“Dirty Secret” – Electro-Acoustic, Variable Resonator, Steel-String Parlor Guitar

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I received this 70’s era, Trump classical guitar from my mother-in-law a few years back. A few of the tuners were broken, the neck was bowed and the bridge was either broken or I just decided to cut it off—it’s hard to say at this point—but knew when I saw it, that I wanted to do something drastic.

I looked around and found an adjustable floor register and then cut a large rectangle out of the body; but then it sat, because I wanted to strip off all of the finish. I found that it was very difficult to remove the finish, but finally a couple of days ago I locked a wire brush attachment into my drill, determined that the finish would come off once and for all—it did, sort of, but I also distressed the livin’ out of the wood. No problem, because sometimes ugly is part of the game.

I call this one, Dirty Secret; it’s like that horrific kid in the horror movies, that’s hidden in the basement— someone unwittingly finds themself in said basement; it’s dark and cluttered, unseen feet are heard scampering across the floor, and then a ball comes rolling out from the shadows, creeping everyone out…well it’s not like that, but stay with me…you have a Les Paul and a Strat up stairs in the stable, but instead, you prefer to play this piece of trash, for some indescribable reason…why?

Body and Finish:

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As stated earlier, I cut a 4″x8″ rectangle into the center of the guitar to accommodate an adjustable metal floor register. The purpose of the register is two-fold—primarily, to create a resonator sound and secondarily, to control the amount of resonator sound. The outcome was not as drastic as I would have liked, but there is a distinct difference between the louvers in the closed position and open position: in the closed position, the sound is tighter/cleaner, as the louvers move to the open position, the sound becomes more resonate and rattly.

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Since I cut through all of the bracing, the top needed need reinforcement, so I cut a few pieces of 1″ square rod to offer stability and a solid base through which to install the floor register. Additionally, I cut a a small groove into the top/center of the register to accommodate the fretboard—it just looded more finished and covered up the fact that I cut the hole incorrectly.

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The old finish was removed with sandpaper on the head, neck, and fretboard; however, the finish on the body was removed with drill-powered wire brush. Much of the heavy finish was removed, but a red stain remained; additionally, the brush removed too much material in some places, which left the body distressed and damaged. After sanding all of the surfaces, I applied a finish made of vinegar and steel wool that helped accentuate the distressed areas on the body.

Tuners:

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The tuners had to be replaced—some were broken, others were seized. I subbed in a set of butterfly-style Grover tuners, which had shafts that were larger than the original tuners. I enlarged the holes to 3/8″ and installed the replacements.

Tailpiece and Bridge:

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I used a discarded tailpiece from a previous build. I sanded off the tarnish and centered it on the body. Two small zip ties hold the tailpiece tight to the register to reduce friction noise. For the bridge I used a brass hinge pin; I flattened the bottom with a file and found the correct scale based on doubling the measurement of the twelfth fret.

Pickup and Output Jack:

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I taped two JSA Nd144 Electromagnetic Cigar Box Guitar Pickups together and connected them to an acoustic guitar endpin jack. I couldn’t place the pickup in a normal location, because of the louvers on the register, but there was a small location just back from the  end of the fretboard. I superglued an old razor blade below the fretboard and installed the pickup by attaching the magnets on the pickup to the razor blade. A 1/2″ hole was drilled, in the bottom of tyhe guitar, where the strap button was previously located.

Check out these quick demonstration videos—one is amplified with distortion the other is not—enjoy:

Thanks,

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Duct Tape Hardshell Coffin Guitar Case

A couple of years ago I built an acoustic guitar case, constructed entirely of cardboard and duct tape. Since completing that project, I have wanted to make a new case for transporting my parlor-sized guitars.

I didn’t want to complete that exact same project, so I drew inspiration from my favorite case from the 90’s, The Coffin Case, which had a red interior and black exterior much like my previous duct tape acoustic guitar case.

My version of the coffin case is constructed similar to the previous case but has interior dimensions made to house a parlor guitar. This case is a bit smaller than the previous case, so it only required six rolls of duct tape, one large 2-ply box, and a length of chain.

Follow the link below for more images and descriptions:

https://junkshopaudio.com/duct-tape-coffin-case-for-parlor-guitars/

Thanks,

Quick and Dirty Acoustic Pickup

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I needed a pickup that I could easily install and remove from guitar to guitar—this is what I created with few spare parts I had laying around.

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I grabbed a Lego crate and lid got the housing and a RCA jack for the connection. The active agent is a piezo disk that I broke out of a buzzer housing.

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Drilled a hole in the bottom of the crate and installed the RCA jack.

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Then, I drilled a hole in the  lid and inserted the piezo wires.

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Next, I soldered the wires to the hot and ground terminals on the RCA jack and closed the crate.

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To allow for easy installation and removal, I added a 3/8″ removable Glue Dot to  the back of the piezo disk and one side of the Lego Crate. Done.

It needs some more sound shaping, but it has potential and is decent in a pinch.

Check out my video:

Thanks,

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Classical Acoustic Resonator Guitar

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I picked up this broken Fender Classical Guitar at a local antique mall for pretty cheap. The bridge was completely ripped off and tied to the headstock in a sandwich bag. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but thought, why not.

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First, I tried to clean the broken wood off of the bridge and guitar top; I applied glue and clamped it—that proved unsuccessful, so I cut a big ol’ hole in the top about the size of a stove drip pan, because that’s what I do.

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I found that a paint can lid from a five gallon paint can fits perfectly over a stove drip pan—who knew. Four small screws were installed to keep the lid from shifting when the strings exert pressure. A tailpiece from an old acoustic was sanded and then added for greater stability.

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I cut the ends off of the bridge to make in more compact and then cut and stacked two pieces of brass rod to serve as a saddle.

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I found that this modification required a lot of reinforcement—I glued the bridge to the lid, cut small holes on either side, and then zip-tied a similar-sized block of wood to the bottom of the paint can lid from over the bridge. Additionally, I installed a brass bolt through the top of the lid that secured it to the drip pan via an old mounting bracket from a junction box.

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I strung it with nylon strings just to see what it would sound like—it doesn’t resonate similar to steel rather, the resonating sound comes from the unplayed/untouched open strings and the untouched top. The player must keep his or her arm off of the top of the guitar or it will sound like any other classical guitar, which is cool, because it offers flexibility with regard to sound.

That’s it; check out the video:

Stay tuned for the removable pickup rig that I have designed for use with this guitar, since nylon strings negate use of my 9 volt power adapter pickup.

Thanks,

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