Saturday, February 23, 2013

Jay Turser JTA-Flag300 - Time After Time

The second hand unwinds
If you're lost you can look - and you will find me
Time after time

Very few things in life compare to the excitement of finding a long-anticipated package with an eBay label in the mailbox.  The second preamp I ordered arrived today!  Within minutes, I had it out of the packaging and on the work bench, and was checking out the fit.  Could this be the one?

The output jack on this model came pre-wired, so I swapped out the stock assembly for this one.  The under saddle pickup was the only connection to be made, and that's made with a standard jack and plug.  With the pickup connected, I pushed the excess wire lengths into her body cavity, cinched the two new wires into place with the original clip, and was instantly delighted - this preamp slipped right into place like it was original equipment!

From the shadow cast onto the body pictured above, it's clear that this model is intended to fit a hole cut closer to the waist of a guitar.  Noticing that the faceplate was bendable, I slowly installed the screws at the four corners to see check the alignment of the screw holes in the preamp and body.

To my astonishment, as I tightened the screws, the faceplate bent and conformed the contour of her body.  Even the rubber gasket fit nicely, making a consistent seal between the faceplate and the edge of the opening.

With that, the installation was complete, and it was time to move on to testing the new parts in This Old Guitar.  I took her body inside, installed a 9V battery in the preamp, and plugged her in to my son's amp.  With a few taps on the body, and some fiddling around with the tone and volume controls, I could  hear that the pickup and preamp were working fine.  After returning her body to the workbench, I logged on to my eBay account to give lvjiajia1703 some very positive feedback and add this vendor to my list of Favorite Sellers.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jay Turser JTA-Flag300 - The First Cut Is The Deepest

I would have given you all of my heart
But there's someone who's torn it apart
And she's taken just all that I had
But if you want I'll try to love again

Removing a fret board from a neck takes just the right amount of heat and some sharp tools.  Without knowing how much or what kind of glue Jay Turser used, I started out slowly with some heat from my iron applied to my favorite sharp putty knife.  Applying slow and steady pressure, and reheating the knife a second time, I was able to work the knife in the first couple of inches.

Like the song says, the first cut is the deepest, since the neck heel is the narrowest part of the neck.  To release the rest of the glue, I used the iron sitting on top of the frets and worked a pair of putty knives in between the neck and fingerboard a few inches at a time.   With a little trial and error, a pattern of 5 minutes heat time for every three or so inches revealed itself to be enough to separate the pieces with very little effort on the knife  handles.

After an hour, I had separated the fretboard and neck, with no apparent collateral damage to either piece.  Even the dovetail I had rebuilt earlier was intact..

Fortunately, Jay Turser was a bit stingy with the glue, as they were with many other features on many of their guitars.  Judging by how little residue there was on the fretboard and neck mating surfaces, JT used a good quality hide glue.  Before cleaning up the old glue from the fingerboard and neck, I checked  the fit of the dovetail and started thinking about how to complete the neck-to-body connection.

With so much width in the heel taken by the truss rod assembly, and so little depth in the dovetail joint, a glued connection is starting  to look like the best way to go.  Some carefully drilled pilot holes, on either side of the truss rod and lining up with a fret, would make it possible to steam out the neck joint, just in case I don't get the neck set angle right the first time.  That's food for thought until next time with This Old Guitar.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Jay Turser JTA-Flag300 - These Days

These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don't confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them

At the time of my last entry in July on this project, I had this guitar making music again.  Here you can see my son diggin' on her before even I her new preamp arrived and before I had a chance to put on the truss rod cover and some other finishing touches.

During a few relatively cool evenings, I made some cosmetic repairs to the bass side of the neck.  After spraying and feathering in a few coats of clear lacquer, I reinstalled the neck for what I had hoped would be the last time.

A few days after taking these pictures of this cosmetic neck repairs, the strap and preamp I ordered from an eBay vendor in China finally arrived.  That turned out to be a combination of pleasant surprises and downright disappointment.  The pleasant surprises were how well the strap goes with the colors of this guitar, and that the output module has both high and low impedance outputs.

The disappointment was in the size of the preamp.  In converting centimeters to inches, or between Chinese and English, I ended up with a preamp that was about 1/2 inch too small in length for the existing opening.  Maybe the Chinese words for "overall" and "cutout" are similar, but on this part of the project, the difference is like night and day, or success and failure.

I could either try making a plate to cover up the gap, or just cut my losses and find a right-sized preamp.  Knowing it would be awhile until I got back to working on a solution, I put her in a case and let her sit for awhile.  After a few weeks, I took her out to play and found she was terribly out of tune.  It was then that I realized the neck joint repair was not holding up.

The only thing holding the neck in place was a reworked dovetail joint and a single bolt into the heel.  I took out the retaining bolt to have a better look.  Although the metal insert I had put into the heel was holding up well, the force of the strings in tension proved to be just enough to work her neck loose and start riding out of the heel block.  With her thin body, there's very little depth in the heel and neck joint.  In an attempt to solve this, I routed out a the end block and attached a thin oak plate.  My hope was that closing the groove with wood around the retaining bolt would provide enough stabiltiy.  Although the plate held up under tightening, it was not strong enough to hold the neck from twisting out of the block under string tension.

An attempt to put a metal insert in the block also resulted in failure.  I refilled and redrilled the hole in the block.  As I installed the insert, the force was enough to split the re-filled and re-drilled hole.  As I tightened up the retaining bolt, the compression force began pushing the neck out of the block, indicating the inserts were out of alignment.

There just isn't enough room for stacking a pair of metal inserts and bolts through the heel and into the block, and that doesn't leave many choices for making a strong joint and setting the neck angle.  A very tight-fitting dovetail joint with some hide glue might be all she needs, but I'm still not convinced there is enough depth for the joint and glue without resorting to an epoxy, a la Jay Turser and Ovation.  Besides, I only have one of these guitars, so some trial and error to develop an accurate bench-tested jig for getting the right neck set angle is not an option.  Some additional bolts beneath the fingerboard in the direction perpendicular to the strings and through the neck into the heel block, with some shims in between to allow for seting the angle, might be just what she needs.  It would be a cross between a set neck and a bolt-on neck  All of this calls for removal of the fingerboard to work on the dovetail joint and neck angle.  So, time to remove the nut, measure the fingerboard location on the neck and fire up the Black and Decker iron...