My Top Secret Tech Tip pages
by Bruce Bennett
My method is very simple,
I use Aluminum air conditioning duct tape ( not the silver fabric tape, but real Aluminum metal tape.)
to line the sides of all the cavities.. its important to use one 1 piece to go all the way around the Cavity because you can't solder to this aluminum.
measure off only enough tape to go around the cavity your working on first. and I have found that if I use a straight edge to measure the height of the tape so that its only about an 1/8" taller than the cavity is deep that it makes the installation a little easier. I roll the tape up, sticky side out, and wrap it around a deep socket or something similar ( I use my metal slide) and pay it out slowly as I walk the roll around the inside of the cavity. peeling off the backing as I go.
Neatness does count, so try hard to make it a smooth job with minimal wrinkles. and make sure the bottom edge of the tape is on the floor of the cavity.
Once thats done. I trim the upper edge about an 1/8th " above the cavity so that i can bend the aluminum over the top edge and leave a little "flange" around the cavity that can contact the pickguard or bridge or any other surface that is covering the cavity.
I then cut a piece of brass .005 shim stock using the routing template for the cavity and drop that into the bottom of the cavity and I use window "glaser points" secure it to the bottom of the cavity by pushing the glaser points through the aluminum into the wood.. then I solder the glaser points into place on the brass. this gives you a solid connection between the aluminum and brass.
Once all the cavities are lined.. solder a jumper wire between all the brass plates. it doesn't have to be big. just a good connection.
I tend to use 18ga wire for t is.
Make sure all pickguard backs are covered in the aluminum tape ( On Strats, I tend to use the pre-made aluminum pickguard shields available from Fender) and make sure that any and ALL electrical components have continuity between their housings.
once you have all the "cavity boxes" covered in metal and jumper-ed to each other.
wire your guitars circuit just like normal using a standard "Star Grounding" technique... EXCEPT: only attach your output jacks ground wire to the nearest brass plate inside the jack cups cavity, instead of to the back of a pot with all the other ground wires..
DO NOT connect any of the brass plates via a wire to this star grounded point. the connection between the Star Grounded point (back of a pot most likely) and the shielding... must be made THROUGH the aluminum flanges and the pickguard/control plate down through the glaser points into the brass plateing at the bottom of the cavities. otherwise your shielding will NOT become an active part of the circuit.
if done correctly. your guitar should not operate until all your guards/control plates are screwed into postion. if you need to check your wiring work, use a jumper wire to connect to your ground to you output jacks ground terminal temporarily.
by soldering your output jack to the brass plate instead of to where all your other grounds are placed.. you force the signal to travel through the shielding making it an "active" part of the circuit. which in turn being connected through your guitars Cable to the amps chassis.. becomes part of the Ground circuit on your AC cable.
Strats and Teles DO require one extra detail to make them as quiet as possible.. and I recently added a few extra photos to show this extra step for single coil pickups.
make up some copper tape strips that are as wide as your pickup coils are tall, and able to go around them with only a small overlap where the two ends will meet,. Solder a small 24ga wire to the end of each one. then wrap them around each pickup and solder the other end of the short wire to the ground wire eyelet of your pickup.
IMPORTANT: do your wire soldering on this copper tape on the bench BEFORE wrapping these around your pickups! as the heat from the iron can kill your pickup.
Slide your cover over your pickup and install in guard/bridge.
if you have Single coils that are muddy sounding.. you can make up a 100K resisitor and a .005 cap in parallel and solder one end to the back of a pot and your pickups grounds to the other end.. this creates about a 270-350 Hz notch filter and can remove the mud from most single coils without changing the volume much.
have fun and feel free to PM me with any questions
Sustain Tricks for Bolt On neck guitars
Bolt neck sustain tricks
by Bruce Bennett
Any Bolt on neck guitar can have its sustain helped by a couple of simple tricks that anyone can do.
Chamfering the neck bolt holes inside the neck pocket.
a small countersink bit can chamfer these 8 holes quickly and easily. ( 4 in the neck and 4 in the body) they don't need much, just enough to make sure the wood around the holes is not swollen or creating a slight ring that is higher than the rest of the neck pocket,
When wood screws are tightened in wood. it causes the wood at the edge of the hole to swell up and outwards away from the top of the hole and looks a little bit like a volcano shape around the hole.
I have seen a neck that was being supported ONLY on these four volcano shaped rings around the bolt holes and not touching the neck pocket anywhere else. Chamfering these holes will eliminate this possibility.
1. See the photos below to familiarize yourself with the concept.
2. Drill the 4 body holes out to 3/16" or a size that allows the neck screws to slip through them easily.
By doing this, you eliminate the possibility that the screws are getting a bite inside the body and not pulling the neck tight up to the pocket. its a simple trick, but its very effective. I've seen his trick fix several neck angle issues on guitars.
3. chamfer the neck bolt noles as well, just a light chamfer not too deep.
4. once you have the guitar fully restrung and tuned up to pitch, loosen all four the neck bolts about a 1/2" turn each until you feel ( or hear) the neck settle in the pocket tightly. then retighten all neck bolts. retune and check your intonation. the guitar should now have a lot more sustain and tone.
A couple More Sustain Tricks
Brass shims in the neck pocket.
Brass is a MUCH better medium for transfering vibrational energy than wood or plastic ( such as using picks to shim your neck.) or even sandpaper or wood shims.
Brass comes in all sizes and thickness and can be cut with common scissors.
To have NO shims in your neck pocket is the best way.. but sometimes this is not easy or cheap to do ( it often requires re-routing your neck pocket which requires special jigs) but at least a brass shims can help.
Remove as much cast Zinc or "Pot metals" from your guitar as possible.
Its long been touted that the 1950s Strats having Steel sustain blocks on their Bridges as well as stamped Steel saddles and tuning keys, have better sustain and overall tone.
well its true. Brass works well too.. just about any high density solid metal will transfer vibrational energy better than cast zinc or Pot metals, this goes for the Zinc diecast tuning keys as well.
Anytime you can use steel or brass in your guitars metal work, you will hear a solid difference. many cheap guitars have cast zinc bridges, saddles, tailpieces, and even nuts!
which brings me to my next point.
5. Replace plastic nuts with something better.
It really should go without saying that Plastic is a Tone robber, but many people never give a single thought to the nut on their guitar and what its made from.
the natural materials that I prefer are Bone, Brass, MOP, Ivory, or even Ebony.
the Synthetics like Tusq or Graph Tech are materials were developed with the guitars Tone in mind, So while they technically are a plastic.. at least they are a rather High tech engineered plastic with better sonic properties.
Also Corian, while maybe not as high tech as Tusq. is not far away from it. though I will say that Genuine "Corian" Brand is better made than some of the generic Solid surface counter-top materials.
these are basic ideas and really should be standard tools in any players arsenal of tricks.
Best of luck to you!