Charvel Model 2 Project PART ONE

New to Phoenix, with the itch to find guitars to work on, I have found one very surprising thing. What you can find on Craigslist in Phoenix is no where near what you can find in St. Louis. Perhaps it’s St. Louis Music/Ampeg being headquartered in STL? Not sure. All I know is I could consistently get my hands on great, cheap vintage and hard-to-find guitars in the midwest. In Phoenix all you get is a bunch of busted Squires and the occasional guy wanting $1000 for his sad-sack-of-shit partscaster. It’s alright buddy, I build them too.

Welp, old JT managed to find himself an awesome group of guys to play music with, and what’s really interesting is we are all in love with New Wave music. I finally get to play Duran Durn, Depeche Mode, The Fixx, Talk Talk…all the stuff I grew up with and listen to every day.

This got me in the mood for an 80’s guitar. Something somewhat flashy, but simple and refined. I was lucky enough to find exactly what I was looking for: a circa 86/87 Charvel Model 2.

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I’ve always wanted a one-pickup one-volume guitar, and I finally found me one.

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This guitar came completely gutted, with no pickup, no electronics of any sort or input jack. On top of everything else the original Kahler tremolo was totally trashed, like someone pulled it off the guitar and hit it with a shovel for a few hours.

Stay tuned for PART TWO!

So early retirement didn’t quite work out ….

Something has happened here at Living Analog that has pulled me out of early retirement, off the bench, back from the dead …. pick your metaphor. It’s been a long strange trip, but the Danish daybeds we purchased way, way, way back in 2011 are done.  Upholstered (by a professional), wood doctored up (by me with Howard’s Restor-a-finish) and in place in our new house.  Yes, we bought a place in Phoenix and are working, working, working to make our new house feel like our home.

But first, the daybeds.  Here they are in all their glory on Mister Modtomic’s driveway:

MR MODTOMIC DANISH DAYBEDS And here they are now, presiding over the living room of our new house.  LR_01

(That’s JT’s guitar hook on the wall, the guitar was with him at band practice but it is a refinish job that he did and matches the grey of the new upholstery really well.)IMG_4512

I was able to get the fabric on super sale at SAS Fabrics up on 19th Avenue.  They were getting rid of a lot of their upholstery fabrics and so the grey material was really cheap – I can’t remember exactly (because that was like 6 months ago and I’m losing my mind) but I think it ended up being around $5 a yard.  Don’t quote me on that.  Upholstery labor costs seem to be a bit more affordable in PHX than they were in STL as well…

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My mom paid for the upholstery work as a house-warming gift and I love these guys so much.  We decided to go with five 24″ x 24″ loose pillows for the backs rather than replicating the triangle bolsters that had been on the daybeds before.  We got new 6″ super firm foam for the bases as well.  These daybeds are comfy – both JT and I have already taken a few snoozes on them.  The dogs are getting older and with no traction from the tile floor, don’t like to jump up that high so they just keep to their dog beds on the floor, which is fine by me.

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So that’s our news.  My goal is to begin posting again more regularly as we start up all sorts of fun projects on the new (to us) house.  We are in the Awhatukee  area of Phoenix with short drives to work and an amazing mountain view.  And a hot tub in the backyard from which to enjoy said mountain.

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The location is really what sold us on the house …. from the front it is all garage and tan stucco which is pretty much the bane of my existence.  For my next post, I’ll go into the back story of the new house.  I’ve missed my little corner of the blogosphere, thanks to those who dropped me notes to check in.  Our laptop was at the point where it took at least thirty agonizing minutes just to load the internet and after a 10 hour work day, I just didn’t have the patience to fight the computer over a blog post.  JT found us a mac he was interested in for music recording purposes and I love our zippy new machine although I’m having to relearn all things posting related since I haven’t used a mac since my college days ….

Cheers!  CT

Snapshots from Phoenix

Hi everyone.  Have I mentioned that it is really hot in Phoenix right now?  It is really hot in Phoenix right now.  And now that July has kicked in, there is now humidity thanks to the monsoon storms.  I was told this place had dry heat.  I need a refund.

Nevertheless, the heat can’t keep me in – I refuse! Last weekend (4th of July weekend which was really long for us since we got Monday off as well (which to note is not an Arizona thing but rather a result of working 4 ten-hour days)) we did a little exploring and this weekend we did a little more.  I thought I’d share our adventures with you in a few snapshots.

Last weekend’s visit to the Antique Plaza in Mesa yielded a few results – some more vinyl for JT’s record collection and a cool copper printed map of Arizona for me.  There were some other items I didn’t want to leave behind . . .

MESA ANTIQUE PLAZA 1

MESA ANTIQUE PLAZA 2

The Antique Plaza was huge!  Some of the prices were right on, some were a little high and there was actually some MCM to be found (usually with the higher price tag).  We’ll be back.

We have a field mouse hiding in our house somewhere . . . I’m trying to catch him with peanut butter and love but the next step will be JT taking over the offensive and his methods are not so sweet.

