Archive for ‘perustietoa’

17/11/2017

Juha Ruokangas: Why do handmade guitars cost so much?

01/11/2017

Ukulele Strings – Nylgut or Fluorocarbon?

Where there’s a forum, there’s a fight – or at least that’s what it looks like.

Electric guitarists like to argue for ages about valve amplifiers and digital amp modellers, and which one is ”better”.

Uke players, for their part, get all hot under the collar when it comes to ukulele strings. There are two main camps – Nylgut-fans and fluorocarbon-connoisseurs. Although the uke is classified as an nylon-string instrument, very few instruments are strung with straight nylon anymore.

Nylgut and Supernylgut strings have been developed in Italy. A string company named Aquila came up with a patented way of manufacturing plastic strings, whose sound and feel is as close as possible to traditional gut strings. Gut strings have always been somewhat problematic, because it is hard to produce a string of uniform quality, when the basic material is of animal origin. Additionally, gut strings react far stronger to changes in humidity and temperature (resulting in pitch fluctuations), compared to plastics like nylon.

Aquila Nylguts have become a de facto industry standard, especially for affordable and mid-price ukuleles.

Nylguts are easy to spot thanks to their milky look and silky surface. First-generation Nylgut strings tended to have a coarser surface, which made them susceptible to a bit of handling noise (faint squeaks), but current versions have managed to do away with this problem (almost) completely.

Aquila Nylguts tend to produce a crisp, bright and open sound, which is why they can be a good choice for darker sounding ukuleles (like many plywood-bodied instruments). Some players, though, dislike the soft bendiness of Nylgut strings.

Fluorocarbon strings are a quite recent addition, too, despite the fact that the material has already been in use for fishing lines for quite some time. Fluorocarbon is a sturdy and dense material that makes it possible to make slightly smaller gauge strings than Nylgut. Fluorocarbons also tend to feel a bit stiffer.

C.F. Martin’s ukuleles come strung with fluorocarbons as standard, and many high-end makers have started to follow Martin’s lead. Fluorocarbon strings are also quite popular with progressive players and many vintage ukulele owners.

Most fluorocarbon strings are clear, even though you can also buy coloured versions of this string type, too. In Finland Martin-strings are the most widely available, but many other manufacturers, like D’Addario, GHS or Worth, make their own quality fluorocarbons.

A seldomly mentioned advantage of fluorocarbon strings is that – because of their slightly smaller diameter – they can sometimes solve intonation problems, if a uke pitches slightly sharp with a set of Nylguts.

Fluorocarbon strings tend to sound meatier and punchier compared to Nylgut strings.

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The audio clips have been played on a pair of Martin Style 2-type sopranos – a Sigma SUM-2S (Supernylgut) and an Ohana SK-38 (fluorocarbon).

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Read Kitarablogi’s Ukulele Round-up 2017 HERE.Save

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31/10/2017

Ukulelekielet – Nylgut vai fluorocarbon?

Missä nettifoorumi siinä ilmiriita – tai siitä ainakin näyttää.

Sähkökitaristit kinastelevat siitä, onko putkivahvistin parempi kuin digitaalinen vastine.

Ukulelesoittajat taas riitelevät kielistä. On olemassa kaksi pääleiriä – Nylgut-fanit ja fluorocarbon-ystävät.

Nylgut- ja Supernylgut-kielet on keksitty Italiassa. Aquila-niminen kieltenvalmistaja keksi tavan valmistaa muovisia kieliä, joiden soundi ja soittotuntuma on mahdollisimman lähellä laadukkaita suolikieliä. Suolikielten huonot puolet ovat – eläinperäisyyden lisäksi – tasalaatuisuuden saavuttamisen hankaluus, sekä se että kielet elävät tuntuvasti sään mukaan (niiden vire muuttuu).

Aquila Nylgut -kielistä on tullut edullisien ja keskihintaisten ukulelejen keskuudessa tietynlainen laatustandardi.

Nylgutit tunnistaa yleensä kielten maitomaisesta värityksestä ja silkkisestä pinnasta. Vanhoissa Nylgut-kielissä niiden karheammasta pinnasta syntyi joskus kummallisia sivuäänejä (vikinä) soittaessaan, mutta nykyisissä versioissa ongelma on saatu (lähes) sataprosenttisesti halttuun.

Aquila Nylgut -kielten sointi on suhteellisen kirkas ja hyvin avoin, minkä ansiosta ne ovatkin hyvä valinta tummasti soivalle soittimelle (esim. vanerikoppainen ukulele). Jotkut soittajat eivät kuitenkaan tykkää Nylgut-kielten taipuisuudesta.

Fluorocarbon-kielet ovat myös melko uusi keksintö, vaikka materiaalia tunnetaan jo pidemmän ajan kalastussiimoista. Fluorocarbon on hyvin kestävä materiaali, josta saa valmistettua Nylgutia (tai nylonia) ohuempia kieliä, joilla on kuitenkin jäykempi tatsi.

C.F. Martinin ukulelet toimitetaan tehtaasta fluorocarbon-kielillä, ja niiden suosio vintage-ukulelejen omistajien ja progressivisten soittajien keskuudessa on yhä kasvussa.

