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Topics - Alanko

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The Outpost Cafe / RIP Holger Czukay
« on: September 06, 2017, 04:26:21 AM »
According to the news this morning, Can bassist Holger Czukay has passed away.

RIP Holger.

Bill's Shop: Projects, Mods & Repairs / Couple of Jack Casady questions!
« on: August 20, 2017, 02:14:53 PM »
So I've finally bartered, haggled and brokered myself a black Jack Casady bass!

I got it for a good price, in part because it has a couple of issues:

1) The transformer is loose within the instrument and rattling around.

2) The 3-way switch spins in perpetuity as it is somehow missing the keeper. It still has the three positions, but you can cycle through them endlessly.

In short, where does the transformer sit within the bass? I thought it might be attached to the switch originally, but from having had a look at Casady harnesses for sale it appears to be separate from the switch.

Also, can I get away with a generic four pole/three way switch or is there a space consideration? How bit a component can be fished inside a Casady bass?

Also, is there any advantage to upgrading the potentiometers, and do they use different values given the low impedance of the pickup?

Bill's Shop: Projects, Mods & Repairs / A silly idea?
« on: June 15, 2017, 02:03:53 PM »
I've found somebody selling some circa 2008 Gibson Thunderbird pickups. I'm not entirely happy with the plugged-in tone of my MIM Jazz bass. I like the girth and grind of a Thunderbird, and I love the feel and unplugged tone of my MIM Jazz bass.

A simple question really, is it worth getting my Jazz routed for T-bird pickups? I'm not after that chromed out look or anything retro like that, simply a bit more meat and muscle to my Jazz bass, while retaining the feel of it.

Bill's Shop: Projects, Mods & Repairs / Any love for Schaller pickups?
« on: November 28, 2016, 01:31:55 PM »
I kitted out my Jazz bass with Schaller JBX pickups, partly because they were cheaper than Dimarzio Model Js and also because I could buy them in the UK. I've just purchased a set of NOS '80s PBX pickups to put in my P bass.

On the surface these seem like straight up Dimarzio clones. Were they licensed copies, and do people that have spent more time with both feel there are major differences in tone between them?

I've seen Schaller Bassbuckers on a few instruments on this forum and, from what I recall reading elsewhere, these weren't simply Model G clones but their own entity?

Gibson Basses / Stolen EB-2 heads up.
« on: November 09, 2016, 12:17:43 PM »
An EB-2 has been stolen in Milton Keynes, England. The serial hasn't been published, but there is a photo of it at the following link, sunburst, minus the pickguard and with a sticker behind the bridge:

Full post is as follows:

"Thames Valley Police is appealing for witnesses following a burglary in which two guitars were stolen.

The incident is believed to have occurred on Saturday, 29 October at a property in North Twelfth Street, Milton Keynes.

The offender/s is believed to have gained entry to the property through the back door.

A Gibson EB-2 Sunburst Hollow body single pickup bass guitar (pictured), which is more than 40-years-old, and a 1980s BBC00 Yamaha guitar, were stolen from the property.

Investigating officer Det Con Chris Bigg, based at Milton Keynes police station, said: “This burglary has caused distress to the family, and these guitars hold great sentimental value to them.

“I am therefore appealing to anyone who might have any information about this incident, or anyone involved in it, to come forward and contact Thames Valley Police on the non-emergency number 101.”

I spotted this on Basschat and will keep an eye out myself.

Other Bass Brands / Godin Shifter bass?
« on: November 03, 2016, 05:36:23 AM »
Hello all,

I'm looking at a potential trade. A chap in the Netherlands is looking to trade a 3-pickup Godin Shifter for my Mustang bass, plus a bit of cash on my end. I'm a bit attached to my Mustang, but it isn't quite working with my band, and I now have a Mike Dirnt Precision on 'full size P-bass' duties. I like the Mustang's neck width at the nut, which is nominally the same as the Shifter, but I'm finding it a bit too delicate to play. Minimal re-positioning of the right hand makes all the difference from supporting the band to making a 'whacky' percussive racket...

The Godin is a long-scale bass, and has three-pickups. I've been experimenting with multi-pickup tones a bit, recently.  Life is short and there is a dude out there who wants a Mustang, so should I go for it?

Gibson Basses / Phil Lesh joins team Gibson!
« on: November 02, 2016, 02:05:04 PM »
Here's a turn up!  :mrgreen:

I've noticed a few budget brands are now offering neodymium pickups for cheap prices. I've bought neodymium magnets in the past to bolster weaker pickups, and I understand Alembic even offered a professional 'pickup booster' kit that was basically a ceramic bar magnet you stuck on the back of a Strat pickup or similar.

