Monday, May 19, 2014

commissioned Millennium Falcon REBEL BASS guitar

This is my second custom Millennium Falcon-based guitar. The first I one I had done was the first functional guitar that had been posted on the internet- and seeing my work had led to a commission from Australia. This time, it would be a bass, or as some people (as many have now been building Falcon guitars) call it, "THE REBEL BASS." Which is awesome.

So, I gathered the parts, built the interior slightly differently, but still with a strong maple core. The ultimate recipient of the guitar (who currently is unaware of what's coming, as it's a gift) apparently is also a fan of the Hofner Ignition (McCartney Beatles violin) bass, which he doesn't have. Once I found this out, I went after 2 Hofner bass pickups and a control panel.  Hopefully, this fills the void in a very.. very different way. The best thing about using this with the Falcon is that the control panel features a number of switches, one of them including "SOLO" as an option. After some fine etching and the application of black paint, this is the only Rebel Bass with a "HAN SOLO" option. Please see the pics.

Using the Hofner Ignition style control panel, I had to decide where to mount it. I decided to replace one of the side panels on the ship to preserve the visual aspect of the Falcon- the retro panel might've looked a little too wacky on top, in my opinion. Discretely on the side, while not truly "handy" seemed more tasteful. So, you can see that "I've made a lot of custom modifications myself."

The guitar features brass inserts in the neck to tighten the joint between neck and body, a TUSQ (simulated bone) nut instead of the stock plastic piece, and LED strips in the hyperdrive that accompany       the LEDs that originally came mounted in this POTF2 edition Falcon body that I picked up. 

The peg head has a simple design based on the ship's body details. The neck plate has a hand painted "Travis Stevens Nerd Crafts Rebel Bass" logo with a comic-esque rendering of the Falcon in flight. The ship itself has been detailed for better movie accuracy. I was even able to keep the landing struts AND the original handle this time!! All of the lights are powered by two C batteries (as came standard on the original and POTF2 toy) and the LED strips in the back by 2 9 volts strapped conveniently into the cockpit for quick replacement.

Thanks for the commission, and I hope it goes over well!

Monday, March 4, 2013

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE strat renovation

This is the zombie strat I recently renovated. It features:
Seymour Duncan Blackouts active pickups
 Fender locking tuners
blocked tremolo (a la Clapton)
mini-toggle boost switch (connected to jumpers on middle and neck pickup)
Henessee strap locks
machined brass inserts in neck joint
distressed finish
bullet casings
zombies breaking through barricade
bullet shell position markers
blood spatter pickguard
Walking Dead homage back plate
apocalypse-battered headstock
maple neck
3 joined piece body (alder or ash)

Gretsch Roundup tribute...

This guitar has a design inspired by the classic Gretsch Roundup. It features an orange- stained body, wood-burned designs, tooled leather-bound sides, a set neck, P-90 pickups, and a special wiring mod derived from GUITARNUTZ.COM. Though it has P-90s, this guitar is effectively SILENT due to its virtually perfect grounding and shielding.


That being said- this guitar does have some issues. I didn't anticipate the polepiece spacing being wider than the neck- I compensated the pickup position as best I could to accomodate this. The neck pickup's bass polepiece (string 6) is farther out than I would like, but it still picks up the string.


The finish is a meld of a semi-gloss finish I applied and a gloss stringed instrument lacquer that I decided to apply later. The finish is not what you would call pristine, but it does cover the body and neck. Since this was a renovation and partially an experiment, I feel less guilty about this fact.


The neck is too narrow- I don't know why. Apparently, that's just how they made the Bradley Les Paul copies. As a result, string 6 and 1 are closer to the ends of the frets than I would prefer. As seen in the video, you can play and not experience problems, but if you wanted to add a lot of aggressive vibrato, you would be likely to pull the string over the edge of the fingerboard and frets. If you think ahead and vibe "into" the neck, you wouldn't have problems.


The bridge and string and stop tailpiece posts sit a little too far to the right on the body, which meant I had to make a custom bridge and a custom string retainer to compensate. The saddles are fully adjustable, so the intonation is perfect- I had just "assumed" that the original post holes would be the same position as on the original top. When I clamped and glued the neck in (with hide glue) apparently it was shifted slightly... which mean the posts had to be adjusted. BUT, after originally placing the posts I did some cosmetic flourishes around the post holes... a totally amateur mistake. (Sigh) So I had to make those extra pieces, and now it's fine, but not what I would classify as ideal.


So, there are some great things about this guitar (wiring, artistic designs), and there are some less than pleasing things to me (imperfect polepiece alignment, a finish that isn't "flawless," bridge posts set slightly to the right requiring a modified bridge and retainer, and outer strings positioned a little too close to the edges of the frets.


I just hate not having things absolutely perfect. I will be glad to keep this guitar, unless someone likes it enough to buy it-  but I will only let that happen if that person knows exactly what the instrument is. Worst case, a learning experience for me that ended up with a functional guitar.