Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bill Lawrence: March 24, 1931 - November 2, 2013

It is with great sadness that the music community and the world has lost a great innovator and man, Bill Lawrence (born Willi Lorenz Stich). In addition to making his own brand of pickups, he also worked with several guitar manufacturers, including Peavey, Gibson and Fender. 

This is the announcement that had been posted on by Becky, Bill's wife, as of 11/6/2013.

"With great sadness in our hearts, the man we know as Bill Lawrence in the music industry passed away on November 2, 2013 at approximately 9:20AM. 

Bill was a strong and courageous man. Even in his last few days, Bill fought to live. He'd talk about Music, Pickups & Guitars -- and Life, and we, at his company, were still working because this is what Bill Lawrence wanted to know -- that his company & legacy is carrying on as usual. 

We will miss the Bill Lawrence Mighty Force. Bill brought so much, and he wanted to stay here on earth to keep giving. One thing, yesterday as preparing the necessary paperwork, required is Designation of Race. In Honor of Bill Lawrence and his wishes, we included Human. 

A Memorial Service will be held Friday 11/8/13 at 3:00PM Fairhaven Memorial Park 1702 Fairhaven Avenue Santa Ana, Orange County, CA 92705 -- 714-633-1442 

Love, Becky"

Rest in peace, Bill.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Story of My Number 1

My number 1 started out as parts. While living in CA and working at a music shop, I got the itch to assemble a guitar. One of the guys I worked with at the shop, Rick Torres (no relation to Dan), had a Chandler Alder top-routed HSH Strat body and he sold it to me for $100. He then helped me acquire the rest of the parts.

  • Warmoth Strat neck with boat contour, 6105 frets, maple fingerboard, compound 10"-16" radius. (This was pre Warmoth Pro contruction with the Gotoh side truss rod adjustment. At that time it was just called "Warmoth Construction").
  • Gotoh vintage style Strat trem.
  • Kluson tuners.

I had some pots lying around so I grabbed a 500k and set it aside. A 3-way blade switch I bought at the shop. Rick gave me a green switch tip and yellow "Tone" knob.

When the time came to decide on pickups, I was unsure. My buddy Johnny convinced me to get the Custom Custom for the bridge. Being tight on a budget, I put a Jackson JC90 that I had laying around in the neck for a while. Eventually, a Jazz neck would find its way there.

The pickguard was heavily EVH influenced. I got a sheet of tortoiseshell celluloid and cut a Frankenstein style guard myself. It was rough but it did the trick. The pickups ended up being mounted right to the body with the Custom Custom having a couple nuts under each tab to lift it up to the desirable height.

The body was finished in a couple of coats of clear polyurethane. The neck was at first finished in a couple coats of Watco Oil but a couple years ago I re-finished it with Minwax Poly Satin, wiped on with a soft cloth.

It has seen several pickguard and pickup changes since and the tuners were replaced a few years ago with another set of Klusons.

Final assembly took place in November 1993 at Rick’s house. He helped me mount the neck, mount the bridge, put the tuners on, and even cut the nut. I actually did most of the work, he just guided me through the process and showed me tips and such. The wiring I did myself.

Current Configuration: 
Seymour Duncan Screamin' Demon (bridge and neck)
WD Music Matte Black Pickguard

Thanks, Rick and Johnny.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tools of the Tech

Not long after I started playing guitar, I also starting tearing them apart. My first electric was a cheap Strat copy and I took that thing down to a pile of parts, much to my father's displeasure. He just said, "Get it back together.", and I did. It was a learning experience and one I don't regret. Since then, I have done pretty much all of my own repairs and regular tech work. Fret jobs is the only thing that I have not done, though that is about to change. Other than that, I do my own work and have done work for friends too.

The other day I was browsing the walls of one of the local locations of a very well known musical instrument chain. At one point I saw their "tech" go to their repair counter with a customer's guitar to work on it. The customer was there too explaining the issue. Then I saw it, and I cringed, and I wanted to say something, but I didn't because, well, he's the "tech". If he eff's up the instrument, it's his problem. What I saw was the "tech" using a power screwdriver to remove the jack plate screws. These are small screws and don't require a lot of torque. No power tool is necessary for that. That power screwdriver could slip and hit the guitar, leaving a nice scratch or worse. Just a big no-no. A simple hand screwdriver is sufficient, and the proper tool for the job.

