A Toothpick Trick For Loose Screws

A carpenter once showed me a great trick with a toothpick.  One of our doors was sagging, because the screws in the hinges were loose, and couldn’t be tightened.   With a glint in his eye, he pulled out a handful of toothpicks from his pocket, saying “my secret weapon”.   After removing the loose screws for the hinge, he stuffed a few toothpicks in each hole, cut them off flush, and then re-tightened the screws in the holes.  Presto chango- it was all nice and tight.  Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best!

In this video, I apply this simple trick to the tuners on my Epiphone Riviera P93. Some of these screws have been loose since day one – the kind of loose where no matter how much you try to tighten the screw, it just spins freely in the hole. The wood fibers in the hole are stripped out and no longer gripping the screw threads. One simple toothpick, inserted in each hole and cut off flush, just like that carpenter had shown me- and now the screws go in nice and tight. The soft wood of the toothpick makes the perfect filler. No glue necessary.

That same carpenter also shared these fine words of wisdom: “Caulk and paint are what a painter ain’t”, but that’s a story for another day Smile

Waterslide Decals

Here’s the table of contents for the whole DIY pedal building series:

  1. Intro to DIY Pedal Building
  2. Beginner’s Course in Sketchup, Modeling a 125B Guitar Pedal Enclosure
  3. Drilling a 125B Guitar Effects Pedal Enclosure
  4. Pedal Enclosure Finishing: Surface Prep, Priming and Painting
  5. Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork
  6. Printing and Applying Waterslide Decal to Pedal Enclosure

In this final installment on finishing your own guitar effects pedals, I demonstrate how to print and apply the waterslide decal to the pedal, and apply a durable clear finish.   In previous videos, I showed how to model, drill, and paint the enclosure, and design and prepare the artwork and labels in GIMP.

I use clear waterslide decal paper, and print on my inkjet Canon Pro9000mkII.  After printing, and waiting a while to ensure the ink is dry, I spray on a few coats of Krylon Acrylic Crystal Clear acrylic to protect the ink during the soak.  Then, after the clearcoat dries for 30 minutes or so, I trim the paper to final dimensions and soak the paper in warm water.  When the decal starts to move freely from its backing, I wet the surface of the enclosure and slide the decal directly onto it.   I iron out the bubbles with wet fingers, and adjust the decal into its final position, being careful not to stretch the decal.

Read the rest of this entry

Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork

Completed Under Pressure Compressor Artwork

Here’s the table of contents for the whole DIY pedal building series:

  1. Intro to DIY Pedal Building
  2. Beginner’s Course in Sketchup, Modeling a 125B Guitar Pedal Enclosure
  3. Drilling a 125B Guitar Effects Pedal Enclosure
  4. Pedal Enclosure Finishing: Surface Prep, Priming and Painting
  5. Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork
  6. Printing and Applying Waterslide Decal to Pedal Enclosure

The next step in finishing up the pedal that we’ve modeled, drilled and painted previously, is to prepare the artwork and labels.

In this tutorial, I will demonstrate how to compose your pedal artwork in GIMP, the free GNU Image Manipulation Program.  I’m using GIMP 2.8.2 on Windows, but it also runs on Mac and Linux.

I start with an overview of my Under Pressure compressor and Speed Racer Overdrive artwork, and then show how to compose your own pedal artwork from scratch.

I cover the basics of project setup, layout, working with the rulers and guidelines, the graphics and text editing and selection tools, sourcing artwork and fonts, retouching and removing blemishes, extracting components from a larger image, layer compositing with masks, and more.

Here are some of the resources shown in this video:

Read the rest of this entry

Finishing the Enclosure

Spraying Pedal EnclosureHere’s the table of contents for the whole DIY pedal building series:

  1. Intro to DIY Pedal Building
  2. Beginner’s Course in Sketchup, Modeling a 125B Guitar Pedal Enclosure
  3. Drilling a 125B Guitar Effects Pedal Enclosure
  4. Pedal Enclosure Finishing: Surface Prep, Priming and Painting
  5. Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork
  6. Printing and Applying Waterslide Decal to Pedal Enclosure

In previous posts, we modeled the enclosure in Sketchup, drilled it, and now we’re ready for paint and artwork.  In this video, I talk about options for finishing the enclosure, and choices for art and labels.  Then I demonstrate surface prep, priming and painting, in preparation for the waterslide decals.


Some of the resources shown in this video:

Drilling the Enclosure

Drilled 125B EnclosureHere’s the table of contents for the whole DIY pedal building series:

  1. Intro to DIY Pedal Building
  2. Beginner’s Course in Sketchup, Modeling a 125B Guitar Pedal Enclosure
  3. Drilling a 125B Guitar Effects Pedal Enclosure
  4. Pedal Enclosure Finishing: Surface Prep, Priming and Painting
  5. Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork
  6. Printing and Applying Waterslide Decal to Pedal Enclosure

Now that we’ve modeled the enclosure and printed a drilling template, we’re ready to jump out of Sketchup and into the real world.

In this video, I’ll be demonstrating how to accurately drill the holes in a diecast aluminum 125B guitar pedal enclosure, preparing to install the electronics.  I’m using the drilling template we printed in part 2.  The pedal I’m building is a modified Ross compressor, using a printed circuit board purchased from GuitarPCB.

