KEEPIN’ IT REAL BY STEVE SOEST
Well, now that the smoke has cleared a bit, it’s time to move beyond The Wrecking Crew Film Kickstarter, which by the way, was a huge, huge success.
$313,157 was pledged of the $250,000 goal and that included 4,245 backers!
OUR SINCEREST CONGRATULATIONS to Filmmaker Denny Tedesco and his family as well as Recording Engineer/Producer Damon Tedesco and his family for a way cool super job well done with Kickstarter! You guys more than rocked it out of the park. Even Babe Ruth would have been pleased!
I can’t wait for the release of The Wrecking Crew Film to the BIG SCREEN so that their story can finally be told to the masses and I’ll try to keep you updated as I hear more information about the release.
Also, a big heartfelt THANK YOU to all the Jackaboutguitars Readers and Everyone Else who supported the cause and contributed to make The Wrecking Crew Kickstarter such a grand success!
Happy New Year! Make 2014 “THE BEST.” – Jack
MORE KEEPIN’ IT REAL BY STEVE SOEST
It’s time for more guitar related questions from you and answers from Steve Soest. The first question is from Chris from deep way down under.
Hi Steve, Any know how about lubricating my Fender Super Tele’s tuners. Where and what yo? Gun oil?…
Thanks, Chris P. Chainit
Hi Chris – Thanks for your question! If they’re the old Kluson Deluxe-style tuners with the oil hole, you can put a couple of drops of light 3 in 1 oil, sewing machine oil or gun oil in there. Even better, you can force some Chapstick or Vaseline into the hole, turn the button as you apply it, and that should take care of it… If they’re sealed, diecast tuners (with the hex nut style screw-down bushing on top) they generally don’t require lubrication. If they do feel sticky or dry, you can remove the screw-in bushing, and lubricate it down inside the threaded part of the collar. Don’t use too much, any lubricant can work its way out of the target area and stain the surrounding surface. Good luck! Steve Soest
Hi Steve. I’m considering purchasing a new Gibson Les Paul and was wondering if I should get one with these new min ETune systems. Do they work good and are they worth the extra cash or are they just something to try and get more of your money? Ryan Evans
Hi Ryan – Thanks for your question! With all the latest advances in technology, guitarists are bombarded with all sorts of new gimmicks. Some of them are in the “how did we ever do without this?” category, while most are just another attempt at separating you from your cash. My personal take on this (and MOST guitar-related issues) is that I believe that the fewer components on a guitar, the better! Since the tone and volume of a guitar is based on the resonance/vibration of the components, less is better. Each non-essential or decorative item on an instrument sucks up vibration, and too many add-ons can cause your guitar to sound like a squashed pumpkin. Additionally, learning to tune a guitar is part of the overall process of becoming a guitar player. When you purchase a large flat-screen television, I would not expect you to be able to open up the unit and re-wire it, but I would hope that you’d take the time to learn to work the remote control! Steve Soest
Hi Steve. Question… I was contacted about painting a guitar body… Are there certain paints to use?? and finishes?? or do I use store bought canvas paints/acrylics and use a clear spray varnish over the top? If specialty paints, where do I buy these at?? Thanks, Ed Rockford
Hi Ed- Thanks for your question! Traditionally, guitars are finished with either poly or nitrocellulose lacquers. I suppose (for art’s sake) you could use any type paint or finish you prefer to work with. If it’s going to be displayed as art, that’s all you need to do… if it’s going to be played, you need some type of top coat/sealer to keep the art from being worn off from handling. Just make sure that the top coat is compatible with the artwork paint so it dries properly and doesn’t curdle it! Most importantly………… have fun! Steve Soest
Hi Steve, I lent my guitar, an old Ovation with a sweet sound, to a person of ill-repute. Stupid me. Now there is a long crack in the beautiful, black-finshed lacquered body of the instrument. And now I am not sure if that crack is merely cosmetic or if it reaches down into the fundamental integrity of the guitar.
This old Ovation is my favorite. It is irreplacable. What is cool about this particular guitar is that Rock-and-Roll GREATS from Ed Van Halen to Pete Townsend have played upon it on – on busses, on planes, backstage when there was nothing to do. Circumstance – a guitar at hand.
I am writing to you for a little advice. How do I diagnose the depth of the problem? How do I determine the depth of this guitar’s injuries?
If this guitar’s injury is structural, can it be fixed? If the scar is but a skin-deep battle wound, are sutures advised?
I am writing to you because you’ll steer me in the right direction.
Hi Scott – Thanks for your question! First of all, it’s hard to diagnose the structural problems without an in-hand inspection. Would you be able to send some photos of the damage? That would help me to determine the degree of the problem, and if you tell me where you’re located, I can possibly refer you to an experienced luthier/guitar repair person who could give you an honest assessment of the situation. Steve Soest
Hi Steve, I got a MIM Tele for Christmas. Decided I need reverb. I’m going for classic surf tone (something I think you know something about). Can you recommend an outboard pedal to use into a headphone amp? Thinking might spring for a tube amp in the future. Any recommendations there?
