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Messages - tjbray [ switch to compact view ]

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Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: April 20, 2015, 02:21 AM »
@TheGleep: looks really nice, man!  :Thmbsup: The weather around here finally broke, so as long as the humidity lowers a tad, I can finally get the bass I had to put in mothballs in Dec. finished. I'm hoping to have it completely built this month (fingers crossed). I'm also starting a tele build at same time. The body just needs the sharp edge around the top & bottom perimeter rounded over, and I can start deciding on shade of stain or dye. It's gonna have killer tone. I started with Honduran mahogany for the back, with a maple top that has a narrow band of Peruvian Walnut running along each side of the pickups  from neck to bottom. I almost hope the dude I'm building it for doesn't like it so I can keep it!!!

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: January 05, 2015, 10:16 AM »
@[email protected]: If you don't intend on using a poly varnish seal over the top coat of shellac, just going for a shellac  finish, once you're able to block-sand the flat areas completely level -- you'll know this by not having any shiny dots where the paper hasn't touched -- I'd go one or two light coats more and you should be able to go with a light rubdown with MacGuires Polish, I'm not home, so I'm not sure the number, it should be just under swirl remover. Finishing with swirl remover would be your prerogative after that. If you're going by hand, I doubt it's necessary. I'll get to my email this afternoon or evening once I get home.

Another way you can hold it flat would be to screw a 1X2 to the neck slot using 2 of your neck screws,  and clamping or weighing down the end to a table or chair. No matter how you do it, be 100% sure it won't slide off, or you'll be repeating one of my mistakes!!! :-[

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: January 05, 2015, 12:56 AM »
@theGleep: Hope you're feeling better. I never thought of using an airbrush. It sounds like far less sanding, and I'd guess overspray isn't much different than a HVLP detail gun. I'll have to pick one up for the tele build.
I have all my build's electronics on the way, still shopping for a better price on Hipshot Ultralight tuners and a drop d extender. With the sale of this build, I'll finally have enough in my hobby account to cover high dollar builds without coming from our regular account. Not having to balance my hobby/business with my Happy Wife life will surely speed my production up!

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: December 29, 2014, 02:08 PM »
@theGleep: let me know how you felt the flow was through your gun at each cut you use. I'm seriously thinking of using a preval kit (a disposable spray can you fill with your paint /stain) to shellac the tele I'll be doing next. I may even try the Arm-R-Seal poly varnish through one, but I'm not sure I can clean it out good enough for more than one application. The preval will save me from heating up the garage or the shop in the barn, where my compressors are, and just set up in our basement.
I like the sound of your vanilla  project. Something I may get the wife interested in working on sometime with me!

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: December 21, 2014, 11:03 AM »
@theGleep:  Hmm..... I KNOW I replied several days ago to your post as I was getting ready to head out the door the other day, but I did so on my desktop, which badly could use reformatting, and it must've locked up. Kinda sad my iPhone is faster than this thing...

You're dead on regarding the flake to alcohol ratio. It will take a few days to completely dissolve, but it will.  When it does, I'd bet it is already thin enough to spray, depending on your rig.  If your gun is high pressure, low volume, Harbor Freight has a detail HVLP detail gun for under $20-$25 bucks that works great. I strongly advise adding a water filter to the line. I haven't sprayed shellac through my gun yet, but after this bass, I highly suspect I will. When it comes to brushwork, I'm no DaVinci, and it gets old sanding the lines down. I haven't had time to work on it for a week, knowing I won't be ordering the remaining parts until after the first of the year, so I haven't been feeling the rush to do so with Christmas at the doorstep.

You should be able to put coats on fairly quickly, given the speed the alcohol evaporates. I can't really give you a number to shoot for, it all depends on how thick you coat it each session, I would block sand by hand, so you don't risk going into the stain from oversanding, and remember that once you've got no shiny pits or valleys when you've sanded as close as you dare, you are glass smooth. Spray a couple more coats on to have a good base for polishing, and after curing, you will be set for either the Arm-R-Seal or your car polish, depending on your preference.

I'll look NOW for that invoice, I have at least one of the forms I'm looking to put in a program somehow, I may have to explain it in the email. My computer is acting up, so I need to get this posted. Good luck and Merry Christmas!

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: December 14, 2014, 11:00 AM »
@40hz: I just listened to the tone test Superboyac posted, that'll save me a few bucks down the road.
On that same note, I thought we should pass along that Guitar Fetish has a small supply of the Epiphone "Lucille" rotary switches with 5 or 6 different valued capacitors. A sure way to extract a slew of different tones from your guitar (though I hope they have enough in stock for me to pick up a few after Christmas.)

