Megi's Jazz Odyssey - the return

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  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member

    Indeed that may have had something to do with it I suppose Jocko... image

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    NGD - wey hey!  Don't forget to show us your new arm, neck, and chest tats when you have them done.  With a 7 string metal machine you could also get heavily into Prince.  Albert that is.....

    Cheers, Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member
    Reg Sox posted:

    NGD - wey hey!  Don't forget to show us your new arm, neck, and chest tats when you have them done.  With a 7 string metal machine you could also get heavily into Prince.  Albert that is.....

    Cheers, Reg.

    Oh cripes, is all that strictly necessary? I might have had second thoughts if I'd realised. Oh well too late now, in for a penny and all that... I think there's a local department store that does ear piercing - I suppose I could ask there... image

  • Derek_RDerek_R Posts: 1,659Member

    A true level of commitment would be shown by having your eyes tattooed

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member

    Uurggh! That's horrible Reg (thanks for putting that image on my thread... ] - they had an 8 string going even cheaper actually, good job I didn't buy that one...

    http://www.andertons.co.uk/sol...8-in-crimson-red.asp

    I did actually think about it, given the price, - it could have been fun for home use and experimenting, but I couldn't actually see myself ever gigging it (at least without the band falling about with laughter) so it failed that key test.

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    Hey Megi - not guilty for that image.  Eight string guitar?  I don't think I could get my hands around that, let alone my head.  At what number of strings does an instrument change from being a guitar into a hammered dulcimer?

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member
    Reg Sox posted:

    Hey Megi - not guilty for that image.  Eight string guitar?  I don't think I could get my hands around that, let alone my head.  At what number of strings does an instrument change from being a guitar into a hammered dulcimer?

    Oops, very sorry Reg, not the first time I've done that. Wrongly accused eh? - the injustice of it! Hammered dulcimers are more your department I think. Ibanez and Schecter have actually got 9 string guitars on the market at the moment. Is it all just a fad, and we will look back in ten years time and laugh at how silly it all was? Quite possible I'd say, but I think a modest 7 string is at least within the bounds of non-ridiculousness.

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    I agree 7 string seems reasonable.  I'd be interested in your feedback on how easy it is to play in terms of string spacing (is there a compromise in string spacing or do you have to make an extra stretch?), and barre chords.  Never played one so don't really have a clue.

    For that extra bass I invested in an EMX Pitch Fork that is a really nice little pedal and has a bunch of other uses beyond just playing bass on a normal six string guitar.  My Faith Parlour can be used with a splitter cable such that I can split the signal across the range of strings (it has a piezo for each string and a flexible onboard preamp that makes use of that).  So I can send the bass to one channel and the higher registers to another.  But I can still blend in the original signal via the EMX pedal so I get that and the bass an octave (or whatever setting I have it on) below as well.  Great fun for playing about and recording, and really thickens up the sound and properly highlights bass runs.  But of course, if I used the set up live I'd have to take two amps into the shower (or have two channels on a PA, which is probably easier).  The electric I'll finally get round to building in the new year will have two P90s plus piezos embedded in the saddles (with an onboard preamp).  Therefore I can two the same with a splitter cable to generate two signals but it'll have less flexibility unless I employ a parametric equaliser to retain just the bass on one channel.  All good harmless fun.

    Cheers, Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member

    Sounds like excellent fun Reg - although I would say you shouldn't take any amps into the shower, let alone two, that very dangerous in fact. I have thought you'd know better, just goes to show... image

    Anyway, I now have the 7 string thing in my possesion. It's a bit of a beast - initially noodling around, and I have the impression that there certainly is a fair bit of acclimatising to do - I really do feel the difference with the extra string and neck width, and it does make everything seem strangely unfamiliar. Definitely some work to do, and practice needed to get to grips with this thing.

    The guitar I've bought has a 26.5" scale length, which must be helping with the tone from the low string. Having tried a few of the stretchier jazz chord shapes I know, I was initially feeling concerned I should have gone with a 25.5" scale instrument, but after a second try, things didn't seem quite so bad. And then I went back to a 6 string guitar, and realised that some of these chords are pretty hard on that as well. I think the extra width of the neck and extra string is probably the main destabilising influence, it just makes things seem not quite right/normal. So my hope is that time with the guitar will help.

    String gauge will be something I have to thing about - I definitely want a heavier gauge low string than the one fitted (a 56 I think). I'll probably try a 60-something gauge in fact. The other strings have in effect a 10-46 6 string set, and with the longer scale, they seem to have a similar tension to the 11-49 sets I normally use. I may stick with 10, 13 and 17 for the plain strings, and go a bit heavier for the wound D, A and E strings (maybe something like 28, 38, 50.  Or I might stay with 11s, despite the longer scale - somehow I think that might work all the same.

