New site is live (kinda)

I haven’t finished tweaking my theme or putting up my banners and everything, but all the posts from this site are now available on www.hackyouraxe.com, which is where all the new posts will appear. Thanks for your patience – We’ll be getting back to doing showing you some awesome mods really soon.

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New Hosting

I probably won’t have any new articles up this week as I’m working on setting up this blog with a new host. New content is in the works, though!

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Treble Bleed

It’s taken a lot longer than I thought, but I finally got my treble bleed how-to done (I actually ended up having to redo the project because the pics didn’t turn out the first time around).

What’s a treble bleed?  To put it simply, when you turn down the volume knob on your guitar, the frequencies in your signal don’t go to ground evenly.  To fix this, you can put a capacitor (cap, for short) in between the input and output lugs on your volume pot.

How it works and details on how to do it after the break. Continue reading

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Cigar Box Guitar Video

Here’s the slideshow for Part 1 of my cigar box guitar build, complete with narration and terrible “thrown together with GarageBand loops” “music.”  Once the project is done, I plan to replace it with actual music played on the guitar itself.  Enjoy.

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Quick Tips on Soldering

Working on my treble bleed video, and since I’m keeping it pretty short, I’m not going to go over the finer points of soldering.  Since this is a pretty crucial topic, I figured I’d do a separate post on it.  There’s already a lot of great how-tos out there when it comes to soldering

If you’ve never soldered before, there’s a great general guide here, with some followup notes here, if you’re interested.

For more guitar-specific tips, Stew-Mac has a good article here.  Stew-Mac has a pretty solid collection of information about guitar building and repair tips.

Here’s a few things I do which work well for me:

  1. I know the Stew-Mac article recommends a 30 watt soldering iron, but I actually use a 15 watt Radio Shack iron for almost everything.  The only time I find I need more is when I’m soldering to the backs of pots or something.  Just make sure you give it plenty of time to heat up.  I find that the lower wattage is a little more forgiving for me (I’ve gotten pretty good at soldering, but I still consider myself a “beginner”).
  2. I use 60/40 solder, in the thinnest gauge I can find.  Thin solder is much easier to work with.
  3. I use my forceps constantly, since they function both as a heat-sink and an extra hand.  Just make sure to unclasp them before pulling them away from your finished joint.
  4. I also use heat-sinks from Radio Shack frequently.  They’re not as good at holding stuff in place (though they’ll sometimes be useful for that), but they do absorb head better.  When I’m doing several things quickly, like tinning several components, I’ll place one on each lead I’m tinning or soldering, and that makes it go much faster because I can just leave them in place while I go on to the next one.
  5. Since I live in an apartment, I solder over a cheap place mat (the kind you’d get for young kids).  It keeps things from sliding around, and most importantly, it protects the counter I’m working on, which keeps both my wife and my landlord happy.

Hope that helps.  Try soldering a couple wires together for practice before you start on your guitar if you’re a little unsure about your abilities.  With a little care and patience, you’ll be soldering well enough to confidently rewire your entire control cavity at will.

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Cigar Box Guitar Slideshow Part 1

Here’s a slide show for Part 1 of my Cigar Box Guitar build.  Since this is for class, I’ll have a post later this week with audio, so sorry for the redundancy.  Once the project is done, I’ll condense all the slide shows into one post.  Until then, enjoy the pictures from my last post thrown into a silent, 30 second slide show!

On an unrelated note, my how-to about treble bleed mods will be up sometime this weekend or early next week.  Upcoming projects include how to add a tone knob which rolls off your lows, the varitone notch filter, and we’ll also probably do something covering switching options in the near future.  Needless to say, we’ll be finishing the cigar box guitars somewhere in there as well.

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Cigar Box Guitar: Part 1

Cigar box guitars have been around for at least a hundred years. They were especially popular during the depression, when people had little or no money but still needed to find a way to occupy their time. I would recommend using regular guitar tuners, but the neck, nut, bridge, stop piece, and resonator/sound chamber can all be made from odds and ends you find around your house or at a thrift store. If you want more information or ideas, you can always go here

My dad and I figured this would be a fun, low-cost project, and as we go along, I’ll create a step-by-step guide showing you how we did it.

Instead of a cigar box, some variations use cookie tins, which is what we’ll be using. Since we’ll be making several of these, we figured we’d make a couple for my little sisters, as you can see by the choice in cookie tins.

Tins picked up at the local thrift store.

More pictures and a step-by-step how-to after the break. Continue reading

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