Posts in guitar
Guitar Tabs dot com shut down suspends under legal pressure:

Today I received a certified letter from Moses & Singer LLP, a law firm in New York City which asserts that they are acting as counsel for the National Music Publishers Association and The Music Publishers Association of America. They have stated that guitar tablature hosted on my site violates the copyrights of several of their clients.

Guitar tabs have been under attack for a long while so it's not a big surprise, but it's disappointing. I taught myself how to play my favorite songs way back with guitar tabs off of Gopher.

Google Reader

Still so very impressed with Google Reader. It's changed the way I read the web and I thought I was pretty good at that already.

While I felt like I  was on information overload with Bloglines with 117 feeds, since switching to Google Reader a couple months ago my subscriptions have spiraled up to 243 in Google Reader in a short time and I still find myself looking for new stuff to add. With Bloglines I always kept an eye out for subscriptions I could drop. That's such a nice change.

Here's my obligatory braindump feedback:

  • They shold integrate Google bookmarks. I hit "share" on any item that I kind of like, which then creates this useless feed. It would be great if I could quickly Google bookmark this stuff, which Google could then do nice stuff for me with -- let me search, syndicate, personalize my search based off of it, remind me of it later. I also find myself wanting to "share" stuff when not inside of Reader, such as for sites that only offer excerpts in their feeds.
  • Integrate with Gmail. No brainer here. I'm using integrate with gmail greasemonkey script, but it lacks a level of awesome integration that could exist.
  • I wish "v" would open in new tabs in the background instead of focusing on them. Not sure if this is anything they can do much about, but I WANTS IT.
  • That "Loading..." screen gets old real fast and I've been using Google Reader for a while now. Could use some speed improvements.
  • Better blog search. Lately I find myself going to Bloglines to find feeds to subscribe to in Google Reader. How weird is that?
  • Everyone has complained about it, but the whole tags/folders/labels issue at Google is confusing. I can understand not wanting to use the word "tags" -- it's a little jarring for the moms of the world. But like, I tag a post and it makes a folder (with a different icon) on the left side. And the "tag" then shows up under "change folders" in the Feed actions pulldown. I don't get it.
  • Speaking of tagging entries, I don't get what the point of tagging entries is. Why would I do this? What is it for?
  • Also don't get starring versus sharing. Starring seems to just be sharing without an RSS feed. What's the point? (Full disclosure: I also don't really get starring things in Gmail, but having a share option makes it more obvious.)
  • It would be nice to prioritize my feeds a bit. Some (like friend's blogs, important news sites) I'd like to see first thing when I hit "all items". Others, like ebay searches I'm tracking can hang out near the bottom. Maybe just let me prioritize certain folders instead of individual blogs, that'd be good enough for me.
  • A few feeds like to show up as new all the time. Pitchfork and Technorati searches for two.

Also may I also say I'm tired of comics not offering their comic image in their feeds.

Pickup and Switch Installation

I installed the new Golden Age pickups and pickup switch in my blue guitar. The switch and the neck pickup worked fine but the bridge pickup gave no output. I sat here switching from the new pickup to my old one and there was just nothing coming out of the new one. It had been a while since I bought them (as I was waiting to finish my guitar) so I was wondering if Stewart MacDonald would still replace it. I sent off an email and they replied quickly and within 24 hours had air-mailed me a replacement free of charge. Awesome, awesome customer support. I will absolutely buy from them in the future.

guitarBrad Turcottegear
Guitar painting: part 8 (done as hell)

I was supposed to wait a month but I made it two and a half weeks. I wanted to have two guitars again so I could have a backup for gigs and honestly I had lost faith that this paint job was going to look good enough that a couple weeks of dry-time settling would make much of a difference. So I took off the hook and off I went wet-sanding:

I went from 320 grit sandpaper all the way up to 1000. It was looking pretty scuffy -- which was the point -- though I wasn't sure if I had sanded the clear enough as there were still some semi-shiny spots. Eventually I managed to strip the paint off a couple of the edges. Now I've read that when this happens to paint the area and re-coat it with clear and wait a week or two and start again. But forget that noise, I'm finishing this bitch.

I went at it with the 3M Perfect-It Rubbing Compound and then 3M Swirl Remover:

Holy LORD is that shiny. Instantly the guitar starts looking like a professional job if you ignore all my screw-ups. I clean it off and bring it inside, take the masking tape out of it and put the neck on, partly out of fear that it wouldn't fit anymore. I managed to get it into place and everything seems cool:

It's looking fairly swank if I do say so myself. I then start to put everything back together. I decide not to put my new switch or pickups in yet, that I should try and put the guitar back together in its original state first as I've never done that before. It probably took me an hour and a half -- but all the electronics worked first try! Woooo!!

Re-assembled, I hang it on my wall and take a cruddy picture in bad light:

I'll try and take a nicer one tomorrow.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with it. There are many flaws if you look at it up close, but from even a slight distance it looks decent. There are lots of things I'd do differently if I had the chance, but I'm happy it's done and the idea of re-doing it makes me feel tired and lonely.