    Looks-wise, it's pretty nice in fact - I'd say quite handsome - it sits darkly glowering at me, propped up in the corner, and mocking me because I haven't learnt to play it properly. But a well-finished guitar - the fret ends are well done, and the fret work looks tidy generally. The fretboard is actually bound, but with a thin black binding, so it doesn't look very obvious. The headstock looks elegant, and is also bound very nicely, with a black ply on the outside. Nice Grover machines, with small-sized kidney shape buttons - this works really well to stop the headstock seeming crowded. Fretboard is nice rosewood, inlays well done. The body well finished, well-done binding again, all the hardware seems good quality, and finished in a kind of very dark, but not quite black chrome - like a dark gunmetal maybe. Nicely done transparent grey-black burst finish. Can't complain about anything - appears clean and well-done workmanship throughout. Not too heavy either, despite the mahogony body - it's not a lightweight, but my walnut-body strat weighs more for sure.

    Overall - if honest, I don't yet know quite what I've taken on here, and I admit it's possible that a few months down the line I'll be selling the guitar on and giving up the 7 string idea as not for me. Or I might take to it, and things will start feeling more natural. I'm going to give it a good go anyhow, and it's an experiment basically, just something I have to try. image

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member

    Pictures! I know, I know... image

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    What's the balance like?  Seven string means extra neck width, extra tuner, and 26.5" scale means extra length.  All suggests a spot of neck diving.  Is the body proportionally larger to compensate or does it just naturally balance nicely anyway?  I'd be interested in a side by side comparison with one of your other solid six string guitars.  Just the builder in me thinking about that sort of stuff.

    How are barre chords with the extra string?  Top of mind for me because for the last month or so I've been working really hard to crack barre chords beyond the basic F/G shape.  Now I'm retired I find I can afford an extra hour a day to nail them properly.  Of course I should have persevered when I first started playing nearly 35 years ago instead of just banging out three chord songs all the while.

    Cheers, Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member

    Balance is not at all bad Reg, absolutely no sign of neck dive on a strap, and I haven't noticed any issues with the guitar used seated either. I think the centre of gravity probably is a little further to the neck than on some guitars, but not to the extent one can tell in use. There was a Chapman brand 7 string I was considering, which has a tele-style body shape, and apparently that is neck heavy, reading a few online reviews. So I avoided that like the plague - my first decent electric was neck heavy - nice guitar, but it was a real pain in the bum re the balance, so I've not forgotten that lesson.

    Barre chords are perfectly do-able - the neck is still a tad narrower than the one on my 6 string classical guitar, and I've used barre chords with that. I don't really envisage using many 7 string barre chords to be honest though. The way I play, I seldom use a full 6 string barre on a normal guitar - I'd usually rather have the cleaner kind of sound one gets from a 3/4/5 string chord, and most of my chords are 3 or 4 string in practice. I absolutely agree that barre chording is still a technique one should have in one's arsenal though.

    I think a lot of the appeal of the 7 string for me is in being able to have more seperation between the bass note and the rest of a chord (more like a pianist would do). So, with the 7th string tuned to a low A, for example I can use this D major 7th: 5xx767x instead of: xx5767x .

    About to upload some pics anyhow, and I've taken a couple of comparison ones with another guitar just for you Reg. image

     

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member

    And so to the pictures:

    DSCF3085DSCF3087DSCF3089DSCF3091DSCF3093DSCF3095DSCF3102DSCF3104

    That last one shows the size comparison pretty well I think - the longer scale is accomodated by moving the bridge position a little further south, and by the headstock being shorter than the 6 a side strat style. In use, one does feel that the first fret is just a little further away to reach to, but perfectly manageable.

    If I'm honest, I really was thinking I might have done something stupid yesterday evening, but I'm finding I like the guitar a little more each time I pick it up, and it's seeming a little less alien. Still not sure re tuning - I did like the idea of low A, and as a jazzer it's nice to have a low B flat available, but I can't deny that a low B tuning seems much more natural.

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,871Member, Moderator

    Nice guitar and great photos.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member
    Jocko posted:

    Nice guitar and great photos.

    Thanks very much Jocko - I think I've mentally nick-named this guitar "The Beast" - it is still a bit daunting, with the extra string, long scale length, and the dark looks of course. I've ordered a 10-52 6 string set, plus a couple of heavier strings to use for the low one, a 60 and a 64. I may end up going heavier still, but I don't want to go heavier than I need to. For the moment, a very light touch is needed on the low string to avoid undue rattling, especially if tuned down to A (not something that the death metal brigade probably worry about).

