More Fun with the Modelo Uno: Forward and Lateral Motion

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Freekmagnet, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

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    Today I installed the fret markers. I’ve been trying fewer and more substantive posts. While installing the fret markers is a relatively small job, it’s the last stage before the next big job; the neck carve. So, I started by carefully measuring and quadruple-verifying my measurements. Why? Well this is an easy job that’s really embarrassing and painfully obvious when you screw up. I should know; I’ve drilled a fret dot hole in the wrong place before. Anyway, once I marked my holes, I hit it with the drill press:

    [​IMG]

    Then, I cut the fret dots from 3/8” aluminum bar stock. I cut them with a hacksaw.

    By the way, it was cheapest to buy a 10’ length. VC Metals charges by the cut, so no cuts = less money. I cut my roughly 1/32” - 1/16” thick. That pretty much leaves me with lifetime supply of fret markers.

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    After that, I glued each marker in with a dab of CA glue and filed them down with a mill bastard. It’s important to vacuum the aluminum dust away.

    [​IMG]

    Once I finished that, I lightly sanded the whole fretboard with 220.

    [​IMG]

    Some thoughts:

    I love the look of padauk. I know it will darken, but even then the color is fantastic. That being said, I have a little fantasy about using domestically produced materials, and African hardwoods are a long way from being domestically produced. We have some beautiful woods here in North America, but choices for fretboard materials is limited. Maple is great, walnut is rumored to work and we do have some nice synthetic materials available. I have yet to be impressed by the color of any roasted maple fretboard I have seen. And for me, synthetics and torrefied woods are still pretty expensive. I’m not complaining, but rather I’m hoping that some of these newer products become something I would like to use in the future. If anyone here has any good pictures of their roasted maple fretboards, by all means, please post them - I’m looking for inspiration!

    I’m digging the look of these oversized aluminum markers! Once I polish them up, I think the contrast will be amazing. The funny part is, I first started using 3/8” markers when I botched the job of drilling a hole for a 3/16” marker. Now, the smaller markers look weird to me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
  2. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

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    I carved the neck out.

    [​IMG]

    It went down pretty fast. I faceted it with the Shinto rasp and rounded it out with a half-round file last night.

    [​IMG]

    I thought I had a lot of work to do when I got home today, but I just had a couple of spots to flatten out. After doing that, I scraped the whole thing smooth with a round scraper card.

    I wanted to do something a little different this time; on my last few neck carves, I’ve just done a straight C profile from top to bottom. These necks have always felt a little flat to me starting up around the 12th fret. This time I made the top part more of a semi-boat profile and kept the part down by the 1st fret pretty much the same:

    [​IMG]

    I think it worked - the bottom end feels firm and supportive and the top end (12th fret) feels really fast. It’ll be great for those double hammer-ons and lightning slap licks I never do. We’ll see how it feels once I get some strings on it.

    When I brought my last build over to Bruce’s shop, he suggested making a larger volute:

    [​IMG]

    So there’s the larger volute. I think it looks pretty good.

    And lastly, here’s the contoured neck heel:

    [​IMG]

    It looks OK. I gotta do some fine tuning in the both the neck and body. I think once it’s finished, it’ll look good. I had to fill in a bit on the corner of the neck with epoxy - I got a little carried away with the half-round. I’m not worried about it - I’m planning on staining the neck black with transparent dye anyway. I don’t think the filler will show. The heel/neck combo has a good feel, but I’m still lukewarm about how it looks. I’ll refrain from making a judgement until after I finish shaping and sanding them both. Again, the carved heel will really help for those blazing arpeggio runs I never do.

    Some thoughts:

    I think the neck profile was a huge success. My necks have been getting thinner and I think that is a good thing. This laminated neck will be nice and strong, but I may consider adding a carbon fiber stiffener on my next build.

    I was having doubts after my struggle with the truss rod install, but with this new carve I think I might be getting to be a better luthier.

    Next up, I just have to install the bridge plate. After that, I think I can get back to designing the pickup.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
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  3. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

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    Now that I’ve pretty much got the body and neck built out, I’m back to pickup making.

    [​IMG]

    My first wind was OK, but it was a little mid-heavy and the bass was really murky and dark. I was also getting what I believe were microphonic vibrations that I couldn’t pinpoint.

    I took this new wind count down about 20% and while I was at it, I made the bobbins about 1/32” narrower. I also omitted the steel slugs I had placed in the bobbin cores. I figured that the slugs were overkill and if anything, they were likely to be the source of my microphonics.

    The new wind sounds really good. I really like it. The bass, middle and treble are nicely balanced. It’s bright, but not too bright. The upper highs are nicely extended without sounding clangy.

    I still don’t think it’s realistic to have bridge pickup serve as both a bridge and a rhythm pickup without the assistance of a preamp. There’s just not enough low-end happening down there. I do think that this one comes pretty close - it has plenty of output and almost enough lows, but not quite.

    I’m going to sit on this one for a few days and maybe see if I can knock out a quick 2-band pre and see what happens.

