Friday, 31 October 2014

Neck finish

I've completed finishing the neck.  I've done another top coat on the body - I might do another yet, will wait and see once it has cured off.

Anyway here are some photos of the neck.   I used Wudtone Original Yellow which has given the colour I was hoping for.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The 12 string build - electrics mods

The body and neck finishing is going really well.  I think I've just done the 3rd top coat on both.  I'm going to do at least one more on the body, possibly two and maybe one more on the neck.  I'll decide when I look at them after this latest one has cured off.

In preparation for them being ready for assembly I've turned my attention to the electrics.  I commented at the start of the build a plan for some mods to the electrical circuit - nothing too major but a couple of little tweaks.

Seven sound wiring.  One mod often seen on Strats is to add the two sounds you can't get on a standard 5 way switch with the three pickups.  Namely all three on together and bridge and neck on together.  The way I'm doing this is by just having a simple switch to switch on the bridge pickup no matter what position the 5 position switch is in. Many of the mods show this mod using the neck pickup.  I've favoured the bridge since I'd prefer the bridge only "lead" sound as being available in either combination where as with the normal mod you lose that.

So normal 5 way gives.
  • Neck
  • Neck + Middle
  • Middle 
  • Middle + Bridge
  • Bridge
When activated the switch will give.
  • Neck + Bridge
  • Neck + Middle + Bridge
  • Middle + Bridge
  • Middle + Bridge
  • Bridge
Bridge Tone Control.  Secondly I wanted to have a tone on the bridge pickup so have linked it to the middle tone on the switch.

Some photos!

This shows the switch just fitted.  I measured the diameter of the switch post with a digital calliper - 6mm.  Found the right size drill and a very easy neat job added the switch to the scratchplate.  I had some of these switches lying around from an old model railway I helped my son built some years ago.  Never throw good stuff like this away!

Switch installed before the wiring changes.

Wiring changes completed - In red I've circled the jumper that allows the bridge pickup to "share" the middle tone control.  The two green circles show taking the bridge pickup feed off the 5 way switch via the new one SPDT onto the volume control to put it permanently in circuit.  You may need to click on the photo to enlarge it to see better.

Soon it'll be assembly and set up fun!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Gig Review - Show of Hands Tunbridge Wells

I don't get to many gigs these days.  The change of work situation, i.e. working only 2 days a week now means financially I cannot justify going to that many especially with the cost of many tickets these days.  I heard an interview with Mark King (Level 42) the other day and he was commenting "I remember when albums were £15 in the shops and a gig ticket was £3.  Now people give albums away for free and charge you £50 to see them live".  Very true - the shift in where you can make a living from music I suppose.

Anyhoo... Mrs F and I went with a few other friends to see Show of Hands at Tonbridge Well.  Show of Hands may not be a household name, which is a shame for them as frankly one of the best folk bands about and maybe there in lies the issue, the narrow characterisation of them into a particular genre... however they have been known to play Peter Gabriel covers so what does that say about breaking down the preconceptions?

Just brilliant is my overall summary.  Three stunning musicians, Steve Knightley is a stunning song writer tacking tough issues in his lyrics, singing with authority and passion and a great guitarist and mandolin player too.  He plays guitar, tenor guitar, octave mandolin and ukulele throughout the set.  Impressive you say... well it would be if he wasn't in a band with Phil Beer who is just is simply a virtuoso on anything he picks up!  Guitar, violin, mandolin, ukulele you name it he plays it, and brilliantly too.  The final member is Miranda Sykes who has one of the finest female voices around and is a stonking double bass player too.  Just the three of them produce an amazing wall of sound.  They started with I'll Haunt You - one of my favourites of theirs and I believe everyone was just captivated from the start.  They played a short first set as "our own support act" then returned after a short break for a varied and well executed full set ending up on the crowd pleasing and interactive Cousin Jack.

Here is I'll Haunt You live (not the show I saw) - honestly this was the first number on Thursday and they were bang on the harmonies just like this.  A band of true genius.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

RIP - Jack Bruce

Sadly - another RIP post.  I read today that Jack Bruce has sadly passed away.

One word... Legend...

Makes sense now why they did this get together...

