Archive for Guitars

Faxanadu Big Muff Pedal

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Faxanadu Guitar Pedal


Faxanadu NES Game

Mantras and Wingboots await.


I actually thought it was a first party Nintendo game way back in the day, there were some similarities to Zelda II the Adventure of Link and you had to look really hard to find “Hudson Soft” anywhere on the box or instruction manual (it does say it on the opening screen).

I remember weird quippy elves, cool weapon/armor upgrades and some wild bosses:

Faxanadu NES

I used a Big Muff (Mudbunny) pcb  kit for the guts and a 1590dd pedal enclosure.  Covering is high quality uv-resistant arcade style vinyl.

It’s the first in a series, when I’m finished my pedal board is gonna look like a display case in the electronics section of Bradlees (or Caldors, or Ames, or Sears… pick your poison) circa 1988.

  Categories : Arcade/Gaming, Guitars

Making Your Own Guitar Cables & Other News

Saturday, August 16th, 2014


Unlike HDMI or speaker cables ( in modest size runs) there’s actually an audible difference between different types of guitar cables.  I kept reading about these dudes making their own cables and it basically boils down to this: Mogami instrument cable is easily sourced, reasonably priced and sounds pretty damn good compared to other high-end cables. I bought some from this Redco joint they kept talking about.

Couple this with the fact that Orange County Speaker sells GLS plugs at good prices and free shipping and now I’m making up a ton of nice pedal cables.

GLS Pancake Plug

GLS Pancake Plug

The top lug is hot, bottom ground and the Mogami cable simply has a shielding wire (ground) and a black conductive PVC coated wire underneath ( the hot ). One thing to make sure of is to remove some of that black shielding from the top of the hot wire, leaving only the clear insulation near the solder tip like in this picture below.

DIY Guitar Cables

I used W2319 miniature cable for the small pedal cables. I will use W2524 or the Canare (it comes in colors too) next time when I make the regular long guitar cables. There are also non-solder type plugs out there too that I haven’t tried. I checked eBay and noticed many different vendors selling pre-made Canare/Mogami/Neutrik cables and the savings equals about ten dollars per cable doing it yourself. For example, a 20 foot Mogami cable with Neutrik jacks was about thirty dollars, where I could make one for twenty. I especially like being able to create custom size cables and the mini wire is great for pedal board chains.

In other guitar-ing news I tried something and I think it worked: T Shirt iron on transfers on a guitar neck.

Nuka Pinup

Nuka Cola – “Play Refreshed”

Here we have a pre-blast hottie sampling some Nuka Cola out of a real full size Nuka Cola machine. I will lightly spray over it with Tru Oil spray, then once that’s built up a few coats I’ll tru oil with a piece of T-shirt as normal. I do the same for waterslide decals on the headstock, tru oil spray is much more gentle than wiping it on.

Are pinup girls for dirty old men? I don’t think so. I like them and I’m not a dirty old man yet. I’m reminded of Kurt Vonnegut who said he never really experienced the culture or history of any place he ever visited until he was seventy-five. Up until then he was always too busy surveying the women he saw. I suppose I could have used a fully clothed model instead of this poor woman in lingerie… I mean who goes out at 11 o’clock at night with their skivvies on to backhanded catch a refreshing Nuka Break? Someone I’d like to meet I’d wager. I won’t hold it against her… plus I will never forget where the twelfth fret is with a big pair of jugs on them.

Oh yeah, as I’m making a clone of my Big Muff Pi I bought back in 1993 or so, I came across some “tropical fish” capacitors:

tropical fish capacitor

Check out my Chiclets

I love these retro out of print things, I will try and use them wherever I can in pedal builds. I ‘m also considering buying one or two of every type and housing them in a small aquarium. Who has time to clean up a bunch of algae and fish shit anyways? I clean up enough turd with Bunger Diddy around.

Bunger Diddy

Bunger Diddy, aging yet spry. Seen here contemplating the next cicada.

It’s nice that Timmy the Fox doesn’t need much looking after… however a strange “chicken of the woods” mushroom recently appeared near the Timmy log. It grew and grew, the picture is about when it was 3/4 size. Timmy and his girlfriend wouldn’t come to the log because of it. They would wait for me to throw them food instead, so I killed that poor mushroom. Can’t have it infringing on the Timmys.

chicken of the woods mushroom

KFC for Gnomes.