Fluorocarbon-kielet ovat usein täysin läpinäkyviä, vaikka värillisiä vaihtoehtojakin on olemassa. Yleisimmät fluorocarbon-kielet Suomessa ovat varmasti Martin-kielet.

Yksi etu fluorocarboneissa – josta ei puhuta niin usein – on, että kielet voivat joskus, pienemmän läpimittansa ansiosta, parantaa hieman ylivireisesti soivan ukulelen intonaatiota.

Fluorocarbon-kielet soivat tavallisesti hieman isommalla keskialueella ja volyymillä kuin Nylgut-satsi.

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Esimerkkipätkät on soitettu kahdella Martin Style 2 -tyylisillä sopraanoukuleleilla – Sigma SUM-2S (Supernylgut) ja Ohana SK-38 (fluorocarbon).

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Kitarablogin suuri ukulelekatsaus 2017 löytyy TÄÄLTÄ.

Rockwayn sopraanoukulele-katsaus ilmestyy marraskuun alussa: blog.rockway.fi/

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28/04/2017

Ukulelen anatomia

Ukulele on pienikokoinen nelikielinen kielisoitin kitaraperheestä. Musiikkiistorian kirjoissa sanotaan, että havaijilainen ukulele kehittyi nykymuotoon 1800-luvun loppupuolella espanjalaisista ja portugalilaisista ”matkakitaroista”. Lähteestä ja näkökulmasta riippuen, soittimet saapuivat Havaijille joko Etelä-Amerikan kautta (vihuela) tai suoraan europpalaisten maahanmuuttajien mukana (machete tai braguinha).

1900-luvun alussa Yhdysvalloissa kasvoi kiinnostus Havaijin-saaria ja havaijilaista kulttuuria kohtaan. Vuonna 1915 alkoi erilaisten näyttelyjen ja kiertävien musiikkiryhmien kautta USAssa suoranainen Havaijibuumi. Etenkin ukulelellä vaikutti olevan erityisen suurta viehätysvoimaa ja soittimen kysyntä kasvoi räjähdysmäisesti.

Jostakin syystä ukulelen suosio ei loppunut muutaman vuoden jälkeen, vaan pikkuinen soitin teki onnistuneen hyppäyksen hula-hula soittimesta varhaisen jazzin ja vaudeville-viihteen soittimeksi.

Vasta 1960-luvun beat-, rock-, blues- ja folk-aallot veivät lopulta ukulelelta sen pitkän suosion.

Nyt näyttää kuitenkin siitä, että ukulele on tekemässä suuren comebackin. Aktiivisoittajia on tulossa koko ajan lisää. Myös monissa kouluissa oppilaiden ensisoitin on yhä useammin nokkahuilun sijaan ukulele.

Kuvassa (vasemmalta): sopraano-, konsertti- ja tenoriukulele, sekä guita(r)lele.

Alkuperäisestä sopraanoukulelesta kasvoi ajan myötä kokonainen soitinperhe. Sopraanon lisäksi yleisesti käytössä ovat konsertti- ja tenoriukulelet. Pikkuinen sopranino- tai tasku-ukulele on tarkoitettu lähinnä hauskaksi kuriositeetiksi. Baritoniukulele taas eroaa muista perinteisistä ukuleleista virityksen suhteen, sillä sillä on C-virityksen (g1-c1-e1-a1) sijaan sama viritys kuin kitaran neljällä ylimmällä kielellä.

Komppisoittajat suosivat yleensä perinteistä ”korkeaa” C-viritystä – myös tenoriukuleleissa – kun taas monesti melodiaa soittavat soittajat suosivat tenoreissa usein ”matalaa” C-viritystä (g-c1-e1-a1), jossa g-kieli on soittimen matalin kieli. Jotkut taas pitävät sopraanoukulelejään vanhassa (alkuperäisessä) D-virityksessä (a1-d1-fis1-h1).

Perinteisten kokojen lisäksi on markkinoilla vielä bassoukuleleja, joilla on paksujen kumimaisten kieltensä ansiosta sama viritys kuin bassokitaralla, sekä guitalele (tai guitarlele), joka on tenorikokoinen pikkukitara A-virityksellä.

Ukulelen perusrakenne on hyvin kitaramainen – soittimessa on kaula, nauhallinen otelauta, sekä ontto kaikukoppa.

Vintage-tyylisissä sopraanoissa on usein vain 12 nauhaa, mutta isommissa malleissa voi olla jopa 18 nauhaa.

Kitaratyylisen muodon lisäksi on myös tällaisia nk. ananasmallisia soittimia (ns. pineapple uke), joilla on hieman erilainen ääni.

Joissakin malleissa voi olla muotoon prässätty kaareva pohja, niin kuin kuvan taaemmassa soittimessa.

1900-luvun alussa kaikissa ukuleleissa käytettiin virittämiseen esim. monen jousisoittimen tavoin yksinkertaisia puutappeja, joissa puiden kitka piti kielet vireessä (kuvassa: ruskeat virittimet).

1920-luvulla ns. patenttivirittimet astuivat mukaan kuvaan. Myöskään näiden metallisten viritystappien sisällä ei ollut varsinaista koneistoa hammasratoineen, vaan nekin toimivat viritystapin, metalliprikkojen ja -jousien välisellä (säädettävällä) kitkalla.