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: December 13, 2014, 09:43 PM »
@theGleep: this is concert weekend for us, so I haven't been able to get on here. Your calculations are right, one good thing about going brushless is you won't have the  brushstroke issues, so you will sand off far less  waste than I do. I, too, have a patience deficiency, and when the time is available for me to work on a guitar, I can't rely on Ohio weather, so I just resolve to brush and sand my way to completion!
Expect the first coats to dry quickly. Even with a brush, the alcohol evaporates very quickly, and I'm  able to recoat  in an hour. I like to give the shellac extra time to cure before sanding ng. With my multiple  coats of 10-12, I wait a week. With an airbrush, you will be able to sand in a day, two tops.
I haven't had time to touch my project since last posting, and it's KILLING me!!!!

If you're interested in how my son's Skynyrd/Allman Brothers first show went (at the school, really more of a dress rehearsal), the Mason School of Rock page on Facebook has videos posted. He's the really tall guitarist on the far right on "Sweet Home Alabama" in the white flannel with blue/black stripes. Oh, the outright beautiful Les Paul style guitar he's using? I only wish I could claim building it! It's a Raven West Guitar. I am going to overhaul it this spring, however. Stainless frets, all new gold hardware, Page style wiring with a kill switch hidden under the pickguard for that staccato effect. Maybe a stainless guitar nut as well. My guitars I make nuts out of fret material, kinda my 'thing.'

I'm going to try to send you a copy of the forms I currently use for builds after I clean the bird cages to see if you think they can be put on a computer or tablet type program, even iphone for that matter. If I don't get to it today, I'll try to get it sent on Monday (I need to switch to a laptop!)

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: December 11, 2014, 06:30 PM »
@theGleep:  I've goy a dozen coats on this one, haven't used a cup. Especially since you'll be thinning it with alcohol to a 2 lb cut.

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: December 11, 2014, 07:13 AM »
Should've proofread the last post, sorry for the many errors! ;-)

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: December 11, 2014, 07:08 AM »
@theGleep: The first instrument you (re)finish will always be one of your favorites, regardless of how refined your work gets down the road. My son's 12 string tele is far from pro grade, IMO, but the fact that I made it when even I had doubts on its outcome (and even though the finish is far from what I would deem fit for selling, it plays and sounds beautiful, praise God!), it is my first. I offered to refinish it now that I know more about what I'm doing, but even my son loves it for it being the first one.

I, too, used the hanger method, though I'm thinking about cutting a 6-8" 1X3 to fit in the neck pocket, and attaching it to a mic stand with some conduit straps (no idea of their real name--those straps that hold conduit against the wall). That way I can twist it around as I apply the finish, and loosen the straps to slide it off for sanding.ake sure the wire goes through the body with plenty of extra so it won't slip off as you spin it around. It's happened to me, and ales for extra work.

Jeans are fine. On a nice day, I've sanded plenty of times with the body sitting on my lap while enjoying the sun. Definitely do your stain prep (alcohol and sanding) with gloves, and don't handle it bare handed until you move into the shellac phase. Shellac has great adhesion properties, especially  de-waxed shellac, so you won't have problems past there.

Ever clear is a great choice, with no toxins (a must when I work inside, we have 5 parrots)

Lifting the grain with the alcohol and lightly sanding the grain down has to be done just prior to staining. I'd do the grain lift both just prior to your prep coat and prior to your stain, to be on the safe side, though not much lift will occur if you get it all the first time.

I advise you is dewaxed shellac, for the best results. If you use shellac from a can, Zinsser has waxed and dewaxed. Most premixed shellac is made in a 3 lb "cut," or 3 lbs of shellac flake per gallon of alcohol. Go to http://www.finewoodw.../mixing-shellac.aspx to read the proper conversion to dilute it to about a 2 lb cut (you can store it in a mason jar). This will give you thin, glossy coats. I put a good 10-12 coats before sanding, to give plenty to rid myself of brush strokes. Take care that you don't sand through all your coats and hit your stain. Too much shellac is not a problem that sanding can't remedy. Too little can make a grown man cry.

Use wet-dry sandpaper and a lubricant Like mineral spirit or even a few drops of olive oil. I'd wait a week after your final coat of shellac if you aren't sanding  a little after 3 or 4 coats, but doing my shortcut method of many coats and sand. Otherwise, you can sand a day later and reapply until you get it smooth as glass. Don't apply pressure other than the weight of your hand, and inspect the paper for buildup frequently. Buildup will mar your finish like a grain of sand.

When you've got it sanded smooth, work up to at least 1500 grit paper. You can  buff then with a quality car polish like McGuires and use their swirl remover to finish it up. Or, after the sandpaper, apply a few coats of varnish, sand some more, then buff.

BTW, Merry Christmas to all, should I forget to post that later!

