All posts by JP DeSilva

The Care of Feeding of Your New Neck or Body

Greetings Earthlings. In today’s installment of “Huh..?!,” we are going to highlight some do’s and don’ts that we have learned over many moons when it comes to guitar and bass bodies and necks. Ready?

Care Instructions – Do’s and Don’ts

DO – take your time finishing and assembling your instrument

DON’T – leave it in the box for two years, in the garage, and then wonder why it is “extremely warped.” “Yes, your neck does look like an S…how long was it in the garage sauna again?”

DO – Spend some time researching shapes and thicknesses of necks

DON’T – wonder why your 990C neck feels like a baseball bat handle and not like the Wizard II neck you had imagined it would be.

DO – make sure your parts fit before you finish it in hot pink and teal lacquer

DON’T – call us because the J Bass pickups you purchased do not fit in the humbucker routs. We aren’t mind readers!

DO – stand in front of the mirror holding your guitar while doing Pete Townshend swirly arm rotations and waggling your tongue like Gene Simmons

DON’T – try to sling it around your neck without the neck bolted to the body. Only bad things can happen. We promise. Stop doubting us.

DO – understand that its wood and will have some inherent flaws because you know…it once was a living thing and had bugs chewing on it, lightning hitting it, birds pooing on it, bears scratching up against it, bees living in it…

DON’T – measure the numbers of Birdseye’s in a square inch with a magnifying glass. Do you see some Birdseye’s? Yes? It’s Birdseye maple. No Birdseye’s? NOT Birdseye maple. Only 3 Birdseye’s in a square inch? Still Birdseye maple. And no we can’t call the Birdseye maple supplier and ask them to put more Birdseye’s in it.

DO – Write funny love songs that you can sing to your significant other

DON’T – sing them to your significant other until you have tried them out on someone else. We’d suggest the cat. Or your Dad. Both will likely exhibit the same response.

DO – put some sort of finish on your body or neck pretty quickly

DON’T – let it “season” in the Barbecue grill in the back yard for 4 months. Its NOT the same as roasting.

DO – have fun and enjoy the process

DON’T – store hot dogs in your hot dog rout…they get squishy and gross.

DO – understand that your 21-fret neck won’t come with 22 frets.

DON’T – worry that your neck has Maccassar Ebony on the fretboard and not the Nascar Ebony that you ordered. They are the same thing…sort of…well you got the name wrong but we are pretty sure this is what you wanted. Rock the Casbah or Rock the Cashbox? Either way just keep rocking….

DO – ask us if you have any questions at all

DO – send pictures when it’s done because we STILL love looking at the amazing things you guys and gals build

DO – smile and have a great day 😊

Peace. Thanks for reading about the care of feeding guitar and bass bodies and necks.

 

Rosewood

“Is this the man who lured Taggert and Rosemont into a gross dereliction of duty at a strip tease establishment…Uh, it’s Rosewood sir.”

Ever since being lured into that gross dereliction of duty we have been struggling with Rosewood…maybe not his fault but still, right?!

At this point everyone is aware of the CITES regs that hit us in late 2016. We responded immediately by cataloging all of our Rosewood and working with the US Dept of the Interior and various other governmental agencies to establish a Master File so we could export Rosewood. According to our inside person at the time we were the first guitar company to successfully navigate the process. It should have been easy from there right? NO…and I could spend an entire blog on the pain for us and our customers for the next 6 months (I wont!) but the truth is the problem with Rosewood started much further back than that.

Acquiring Rosewood Guitar Wood – The Challenge

The ability to acquire consistently good Rosewood has been a struggle for quite a few years now. And it certainly seems to be getting even worse. I “dislike” about 60% of the Rosewood fretboards I see, “absolutely hate” about 20%, and “really like” about 20%. It’s just ugly, period (it’s not the suppliers fault, it’s just coming out of the ground that way!). Take a look at guitars from the 80’s…its hard to find a BAD piece of Rosewood. Dip back into the 70’ and 60’s and there are some gorgeous examples…and A LOT of them.