Moderneissa soittimissa käytetään yleensä joko avoimia tai suljettuja kitaratyylisiä virittimiä.

Nykyisin markkinoilla olevissa ukuleleissä voi olla joko perinteinen talla, jossa tavallinen solmu pitää kielet paikoillaan, …

… tai sitten klassiselta kitaralta lainattu, hieman monimutkaisempi ratkaisu.

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10/02/2016

Tiedote: Custom Sounds -koulutus – Soittokamojen huolto

cs_soittokamat_2-2

Järjestämme sunnuntaina 13.3.2016 vuoden ensimmäisen Custom Sounds- koulutuksen. Kurssi on suunnattu kaikille, joita kiinnostaa, miten omat soittokamansa saa pidettyä kunnossa.

Miten huollat kitaraasi?

Miten pidät kitarasi vireessä koko keikan ajan?

Miten pidät vahvistimesi kunnossa?

Miten kasataan ammattimainen, kiertueita kestävä pedaalilauta?

Kouluttajina toimivat Custom Soundsin kitarahuoltaja ja kaksi Custom Boardsin teknikkoa, jotka auttavat sinua ratkomaan ongelmiasi ja pärjäämään laitteistosi kanssa täysin itse. Käymme läpi soittimet, johdot, pedaalilaudan, vahvistimen ja kaiuttimet niiden yleisimpien ongelmien kautta. Opit tekemään pikahuollon vahvistimellesi turvallisesti ja helposti.

Päivän kruunaa artistivieraamme Erja Lyytinen. Puhumme Erjan kanssa keikkailun haasteista ja kitaroiden ja vahvistimien huollon tärkeydestä ammattimuusikon näkökulmasta. Erja esittelee meille slide-soittoa ja miten hän käyttää efektejään hyödyksi keikoilla. Käymme myös läpi hänen koko keikkakalustonsa “plektrasta kartioon” -periaatteella.

Lisää infoa löydät TÄÄLTÄ.

08/06/2015

”Just one more!” – Living with G.A.S.

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Just one more…pleeeeeeze!

einstein_guitar1

We’ve all seen the memes on social media, haven’t we? And let’s be honest – there’s plenty of truth in them!

Many – if not most – of us guitarists seem to have an annoying tendency to want to amass a wide selection of instruments and/or effect pedals and/or guitar amps for personal use. This gear lust, which often leads to crammed living conditions, empty pockets, and considerable trouble with our significant other, is generally known as Gear Acquisition Syndrome, colloquially shortened to G.A.S. (or GAS).

It seems that GAS has become ever more prevalent over the last couple of (or three) decades, but the roots of this problem reach as far back as popular music and the advent of mass media.

MM2015 – Schecter USA Sunset Custom

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G.A.S. through the decades

The early days

Gibson Nick Lucas Signature

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly the onset of GAS, but many people would agree that Gibson’s Nick Lucas Special signature model (first released in 1927) played a crucial part.

Nick Lucas (1897-1982) was an accomplished guitarist and popular crooner, whose biggest hits (in the late Twenties and early Thirties) coincided with the popularity of the radio and the wider availability of phonograph records.

The Nick Lucas Special was Gibson’s first signature guitar, laying the groundwork for the endorsement deals we’re familiar with these days. Apart from riding on an artist’s popularity, a signature guitar also tends to suggest to the guitarist that, were he (or she) to play this particular instrument, some of the magic (as well as the technical prowess) of the endorsing artist might rub off. In short, the message is ”buy this guitar, and you will become a better and more popular player!”

As most male guitarists not only care for their playing technique, but also for the opposite sex, becoming more popular always sounded (and still sounds) like a good idea.

The Fifties and Sixties – the guitar boom

Squier Cabronita Telecaster – body beauty

During the first half of the 20th Century the guitar grew from a not-very-common, specialist instrument into a popular mainstream choice – not least thanks to Country music and the ”singing cowboys” featured on radio and records, as well as in the movie theatres.

But it was Rock ’n’ Roll that put the guitar in all its shapes on the top of the desirability list for masses of youngsters in the so-called Western World.

Yet, GAS wasn’t such a serious issue at that time, because musical instruments were outrageously expensive then, and some of the top US-brands almost impossible to get hold of in Europe.

Andy Babiuk’s fantastic book ”Beatles Gear” gives the reader a very good idea of how difficult it was for the guitarists of the late Fifties and early Sixties to even scrape together enough money to buy a single guitar (or amp). Owning multiple guitars was the privilege of the biggest stars only. Back in 1965 a new, baby blue Fender Stratocaster would have set you back around 3,000 euros in today’s money! This makes a current American Standard Stratocaster seem dead cheap at approximately 1,500 euros. And remember, back then there was no such thing as a quality (licensed) copy, and even substandard instruments from Eastern Europe weren’t really cheap (Harrison’s Czech-made Futurama cost him the better part of 1,200 euros in today’s money).