At least now he can reunite with Gary
This was a terrific line up - shame they didn't do more together

Thursday, 23 October 2014

RIP Alvin Stardust

RIP Alvin Stardust when I was 10 I was buying his singles but the landmark in my life was attending my first gig at the Central Hall (now Theatre) to see him with a slightly older female friend of the family who my mother trusted.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

12 String Build Update

Just a quick update.  Being a bit busy at the moment with stuff - work, course, volunteer training etc.  The build is on the go-slow.   On Monday I put the last base coat on the body.  You need to give it 2 days to dry out fully anyhow but I'll be unlikely to get to do anything until the weekend now.  The neck I've finished the base coats on.  So weekend I'll start the top coats on both.  I'm expecting 3 or 4 of them we'll see as it develops so probably at least another week or two then the advice is to leave it a full week before assembly. 

Patience... it's a bugger at times isn't it!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Music reviews - Bellowhead, Yes, Joe Bonamassa

Some overdue reviews of latest CD additions to my collection.

Bellowhead - Revival.

Bellowhead on top form.  Frankly their best yet I think.  Sea shanties a plenty kicking off with Let Her Run and straight into Roll Alabama my favourite off the whole album.  There isn't anything new here if you know Bellowhead, excellent arrangements using the huge variety of instruments their large and versatile line up gives them.  The vocals are spot on and much of this album is up tempo foot tapping sing-a-long chorus type stuff that simply they do so well.  Off to see them live in the flesh in November and on this basis can't wait.

One highlight is I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight a stonking reworking of the old Richard Thompson song.  I heard an interview with them on BBC Radio 2 where they said they included this song as they wanted something "contemporary" in the track list.  I roared with laughter at this, for most groups who trouble the top 40 with any album I doubt U2's release before last (2009's NO Line on the Horizon) would count as contemporary let alone a song that saw the light of day something like 40 years ago but given nearly all the others are probably 200 years old on here then theirs is a unique perspective in the modern music world and we're all the better for them saying things like that in my opinion.  Oh yes and the good councillors of Gosport moaning about them besmirching the name of ladies from that fair port need to remember when that song was originally written...

Joe Bonamassa - Different Shades of Blue.  

There was a time when you seemed to see a new album from JB every month!  But with him out of Black Country Communion now seemingly forever (sadly) and some crazy touring it's been a while since he turned out an album.  So this is I think only the second CD he's done with all original stuff - only the first short track is a Hendrix cover, I think that is JB being ironic in case you didn't get it.  Good album overall and I think one that will grow on me.  It isn't as immediate a hit to me as Driving towards the Daylight was but the quality of playing and variety of tone is superb far outstripping his sound on Ballard of John Henry - you can certainly still see his progression and growth as a player and that is to be highly commended given he could so easily just turn out an album by numbers and it would sell well - at least he is still working at his art.  My highlight is Heartbreak Follows Whereever I Go.

Yes - Heaven and Earth

Two Yes records in three years!  Given there'd been a decade between the two previous releases that makes you raise your eyebrows.  This one has another new line up - Jon Davison is now the singer Yes seemingly able to wear out old ones, both Jon Anderson and Benoit David having been pushed out with recurring throat issues.  Jon D sounds very very like Jon A more so than Benoit did on the last outing Fly From Here where he sounded more like Trevor Horn from Drama era - which given the major track on that was indeed one of the Buggles penned songs that got them into the crumbling early 80s Yes lineup then.

This is an odd balance, not a big conceptual album like the old ones or indeed Fly From Here but a collection of songs more akin to 90125 line up albums.  It is sadly a bit "Yes by numbers" the vocals are ok, the playing good but not great and there isn't anything that makes you go "wow".  I personally think that they should have retained Trevor Horn as producer not Roy Thomas Baker as I think that would have given the overall sound a bit more oompf.  If you're a Yes fan it is ok but I can't see this winning new ones and some old ones may go "Not as good as

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The start of the finish

There's a confusing post title and probably the title of my forthcoming 90 min epic single track progressive rock album... ;-)

No seriously folks.  I've started on the finish.

I'm using the excellent Wudtone products.  I like these since they are so easy for a DIY build like mine.  You "rag" them on, I use old cut up pyjamas as they seem best to me in terms of not soaking too much of the liquid up etc.  No sprays or complicated stuff like that.  You don't get the mirror finish a pro would get with proper spray booths etc. but the finish on the Tele Build was really good just right between colour, semi gloss shine and the feel of the real wood.  They have some sort of sealant in them so help with making the wood resistant to water etc. so all good.

