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While My Fingers Press Onto The Strings (Yet Another Clumsy Chord)

As some of you perhaps noticed, I haven't posted much in the last couple weeks. Instead of posting in my free time, I've been rekindling my love affair with guitar. (If this sounds strange to you, feel free to quit reading at this point. This post will probably extremely boring for anyone uninterested in electric guitars.)

A couple weeks ago, I attended a Worship and Arts Ministry conference at Berean. It was very good, and (among other things) convicted me that I'm not spending nearly as much time working at my "craft" as I should be. Primarily, this means I need to practice more, but I've also begun exploring the technical, gear side of electric guitar, in an attempt to push toward excellence.

This has given an excuse (perhaps a weak one) to make some gear changes I've been wanting to make for a long time. I replaced the stock pickups on my 50s Classic Stratocaster with Lace Sensor Hot Golds. While I loved the neck and body on my strat, the pickups definately left something to be desired. So, with the help of Bruce at Aamp's Guitar Store and Corey (our sound tech at Berean), I now have all new electronics. The sound difference is quite noticeable. Whereas the stock pickups muddied up as soon as I added any amount of gain, the Hot Golds sing with smooth, harmonic tone. They also respond to the tone controls (unlike my stock pups) and have opened a much wider range of usable tones.

I've also been learning to do my own setups on my guitar. This mainly involves adjusting the truss rod and saddles. The truss rod adjustments were scary at first (I had nightmares of waking up to a snapped neck (the guitar's neck, not mine)), but I've gotten to the point where I feel comfortable doing it.

Today, I entered the world of electronic mods. After watching Corey install the new pickups, I decided I'd give it a go and mod my Boss SD-1 overdrive pedal to approximate a Tube Screamer 808. (You can see the cool schematic/illustration here.) After buying the needed soldering iron, solder, and components, I sat staring the pedal, fearing that I was about to screw up a perfectly good pedal by frying the circuit board with the soldering iron or something. It actually went quite smoothly (excepting a minor problem with the board grounding on the metal backplate, a situation fixed with duct tape (what else?)) and the pedal now sounds much smoother than it used to.

In case anyone else is interested, a little more bit about my rig:

Guitar
1996 Fender Japanese 50's Classic Stratocaster

Pedalboard (From right to left)
pedal
CryBaby Wah
Boss SD-1 Overdrive (modded to TS-808 specs)
MXR Phase 90 Phaser
Danelectro TunaMelt Tremolo
Boss DD-5 Digital Delay with tap tempo (the pedal just to the right of it)
(The pedal in the top right is a footswitch for the amp, and the big thing in the top left is the power supply.)

Amp
Tech 21 Trademark 60

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Nice. I admire your courage at adjusting your own truss rod...when mine needed adjustment I was too freaked out to mess with it myself, and thus took it to a professional (which was probably a good move, as I don't really know anything about guitars and would most likely have really messed up the neck).

And your strat is really pretty.

Bethany,
Thanks. I really love this guitar. I got pretty lucky, considering I bought five years ago when I knew nothing about electrics and it was only the second strat I'd played. I got a really good deal on it because Dietze was selling it on consignment (this was during the Dark Ages when Dietze didn't carry Fender) and it was near mint condition. Now, with the new electronics, it is very nearly my dream guitar.

As for the truss rod adjustments, Mr. Gearhead has a really good step-by-step guide on doing setups, provided you're setting up an electric. What kind of guitar do you have anyway?

More general information for all guitar players to know: When adjusting the truss rod, make SMALL adjustments (like 1/8 of a turn). Necks take a while to "settle" into the new position, so adjust them no more than 1/4 turn a day, then check the next day and adjust some more if needed. I didn't know this when I first attempt and adjustment, and thought "Hmmm...I didn't seem to be doing anything" and so merrily cranked away about a turn and half. When I discovered this information later that night, I was afraid I had ruined the guitar, and loosened the truss rod a half turn to try to relieve some of the tension. Thankfully, it was fine the next morning. Lesson learned.

I have a Taylor 310ce, so it's not an electric. Thankfully it's only needed adjusting once. I hardly ever play it though, so it's not like I would notice these days if it was needing an adjustment.

Mmmmm...Taylor...

I've seen Karen's Guild before as well. Also very nice. I've always wanted a nice acoustic, but I play electric so much more often that I can never justify the money. Someday perhaps.

I really liked the info on your site about soldering - nice work. I've just started my own soldering secrets blog and would really appreciate you stopping by

Hey, cool blog you got here. I'm a nut case surfer, but l know what I like.
Have a good one!
Always looking for !

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