Thursday, June 18, 2009

Three Years Later

I've now been playing this guitar for three years, and it's still my favorite electric guitar. I added a Larrivee D-05 to my collection, which has become my favorite acoustic. Essentially all my playing is back and forth between these two. The other electric, which cost twice as much, doesn't really get much attention.

I've made two alterations since that fateful day in May 2006:

-After about three months I finally got tired of all the roughness from the cheesecloth incident and sanded it all away. Then I just put on a few more coats of tung oil and it looks like it was finished professionally. Lesson learned: don't use cheesecloth, and don't be afraid to sand away ANY roughness. You can always put more oil on. The secret to smoothness is sanding, and lots of it.

-About a month ago I finally took the guitar apart and changed the coil splitter to an always-on switch for the bridge humbucker. This is definately a change worth making. The bridge and neck together sound much better than any of the split-coil options. Plus I got to learn how to solder.

I may post another sound clip in the near future, if I wind up with the time to do so. It would be nice to let everyone hear the sound of the neck and bridge pickups together. Sort of a tele-esque sound, I think.

Until then, take care.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Now You Can Hear it, Too

This blog was initially created to help people who were considering buying a Bolt Kit, and those who are looking for a little guidance on building said Kit. I think the greatest trouble most of us have with this is that we can't get a good idea of how it sounds and feels until we've invested a ton of time and money into it. This leeriness is something I'd like to remedy, as I would have loved for someone to do so for me before I bought mine. I can't show you what it feels like, although I promise that it plays like brotha in a caddy, but I can at least give folks an idea of the sounds I've gotten out of it.

So this is what I've done: Recorded a demo, tried to showcase the nuances of the various pickup settings, and posted it here for you to hear. Hopefully it will help you decide if you like the tone of one- the next best thing to being able to play it in a store before you buy it. Right click and select "Save Target As" to download it.

Bolt Demo

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

It Is Finished

The pickguard and knobs came in from WD Music today, right after I took my Church History final. The timing couldn't have been better, so I came right home, unhooked everything from the old pickguard, put it all on the new one, and put the new knobs on.

One word describes the look of the completed guitar: perrrrdy (that's kentucky for 'pretty'.) "But," in the words of one of my childhood heroes, "you don't have to take my word for it. . ."

Now all I have to do is get a strap for it and keep playing the heck out of it. I might eventually tweak the wiring or perhaps get a truss rod cover that is black/cream/black like the pickguard instead of black/white/black, but those are small things. I'm calling it done.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Partially Assembled

Luckily my Finals are turning out to be a lighter load than I expected, so I've been able to get a lot done.

I was able to add all the coats of Tung Oil I needed, which amounted to six coats and one application of Lemon Oil. I didn't take pictures of each coat out of fear that the bored would run away.

After that, I was able to add all the hardware and actually the thing entirely today, although I am currently using the Carvin pickguard while I wait for the true one to arrive. The steps include putting the tuners in the neck, sheilding the body cavity (so the guitar won't pick up radio stations,) putting the bridge into the body, putting the neck and body together, putting in the jack plate, and wiring and installing the pickguard. I'll go over a few technical problems I had just for the sake of those who are planning on building one of these:

-The instructions on the Tung Oil say to use cheesecloth (basically soft bandage dressing) to apply it, but I found that such an aproach left dusty spots, as the cloth would break apart and wind up drying to the finish. Thus, I have found that a good ol' paper towel is actually the best way to apply the tung oil. Of course, this was after the first few coats dried, so I am forever stuck with a few spots that permanently look like they need to be dusted off.

-No matter how crazy you are about a girl, don't give her your toolbox. There actually is a chance that she will rip your heart out of your chest, put it in the toolbox, and leave. Six months later, you will have neither that girl nor your toolbox, and you might want a screwdriver from that toolbox really really badly so that you can put a guitar together.

-Carvin kinda messed up a little and made the neck too big to fit into the socket. This almost became a large problem because I almost broke part of the wood putting it together. Instead, I sanded it down a lot and got it to fit. Close call, though.

-I have completely assembeled it and played it a little, and there are some neck adjustment problems. No matter how I set the curvature on the neck, I get buzz. This may be blamed on the neck assembly problems, or on the fact that the truss-rod screwdriver I used to put it together couldn't quite get the neck securely fastend. Hopefully once I find a real screwdriver and really put this thing together, I will see this end.

The neck, with the tuners installed:

A little signature in the pickup cavity:

Check out the back end on THIS thing:

With everything installed but the pickguard and strings:

I was able to get ahold of a real screwdriver and fix the neck problems, so now she sounds like a dream. Once I get the real pickguard and knobs in, I'll post a final photo. It will be at least Monday, if not later.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Two Coats of Tung Oil Applied

I needed to go to bed last night, but I just had to see what the wood would look like wet. So I just had to put the first coat of tung oil on. Two funny things happened, both good.

The first part of the process is sanding. The instructions say to use some fine sandpaper to sand away all imperfections on the body edges and neck. But as I inspected it I had one question: "What imperfections?" I searched and searched, and literally could not find one spot that didn't look great. So there was no sanding done. This saved a ton of time and I was able to get the first coat on before bed last night.

Then applying the first coat took all of ten minutes. This, of course, made me realize that I will have time to apply more coats while studing for finals. Horray!

The first coat of Tung Oil, right after application:
The first coat, after drying overnight:
The second coat, after applying:

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


The Kit has finally arrived, and right during the busiest week of the year. My obsession caused me to find a few minutes to snap some pictures of it and post them. Hopefully, as the construction is done, I'll be able to post on my progress so as to inform all my curious friends and fellow Carvin lovers.

Now for the specs:
-This is a Carvin Bolt Kit, which is a bolt-on neck guitar, similar Fender's ageless Strat design.
-Contrary to most Strats, it has a humbucker in the bridge position, rather than a single coil pickup.
-It is made of Alder (the lighter wood) and toppped with Black Walnut (the darker wood.)
-The tuners are locking, which makes it stay in tune longer.
-A black pickguard and cream knobs are coming in the mail (Carvin doesn't make the color I wanted.)
-I'll be finishing it with Tung Oil, which should give it a nice natural looking finish.

And for the pics upon delivery:

Hopefully time will allow for some sanding soon. It's a very busy week at work and finals are next week, though, so priorities might insist otherwise.