Out of curiosity, I'm wondering if I can wring a bit more output from my Mustang bass in a similar manner? In the long term (give it a few weeks) I might invest in a pickup upgrade for the wee beast. In the short term I was wondering if I can replace the slugs in the stock pickups with neodymium magnets? At the moment I feel that the stock pickups are a bit... thin? There is a bit of everything going on with the bass's tone, but it is a bit weak sounding overall.

I've found magnetic rod of a suitable size (6 mm by 15 mm), and for cheap. If nothing else I might tap one slug out the stock pickup on the wee beast and see what it sounds like. My fear, and probably the most obvious issue, is that the corresponding string will be inseparably attracted to the pickup. Secondly, there might be no tonal difference or output difference...

With these pickups, do I need to have the poles facing North in one half and South in the other? Should I simply see what direction the neodymium rods want to bond with the stock magnets, and use that as a reference? I've never worked with pickups with charged poles before.


Rickenbacker Basses / Stolen 4005 on Talkbass.
« on: September 08, 2016, 03:02:52 AM »
Just spotted this over on TB. No affiliation, and not sure of the footfall/overlap between the two forums, but the more eyes see this the better:

A damn shame. I hope it turns up safe.

Fender Basses / Crouching Tiger Hidden Mudbucker
« on: August 24, 2016, 07:26:00 AM »

Guitars Etc. / Building a Telegib (HH Tele)
« on: July 29, 2016, 04:04:22 AM »
I recently modified my Strat to accommodate two humbuckers. I chose some zebra-style PRS SE pickups. These are manufactured by 'G&B', who seem to get around a bit. I chose the pickups because the general consensus online is that they are good sounding is somewhat dull. They are also trem-spaced. I took a gamble that 'dull' would translate into 'sounds alright' when transplanted onto a Fender instrument, and it worked!

However I'm just not a Strat person. I love my MIM Tele and don't wish to modify it for personal reasons. My Strat was 2nd hand, so isn't precious to me. I do however like the neck.

My plan is to purchase one of these:

I would modify the heel of my Strat's neck to fit the Tele pocket, route it for humbuckers and buy a Wilkinson Tele half-bridge.

Does this seem like a silly idea? The Harley Benton route seems to be the most cost effective way of getting a bunch of Tele-style hardware together, with the option of selling the parts I don't need.

Other Bass Brands / Another budget semi-hollow.
« on: July 25, 2016, 02:28:31 PM »
I originally posted this on another forum yesterday, but they are too busy chucking their collective muck over the Flea sig Jazz bass and everything Maruszcyzk to take any notice. Either that or I piss them off too frequently. Given that this forum doesn't seem to have such a boner for every terminally boring P, J and PJ permutation of basses available I might have better luck here. Right? :mrgreen:

I've always had a soft spot for the TAB-66, and I found one retailer left with them in stock, and only in wine red... and it looks like I got the last one!

I quickly strung up the bass with NOS 30+ year old Chromes. The E from that set is especially oldschool sounding, with that weird detuned 'boing' that immediately says 'Ronnie Lane' to me. The 'plonk' tone from this bass is really solid, but maybe too oldschool for me. The bass is back on the stock roundwounds. I always think semi-hollow basses should run on flats, so maybe some groundwound or pressurewound strings are in the future for this one?

I've had the bass a week now, and my thoughts are....

The good:
It is a long-scale (34'') bass! It doesn't feel a million miles away from my P bass in terms of string tension.
The neck pickup sounds great. With the tone control you can go from Rickenbacker to Rivoli. I've been playing along to The Animals!
The bridge pickup does a good Andy Fraser tone; that stubby, percussive sound.
The finish is amazing and flawlessly executed. It feels like a luxury bass. Hard to say, but some Poly finishes feel cheaper somehow.
The nut was cut brilliantly, only the E slot was too high, and even then only slightly.
Balance seems good on a strap; no neck dive.
In general it has quite a grindy, aggressive tone, whereas most hollow-bodies accentuate a pillowy, undefined, slightly fragile '60s bass tone, which is cool but can be hard to EQ or work in a band setting.
The neutral:
The pickups themselves are slightly odd. They are slightly noisy depending on the angle of the bass, and I've checked the magnetic pull and there is only a single 'blade' of pull down the middle of the pickup. Are they really humbuckers, or side-winders like old Firebird pickups? The good news is that the routes are big enough to fit full-size guitar humbuckers, so various other pickups could be employed in the future.
There isn't a blend control for the pickups. I've had to lower the neck pickup a bit, and in the 'middle' position there is a slightly odd, nasally tone. I'm guessing I cannot flip the phase of either pickup as the end of the coil(s) is connected to ground, which incorporates the grounding of the pickup cover.
The output jack! I'm not a fan of having the output jack mounted directly to the wood through a wee hole. I've seen a lot of SGs with finish damage around the jack. As such I've already fitted a Strat output jack. It doesn't look too out of place, and it gets the cable away from the top of the bass. I don't like cutting the top so much, but it is easier than patching up finish or structural damage down the line.
The stock strings were hard to remove. The ball-ends were jammed hard into the stoptail.
The stock strap buttons were a bit too small. Not good as the strap buttons are both along the center line so the bass hangs forwards slightly, and so the strap could jump off the neck heel button.

