Finishing off the Minibass

Just about there now. I found a couple of old “top hat” knobs in my parts bin. In the spirit of using stuff I already had, these seemed to fit the theme.

As I was wiring it up and testing it out one of the biggest problems I found was that the string anchor holes were too close to the bridge which gave a very steep break angle. This had the effect of canting the bridge saddle forward, so that the main weight of the strings was actually pushing against the back edge of the saddle slot. This meant that there was very little downward pressure onto the piezo pickup. For now I’ve implemented a bodger’s solution of a rounded bar which forces a much shallower break angle over the strings. I may just live with it and call it the Sustain-o-Bar™.

Reaper as a video editor

I found out this morning that with a couple of extra free DLLs installed, that Reaper can be used as a video editor too.

None of my cameras are able to accept an external audio source, so previously anything I’ve recorded has been done with the crappy in-built mic. To get round this I went looking for how I could sync up something I had recorded in Reaper, with the video that my camera had taken at the same time and I stumbled on this post.

This lead me to Cockos’ Reaper wiki, which has the very simple instructions. Effectively you download the relevant DLL’s from http://aegiscorp.free.fr/ffmpeg/ or http://ffmpeg.arrozcru.org/builds/. Unzip the four DLLs into “C:Program Files/REAPER”. Restart Reaper and then you can insert a video file – just as you would insert an audio or midi file. It can also render the combined audio/video to an avi file.

So here’s the basic process;

  • Start Reaper,
  • Insert a new track and arm it for recording,
  • Start recording on Reaper,
  • Start the camera recording,
  • Make a sharp noise that has an accompanying visual element, something like a hand clap worked fine for me – it is the low cost version of the film world’s clapper board,
  • Do your stuff,
  • Stop recording on the camera and in Reaper,
  • Transfer video file from camera to PC,
  • Insert a new track in Reaper (ctrl-T), and import the video onto it (Ins),
  • Toggle off snapping (Options->Enable Snapping),
  • Grab the audio or video track and drag it left/right to align the hand-clap,
  • Trim as necessary,
  • File->Render and choose AVI as output file type.

One thing to bear in mind, that had me stumped for a few minutes… I wanted to replace the audio track of the video recording and so used the mute button. This also “mutes” the video and so leaves you with a black screen. If you turn down the audio using the fader then the video remains.

And here is my first output using this technique.

Special thanks to the Six String Bliss forum‘s very own Shawn Hudgell, our South Korean correspondant, who taught me how to make bottleneck slides.

Rockmangle: Finishing off, setting up and a new truss rod cover

After the mid-week fret level I took an hour this morning to finally finish off the loose ends on the Rockmangle. Get it properly set up, redo a couple of areas of finish I wasn’t happy with, and make truss rod cover out of the cow horn.

And here’s a quick demo, using the GuitarCam.

Guitar into Line 6 Pod XT Live into Ampmaker SE-5a.

Building a guitar headstock camera mount

I was meandering around online this morning and wandered via John Clark’s site, which has instructions for making a mount to attach a camera to a guitar headstock. I had an hour spare and all of the required bits and pieces, and so I knocked one up.

Very crude and very low tech, but does it work? Well, judge for yourself.

There are some improvements I want to make. I’m going to add additional bracing to reduce the vibration when I’m going for it, and I’m going to line the jaws with some adhesive rubber strip to avoid any risk of headstock damage. A diet to cut down on those man-boobs wouldn’t go amiss either.

The guitar is my self-made P90 loaded RockMangle, into my home built Ampmaker SE5a, going via the wah pedal on a Line 6 Pod XT Live. Recorded straight into the tinny mic on my Sony DSC T10 camera. One of these day’s I’ll work out how to combine it with a decent external mic…

Finishing the guitar with Danish Oil

The finishing process is well underway now and I’ve applied five coats of Rustin’s Danish Oil.

I had noticed that after the third coat that there were a couple of dull spots developing on the body. I’m not sure if this was down to my application technique or it was a particularly absorbent section of the body. Probably the former. I had been applying the oil with a lint-free cotton french polisher’s cloth, but I switched to a two-stage process for each coat. I used 1200 wet and dry soaked in the oil to flat back the previous coat and apply the oil at the same time, and then use the cloth to remove any excess and leave a very thin layer of oil on the surface. This seems to be working really well and the dull spots have disappeared. Please note that I’ve not seen anyone else advocating this technique for application. It seems to be working OK for me but if you try it, and bugger it up, it is not my fault, right?

My limited photography skills have not proven to be a match for capturing an accurate impression of the finish and contours of the body from pictures alone, so I recorded a short snippet of video this morning that, hopefully, does the guitar a little more justice.