Charvel Model 2 Project PART TWO

So I completed the Charvel Model 2 project! Totally awesome guitar, but since I started building my own superstrats (look for a future blog on this) I decided to sell it in my Reverb store. It’s on sale the weekend of October 8-11, 2015 if you’re interested- just use code GUITAR1 at checkout to save an extra 6%. Check out this and everything in my store by clicking this button:

Shop My Store on Reverb

Finished and in original case

Finished and in original case

Since it was gutted and the original tremelo was destroyed, the list of work is pretty long:

-Replaced original (and destroyed) Kahler tremolo with a Wilkinson (which fit the original bridge posts)

-Added Guitar Fetish VEH (Vintage Extra Hot) Brown Sound pickup

-New gold-plated Switchcraft input jack

-Push-pull split-coil pot

-All-rosewood volume knob

I gotta sat that guitar fetish pickups are where it’s at. This VEH has this amazing tone- just think of a hot PAF humbucker, or Eddie Van Halen’s mystery pickup he had on his frankenstrat. I loved this pickup so much I bought a white one for one of my superstrats (again- look for a future blog post).

Rosewood volume knob

Rosewood volume knob

The push-pull split coil pot was a first for me. It’s a complex wiring job, but I knew that the variance it would add to the tone would be necessary. With the split coil, simply pull the knob up and the hum bucker is now a single coil. It really sounds great and even with the single coil engaged there is minimal to no noise. This is such a great thing to have with a single-pickup guitar.

Completed wiring for push-pull volume pot

Completed wiring for push-pull volume pot

The brand new Wilkinson 2-point tremolo has a big block and keeps nearly perfect tune. What’s great about the Wilkinson is it matched the two posts that were there for the old tremelo. No drilling or filling. This is also great for anyone who would want to find an original Kahler tremelo, as it would fit right back on there.

Wilkinson tremolo mounted on original Kahler mounts

Wilkinson tremolo mounted on original Kahler mounts

This was a really great project, and a real treat to play if you’re into Kramer, Jackson, Charvel or Fender super strats.

Check out more pictures of it, along with a short demo video of me playing it at it’s listing here.

Portland … It’s all true.

Hey guys – happy Friday!  In theory both JT and I are off on Fridays thanks to our 4-10 schedule but I have a project that waits until Friday to need me.  The joy.  Oh well, what do you do?  Relive an earlier vacation?  Okay!

So we had never been anywhere in the Pacific Northwest before and we decided that early August would be a perfect time to escape the desert and break up the looooong summer we get here in Phoenix.  We landed at PDX (with the new carpet, boo) and learned that everything you’ve ever heard about Portland is true.

I’ll just give you a quick, non-linear recap because we saw and did and drank so much on our trip that there’s not enough internet or pictures to really go through it all.  So.


Nature – they have that in spades.  Everything was SO GREEN!  We mainly stayed downtown but on the last day we rented a car and drove out to see some of the sights.


They have nature in town too – we visited the (free) International Rose Test Garden as it was in full bloom.  Amazing.  Roses for miles and they all have a slightly different scent but I thought the overall base smell was kind of lemon-y.  We lucked out and got the most beautiful weather while we were vacationing.  It was sunny and a little hot (not Phoenix hot) during the day and cool and perfect in the evening.


Beer.  Portland is the micro-brewery capital of the world or something. We visited a few places – Deschutes, Widmer Brothers (did the brewery tour) and McMenamins (the one in the Pearl District).


We did AirBnB for our lodgings and while we had a little hiccup at the beginning, it worked out okay and was a great location and view – we were in a historic building on the 8th floor near Madison and 6th Avenue downtown.  The photo below on the left is a view from the balcony looking west-ish and the other photo is JT after a grueling afternoon beer tasting – that’s hard work.  We loved the space, especially all the plants.  It was a little urban jungle and we slept with those doors open every night.  It let in all the awesome cool fresh air and the yells from the hobos fighting.  (Portland has A LOT of homeless people.)


The apartment was within walking distance of a few metro stops and especially close to the Art Museum.  We saw the Ai Weiwei exhibit that is now set to open in Phoenix in about a month.  The space they used in Portland was well suited to the installation, I might have to check it out here as well to compare.