So, what do we do now?

If you had asked me 3 or 4 years ago if I thought that we would stop using Rosewood one day I would have said no…no way. Today, however I can see an end. The Pau Ferro we get is much higher quality, same with Katalox and any number of other woods that folks are beginning to substitute for Rosewood. We had a supplier pull some nice Rosewood out of a Church in Oregon or Montana or somewhere but, you know, how much more of that can you find? You can’t! The end is near, and you know what, it’s okay. We will all survive and be better because of it. We survived the breakup of the Beatles and embraced the Stones, we went from bell bottoms to straight legs; VCR to DVD to Netflix; Dave to Sammy…need I go on?

When you get ready to build your next neck and you want a darker fingerboard don’t start at Rosewood. Do some research, look at some of the other options out there, we think you will be pleasantly surprised. We will continue to be picky about our Rosewood and try to nab as much as we can but maybe now is the time to start changing. Don’t risk a banana in your tailpipe…

 

Paulownia tone tapping

Tone Tapping

Ah yes…tone tapping…they holy grail of wood selection, the lost art, the end all be all.  Find a company that has a CTTS (CTTS – Certified Tone Tapping Specialist) governed and authorized by the GUAACTTAA (Global Universal Association of Associated Certified Tone Tappers Anonymously Anonymous) and you will get a fine piece of tone wood.  However, stray too far away from a CTTS and POW you’ll get…well…a fine piece of tone wood.  Yes really…we’re serious…nope, not kidding.

Como say wha?

Tone Tapping in Building Quality Custom Guitars

Many of you are now angry with me, but most of you are probably thinking “I knew it…I knew all along tone tapping was BS.”  Unfortunately, much of it has been perpetrated by the industry itself and in the past even by people within our own ranks. And really, we aren’t sure why because the reality is this:  the key component to building a good sounding guitar is high quality wood…that’s your cornerstone.  Get the wood part right and the rest of the build gets just a bit easier.

Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that all woods sound the same.  If you want your Swamp Ash Tele to sound like a Les Paul it’s going to be hard, right?!  Maple on Mahogany sounds different than Swamp Ash, that’s just the way things are.  But if you want an Alder Strat body or maybe a nice Mahogany Tele body (or a multitude of other good woods) I can assure you that by using a company that cares about the wood it uses you will be just fine.

There is no guy sitting in the back that has a bachelor’s degree in tone tapping sifting through every piece of wood in the facility performing a circuitous cycle of tone tapping so your guitar parts will make you sound like Stevie Ray.  The only way you are going to get close to sounding like Stevie Ray is to practice.  The only way your guitar is going to sound just like a 1954 Stratocaster is if it IS a 1954 Stratocaster.  There is no magic wand, no secret sauce.  Buy crappy cheap wood and your guitar will sound bad no matter how great the pickups and bridge and tuners are.

Quality Only: Guitar Necks & All Our Products

The same goes for necks…good quality wood is the key.  Repeat after me; quality wood, quality wood, quality wood, the same kind of quality wood that you can get right here at USACG.  And don’t forget about the crazy sexy stuff too like Quilt Maple tops, Ribbon Mahogany, Cocobolo boards, Katalox…we have that stuff too, and yes it is high quality.

But lastly, for those of you that just don’t believe us we will offer our tone tapping services for the very reasonable price of $49.95 and will also begin offering “Tone Chamber” services which will bombard your guitar neck or body with the sultry sounds of your favorite band during the production process, also only $49.95.  DISCLAIMER: we don’t think this works, it might cause diarrhea, or blindness, or both, or it might cause you to wake up looking like a mid 30-yr-old Pierce Brosnan, but the odds of that don’t outweigh the whole diarrhea thing we don’t think, at least our lawyers don’t think it does, were actually not supposed to even mention the Pierce Brosnan thing because we didn’t get his approval, don’t do drugs kids.

Don’t miss next week’s installment; “Rosewood:” how a character from Beverly Hills Cop became the fretboard wood of choice.