Still, young players were brand-conscious, at least to some degree, and lusting for the exact guitar they knew their idol was playing. Even if they couldn’t afford it…

They don’t make ’em like they used to

Les Paul Burst

The transition of the plain old ”used guitar” to the ”vintage guitar” we all know today got to a start in the late Sixties, mostly fuelled by the two best-known brands – Gibson and Fender:

When flagging sales of the Gibson Les Paul prompted the company to scuttle the model in favour of the instrument we now know as the Gibson SG, nobody could have foreseen that the move would lead to the first run on a discontinued electric guitar model ever. Caused by the exposure given to the ”out of print” Les Paul Standard by the new wave of Blues players, spearheaded by Mike Bloomfield and Eric Clapton, many serious guitarists started actively searching for used Les Pauls. The fact that Gibson chose to reissue the Les Paul in the late Sixties, but failed to sense that the crowd lusted for the double-humbucker Burst (instead of the Goldtop and the Custom), quickly turned the original Standards produced between 1958 and 1960 into the stuff of legend.

Both Fender and Gibson became parts of large business conglomerates before the Sixties were over, and a feeling started to seep into the guitar community that the earlier instruments were of a higher quality than those produced under the new managements.

Big in Japan

Tokai ES-162 – body beauty

The proliferation of reasonably well-made guitars from Japan – often dead-on copies of US classics – at reasonable prices was what truly kicked off the phenomenon we now call GAS.

For the first time amateur and semi-professional guitarists could afford to own more than a couple of guitars. Effect pedals, too, would start to benefit from Far Eastern efficiency and mass-production.

Many of the 1970s Tokai-, Ibanez- and Yamaha-guitars – as well as the earliest Roland/Boss-effects – are now considered vintage classics in their own right.

Tokai ATE-33N Thinline – body beauty 1

Licensed copies

Epiphone Casino – April 2012 – close-up

The Eighties finally ”sealed our fate”, when it comes to GAS.

Many large brands started to release official (=licensed) copies of their own instruments in the 1980s, with the rest following suit in the following decades. Brands like Squier, Epiphone, or Sterling make it affordable to hoard instruments that offer at least some of the clout of their famous, upmarket brethren.

Sterling SUB Ray4 – body beauty

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The Five Types of GAS-sufferers

J Leachim Jazzcaster – body beauty

We are all different – we don’t all lust after the same guitars, and we don’t all accumulate gear for the same reasons or in the same way.

I think one could divide us Gassers up into five basic categories, according to how and why we ”simply have to have that guitar”.

1. The Fan

The Fan is a hardcore follower of one (or two) Rock bands (or guitar gods), and he (or she) focusses on acquiring as much of the gear used by their idol as humanly possible. The Fan hopes to come as close as possible to their idol’s famous guitar tone, and he/she wants to feel (and look) the way his (or her) idol does when playing those classic riffs and songs.

2. The Nostalgist

The Nostalgist comes from a similar place as the Fan, having a clear vision of what it is he’s looking for. But, instead of trying to relive a certain band’s or player’s tone, as the Fan does, the Nostalgist wants to reclaim the (his/her own?) past. The Nostalgist longs for the classic looks and tones gleaned off vintage equipment, the sounds of a cooler, more vibrant place than the current here-and-now. Some Nostalgists also buy all the stuff they wanted, but couldn’t afford to get, when they were young.

3. The Hunter and Gatherer

The Hunter and Gatherer simply loves to get new toys, especially when he can claim to have ”snapped up a real bargain”. These are the guys that constantly trail the Internet, on the lookout for something, anything really, that might whet their considerable appetite. Very often it doesn’t even matter if it is an instrument (or other piece of gear) the Hunter and Gatherer really ”needs”; as long as it’s cool and ”a bargain” it’s a viable acquisition.

4. The Specialist

The Specialist has a strong focus on one, two or three specific pieces of equipment, that he (or she) simply cannot get enough of. These are the guys who seem to have a perfectly good reason for buying several dozen Telecasters, or a whole flock of Fender Tweed-era amps – or maybe they zone in solely on gear manufactured during one specific year…

5. The Pragmatist

The Pragmatist comes over as very reasonable, even though he’s an addict like the rest of us. The Pragmatist tells his wife that he doesn’t yet own an archtop guitar with DeArmond pickups, but that he needs just such a guitar to complete his ”colour palette” or ”toolbox”. Some Pragmatists – like professional guitarists, studio owners, or guitar reviewers – can make a real art form of their Gassing, meaning it takes the unsuspecting wife years (if not decades) to see through this charade.

Fuzz 2015 – Nice, old Tellies!

Naturally, things aren’t always as clear cut in real life as they might seem on paper. Most of us GAS-sufferers tend to display a mixture of two of three of the above GAS-categories.

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”You can’t play more than one guitar at a time!”

GJ2 Guitars – Concorde 4-Star + 5-Star

Does owning more than one or two guitars have real advantages? If you ask me, my answer would be a resounding ”yes and no”!

The ”yes” part of my answer has to do with the fact that playing guitar (or bass guitar) is always a tactile experience. Different instruments have different neck profiles, they have different overall dimensions, different actions, different fret sizes, different fingerboard radii, and they simply smell and feel differently.

This is probably the main reason why we don’t all play Line 6 Variax guitars. They might be decent instruments with an astonishingly realistic array of different tones, but they completely lack the important tactile element that is so crucial in inspiring you to come up with different licks and different ways of approaching the guitar as an instrument.

A big, fat Jazz box will make you play noticeably differently to a sleek Strat or SG, and the same holds true for the differences between, say, an ES-335 and a Floyd Rose-equipped Metal axe.