What else?  Shopping – did that.  Everything was delightfully Portland-esque, made of real wood or leather and artisanally handcrafted by a hipster and displayed on a live edge tree slice.  We visited Powell’s Books twice and got nice and lost.  I also had my first visit to a brick and mortar Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams store only to learn they are soon opening one in Scottsdale.


We saw a lot of the iconic Portland things (besides the hipsters, but they were everywhere).  There is a convenience chain called the “Plaid Pantry” – awesome.  We stumbled under the “Portlandia” statue on our way home from too much dining and drinking one night (see blurry night photo below).  We visited the food shacks (like food trucks but not actually driveable) a few too many times and the “Wolf + Bear” one below was quintessential Portland down to the font of the sign.  While there we saw a guy riding a unicycle playing the bagpipe and wearing a Darth Vader helmet – all in the name of keeping Portland weird.


We partied with the liberals at a free Bernie Sanders rally (There was more beer there too) and rode the metro back over one of Portland’s many bridges.
BERNIEWe dined and dined – visiting Clyde Common in the Ace Hotel and taking in a Portland sunset at Departures on the top of the Meiers + Frank building.


They had the best Asian noodle dish there (it was a pasta strand that was as thick as my pinky with a good spicy sauce on it) and a separate “special” menu just for vegans.  It was hard to pick when I had a whole menu to peruse!


We rode the tram, we walked around some more, drank lots of coffee and we took it all in.  Portland was amazing – beautiful and hand crafted and full of beer.  Four days wasn’t enough but we crammed a lot in.  We plan on going back to visit the Oregon countryside and all of the wineries.  Cheers to (maybe) next summer!  CT

P.S. – JT also has a post coming up today about one of his guitar projects and his online “Thompson Guitar and Thrift” store.  This has been a way better option for him than the crazy fees of eBay and maybe we’re one step closer to a brick and mortar “Thompson Guitar and Thrift” …. I’d better start on my estate sale-ing and Goodwill searching so I can be ready to keep up with him!


Tree Stump Table

So we have this amazing view of South Mountain in our backyard, but when we moved in it was blocked by two trees. Well, one tree and one sad-sack-of-shit tree stump that was totally overgrown with weeds. We were sure it was providing hiding places for snakes, coyotes, tarantulas, hikers, hipsters.

Big crappy trees

Big crappy trees

No more big crappy trees

No more big crappy trees

We had someone come out and cut them down, which they did in about 2 hours flat. One by-product was a couple logs, one of which I decided to turn into a tree stump table so I could contribute to CT’s living room design.

When I went to grab the stump, I found a giant bug on it. Maybe it was a molted shell, maybe it was alive……I don’t know. All I know is I saw something brown, green and about 5 inches long in a split second before I dropped it and jumped-jerked-pirouetted away. I then soaked it for about 3 minutes with the hose. From there I gathered up the courage to gather it up and set it in the sun for few days to dry out in the midsummer Arizona sun.

Sanded, ready for poly

Sanded, ready for poly

Once I got it into the garage, I began sanding it. Quite honestly I really didn’t know how much sanding I wanted to do. The whole idea of this project was bringing in a rustic touch, but at the same time I needed some leveling of the ends. My solution was starting with medium-coarse grit and finishing with 600 grit. Just enough to smooth out the real rough spots. I cleaned it off with a can of compressed air, and started in with layers of clear brush-on polyurethane. After a few weeks of curing, it was ready to bring in and enjoy.


Hanging It Updates

Hey everyone – it’s been awhile so I thought I would just plunge in with some updates, highlights and clips of what life has been like around the Living Analog household lately:

After another trip around the blazing hot sun (it was 104 degrees here yesterday on the first day of October!)  JT rewarded me with something I have had my eye on for a while now …. an Eames Hang It All!


Husband is actually very smart and lets me self-select most gifts as I am ridiculously opinionated on all things that live in our house.  He did also surprise me with flowers at work this year, bonus points husband.  Back to the Hang It All – is it a little overpriced for a coat hook? Sure.  Do I love it and want to keep it forever?  Yes please.


