Fretless Conversion

September 25, 2006 11:30 by keithkaragan

I completed my first fretless conversion project last night. I bought a brand new Epiphone LP Special II at a local music store for around $150, took it home, tore it apart and removed the neck on Saturday, and last night I pulled out the frets. The process was pretty easy to accomplish. It entailed:

 

  • Securing the neck to a solid surface with spring clamps and a protecting the fretboard and back of the neck with a soft, padded cloth.
  • Grabbing the frets with a nice strong nipper tool (in this case it was a diagonal cutter) and pulling up. Sometimes this takes a couple tries.
  • Bang! out comes the fret - they were not glued in.
  • Very light hand sanding of the fretboard to smooth out any splintering.
  • Application of wood puttiy into the fret slots using fingers and a rubber glove
  • Cleaning of excess putty with a slightly damp sponge
  • Let the putty dry for about an hour
  • Sand lightly by hand (with a block) using 220 and 400 grit paper
  • Reassemble
  • Restring
  • Play
  • Set-up the guitar
  • Smile
  • Overall, I'm pretty happy with the results. I picked the LP copy after playing a bunch of low-end models and liking the sustain, nech shape, fretboard, and action on the LP better than the Ibanez and other affordable options. Had the frets been glued in, this process would have taken longer - but in this case the fret pulling to the playing took less than 2 hrs.

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    Glissentar Strings - Reprise

    September 23, 2006 00:43 by keithkaragan
    The strings I ordered from http://stringsandbeyond.com/ on a Friday were delivered on Tuesday - great turn around for such a niche item - I'm impressed. I'll be using them again for sure. Considering that Musician's Friend sells Glissentars, but not the strings - this is a great resource.
    I also got a response from Godin regarding several questions I had (about if strings should have come with the instrument, and about a creeking sound when tuning on several tuners). They referred me to Strings and Beyond for strings (I'd already ordered them by that time though), and didn't indicate if the strings should have come with it - I'll take that as a 'no'. They also suggested some graphite dust in the nut slots to cure the creeking - and also since that noise could have caused the the string breakage since tension between the nut and the tuner could cause this problem, it's exactly the spot where the break occurred - anyway, I used a pencil to coat the string slot in the nut, and this cleared up the creeking. I've heard that Godin isn't so responsive to e-mail (by others posting their experience), however they responded the next business day - so, great job on their part.
    Now to find a decent playing, cheap electric guitar to make a six steel string fretless from.
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    Glissentar Strings, and 3rd day reflections

    September 16, 2006 17:03 by keithkaragan
    I read a bunch of people's experiences regarding the Glissentar before purchasing one. Most noted that the instrument came with a couple extra sets of strings, since they are hardly a stock item anywhere. The strings are nylon, and wound on all but the 1st and 2nd strings. The one I bought didn't come with any extra strings, and I lamented that I'd need to get some quickly since every new stringed instrument I've ever owned broke strings in the first week of use or so.
    Well, I boke one on day 3 - no strings were ordered at the time, and the hunt began to find some and order them. They're not exactly an inexpensive thing either, at $16+shipping a set. So I ordered a few sets, and I'm awaiting thier arrival. In the meantime, I reading that shangins to other types of nylon strings (Flatwounds, Tapewounds, some folks break other sets up and use them for the different courses of strings on the instrument), I'll have to investigate the possibility of getting other types of strings to work on the Glissentar, and how much of a hassle it is vs. the possible improvements in tone or feel of the instrument. Some folks indicated a small bead can be used to replace the ball-end when using standard classical type strings.
    Another task is finding a hardshell case for the Glissentar.
    The Glissentar has got me hooked on the idea of a fretless electric guitar, so I'm looking around and considering buying an inexpensive (but nice) axe to take the frets out of and see how it works.
     For now it's 10 strings only.Undecided
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    Godin Glissentar - First Impression