    The next step is two-fold. I have to make an attachment that allows my winder to wind these small coils more accurately. I also have to figure out how I’m going to build this monster.

    The hard part is going to be wire joints. Maybe I’ll make half of the bobbin a cast piece with the wire terminals poking out. The other half will be thin cardboard. The wire terminals could then be joined to a little circuit board. Something like that. Then just dunk the whole thing in epoxy. I’ll have to think about it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
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  4. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

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    I stopped by Bruce’s place on an unrelated errand last week. We got to talking about bobbins and threw some ideas around. As it so happened, we had some similar bobbin brainstorms. In the end, it's all boils down to execution.

    Basically, the idea was to use one cast polyurethane side of the bobbin to house the wire terminals. The other half would be made of paper. Eventually, I’ll seal the wire side with another piece of paper before assembly. So with this concept, I made my first bobbin prototype:

    [​IMG]

    This piece is really small. It measures about .6875" tall and a little less than .875" wide. It's smaller than a nickel. It's .25" thick. The polyurethane base that holds the wires is .09" thick. I cut the grooves in the base with a small file.

    Making the master was really easy. For the flatwork, I cut a shape out of .09" aluminum and drilled a 5/16" hole in the middle of it. For the central core, I stuck a 5/16" wide aluminum spacer I bought at the local hardware store. Since the bobbins are offset, I need a pair of mirror image bobbins. To make the second mold, I flipped the flatwork over and re-inserted the spacer. Here's a picture of one of my first attempts.

    [​IMG]

    This bobbin is a crucial step on a long and complicated road. Space is tight. There's a lot of parts to make and wire joints that could fail at any time during assembly of the pickup.

    I'm really excited about this pickup design. I still have my last prototype installed in the test bass. I also built a little preamp based on the 3-band StingRay pre. I basically removed the middle band and changed the treble control to cut off at about 1000Hz - basically the treble cuts and boosts both the mids and the highs. Overall it sounds great. The pickup sounds as thick as a brick, but the narrow sidewinder coils really extend in to the upper range. I tweaked the input cap on the preamp to allow more of those highs in. I'm boosting the bass a little bit - if the center of the pot is zero, I have it at dialed in at about 1.5. The treble knob hovers at around .5 to 1. If this pickup were in the P-bass position, it probably wouldn't need a preamp at all. I think the only thing that matches my excitement is my desire to get it up and running.

    I still haven't modified the winder. I'm waiting for some parts in the mail.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2019
  5. Barncaster

    Barncaster Doctor of Teleocity

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    Most excellent work!
     
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  6. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I love your approach....nobody here really does this kind of thing.... Out of the box is the best.
     
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  7. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

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    Thanks!
     
  8. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

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    What I meant to say was, “Thanks, I really appreciate that!” I hadn’t had my morning coffee yet.
     
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  9. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

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    Thank you!
     
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  10. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

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    I don't have too much to report this week. Basically, pickup making is all about making lots of small parts. So, I've been making lots of small parts.

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    Clockwise from top left: A pile of cast polyurethane bobbin halves for the Funktronic Exotica pickup; six epoxy-encapsulated coils for the Funktronic Bass Sidewinder pickups; a pile of ears for the Funktronic Bass Sidewinder pickups; some 430 stainless steel blade poles for the Funktronic Bass Sidewinder pickups.

    I set out earlier in the week to make parts for the new Exotic pickup and make 3 Bass Sidewinders that I'm hoping to unload. After starting by making molds for the Exotica bobbin halves, I cast a whole bunch of them over the last couple of days with the Smooth-On bright white polyurethane casting resin. I like the Smooth-On stuff - at least I like it more than I like the black ModelMaster stuff I've been using. I just get better castings out of it. In any case, the shelf life once it's opened is really short, so I'm trying to use up as much as I can. Bruce suggested using the aluminum base plate he made for me a while back as a master. Hopefully, I can get to making a mold from it later in the week and use even more of the Smooth-On before it starts going bad. I'll have to remove the pickup from the test bass, dis-assemble the pickup and cast the part. With any luck, the coils and wiring will be intact enough to re-assemble and re-install it into the bass.

    Speaking of the Exotica, I've been playing it quite a bit in the test bass. The jury is still out as to weather or not it could work on it's own as a passive bridge pickup; I think it puts out a respectable amount of lows and mids for its size - it just doesn't quite have the volume to drive the amp. I'm pretty sure it would be great as a middle (P-bass) pickup, but for now, I'm going to keep this one in the bridge position and boost it a little bit with the on-board preamp.

    I should have the Bass Sidewinders finished by next week. It's hard to say - I'm working on two different projects simultaneously during my off hours. I have the materials to make a 6-7 pickups, and I figure I should just build them up. Sanding the blades by hand is a PITA. I should probably sit down one of these days and figure out what kind of bench-top machinery I could use to polish them up more quickly.