    Pleased you approve of the photos though, I'm very unskilled in that area compared to you guys who post on the photography thread. image

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    Thanks for the run down on the guitar Megi.  It does look very nice.  Having taken a good look at it I think you can probably get away with not having the tattoos I suggested.  Just stick to the double ear piercing and I think you'll be fine.

    Funny how perspective in a photo can fool you (well it did me).  I saw the side by side pic on the bed and the walnut strat looked significantly smaller than the Schecter.  Yet the upright picture showed far less difference in size in reality.

    Just a comment on the side by side bed picture.  I can't help thinking there should be a cigarette inserted under the strings on each headstock.  And maybe follow it up in a few months with similar picture, without cigarettes, but with a ukulele?  I'll get my coat.....

    Cheers, Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member

    Somewhere a while back, possibly not on this diary thread, I was talking about re-jigging my swamp ash body strat without spending a lot of money. Anyhow, I got as far as buying some new steel saddles for the vintage style trem bridge, and re-adjusting the bridge so it sits flat on the body. Have only just looked at the guitar again - it's been lent in a corner without any strings on for a few months I'm afraid. I had come to realise that with the trem decked, the steel saddles could not be adjusted high enough to get a workable action.

    Anyhow - what was it I said about not spending money? - scratch that, I just thought to hell with it, and ordered new bits from Axesrus - a replacement tortoiseshell scratchplate, new 5-way switch (gold plated no less), sheet of self-adhesive copper to shield back of new scratchplate, and by no mean least - a new Wilkinson WVPC steel block modern style trem unit in gold finish. I have one of these on my walnut body strat, and like it very much, and having measured, I know it's possible to adjust the saddles a fair bit higher, which should solve the issue with getting the action adjusted where it needs to be. Total cost was 60-something quid. So spending money on messing around with guitars again - will I ever learn?

    I think I'm going to have one more crack at the getting a good jazz tone from a strat problem as well, which will mean a new pickup for the neck position. I have learnt the hard way, that the classic type of strat pickup, in whatever specification, just doesn't work well for the kind of jazz tone I like to use. So this time I'm thinking I might talk to the chap at Catswhisker pickups about getting one of his SP90 pickups made, with specs optimised for what I want.

    http://www.catswhiskerpickups.co.uk/strat.html

    This is basically a pickup that fits a strat pickup cover, but has adjustable poles and a P90 style magnet arrangement. That's probably going to be another 60 quid or so... Yet more dosh out the bank account, but it would be really lovely to have a strat I could take to the odd gig and use for playing jazz. I do love the strat design looks-wise, and also find it very comfortable to use. Since I have two of them, I can keep the walnut one set up for classic strat tones (something it does very well), and then the swamp ash will be a bit more individualised.

    Don't know why - maybe its just the effect of winter - but I haven't had a lot of energy or enthusiasm for guitar jobs and projects of late. I still need to do a bit of a fret job on the new 7-string and get that just so also. And I have a Squier telecaster sitting in bits, that I'm sure with a bit of work would make a nice little guitar. Could do with making myself a few more guitar picks also - I have some sheets of 5mm horn in a drawer, waiting to be made into picks. Will have to give myself a kick up the bum and get on with all these things!

  • Pete_BPete_B Posts: 28Member

    I have one of these, just need a bit of sandpaper to finish them, and fun getting 5 out of one credit card:=  generic plectrum punch

  • AlidoreAlidore Posts: 528Member

    I have one of these, just need a bit of sandpaper to finish them, and fun getting 5 out of one credit card:=  generic plectrum punch

    Pete.

    “There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.”
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member

    A great gadget Pete - unfortunately in my case I've got so I can't function without thick (4 mil or so) picks that I make from sheet of horn, and it wouldn't be possible to just punch then out like that. I always have to make life difficult for myself somehow! image

    Just emailed the Catswhisker pickups chap, and we'll see what he says. Since the guitar has the shallow vintage style pickup routs, it might be tricky to get something to fit, but I'm hoping he'll be able to come up with something that will work, even if it means a custom pickup design. In the past I've balked a bit at paying too much for pickups - actually tbh I usually try to find a whole set of 3 strat pickups for 60 or 70 quid-ish. But this time, I just want something for the neck position that will do the jazz thing really well, and I don't mind paying a fair old bit just for the one pickup if that's what it takes - if it means I can take my strat to jazz gigs, it will be worth it.

