Thursday, May 31, 2012

Buzzards: Nature's Recyclers

It was a sad day today.  A small deer did not make it across the road.  Well, it kinda did.  It just ended up there dead.  But as this is Florida, and as sure as the sun will shine, meat will not be wasted.  Not with all the buzzards that are hanging around Lutz.

It was a pretty wild scene.  At least 40 or so black buzzards were writhing around like a pit of vipers.  Once I broke my camera out a few of them became camera shy.  But I got a few good pictures of them.

I love that lone buzzard hanging out in the road.  Buzza don't care!

But I was not content to just take pictures.  I took some video clips with my camera.  You can see how excited the buzzards were.  At least that's what I think when I look at them.

I want to report that all buzzards got their fill.  About two hours after I took these photos, there were only two buzzards eating.  All the rest were hanging in the trees and pooping.  To be honest, they took care of that deer pretty quick.  They truly are nature's recycling machines.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Guitar Project #7, The Rosewood Telecaster, Part 2

Here is Part 1:

Today was a perfect Saturday afternoon for woodworking.  I was actually working on two Telecasters, but I will only talk about the rosewood one in the post.

First off, I had a few things I wanted to accomplish.  I'll show the photo first, and way what I did to it.

First up, I routed out the neck pocket perfectly.  I am getting much better than I was.  I also cleaned up the pickup and cavity routes.

Next, I took the bandsaw, and cut the rest of the body into shape.  It reminds me of a very early piece of advice I got when I started my luthier training.  Cut the neck pocket first, then cut out the rest of the body.

Next, I cleaned up the neck pocket, and added the screw holes.

Mostly, I sanded the crap out of this thing.  Man, I thought maple was hard.  This rosewood ranks right up there with it.  I am so thankful for my spindal sander.  It helps with 90 degree sanding, and I don't know what I ever did before I had one.

This has me worried.  I was originally happy with this being a one piece block of rosewood.  However, this is a calcium deposit that is running right down the middle of the tree.  I have a feeling that I am going to have to fill it in with CA glue mixed with rosewood dust.

I wanted to get an idea of what this body would look like once I put a finish on it.  The easy way to do that is to wet the wood.  It also gives me an idea if I would want to darken the wood, or leave it the way it is.

My next step is do keep sanding.  I can't really do much more than that until I order parts for it.  So far I am pretty happy with it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Guitar Project #7, The Rosewood Telecaster

So I'm back in the workshop.  As I am finishing up one Telecaster I am starting another.  I think it was more luck that determined my choice of wood than brains.  I inherited a huge piece of Rosewood.  It was big enough to make a Telecaster body out of it without having to glue pieces together.  It was a rare piece of wood that is the perfect size for a guitar body.

Back in 1968 (I believe) Fender made an all Rosewood Telecaster for The Beatles George Harrison.  He used that guitar on the last few Beatles' albums, as well as his solo album, All Things Must Pass.  It had a very distinctive sound to it.

So I knew that this would be the perfect project for me.  Here's a picture where I have just started the rough cutting.

I then laid out the cutting line for the neck pocket, pickups, and control cavity.  I put a few forester bit cuts in the cavities so the router bits could get started.

In this picture, you can see where I have used a mini-router/dremel to route out the cavities.  It may take longer, but I have better control over what I am doing, and where I am cutting.

Next is the view of the back of the guitar.

I am worried about a place right in the middle of the guitar.  If you look (side to side, middle) at the back, you can see what looks like a crack.  It's where the middle of the tree was.  It's a calcium deposit.  I will probably have to fill and glue it up.

I did a bit of sanding on the back, and boy, is this rosewood hard.  It's also heavy too.  I'm betting this guitar will have a weight balance similar to a Paul Reed Smith.  In other words, a very heavy body, but the overall balance will be nice.

More to come when work continues on it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I'm Finally Putting My Orchestra Training To Use

As I am in the process of making my album, "This Divided Highway," I am continually bouncing ideas off of my friend/producer Josh.  There has been a lot of discussion on what instruments to use.  There have also been a lot of questions on what is considered "an instrument."  But I'll get into that later.

I was telling Josh, that I was laying out the instruments for the songs like an orchestra is laid out.  Here's a layout of an orchestra.

When I was in orchestra (high school, junior high,) it was only the violin family of instruments that was in orchestra.  The brass, woodwinds, and percussion were considered to be "in band."

So I am approaching this record like the orchestra that I am familiar with.  Here's how I have it laid out.