Thanks, Mark Carleton
Hi Mark- Congrats on you MIM Tele. That factory is making some great stuff! My favorite reverb pedal is the “Holy Grail” from Electro Harmonix. There are a few different versions that you can choose from, depending on your space (no pun intended) availability. I’ve been using the original sheet metal version since they came out, and no problems. There is a smaller die-cast box version that works equally as well. I used mine with The Torquays (surf band ) on occasions when I needed a great spring tone, but the stage was unstable (or we were riding in a parade… I know, that comes up a lot!)
The Fender outboard spring units were unusable under those conditions. I’m sure there are several others on the market with the renewed interest in pedals, so try as many as you can and see what works for you. Have fun, that’s what it’s all about! Steve Soest
Keep the questions coming! Thanks. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
TIME IS TIGHT BUT JACK IS BACK – AND SO IS STEVE SOEST!
All of this moving and working…and just plain old busy life has kept me away from Jackaboutguitars – but, Jack is back.
And finally…the newsletters were all set to go out in January – and didn’t! I thought for sure Jackaboutguitars was going to be on a roll at the beginning of the year. Instead we were buried under a huge bagel of busy, but I think we’ll pull out of it and make a strong comeback. The January Newsletter now needs rewriting and updating.
After a lot of scrambling around, JAG & Jack, made it back to Portland, Oregon – our previous home of 21 years. It’s great to be here!
I was re-initiated into the old band, Hector & The Hooligans, for once a Hooligan, always a Hooligan! (Hector’s still in Re-Hab).
Anyway, in the words of a too funny dog from the past (as translated by his well known Master -> R.P. – R.I.P.) “You a little tardy with the food, #!((3@…
I’ll admit, I have been more than a little tardy with the food, but there’s plenty heatin’ up on the back burner. We’ll blast into it here and dish some out with the latest installment of “KEEPIN’ IT REAL” with Steve Soest.
MORE ANSWERS AIMED AT GUITARS BEHAVING BADLY…
The latest letter chosen is from George F. of Pensacola, Florida:
Hi Steve –
I have a newer model Fender Mexican-made Stratocaster that makes
a weird crackling sound through the amp after I play it for a half hour or
so. It’s worse when I run through a pedal or a hi-gain amp.
I’ve already had it into the store I bought it from and also drove quite a distance to a local authorized service center, but the problem persists and I’m at my
What gives? Is this something I have to live with? Any help would be greatly appreciated. – George F., Pensacola, Florida
Hi George –
Thanks for your question. You’re not alone with this issue. The
problem is being caused by static build-up on the pickguard and plastic
components (and sometimes the poly finish) on the guitar. There are a
couple of solutions to the problem.
The first is simple, something you can do yourself. Snag some disposable “dryer sheets” from your laundry room and keep a couple in your guitar case. Wipe down the pickguard and pickup covers every few days and the problem will disappear.
Another more permanent solution might require the assistance of your local repair guy.
If the pickguard doesn’t have an aluminum (or other conductive) shield on the underside, coat the back of the pickguard with conductive shielding paint or copper tape, attach this to a ground point (the back of one of the pots or the ground lug on the jack), and like magic, the problem will disappear. Good luck and have fun! – Steve Soest
If you’d like to get a guitar question answered and put in Keepin’ It Real to help others out there that might have the same problem, or even just to show your friends that yes, you are that cool that your question was picked and your problem was solved right here by Steve Soest, just drop Steve a line @ email@example.com
Keep the questions coming!!! – Jack
“KEEPIN’ IT REAL” by STEVE SOEST is HERE!
Hopefully you have kept an eye out (or two) for the announcement of the launch of STEVE SOEST’S section of the blog called “KEEPIN IT REAL” which will have all kinds of GREAT “REAL LIFE” GUITAR INFO that YOU CAN PUT TO USE.
Well, the day has arrived! The stars and the planets have aligned and the only thing found written in the works of Nostradamus is that he said,”Keepin’ It Real” will be VERY COOL.” Thanks, Nostry!!!
I have always thought in the back of my mind (“
cheese and onions“) that if I had ever had the darkening of the horizon soaked up by the spherical bodies within my orbits (the viewing sockets of my facial melon), I could always play the blues under the moniker “Blind Lemon Jackson” or even more pertinent to the situation, “Blind Melon Jackson”, especially at the rate the hair continues to fall off the top of my noggin. Fortunately the day has arrived without me having to keep any eyes out for it. “KEEPIN’ IT REAL” IS HERE AND ALL IS GOOD.
Welcome to KEEPIN’ IT REAL. This area of the blog will deal with just that, the art of keepin’ it real like the title says in Jacktalk. Some HOW TO VIDEOS will also be a part of this section as well as resources for you to check out later.
Jackaboutguitars is extremely pleased to announce The PREMIER ISSUE by the (wait for it) “LEGENDARY STEVE SOEST” who will be fielding your questions about guitars in his new column “KEEPIN’ IT REAL” right here on Jackaboutguitars.