On the ”no” side of the equation, buying a new piece of equipment will surely inspire you, but it won’t automatically turn you into a ”better” guitarist. Even though it’s hard to admit, only regular practice will move you forward on the long and winding road to improvement.

Tokai SG-75 – body angle

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Damned If You Do…

In a way, we’re extremely lucky these days. There has never been a better time to be a guitarist than now. There’s an abundance of cool gear available, and much of it at rather reasonable prices.

The downside to this is, of course, that it’s so much easier to become a gear addict, because the price tag doesn’t necessarily act as much of a threshold, anymore.

Still, I tend to see the positive side of things, because the affordability of decent equipment makes it much easier for guitarists these days to try out different stuff on their way to finding the gear that’s most suitable for the music they make.

The Valve Bimbo – with SG

09/03/2015

Kielten vaihtaminen teräskielisessä kitarassa

String change steel string – start

Kielten vaihtamiseen tarvitaan teräskielisessä kitarassa kielisatsin lisäksi terävän leikkurin, sekä viritysmittarin. Halpa muovikampi nopeuttaa virittimien kääntämistä.

Metalliviivoittimella taas mitataan ennen kuin aloitetaan kielten korkeus 12:n nauhan kohdalla. Mittaamisen ansiosta kaularaudan säätäminen helpottuu huomattavasti, jos uusi kielisatsi on ohuempi tai paksumpi kuin vanha. Parasta olisi kuitenkin aina vaihtaa samanpaksuiset kielet päälle – näin soittotuntuma pysyy muuttamattomana, eikä kaularautaa tarvitse silloin tavallisesti säätää.

String change steel string – loosening string

Mielestäni on helpointa ottaa ensin kaikki kielet pois.

Jotkut väittävät, että akustisissa kitaroissa kaikkien kielten yhtäaikainen poistaminen olisi jotenkin soittimelle vahingollista, mutta itse olen aina (vuodesta 1977 lähtien) vaihtanut kielet näin, enkä ole tähän mennessä vielä rikkonut yhtäkään kitaraa. Myös Martin Guitarsin omassa videossa poistetaan heti koko kielisatsi.

String change steel string – cutting old string

Kun kielet ovat täysin löysiä, leikkaan ne keskeltä poikki.

Tämä ei ole välttämättömyys, mutta minusta lyhyet pätkät ovat helpompia käsitellä kuin täyspitkät kitaran kielet.

String change steel string – winder pin puller

Teräskielisissä kitaroissa kielet on kiinnitetty tallaan ns. tallanastoilla (engl. bridge pin), jotka voivat olla muovista, luusta, puusta tai metallista.

Tallanastojen nostamiseen on lähes kaikissa viritinvivuissa pieni syvennys. Tavallisesti tallanasta ja kielen ball-end-rengas ovat näin jumissa, että vipua ei kannata käyttää nastan nostamiseksi, ainakaan heti.

String change steel string – push end in

Useimmissa tapauksissa kielen saa pois käsipelillä:

Työnnä ensin kielen hieman tallan läpi runkoon.

String change steel string – pull pin out 1

Tämä vapauttaa yleensä tallanastan ball-end-renkaan lukituksesta, ja nastan voi nostaa helposti ulos.

String change steel string – pull pin out 2

Jos tallanastaa ei saa – yrityksistä huolimatta – pois käsipelillä, suosittelisin talouspaperin (tai ohuen kangaspalan) käyttämistä tallan ja tallanastan suojaksi.

tak-n20-bridge

Joissakin kitaroissa – etenkin tietyissä Ovation- ja Takamine-malleissa – löytyy myös nastattomia tallaratkaisuja. Näissä talloissa kielet pujotetaan yksinkertaisesti tallan takaosan läpi.

String change steel string – take string off machine head

Tämän jälkeen poistetaan vanhat kielet myös virittimien tapeista.

Kun kaikki vanhat kielet on poistettu, voi tarvittaessa öljytä otelaudan ja tallan sopivalla otelautaöljyllä.

String change steel string – put pin in

Uudet kielet kiinnitetään aina ensin soittimen tallaan, laittamalla ball-endin ja tallanastan paikoilleen.

String change steel string – pull on string

Seuraavaksi kieli vedetään kevyesti ulospäin, samalla kun pidetään tallanastaa paikalla. Näin kiilataan se tallanasta ball-endin avulla kiinni tallaan.

String change steel string – stringing 1

Lavalla kieli työnnetään virittimen läpi…

String change steel string – stringing 2

…vedetään viritintapin ympäri…

String change steel string – stringing 3

…ja lukitaan paikoilleen vetämällä sitä rungosta poispäin.

String change steel string – stringing 4

Yksi käsi painaa kielen alas, kun toinen kiertää sen kireäksi. Kielen pitää kiertää tapin ympäri ylhäältä yhä alemmas.

String change steel string – keep pin in place

Kun viritin alkaa kiristää kieltä yhä enemmän, otan toisen käteni pois lavalta, jotta voin tarvittaessa estää tallanastan nousemista ulos tallasta.

String change steel string – cut off end

Suosittelen ylijäävän palan poistamista – kun kieli on viritetty – katkaisemalla sen läheltä viritintappia. Sen jälkeen taivutan varovaisesti kielityngän hieman kohti lapaa. Ole varovainen, katkaistu kieli on hyvin terävä!