It’s right inside the front door so I can now just drop my purse and bag right when I get home from work.  It keeps everything off the floor (e.g. dog hair free) and did I mention that I love it?  Moving on …

Some more little updates from our world:

– Also for my birthday (did I mention I’m pretty spoiled?)  JT and I took a weekend road trip to southeast Arizona.  We visited Tombstone for a few hours (that’s about all the touristy time we could handle) and stayed the night in Bisbee, which I really loved and reminded me of the American West version of Portwenn in Doc Martin but far and away the highlight of the trip was the winery region around Sonoita.  It was so beautiful and there was some good wine.  We are going back and hopefully soon!


The high desert is amazing.  I took this picture from a moving car while driving east from Sonoita towards our hotel in Sierra Vista.  Amazing views for miles and miles.  And – five years late I joined Instagram.  I posted the above picture up and was proud to add the hashtag #nofilter!  My Instagram handle is ct.livinganalog.  I’m hoping to use Instagram to help me get my photos out of my phone more and into an actual printed form.  If anyone has some good recommendations for Instagram prints, I’m all ears.

– Sophie (the dog) is on antibiotics after getting her first UTI.  She started peeing inside the house once a day and we figured it was just a part of the old age thing so we got her a doggie diaper (that didn’t stay on … I also tried the toddler diapers from Target with a hole cut out for the tail but that was even worse …).  The drugs seem to have kicked in and we are back to a pee-free house.  However, we are now also a rug free house because she has done a LOT  of damage.  The carpet on the second level was pretty well toast when we moved in but now it’s beyond gone.  Thanks Sophie …


(She’s so cute though  And we’re glad she’s feeling better.)

– JT made me a log table!  We had a tree crew come and cut down a dead and mostly knocked over tree as well as the tree at the back most corner of the yard.  Couple that with our backyard neighbor getting their tree (excessively) trimmed due to aggressive hybridized “killer” bees, and things got kind of bare in our backyard for a while.  The quail all quit us for a little bit but we got a huge bird feeding block from the hardware store and now they’re starting to come back.  JT will have to do a proper post about the log table but it’s been a great addition for the living room – perfect for holding a beverage and just looking cool.


– There have been other, more terrifying bugs than the hybridized bees around … I found this THING in the garage the other day, words don’t even do it justice.  It appeared to be part large black spider and part scorpion or crab.  It was waiting for me at the door from the laundry room to the garage (it was inside the garage though, not actually in the house).  I was too terrified to get a picture of it while alive and the dead picture doesn’t even show what it could be but here goes ….


The body part of the creature was about the size of a quarter and then the legs when out from there …. I hope I never meet that bug’s mother.  I think it was an alien.

– We’ve been taking lots of little trips and one big trip (to Portland!).  We’ve been traveling around Arizona and camping and staying as many places as our three day weekends allow – Payson and Lake Pleasant and Tucson, Jerome, Prescott and Apache Junction.  We’ve driven to Las Vegas from here once (it’s about 5 hours and you go through about 5 different types of environments – even a Joshua Tree forest).  Driving in Arizona is fascinating and terrifying because once you get out of the valley, the scenery is breathtaking but the roads immediately become steep, winding and full of tractor trailers going too fast.


Above is a snap from one of our jaunts – the Elvis Chapel at the Superstition Mountain Museum.  Yes, Elvis (or a non-lifelike replica statue) was inside. Yes, my sunglasses are too big for my face – look at all that sunshine!  A girl has to take cover where she can get it in this state.  Portland (Oregon) was so amazing and such a great respite from the heat we’ve been plodding through.  I’ll do a better Portland recap in my next post.  I loved it there and I could easily see doing a 6 month split with Phoenix – live in Portland for the 6 months of summer and Phoenix for the 6 months of winter.  Now I just need to find a job that will let me telecommute like that …..

I hope all is well with my interwebs friends!  I’ll be around more and I hope to catch up with everyone.

Cheers – CT

Entryway Updates

We moved into our new house in mid-February and I know I haven’t shown much of it here on the blog.  We painted the whole first floor when we moved in and changed out the outlets and switches from almond to white.  We stalled out for a while and we were just kind of living with things to see what was working and what we needed to change.  One thing that needed a little help was our entry way.

Before 2

See the mess?  (Yes that is a Darth Vader toy thing. It’s going up to the music room but it needed to get hosed off outside first.)  We needed a “landing strip” as they call it on Apartment Therapy.