The bad:
The bridge pickup wasn't fully picking up the E string. The tune-o-matic is very slightly off-centre, so the strings are slightly over to the bass side of the neck. It barely matters and is hard to see by eye. However these pickups have very little magnetic pull beyond the width of the strings, so by default the bridge pickup wasn't capturing the full excursion of the E string. The trick was to plug the four holes for the bridge pickup mounting ring and shift everything a few millimeters across to the bass side. Re-drill four holes and screw back into place. The trick works, but it is slightly unusual to see a bass kitted out with Firebird pickups. I don't think Violin bass-style pickups would work as they probably have a narrower field.
Rattles! The fretwork seemed fine, though benefited from polishing. However the neck came with too-little relief to begin with (a first!) so I had to back the rod off. Even with the fret rattling cut down, the switch tip rattles (I'm replacing it) and for every G played the pickguard also vibrates. The pickguard is kept off the mounting bracket with a felt washer, but the pickguard is slightly flexible and can therefore vibrate off the rest of the bracket. I removed the spacer, and it has cut it down slightly. The pickguard sits a couple of millimeters off the face of the bass, so can also vibrate. There was some rattling coming from inside the bass, I think from the pickup cables. The neck pickup was also rattling slightly. I will replace the springs with surgical tubing at some point.

Final bug/issue/thought: Basschat forum member 'hairyhaw' noticed the bridge bushings were uprooting on his TAB bass in a thread here:

When my bass arrived I had the exact same issue. I removed the strings and assessed the deal. In short, the bushings were loose and had come out of their holes slightly. The problem is exacerbated slightly because of the length of the bushings and because the holes are drilled vertically rather than off the vertical to accommodate the contours of the top of the bass. I fixed the issue by taking shorter bushings for the stoptail and gluing them into the bass using epoxy. I epoxied the bushing for the tune-o-matic on the bass side, but didn't glue the treble bushing as the ground wire runs into the drill hole here. This cable may need repaired or replaced, so I didn't fancy having to hack away at an epoxied part in the future. You can still see a wee bit of the ribbed/machined section of the bushing that is meant to be invisible, but it isn't as bad as when the bass arrived.

If you made it this far, have a flying boat.

Gibson Basses / Of mudbuckers and magnets.
« on: July 13, 2016, 04:26:00 AM »
I possibly have an Epiphone Rivoli in my not-too-distant future. In the past I've owned an Epiphone EB-0, and it seems that the criticism for both basses centres on the pickup. The EB-0 pickup had a DC resistance of only 12k or so, and was weak and uneven. I've seen the same said about the Rivoli pickup.

I used to have a couple of Artec sidewinders, but they were both killed in action unfortunately. From memory both had the magnets incorrectly mounted and one, if not both, had the coils wired incorrectly.

I've seen a mod mentioned on here that spreads the magnetic field of the Epi pickup using Allen keys or ferrous wire. My thought would be, could you not just chip the stock magnets off the pickup and replace them with neodymium block? I've seen this stuff on Ebay, available in various lengths and widths. Could you get away with using a single row of these magnets along the base of the pole pieces?

My second thought is, which matters more; the width of the pickup coils or the width of the magnets? Does the weak E string phenomenon stem from the string's excursion extending beyond the range of the magnets or beyond the range of the coils? If it is the former could I get away with taking a cheap, hot guitar pickup, removing the coils and transplanting these onto the metalwork of the Epi sidewinder in bid to hike the DC resistance of the pickup?

Apologies if these are silly questions or if I am missing a fundamental point somewhere along the line.

Rickenbacker Basses / Heart Of The Sunrise, my wonky edit.
« on: June 28, 2016, 01:11:19 PM »
I saw a post elsewhere today reminding us that we lost Chris Squire a year ago yesterday, the 27th of June. I'm surprised that a year has now past, and also lost sight slightly given the number of musicians the last year has robbed us of. I saw somebody suggest that we should 'turn 2016 off for ten seconds and turn it back on again' given how this year is panning out.

 Something I started a wee while back was the idea to remix Heart of the Sunrise with Chris and Bill higher in the mix, Steve way lower and the vocals and keys kept at a middling level. From memory Youtube sets a 10 minute limit unless you are some sort of power uploader, so I also had to cut the song down a bit to make it fit. Whilst I was doing all of this I selectively muted some parts of various tracks to allow a bit of a 'cutaway' view of how the song is made. In the end it is part wonky dub mix, part anatomy class, part bass lecture and part tribute to Christopher Russell Edward Squire.

I hope you enjoy:

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