    September 13, 2006 15:26 by keithkaragan
    Day one with the Godin A11 Glissentar - Yeowww! This thing is really a blast to play. I had read a bit about this instrument before aquiring it, and internet consensus was that it would take a little time to get used to - and that's probably true, since this guitar is fretless, has 11 nylon strings (5 unison pairs, and a low E), and is based on the instrument the Oud - but with a different scale (longer), a wider neck, and tuned like a standard guitar.
    Well, it didn't take long for me to get the hang of this fine instrument and retune it to a couple different tunings, and then - off to la-la land in a euphoric daze of jamming.At one point this evening I was contemplating how hard it would be to pull the frets out of all my guitars but then I came to my senses.
    The act of playing a fretless guitar is new to me. I've played fretless basses now and again, and play slide often, and my Steinberger's frets are so low it's nearly fretless at this point (but I don't think that counts) - but the intonation of the fretless guitar really didn't cause too much pain in the end, and I really love being able to slide between notes and pitch bend vertically/parallel with the strings, as opposed to perpendicular to them. An interesting consequence of fretlessness (maybe just a newbie thing) is that the normal string bending is hard to do, so you end up using the neck sliding instead. This might actually be the nylon strings, or the doubled strings - but neither of these things are too alien to me, and I just couldn't bend the same old way - the funny thing is that I didn't really care.
    The Glissentar is kind of hard to find in a retail store - I was never able to find one in stock. In fact after 2 ebay auctions that didn't pan out, and no others for sale there, and absolutely no online store having stock, I ended up ordering from Musician's Friend - fortunately the 2 week estimated arrival date for the backorder only ended up being a couple days (maybe they just order them when a customer wants one) - but that's cool because it did get here really quick.
    One bummer was that every article I read indicated that 2 sets of strings come with the instrument - I got nada - It'll suck if I break a string since these are custom strings (Ball End Nylons ? ... I gotta order a few sets to have around just in case).
    I really dig crazy odd instruments, this one ends up not so odd in the end, but does have a unique sound to it. The Godin build quality is pretty nice too - It would be nice to have an Acoustic Electric / Roland Ready version of this instrument since the Godin body style is not so hot, acoustically, when unplugged. Plugged it sounds great.
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    Godin Glissentar - First Impression

    September 13, 2006 00:00 by keithkaragan
    Day one with the Godin A11 Glissentar - Yeowww! This thing is really a blast to play. I had read a bit about this instrument before aquiring it, and internet consensus was that it would take a little time to get used to - and that's probably true, since this guitar is fretless, has 11 nylon strings (5 unison pairs, and a low E), and is based on the instrument the Oud - but with a different scale (longer), a wider neck, and tuned like a standard guitar.
    Well, it didn't take long for me to get the hang of this fine instrument and retune it to a couple different tunings, and then - off to la-la land in a euphoric daze of jamming.At one point this evening I was contemplating how hard it would be to pull the frets out of all my guitars but then I came to my senses.
    The act of playing a fretless guitar is new to me. I've played fretless basses now and again, and play slide often, and my Steinberger's frets are so low it's nearly fretless at this point (but I don't think that counts) - but the intonation of the fretless guitar really didn't cause too much pain in the end, and I really love being able to slide between notes and pitch bend vertically/parallel with the strings, as opposed to perpendicular to them. An interesting consequence of fretlessness (maybe just a newbie thing) is that the normal string bending is hard to do, so you end up using the neck sliding instead. This might actually be the nylon strings, or the doubled strings - but neither of these things are too alien to me, and I just couldn't bend the same old way - the funny thing is that I didn't really care.
    The Glissentar is kind of hard to find in a retail store - I was never able to find one in stock. In fact after 2 ebay auctions that didn't pan out, and no others for sale there, and absolutely no online store having stock, I ended up ordering from Musician's Friend - fortunately the 2 week estimated arrival date for the backorder only ended up being a couple days (maybe they just order them when a customer wants one) - but that's cool because it did get here really quick.
    One bummer was that every article I read indicated that 2 sets of strings come with the instrument - I got nada - It'll suck if I break a string since these are custom strings (Ball End Nylons ? ... I gotta order a few sets to have around just in case).
    I really dig crazy odd instruments, this one ends up not so odd in the end, but does have a unique sound to it. The Godin build quality is pretty nice too - It would be nice to have an Acoustic Electric / Roland Ready version of this instrument since the Godin body style is not so hot, acoustically, when unplugged. Plugged it sounds great.
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    Flying in the post-9/11 US without ID

    September 11, 2006 23:32 by keithkaragan

    A guy determined to assert his rights and unafraid of the consequences tests the limits and legitimacy of US airport security proceedures and finds some interesting facts
    From: http://www.lookingglassnews.org/printerfriendly.php?storyid=7040
    Excerpt:

    In the last two years, everyone flying on a commercial airline has stepped up to an airline's ticket counter and heard the agent recite a familiar litany. The monologue goes, 'has your bag been unattended; have you accepted gifts from a stranger; can I see your identification please?' The traveler docilely murmurs answers, and produces a driver's license or some equivalent.
    As a die-hard Constitutionalist, I believe that we still have an absolute, unfettered, God-given right to travel from point A to point B without permission from the state -- in the air, as well as on land. This Nazi procedure of "your papers, please" has never been appropriate for our country. I have had occasion to travel a good deal in the last several months, and on those trips I decided to research and test this issue about the necessity for producing identification. I have talked with agents, and their supervisors, of several major airlines in cities across America, and have gradually pieced together a rather complete picture of the real legal situation regarding our right to travel."
    "...I understand Delta Airline is facing two large lawsuits because employees twice denied this reality, and actually twice kept off a plane a passenger who had only private ID to show. Anyone want to own an airline, courtesy of a judge? I have personally flown Delta with only a private travel card, so I guess they already had their hand slapped."

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    The Source

    August 15, 2006 21:00 by keithkaragan
    Sometimes I truly forget what I put into my NetFlix queue until I'm surprised by what shows up. This time it's The Source - 1999 by Chuck Workman. A fun and informative romp through the icons of the Beat Generation. If you happen to be a fan of the Beats, dive in! great fun, daddy-o.
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    Motorcycling

    June 26, 2006 21:00 by keithkaragan
    I've been riding a street motorcycle for a few years now. My first Harley, a black 2003 Sportster 883 Custom - that was upgraded to a 1200, got me started and kept me happy until this year. I started looking around for something new, exciting, and different - and came across the BMW K1200R naked bike. Took a test ride - WOW! what a bike, needless to say it's now sitting in my driveway. After a few days and a couple hundred miles I'm still smiling. This bike is a lot of fun, and a great driving experience. You can't really ask for much more power, and the creature comforts just rock.
    This bike has an electronically controlled suspension, ABS, heated grips, decent range, a six speed trans, and 163 hp. It handles wonderfully and stops solidly. After dealing with a v-twin with no amenities for the last several years, and some long trips it's really quite a different experience to drive a bike with these refinements. I've always kind of liked the BMW bike style, but the protrusion of the boxster engine was a bit of a turn-off - this model has an inline four cylinder engine, so it has a really clean and aggressive look to it.
    Now I have to figure out what to do with some of the Harley branded and cruiser centric stuff I have, and get bags for this bike for traveling.
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    Hello Again. It's Me, World.

    March 30, 2006 21:00 by keithkaragan
    Well, TechOui is finally back online after an extended spring vacation. It seems that our previous web host was bought by another web host, and in the process of transitioning to their new servers and staff, they managed to screw up every imaginable thing possible.
    It got to the point where service tickets went unanswered, and you had to call them - then the phones would go to voice mail, then the message on the phone basically said not to bother calling anymore. Needless to say, I started shopping for a new host. It's a shame, the old host was pretty good up until then. They would occasionally have issues, but always resolved them in a reasonable and timely manner. I've moved my stuff over to GoDaddy now, and although not as developer friendly, I'm hoping the size of the company will offer some stability.
    So, I was able to salvage all my web code and files from the old host, but still need to try to get my databases from them - getting my domains released was an adventure - so, I'm not looking forward to that experience. That content may be lost forever.
    I took the opprotunity presented by the host problem to do a redesign of the site. It was needed since the purpose of the site has changed since I'm no longer consulting through TechOui, and have a 'legitimate' full-time job at a respectable company (oh, that sounds scary to me...) - and the look was getting old too. This new site is all CSS, no tables (although some may sneak in in the content).
    The architecture is all ASP.Net 2.0 now too, with MasterPages, and a homegrown content management system that virtualizes all the page and blog content to the database, simulating a file system so I can create pages in my administrative console, and version content - kind of the way SharePoint does.
    The host locks down the Trust on the server, so it was a little more challenging to get everything working than I expected - but now it seems to basically work, and I'll be tweaking out the odds and ends as I move along.
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    SHAME! Veteran's Wiccan Religious Symbol Not Allowed on his Grave Marker

    March 30, 2006 15:34 by keithkaragan
    I found this article (via boing-boing) recanting the story of Nevada National Guard Sgt. Patrick Stewart whom died when he was in was shot down in Afghanistan in September. He's a Wiccan and although his dogtags stated this as his religion and contained a pentacle symbol, the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, Nevada fails to recognize that American service personnel are as free as the public to practice any (or no) religion, and have that denoted on their tombstones - especially when they are killed and buried in a veterans' cemetery. This is truly a disgraceful act on the Veterans' Administration's part.
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