  • Derek_RDerek_R Posts: 1,659Member

    4mm thick horn picks! I have a Wegen pick I use for gypsy jazz stuff - it's thick and wide, but not 4mm. That's some width, as I'm sure all the girls in the front row say!

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member

    I might like the Wegen ones if I tried them Derek, but I'm a bit of a tight-arse, and for just a fiver I can buy a sheet of horn that will make 10 picks minimum. Some folks seem to be able to use any standard kind of guitar pick - I envy them really, it would make life easier.

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member
    Megi posted:

    Since the guitar has the shallow vintage style pickup routs, it might be tricky to get something to fit, but I'm hoping he'll be able to come up with something that will work, even if it means a custom pickup design.

    Megi, That's like buying a new car to change from automatic to manual shift because you accidently bought the wrong gearbox oil.

    Buy yourself a chisel and/or a gouge.  It's only the rout that is vintage in style, the guitar isn't actually vintage.

    The easiest way to tackle it would be with a router, but that is an unnecessary expense if you don't already have one.

    With a chisel and/or a gouge (a gouge is rounded), just take a drill bit and wrap a piece of tape exactly the extra depth you want to achieve around it, drill a series of holes to the depth of the tape in the bottom of the existing rout and then remove the bits between the holes with the chisel or gouge.

    It honestly shouldn't take more than 20 minutes to do and there's no risk of damaging the finish or expanding the existing rout other than depthwise.

    Cheers, Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member

    You do make a fair point there Reg - I was just looking for an easy, clean kind of solution. And also not having a router, or wanting to have to buy one, and not wanting to make a hash of things either... I know it's under the scratchplate, but I like my guitars to look tidy and workmanlike everywhere. But if you think I could make a decent job of it, maybe it's worth a go - I'll give it some consideration anyhow.

    The Catswhisker pickups chap did get back to me, and he thought the "SP90" P90/strat type hybrid pickups he does would be just a bit too deep for the routing as is, but instead suggested something similar to one of his "Stelly" pickups, with the specs tweaked to best suit a warm jazz tone. This would be a bit like a tele bridge pickup with a steel baseplate, flush poles, and he'd use alnico 2 magnets and thinner AWG 43 gauge winding wire to warm up the tone and allow him to get the ideal number of winds on the coil. He says he could do this so it would fit under a standard strat pickup cover, so the looks of the guitar wouldn't be compromised.

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    I honestly think you could do it Megi.  In terms of skill I'd rate it as far easier to do than the fret dress work you already perform to a high standard.

    If you want a really neat bottom to your cavity (nope, really couldn't be bothered to explore that double entendre) you could get yourself one of these mini router planes to tidy up after you've chiselled out the extra depth:

    Veritas Small Router Plane

    Veritas Mini Router Plane

    Not expensive and will be on hand for any similar jobs in the future - also ideal for routing out any wiring channels if something needs modding in the future.

    Cheers, Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member

    Love that you're trying to interest me in new tools with a view to future modding jobs Reg - to be honest, I keep hoping that one day I'll have all my guitars exactly as I want them and just so, and then can focus entirely on playing the damn things. image I know - yeah right, like that's going to happen... 

    But all the same, I don't think I'll be purchasing the mini router plane, nice bit of kit though it looks to be. I do appreciate the idea and you taking the time to post about it though. I do have a few little "router bits" that I bought for my cheap mini rotary tool (similar to a Dremel, but not as good) - and using such a bit I found I could do a fairly neat job when I needed to extend the bridge pickup cavity for my walnut strat once. So I think it's possible I could do some neatening-up of the cavity bottom (oo-er titter titter) in a similar way.

    I'm definitely bearing it in mind as an option now anyhow - you have persuaded me it would be within my capability. At the moment though, I'm waiting for a response to a follow-up question I asked the Catswhisker pickups chap - given I asked this on Saturday afternoon, I don't think I'm inclined to wait much longer. Perhaps he thinks I'm a time-waster, I don't know, but in my book the customer is always right and all that.

    There are a couple of other options for pickups that wouldn't involve the need for routing - one is the gold-foil single coils sold by GFS, which apparently have a tone not unlike a mini-humbucker:

    These would of course change the look of the guitar somewhat, but maybe the chrome cover ones could look quite good. I could buy a whole set for about the same price as one of the Catswhisker ones, and it would certainly make the guitar an interesting tonal contrast from my standard pickup equipped walnut strat. I already have a GFS "Surf 90" pickup in one guitar, and that turned out to be one of the best buys I've made.

