Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Bass! Part 3, Punk Rock Bass

Part 1:

Part 2:

So I have been having problems with the wiring.  Seriously, I've been working something like a week on it.  But instead of making a long story out of it, I'll just say this.  It seems one of the volume pots was bad, and not sending enough signal through to the tone pot.  That's why I couldn't get the tone pot to work.

I do want to say now that the volume is LOUD!!!  Now that I have a proper working volume pot, it's surprising just how loud these Dragonfire active pickups are.  I can't wait to get strings on this bass.

And simply put, I yanked out everything, and started with all new parts.

So after getting all the electronics working, I made holes for all the screws, and fitted the pickguard and output jack. 

Even though I don't have the bridge yet, I used my straight edge to get a proper angle on how I should shim the neck.  I used a rather thick piece of wood, and shimmed it.  It came out exactly how I wanted.  I may have to adjust it further once I get the bridge in, but it's a good start.

So onto the pictures!!!

So the bass looks very worn and punk rock to me.  It was a great bass to get some practice in on a few things.  More to come when I get the bridge in the mail, and get the bass finally set up.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Bass! Part 2

Here's part 1.  It might make more sense to read it first.

So I am trying to get this bass up and running.  It's not as simple as putting parts together.  There are so many things I'm having to adjust, sand, cut, and rig, just to get it to somewhat work together.

First up, let me show some pictures so everyone knows what I am talking about.

Let's go over what I'm talking about.

1.  I had to cut some foam to put under the pickups.  I then had to drill the screw holes even longer so the screws could go in.
2.  I had to adjust the pickguard even more to get those P-Bass pickups to fit in.  It was a lot of sanding and such.  Just a lot of what I have been doing.
3.  I just did away with the pots that came with the Dragonfire pickups.  I have a whole box of EMG pots, so I used them.  They are mini-pots so I can use them without having to route out part of the body.
4.  Speaking of routing...  I routed the body so the pickups would fit better.  I also routed the pickguard so I can fit it in the truss rod hex adjuster. 

Frankly, it's just a lot of nipping things in the bud here and there.  Again, universal parts are not universal! 

Up next is wiring the active pickups.  This is kind of funny, but Dragonfire didn't include a wiring diagram.  Usually I can do these without looking at a diagram, but I haven't done an active set in a while.  So I downloaded the EMG diagram.  Since these pickups are supposed to be a copy of them, I decided to just go right to the source. 

After that, I will get the neck on there, and wait for the bridge to come in the mail.  That, of course, means more blogging.  Keep posted.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

About That Time Roxy First Heard Jackyl

For those who have read my blog from the beginning you know that Roxy (not her real name) was my girlfriend for about two years.  Since we broke up, I don't really tell any stories about her due to keeping private things private.  However, this is kind of funny so I don't mind telling it.

It was on our ill-fated voyage to West Virginia.  The trip up there took something like 22 hours.  Roxy had never had to sit in a vehicle that long, and was getting completely stir crazy.  Actually she was bordering on full blown, just give me an F-ing excuse, crazy.  Let's just say she didn't ride well.

Anyway, since we couldn't really get any rock stations in West Virginia, I had my I-pod playing.  It was then that this song came on:

That's right.  With chainsaw and guitars it must be, "The Lumberjack" by Jackyl.  She just looked at the radio with disgust and said, "Is this some sort of joke?" 

To which I replied.  "No, you've got to rock me, roll me, Jackyl me off!!!" 

It seems she had never heard of Jackyl before.  That, and using a chainsaw as a lead instrument. 

For those who want a good look at what Jackyl can do live, here's "Headed for Destruction" live from Woodstock 94'. 

If you want a band that just oozes Southern Rock, grab their first album.  There's not a bad song on it. 

For the record, Roxy did enjoy quite a lot of the music I sent her.  She didn't get to listen to the broad range of music that I did while growing up.  So she was always thankful when I would give her a mix CD.  On a side note, do you all remember making a mixtape for that person you liked?  I didn't get to do that, but once I got my computer set up I was the king of making mix CD's. 

Anyway, she was always thankful when I would make her a mix CD, or send her an MP3 via E-mail.  However, after driving for so long, and going stir crazy, she was just not in the mood for Jackyl.  And now we are no longer together, and I stand alone.

(For those that don't get the joke.  "I Stand Along" was Jackyl's biggest hit off their first album.)

The Bass! There Are No Such Things As Universial Parts

I had a friend ask me about this Cort bass he acquired.  It was just a neck and body.  It was missing the pickguard, pickups, and electronics.  I told him it would cost more to get it up and running than to buy a used Fender MIM Jazz Bass at Guitar Center.  So in an act of kindness/vengeance he did something very kind/evil to me.  He gave it to me.

This is kind of two-fold good/bad.  I love all things musical.  But even for a roughed up bass that needs more work than it deserves, I just can't let go.  I can't let it go.  So I started work on it.

First off, the frets were shot.  I can do a re-fret in my sleep, so that was the first thing to be done.  And to be honest, the old frets came out easier than any other instrument I've worked on.  So this one really needed some work.

Okay, that's the quick version.  I didn't want to bore you with detail.  Let's say, it's done, Boo ya!

Next, look at this:

You know, the problem with this P-Bass?  It's not a PJ Bass!!!!!!  So I decided to add a Jazz pickup to it.  That means I moved the output jack.  You can see where I drilled the hole for it. 

