.

My strat

I go through extreme phases in my guitar choices. I’ll go for months and just play one guitar, then I’ll decide to play the other one. It was worse when I had more than 2 electrics. One of them would inevitably go untouched for months. I guess that’s why I’m back down to 2 guitars now. I played both worship services with my strat today, and my tone sounded pretty great, imo.

My strat is a ’94 American Standard that I bought new just before I graduated from high school in ’95. It’s a 40th anniversary model, so it has a little medallion on the headstock. You can see a picture of it if you click the ‘my gear’ tab at the top of the page.

I have pulled out the guts many times, and it doesn’t have any of the original electronics in it. I’ve tried various pickups of different flavors, and I currently have a set of single coils that I picked up from Reverend. They sound much warmer than the stock pups, and I’m pretty happy with them. I also removed the second tone control from the circuit, so the single tone knob controls all three pickups.

Several years ago, I was having serious problems with strings on this guitar. I was breaking strings left and right. I installed some Graph Tech saddles on it, and there was a dramatic change. It’s probably been 8 years, and I’ve probably broken 5 strings on that guitar since then.

I string my electrics with 10s. Anything lighter than that feels like spaghetti (especially on the Les Paul). I never use the trem (I don’t even know where the bar is), so I have the screws on the back tightened up so that the bridge is pulled all the way down to the body. I have my action set pretty low so that if I dig in with the pick, the strings kinda snap on the fretboard.

I wish that it had a nitro finish. It has that poly-whatever finish that’s just about harder than diamond, so it’ll never scratch or crack or look much different than it did on day one. Worn guitars are just cool-looking, unless it’s fake wear. That’s just stupid. Don’t use sandpaper on your brand new guitar so that it’ll look old. You have to earn that kind of thing. Anyway, My guitar is like 14 years old, and there are a couple of tiny dings, but nothing you can really see. At least the maple is yellowing and not white like it was at first.

Anyway, that’s my strat. It’s not perfect, but I’ll have it forever.