    Or, I could blow some dosh on a red-silver-blue set of Lace Sensors. I used to have a Lace blue pickup in the neck of a guitar, and I could get a nice enough jazz tone with it. But these are back in the more-expensive end of the price range, and although they're good pickups, I'm not sure it's quite the kind of tone i want this time. The tones, in my opinion, tend to be a little smooth and hi-fi in quality - good, but kind of modern, rather than vintage, if that makes sense. Maybe a bit polite-sounding is another way of putting it.

    But of course, I could choose to deepen the pickup cavities as you suggest, and there are other pickup makers out there who do P90 magnet style pickups for strat. There are at least a couple of makers in the states, but there's also the chap at The Creamery in the UK for one. I quite fancy the idea of having a P90 magnet type in the neck position, stick with a sparkly strat type in the middle, and maybe cheap and cheerful dual-rails Artec in the bridge - I think that would be a good combination.

    I'll give it just a little more time to see if Catswhisker gets back anyway, and then I might have a bit of thinking to do. Long waffley post, forgive me - more for my own benefit to get my thoughts in order really. image

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    I've dealt with Jaime at The Creamery previously. Top chap (once I'd stopped calling him Jamie ).

    Regarding tools, the stuff I've suggested would be just as useful for hanging a door as modifying a guitar - always useful to have on hand for when the missus come up with one of those little jobs around the house

    Cheers, Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member

    Just in case there is anyone out there still interested in the fascinating subject of pickups for my ash-body strat, I think I'm going to change my mind and go for cream-cover set red-silver-blue of the Lace Sensors.

    I've been watching a few YouTube demos, and it does remind me of why I liked the Lace Blue I had in a guitar once. Yes, there is a bit of a hi-fi quality to the sound, but it's good and will fit quite well with one of the bands I'm in (the one where I get to use my pedal board). I do like a P90-ish fat single-coil tone for a neck pickup, but I have that area covered well already with my trans grey-black Shine semi-acoustic, so why duplicate it? The Lace Sensors will give me something a little different, and also make for a versatile, do anything kind of guitar. It's also advantageous that these pickups are very quiet and hum-resistant in use - I know from experience that can be a bother using single coil pickups at some venues.

    I think this lad does a very good job comparing the Lace Sensors to more standard strat pickups:

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    Mmm, not sure I buy that comparison as straight up.  Maybe I missed some text somewhere but I don't believe the amp (or whatever he was using to process the sound) was on exactly the same settings for both sets of pick-ups.

    The second set, unless I'm massively mistaken, clearly has a bunch of reverb added.  The second set does a lot richer, and to my ears has a more pleasant sound.  Maybe that is down to the pickups to some extent, but I also believe the signal was processed differently.

    Cheers, Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,974Member
    Reg Sox posted:

    Mmm, not sure I buy that comparison as straight up.  Maybe I missed some text somewhere but I don't believe the amp (or whatever he was using to process the sound) was on exactly the same settings for both sets of pick-ups.

    The second set, unless I'm massively mistaken, clearly has a bunch of reverb added.  The second set does a lot richer, and to my ears has a more pleasant sound.  Maybe that is down to the pickups to some extent, but I also believe the signal was processed differently.

    Cheers, Reg.

    Of course you're quite right there Reg - he is clearly guilty of downplaying what the classic type of strat pickup can do if used in the right way, and with sympathetic amp settings and so on. My thoughts really are that I already have my walnut strat very nicely set up for the classic strat kind of tones, and I found I preferred the strat tones from that one compared to the ash strat. So I it seems a good idea to make the ash one do something different - it is a lovely guitar, and I'd like to have a reason to use it more often.

    The video does at least show that the Lace pickups offer something quite different, and potentially useful I think. I went ahead and ordered the things yesterday evening anyhow, so its past the point of no return! That took a sharp intake of breath, as it's the most I've ever spent on pickups. I'm itching to get going with the installation, and hope I'll have them in my possession tomorrow morning (I paid an extra pound for first class post).

    My plan is to use the same circuit type I have on the walnut strat, which gives a master volume and tone control, plus a blend knob, allowing one to blend in either the neck or bridge pickup, in addition to the pickup(s) already selected via the 5-way switch. I've found it to be a really elegant way to add some useful tones, and which is intuitive to use, plus without the need for a load of extra switches - something I've not always avoided in the past. image

    wiring-diagram-strat-blender

    I've posted this before I know, but I really do recommend it for anyone with a strat who would prefer a master volume and tone - it's a relatively simple circuit to do, and works really well.

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