Monday, July 25, 2011

Adding a .080 Gauge String To My Hellcat VI

So after playing around with the Hellcat for the last week and changing fattest stock .095 string to a manly .105, I also decided to increase the Ab (normally A) string to an .080 gauge. I bought some different sizes as individual strings from in the D'Addario Nickel Wound Series. The new Ab string is a NW080 which seems to be the biggest small ball size I can find. It fit just fine on the bridge and nut, but I needed to open up the tuning peg string hole a bit to get the new string to go through. So now my string gauges are (low to high) .105 - .080 - .055 - .044 - .035 - .026. The new .080 makes the jump a little less noticeable from the .105 to the .055 and has a little more depth. Lets see how this works for the new album.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Gray Baskerville coined Rat Rod?

So according to Hot Rod Magazine (which no Hot Rodder has read since 1967) one of their legendary writers coined the term “Rat Rod” in an article about some guys jalopy in 19-90 something? Right! Hot Rod Magazine is so out of touch with what’s going on and how to sell their commercial ridden crap publication that now they are resorting to rewrites of history to make themselves seem relevant. “Rat Rod” has been a street term for years and years and years. Gray didn’t coin it. Do you really think all the Punks read his article and then adopted the term? More likely he overheard it and dropped it into his article then all his writer buddies stood around patting him on the back to legitimize his fat daddy paycheck. Now I know Gray has passed, and I mean the man no disrespect- but get real. Writers of pop publications seldom coin the vernacular of subcultures they write about. They reflect it, they take the dictation. BTW who really gives a “Rats Ass”?
A personal example of word mutation. When I was looking for a band name back in 1991, I came up with Kill Switch and later changed it to Kill Switch…Klick. I did the research. There was no use of Kill Switch in pop culture at that time. Period. A few years later I saw an add for a turn table mixer with “kill switches” to cut the direct signal to the mains. Now I don’t think they copied my band name, even though Kill Switch…Klick was signed to a big indie label. However later I met William Gibson at a book signing and gave him one of our CDs. We talked and he thanked me. I told him what a lyrical influence he had been to my own lyric writing. Yadda yadda yadda. He was writing an episode of the X-Files and six months after our encounter, his episode comes out and is entitled “Kill Switch” and was about a CD-R that had a Kill Switch on it to destroy an A.I. gone amok. I was very flattered that William would name his episode after my band. Later some guys were watching X-Files, saw the episode and named their band Killswitch Engage (true story). Later came the video game Kill Switch and then a movie with umm…who was that dud(e)- Steven Seagal. Did the film & video game people get the name from my band, the X-Files Episode or Killswitch Engage? WHo knows. At that time my use of the words had become mainstream. So did I coin the term Kill Switch? No. I knew it was a common term for machinery that didn’t have a key ignition. Did I help bring the term into pop culture. Yes. And similarly Gray helped bring the term Rat Rod into the automotive fray. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Adding a 105 Gauge String To My Hellcat VI

So the first thing I noticed when I took my brand spanking new Schecter Hellcat VI out of the box was that the lowest string (usually tuned to an E), was too flappy for me. The Hellcat VI comes from the factory with the following string gauges (low to high) .095-.075-.055-.044-.035-.026. I asked around on a Hellcat VI Users Facebook page and was recommended going with .105-.085-.065-.050-.040-.030. I went to my set-up guru at Guitarville in Edmonds, WA and he agreed the .095 gauge as a bottom string was not working, especially tuned down to my regular Eb. He also suggested filing the nut a bit as he thought even the .095 low string was up a little too high. So I bought a standard .105 individual Earnie Ball string from him and went home to modify the Hellcat. Now the reasoning behind modifying this bass to accept a large ball bass guitar string is that it will always be easier to find large ball strings that have the diameter and neck length that this instrument requires, than kustom ordering sets for every borken string or string change. I wanted to see how difficult it would be to get an HC to take the BIGGER BALLS!

Since I didn't have a nut file- I took a drill bit similar in diameter to the new string and wrapped it in 100 grit sand paper. I have used this technique before, and although it is not perfect, it does work in
a pinch. I would recommend getting the right size file to do this mod.

This is the filed nut. A bit sloppy around the edges, but overall a working solution. Make sure to check the string repeatedly, because if you over-file the string slot your toast.
This is how much bigger the string was for the old hole. The area where the large ball bass string wrapped into itself was even too big for the original hole.

Before I drilled the tail piece hole- I ground a little material off the string where it wraps into itself. 
If you grind too much material away the string will be weakened and could break in time.