Laitan uudet kielet kitaralle tavallisesti pareittain – ensin E-e, sitten A-h ja viimeiseksi D-g.

String change steel string – strings on machine heads

Onnistunut lopputulos näyttää tällaiselta.

String change steel string – pin height

Tallanastat istuvat tasaisesti tallassa.

String change steel string – string stretching

Kielet pitävät vireen nopeammin, jos niitä venytetään ensimmäisten viritysten yhteydessä: ensin viritetään, sitten venytetään… neljän-viiden kerran jälkeen virityksen pitäisi alkaa asettua.

Otekäsi pitää kielen alhaalla venymisen yhteydessä, jottei satulaan kohdistuisi liikkaa rasitusta.

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Kun kitara on viritetty, voidaan tarkistaa vielä uusien kielten korkeus 12:n nauhan yllä.

Jos kielten korkeus on selvästi suurempi kuin ennen kielten vaihtamista, uusi kielisatsi oli luultavasti paksumpi kuin vanha. Silloin kannattaa kiristää kaularautaa (sopivalla avaimella) noin neljänneskierrosta (korkeintaan puolen kierroksen).

Jos kielten korkeus on selvästi pienempi kuin ennen kielten vaihtamista, uusi kielisatsi oli luultavasti ohuempi kuin vanha. Silloin kannattaa löysätä kaularautaa (sopivalla avaimella) noin neljänneskierrosta (korkeintaan puolen kierroksen).

Kaularaudan tarkoitus on säätää kaulan loivaa kaarevuutta (ns. neck relief). Vaikka kaulan reliefilla on suora vaikutus kielten korkeuteen, kaularauta ei ole varsinaisesti tarkoitettu säätämään kielten korkeutta. Kielten korkeuden oikeaoppinen muuttaminen on soitinrakentajan homma, ja sitä hoidetaan hiomalla (tai vaihtamalla) soittimen tallaluu.

09/03/2015

Changing strings on a steel-string guitar

String change steel string – start

Here’s what you need:

In addition to a fresh set of strings, you should have a wire cutter and a tuner at the ready. An inexpensive string winder makes the process much faster.

A steel rule will come in handy, should you want to double-check your ”before” and ”after” setups. Measure your string height at the 12th fret (top of fret to bottom of string) before taking the old strings off. That way you will be able to use the steel rule to ascertain that your setup has stayed unchanged. Alternatively, you could also measure the neck relief at the seventh fret directly, by using a capo at the first fret, while pressing down the low E-string at the 14th fret.

Ideally, though, you should stick to the exact same string gauge (and even string brand) to avoid inadvertently changing the playability of your acoustic guitar.

String change steel string – loosening string

I find it most convenient to take off all strings at once.

There are some people who claim that taking all six strings off at the same time may cause damage to your instrument. Let me tell you, I have been changing strings on steel-string guitars since 1977, always removing the whole set at once, and have never had any problems at all. Even Martin Guitars suggest you do it this way in their own video, and they should know!

String change steel string – cutting old string

Once the strings are completely loose and flabby, I cut them in half.

This isn’t something you must do, but I find the shorter lengths easier to handle, than having to deal with the whole string.

String change steel string – winder pin puller

For the largest part, steel-string acoustics come with pin bridges. The bridge pins – made out of plastic, bone, wood or even metal – keep the ball-ends locked into place.

Most string winders sport a small cut-out for lifting the bridge pins. I’d suggest, though, that you first try extracting the pins by hand, because, very often, the ball-ends have jammed the pins in place fairly tightly. Trying to pull them out directly might damage your string winder or the bridge pins, or, even worse, the bridge itself.

String change steel string – push end in

Most of the time you will be able to extract the bridge pins by hand:

Start by pushing the ball-end down (into the body) by a centimetre, or so.

String change steel string – pull pin out 1

Usually, this is all that’s needed to unjam the bridge pin.

String change steel string – pull pin out 2

If a pin really is stuck, and can’t be lifted out with your fingers, I’d strongly suggest using a piece of tissue paper (or a piece of cloth) as a cushion to protect the pin and the bridge’s surface.

tak-n20-bridge

Some acoustic guitars come equipped with a pinless bridge – most notable Ovation and some Takamines. With these bridges, all you have to do is pull the ball-ends out of the back of the bridge.

String change steel string – take string off machine head

At the headstock end you have to untie the strings and take them off the tuner posts.

If your guitar’s fretboard and/or bridge feel (or look) a little dry, now would be the perfect time for applying a little fretboard oil.

String change steel string – put pin in

You start putting on a new string by feeding the ball-end into the appropriate bridge hole, while inserting the bridge pin.

String change steel string – pull on string

By pulling the string up a little, while holding the pin down, you will conveniently get the ball-end to jam the bridge pin in place.

String change steel string – stringing 1

Next you feed the string through the tuner’s post…

String change steel string – stringing 2

…pull the string away from the body, and around the post…

String change steel string – stringing 3

…and, finally, lock the string end in place.

String change steel string – stringing 4

Keep the string pressed downwards, while you’re turning the crank. Each new winding should pass under the one before it.

String change steel string – keep pin in place

When the string starts getting taut, I move my hand from the headstock to the bridge, to make sure the bridge pin stays firmly in place.

