Posted by fiddlepogo on Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Recently I've realized I need to start going through my repertoire systematically again. It's always been good for my playing when I do that- every tune has something it teaches you, and every tune needs to be revisited in terms of your latest techniques. Very often the reason why a tune never got to be a favorite was that I had never found the right bowing to make it come alive.
One of the things I enjoyed with electric guitar was that the particular model of guitar I preferred (Stratocaster) is just loaded with various kinds of machine screws that can be swapped in the bridge assembly for reversible tweaks. I really got into tweaking the guitars in a big way. When I got back into fiddling, I knew it would affect how I approach the instrument, and was curious to see how it would pan out. Well, it certainly has!
1. I'm picky about how the E and G string enter the pegbox- I've found if they touch the sides, it mutes resonances that I miss when they aren't there.
2. Chinrest models, positioning, and tightness all have an effect on tone.
3. Minute shifts in bridge position- really teensy- can affect tone drastically- it functions like the sound post having moved, since the relation of the bridge to soundpost has changed.
On the bows, I'm picky about rosin of course- and one bow gets a layer of a smooth rosin (Hill Dark) with a layer of grabby rosin on top (Kaplan Artcraft Dark)
I've used dots of adhesive backed copper sheeting to tweak the balance of bows.
The latest tweak happened last night... It occurred to me that the choice of the tension adjuster knob (whatever the real name is) must be a crucial choice in balancing the bow. It also occurred to me that the chances that the knobs installed in each bow were the same weight were very small... and that if the threads were compatible, the adjuster knobs could be swapped very much like Stratocaster bridge parts... and swapped back if it was a failure. So I swapped them. Big surprise- it improved BOTH bows. The heavier wood bow had a lighter knob, and got a heavier one- and the lighter fiberglass bow had had a heavier knob- and now has a light one. And surprisingly, it bought both bows into better balance, and into having a similar more compatible feel. The tone improved on the fiberglass bow, and I don't thing the good tone of the wood bow was affected much, if at all. Then it occurred to me that part of the reason it helped was that my using the TUF hold changes the balance point of the bows. Now I'm off to see if the adjuster knob from my third bow (from the other fiddle's case) has any effect.
Well, it did- now I have three bows that I enjoy whole lots more than I did 24 hours ago- and it didn't cost me a cent! However, there is some possibility that I might at some point strip one of those little brass thingibobs that the adjuster screw goes into... but those aren't terribly expensive to repair, IIRC.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 @9:31:30 PM
Michael, you're a maniac! I used to be known around here as the nut who would change pickups in his guitar between sets, (although I never really did that.) (But I DID, replace a bad volume pot in a strat one night between sets... I was pretty quick, and always had all my tools with me at the gigs.)
I rewired all of my guitars about every conceivable way, and had a great time doing it. Different nuts, different saddles, different frets, coil taps, and built in effects. Capacitors across the in-out terminats of the volume pot- I still use a standard mic rophone cable to connect my guitar to my effects box, so that I could use that third conductor to bring in +9 volts for my on-board compressor. And every kind of whammy bar made... Yea I've been fooling around with my fiddles too, as you know... it's sort of an enjoyable side interest to me... first comes the playing of course, but some of us are just born tinkerers. I always enjoy hearing about your experiments. keep it up.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 @10:40:59 PM
You make my case of Chronic Guitar Tweaking Syndrome
look MILD! ;^D
Actually mine is stranger because I HATE soldering- but
I will do it to mod my guitars... I had hardly soldered at all since
doing it to fix broken leads on my slot cars at age 14!
I like reversible mods... mods you can easily undo if you don't like them. That's why all the screws in the Strats- some got changed to stainless, some to a hard steel alloy.
I'm neither an electrician nor a luthier, so I avoid doing anything
that involves removing major amounts of wood, or repairing higher voltage circuits like in amps.
I love swapping out and experimenting with capacitors on electric guitars though- so cheap (sometimes free if cannibalized) and a substantial change in the character of the tone- similar I suppose to a different rosin or a different bow improving the tone of a fiddle.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008 @10:03:47 PM
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