MOUSE IN THE HOUSE

Friday night while JT was out doing a band audition I met the mouse and went to Home Depot for the traps.  The next morning found me back at the Depot for a lighting class and meet and greet with (now) local blogger Jenny Komenda from Little Green Notebook.  The actual class went a little sideways and no one else took photos so I grabbed this shot with furtive shame on my phone (that’s Jenny on the right in the green blouse).

LITTLE GREEN NOTEBOOK

Jenny was super sweet and ready to relax a little after finishing up the Domino Magazine photo shoot at her house.  I can’t even imagine!

And no, that isn’t me above with a half buzzed head but the heat has convinced me that less hair is the better option.   Here’s a quick in-the-salon before pic to show just how long (and kind of straggly) my hair had become.

LONG HAIR

And after!  So much better for the summer!

SHORTER HAIR

So today I took my new haircut out into the heat and JT and I visited Cosanti which is the residence and studios of Paolo Soleri.  JT described it as looking like the place where Luke Skywalker lives and while I don’t have a good frame of reference on  that, it was a unique place that had primitive and futuristic aspects all at the same time.

COSANT 3

Doesn’t that kind of look like a wooden spaceship came to land in the desert?  Steampunk kids take note, this place was started in the 1950s.

COSANTI 2 COSANTI 1

Also (random alert) there was a lot of olive trees among the vegetation and the site produces, bottles and sells its own olive oil.  Wowza.

OLIVES

I can’t wait to go up north and stay the night at Soleri’s larger experiment, Arcosanti.

What’s been going on with you guys?  Any tips for the heat?  Thank goodness my local grocery store carries a few flavors of coconut milk ice cream or I might have melted already.  Cheers – CT

(PS – More adventures to come – a day trip to Jerome and JT finds a new man chair.  Oooooh!)

Hot Crowd

Has anyone else noticed how Jimmy Fallon always comments that there is a “hot crowd” now that he’s on the Tonight Show?  And so the crowd cheers louder because he may be saying that they’re physically attractive but really he may be commenting on their general liveliness?  Well (to transition this thing over) we’re always a hot crowd here in Phoenix now that the days are mostly in the 100 to 100 degree range.  It’s like a long-standing joke on us (until September when we then laugh at the rest of the country).

We got up early a few weekends back to see if hiking was still feasible in this heat.  The Valley had a layer of smog when we were only 20 minutes in and not very high up the mountain.

THE VALLEY

The sun started baking us and we called it a little early to head back home, drink all the water we could find and generally lay about.

THE SUN

The heat means I open the doors to send the dogs out and in a few short minutes I see this out the back door . . .

HOT DOGS ON A PORCH

So we let them back in and then they generally lay about the place.  Like so (Sophie, who finally learned how to use pillows):

LAZY SOPHIE

And so:

LAZY PAIR

And so (a princess and the pea Shenanigan when I piled up the dog beds so our robot vacuum could be unleashed in the bedroom):

LAZY BOO

One benefit of the heat is a 50% discount offered to Arizona residents for visits to Taliesin West.  JT and I thought the first tour on Saturday morning (9am) might be nice and empty but it was packed instead.  So it was a little difficult to take pictures due to the throng of fellow architecture enthusiasts we were surrounded by.

TALIESIN

The tour was interesting, the sun was hot and I enjoyed nosing around.  As this was Wright’s winter home, he left a lot of the structures open with only canvas as a covering for a few years until his wife convinced him to go with glass.

I found a handsome man on the tour …

HANDSOME MAN

A sculpture I liked . . .

SCULPTURE BACK

Oh, you wanted me to turn around? (Picture fail)

SCULPTURE FRONT

A picture of a picture (heading into the dinner theatre area – what don’t you have your architecture students/servants put on a dinner theatre for you on your winter vacation?)

PICTURE IN A PICTURE

(Sidenote: I didn’t realize my hair was getting so long . . .)

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The view towards McDowell Mountain.  You can definitely see where Wright got his inspiration!  Time to get back inside and away from the sun’s burning rays!  Cheers – CT

 

 

Shelves Solved

After my moaning and groaning back in January about not having a good shelf solution for the weird, awkward cabinet-less corner of our rental kitchen, I pretty much promptly went out and solved our problem and then fully neglected to blog about it. Here’s what we were dealing with – a strange space that wasn’t doing much good.

HOLE IN THE KITCHEN We tried living with the rolling cart island from our old kitchen as a countertop extension for awhile.  Not too bad but the lower shelf was broken during the move and so it’s not so functional anymore for storage. KITCHEN FOR A WHILE 2 We’ve actually tried a few other things out in the kitchen – like the tulip table when we very first moved in (hard to believe that was six months ago!). KITCHEN AT MOVE IN It filled the little corner well and was a nice place for breakfast but ultimately it was needed for the dining room. Next we tried  the “beer pong” dining room table that also once lived in our old house. KITCHEN FOR A WHILE It felt a little too low to the ground and didn’t offer any storage either.

But now with a little help from Ikea and a little Frankensteining of our furniture, we now have a layout that’s working pretty well.  First the Ikea part: NEW CABINET This guy (the Fabrikor)  has been holding our meager liquor supply for a few months now and has blended in well with the kitchen.  And literally, that’s why I picked it, to blend in well.  I really hate our bland beige yellow wall color but this house is a rental and I just can’t bring myself to paint the whole slam-damn thing.  So this beige-y tan metal cabinet is a great chameleon with the wall and calls less attention to the dingy paint color than a nice fresh white cabinet would.  And since it’s all metal, when we move on to our next house, I’ll just spray paint that baby and leave the beige behind. CONTENTS Having glass on the front and sides is great right next to the window.  It fills the space but still lets a lot of light through.

Now on to the Frankensteining – we took the base from the metal rolling cart and married it up with the wood top from our old, old, old dining table. CORNER NOW Yep, that’s an extra and ginormous bag of dog food hanging out there.  Sorry Pope, we have dogs not kids.  Now the table/cart is a much better size and scale.  I’ve been on the lookout for a few barstools to add around it too but no rush. CLOSE UP JT picked out the poster actually but I rather like it for our crazy vegan kitchen. So that’s what’s been happening in our kitchen.  What about yours?  I caught LizardMan checking the kitchen out too the other day.  He’s cute and I like the blue streaks on his belly but I hope he just keeps checking things out from the outside the house . . . . LIZARD MAN

Pine Barncaster Build Part 3

I gotta say, I had a lot of fun doing my first nitro spray. I started by picking up 3 cans of Behlen nitrocellulose musical instrument lacquer online. You really have to order this stuff- no store around the corner is going to carry it.

Nitro!

Nitrocellulose Lacquer was used early on by Fender, Gibson and all the other bastards making guitars back in the 50’s and 60’s. Basically each spray treatment ‘melts’ into the previous layer, forming a kind of crunchy candy shell (think M&M’s) as opposed to polyurethane, where each spray forms it’s own layer (think Gobstoppers).

Anyway- in order to use it, you gotta warm it up in hot tap water. Otherwise it will spatter and fart out big globs (which as it turns out it might do anyway).

Warm it up

Warm it up

The plan I developed was to spray 9-12 coats, 2-3 coats a day, 1-2 hours apart. From what I have read, this allows the layers to melt into each other. I would hold the guitar flat, spraying about 1ft from the body with the can at a slight angle. I started and ended each spray away from the body, doing a cross-hatch pattern on the front and back. Look up Will Kelly on Youtube for more details (I did).

Spray!

Once it cured for about 14 days, I wet-sanded it using 800-2500 grit sandpaper, to get it smooth and shiny. I wet the sandpaper and the body down with a detergent/water mix.  Again, Look up Will Kelly’s videos. They really helped me out.

sandpaper

The end result was absolutely awesome. I love it. Just look at this monster.

Lacquered

 

Not sure these pics do it justice:

Barncaster 009

I even brought it in the house and put it under sexy lighting to show the ridiculous colors:

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Close up of the ‘big red spot’

Barncaster 012

Next up, I’m gonna show you how I relic’d all the brand new shiny parts using melt-your-face-acid…so stay tuned…

Barncaster 007

 

Pine Barncaster Build part 2

Let me start by saying that I know there’s steps you have to take in order to seal in sap so it doesn’t mess with stain or paint. I’m not going to do that. I simply don’t care. Is this a mistake? Yeah probably. But, in the end I’m building it for myself as my Merle Travis machine, so as long as it doesn’t explode, I don’t care about discoloration or whatever.

Barncaster

That being said, I do care about how the guitar looks overall, and am critically concerned as to how I would like to stain it. I already decided it will get a clear coat of nitrocellulose lacquer, so picking out the stain will be critical. What I am interested in is enhancing all of the natural colors and features, while, if possible, making it “pop” even more.

One option is going with a kind of driftwood, bleached-out effect, which should pronounce the dark coloring more heavily. To get this, I mixed ebony and natural stain together at a 1:6 ration (respectively). Here’s a pic of the little stain guys and my bigger mixing bucket:

Stain

The result on my pine test board is pretty great, as the mixture really penetrates the grain brings out the hidden features well:

Ebony/natural 1:6 ratio

The other option I landed on is just going with a straight natural stain. I did this for my first guitar build, and it adds a slight “yellowing” to the grain. While it overall darkens the pine, it doesn’t necessarily show any kind of hidden details:

Natural stain

So after much hem-hawing, pissing and moaning I decided to go with CT’s advice, and apply the 1/6 ebony/natural mix. Here’s the results:

Barncaster fully stained front

This worked perfectly, as the ebony really penetrated all the cracks and imperfections, and even brought out a few features that were otherwise invisible.

Barncaster side stained

I’m also glad that this mix didn’t mask the dark features.

Barncaster back stained

When we were living back in St. Louis, it would literally take at least 7-10 days for stain to fully penetrate my guitar bodies, given the heavy mid-west humidity. Here in Arizona that process cuts down to about 2-3 days, which is awesome.

Part 3 will cover my first attempt at a nitrocellulose spray lacquer finish. Wish me luck…

Nitro