    I'm still waiting for some pickup winder parts to come in the mail. They should have been here a week ago. In the meantime, I'll keep casting parts.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2019
  11. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

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    Works in progress:

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

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    I got a little sidetracked with a few other projects over the last couple of weeks. I managed to assemble on of the new pickups using some of the newly designed parts.

    [​IMG]

    It looks a little more like something that will work. Despite its looks, assembly was not a complete success. The parts worked and putting the pieces together was definitely easier. I first had to add a 1/32” strip of aluminum to the cast polyurethane base to keep it from flexing. More shielding, I guess. Plus, my original plan was to solder the wire terminals to a circuit board. However, I miscalculated the width of the bobbin and the opposing terminals were basically touching. Just to get this prototype working, I insulated the wires with electrical tape. That worked, but there was still no way to solder them to a circuit board. On the next iteration, I’ll have to stagger the terminals somehow.

    The next big fail came when I realized that I’d wired one of the coils backwards. Since they were glued together there was no easy way for me to determine which one was bad. I figure since I have to redo these anyway, I’ll just chalk this set off as a loss.

    Just to see if some of the other changes worked, I replaced the new coils with my previous set. The pickup sounded good, and in fact I think it sounded a little better. I think having that solid aluminum baseplate directly in contact with the wood may have been contributing to the overall noise from handling the instrument. The polyurethane may be dampening it a little bit.

    I also realized that the strength of the magnets were pulling on the low E string when I played further up the neck. I’m probably going to have to use smaller magnets. This may be a good thing, but I’m a little worried because I really liked the amount of nicely rounded lows I was getting out of the pickup. I’ll order some smaller ones and see what happens. In the meantime, I should think about designing a shell for the finished pickup.
     
  13. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    no matter what they sound like, they look stunning
     
  14. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Nice work FM.........Question how will you balance the separate poles within each pickup assembly???? or am I missing something?

    DC
     
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  15. matmosphere

    matmosphere Tele-Holic

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    First of all. I think this is all super cool. I’ve got an old epiphone with a mud bucker and a new bass with a thunderbird bass style pickup in the neck. Needless to say, I like sidewinders. They have there own sound for sure. Probably not for anyone’s only bass sound but a nice one to have available.

    just out of curiosity have you tried experimenting with the placement of the pickup to see how it affects the low end.

    aslo, if i was using those little magnets (that look so cool) it would be hard for me to resist making a pickup that looked like this

    38CC4618-2AB2-4047-B354-FE14C6CC5361.jpeg

    Not cause I’m a big fan, but because it would look cool glowing under the strings.
     
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  16. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    A couple of LED's and a Battery and your in business!

    Aluminum does make things quiet.

    Can you just lessen the strength/de-Gauss the magnets a little at a time and test the pickup as you go?
     
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  17. jimilee

    jimilee Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I’m a fan boy, that would be bad ass!!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  18. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

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    For now, I’m staggering the heights of the pole pieces so that they line up with the radius of the strings over the fretboard. Seems to work OK - that is, the balance between strings is good enough for Rock & Roll.

    It’s funny you ask, though. When I posted one of my first prototypes of this pickup, a very enthusiastic friend of mine called me on the phone and was asking all kinds of questions about its capabilities. I had to remind him that I hadn’t actually built the pickup, so I couldn’t answer any of his questions with any authority.

    One thing he did ask is if the poles would independently adjustable, to which I replied, “No.” The neodymium magnets are really strong and they are pulling towards each other with such force that I have to secure them to the plate with glue. Otherwise, the pickup literally implodes into a mess of magnets and steel pole pieces. And while it may be possible to make the poles adjustable in some roundabout way, I think that it would make an already insanely difficult technical challenge, even more technically insane and difficult.

    It could be possible - but I’d have to make the pickup bigger. The only real advantage I can see with this pickup is that I can get a big, fat, warm and broad sound out of a relatively small package.


    I agree, sidewinders do have their own thing going on. Admittedly, I was originally drawn to them because I could have fun experimenting with unusual form factors. In this new experiment, I think I’m trying to do something I couldn’t do with a more traditional pickup design.

    That’s a really good question, and the answer is, “No, I have not.” I’ve been designing my pickups for this particular bass, and this bass has the pickup in the bridge position. I have another bass design on the drawing table that would be a better fit for moving the pickups around, but I haven’t made templates for that bass yet.

    That being said, I believe that the new pickup will respond pretty well to being moved around. I’m messing around with a preamp, and for the most part, the pickup strong on its own and I’m just doing fine tuning. In contrast, my older design has a lot of twang and I end up boosting a lot of bass. That pickup might be well suited as a neck pickup. I was thinking the other day I might try placing two pickups - one in the middle and one near the 24th fret and see what happens.

    haha!
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
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  19. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

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    I don’t think so - neos aren’t like AlNiCo - they don’t easily lose their charge AFAIK.
     
  20. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm not real familiar with the Neo mags either. Talk to Deneb(Vladimir), he might be able to help you figure out what strength you need, he has made some pickups with calibrated Neo Mags.
     
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