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: December 06, 2014, 02:52 AM »
@theGleep: No worries on the time it took to get those loaded. I'll get on my desktop in the morning for a better look, but from my iPhone with the pics maxed out, it looks like it is probably alder, at least that's my guess. Alder's grain is usually rather plain, without dramatic color differences between the dark and light lines. That's not to say you can't get good looking grain, but the darker your stain, the more blended together it will be.

The strat build I posted pics of is an alder body. When I was sealing the wood with shellac, I noticed it had a nice flame pattern wanting to peek out, so rather than considering what color to paint it, I finished it in a satin French polish, and showed photos to the buyer, who liked it as it was. I wanted to put a high gloss on it, but he shot that down. It turned out very nice, especially under stage lighting. Before that build, I had always gone with a rather popular opinion that alder is no good for anything but paint.

If you want really dramatic woodgrain, and you have a woodworker's store like Rockler in your area (where they sell veneer), you can usually find a hobbyist willing to put a book matched veneer on the front for little to no cost other than supplies. That said, I think you will find alder has a bad rap as a paint only wood, but I've found that to be misguided.

I hope you don't forget to post pics here when it's done--I can't wait to see it!

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: November 30, 2014, 08:57 AM »
@TheGleep: Yhanks for the link, I'll definitely check it out. So far, I've wired a strat a la Clapton, Brian  May, and David Gilmour.  I have a collection of wiring schematics for Les Pauls as well, but haven't really messed with them yet, so I'll definitely give it a look. I'm considering a setup for my son's, which he plays so much I need to re-fret soon (stainless this time), so I'm going to revamp all the guts and give him a Jimmy Page model.

The stain won't be a problem. Your main worry lies in the wood type. If it's a genuine Fender, most likely its alder, which can take stain directly, but doesn't have much drama in it's pattern. If you can post a pic, I can take a stab at guessing.

I'm a big fan of Guitar Fetish as well. Their True Coil pickups are in a couple of my builds. The bass I'm building is getting their Redactive EQ-switchable active pickups. This is my first foray into active pickups.
Another quality pickup maker is ToneRider. Great sound can be had without great cost.

Gotta get to church! Enjoy the last day of Thanksgiving weekend!

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: November 26, 2014, 04:32 PM »
@theGleep:  I know Rockler carries the General Finishes line (I'm fortunate to live in the greater Cincinnati area, which has a Rockler store, but they have a website as well).  De-waxed shellac has excellent adhesion properties, so you can use it over oil or water based stain, so you won't have problems using it with the stain. Be sure that you've lifted the grain of the wood by wiping the bare wood with a rag dampened with water or denatured alcohol (if you want it to dry faster), allowing it to completely dry, and lightly sanding it with 220 sandpaper. Do this about 3 times, also only handle the wood with latex or rubber gloves to keep the oils in your skin from affecting your stain coverage. Some woods take stain great, others are horrible.
I'm new at posting advice, so excuse my jumping around. I wanted to advise you to be sure you use DE-WAXED shellac--it's properties for hardness, shine, water repellence, and adhesion make it far more guitar-friendly!  As for wood preparation, Zinssler has a dewaxed version of their shellac, which is a wood prep. It may be what is in the Minwax wood prep as well.

The only fault you will find with shellac is, once it is in liquid form, it has a definitive shelf life. Commercial shellac cans should have a date on them, either when it was made or an expiration. I prefer buying shellac flakes and preparing about 16 ounces at a time, which I use up long before it begins to go bad. sells the flakes as well, and YouTube has great videos covering all phases of shellacking from prep to finish.

My experiences with Minwax has varied, and  as I used it at the start of my woodworking experience, I can just as easily blame my knowledge base at the time as I could the product. It's been so long since I've used their products I cannot give a fair evaluation.  I'll leave that to the many great advisors here.

Hats off to 40Hz as well, I can tell he has been helping pass information on to forum users for quite some time. Maybe in time mine will be laid out and as clear as his!

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: November 26, 2014, 12:02 PM »
Hi Gleep!

If you want high gloss, I would go with something like Arm-r-Seal, made by General Finishes. It will give you a super high gloss shine, and it's a tough finish, protecting your wood from liquids. Underneath that, you can level any deformities with a de-waxed shellac. You can use amber or clear to add some warmth to the wood. With both shellac and the Arm-R-Seal, they can be applied with a rag or brush. Great for new woodworkers.

If you plan on keeping your guitar, and don't plan on gigging with it, the shellac can give you an awesome finish alone, but beer, the bane of instruments, can mar the finish. The best thing about shellac is in de-waxed form, it is water resistant, but even if somebody does scratch or mar your guitar, shellac coats applied over old coats melts right into the old finish, making repairs easy.