Funny, I just noticed while reviewing the final video edit that I was saying “barrel” instead of “bezel” for the LED bezel.  I guess I was channeling my inner Cooper.

Some of the resources used in this video:

Sketch Me Up!

125 Enclosure Model

Here’s the table of contents for the whole DIY pedal building series:

  1. Intro to DIY Pedal Building
  2. Beginner’s Course in Sketchup
  3. Drilling a 125B Guitar Effects Pedal Enclosure
  4. Pedal Enclosure Finishing: Surface Prep, Priming, Painting
  5. Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork
  6. Printing and Applying Waterslide Decal to Pedal Enclosure

This is part 2 of my new series on building guitar effects pedals.

This part of the project ended up being far more grandiose than I originally intended.  I started out planning to just show how to model this diecast aluminum 125B guitar pedal enclosure, to make sure my PCB and components would fit properly inside.   But by the time I was done with it, it was essentially a complete beginner’s how-to course for Google Sketchup.  (Note, Sketchup is now part of Trimble instead of Google).

To give you an idea of how long this took for me to complete, I started filming the intro and the Sketchup tutorial videos in June of 2011.  Over the last year, in the time-spaces between the rest of life, I’ve been gradually editing, revising, extending, and composing music for the project.

In this tutorial, I start out with the absolute basics, and gradually pick up the pace, progressing to more and more advanced topics.  I divided the video up into 5 sections, but kept them all together in one 55-minute video.  In my previous multi-part videos, I had to split them into multiple YouTube clips, due to the YouTube length restrictions, but now that they’ve relaxed those for my account- I hope it’ll be better having it all in one video.

Here is the Sketchup file that I used in the tutorial if you’re interested: Download sketchup file.

Each section assumes a familiarity with the previous section topics.  Here’s the table of contents:

Read the rest of this entry

Intro to DIY Pedal Building

Speed Racer Overdrive InternalsThis is the first post in a series on building guitar effects pedals.  It’s going to be a bit out of order- I’ll be starting with what is usually considered the finishing touches- putting the pedal in an enclosure,  modeling and laying out an enclosure in Google/Trimble Sketchup, drilling the enclosure, painting and finishing it.

Then hopefully later, I’ll go back and do a project showing how to build a simple boost pedal from scratch.

Here’s the table of contents for the whole DIY pedal building series:

  1. Intro to DIY Pedal Building
  2. Beginner’s Course in Sketchup, Modeling a 125B Guitar Pedal Enclosure
  3. Drilling a 125B Guitar Effects Pedal Enclosure
  4. Pedal Enclosure Finishing: Surface Prep, Priming and Painting
  5. Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork
  6. Printing and Applying Waterslide Decal to Pedal Enclosure

This first video is the motivational intro: here are some of the things I’ve done, and yes, you can too!   If you have some interest in electronics and guitars, what better way to improve your knowledge?  You can get started with little or no electronics experience, and you’ll learn a bunch along the way.

Here are some useful links for pedal building:

Read the rest of this entry

Tune-o-matic vs Roller

Back in 2009, I described my frustration with the Tune-o-matic bridge on my Epiphone Riviera P93.  The retainer wire that holds the saddle screws in place is just a terrible design.   A good choice to address this issue is the Nashville style tune-o-matic which has individual saddle retainer clips, while also increasing saddle-adjustment range for intonation.  Another good possibility is a roller bridge, like the Wilkinson B33.   I figured the roller may pair well with the Bigsby, possibly improving the Bigsby vibrato’s general tuning instability.

In this video, I show how to swap in the Wilkinson bridge, and then do a series of comparisons to see if there’s any difference in the overall tone, sustain, and tuning stability with the two bridges. 

I recorded many many takes of the strum-tests comparing tone and sustain, and my results were always pretty inconsistent. Despite my best efforts, it’s impossible to produce the exact same string excitation for each strum. So, I think the variances in sustain and tone are largely insignificant- though it does appear that, across all my tests, the roller may have slightly longer sustain times. I imagine that if I replace the Epiphone bridge posts with the beefier Wilkinson posts there may be a greater sustain improvement, but I’ll leave that for another day.

The tuner I use during the tuning stability section is the excellent Planet Waves Tru-Strobe (PW-CT-11) tuner.

One Millionth Anniversary!

It seems not that long ago, I was celebrating 100,000 views.  Now, I don’t regularly check and obsess over my YouTube channel view-count. But this week, while trying to catch up on my replies to an ever-increasing backlog on my YouTube inbox, I noticed that my view count was in the high nines.    Well, this morning, this is what I saw:

1 Million Views

This is truly a mind-bender.

I recorded a quick video to say thanks to everyone, and to solicit some feedback for my future projects.  I also talk a bit at the end about Jerry Seinfeld’s motivational technique for tricking yourself into getting things done.  Don’t Break The Chain!

Play on!

Assembling the iDevice Guitar Interface

Update: 10/19/2011, added links to part #s at radioshack, mouser and mammoth.

Here’s the exciting conclusion to the series, following up the intro in Part 1, and the electronics course in Part 2.  

The main goal here is to cram all the parts into the narrow confines of the jack, so we don’t need to use an external box or enclosure. 

In addition to the cable and jack parts listed in Part 1, here are some of the things you’ll need:

Read the rest of this entry

 Page 1 of 6  1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »