Ibanez GSR 200 bass modification

A friend of mine had a damaged Ibanez GSR 200 electric bass and one of the pots had been damaged, so he donated the instrument to yours truly for a little tinkering. The model is from 1999-2003, not 100% sure of its origin but it's a good enough low tier instrument.

I wanted to try doing something really crazy with the instrument, but I had to live according to the restrictions of working at home with only basic hand tools and a powered hand drill available.

First thing was to strip the instrument clean, so I removed the pickups and bridge and pots. 
Then I came down to planning what I want to do with this instrument.

I had seen a video where a bigsby style tremolo was installed on a bass, so I wanted to do that.
In addition I wanted to install a blade style sigle coil guitar pickup on the instrument that I had in storage as well as a blade style J-pickup, both are cheap china-manufactured things.

On Ebay I found a tune-o-matic bridge for bass and also bought a piezo setup for electric violin that I intended to install under the bridge. The bigsby style tremolo I found from a local instrument part store.

Now a word on the shimmerstick installation.
First off I needed to remove most of the string pegs and then re-drill holes for two of them to get closer to a bass string spacing. The bridge is also at a sharper angle than normal to keep the strings somewhat straight. The saddles needed to be filed and rounded for easier string movement in order for the tuning to be held a bit better. As the whole system including bridge take up way more space than a basic bass tail the scale is bound to be messed up, so that was just a sad fact I had to live with, but now ONWARDS! 

What I needed to do was fill up the J-pickups cavity and place the Tune-O-Matic bridge there. Then I modified the P-pickup cavity to fit the new J-pickup. 
I painted the wooden blocks used as filler with black gesso and poured resin over so it would fit in a bit better with the overall finish of the instrument.

As said I was restricted in ways of tools and doing a full paintjob on the instrument was out of the question. The result was good enough and I found myself pleased with the Frankenstinesque aesthetics where the imperfections and modifications are visible.

Next up I got to drilling and sanding a hole for the single coil guitar pickup. And finally I drilled new holes for the wirings. For this I needed a long drillbit.

At this time I made the first try to see how the strings settle down and noticed the breakangle for the neck was way so I needed to make a slim wooden block to bring up the neck a bit. Now there is space to set the action higher and lower with the bridge. 

When I got down to testing the pickups I noticed that the balance on the pickups vs piezo was way off.
Without amplification there was no sound coming out of the pizeo, so I ended up installing a small amplifier into the control cavity. It does create a bit of problems, like huge pops and crackles when switching picups and the singlecoils hum like hell as they are not meant to be amplified like this. 

The controls for the bass is individual volume pots for the single coil and J-pickup, and volume + tone for the piezo pickup. There is also a three-way switch with options piezo - humbucker AND J-pickup or all 3-pickups. 

Finally it was time for strings. I decided to go for D'addario XL "Chromes" flatwound super light 40/60/75/95 strings.  

IT might not be pretty or look factory fresh, but I did manage in making an interesting instrument for noise, industrial, and experimental music

"Yggdraskull" bowed lyre

Growing weary of the guitar format for string instruments and with an escalating intrigue for folk instruments I decided to build a bowed lyre (in Finland known as Jouhikko (LINK)) with a longer scale and specifically built for playing amplified.

I must say, at this time I am still extremely proud of this build. It is the most beautiful instrument I have made to date, even if it is (a literal) pain in the back to carry around for gigs.

The wood of choice was Finnish birch due to it's availability at my Father-in-law's workshop.
We glued together the body from 4 pieces for easier handling in the shaping process. The outer lines were planned with aesthetics and usability in mind, hence the large curves for resting the instrument against the thigh.

I had a vision from the beginning of doing a woodcarving for this project and wanted something "nordic" and "folksy" as a thematic, hence Yggdrasil. By chance I managed to give parts of the carving the look of a skull and hence named this instrument "Yggdraskull".
The carving was made on 8 mm plywood.

As the instrument was planned for amplified, rather than acoustic, use I could leave the echo chamber smaller and with thicker walls. The hole for the woodcarving was made with a circular saw before the carving process. I used a vertical cutter to carve out the echo chamber.

The string holder  and bridge were made from apple tree.
While most of the elements in the instrument were self made,
I needed to go out and buy a few things.

