Danelectro Effect Pedal DC Bridge

Danelectro Effect Pedal DC Bridge

I’ve come across clients that came with Danelectro original and miscellaneous effect pedals (these are the heavy die cast ones that look like 50s cadillac cars) that seem to lose power under different circumstances.

Apparently, these have a so called “flip flop” circuit, which means on loss of power, the pedal turns off. This can obviously lead to awkward stage situations!

I have studied the DC jacks, and it appears these are open on one side, facilitating the inserted plug to move and then, break contact, thus rendering the pedal powerless.

Many thanks to my friend for helping me develop the first version of the model.

The solution is a small “bridge” or “cage” which we glue over the DC jack on the circuitboard, hereby “caging” the insert jack plug, preventing it from being wiggled out. I advise epoxy or cyanoacrylate to glue the part on the smaller (separate) power circuit board, see pictures.

Let’s make these Danelectro pedals great again!

Order yours here: Danelectro Effect Pedal DC Bridge

Mini Marshall MS-2 Modification – Power Up

When I feel like playing electric guitar at home I always use my Marshall MS-2 mini amp, but I’ve always been sad about it’s pathetic little speaker (8 ohm, 0.8 watt). I felt it could do better. I had a leftover Sony XPlod 4 ohm, 120 watt car speaker doing nothing, so I tested it on the amp: sounds sweet! This speaker has a huge magnet compared to the standard speaker and is very clear and crisp especially when you play clean.

Testing the new speaker
I’m not really an electronics wiz or anything; so I just connected the speaker wires to the existing wires to the standard speaker and played some; the speaker functioned properly. Of course to do this, you need to open up the Marshall. Take note that this can be VERY dangerous on “regular” amps, since they run on mains power, this little one runs on 9 volts, so it won’t kill you.
Unsolder the existing speaker
With a hot soldering iron I unsoldered the leads to the speaker and the leads to the battery compartment, pretty straightforward; take note to remember which wires go where! It also pays to get the hot wire and earth wire correctly; the earth wire is usually black or has a black marking.
Connect the car speaker
I disassembled the Marshall amp; it has a little circuit board with the input, volume, tone and on/off/overdrive switch on it. It’s connected to a small slave circuit board which houses the aux input and the 9 volt DC connector. From this board wires run to the speaker and the battery compartment. The Sony Xplod speaker came with a cable with small plugs on it; a bigger one and a smaller one which fit snugly on the speaker terminals. I cut the cable shorter, added heat shrink tubing, tinned the copper, soldered them to the correct wires on the amp and shrunk the heat shrink tubing to protect the soldered connections.
Building a case
This speaker is too big to fit into the old amp enclosure itself, so I decided to house all of it in a bigger box. I found an old wine box in my shed which was big enough to house the speaker. I cut it in a square shape and used regular wood glue and clamps to glue all the wood to one sturdy box (these boxes are usually stapled together). I cut a round hole in the front to accommodate the speaker. Found some black cardboard at a local store and glued this to the back and front and sides so it looks the part. Made a square hole in the top so I could relocate the amp control plate and a smaller hole in the back to protrude the aux input and DC connector. I cut a piece of plastic from an old dvd case to make a new control plate to attach the pot meters and input connector to and protrude the LED. I used some black tape to make the insides of the openings look good. When everything was screwed in place and all the wires connected it was time to screw the speaker and it’s protective cover in place. I had salvaged the tiny Marshall logo off of the amp, which is held in place by two tiny plastic pins and located it in the cover grid, melting the pins on the inside to secure it. Looking good!
I still plan to put some protective corners on it, but I couldn’t find nice ones at the local DIY store.. so stay tuned for an update. I also want to be able to tilt it slightly backwards. Meanwhile I’m enjoying great TONE on my couch! This is a neat little practice amp after all, pity they used such a crappy speaker!
Stay tuned for more luthier geek blogs!

Improvised and Cheap Luthier Tools

Starting luthierie or the art of building- and repairing stringed instruments can be quite expensive. Fun thing is, you can make it as expensive as you like.