String change steel string – cut off end

I’d recommend cutting off the surplus string in close proximity to the tuning post. Then I bend the stub down towards the headstock face. Be careful, a cut-off string is very sharp!

I put on the fresh strings in pairs, working my way away from the nut – first the two e-strings, then the pair of A and b, and lastly the D- and g-strings.

String change steel string – strings on machine heads

This is what the result should look like at the headstock end.

String change steel string – pin height

The bridge pins should sit at a uniform height above the surface of the bridge.

String change steel string – string stretching

Getting new strings to stay in tune is a much faster process, if you stretch each string carefully. It works like this: First you tune to pitch, then you stretch each string, and retune again. Once you’ve repeated this process four to five times, you should be ready to go.

Your fretting hand should hold down the string you’re stretching at the first or second fret to avoid damage to the top nut.

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Once the guitar is in tune you could check the string action at the 12th fret and compare it with the values measured with the old string set.

If the action is noticeably higher, chances are you’ve put on a heavier gauge set of strings. You need to compensate for the stronger string pull by tightening the truss rod (with the correct tool) by a quarter of a turn (or half a turn, at the most).

If the action is noticeably lower, chances are you’ve put on a lighter gauge set of strings. You need to compensate for the weaker string pull by loosening the truss rod (with the correct tool) by a quarter of a turn (or half a turn, at the most).

The truss rod is meant solely for neck relief adjustment. Even though adjusting the neck relief does have an impact on the action, string height adjustment isn’t really what the truss rod is meant for. Adjusting the action on a steel-string acoustic is usually a job for a luthier, and is achieved by changing the height of the bridge saddle.

22/01/2015

The Fender Telecaster – tone at the expense of intonation?

Why do we need intonation adjustment?

On string instruments, the fret spacing along the fretboard is calculated according to a mathematical formula. This formula is theoretical, though, and doesn’t take into account variables, such as string tension (tuning), string thickness (gauge) and string height (action). These variables make the actual pitch of a string, which is pressed down against a fret, deviate from the theoretically correct pitch. To compensate for this pitch offset, you need some sort of intonation adjustment that sets the correct intonation (or octave compensation) for each string.

Martin_D-42K_2006_brdt_opt

On acoustic guitars correct intonation is achieved by an angled bridge saddle, often carefully shaped to fine-tune the compensation further.

Jazz guitar bridge

Early electric guitars were basically modified archtop acoustics, which carried on using traditional rosewood (or ebony) archtop bridges with carved ”steps” presetting the intonation. Overall intonation adjustment was carried out by moving the whole bridge carefully closer to (or further away from) the neck.

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Fender 52 Reissue

The advent of the – much clearer-sounding – solidbody electric guitar necessitated a more precise approach to the problem of intonation adjustment.

52 Tele Bridge

Leo Fender’s novel Esquire/Broadcaster/Telecaster-bridge featured a mounting plate for the bridge pickup, as well as individual action adjustment for each string, and octave compensation in string pairs.

Fender_Custom_Shop_52_Telecaster_Nocaster_Blonde_R10539_1

Fender’s Telecaster bridge assembly plays a huge part in this model’s distinctive, twangy tone, laying the foundation for the model’s classic status.

close-up Fender bridge

brucke-und-ta

Over the course of the 1950s and 60s, Fender experimented with different saddles – smooth brass, smooth steel, threaded steel, and steel saddles with a single notch per string – but the basic, three-saddle formula stayed firmly in place. You got fantastic tone, but not perfectly spot-on intonation.

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70s Fender six-saddle

Twenty years after the original launch of Fender’s first solidbody electric, things had evolved.

In 1952 the original three-saddle bridge was less of a compromise, because the regular string sets of that time (012s or 013s) had a wound g-string. With a wound g-string the biggest step in intonation adjustment was between the b- and the g-string, and, as they were catered for by different saddles, a good, working compromise could be found.

By the late Sixties, ”slinky” string sets with plain g-strings had become the norm. This shifted the intonation step between the highest wound string and the lowest plain string onto a single, rigid bridge saddle (for the D- and g-string).

Fender retained the traditional three-saddle bridge on its standard Telecaster, but introduced six-saddle bridges on many of its new models in the Seventies. Pictured above is the six-saddle bridge from a (second version) Custom Telecaster (introduced in 1972).

Although this bridge finally offered perfect intonation, some players criticised this type of bridge for ”sounding” thinner (or brighter) than the original version. This might also have been due to changes in the precise specifications of the bridge pickup at that time, though.

Hipshot 6-saddle

Modern Fender 6-saddle

More recent six-saddle designs by makers like Hipshot, Gotoh or Fender are based on a thicker bridge plate. These are perfectly serviceable, modern designs, which offer precise intonation. Many Tele-anoraks still steer clear of these bridge types, however, because the more rigid bridge plate tends to tame the bridge pickup’s twang noticeably.

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Another approach to better intonation on a Telecaster is to keep the twang-enhancing three-saddle ashtray bridge in place, but modify the saddles.

Joe Barden angled

Pickup specialist Joe Barden came up with angled brass saddles in his design for the late Tele-master Danny Gatton.

Wilkinson

Graph Tech

Wilkinson’s and Graph Tech’s designs have two different, preset jump-off points per saddle – one for each string.