The strings are cello strings and the tuning pegs are boxwood pegs that I purchased online (LINK).
For fastening the stringholder I acquired some brown leather band.
The electronics are a cheap set for electric violin with a slim piezo microphone.

Finishing for the instrument was made with Osmo Color clear woodwax (LINK), that I have used on some of my earlier guitar projects also.
I felt that woodwax would be more in line with the craftmanship and nature of the instrument than a heavy varnish.

Less than a week after completition I carried the instrument with me to  Kukemuru Ambient Festival 2019 (LINK) where I played a set as the closing act of the opening day.


Cheers. I'm here with a really quick one this time around.

This was a nice little weekend project after I took a trip to my local IKEA (LINK). It took me around 2-3 hours in all to fix everything together.
The electronic parts were scavenged from old projects and spare parts I never came around to using.

Anyways. the main ingredients of this project were aquired on a trip to IKEA.

- 1 x FASCINERA chopping board 
- 1 x MÖLLARP handle
- 6 x MÖLLARP knob

And from my own stash.

- 1 x blade bass pickup
- 1 x volume pot
- 1 x 1/4" Jack socket

The plan is simple. The chopping board makes the instrument body, the handle makes the stoptail for the strings and the knobs emulate tuning pegs.
The positioning of the handle was made on aesthetic basis and the bass pickup was aligned according to the handle. My suggestion is to use a blade pickup so it's easier to align the strings. I used this Wil-series Hot Rail Jazz pickup (LINK).

Notice that the handle could be any from the vast IKEA collection. For me the desicion was driven by looks and price.

The ground wire from the elctronics is connected to one of the screws from the handle.
After the pickup was fastened I filed grooves into the handle to keep the strings in their place. then fastened the two strings, the top and bottom string. Now I could measure the position of the tuning pegs (knobs) so that the strings would be placed over the pickup.
Finally I drilled holes for the knobs and fastened them onto the board. Also the knobs were filed so the strings get a small groove for better alignment.
The strings I used on this project are also random strings I had lying around.

The main con in this project is that the intrument won't hold any tuning except 'un-tuned'. This is something that will need future investigation and planning. Then again the chopping board has the most amazing sustain - I love it!

Monster lap-steel

During the late summer of 2013 I wanted to make something out of  the spare parts I didn't want into my own projects.

...so what I did was ask a friend of mine to arrange some basic wood for me that I could mould into a scrap-part lap-steel style guitar.

The two pieces of "two-by-four" spruce got to function as body. I cut one of the pieces into three parts which made up the base, the end and a bridge between the humbuckers. The uncut part functioned as the neck.
The neck part also needed to be thinned down for the tuning pegs. For this project I didn't have any hi-tech tools so the finishing is somewhat raw.

As said, the parts were leftovers from other projects, such as the Stock mics and electronics from a Epiphone Gothic Explorer (LINK) and the tuning pegs were from my earlier project, the Vinatge VS6 (LINK).

The assembly was fairly straight forward and small flaws didn't matter that much as my friend is a noise musician. The polycarbonate was added when I noticed I had no place to attach the electronics, but in hindsight it's also a very cool design element.
I also had to add screws as string guides to hold the strings in line before the tuners, so as I said, it was a very raw and unfinished project.

The toughest part in this project was handling the materials without proper power-tools. but at the same time the build was satisfying and fun.
To see these random pieces form into an actual playable instrument was so cool.

I asked for thoughts and experiences on this monster instrument from it's current owner 

and received the following short statement:
"sexier than thou. loud and nasty. so far only acoustic tests, which have been very satisfying"

As an add-on to the instrument I also arranged a leftover piece of PVC pipe to serve as slide, so all tools were available!

The pink box... where it all began.

As this is the first post of my blog, I will start out with a little background to my building ventures.
After I started making music early in the 21st century I was interested in all instruments I could possibly lay my hands on.

One of my first points of interest was purchasing a Kantele building kit, but really never got enough courage to dig into it.

However in 2011 I finally purchased a few sets of Velleman Signal Generator mini kits (LINK)

Of course I took my time soldering the kits together, but the time was well worth it and the ready electronics found their homes in a wooden box covered with pink&metallic contact paper.

...for future endeavors I'm thinking of changing the power intake to a 9V socket instead of the battery for more reliability.