Friday, October 24, 2014

The Bass! Part 4,

Part 1:

Part 2:
Part 3:

So I had been waiting on the bridge to arrive, and it finally did. 

While it was not an exact replacement of the old one, the saddles lined up just fine.  And in the end, that's what's important.

I then had to deal with the pickguard not lining up exactly.  However, the use of a long screw took care of a, now, tiny problem.

As you can see, it worked out pretty good.  It holds rather nicely.

However then came a problem I did not forsee.  This happens with older guitar or bass necks.  With no tension on it, the neck is straight.  But with the strings at full tension the heal kicks up.  So I am torn between having insanely high action, or the frets not being playable from the 12th fret up. 

Now, the normal way to correct this is to yank out the frets below the 12th fret, shave the fingerboard, and replace the frets.  However, the fingerboard is maple, and if I shave it I will have to re-finish it.  Right now, I don't have time for that.  I have to make the bass somewhat playable for the next gig. 

Once we cross that bridge, I will go back and start work on it.  I might be able to shave the frets down, and make it playable.  But I'll deal with that when I get there. 

I knew I would be a pain to put this thing together, but I didn't think it would be "THIS" much of a pain.  I did a lot more work on this thing than I had planned to. 

But here's the result.  Not too bad.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How a Few Jackholes Ruined Halloween For My Entire Childhood

October is my favorite time of year.  I love it.  It's the time in Florida where it goes from 95 degrees to a more manageable 82 degrees.  It's the only time of the year that the humidity drops under 50%.  And of course there is candy.  So much candy.  Thank you Halloween!

Let's be honest, next to Christmas, Halloween is just the best holiday for kids.  You get free candy from all the people in the neighborhood.  To this day, Halloween is my favorite holiday.  I just absolutely love it. 

However, Halloween was ruined during my entire childhood due to a few jackholes.  Let me start with this.  I was born in 1976.  So I was in first grade in 1982.  So let me set up a few things that were happening in the 80's.  People were very concerned for the children.  It was all about the children.  Looking back, I don't know what is worse.  People overly concerned with children like they were back then, or how they let them run like feral dogs these days.  But I digress.

Stay at home Moms were concerned for the children.  First off there was heavy metal music.

And then there was Satanists.  (Really, it seemed to be a big thing in the 80's.)

On a side note, I've never come across a Satanist.  Not in the 80's, not now.  But for some reason, everyone was sure they were hanging around in the 80's.

But worse of all were the heavy metal Satanists.

But the absolutely the worst thing out there was jackholes putting needles and pins in candy.  Now, this legend had been around since the 60's.  The rumors were that people put poison in candy, however, no one actually knew anyone that happened to.  Even the news couldn't find anyone.  But the new thing was that evil, morally corrupt persons were putting needles and pins in candy. 

Again, it was mostly urban legend, until 1982.  You know what happened then?  Some murderer (and yes I use that word) laced a bunch of aspirin with poison and killed a bunch of people.  If you ever wondered why medicine has all those seals now you know why. 

Here's the Wiki page on it:

So let's set the stage.  Some waste of a human being poisons people in 1982.  Come Halloween 1982, and the fury of people worrying about people poisoning kids candy is full on crazy mode.

This is a true story.  I was in first grade, and my grade school teacher asks my class why you should have your parents look over your candy when you get it home.  I was the first (and I think only) one to raise my hand, and smartly answer that it was because crazy people were putting needles and razor blades in candy.  You know what happened.  The entire class laughed at me.  (True.  So true.)  I started to cry.  You know how it feels in first grade to have your entire class laugh at you? 

However, my teacher Mrs. Scott was a strong black woman.  That's the short way to say she didn't take no crap and was kind of a bitch to us most the time.  She immediately shut the class up, and told them in no uncertain terms that what I said was true.  And how would they like to bite down on needles and razor blades?  Basically she jumped all over them, and told them that they were going to have to get serious about checking their candy or risk dying.  That really did shut them up.

So you can now see how that sets the stage for trick or treating in the 80's.  My parents did what they thought was the responsible thing.  For me there was no costume.  There was no trick or treating.  There was no candy.  That's right.  I was not allowed to go trick or treating.  And we're not talking about just one year.  We're talking about every year except for one. 

And that one year I went to three houses.  My little old lady neighbor on the left.  My little old lady neighbor on the right.  And my babysitter.  That was it.  No other houses.  And you know what my Mom did when I got home?  That's right.  She went through all my candy.  All nine pieces.  And the funny thing, she found one Mini-Crunch bar that had a corner kind of torn, and she threw that out.  (Really, I can't make this stuff up.)

Other than that one Halloween, I never went trick or treating.  At the house, we gave out plenty of candy.  Lot's of people knew our family, and our house was on the main drag so people knew we were good folks to get candy from.   It really made me angry.  Here we gave out a bunch of candy to all these kids, a lot of them I went to school with, but I couldn't go get candy.  Year after year after dismal year this happened.

Now years later, and also thanks to Snopes, we know that most of this was urban legend and old wives tales.  Seriously, kids these days have the internet and have no idea about old wives tales.  But when I was a kid I'm sure they took up at least 15% of my day.  In all fairness I did have women teachers through grade school. 

Basically, it took urban legends combined with old wives tales, with just one or two "real" cases plus that jackhole who poisoned the Tylenol bottles to ruin Halloween for my entire childhood.  I realize every parent does the best they can.  My parents just didn't want to take the chance of me getting hurt.  I can't fault them with that.  I just lay the fault with the previous named jackholes. 

You'd think that would have ruined me for Halloween.  I mean, just by writing this post you can see just how bitter I still am over what happened during my childhood.  But no.  It is still my favorite holiday.  But still, the inner kid in my still wants to go trick or treating.

Editor's Note:  For those of you who think I am taking "artistic license" with this, take a read of this Snopes article.

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.