Other parts in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

guitarBrad Turcottegear
Guitar painting question

Not that I'm qualified to answer, but since I started blogging about painting my guitar I've been getting asked a lot of questions. Abe writes:

Great job on your guitar! So if I'm correct I'm supposed to use sanding sealer, primer, Krylon spray paint, and a clear coat. What kind of primer and clear coats do I use though? And is orange supposed to sit for 3 months after the clear coats are applied? Thanks for any advice (again).

I used the generic gray Krylon primer. You can see it in this picture here on the right:

For the clear coats I used Krylon's "Crystal Clear" acrylic spray. I don't have any pictures of that right now unfortunately.

As I understand it, the color you paint the guitar doesn't affect the time it needs to sit for. It's only if you use more than one color (and therefore more coats of clear.)

Other parts in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Guitar painting: part 7 (clear coats)

I put 10 thin clear coats on my guitar over the past couple of days. It's now totally shiny:

I think it's looking pretty good. I doubt anyone would mistake it for a factory finish -- there are lots of little screwups. But as a live guitar that will probably take some abuse, I think it looks just fine.

The final step before putting it all back together is to wet sand the clear coats to make the surface nice and smooth. Right now it has a bumpy orange peel texture to it as you can see in the pictures. The Paint Your Own Guitar book says that I need to let the guitar sit for one month before sanding (it would have been three months had I used any other colors.) I don't know if I have the patience to wait that long so I'm going to look around on the net later to see if anyone advises that I rush right ahead.

Other parts in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Guitar Painting: part 6 (blue job)

Since we last met, I had tiny little cracks in my primer and was freaked out about it. Since then a lot of things have happened and I don't have pictures of all of that because I was too annoyed. Anyway, here's a quick summary:

  • Discovered little hairline cracks in the primer. Researched this, found no info.
  • Decided to fill the dents and those cracks with Bondo auto body filler.
  • Kinda coated the whole guitar in Bondo, which was a total mistake. That stuff is nasty.
  • Around this time my friend Aaron told me that the cracks were because I didn't sand the sanding sealer down. The surface was too smooth and the primer didn't stick to it well enough.
  • Tried to sand the Bondo down, but it was lumpy and annoying not to mention it smelled like cancer.
  • I took the sander to the guitar and took it all down to the sealer level again.

Then I put primer on it again. This time it turned out a lot better:

There were a lot of small little bumps in the paint surface, but I read that's normal. I sanded them down with 600 grit sandpaper and the surface was pretty smooth. There are a few places where the grain is showing through a little where I probably sanded the sealer down too much and the occasional small paint run. But laziness defeated my perfectionism this day so I went ahead and painted it blue:

Bam. True blue. I've put on three coats at this point and it's looking nicely covered. I don't think I have the ambition to paint my logo on it, god forbid I might have to sand it all down and start over again. I'm going to get some clear coat next and start laying that on and then we should be just about done.

Other parts in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Guitar painting: part 5 (disaster strikes)

This is where it all gets ugly. I was happy with the four coats of sanding sealer I put on. The wood was looking great:

And I thought I had it in the bag. The surface seemed smooth and shiny so what could go wrong? Let's slap some primer on this sucker and get it painted!

Bam. Looks pretty good -- but wait! Zoom in close here and there's trouble on the surface of paradise:

Oh no!

What the-

Oh god in heaven no. The surface of my guitar looks like the rocky uninhabitable surface of Mars. Tons of little paint cracks all over the freaking place. I try to sand it down a little but it's taking off all my primer and doesn't seem to be helping much.

I've received conflicting advice such as "just paint over it, it'll be fine", "fill it with bondo", and "sand it completely down and start over". I'm not quite sure what to do next. Perhaps I'll cry.

Update: my friend Aaron tells me that the little awful looking cracks are most likely because the sanding sealer surface was too smooth and the paint didn't bond to it properly. I needed to sand the sealer more so that the paint would stick to it.

Other parts in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Guitar painting web album

I've been testing out Picasa Web Albums and love it. It's a whole different animal than Flickr. It lacks just about everything cool that Flickr has but somehow that doesn't matter much to me. I usually only want quick photo albums to send to friends and family and this does the trick and works nicely from Picasa. Also whatever they're doing with pre-loading on there is awesome because switching from picture to picture is lightning fast, I love it. Here's my guitar painting photo album.

I do wish it had some more hotkeys for common photo actions like deleting and captioning. Also a few more sizes of images that I could link to on the blog (update: or even allow me to link to the images at all) would be nice as well.

Guitar painting: part 4 (sanding sealer)

Besting the workbench, I masked my guitar:

guitar masked & sanding sealerguitar masked & sanding sealer

Hope I did a good enough job. It was a pain in the ass to do, lots of exacto-knife work. I also took a tip from Paint Your Own Guitar and attached a 2x1 to the neck joint and stuck a bike hook in the end. This way I can hold it by the 2x1 and move it around when I'm painting it and then hang it up to dry when I'm done.

guitar masked & sanding sealerguitar masked & sanding sealer

The 2x1 works well except that the body flops around a bit as I move it, bending at the bolt I put in. I'm too afraid to make any new holes, so I taped some thick cardboard to the sides of the 2x1 to protect the neck socket as I throw it around.