I drilled out the tail piece string hole to accept the larger string. I also scratched the guitar by not removing the hardware before I did this mod. If I drill out more of these holes I will remove the 
hardware to save the Hellcat's glossy finish.

I also had to drill out the tuning peg string hole to accept the larger diameter string. I started with a smaller diameter bit and then worked up to the bit that was the same diameter as the .105 sting.

It is hard to see in this picture, but the new string sits half way down in the nut. It is so hefty that it doesn't bend easily going from the nut to the tuning peg. I also overwound the string a little bit, which didn't help. Less wind would reduce this bending effect. Still the string sits in the neck well and plays excellent. Much more of a bassish tone than the .095. Now I can play dub bass on the Hellcat VI!

This is the view down the body. The .105 sits nicely on the bass, but it is a little jarring going from a .105 diameter string (now tuned Eb) to the next up .075 diameter string (now tuned Ab). Eventually 
I will go a bit heavier on all the remaining string diameters.

When examining your nut filing, fret the third fret of the string you are testing and see if the string clears the first fret. There should be a very very small gap between the string and the first fret. I lucked out and 
was actually very close to over-filing the nut. 

Currently the bass plays and sounds great. A bit strange going from the Eb to the higher strings but I feel comfortable enough with this set-up to start recording. If I can't get the remaining strings easily in small ball ends, I will drill all the remaining strings holes and go BIG BALL STRINGS. I mean- hypothetically if I am on tour and I break all my strings (that would be freaky), I wanna be able to get replacements easily. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Bass Arsenal

My Bass Arsenal: (L-R) Ibanez SR300, Squire Vintage Modified Fretless Jazz Bass, Schecter Hellcat VI. Just got the Hellcat yesterday. An extraordinary instrument! I may want to go a little heavier on the string gauges, but man the range is unreal! Bass Plus!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Schecter Hellcat VI

Just bought this bad boy for $203 down at American Musical Supply ($599.00 sale price). A guitar thats a bass- a bass thats a guitar, the Schecter Hellcat VI. Schecter, who is normally known for their pointy fugly metal guitars, also makes this badass hybrid monster. Being a bassist who also plays guitar on many occasions- this is the answer to all my musical prayers (well most of them anyway).  Might have it by Friday. The electric bass is a relatively new instrument (historically speaking) and in the late fifties and early sixties there were many variations available for the aspiring electric bassist. Fender made the Bass VI (similar in design to this more modern Schecter Hellcat VI). Tuned a full octave below a standard electric guitar E-E, the Bass VI was not a Baritone (usually tuned B-B or A-A below a standard guitar tuning), but a six string bass with guitar like spacing between the strings.  This allowed guitarists to easily switch to the lower sounding instrument. Eventually the four string configuration won out as the most popular electric bass configuration, but with modern musicians looking for "different" sounds there has been a resurgence of vintage reissue and hybrid style guitars and basses. 

The Cure used a Bass VI extensively.  Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order used a six string Shergold Marathon (see picture from Top of the Pops) that had a similar design to the Fender Bass VI.  Another famous Bass VI player was Jet Harris of The Shadows, who also had several UK hits after he left The Shadows, playing deep solos on his six string. I am looking forward to getting my hands on the Schecter to see if it can do what I want it too.    

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th Of July

Did our annual hanging out at Edmonds Waterfront for the Fourth Of July with multiple fireworks shows and a killer sunset.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Go-Charger Movie Car Progress

Chris Darland of Chris Garage in Medford, Oregon, sent some current pics of the Go-Charger Project he is building for Go-Kustom Films and the film The Legend Of D.B. Petty in particular. Chris just got the 383 in the car as well as stripped the interior for a bare bones match racer look. Chris also found some ancient plastic army guys and such under the interior pieces. Might have this one ready for filming later this year!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Go-Kustom at Rat City Rodz Car Show

We went out to vendor at the 3rd annual Rat City Rodz Car Show in Everett WA. yesterday. The show is centered on the streets surrounding the Anchor Pub, just a stones throw from the Naval Base. Great weather and a decent turnout were the order of the day. Several bands including The Wild Snohomians played on the pubs stage, with a large sliding door to allow the sound to travel down the streets. There was also a afternoon Burlesque Revue inside the pub, but because we were working our vendor booth we didn't get to check out. Lots of Rat Rods and a few Kustoms were parked in front of the pub and down the street. Part of the street was blocked, but throughout the day, unknowing drivers came charging down the street, then acted irritated that they had to avoid pedestrians milling around and looking at the cars. Still- we are definitely going to this show next year.