Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bone guitar

While running some errands today, I came across a garage sale.

As usual, I asked if they had any music gear that they hadn't actually put out for sale, but would consider selling.  Turns out the guy had an electric guitar that he'd found during one of the "Place your large items on the sidewalk, and the garbage collectors will fetch it" weeks.

He sold it to me for five bucks.  Usually, at a garage sale, I'd negotiate down.  But, heck:  five bucks.

Here's the guitar.  It's a nice "bone" color.  It's what I refer to as a "fake Strat", with single-coil pickups in the neck and middle positions, and a humbucker at the bridge.

I tested the electronics by plugging it in to an amp, and holding a tuning fork next to the pickups, after removing the terribly rusty strings.  It passes a signal, and all three pickups work, as well as the pickup selector switch.  I can't tell what the actual guitar tone would be like:  I'll find out once I re-string it.

The volume knob doesn't adjust the volume:  it's permanently "on" (which is better than "off" -- because at least it generates sound!).  The tone knob for the neck pickup works -- but the tone knob for the middle pickup doesn't seem to.

But, hey:  five bucks.

Here's the headstock:  It's a Hondo H77.  I haven't yet done the research to see if that's a good model, or what.

Here's a closer look at the body.  Note all that "character"!  But I kinda like it.  I wouldn't ever artificially "distress" a guitar -- but if it already comes a little dinged-up, I'm OK with that.  A beautiful, unblemished guitar would actually make me nervous about putting the first scratch on it.

I found it interesting that there are two grounding wires to the bridge assembly.  At first I thought that this was a sign of quality -- but then when trying to remove the old strings I discovered that I couldn't, because of the copper wire across the string holes.  So it must be something a previous owner did, rather than something from the factory.

When I'm ready to finish changing the strings, I'll have to pry that grounding wire off to the side. 

Curiously, the strap button on the tail of the guitar was strongly recessed into the body.  This means that you couldn't mount a guitar strap on it.

I removed the strap button, and discovered that there was a recessed, painted plug down the hole.  The plug is painted the same as the body.  I don't know how this would've happened, or if it was intentional (and if so, why?).  Weird.

I needed a broad washer with a small hole, to keep the strap button from falling back into the recess when I re-installed it.  I didn't have a washer of the right size, so I did a "field repair" of flattening a bottle cap to a Cooper's brand non-alcoholic fake beer.

Using a bottle cap also served the purpose of personalizing the guitar.  I like to put a sticker or some other minor alteration on a guitar, just to personalize it -- but with this one, I didn't want to cover the paint color (which I like!) or change the visual balance of the headstock.  So adding the splash of red had both a functional and an aesthetic function.

The wooden fingerboard was looking rather dried out.  Note in particular the end to the left, in this photo.  (To see it better, you may have to click the photo to enlarge it.)

And here's the fingerboard with some rubbed-in "tool handle mix" of boiled linseed oil, diluted with alcohol.

So, yeah:  five bucks.  I'm pleased.  :)

Some other day I'll finish removing the strings; put new strings on; and intonate it.

And much later, I'll get around to correcting the electronics.   Or, just leaving it as ideosyncratic:  with only one knob (the bridge-pickup tone) that actually works.  Being quirky is more interesting -- and in this case, will take far less effort.  ;)




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