The body is being finished in Carmine Gypsy red and the neck in Original Vintage Yellow.

Here they are after the application of the first coats.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Birthday weekend - Coach and Horses gig

The birthday weekend was a bit of a whirlwind.  On my birthday we went out for nice meal once Mrs F finished work.  My daughters boyfriend had got away from his job early so the four of us headed out for a three course slap up at the local Harvester which is in walking distance.  Good time by all even managing to squeeze in an ice desert with toffee sauce!

My son and his girlfriend then made the trek home arriving late in the evening, for my son he'd spent too long on a train after a days work having gone back from Leicester to Birmingham and then to Kent but lovely to see him and the house was suddenly over full with people again.

Saturday I had a workshop I had to be at in the afternoon and then the gig in the evening.  Meaning I had to squeeze in cooking a huge curry for everyone too.  Must have been good, totally empty plates all round.

We dashed off the to the gig.  Roadworks!  The route I'd plan had a road closure on it, luckily I knew a back roads route and we parked just a little way from the venue with 10 mins to spare.  Arriving and just whipping the guitar out the case and straight on stage wasn't a smart move!  Still never mind.  I was first up in a long list of 6 acts, all the others were bands, largely LOUD bands mostly playing rock, punk and rock n roll covers.  So I stood out as only solo acoustic act and only all original stuff.  I rattled off a 30 min set of 6 numbers to good applause so I was overall pleased.  The family support, inc my sister and brother in law all said several people were commenting that I was good etc. and I got some good feedback from others too.  All in all good.  Now... just need the next one!

I used my Yamaha LL11 which last year I fitted with a Fishman pickup.  I decided for a loud noisy pub that would be better than the Vintage Gordon Giltrap which has similar pickup but with a microphone as well which sounds nicer but is much more temperamental regarding feedback.  The Yamaha is a fav guitar anyway and performed admirably with the help of my Zoom Acoustic processor which helps live sound a lot if only to add some "body" back in, some delay/reverb etc. and has a really handy three notch feedback reducing feature.  Laughably given I was the "acoustic" act my sons girlfriend awarded me "Best avoidance of feedback on the night" award as many of the heavy rock bands on later struggled to tame Les Pauls and 100w stacks in a small pub venue!

All back home for a good nights sleep... only... at some un-Godly hour the loft hatch feel out, snapping off it's hinges.  So Sunday was spent fixing all that back!  Monday I felt awful having a vertigo attack, which I get sometimes when I've been rushing about as long term readers will know.  Feeling better now and back to work...

Friday, 3 October 2014

Start of the 12 String Kit Build

Today is my birthday so Mrs F finally let me loose on my present.

Here it is as it arrived.  For some reason they actually fit the scratchplate and electrics, probably for safety in transit to stop them getting damaged but obviously if you want to finish the body you need to remove them... so first thing was to whip them out...

And then to try a test fit of the neck, can't resist it!

All good, all parts (body, neck and scratchplate) are marked with 35 on them somewhere showing they've been mated together before putting into the kit.  On the body and neck  this has proved valuable the neck is a very good snug fit into the pocket, so much so with friction alone holding it together you can lift the guitar by the neck and body doesn't fall off.  This is a good sign.  Incidentally the body is basswood and very light.  The neck is maple with a nicely grained rosewood fingerboard - being a 12 string the neck is quite wide measuring about 48 mm at the nut compared with say my 6 string Strat which is about 42 mm.

The headstock is supplied as a "blank" which is ok not as bad as the paddle heads you get on many 6 a side kits but still a bit boring and bland.  So my first job was to get a better headstock shape on there.

So I traced out the headstock on some paper, scketched a new look shape and then cut that to make a template to mark the new shape.  There isn't acres of room, I was hoping to do something like the old Squier Venus XII shape but not enough wood really, in the end I went for something just a little wavy and tried to reflect the bass side shape bias of a Strat body.  I'm please with it any way.  With the template I marked the new shape onto the wood and then was ready to cut it.

Here is the neck clamped down before I went at it with the jigsaw.

A few mins later after final sanding with grades down to 320 I'm pretty happy with the result.

More soon.  I'll let you know how the finishing goes with which is the next set of actions before we can think of assembly.  This might take a couple of weeks or so as the finish providers recommend several coats and some days between each coat.  A lesson in patience about to be needed I think.