Friday, January 23, 2015
Thursday, October 30, 2014
There is a new offering as part of our Electric Guitar Building certificate which is a one credit Electric Design course. Historically the design and blueprinting process started in the spring semester Electric Construction course which would take at least two full class days. That class time becomes incredibly valuable toward the end of the seven week building process. By creating the fall Electric Design course students have more time to plan what they'd like to build, complete the design process and have a working drawing to help them choose the correct material sizes to order for spring. Not only that, but it will save all of the students valuable time in the actual building process.
|Here is a design nearing completion. The necessary dimensions are listed so someone can get the answer they're looking for without ever needing to measure the drawing.|
|This years students have the advantage of knowing all of the dimensions before they need to order wood for the build. Making sure the material is over-sized enough will likely avoid some improvisational solution during construction.|
|Here is the guitar from the drawing coming together. This instrument was built in an early school year.|
Students in our diploma program that do not plan on building an electric guitar in spring are also welcome in the fall Electric Design class. Taking the class would help them understand electric guitars if they are unfamiliar with them which very well might help them as they enter a real world shop setting.
If you would like more information about our Guitar Repair and Building Program at Southeast Technical please contact our admissions department anytime!
Here are all of the courses which make up the Electric Building Certificate:
|GTRB1414||Guitar Overview Topics (fall)||3cr|
|GTRB1415||Electric Guitar Set Up, Lab (fall)||3cr|
|GTRB1417||Electric Guitar Design (fall)||1cr|
|GTRB1418||Electric Guitar Construction (spring)||4cr|
|GTRB1450||Introduction to Finishing (spring)||4cr|
Total Credit Requirement - 18
Monday, December 16, 2013
Well let's see, where do I begin on this one?
Since entry #3 I hopped a flight to Texas for a 10 day trip starting in the capital of Austin. I had the opportunity to spend three days at the Colling's Guitar Company and would like to thank everyone there for the opportunity. If you are familiar with their instruments you know it can be argued these are the finest production instruments being made today. Currently there are four graduates working there and it was great to see them again and have the opportunity to learn from them!
The first day there I had a chance to visit with Steve who oversees all aspects of the Colling's company and Ruth who is head of HR. It gave them the opportunity to ask about our program and learn more about what we do here in Red Wing. From there Steve was gracious enough to give me a tour of the factory, different shop areas and an overview of how things are done. After peppering him with questions along the way (and running into our alumni) I was free to roam the grounds and take a few pictures. Everyone there was incredibly gracious with their time and telling me anything I wanted to know. Over the years the vast majority of people I've met in the industry are more than happy to share how they do things and believe there are no "secrets" to their work. Often folks with this mentality are the most successful people in lutherie.
On the second day I once again was free to roam around, take pictures and ask questions. Let there be no doubt I took advantage of that opportunity. I'm not sure how many questions I asked but at the end of the day there were about 650 new pictures on my camera. Before leaving I made it a point to head back to the finishing area to talk with Joe who completed both diplomas in our guitar program. We chatted about a few things related to finishing and planned to spend final day going over the processes he does every day.
|A quick little snapshot of acoustic tops with a few production notes included.|
|Here is an all Koa acoustic that was just removed from the outside mold. The instrument will stay in an mold from the time the ribs are bent until the top and back are glued on.|
|There are no shortcuts when prepping an instrument for finish. Many hours are spent even in a production setting making sure the surface is perfect. I really like the vacuum fixture holding the mandolin so he can rotate it as necessary.|
On my final day there I met up in the finishing department around 9am where Joe was already a few hours into his work day. He had set aside some instruments to show me some of the finishing steps he does on acoustic guitars. It was great to see the information he learned in the program being put to use and better yet, having the skills to develop his own approach to what he has learned working at Colling's over the last two years. One of the most important things to me was seeing the pore filling process he refined so instruments can get through that step in a matter of minutes instead of hours. To say I was impressed is an understatement. I took some notes notes and plenty of pictures while he worked and am already prepping some test panels to give it whirl myself. Just one of the great things in this work is you never stop learning and striving for a better way to get something accomplished. Well, at least for the folks that know W.O.R.K. is not a radio station.
|Here Joe is cleaning up the binding after the excess filler has been removed. No detail can be missed in this job.|
It takes a little practice to get this good at cleaning up purfling.
