Sunday, 26 June 2022

What's happening June 2022

I haven't taken any action on the custom guitar neck yet - but I the guitar in pieces ready to go, I need to make a nut. I wish I took the existing neck off before I ordered it, I was sure the fretboard had overhang, but it does not. Means the end of the neck won't butt up against the guitar. Not ideal, but it will still fit. Lesson is - take your neck off for a looksee before your order a custom one!

I posted my response to Paul Davids' "Never Going Back Agai"n challenge, wow that was hard. My final playthrough is not *superb* but that's okay. I'm pertty happy overall with the video I made, it is instructive but short, has comedy elements - it is one of my better talking videos to date. It's good practise to make videos like that, a useful skill to have in this day and age. I'd love to have a media room in my house - all my videos are full of cars going by, kids talking/watching TV in the background, dogs barking - and the lighting is never right. I need a friend who lives nearby with a studio!

I reckon is quintessential proof I am Ocker - Paul Hogan would be proud. I also posted The Mii Channel Theme, it's good fun 👍

Sunday, 22 May 2022

What's happening May 2022

My custom guitar neck came in! I won't talk about it too much because I am putting together a video about it. Suffice to say, so far so good! The nut dimension is spot on to my specification, the construction and finish is good. People will argue about the fingerboard radius and neck profile ad infinitum, I didn't specify it, I wanted to see what they would come up with. It has a modest fingerboard radius, and a C type neck profile, I may attempt to measure them later. First step will be to make a nut for it, I'll report back on how I go!

Here's a primer photo, straight out of the box, needs a bit of oil to bring out the fretboard colour.

Custom Telecaster neck.

Meanwhile, I am ready to record "Never Going Back Again" but I will post it as some sort of response to Paul's challenge. Did I also mention that I have learnt the Nintendo Wii Mii Channel Theme? That was kinda another challenge. A self imposed challenge I guess. Man it is quirky and fun. I need to record that too. It's a shame I'm in the process of doing a bathroom renovation in my house, where does the time go!?!

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Was never going to try that again...but Paul Davids made me

Paul Davids is such a likeable guy.  Good musician, guitarist, video producer - he has a knack for how many words are too many - and are too few.  I've been watching him for years, right back to when he was in his old house...yeah, he started his youtube channel 4 years after me...  He has a quirky accent to boot.

Anyway, he talked about Never Going Back Again, the fantastic (Fleetwood Mac) Lindsey Buckingham fingerstyle piece. From one of the best albums of all time, "Rumours".  It's a complicated piece, and I'd meddled with it decades ago, but never really bothered to properly learn it.  It's one of those pieces that is already completely full, there's no room to add the melody on top - although Kelly Valleau did with a slightly modified tuning.

I haven't felt the need to learn something complete rote for a long time.  But Paul Davids put out a challenge, so I am learning it completely from the sheet.  Paul was nice enough to include tab portions on his video which I bashed into musescore, now it's just play play play until it gets into your head.  It is within my capabilities, and I can play all the phrases.  But there a big problem, which he did point out, and I also experienced while arranging and learning "The Great Gig in the Sky" have to hold strange bar chords for long times.

Now you can only really hold constant bar chords for a few minutes at a time, which isn't really enough time to get the Travis picking polyrhythm funky chord positions that the song is into your noggin.

The end result I had with "The Great Gig in the Sky" is play it every time you pick up the guitar, after a few months it will go in.  Luckily this song is repetition of the same and similar phrases, so there is less to learn and you can go through the whole thing more then once in a sitting.

So it shouldn't take me months 👍

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

$AUD142 experiment

It could be the Covid-19 talking (I'm nearly over it) but with the time at home in isolation I thought, measured, played, thought some more and rashly laid down $AUD(2022)142 for a very custom telecaster neck.  As previously discussed, 42mm necks on electric guitars don't suit my classical guitar mindset and I'm not at a point where I want them to. But because telecasters/copies are a standard design (thanks Leo!) you can get necks off the internet left right and centre. But every one of them a 42mm nut...