Before 1

One of the “fun parts” of living in the desert is scorpions and since our new house backs up to the mountain preserve, we have a lot of wild life, scorpions included.  JT found one in his shoe one day shortly after we moved in so we decided it would be best to store shoes in a way that would be not as inviting to any stinging inhabitants.  (We also have a black light flashlight so we can check things out – scorpions glow under a black light.)  You can also see that we were using a painter’s tape floor warning as there is a small step at the entry that is hard to see when the floor is all one tile.  A lot of temporary things.

A trip to Ikea (yes, Ikea again) found us with the Hemmes shoe cabinet flat-packed into our car and this afternoon JT began the arduous process that is assembling one of those things — we have built a few Ikea items and this was one of the most complex.


And — after!

After 1

(Sorry for the dark photos, we just wrapped this up about an hour ago and I wanted to use my Sunday evening to type up a little post. The Hemmes cardboard boxes are even still in the picture there, I am not one of those super slick bloggers, I guess.)

After - Open

Thanks to Swedish design, we now have a place we can stash our shoes that doesn’t junk up the entry way so much and will hopefully stay bug free.  I think I will eventually change the knobs out to de-Ikea-fy it a little and we talked about maybe putting a more rustic wood ledge on top …. we shall see.

After 2

I pulled the blue painter’s tape off the floor and put down four of the Flor “Mod Cow” carpet tiles I’ve been hoarding, I mean holding on to for a while now.

Off to Goodwill

It’s off to Goodwill for the old shoe rack.  We’ve been on a good roll of purging out items we haven’t been using and right now we have two bins in the garage waiting to go.  I also have some plans for that little sliver of a wall next to the front door too – more projects!

Shenanigan approved the new rug.


Hope you had a great weekend full of successful projects. Cheers – CT

(Another P.S. – I don’t want our gun artwork to seem insensitive in light of current events.  It’s more intended as an ironic statement …)

In Hot Water

This is our second summer in Phoenix and while May was unseasonably cool (not really chilly but just below average temperatures for the area), June rolled around and brought the hot weather with it.  I call it the hair dryer – even the breezes are hot.  Temperatures all week are above 110 and it makes outdoor activity, especially physical exercise, virtually impossible for a heat weakling like me.  Summer in Phoenix takes on qualities of the winter in the Midwest – a lot of indoors time leads to cabin fever and a little weight gain.  Not so fun.

However our new house brought us into a new neighborhood and we have a community pool.  I started out by just getting a punch pass and over time I may become a monthly member.  It’s great because the lane lines are always in place and there are diving blocks and the warning flags – it’s a real “competition” style pool available to me 6 days a week and all year round.


Being able to get in the pool and get a workout will make this summer tolerable I think.  JT is not a swimmer (I was on the high school swim team for three years) so he has invested in a mountain bike that he takes out on the mountain you can kind of see in the background of the image above while I’m cruising in the pool.  It works out because while I enjoy bikes while on a flat, stable surface, South Mountain is the opposite of flat so we both get some exercise into our 30 something selves.

The pool stays open until 9:15 pm during the week so during the work week I have been swimming in the dusk and evening.  It’s such a cool feeling to glide through the water with the night sky above you.

IMG_4706 2

Here was the workout I did last night:

-1 x 200 freestyle with 100 easy then 100 intense
-1x 50 breaststroke
-1 x 200 freestyle with 100 easy then 100 intense
-1 x 50 backstroke
Repeat the above twice
-500 freestyle with a moderate build
-100 cool down

I’m not Olympic material and don’t necessarily want to join a Masters swim group just because I don’t really have a competitive bone in my body when it comes to sports.  However I do go “full swimmer” and wear a swim cap, goggles and do flip turns during my workout.  It felt like riding a bike (ha ha) – I haven’t done a real “swim practice” since probably 1998 but getting back in the pool and working on my strokes felt so natural.  It’s also a great release from all the “screens” in my life – the work computer, the home computer, the work tablet, the home TV.  When you’re in the pool, swimming in your own lane, it’s just you, your breathing and your thoughts.  I also count each lap to hold my place in the workout (for some of you non-swimmers, a 200 is 8 laps in a 25 yard pool and a 500 is 20 laps) and it’s very meditative.  I’m in (not very) hot water and I love it.


(PS – JT and I have been having a lot of home conversations about the Charleston shootings.  I hope you have conversations with the people in your life too.  We need more conversations and we need change.)


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.



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


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!