Orchestra instrument, Modern Band Equivalent

1st violin = Vocals
2nd violin = Lead Guitar
Violas = Rhythm Guitar
Cellos = Bass Guitar
Double Bass = Percussion

That's the basic layout.  Then we get into added instruments.  Some will appear on either one or a few tracks.

Piano = Piano
Percussion Section = Modern Day Drum Set
Flute = Flute (For solo)
Xylophone and/or flute = Old Timey Moonshine Jugs
Woodwinds = Electric Cello
Percussion = Shakers, Washboards, and other small handheld percussion instruments

Now that I have it written out, it makes a bit more sense.  It seems a little more clean cut.  After looking at all the instruments involved I am thankful for multi-tracking.

Now let me explain the jugs, and other odd instruments.  Josh likes to take things that may not technically be instruments and incorporate them into music.  Consider Appalachian music.  They use things such as washboards, jugs, and saws (played with violin bows) in their music.  Well, that's what he's doing.  I'm okay with using some things.  It really depends upon the song.

So that's what's happening so far.  I'm feeling pretty good about it.  I like to have things laid out when writing music, and this chart is working great for me.

I will keep updating as the album is being recorded.

Monday, May 14, 2012

This Divided Highway

The original post:

The second post:

Well the time has come for me to record my album with my band "Possum Apple."  After much thought I am going to name it, "This Divided Highway."  Today I recorded the guitar tracks for five of the songs with my friend Josh.  I look back at my post from over a year and a half ago, and see how my vision has progressed.  Some songs are still on my list, and others are going to be saved for another day.

Here's the songs that I have planned for the album (this time around.)

Part 1.

1.  Buffalo
2.  The Road
3.  Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
4.  Who's Knocking?
5.  The Bride Wore Sneakers

Part 2.

6.  Good Cocaine
7.  The Midnight Special

Part 3.

8.  Crevasses and Glaciers
9.  Dark Horizons
10.  Season of the Fireflys
11.  Secret Path
12.  Everyday People

The first part is going to be Southern Rock/ Americana/ Alt. Country.  The second part is going to be old timey songs with a modern day twist.  Seriously, those two are pre-ASCAP.  And the third part is going to be more Coffeehouse style music.

I know exactly how I want the cover art to look for this album.  I want it to be a picture of me leaning against a divided highway sign.  I'll have my back to the camera, and you will be seeing me in my traveling coat and hat.  I want the picture to be in sepia or a faded type color.  I have a friend James,who loves to take pictures.  He's really, really good at it.  He offered to take the pictures for me, and I honestly feel great about that.  He was showing me what his camera could do, and I'll admit, it blew my mind.

The way I envisioned "Possum Apple" was that it was a roaming band of whoever decided to stop by.  Maybe someone would be a member for that night's performance, or maybe they would hang around for a while.  Here's an example, I have a relatively new friend in Chris.  She is a pretty good bass player, and I asked her to lay down the bass tracks.  She said she was more than happy to.

Josh has a friend who plays great leads, and thought about bringing him in to work on the tracks.  I'm all for it.  I need someone to take a different sort of look at my songs, and put down some lead tracks on it.

So the good news is a lot of what's in the planning stages is now being put into action.  I'm feeling really good about this.  I will update my blog as things progress.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Rise of the Phoenix .... Guitar

Here's a previous post so you know what I am talking about:

Basically, I am trying to bring back a guitar from the dead  (The guitar known as Project 5.)  A guitar that I happened to screw up, but am now in the process of fixing my F-ups.  So far it's going great.  In the last post you can see how Dad made a plug for  the hole in the back.  After the glue had dried, I ground down the big part of the plug, and then used a hand planer to make it all smooth.  Here's the picture:

Right now I am in the process of adding polyurethane to blend in the wood.  It's going pretty good so far.

The other main problem I had was the truss rod blowing through the back of the neck.  I put a patch on it, and shaped it into place.  It's also looking good, and I'm putting a finish on the back of the neck.  Here's the photos:

Before I started going too crazy with the poly, I wanted to make sure my patch would hold.  I still had the old strings hanging lose on the guitar, so I tightened them up.  Great news, the neck held.  I ended up playing her for about 10 minutes, and it was great.  Except for where the strings had time to rust over the last year and a half.  That wasn't too fun.  

So I am very happy with the way things are going.  I'm not sure how much poly still has to go on the neck, but I think it's close to being finished.  Stay tuned for the next blog where hopefully I will be able to show the guitar in it's completed state.  Oh, and also put some new strings on it.