|Apparently a lot of people spend the first day wiring up the filament circuit. Here I've got it wired by lunch and was feeling pretty good. I was cautiously optimistic at this point but I could tell the hard work hadn't actually begun.|
|After lunch I got the transformers, filter capacitors and circuit board mounted. The filter capacitors hold a dangerous amount of DC voltage but at this point there was no charge in them.|
|Here is just one of the spots for grounding components. It's important to separate the grounds appropriately so one circuit doesn't interfere with another one causing excess noise.|
|Here's a potentiometer with a resistor and capacitor. I wanted to get as many components wired before mounting the control pots because it's much easier to do outside of the amp chassis.|
|Since potentiometers have different values it was important to make sure each one going in the amp was sorted out before wiring anything more. (It isn't just my OCD flaring up I promise)|
|Now the controls are in the chassis and it's time to get them wired into each circuit.|
|I started where the guitar enters the amp and worked my way from one end to the other focusing on wiring in the control pots. Since I really didn't know how far I'd get in one day I'd save the bulk of the tube sockets for later.|
|Here's more of the first gain stage where we plug into the amp. I took my time and tried to make sure I knew each connection was correct because I had no idea how much of Day 4 would be available for troubleshooting any problems.|
|Just working my way across the controls from the input side of the amp towards the output section.|
|Now I'm basically working my way from the input side of the amp to the output side of the amp but working each tube socket and components on the back of the amp trying to make sure I don't miss anything or make any mistakes.|
|Here is the completed amp. Little did I know there was that "rogue wire" between two of the boards inside the amp. This was a mistake I made on the very first morning but fortunately during final inspection we discovered it and got it resolved.|
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Well considering it's been over a month since I've had a chance to do a blog post it's safe to say I've been keeping busy. The weekly schedule I set for myself has worked well but the further into the sabbatical more overlap develops between the things I'm working on. I find one week an area needs more attention and the following week the pendulum shifts back the other way.
The fall semester mid-term has come and gone already and I was able to come in and do a couple lectures in our Guitar Overview course using all new handouts and PowerPoint presentations. All the hours spent on those appears to have paid off with only a few minor glitches popping up. It will be interesting to see how the new content helps students prepare for the spring electric construction builds.
The computer drafting course has been moving along briskly as we pretty much wrapped up the Level 1 training manual a few weeks ago. At first it seemed I was in for a big leap when I started blueprinting a dreadnought acoustic guitar. However once I got working on it things started to fall into place. Throughout the process I realized the training manual and instruction had served me well but like anything, once you go from arranged exercises to starting from scratch, there are things you simply have to figure out for yourself.
We took the dreadnought outline we created in an early exercise and then began to create our own blueprint using another as a guide. I went with the same bracing pattern on the example drawing but decided to use a little different scale length and neck specs from a Gibson J-60 I've had for many years.
|Here the blueprint is starting to take shape. I started with the body outline, located and drew a soundhole then moved onto the bracing. It's amazing how much control you have over everything created in Rhino.|
|In the "perspective" viewport it becomes clear that this is a three dimensional object. Using a radius dish we can trim the sides to a specific dimension and then roll the surfaces out to have a very accurate side outline.|
|Another shot of the radius dish in place so it's almost ready to be "trimmed".|
|The radius dish has been selected as the cutting object and next I'll click on the parts of the sides I want "gone".|
|I like this screen capture because you can see the blueprint I'm working on in the background. I've already done the top edge so it's time to roll out one of the sides so I can get back to my blueprint in two dimensions.|
Over the last few weeks I nailed down some travel plans and it took more time than I expected. This past weekend I actually ventured down to Des Moines Iowa to spend a couple days at The Lutherie Shop and Bilt Guitars. You can find their websites at www.thelutherieshop.com and www.biltguitars.com. A very special thanks to Tim, Scott and Bill for letting me invade their space for a couple days to see them in action. These guys are true pro's and Tim is a graduate of the guitar program back in 1998. I was able to watch them work, take lots of photos, ask a lot of questions and observe the work flow and project management.
|Tim put me to work sanding out an electric body so they could get it in the spray booth. I had to earn my keep! Apparently that particular guitar is off to a guy named Wes in a band called Limp Bizkit.|
In the two days I was there Tim and Bill wrapped up three builds they've been working on. There were two more guitars in the finishing process and yet another two guitars ready for sealer. These guys don't mess around!
