Category Archives: D.I.Y.

I Must Do Something Creative

 

I spend a few weekends a month gigging out. It’s really fun, and I get to play my electric guitars loud…which I love. Every now and then though I get the itch to do something creative for myself. It’s a demand from my wiring, really. If left un-quenched, it can turn into an almost neurosis-level rattle that makes me insane. It’s like having a ball baring rolling back and forth inside the dashboard of your car with every turn you make. Eventually the want and need to solve the problem heats to the fire of a nuclear blast. In the past, this has usually translated into me writing/recording music.

So, this very thing happened a few months back and I decided I wanted to learn one of my favorite songs. Then I decide to make a video of me singing and playing it. This really isn’t something I do regularly, if at all, much less share it on the blog…but hey what can I say? I’m getting older and care a hell of a lot less what people think…but as a musician I still crave peoples attention…life is messy, right? Here’s me, exercising creative demons and covering one of my favorite songs, “All Night Long” by Peter Murphy.

 

The Road To Minimalism II

Since the last post we have been busy, each weekend, hauling loads of stuff to Goodwill. It’s pretty incredible how much we have accumulated.

For me, I think my minimalist tendencies started a few years back, when I looked around me and realized I had something like 20 guitars. Simply keeping all these guitars around in a little 800 square foot house in south St. Louis was a challenge in itself. What happened was I began to realize, even playing multiple gigs a week, I couldn’t possibly utilize all of them. I got to a point where I stopped going to vintage guitar shops to look around, realizing I had way more than I ever needed, or deserved really. I then began getting rid of them.

Now, does this mean I’m cured? Not by a longshot. Take, for example, my pastime of building guitars (I really just part them together). The pic below is of 2 such guitars I’ve made since we got to Phoenix. One is my beloved pine Barncaster, the other is a highly functional and very playable Strat. It was a blast putting them together, a fun and intricate process. The problem is….I have managed to replace buying more guitars than I need with building more guitars than I need.

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Pine Barncaster, Superstrat. Sorry for the shitty pic

So now the idea is to get down to just a couple guitars. I already have a 95 Les Paul that my father gave me for graduating university. That one stays with me forever….so the question now is what else to keep? Is 2 or 3 guitars overkill for someone that wants to be less burdened by their belongings? Does my gigging regularly justify it? Hell I have no idea. Still adjusting to this whole thing.

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My 1995 Gibson Les Paul, equipped with 2 high-output Seymour Duncan pickups

The other thing I have focused on lately is selling all the little guitar parts that I have accumulated over the years working on guitars. None of it is worth a ton, but when I added it up, $10-$20 a pop, I had at least a few hundred bucks just laying around. I sell all this (along with the guitars) on my Reverb store. I’ve already sold a ton of stuff this way in the last few weeks, and I have a lot more to get listed!

Shop My Store on Reverb

Another major we are moving toward minimalism is getting a stall at the Thieves Market in Tempe, on December 3. This will be a great way to get rid of a great deal of the vintage stuff we have laying around. Expect a full report here soon. Alright, JT signing off. Stay sleazy.

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Hope for the Future (of our master bathroom)

Well guys, instead of sitting around and repining the state of my world (and the world) again this weekend, I feel a coffee fueled master bathroom renovation is in order.  Here are some disgusting before images to fuel me towards greatness …

In the image above, you can see the bright white on the left from painting the master bedroom versus the fleshy beige and the side and back walls of the sink nook that we inherited from the former owner.  Be gone fleshy beige!!  And boob lights and ugly, too small bath bars that are unbalanced in the space.  Sigh.  My favorite part is the wonderful designer who transitioned the floor from tile to carpet at just the right place … to leave a little sliver of white wood base next to the tile base.  The devil is in the details.

See you on the other side! (Have a great weekend, call your legislators!)  Cheers – CT

The next living room change is …

As I mentioned in the last post, I foresee some changes happening to this room as it has started evolving more rapidly since the addition of the area rug.  The paintings are still safe for now but JT and I have discussed a re-do. (He’s on board, gotta love that guy.)   Instead we had an out-of-the-blue, spur-of-the-moment, why-the-hell-not ottoman makeover project on our long Labor Day weekend.

It started a while ago, when we got the new sofa.  We’ve been loving this thing and basically live on it (I’m typing from there right now).  We thought an upholstered ottoman might be more comfortable than the Ikea Strind for general lounging about – the Strind has two large glass panels that have somehow survived two moves but did take out JT’s smartphone once – and on a half-off Saturday at Goodwill we came across the perfect candidate. Will you look at that, it actually fit perfectly into the truck.  (Can you tell we’re kind of in love with our truck?  #trucknerds)

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If your eagle eyes can read that Goodwill tag on the ragged corner of this bonded-leather beauty, you are correct that it says $5.99.  And don’t forget – it was half off day!  So this ottoman only cost $3.00!  Not quite because we still had to purchase fabric as I wasn’t keeping it in THIS condition but not too shabby.

While we still had “the thing” penned up in the back of the truck and airing out from the eau-de-Goodwill, we stopped by Joann for the next purchase.  JT was definitely the only man in the store and he marveled at the size and quantity (and need for) so much crafting stuff.  Or maybe he was more perplexed than marveling.  Your call.

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We found this great Nate Berkus fabric that should have been $45 for our three yards but we scored for $22.50 thanks to a major Labor Day sale.  So let’s bring our ottoman price up to $25.50 and call it good.  I also bought the buttons shown in the picture above but decided once I had the thing upholstered that I didn’t want them.

Then began the disassembly process.  JT tackled the much-abused base with some Restor-A-Finish we had on hand from the Danish Daybeds.  I removed a percentage of the staples (especially around the corners where I knew we would need to be adding more staples back in) and the black tack fabric to remove some bulk.  We left the bonded leather in place and cut the tufting buttons free from the inside of the frame.  The fabric cutting and sewing process did not get photo documentation but took the span of about five Friends episodes and ended with a locked up sewing machine about one inch from the end of the last seam.  I need to take the machine in to get oiled and serviced, it’s probably about time.

Once the bottomless cube was (imperfectly) sewn up (and please note I was careful to choose a fabric that would disguise my low seamstress skills), it was time to stretch that baby onto the (heavily Febreezed with my own homemade concoction of vodka, vinegar and lavender essential oil) base!  We used our trusty Stanley staple gun with 3/8″ staples and pounded in any stragglers with a hammer.  The staples didn’t have any trouble going through both our new upholstery and the bonded leather (or vinyl?) so I’m glad we didn’t go to the pain of removing the original material.  I included the last picture above to highlight JT’s drill bit extender – this has come in really handy when you need to attach screws in a deep pocket like this frame had.

And the afters!  We’re loving it and definitely changing out our paintings to get rid of the mossy greens and clay colors.  And that wet bar … I’ve got my eye on that catch-all-junk, 80s eyesore of a wet bar.

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There’s starting to be a lot of pattern going on in this room and we considered going with a milder ottoman fabric but we figured for the price we might as well “go bold or go home” as they say.

Then I styled it up with a tray I had on hand and some of the items that were living on the coffee table before.

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There you have it – the living room has morphed again.  All while Shenanigan gave us the cold shoulder from his puppy pillow perch in the corner.  He is still mad at us for a camping “adventure” we had Friday night near Flagstaff.  Needless to say he was not a happy camper and so we cut the trip short and so our ottoman project was a great diversion on a long weekend.  Have a great short week and we’ll be back at the weekend before you know it!  Cheers – CT

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Night Lights

One thing I didn’t talk about too much when I debuted our new art was the picture lights.  I searched high and low for just the right thing and never quite found what I was looking for – so I MacGuyvered up a solution.

I was looking for picture lights that were a) affordable and b) white.  Affordable large art lights were surprisingly hard to find.  I finally stumbled up these at Shades of Light (not the best picture but all they had on their website so I took a leap of faith).

SHADES OF LIGHT LIGHT

I got out my trusty spray paint and sprayed them matte white so they would blend in with the wall and not fight with the other metal finishes we have going on in the room.  The lights mount to the actual canvas and then we used two screws at the outer corners to mount the canvas to the wall and allow space for the cord to travel down the middle.  They’re hooked to an extension cord behind the bookcase so one flip of the power cord switch and both lights come on.

Night Light

And voila, we have art lights.  The cords peek out at the bottom of the canvases but are mostly hidden behind the record storage unit and camouflaged by the tchotchkes sitting on top.  So in the evening we have a nice glow in the living room and a subtle highlight to the art pieces we worked so hard to create!

Cheers – CT

 

 

1975 Fender Precision Bass with Jazz Bass Neck

Sometimes getting clear dates on vintage guitars and basses is a mess. It’s an easy enough question; “what year was this made?” It’s not unreasonable to think doing a little research for about 20 minutes on the internet will answer it for you, but in a lot of cases (especially this one) the ride towards the truth is damn bumpy.

I came across this on craigslist, which was advertised as a 1976 Fender Precision Bass with Jazz Bass neck. Lot’s of parts had been replaced years ago, but with the first look I knew I could sell it. Sometimes mojo and sheer coolness make up for a ton of non-original parts. I’ll pocket that one for a future blog perhaps.

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The Story:
I was told that the original owner ordered this bass from Fender with an ash P-Bass body and a Jazz Bass neck. The previous owner took the bass to a reputable, Fender-licensed shop to have a new identical label placed on the headstock. Before Fender would release the label, the guitar had to be verified to be original, which it was, based on the details and serial numbers present.

I come across intriguing stories like this all the time. I know that back in the day you could call up the factory and order guitars however you wanted them. The major Detroit car makers did the same thing at the same time.

My thing is (I guess it’s a thing? What’s a thing, really?) I can’t really believe these things until I investigate myself. In a lot of cases these dudes don’t want you popping the neck and pickguard off to look at dating codes, so when negotiating a price you have to take that into consideration. I got a great deal on this one so I sprung for it.

The Facts:

Here’s where I turn into Professor Propeller-Head and you’ll have to pay attention to the details.

Around 1976, Fender started what we consider today to be the modern serial number system. It’s pasted on the headstock and the first two characters tell you the year (S7 = 1977, E1 = 1981). This is generally accepted to be the year the guitar was made, and you have little to worry about unless the neck doesn’t match up with the body or other shit like that.

So the guy whom I bought it from claimed it was a 1976. Great. That means the serial number is on the headstock….but wait…he didn’t like how “old” it looked so he did a pro refin job on the headstock, and had the label replaced with one identical. Nothing against this guy- he was nice…but why oh why do people to this?

So here is a pic of the “identical label” that was replaced. Notice anything? The label is actually a label from the early 70’s era (up through 1975).

Early 70's Era Label

Early 70’s Era Label

This led me to think that what I had here was not in fact a 76, but likely a 75 or earlier. Time to pop the neck off, and look at the date code on the heel:

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The code on the neck heel reads (from what I can tell) 02011713

Generally this means:
02 – Jazz Bass
01 – Rosewood Fingerboard
17 – Week code
1 – 1971
3 – Wednesday

1971. What the hell?

Here’s where you start banging your head against the wall.

It’s known that sometimes with these Fender neck heel date codes the last two numbers were transposed, so there’s a good possibility that the “3” actually represents 1973. It’s also possible that the numbers are faded enough that I’m reading them wrong. Take a look at the picture.

The neck plate serial number reads 508162, placing the date around 1973, 1974. I’m not a huge fan on relying on a removable part to determine the date of the guitar body, but in this case the date matches up to the era of the neck.

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Going a little further, the neck pocket, while not having any date codes to read, does have period-correct quality assurance markings. The name “FRANK” is the name of a dude that worked in the Fender factory and shows up on other period-matching guitars and basses.

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This is a huge hassle, and you might wonder, as I have, why Fender didn’t take better care in providing trackable dates?

Look- the answer is that these guitars were made in a mass-production factory environment. The folks putting them together grabbed parts from boxes, and it wasn’t uncommon to have a year-old neck slapped onto a new body. They worked with what was around. They also didn’t know that there would be nerds like you and me desperately working to curate and determine specific years of manufacture. They simply weren’t in the business of making that clear and traceable.

The bottom line is I could determine with some certainty that this was a body and neck from the same era. For Reverb posting purposes I called it a 1975, but the the fact is I don’t have a clue exactly what year it was assembled and sold.

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Why go through all of this? Well for one I can’t assess the value and place an accurate and fair price until I play this “who-the-hell-are-you” game. The biggest reason though is this is EXACTLY what sellers like me are responsible for. You have to commit to due diligence and make sure people know the full story. The folks I sell to aren’t collectors or high rollers- they’re dudes and ladies like me who don’t make a ton of money, but want and frankly deserve to play cool vintage guitars.

Just call me Ray Zalinsky: I sell guitars to the American working man because that’s who I am and that’s who I care about.

I sold this via my Reverb store to a fellow in Georgia, seemed to really like it. He asked for a copy of the research, and I was happy to comply.

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.