Monday, August 23, 2010

Building the uber-J. Part Thirteen.

What the heck!

I am spraying and sanding and spraying and sending. It surely beats unloading trucks at the fish market. But probably just by a tiny margin. And not because of the smell.

I don't have much to say really other than Uber is now curing its tenth coating. But I wanted to upload pictures just the same. Because it is only apparently an uneventful stage of the build. From up close, coating after coating the wood comes to life and the various tiny details of the design start showing. So, here they come...

A few more rounds and I should be able to mount the pick-ups, hardware and frets. Hell, yeah!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Building the uber-J. Part Twelve.

Metal fatigue.

Since my last update I have fixed a few details I wasn't too happy with or I felt deserved improvement. Namely, covers, screws, brass parts and cavities.
The plate in the picture is now polished to a shine. Following leads and hunches I finally found someone who would engrave a line on it - not that easy due to the plate size. Kinda hard to photograph the entire line and keep it readable with reflections and all..... The complete line reads:

Uber-Jay n.1 Maurizio Caduto (my name) 2010. I like the ol' Auntie typeface

Next up - small screws. I was frankly unhappy with what I had. They were too big and didn't look sexy. IMHO there is almost nothing in the Screws Universe that looks better than a Allen. So......

These are 2mm diameter stainless steel Allen with nut. I also have a 4mm alternative. As an alternative I also bought a brass nut. I'll decide when I see how either look on the finished wood.

The first set of neck screws turned out too long and I needed a replacement. Again, I decided to investigate the Allen alternative.

All my Wal mount Allen screws at the neck - it's very cool! What I didn't know until recently is that the screw actually works together with a reverse thread nut that is inserted into the neck. Oh boy! I can own a Wal forever and I still discover something new.

So Allen it is. I'll have the screws gold plated to match the ferrules. BTW a review and pictures of my Mk1 fretless are available here.

And since I was on a spree, I decided to have the string anchors made in brass as a possibly better alternative to aluminum - both aesthetically and functionally. What the heck!

I have made a new truss-rod cover as the first carving wasn't tight enough. I want the cover to snap into position. So I did it again slightly bigger and while at that I found a piece that matches the HS grain almost perfectly.

The brass plate in the picture is the cavity cover's back, which I kept to a brushed finish.

Spray and sand, you slave!

This is truly a chore and it has to be repeated enough times to either loose your mental sanity or get fully intoxicated - whichever comes first.

I don't own the equipment to spray so I used that of the workshop where I go when the machine required is too big or expensive, or when I need counsel - that is, every other day.

First round of spraying and sanding, 400 sand paper. Then spray again and leave it to dry overnight. I kinda like it. The color of the wood is coming out incredibly rich.

Second sanding round. 400 sand paper. Then spray again and leave it to dry overnight. I had to work a little harder on a few spots, where droplets had solidified - cheeky little bastards.

Third round of sanding. 400 sand paper. Then spray again and leave it to dry overnight. I should hate it by now. Instead, I'm really digging it. It's so rewarding seeing the final look slowly surfacing.

It is far less rewarding having to fight all those droplets again. But at the least after the first session of sanding I'm not hitting the wood anymore. Learning with practice. Hell of a thing.

And this is where I am at the moment. I can't wait to finish this. At the same time I am enjoying the whole process. Particularly, the fact that I am wrong more often than not about timing. Most sections are taking longer than anticipated.

I have now learned that it is due to a number of factors.

1. This is a prototype and as much as I know where I'm heading to, I'm leaving the door open to some degree of improvisation.

2. I am a bloody perfectionist and it takes me time to get what I want, the way i want it.

3. Trial and error is time consuming. 4. Next time I'll have every single item ready BEFORE start the build - down to the smallest screw.

The thing is, if I were very good I could only predict so much of what's gonna happen in a prototyping scenario. I ain't that good - yet. Go figure!

But I'm having the ride of my life and I am already savoring the moment the Uber-J II will hit the workbench.

I am going to take my sweet revenge on all those little mistakes and oddities that punctuated this first attempt.

I am gonna enjoy that. Slowly, just the way i like it ;) Until then

Thanks for reading


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Building the uber-J. Part Eleven.

Bits and pieces. a few things happened while I was absent from this blog and I've got quite a lot to cover so, here it goes....

Headstock ferrules - On the left is the one I made. On the right the one I bought. They are very similar. Only, the one I made is 1.5mm thinner and slightly smaller in diameter. Which works better since ferrule and anchor's size together must be smaller than the total HS thickness including about 4mm allowance for the screws.

I much prefer the look of brass to that of gold - it goes well with the brass nut too. BTW the nut will be slimmer and with less sharp angles than this - I'll do that when it's time to fix it to the neck.

I used this thing here to carve the ferrules. It's a cheep China-made drill press - which over here costs about $80. I can do most of what I need with it.

Everything else is pretty much done by hand. I hand sawed the part from the rod - thicker than I needed coz the cut was bound to be irregular.

On a block of scrape wood I drilled a cavity exactly the size I wanted the final brass part to be (thickness and diameter). With the rough brass sticking out of the cavity I shaved off the excess metal on both sides and end up with a flat, leveled top and bottom. That is crucial to drill straight through the center.

I drilled the hole first, then the beveled part - which was made with the bit you see in the picture. Finally with sandpaper and steel wool I shaved off tiny irregularities and sharp edges.

Once I figured out how to go about with it it took me about 20 min each. Maybe the next batch will take me less if I don't screw up too much

I made this t-rod cover in Macassar Ebony, trying to match the grain. Eventually I will route a shallow recess on the headstock for the cover to sit into.

I've drilled the headstock cavities. The ferrules are flush with the wood. Right now are only sitting there for picture purpose ;) I just luuuuuv it!

The little MOP inlay is a symbol I have used for years to sign off my emails.... O(=< ....... To me it looks like a bass. And it just so happens that my fellow musicians call me Mr. Bassman......yeah.....and this symbol does look like a man when you turn it 90ºCW.... so Bass- man. Perfect! :) ( some say it looks like a mairmaid......or in the position of the picture it reads Vivo...which is Italian for Alive......OK...enough meanings!

The name Uber-J will likely be engraved on the t-rod cover.

The elec. cavity is done. I must confess I'm not 100% pleased with it - never work when you're in a hurry.... well... it will be fine after some more routing and sanding.

I routed a jack recess to try and achieve a few goals. 1. jack doesn't stick out. 2. jack points upward to facilitate inserting cable behind strap 3. in case the cable is not secured to the strap it won't be disconnected accidentally. We'll see if that works pretty soon. ;)

I won't be able to spray until next week. So, this next few days I'll finish the cavity; cut the cover - brass or M Ebony.... mm...brass, I think; route the recess for the t-rod cover; insert the side dots....make the slot for the nut.

Before spraying I will assemble every part - p-ups and el. excluded - and string it to double check that everything is right.

I will also test a few positions for the strap locks, just to make sure the bass is both well balanced and the 22nd fret positioned where I like it - clear of the thumb, that is.

till next update ;)