Let's move on.  Here's the nice little hole I drilled for the Jazz pickup.

I decided to give the Dragonfire active pickups a try.  I was thinking about GFS pickups, but let's be honest, Artec makes all the overseas pickups, I figure there couldn't be too much difference between the two, but that will be in another post.

Here is me fitting the Jazz Bass pickup.

And here is me trying to fit the pickguard to the body.

This is going to be tough.  The Cort has it's own type of pickguard.  So I am making due with what I have.  I had to widen the pickup route for the pickup.  I may have to route out the wood to fit these P-Bass pickups.  I will also have to route out a spot for the truss rod adjuster.  I will then have to make all new holes for the screws.  Not to mention, a new bridge is on it's way from Hong Kong. 

Here's something that I have never encountered before.  When Dragonfire pickups shipped the parts, they included the correct pots.  However, they didn't send any washers, lock washers, or nuts.  What's up with that?  I've never had that happen before.  Never.

So obviously my work is far from done.  What does that mean?  Another blog post of course!  Stay tuned.  I may get a working bass, I may get a pile of junk, who knows?

Adrian Needs a Permanent Vacation

It's true.  I need a permanent vacation.  But not the one you think.  One of the first rock n' roll albums that I ever got was Aerosmith's "Permanent Vacation."  I can remember getting it for my birthday in 1987.  That would have made me 11 years old.  I have to say it honestly changed the way I think about rock n' roll. 

And in all honesty, I still have my original tape from my birthday in 1987.

When I was in college I was in my "vinyl" faze.  Guess what I came across?  That's right.  Did I buy it?  You bet I did.

And yes, that is the exact picture of my "Permanent Vacation" vinyl album. 

So it occurred to me a few weeks ago, that this album that I have ranked #2 of my greatest personal albums of all time is not in my collection on CD.

Well, I checked on Ebay, and it turned out that a lot of old CDs are being sold for .99 cents plus shipping.  Well, a little over three bucks and five days later I had this in my hands.

It's not in great condition, but it works in my car's CD player, and that's all that counts. 

I now feel compete as I put both "Permanent Vacation" and "Pump" on my Ipod.  Since I've talked about it so much, you might as well give it a listen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, Acidity and Alakaline

I have always loved fish.  Let me clarify, I have loved having fish as pets.  From about the time I was 12 I really studied up on them to learn how a fishtank worked.  During that time a lot of the equipment changed.  The good news is it changed for the better.  So I learned how to use a lot of the new equipment to make a better tank.

However, there was one weak point.  I was/am terrible at chemistry, which is kinda important when you have a fishtank.  Truthfully, I failed both halves of chemistry in high school.  I failed high school chemistry again in college.  When I took it a second time I would have failed it, but the professor took pity on me, and gave me a "C."

I worked at many pet stores.  They hired me due to my strengths in knowing how the big world of fish and fishtanks work.  Once I was there, I was the "go to" guy on all things fish.

So when I started having problems with my own fishtank lately I was a little more than upset.  I was switching my tank over from tetras, which I have had for almost 20 years to gouramis.  At first, I was suspect of the place I was getting them from.  Independent stores can either be really hit or miss.  It was when I brought home two beautiful gouramis that died within 24 hours that I started to suspect the problem was on my end.

Long story short, I got my acidity and alkaline mixed up on the PH scale.  I got them completely backwards.  Since I am pulling my water straight out of the well, it was really alkaline due to the limestone we have in the Florida aquifer.  My water was coming in at a 7.8 PH.  Now gouramis can live at that PH water, but when they come from the pet store with water at 6.6 PH, it tends to kill them.

When I realized my mistake I started testing everything.  The well water, the water out of the sink, the fishtank, and most importantly, the water out of the rain barrel.  Yes, my sister has a rain collection barrel for certain plants in her garden.  When I tested it, it came in at a perfect 7.0 PH, completely neutral.  So I changed my tank water over 70%.  When I tested it, it came in at 7.0 PH. 

So I went to the store and bought 6 new gouramis.  2 blue, 2 gold, 2 pearl.  A few days later I went to another pet store and bought 4 opaline gouramis.  So those ten, along with the original 3, plus the pleco are doing fine.  I haven't lost one yet.  They are getting along, and so far I haven't detected any problems. 

Honestly, I am mad at myself.  I know everyone makes mistakes.  But I hold myself to a higher level in that I was supposed to be a sort of "fish specialist."  But I'm glad I got it right now. 

So to end this story, here are the pictures and some video. 


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Falling in Autumn

I decided to paint a "Fall' painting.  I also decided to paint it Bob Ross style.  Really fast, and lots of paint.  I'm still undecided on it.

The first picture is with a flash.  The second one is without one.

There are things I like about it, but I think by getting in a hurry I put paint where paint didn't need to be.  I know you are supposed to look at paintings at least 10 feet away, so looking at them on the computer kind of defeats that point. 

I don't know.  I was happy with it, but the more I look at it, the more I am unhappy with it.  Maybe I should add some more paint overtop of other paint? 

This reminds me of a previous blog I wrote called, "I am a terrible painter."

That was followed by, "I am a terrible painter, part 2."

Of all the funny things that was followed by, "I am a sloppy painter?"

I guess the main point I was making is that, I am really bad at painting.  I'll have to think on which direction to go with this painting, even thought it is technically "finished."