I just pillaged through all my stuff seeing if I could use some stuff laying around the house- and at the local stores which I could use as tools. Here’s a list of some stuff I came up with:

Digital caliper

A digital caliper in both mm and inch is an indispensable tool for measuring thicknesses, widths and depths (use the back end for depths). Quite inexpensive and widely available in hardware- and DIY stores.

Anti slip mat

Found this stuff at my local household goods store. Very cheap, a roll of 2 / 3 meters long, about 50cms wide for under 2 euros. Comes in handy for scratch protection and useable when friction matters.

Straightedge

Use a school or mathematical ruler in plastic or metal: put it against various flat surfaces and check for light (this indicates a curve or concave in the straightedge); no light? Then you’re all set. You can even use a saw, rasp or Dremel tool to cut out the fret positions! I found out that “stamped” steel parts (especially used in door locks and door hinges) are quite straight! Use them as shorter straightedge or as a fret rocker.

Fret rocker

A fret rocker is a straight piece of metal that covers 3 frets. Using it, you can pinpoint if frets are higher than neighboring frets, because then the fret rocker “ticks” back and forth over a high fret. Again, make sure that your piece of metal is dead straight by testing it on various flat surfaces. Due to the fact that fret spacings vary along the length of the neck, you can use several bits of metal to cover the fret spaces.

Laser pointer

A cheap small laser pointer can serve as a straightedge in light. Shine across the tops of the frets on the fingerboard to easily tell whether the neck is straight; maybe build a jig around it.

Abrasives

I had some very coarse sandpaper I found out, the stuff you use to sand your woodwork around the house prior to painting. Checking the local DIY store, I found wet sandpaper with grits up to 1200. These come in very handy in repairs, fret work, removing burrs from screwheads and waterslide decals. Higher grits and textile- and or mylar backing papers are hard to come by in local stores but are supplied by specialty and automotive parts and paints supply stores or through auction sites.

Neck support block

Who needs those expensive neck rocker support blocks that cost tons of money; get a piece of scrap wood and make a neck support block. You don’t even need any neck shaped carvings in it, as long as you protect your woods and finishes with something soft (and grippy) like for instance that anti slip mat stuff I mentioned earlier.

Thickness gauges

Available in DIY and automotive parts stores. In mm or inches or sometimes both, quite inexpensive.

Hex- or Allen (Imbus) keys

Hex- or Allen keys (imbus) are widely available in DIY stores. However, they come in mm and inch sizes, also known as “metric” and “imperial”. This difference is very important and difficult to judge by eye. So it pays to own both; check out your local hardware or DIY stores or auction websites.

Fret clippers

Specialized fret clippers can be quite expensive. You can also make your own; just buy a pair that looks almost flat and grind it flat using a sharpening station or abrasive stone. Make sure to pick one with longer handles, this comes in handy where the neck sits over the body of the instrument.

Ibanez Tubescreamer Repair – Changing a broken LED bulb

The problem was; the LED light didn’t work anymore: this can be very tedious, especially when playing live. Lazy as I am, I grew accustomed to it and just checked it by playing my guitar. Today it was quite rainy so I thought let’s whip out the ol’ soldering iron and check out what’s wrong with the LED light.
In my spare cupboard I found an old LED from a pocket flashlight of the right size in color red, tested it using a small flat button battery, it worked. I didn’t yet know for sure if the LED in the TS-9 was broken, loose connection or shorting circuit in the pedal, so off I went.I opened the pedal carefully, and unscrewed the print board.
Two wires come off the print board to a smaller separate board, to which the LED is soldered. A diode (a Light Emitting Diode) in this case, will only allow current to flow one way: this means that it will only function if connected in the right way. The pedal itself was working fine, only the LED didn’t light up. So I used the spare LED in my hand, testing it on the various connections until I saw it light up; conclusion; the electronics are still in tact; only the bulb itself was broken.
Now comes the fiddly bit; I unscrewed the smaller “LED print board”, it is held in place close to the hole where the LED protrudes through the face of the body, and carefully lifted it out and used my soldering-helper-buddy to clamp it in one of the crocodile clamps. I let the soldering iron heat up and coated it with a tiny bit of solder; this will prolong the life of your soldering iron, regardless if you need to add solder to your connection.
I had positioned the small LED print board with the LED facing down, so I could heat up both “legs” of the LED captured in two tiny drops of solder on the bottom of it. Carefully heating them (you don’t want the two drops to merge or “cook” the print board). You can spot the solder melting when it turns all shiny and silver instead of dull. Using my free hand, I pulled on the LED while heating the “legs” and bingo! It came loose without disturbing the two drops of solder on the print board too much: success.
With the broken bulb unsoldered, I could now solder in the new -working- LED. Having mentioned before that a diode only accepts current one way, I was sure to test the new bulb and mark one of the legs with a magic marker so I knew which leg went where. There are two tiny holes in this print board which accept the two LED legs.
I clamped the LED up side down in the soldering helper, and clamped the print board in the other crocodile clamp over it, and nudged the (precut) legs in the tiny holes.The tricky bit: heating up both solder drops, making sure they don’t melt together (which would short it out) and without “cooking” the print board, I applied gentle pressure to the new LED while heating up the solder and all of a sudden, it sank in, I lifted up the soldering iron and presto!
The LED was soldered in place. It pays to test it at this point, before closing up the pedal. Luckily the new LED lit up real well and the soldering connection appeared solid. Using a normal paper perforator, I punched a hole in a tiny ring of cardboard with a shiny silver side. I used this as a washer behind the LED as a reflector, which makes it a bit brighter.Then I screwed everything back together, there you go: a brand new functioning LED!

Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 15 – Soldering

Testing which wire goes where

I did get a wiring diagram with the pickups, but I chose to run with the chinese 3 way switch for now, since it’s already soldered up on the control plate.

Using my smokey amp, I had already connected the jack plate to the jack connector and just tested the pickups touching the wires to the tabs on the switch.

There was already a wire soldered to the pot (ground) so I figured this saved me a soldering nightmare, so I decided to solder both ground wires of the pickups to this ground wire (white /red to left pot). The solid white and yellow wires are the hot wires from the pickups to the switch.

Everything set up in place

I then recalled I bought some heat shrink tubing which is best to put on the wires before soldering, so you can finish them neatly afterwards. I chose to solder the three ground wires together, using some white pvc tape to bind them together, once soldered I put heat shrink tubing over the bare soldered wires and heated it so it’s all insulated.

The hot wires (white and yellow) of the pickups came tinned, so I just needed to bend them in little hooks so they would hang from the tab holes. Heating the tab I soldered them in place.


All soldered up with shrink tubing

So here’s the finished result: everything soldered neatly with bits of black heat shrink tubing to protect the connections.

The rest is a bit fiddly; without breaking your fresh connections, gently fork everything back into the routing in the body, so no wires will short or break or anything.


Now only the bridge remains

Everything in place! The bridge pickup is now yet to be screwed to the bridge plate, which is still to arrive. So the only thing I need to do now is mount the bridge, put strings on it and set it up and intonate it.

Stay tuned for the final chapter!






Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 14 – Waterslide Decal

Decal on!

I found this website where they sell all sorts of Fender decals, also for Telecaster models. Sticking to my ’73 theme, I chose this period correct “custom” decal, because I’m building somewhat of a custom thingie here.

These are called waterslide decals. You can order laser- or inkjet decal paper from eBay, but that won’t give you the opportunity to print gold or silver. This decal has gold flake paint in it and looks the part.

I cleaned the headstock with alcohol, took off the high E tuner to have more room, put some water on the headstock and soaked the cut out (cut it around it’s image with like 1.5 mm to spare) decal in water.

Within 2 minutes it’s ready to come off the backing paper and I found it very easy to slide off into position. I used googled images to pinpoint the exact position of the decal and I think it looks great! Now all I have to do is take all the hardware off (again) and spray it with some satin finish lacquer in order to fixate the decal in place, then some light wet sanding and that should do the trick.

Satin finish and wet sanding

Bought a can of satin finish lacquer at the DIY store and sprayed the headstock a couple times during the day; many thin layers.

After drying I wet sanded it using an eraser and some 1200 grit automotive waterproof sandpaper. I didn’t know how much I had to sand off without ruining the decal so I quit while it was still intact and the headstock felt smooth and flat.

After that remount the tuners and the string tree back in place. Almost done!



Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 13 – Knobs On

Found correct “flat” control knobs at local store.

This is a relief, because I already ordered all parts and don’t want to pay any additional shipping and or import tax charges. These are obviously not genuine Fender, but they have the correct “knurling” grip pattern and are fastened with a flat screw, which is also “factory” correct.

This might seem trivial, but the knobs on the complete control plate I bought are too round on top; proper Fender knobs are much more flat and slightly smaller than the ones that came with the control plate and screws instead of hex nuts.

Looks great, this will definitely add to the overall look of the guitar, although it’s a small detail.

What remains to be done is mounting the (yet to arrive) bridge and saddles and some soldering. In this regard I’m also planning to change the “Chinese” 3-way toggle switch to an “American” model.

Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 11 – Strap Buttons

Strap buttons installed. This was very straight forward; merely measuring the thickness of the body using the digital caliper (beware this thing is quite sharp and can easily damage the finish) and marking the top strap button near the neck using googled images as a reference, basically you want it 3 fingers width from the neck, about where the curve of the side becomes a bit flat. I chose to mount it slightly towards the neck so it will “grab” a strap better.

The bottom strap button is very easy, specifically because the bookmatched maple top has it’s parting in the center line of the guitar. My body is 46mm thick, so both strap buttons are mounted dead center at 23mm from either surface.

For gigging guitars I usually use the Schaller strap lock system, but they were all sold out and for the time being I’m sticking to the “factory” look.

Felt washers and screws come with the strap button kit.

Update: meanwhile I replaced them for Schaller straplock buttons in black.

Building a Fender Telecaster Guitar – Part 12 – 3-way Switch

Spot the 10.000 differences! Well this is what I was talking about earlier; the 3-way switch is used to toggle from the neck pickup to both pickups to the bridge pickup.

Unfortunately, the pre-wired control plate (pictured partly on the right) came with a cheap chinese 3-way switch (right). But I want the guitar to be as “genuine” as possible, so Custom World Guitar Parts was so kind to give me a

 USA switch (left) for free.

Some of the leads need to be soldered together; these connections are called “jumpers”, some are left on their own and some have (pickup) wires soldered to them. As you can see, the switches are quite different; the chinese one has all the leads together in one row but on the american model they’re fanned out, four on either size of the switch body.

I bench tested the control plate, connecting the pickups by hand and connected the jack to a miniature (smokey) amp to test the pickups, volume, tone and (chinese) switch; it all works fine. Now I have to figure out which lead corresponds to which on the other switch. Note that the screws on the USA model are much longer than the chinese one.

Satan’s little soldering helper.

Saving the best for last; I’m not much of a solderer or electronic wiz, and since the bridge has yet to arrive I’m gathering knowledge and tools to tackle the big job at hand; soldering the pickup wires to the switch and pots.

To help me do this I purchased this “3rd hand” helper device in which you can clamp components and or wires to assist in the soldering pro

cess. As you can see it has a magnifying glass on it which might come in handy.

I own a 20 watt soldering iron with a “accelerator” button with which you can boost it’s power to 130 watts for 30 seconds at a time; I’m wondering if it is capable of heating the pots to proper temperature since most forums mention 40 watt soldering irons. I guess I will find out, if it doesn’t get hot enough I’ll probably borrow a soldering iron or buy another one.

Soldering practise

I don’t solder much, so I thought I should do some test runs before I ruin all my nice hardware.

Using a 20 watt soldering iron with an accelarator button with which you can boost it to 130 watts for 30 seconds a time to speed it up.

Some youtube guy said; you need to heat up the bigger mass (coin) and let the tin / solder move towards the heat.

So I clamped both items in the “third hand” soldering clamp pictured earlier, so that they already touch each other. I held the soldering iron toward the contact point with the wire on the coin for 2 minutes, then I started to also touch the wire to heat it up. In my other hand the rosin core tin dispenser and I managed to get a tiny drop on it.

When I had the impression of a solid droplet that melted itself entirely over the connection, I raised up both tin and soldering iron immediately and let it set.

Guess my old soldering mistake was getting a drop of solder on the iron and try to “smear” it on something, this doesn’t work. When pulled now that it’s set, the connection is so good that I can’t pull it apart at all.