Your questions can be emailed to Steve via: Jackaboutguitars@gmail.com
Chris Pilcher of Oregon wrote in and asks:
Really enjoyed your article about Steve Soest. Great to hear that this will be a continuing exchange. Can’t even begin to imagine the lessons he has learned throughout his career. Would love to get some advice about general guitar set-up. Without taking away clients of course ;)
Soooo… Steve, do you have any advice about order of set-up. For example, do you intonate before or after you adjust string height? When do you adjust the neck in this process as well, before or after adjusting height at the bridge?
Hey Chris – Thanks for your interest and question! I do have a preferred sequence of adjustments when it comes to setting up a guitar or bass.
The first thing I do when the client arrives with the instrument is to do an in-hand inspection, look it over, plug it in and test it (if it’s an electric), then ask the owner several questions regarding problems he’s experiencing with the instrument, his playing style, string gauge, tunings, what his expectations are, etc.
At that point there’s usually a discussion regarding the laws of physics as related to the guitar in general, and I’ll make some suggestions as to what I think needs to be done to make the guitar healthy again.
When the instrument makes it on to my bench, I’ll look it over once again, make some measurements if necessary, and then remove the old strings. The tuning machines are inspected, lubed ( if necessary) and the tuner bushings are tightened (if it has die-cast tuners). From there, I’ll clean and lube the control pots, align and tighten the nuts if they’re loose, burnish the switch contacts, making sure the switch nuts are tight, and then clean and lube the input jack and tighten the nut , making sure it’s aligned properly so there’s no resistance when the cable is plugged in.
The next step is to inspect the frets and fingerboard. If the frets are worn or uneven ( causing string buzz) I’ve probably already suggested to the customer that the guitar needs a complete fret dress. If not, I’ll clean (and hydrate/oil) the fingerboard and clean or buff the frets.
Next, the guitar gets re-strung with the gauge of choice, and the string are thoroughly stretched and tuned to the tuning preference of the client. It’s very important to ask about the tuning, because these days so many players are in alternate tunings, and they take it for granted that it’s normal! There’s nothing worse than setting up a guitar in standard (A-440) tuning and have the player then tell you that he tunes down to “D”. More work for me, and another trip back to the shop for the owner!
Next, I’ll adjust the neck with the right amount of relief for the string gauge, tuning, pickup load, etc.
Following that, I’ll make action adjustments at the bridge.
(Side note: If we’re dealing with a Stratocaster type guitar, with a floating bridge, it’s critical to find out from the customer how it’s going to be utilized into his playing style. If he doesn’t use the tremolo at all, I’ll put in all five springs and tighten the spring claw so that the bridge plate sits snugly on the body. This helps quite a bit with the tuning and the resonance transfer to the body of the guitar.
If the customer tells me he uses it infrequently, and just to lower the pitch, I’ll set it so that it makes LIGHT body contact, giving a medium/light touch, and helping to keep it in tune should a string break.
The third option would be the standard Fender set-up, with the back of the bridge plate floating above the body surface. If you’re a guy like Jeff Beck, this allows the player to pull up, or drop the pitch….. if you happen to break a string with this setting, the springs take up the slack from the missing string tension, pulling the remaining strings sharp until the broken string is replaced, and tuned to pitch.)
The next thing I check is the condition of the nut and nut slots. If the nut slots are too shallow, causing the strings to ride too high over the first fret, this will cause the guitar to play out of tune (sharp) when played at the first few frets. The gap between the first fret and the bottom of the strings should be pretty close to the same gap you see from fret to fret going up the neck.
Following the finished nut slots is the pickup and polepiece adjustment. I’ll adjust the overall pickup height with the instrument plugged in, listening for a sonic level balance, and being careful not to have the pickups TOO close to the string (especially concerning Stratocaster-type pickups with actual magnet polepieces). This can cause an abnormal string deflection/vibration resulting in a wobbly , out-of tune sound, making it impossible to set the intonation later. After the overall pickup height is adjusted, I’ll adjust the individual polepieces (if applicable) for string-to-string volume and tone balance.
Last, (but certainly not least), is to set the intonation at the bridge. Ideally, the bridge will have individual, adjustable saddles for each string so that the string length can be set so that the open string, the 12th fret harmonic, and the fretted 12th fret note are all the same frequency. I prefer to use the 12th fret harmonic (a more pure note without added overtones) and the fretted 12th fret ( with the pickup closest to the bridge engaged. Again, there is less string movement at the bridge, resulting in fewer, unwanted overtones)
At that point, I’ll sit and play it a bit to make sure everything is working as it should, and hopefully temperature, humidity and barometric pressure will be static enough to maintain the setup!
That’s it for now, thanks for listening!
Here’s a HOW TO VIDEO by Steve on guitar bridge adjustment (setting your string action):
Check back soon for the next installment. If you would like Steve to consider & answer your questions right here on the blog, you can contact him by email through: Jackaboutguitars@gmail.com – Jack