|October 05, 2009 |
Night Tiger Roars on Monday
As the week begins with a cool, crisp New England morning, we're hunkered down in The Workshop doing what we enjoy. As Dave and the guys in the woodshop prep the whitewood for the paint room, Todd is tackling the leveling on a Talladega with a special finish for a special client.
The quilt maple has been finished in a color we've dubbed Night Tiger, and even with its deep hue it retains the iridescent movement within the figure that our finishes are known for. The guitar is rimmed with multi-ply binding that looks great against the dark cherry color. It's going to be a great week in the Workshop!
|November 16, 2009 |
This Wheel's On Fire
Todd has finished blocking out the Nightfire Talladega and has it on the wheel this morning. He started the third and final sanding with 400p sandpaper, and gradually reduced the grit step by step until he finished up with a micron paper that leaves the lacquer hazy but almost glossy. The next step is to use a yellow Menzerna buffing compound on a cotton wheel.
We use an 18" diameter wheel with an rpm of 1100. We calculate Todd's "feed" speed at about 25 ft/min. which gives us a face speed of about 5200 ft/min. By listening to the sound of the wheel against the work, Todd can vary his pressure accordingly to control heat buildup. Typically, we see a temperature of about 150 degrees F. By heating the lacquer, we're actually moving it around and smoothing out the scratches. Too much pressure and the finish will melt and ripple when it cools. Not enough pressure and the haze doesn't burn off.
In about an hour Todd will be ready to go to the hand polish and seal the finish. We'll wait a couple of days to see how the finish settles out before going back to do our final inspection and final wax. It won't be long now!
|November 30, 2009 |
NightFire Talladega on the Wing
After a nice Thanksgiving break, we're back in the workshop and doing damage like always. There are lots of fun projects in house right now, some of which we'll be looking at shortly. But right now, let's roll the clock back to just before the holiday. Our Talladega with the NightFire finish was being buffed out and then assembled on Todd's bench. In went the Double-D pickups, four-way switch, volume and tone controls.
In this shot you can see the matching headstock overlay—a slice of the same maple that's on the top of the guitar, and the abalone faceplate inlay. Even the tiny "USA" inlays are individual pieces! This order called for Schaller tuners, still the highest quality, hands-down. Our client wanted some impressive binding, and Dave came through in a big way. It's hard to do properly, laying each strip on over the next, but that's the way we do it, instead of using pre-laminated plastic with the stripes already in them.
Next, Todd hand wired the electrical components, all of which have been specially sourced to our specifications. Old-school cloth covered wire, custom-taper potentiometers by CTS, and the Sprague "orange drop" capacitor get hooked up inside the control cavity using lead-free solder. The whole deal is sprayed with a nickel based shielding paint that we import from Belgium—it's the best there is. After sealing things up with our anodized aluminum back plate door, Todd cut the nut and strung it up.
In the set-up room we set the action, neck relief (.010" at the 8th fret) and then play test the guitar for a while. It's at this point that pickup heights can be set to balance the tone and output. I like to put the neck pickup down a bit lower than usual on the bass side with the Double-Ds. This cleans up the bottom end and keeps it from being too flubby. At the same time keeping the strings close on the higher strings fattens them up relatively. The bridge pickup has quite a bit of magnetic pull due to the large alnico polepieces and a large copperplated steel plate underneath—that how it gets its ultra-twang. You have to be careful not to get it too close to the strings or ghost tones can occur, which make the guitar hard to intonate
Here's a nice shot of the ivory nut and the abalone Victory inlay at the first fret, another nice option. Todd has done a great job slotting the ivory. We use a graduated spacing that gets wider as the strings get thicker. Your fingertips feel the space between the strings, so our method evens that out as opposed to evenly spacing the centers. The result is the trademark Hamer feel that makes this Talladega such a joy to play right out of the box.