"Big Lou" in the US makes really wide necks for teles and strats, good on him! Good price, $100USD but shipping is more than half the price again!

Now since I live near Asia...well, relatively speaking...and Asia makes, well, most everything, I did an experiment on Aliexpress.  I asked around with the fender neck copiers who could make a 48mm nut neck.  (That's your 1 7/8" nut, so the same as a wide acoustic, but smaller than a classical.  With the fat strings on a classical 48mm feels like a good compromise.) One store didn't get back, one said "can't make" and another said "yes".

I have found in the past that you get amazing stuff out of China for the price. They really know what they are doing and do it in massive volumes.  Sure you get junk but you know when it is going to be junk. How about a custom guitar neck? Hmm. My engineering mind tells me the main cutting is done on some sort of CNC machine, so with a fixed program they can churn out hundreds at a time.  But if they don't have the program for something a bit different, how will they go?

 "Detailed" Custom Telecaster neck specification...

The person I dealt with was extremely responsive and friendly and very forthcoming. But alas, I have found even asking for something off the shelf can be difficult with the cultural and language difficulties. So I carefully worded what I was after, and even drew an annotated picture.  They said "48mm is not standard, are you sure?" - so they were paying attention, that is a good sign. The price went up each time I asked for something non-standard (48mm nut, ebony fingerboard) but I went ahead and paid my $142AUD and now I wait 50 days for it to be built - then they will take a photo before sending it!

What did I order? So Telecaster style, finished neck in maple, matt finish, ebony fretboard with no inlays - but side markings at 5, 7, 12, 17, 19 - and most importantly the 48mm nut width.  So yes, it will look a bit like a classical neck!

Let's see what happens, I'll report back later!

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Neck nut sizes

The size of the nut on the neck of your guitar pretty much sets the "width" of your neck.  Because I started out on classical guitars, typically 50-52mm (1 15/16" -2") that's what was burnt into my brain. When I was given an electric, at 42mm (1 5/8") I played that with a flatpick, but never really got into it.  In the 90's I bought a Maton acoustic, at 44.5mm (1 3/4") I adapted and played fingerstyle on it for a decade.  But as my fingerstyle grew more complex, I found the neck too narrow and restricting for fingerstyle.  I would play my classical and find it easier, but I struggled to go back to the floppy nylon strings.

I tried a crossover nylon in the 2000's with a nut width of 48mm (1 7/8") and I liked it for a year or two, but once I was re-accustomed to nylon strings I went back to a classical at 52mm (2") nut. Full circle, done.

Now I have a new electric, at 43mm (1 11/16"), yeah, that's really cramped for fingerstyle for me.

Playing solo - I would stick with the classical.  However, when I play in a band that has keyboard, multiple vocals, drums and bass, the classical is lost - it sits too close in sound with the keyboard and the vocals.  Acoustic strummed with a pick fits in nicely because it is super-bright, but I want to do more than strum cowboy chords!

Important distinction: Acoustic with pick (or fingernails) - very bright.  Classical with fingernails, mellow with only a hint of sparkly bright coming through the fingernails.

Another important distinction: Acoustic - tough hard fretting.  Classical - lighter touch fretting, on par with electric guitar fretting.

So to get the electric to fingerstyle playable in a band setting I think I will change the neck over to around 48mm (1 7/8") at the nut.  (Remembering that steel string trebles are nice'n'skinny not like classical, so I don't think you need the full 50-52mm.)

Alternatively, put the classical through a super brightening pedal effect.

I'll get back to experimenting :-)

GuitarNut Width    
Nut Width
Telecaster copy43mm1 11/16"
Maton Acoustic44.5mm1 3/4"
Crossover Yamaha Nylon    48mm1 7/8"
Esteve Classical52mm2"