…Trial by wiring….

This course is certainly not getting any easier….We have been running build your own guitar courses for over 10 years now, but as time goes on the guitars get more and more complex.

The course went really well for the most part. Kieran finished making the back and sound board for his acoustic and will return soon to continue building, but the other three have now finished. They made three really spectacular guitars, each with active electronics.

As normal there were a few problems on the last day. After the last course which got really manic at the end, we added a follow up session on the Sunday to iron out any issues with the guitars. That was just as well as we used every last minute:

Kai’s had EMG’s which didn’t work when we plugged it in. It had a very weak feeble sound – just like it would if the jack socket was wired the wrong way round. I told him to check it and sure enough 5 mins later it was rocking. Sorted

Mark’s set up included a piezo bridge to simulate an acoustic guitar sound, and also midi. I really thought we would have major problems with this but it worked first time! There were a few minor niggles though. The guitar made funny warbling noises if you played the 6th string past the 12th fret. I knew what that was – the pickups were too close to the strings – This only happens with single coils – The magnets in the pick up pull on the string creating the weird pulsing effect sounds. This was easily fixed by adjusting the pickup heights.

There was one other problem with Mark’s guitar…..Billy had done a great job on the spray job but in a moment of confusion caused by the reversed headstock had (ahem…) put the er… logo on (cof..) ….upside down….

Billy stayed late to fix it while I tried to sort out the wiring nightmare that was John’s guitar.

His guitar turned out to be the tricksiest. (deep breath)

The Nanomag turned out to be quite hard to fit, as it needed to be inlaid into the end of the fretboard, and wiring it up was another matter. The main problem was that he didn’t want to use the supplied circuit board. This had all the controls pre wired so everything just plugs together. Instead he needed a custom wiring job to include Seymour Duncan P-Rails. These pickups are switchable to sound like single coils, P90’s, or humbuckers. That makes for a pretty cool guitar but the Nanomag didn’t come with any instructions and none could be found on the net. We did find a wiring diagram but the wires were marked in different colours than the real wiring so it was really hard to follow….

When we plugged it in only the nanomag worked! I immediately suspected the nanomag wiring as I’d had to come up with the solution myself…..Also I had used the P-Rails before with no problems……by this time it was getting late on Sat night so I sent them all off to the pub while I pored over the nanomag wiring diagram for hours and twiddled wires.

Every now and then it would burst into life – I checked it twice against the diagram – looked ok. I thought I was going mad (not for the first time).

Three hours later I finally sussed out what it was – more by luck than judgment –  Billy had finished turning the logo round and was helping me by plucking the strings while I wiggled the wires. I had loosened off the switches so I could lift them out to inspect the connections, and every now and then when I wiggled the wiring, one of the connections from the switch would touch the sides of the cavity which was covered in conductive shielding paint, and the guitar would work momentarily. There must be an earth wire missing from the switch that controlled the P-Rails.  When I (finally) looked at the intructions there it was in the middle of the page in big writing – TO EARTH (arrow). (doh…)

After discovering this we immediately made straight for the pub to join the others…..and walked in to a party. Played the cheese sandwich song for Moyra’s birthday!

So it was a good job we had the Sunday morning for final tweaking – I think you will agree as usual the end result is worth all the hassle……