These three approaches (Barden, Wilkinson, and Graph Tech) work very well in providing good intonation, while keeping the Telecaster-tone intact, as long as you use string sets with a plain g-string.

pivoting brass saddles

Mastery stainless steel

If you want to retain your three-saddle twang, but want to have more freedom in choosing your string gauges, the best way to go are saddles with an angle adjustment. Good examples are Wilkinson’s replacement brass saddles (above), or this stainless steel Tele-bridge by Mastery.

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p1_u2nu2p1fg_so

How come that the vintage-type Fender Telecaster, with all its intonation flaws, is still in production and still very successful? The answer is that people have always been creative in working out solutions to design shortcomings.

In the Telecaster’s case this means finding a way to ”sweeten” the guitar’s slightly flawed intonation.

Here are three (of a myriad of) possible approaches:

1.) The fifty percent approach

After you’ve put on a set of new strings, use your digital tuner to set the (12th fret) intonation correctly for both E-strings, as well as the g-string (I call them the most critical strings). Then tune your guitar by tuning the open E-strings and the g-string to pitch. The remaining three strings (A, D, and b) are then tuned, so that the pitch at the seventh fret is correct (giving you E, a, and f#).

The A-, D-, and b-strings will be a little off in their intonation going up (or down) from the seventh fret, but overall the pitch will be much sweeter, than if you had tuned these strings to their correct open string pitches. You can then fine-adjust your sweetening by ear, using first position chords as a reference.

2.) Tuner sweetening

After you’ve put on a set of new strings, use your digital tuner to set the (12th fret) intonation, so that each string pair is slightly off in an approximately even way. With the E- and A-pair this would mean that the E-string’s intonation comes out slightly sharp, while the A-string’s intonation is a tiny bit flat. The next pair would see the D-string a bit flat, while the (plain) g-string is a tad sharp. The last pair would have the b-string a bit sharpish, with the e-string a little flat. Then tune the guitar by tuning all strings, so the pitch is correct at the seventh fret.

Now all strings will be a little off in their intonation going up (or down) from the seventh fret, but overall the pitch will be much sweeter, than if you had tuned them to their correct open string pitches. You can then fine-adjust your sweetening by ear, using first position chords as a reference.

3.) Sweetening to the A

After you’ve put on a set of new strings, use your digital tuner to set the (12th fret) intonation, so that each string pair is slightly off in an approximately even way. With the E- and A-pair this would mean that the E-string’s intonation comes out slightly sharp, while the A-string’s intonation is a tiny bit flat. The next pair would see the D-string a bit flat, while the (plain) g-string is a tad sharp. The last pair would have the b-string a bit sharpish, with the e-string a little flat. Then tune your guitar by first tuning the open A-string to pitch. Next, tune all the other strings by ear, using the A-string as your reference:

• E-string at the fifth fret against open A

• D-string at the seventh fret against open A (or A-string 12th fret harmonic)

• g-string at the second fret against open A (or A-string 12th fret harmonic)

• b-string at the tenth fret against open A (or A-string 12th fret harmonic)

• e-string at the fifth fret against open A (or A-string 12th fret harmonic)

You can then fine-adjust your sweetening by ear, using first position chords as a reference.

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Remember, none of the above tuning tips is set in granite. Tuning and intonating a three-saddle Telecaster is a dark art, and most players have developed their own way of sweetening their guitar’s intonation. Let your ears be your guide!

Fender-American-Special-Telecaster-Olympic-White-Maple004

17/09/2014

In pictures – AJL-Guitars

AJL-Guitars – Olli Soikkeli model

(picture courtesy of AJL-Guitars)

AJL-Guitars – headstocks

(picture courtesy of AJL-Guitars)

AJL-Guitars – 19%22 Master 400

(picture courtesy of AJL-Guitars)

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In the autumn of 2013 Kitarablogi had the pleasure of visiting Ari-Jukka Luomaranta’s AJL-Guitars workshop in Kokkola.
Here are some of the pictures I took on that occasion:

AJ + Model XO 2

AJL Guitars – wood 2

AJL Guitars – top-grade maple

AJL Guitars – tops + fretboards

AJ + neck blanks

AJL Guitars – headstock joint

AJL Guitars – neck glue line

AJL Guitars – 3-pc maple neck blanks

AJL Guitars – different side dots

AJ + top

AJL Guitars – ladder bracing

AJL Guitars – neck angle

AJL Guitars – backs

AJL-Guitars – back and rim sample

(picture courtesy of AJL-Guitars)

AJL Guitars – back bracing

AJL Guitars – raw soundboxes

AJL Guitars – soundboxes 3

AJL Guitars – rosettes

AJL Guitars – bundles of binding

AJL Guitars – close-up binding

AJL Guitars – tuners

AJL Guitars – bridge blanks

AJL-Guitars – X-O bridge

AJL Guitars – AJL tailpiece

AJ + highly figured guitar

AJL-Guitars – XO-model soundhole

(picture courtesy of AJL-Guitars)

AJL Guitars – Swingmaster PU

AJL Guitars – Swingmaster innards

AJL Guitars – handmade case

AJ + Model XO

Find out more about AJL-Guitars on their WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK.
AJL-Guitars will also be at The Holy Grail Guitar Show in Berlin, Germany, in November!