Hopefully the irony in the title translates, after you’ve read the article.
Today was quite a watershed day for the ghettocaster, I was going to post on the Sunday assessment, albeit a day late; but I just had to get this out there. The Sunday assessment for this week may go out a little late. If you are interested however, the practice piece for the coming few weeks is the traditional tune “black water side”, as played by Bert Jansch; a beautiful piece and probably beyond me, but I’ll be doing a separate post on it soon.
So – back to the ghettocaster. I’ve been stressing about whether this concept is actually going to work, as the profile and angle of the neck are set up for the higher Gibson style bridge. I wasn’t helped by the fact that the nut as supplied with the neck, not only is a rather ugly black, also has zero clearance for the string.
So, I thought, what I probably need is an adjustable nut so that I can dial in the height once the guitar is put together. A quick search revelaed more or less what I was looking for on eBay, and a few days later, here it is, in a rather fetching matching gold-bling finish:
So, barely pausing to think through whether this was a good idea, I proceeded to slice off the back of the nut slot to create a little platform for this nut to sit on:
And after a little sanding and cleanup with chisel, this is what it looked like.
Unfortunately, this is where the trouble started; the first problem was that when I tried to screw the block in place the little gold screw proved to be rather weak, and conveniently sheared off inside the wood. So that set me back a frustrating hour trying to extract it. Which entailed lowering the base of the platform by a couple of mm in order to get the grippers to attach to the stub of the screw
Then, blow me if the next one didn’t do exactly the same, Aargh! However by this stage I’d lowered the platform as much as I dared, but also I’d noticed another problem. When the height raising screws were engaged, they cause nut to angle slightly, which moves the leading edge of the nut back from the end of the fretboard by about a millimeter. My concern was that, even if I could compensate for this by moving the bridge, it would mess up the positioning of all the frets, making the whole thing impossible to tune.
So, I slept on it.
In the morning I resolved to fix both problems by a fairly radical step, which was to remove 1mm from the end of the fretboard. This solved both issues, by moving the screw hole away from the stub-end embedded in the neck, and allowing the nut to move back and preserve the original distance from nut to first fret.
And, seemingly it worked, however to check it out properly I really needed to actually attache the neck, so out with the drill (finally located it in the old piggery!), and whizz whizz, four neat holes:
And here they are form the back:
Then I bolted the neck on, unshimmed to see what the default angle would give, and after screwing down the bridge plate, I attached a string:
It actually became a guitar for the first time…. wow.
What’s more, after a little tentative tuning, taking it slowly in case anything gave; I actually got it up to concert pitch:
I fiddled around with the height of the nut to set the string clearance at the first fret to 0.09 , (midway between the recommended settings in my trusty Hanes manual for the telecaster), then I raised the bridge till the buzzing stopped, which was quite high, but still well within the prameters the bridge screw allows. You can see the height in this picture:
I had to dial in a little extra neck relief, which enabled me to lower the bridge a little, so now this E string is pretty playable the whole way up the neck. I checked the intonation at the 12th fret, and its pretty close, the notes at the other frets seem to be fairly accurate too. I still need to figure out what they actually should be based on equal temprament tuning, but I’m fairly confident now this is going to work.
See you next time for the rest of the intial setting up, and more on actual playing.