Ignitor Style 5 String Fretless Bass Guitar

Monday, July 21st, 2014
Ignitor Bass Guitar

Ignitor Style 5 String Fretless Bass

A long while ago on eBay I picked up a Carvin fretless five string neck-thru neck for a whopping 115 bucks (they are normally about $259). Next I managed to find a 5 string Schaller roller bridge for a whopping $45 on the ‘bay (normally $80 thanks Alex Pepiak of Lost Art Vintage). Finally I found a set of padauk covered Reed James five string jazz pickups on the ‘bay for $58 bucks …

Fifty … eight … bucks …

Ignitor Bass Guitar

Paint with Pearl gold ghost pearl over orange mixol.

I really, really felt like I stole those padauk covered pickups–especially since he sells wood covered pickups for $350 a set. They are stabilized and CNC machined I believe and best of all they sound mint as hell.

I guess I really *&%%&ing made out with this build, it’s my first fretless, it plays great, sounds great and you can swing it like an axe to kill and or grievously injure.

The wings on this bass are poplar that I sourced a while ago from Paul at Northstar Custom Tonewoods in NH, beautiful white clear poplar. The body shape mimics a B.C. Rich Ignitor–a somewhat rare guitar that is now only possible to acquire through their custom shop. I first saw this guitar on the forums years ago, some people really liked it and some hated it. I kinda dig the shape, some say it looks like a dead sheep–but I see more of an arachnid, like a contorted assassin bug or something.

I finished this one with Minwax Polycrylic mixed with orange mixol, then I sprayed polycrylic laced with ghost pearl over that for a gold metallic effect. It shines a brilliant gold in the sunlight but looks way more orange where it’s not reflecting. I went volume/volume for the controls and the little button between the knobs is a killswitch.

Ignitor 5 String Bass Guitar

Gleaming in the sun.

  Categories : Guitars

Zelda 25th Anniversary Telecaster Guitar

Monday, June 2nd, 2014
Zelda Guitar

Zelda 25th Anniversary Telecaster Guitar

Zelda guitar tru oil transtint

Zelda headstock – waterslide decal under tru oil.

When the Legend of Zelda’s 25th anniversary was announced I got the idea for a 25th anniversary telecaster guitar. I didn’t finish it until recently. People sometimes ask me how I can afford to make so many guitars, most standard electric guitar projects probably costs about 300-400 or more (unless you really use bottom of the barrel parts or you make your own hardware/pickups)  but I simply buy the parts slowly one at a time. One week a bridge, one month a pickup etc. Eventually I manage to complete one.

I didn’t build the body on this one, I bought it from Plaid Sabbath guitar works when he was selling them on the Guitar Reranch forums. This one was a heavy, dingy poplar telecaster body and so far it’s my finest sounding guitar. I made the curly maple neck with fiber optic fret markers. I didn’t do the inlay on the ebony board though, managed to find that on eBay a year or so ago. I thought the vine inlay fit somewhat with the Zelda motif and the color of it matches the triforce emblem to a T. The triforce was laser cut by Ponoko and I simply placed fluorescent yellow transparent acrylic under it (sanded slightly to seem opaque rather than transparent).

Zelda leds guitar

Zelda triforce and fiber optic fret markers.

A few leds sit under the triforce, these are fired by a small switch on the control plate. This switch turns on the green fiber optic markers too. Two AA batteries sit in a battery holder under the control panel, I used threaded inserts instead of screws on the control plate so it’s easily removed. A Sanwa pushbutton next to the triforce acts as a killswitch.

The curly maple neck was first dyed with a small amount of Colonial Maple Transtint dye in water. Next I lightly sanded it back with 220 grit leaving color only in the grain of the wood. Then I dyed over the whole thing once more with the Transtint for that nice tiger-stripe effect. Finally finished it with tru oil — my preferred neck finish if the neck will be bare wood and or dyed in the

Zelda guitar curly maple

Curly maple with transtint and tru oil.

red/orange/yellow range (tru oil tends to add an amber tint). Oh yeah, the finish is pure Target Coatings EM1000 sanding sealer mixed with PaintwithPearl gold pearl — it looked so nice I decided to not even clear coat and it’s held up great. Kind of a matte gold finish.

Last but not least: the pickup. Aaron Campbell at Rumpelstiltskin Pickups (how great is that name?) wound a screaming 13k Alnico V bridge pickup for me which I unofficially labeled the “Rumpelstiltskin Nightmare.” This is the best sounding guitar I currently own — plugged in or unplugged. The guitar has a great trebl-y snap to the low E and A strings, plus a “woody” sort of tone, really nice. The pickup is clear yet hot, great harmonics and sounds so big I forget that it’s a single coil. Maybe one day I’ll make a normal tele? Not today.

One of my favorite embellishments is the original Link image on the top of the headstock. Whenever I see that art I’m reminded of sixth grade when I took Thursday plus Friday off to beat NES Zelda in four days assisted only by Kool Aid and the fold-out map. It was a grand adventure.

Zelda Tele Nintendo


  Categories : Guitars

Raisinburst Jaguar Style Bass

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
Raisinburst Jaguar Bass

Raisinburst Jaguar Bass

Raisinburst? Or the “Raisin of Death…” I like the Raisin of Death better. I made the body from a Swamp Ash blank and chose a heavier swamp ash body to balance out the neck. The neck is a Moses graphite neck with some nice mother of pearl inlays. I got the neck on a sale for only 155.00 as these necks can cost over 350 dollars. Badass bass bridge pulled from a 70s P bass the auction said. Pickups are Blackwood CNC covered … what’s that dude’s name… oh yeah Reed James pickups. He had a sale a while back after a Namm show and I don’t think anyone really noticed. I snagged two pairs of Jazz pickups, these blackwood ones and a padauk set for 140, two sets! I’m pretty sure his wood covered pickups start over 2 or three hundred dollars. They are damn nice, nice sounding too which is what counts. I had no idea what this bass might sound like, never using a graphite neck before. Easily my best sounding bass though. Oh yeah, the nut was blessed by a Romanian witch for extra tone and sustain.

Back in the 90’s when I really played bass I owned a late 80’s Fender Japan J bass, a lame Kramer bass, a Guild Pilot 5 string and a 74′ Rickenbacker 4001. This one’s tone smokes all of them, but I still haven’t restored the 4001. I actually didn’t play bass for many years, or guitar. Geez, probably fourteen years of no playing. A few years ago, about four to be exact I started playing again and also started really playing guitar beyond cowboy chords. After a week of playing bass I was right back where I was with the exception of finger endurance and callouses which took about a month. Anyways I’m getting sidetracked… Moses graphite neck is sick, not sterile or weird at all, very woody and piano-like chortle. Lots of chorge in it. I originally finished it in a blue dyed burst but the straw colored swamp ash made it look green. I then just slathered a bunch of purple transtint dye over it and I liked how it came out… like a “raisinburst” or something. It’s a little more purple in person and blue-ish purple on the burst edge.

  Categories : Guitars

A few years ago Nintendo celebrated the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. with the release of a red Wii, red DSi XL and Mario All Stars for the Wii. Soon after I imagined a Fender La Cabronita style guitar dyed completely red in honor of the plumber’s silver anniversary. I like the simplicity of the La Cabronita design and I think it makes a fine high-gain single humbucker monstrosity.

Many months later… Behold, The La Fontanero Super!

Mario Guitar

La Fontanero Super

The guitar boasts an Allparts Tele style neck, Wilkinson Vintage Tuners, some cheap (but very decent) top-loading bridge and one of the lightest Swamp Ash guitar bodies I’ve ever come across.  After I cut the shape I used a cheapy Harbor Freight oscillating spindle sander to hone down the coarse edges of the body. The resulting body was light as a feather and the finished guitar weighs 6.2 pounds.

 After routing the pickup cavities I sanded it to 320 grit and then “whiskered” the wood several times with a damp rag. Each time I did this it raised the wood grain a bit and I lightly sanded back the “burs” or fuzzy wood fibers. I then used a combination of powdered transfast dyes (Cardinal Red, Scarlet Red) mixed in distilled water to achieve a sort of “blood red.” Once the body and neck were dyed accordingly I finished it with Tru Oil, applying this several times using small pieces of old t-shirt, carefully spreading it in one thin layer at a time. I must have applied the Tru Oil 20 times or more on the body, waiting about three hours between coats. Normally I do 4-5 coats on a neck for example, but this wood was so dry and light it drank up a ton of it.

I tried mixing 40% mineral spirits (dyed with transfast) to 60% Tru Oil. This works with oil based dyes but I tried water based and it helped me dye the guitar a very evenly red color. If I used this mixture alone it would not have looked super red, the dye darkened in the Tru Oil quite a bit, but it worked very well to deepen the overall red color and to cover some of the hard to reach pores in the grain that didn’t take the water based dye too easily. I did this on the body only, you can see it is a darker red than the neck, but not by a whole lot.  I applied three coats of normal Tru Oil to one coat of the dyed oil, sanding back lightly every three coats or so.  Hitting the oil with 600 grit sandpaper between every third coat or so worked nicely.

I routed the pickguard from clear acrylic and I placed a metallic print of the 25th Mario Anniversary logo underneath it. The lone volume knob has a push/pull pot rigged with an Arlo West/Woodman cocked wah mod (thanks Deaf Eddie for the wiring help.)

I must say the red neck with black tuners and dots looks quite evil. It reminds me of that horny guy from the movie Legend — no, not Tom Cruise.



  Categories : Guitars
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