I have used lacquer in the beginning of my restorations and builds, but have come to prefer shellac and varnish finishes for their look, and oil finishes like Tru oil just doesn't harden enough.

I'm biased, but that's the best part of opinions!

I'll get with you after the holidays regarding the program/app I'm hoping can be made, thanks!

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: November 25, 2014, 10:37 PM »
Thanks, 40!  It's probably more due to my methods being slower than using lacquer, but I'm not complaining. Premier Guitar is my favorite magazine, the only one I pay for a hard copy subscription.  I'll definitely give Joe's YouTube and tonefiend site some long looks, thanks.  I like Wait' s music, love the blues along with good old classic rock.

I'll throw some pics up here as I finish my builds, if you're interested. The tele is going to be really cool, I'm hoping.  I was just in the shop working on the bass body,  which I'm hoping to finish up in 3-3 weeks. 

Again, thanks for the info!

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: November 24, 2014, 12:04 PM »
My son's collection started with a 12 string telecaster I built from a hodgepodge of parts, which I fell back on my car painting days of the late 70's/early 80's and painted Ford Mustang red. I put a lipstick pickup in the bridge position and a hot Texas wound pickup in the neck. From there, we restored and rewired a number of guitars over the next 2-3 years, then I built him a strat wired with 6 DPDT switches to turn on/off each pickup separately and put in and out of phase like Queen's guitarist Brian May. I even hunted down a set of pickups with the same fat poles and specs as May's. That's when instructors, friends, and musicians began asking if I'd build guitars for them.
Just this Summer, my family and friends suggested I put my name on my guitars, so my hobby is now a VERY small business  I built a strat style guitar with a Fender TBX (treble bass expander) and an Atrec band control unit. The flawed fender tremolo was replaced with a Stetsbar unit. I have pics of that guitar.

I'm about 70% done with a PJ style bass with active pickups and a through the body bridge. I've dyed its swamp ash black, highlighted the grain with a silver powder suspension, and am French polishing the body now. The rosewood neck I've sealed in lacquer like Rickenbacker does. On deck for future contracted builds I've got a 50's tele style with the body made from a combination of maple, Honduran mahogany, and Peruvian walnut, and a few builds whenever no contracted work is in the making like an arch top with two TV Jones HBs and a barncaster from reclaimed pine that I intend to partially burn before starting.
I'm a retired cop, and this is far more relaxing than chasing bad guys!

That said, I should use this forum to see if anyone could whip out a couple of form apps or files, like an inventory list that I could use to see what it cost me, as well as a build sheet that I could spec the entire build out to provide an estimate sheet and an itemized bill of sale. I may do well as a luthier, but I rather suck at creating anything on my PC or my iPhone. (sorry it took so long to post this, have been away from my desktop for a while now...)

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: November 21, 2014, 06:23 PM »
I'm musical in the sense of building guitars (acoustic and electric) and effects pedals, mainly for my just-turned-15 year old son, who's somewhat of a prodigy musician. I found it has been far easier on the budget to use my woodworking skills to supply him with the different guitar types he needs, and it rolled me out of retirement when musicians who've worked with him began asking if I'd build them custom instruments.

My electrical experience suffices for coming up with different wirings for the pickups, but anyone who has ideas along the workings of stomp boxes, I can build them off of a schematic or  parts list, not much past there. 
My son's performing next month in a Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Brothers tribute the second month of December.
You would NOT want me to sing, though!

I'm a Christian husband, Marine, father of 2, a retired Sheriff's deputy who married one of the dispatchers (she was always telling me where to go anyway, so...).  I retired in after 12 years service due to continued complications from an on-duty crash that very nearly killed me:
 Bray, Thos., HCSO, 21DEC96.jpg
At the time of the crash, I had been dating my future wife for a few months, who was also a paramedic. When the doctors were planning to release me to a long term care facility for phys therapy, she asked if I could be released to her home, and she would see to my care. Her experience as a paramedic, along with 3+ years of her nursing degree completed, was enough to convince the docs that I would be in good hands. 

Needless to say, she was a keeper! We've been together ever since. As a family, we all volunteer at the zoo, working with and caring for several bird species it the Bird House. This experience has transformed our own home into an indoor aviary.

Computer-wise, what little knowledge I have has been self taught. I also like to work with stained glass, as well as wood carving and woodworking.  We are going to expand our "zoo" into a breeding facility, once we find a mate for our favorite feathered friend Hannibal, formally known as Hannibal, prior to our confirming her--er, I mean his--sex through a DNA test.

Living Room / Re: Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading List
« on: June 13, 2011, 07:04 PM »
For anyone looking to purchase any of these or other books, I've found the best prices on .  I don't have any affiliation with the site, just tossing it out there for those who are interested...

Below are photos of 2 of my 3 parrots, my cat, and my dog....


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