Also I made a painting area in the garage. A lot of tape and country newspapers went into the making of this:

guitar masked & sanding sealer

And I applied the first coat of sanding sealer. I read a lot of guitar painting tutorials (well, like four) and some did this and others didn't bother. Luckily I found some sanding sealer at the local hardware store so we're on. I'm sure I'll make up for this in the sanding stage as I can't find any sandpaper with grits over 320 around here.

Other parts in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Guitar painting: part 3 (delays)

I got annoyed sanding on an overturned recycling bin (aka my workbench) and there happened to be some Father's Day sales on workbenches. So I bought one of these for $20:

I've spent the past week trying to set this up in intermittent spurts. Turns out not only am I retarded and stupid, I am also inept. Here's what my assembled version looked like a couple days ago:

Sickly. Looks like it needs to be put down. Since then I went and bought some more nuts (you can just buy them) and have stabilized it somewhat, but now the wood for the top doesn't fit anymore. So I really don't want to talk about it anymore.

I finally found some Krylon paint in a craft store. There was a sale on so I think all the sexy colors were taken. Here's what I got:

I think I'm going to paint it "true blue". I really thought about bright yellow or pink, as I like those colors, but then I thought maybe I should go for something more conservative as those loud colors seem like ones you could get sick of real easily. And blue's still a nice non-standard guitar color. My little logo falling guy will be in black.

Also my order from Stewart MacDonald showed up today. Here are my Golden Age pickups:

Getting these has made me regret tearing my guitar apart because I really want to try them out, but I can't until I paint the stupid thing.

Other parts in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Guitar painting: part 2 (the sanding)

I sanded the guitar over the past couple of days. Before:

just about stripped (front)


sanded backsanded front


Not pictured: me using my 26-inch pythons to remove the bridge screw sockets. Train, say your prayers and eat your vitamins.

So there's actual wood grain going on there, sweet. Anyway, sanding by hand sucks. I got most of it done but borrowed one of them oscillating sanders to get rid of the really stubborn stuff. Also doing the little rounded tips at the end of the guitar was a living hell on ice.

I ordered some Golden Age Humbucker pickups for it. They're cheap and they have really decent ratings at Harmony Central. I'm too poor and shoddy a guitar player to buy really nice ones so hopefully these'll do. I can't imagine much worse than what was in there before. Can I also say I care so little about "classic tone" that it's ridiculous. I've been reading a lot about pickups and everyone's bizarrely concerned about how "classic" their tone is. When someone tells me their pickups sound like they're from the 50s I think "oh, you mean crappy?"

Thanks to Paul Roub for pointing out that I could ditch my big ugly pick guard and use plastic mounting rings instead. I love the internet.

So next is to treat all the dings and notches and fill the holes in the body, re-sand lightly and then put some sealer on it. I still haven't found where they sell Krylon spray paint in Ottawa, but I'm a ways off from actually painting. Getting closer though...

Other parts in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Guitar designs

What to paint my guitar. A normal person might have thought of this before they stripped it down, but not me baby. Anyway I fudged up a little photoshop thing to help me try colors on. Here are some quick ones I did:

Oh I lack the talent. Anyway here's the Photoshop PSD file if anyone wants to, uh, remix it. The source for my guitar, if you will...

Guitar painting: part 1

This weekend I got it into my head that I want to paint my old guitar (as well as replace the broken switch and the crappy pickups). I also want to learn how to modify guitars instead of being a guitar retard (or guitard) for the rest of my life. Here's what I've gotten done so far:

guitar before

Gibson Epiphone G-310. The first left-handed guitar I owned and the guitar I used for I Don't Know What I'm Doing. Before this I was playing an upside down left-handed Wayne's World Fender telecaster.

the tools

The tools I'll be using (forgot to include the putty knife I used to strip the paint). Heat gun (or pistolet thermique in French), mask, goggles.


Tore the guts out and detached the neck. It's at this point I'm realizing I may never get the guitar back together again without having to cry to a professional who will tease me. I also can't get those metal bridge things out no matter how much I swear, so I guess they're staying in while I do this thing.


I move everything to the garage. Taking the paint off the back is surprisingly easy though it's hard to hold the guitar in place while I heat gun and strip it.

just about stripped (front)

Flash forward a couple of sweaty hours and I think it's more or less stripped. The edges were a pain in the ass. It can still use some clean up, some black remains on the edges, but I'll wait until someone's around who can hold it for me.

So next is sanding. Also deciding if I'm going to do the neck and headstock. I can't find much in the way of instructions for that on the internet and I'm hesitant to try it in case I damage the fretboard. Also I have to figure out what pickups I'm putting in this thing as well as find a replacement pickup switch.

Oh and what color am I going to paint it?

Other parts in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10