Unless a new hole is being drilled, routing is being done, buffing a refinish and maybe stripping for a refinish, keep the power tools away. There are expert luthiers who use dremel tools to do inlay work and such, and that is fine, they are experts and trained in their craft. Since I like simple dot inlays, that's not something I see myself needing to do. I buy necks already done anyway. So remember, when working on your instruments, hand tools are your friends. Use them.

Here is a list of tools for a starter tech toolbox. A lot of these can be purchased at a local hardware store. Some of the more specialty tools, like nut files, can be purchased from Stewart-MacDonald or Warmoth.

  • Phillips screwdriver (#1 and #2 at least)
  • Flathead screwdriver (small and large)
  • Nut files
  • Rat tail file
  • Flat file
  • Feeler gauges
  • Allen wrenches (for adjusting saddles and Floyd Rose trems)
  • Small 6-inch steel ruler (w/ inches and mm)
  • Small needle nose pliers
  • Wire strippers
  • Alligator clips
  • Digital multimeter
  • Strobe tuner
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder (rosin core)
  • Caliper (dial or digital)
  • Heat shrink tubing
  • Utility knife
  • Electrical tape

Friday, October 4, 2013

DIY Circuit: Marsha Valve

Back in 2005, I was knee deep in DIY and having lots of fun with it. Granted, I hadn't been doing it very long, maybe a year, but I was learning quite a bit and started coming up with my own ideas. One of them was based off a circuit named the Fetzer Valve from Runoffgroove.

The Fetzer is based off the first input stage of a Fender amp. I decided to take that idea and make one that is the first input stage of a Marshall amp, which is where the name came from. It came out better than expected and so I decided to share it with the DIY community. Turns out that several folks like it and quite a few had been made, even by beginners. It's an easy circuit to make.

I still have one of the first ones I built and just recently started using it again. There's quite a bit of boost to it. In front of a clean amp, you'll get a noticeable volume increase. In front of a slightly overdriven amp, you'll still get some volume increase but it'll saturate the front end of the amp more increasing the drive. Pretty typical of a boost circuit. I like the bit of Marshall flavor it adds to the sound.

In the PDF below, the schematic, perfboard and veroboard layouts are included, as well as a couple photos of the completed circuit.

Friday, September 27, 2013

How To Not Re-finish Your Guitar

Those that know me know I am a member of the Seymour Duncan User Group Forum. One of the guys is an avid refinisher and often finds great deals on stuff and does some nice work with rattle cans. His latest acquisition is an inexpensive Jackson. Whoever the prior owner was either couldn't make up his mind on what color to paint it or had no idea what he was doing, or both. I have no doubt that when he is done with it, it will look really good. Might need to raise funds for him to get more acetone. ;-)

Check it out for yourself...... Okay, who the HELL did this refinish?

Ready, Set, Go!

It looks like all of the major content has been transferred over to this new site. There are a few small details to take care of yet but I got done what I wanted to in a relatively short time. There are some differences to how I went about things versus the other site, most notably in the content.

For the Pedal Mods, MXR Phase 90 Mods and Marshall JCM 900 MkIII pages, I decided to host them in PDF format, with the exception of a few things that are better hosted as normal site context. I had already converted them to PDF some time ago so it was just a matter of uploading the file. It certainly made it easier than copy/paste every page and have to adjust everything like I did for the PGK SG Jr. page.

Rather than having a page or two for my gear, I decided to utilize the Google photo album I had already created with everything in it, complete with descriptions. One link, done.

So now I'll work in filling in some details here and there where necessary and then looking at sharing some tips and tricks every now and then and even some stories about a few of my guitars.

-Keep Rockin'

Monday, September 23, 2013

Web Site Change

Due to limitations with my web host, I will be transitioning the content here. It may take some time for that to happen so please bear with me. This means that some links out there will be broken so hopefully through redirects and just going to the main URL will help folks find this new home and the content. My apologies but some things beyond my control and others within my control warrant this change.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New Blog

So I started a blog. Not sure where it will go or what I'll write about. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to share more guitar related tips and tricks here and there, maybe some babble here and there. I haven't quite decided yet. We'll just see how it goes I guess.