A week out the shop

As I mentioned last week, this has been not a very guitar focussed week: I’ve been trying to close up one of the features for a company I’m doing software contracting for, and now I’m writing this from Helsinki, where I’m taking a quick break for a few days. You’ll be pleased to know we have seen some guitar based modern art again already, despite being here less than 24 hours :)

On the guitar building front though I did get a bunch of bits in the post for a big experiment I have planned for next month. I’m still unhappy with the state of the mustang dynamic vibrato on the prototype offset I built, and I can’t figure out why. I did take it to someone more experienced with guitars with tremolos and he was very dismissive of it. As an engineer though I want to understand why it’s wrong and how to fix it. Part of the issue is that I can’t see what’s happening inside the vibrato when its mounted, and the other part is it’s quite hard to change the variables (e.g., spring tension) and observe the change. Thus, it’s time for some science.

My plan is to make a proxy offset body that has the neck pocket and bridge mount in the right place, but to cut the bridge mount all the way through, and then cap it with clear acrylic at the correct depth: this will let me see what’s happening inside, but also letting me know if the bridge is not working due to hitting the body at some point inside. In the post I’ve got another bridge/vibrato unit by another company, and a set of lighter and heavier springs. I hope to thus actually play around and try properly understand what is going on with my unit that makes it so unstable.

The whole experience with this Mustang bridge has made me appreciate how ignorant I am about other guitars once I move outside the Fender style with fixed bridge space, so I’ve started trying to find broken guitars to fix up as a learning exercise. Unfortunately scouring eBay, gumtree, etc. hasn’t turned up much yet: I guess most people just put broken guitars in the bin. But as an aim I’d like to do some more fixing up guitars I’m less familiar with to learn how they’re put together.

But both of these a projects are for later in September now. The next few days will be in Helsinki, and then EMFCamp for the weekend. After that I really want to get the fretboards cut for the two offsets I have in progress, which will be the priority once back in Cambridge.