Monday, January 24, 2011

2011 - Manito Flying V

My first instrument purchase of the year was the Manito "Dakota" or Flying V copy (obviously).
This thing is about $240AU new, and I got it for $85 from the local pawn broker.
It needed a replacement nut, but that was no biggie as I had a spare in the house, it just needed some filing to sort it out.

The guitar is incredibly cheap, but well made for the money.
According to this website the guitar has the following features:

Body: Solid Mahogany
Neck: Maple - bolt on
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Controls: 1 Volume, 1 Tone, 3 Way Switch
Pickups: 2 Humbucker
Bridge: Vintage Tremelo

I removed some paint from the pickup cavity, and sure enough, the body is solid (not laminate).
The pickups sound ok, nothing amazing, but noise free and pretty rock.
Switches pots and jacks are off the shelf and all feel solid.
The bridge is a tune-o-matic style (not tremolo as listed in the specs), the holes for the posts to go through into the bridge are a little larger than the posts they're sitting on. Not a huge deal, maybe half a millimeter, not precise but not a deal breaker either.

The neck has a truss rod adjustment, and seems to be setup for 10-46.
It's a wide flat profile and for the time being it is nice and straight.
I bought this guitar for two reasons:

A: It's a Flying V 
B: To experiment on!

I'm planning on adding a couple of features to it that are far from standard.
One is a sustainer driver and the other is inspired from Tym Guitars "Jazzmaster Bass thingy".
Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a cheap mustang pickup like Tim used, so I'm going with removing the pole pieces on a humbucker.
This has the effect of reducing the overall signal to the coil/magnet, but isn't 100% effective at removing the signal from the unwanted strings, especially since the pickup I used has an 11.5k dc resistance (IE: very loud/sensitive pickup).

There are ways to deal with this problem that should prove advantageous to making the sustainer coil. I'll detail my solution at a later date.

Note: Images are stock photos, though look exactly the same as my guitar.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1994 - Ibanez SR800LE

Way back when I was 16, I figured I needed a bass.
There wasn't much available under $1000 in my local store, so I ended up buying the cheapest bass I could get my hands on.

It was ugly, still is. But it was all I could afford, so I bought the Ibanez Soundgear SR800LE.
Also known as The Metal Head's Bass.

The bass was black, four string, with active pickups.
I totally messed this bass up.
It had active pickups, but I went through a "phase" of ripping out the wires on all my guitars and just wiring the pickup to the output. You know, for a more "pure" tone. I also painted the entire body with glow in the dark rubbish which was a nightmare to get off. The things you do as a teenager!

Yeah, it was a silly thing to do, I've since lost the original wiring harness and pickups.
Hey it's been 15 years or so. I ended up ripping out the neck pickups and just went with the bridge, which I think was a Dimarzio Jazz bass pickup, but I can't see any label now.

A couple of years ago I began the "restoration" project.
I added a cheap Seymour Duncan P Bass pickup to the neck.
Unfortunately this instrument doesn't seem to be blessed with a great sound.
The pickups are fine and the output is normal, but the volume this bass generates is low.
I installed a home made bass booster, but it really didn't have enough gain.
The volume and tone controls were pointless in this state so I removed them, and have gone back to that punk rock simplicity that got me into this pickle in the first place.

I'm currently about 1/4 the way through the mod/restoration project.
Over the years the bass has accumulated various dings and chips, as well as that horrible glow in the dark paint still hanging about the place. What I've done is get some Plasti-Bond and filled in the control holes and spent what seems an age, sanding with 400 grit wet & dry to get the body even. After spending a day on the body and neck, I applied the first coat of paint. Consider this coat as an error finder.
I used a simple white undercoat to highlight any uneven patches with thefiller, and it looks like I have my work cut out!

I have used the original paint as an undercoat, simply because I live in a flat and can't use a power sander and don't have the spare time to do the sanding by hand. That's one road I've been down and frankly not interested in doing again.

My goal in this semi restoration is to have a super simple bass with a basic finish.
Also I have a few other guitars needing attention and I figure this project is a good bit of practice.
So far it's going well, but the weather has slowed progress a lot as we've got lots of rain coming this month and it all has to be done under the stairs outside the building.

The paint is cheapo $4 a can, but I've been doing my research and I should be able to get a decent finish by sanding between coats and adding a few coats of clear laquer at the end, then buffing with my Dremel.
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