|Two of the three guitars that were completed during my visit. These guys are building some very cool retro inspired guitars.|
Over the past month I've also been working on new packets of information for the Advanced Finishing class and have been working on editing new videos for the Electric Construction class. These are pretty big projects but I know it'll be worth the effort. I haven't forgotten about the electronics study and am actually getting ready to start working on several amps, pedals and pickups in the coming weeks. Time to see if all this book study is paying off. The guitar program has an amp we haven't used for several years because it stopped working within a couple of dusty school years. So, I'm going to tear that thing apart and see what I can find. The rest of the projects are my own amps and pedals so I'll save those for the weekends. It turns out I have five wah pedals I didn't know I had. Apparently it's "easier" to buy a new pedal than it is to order the parts and fix what I already have???
So that's it for now, back to working on some three dimensional dreadnought bracing!
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
The time is simply moving too quickly! There have been many irons in the fire and lots of work getting done to be sure.
On the curriculum front I've been working on a couple new packets of information for students. The first is an all new take on the planning information for the Electric Construction course that runs in the spring semester. This information has evolved over the years but this time I started from scratch and have put a lot of time into the new packet with some pictures and details that have never previously been included. I'm really looking forward to putting this to use and ironing out the kinks with this years class. The second packet of information I've been working on is for the Guitar Production and Development program. The second year students are expected to be more self reliant than in the first year program and as part of that, they handle the finishing materials and equipment much more than they did last year. So to address this reality and help everyone invovled I'm working on a packet of information for "finishing procedures" that goes beyond the mechanics of using a spray gun or a brush. Instead, this packet is designed to give them the information they need to use the finishing area more efficiently by knowing where things are stored, which guns are for which materials, what solvents to use at certain times and how to handle, setup and clean the spray guns. We use finishes that will ruin a spray gun if they're not cleaned properly or as was the case last year, not cleaned at all. No more of that and no more excuses!
The CAD course is moving along at a perfect pace. We're studying Rhino 5.0 which is not only a drafting program but a modeling program that gives the user an unbelievable amount of control in creating and designing just about anything the imagination can dream up. We are in the process of working through a training manual but along the way we take the opportunity to put that to use on something directly related to guitars, mandolins or other fretted instruments. We worked through creating an outline of a dreadnought acoustic guitar and from that created a three dimensional object. Eventually we'll be doing a full 3D rendering of a dreadnought. For now though we've created the outline, extruded a 3D solid object in that shape and "rolled out" a side template. There's a lot more to it but here's just a sample:
|Here is a fingerboard as it appears when we're done. On this particular fingerboard I chose a 9.5" radius.|
|Here are some copies I made of the tapered fingerboard in two dimensions. I could easily come back, extrude them and put a different radius on each one.|
My Wednesday's are usually dedicated to electronics and there aren't any fancy pictures or illustrations to share here. I have been focusing on a deeper understanding of electronics with emphasis on tube guitar amplifiers and their design. The fact is, without the amplifier an electric guitar is incomplete! Later I'll be working with pickup winding to create some pickups for the program we can use in class or in different school guitars and eventually be demonstrating how a pickup is made.
I've set some dates for travel and am looking forward to spending a few days at the Colling's Guitar factory in Texas learning about how they organize their workflow, manage their manufacturing and seeing particular processes and procedures. I can't thank them enough for being so generous with their time. I'm not sure about taking photographs while I'm there but am hoping to share a few pictures on the blog if I can get the "ok".
The finishing time on Friday's has had some overlap with curriculum since I'm working on with the finishing procedures packet. I did get a chance to meet with a sales rep about some new spray guns to phase out our turbine spray guns that have served us admirably for at least twenty years. However, it's time to make sure all the equipment is what is on par with industry and this should make for a more efficient process and clearer understanding of equipment. With these new spray guns all the different ones will share the same basic design. In the coming weeks I'll be getting back to my test boards for the wood filling process. In October I'll make a trip to Des Moines and work with an alumni at his shop for a couple days. We'll be working on all sorts of things but I'm excited to see his processes for doing touch up work on all sorts of different coatings. Another big thanks goes out to him for giving up some time to have me there. More on that later and I'll be sure to include the specifics in a blog post.
I think that's it for now, time to get back to work on some CAD (computer aided drafting) exercises and with any luck, finish that electric design packet of information. Aim high right!?