CLC Newsletter July 2012
Hello again from the west coast of Ireland.
The longest day has passed and now the days are getting shorter which is a bit depressing especially since we have had 3 times the average June rainfall in Ireland and serious flooding this week in many areas. Not much of a summer. But all is not lost because by the time you read this you will have had an extra second added to your lifespan. There will be a leap second added to worldwide time (Coordinated Universal Time) at 23.59hrs on June 30th! And, if you have lived since 1972 you will have gained an extra 25 seconds. Why? Because the earth's rotation is altering at a very slow rate and the leap seconds are needed to ensure that the time is matched to solar time. That should cheer you up. You can read more about this here.
When I building an instrument for a customer I can, if they want, send them regular pics of the work by email. Once the instrument is finished I take a series of high resolution shots for my archive. To do this I have a standard set-up with backdrop and lighting which I erect in the living room. As I was doing this recently to record the ASAS Stealth, Dubh decided to move into one of this favourite spots!
Naked Plug Deux!
If you read this before July 5th you still have time to buy tickets for the Nova Festival which will be held in Pulborough in the UK from July 5th -8th. Nova is the brainchild of our daughter Katrina (of Big Chill fame) and is an arts and music based event. From her track record you can bet it will be an amazing weekend. There is an interview with her from BBC Radio 6 here. At least I think that is what it is but we can't get it because the BBC will not allow us to access it in Ireland.
Special Request Deux.
Last month Syra was looking for some music for her website and she got great response from the readers of the Newsletter. So thank you for that - you know who you are. She is going to use different pieces every second month and you can hear them on her site. If you have some copywrite free music that you think might be suitable please send it me and I will pass it on to her.
While we are talking about her I was Syra's lovely assistant at an art fair in Dromoland Castle in County Clare one Sunday in June. It is an amazing place and if you get the chance to visit, you should go.
Tech Bit - Making saddle units for RMC piezos.
I very much like the sound of the RMC piezo saddles for guitar or bass. To my ears they give the best sounds of any piezo system. As they are often used for creating MIDI signals as well as piezo output they differ from 'normal' piezo in that you get a saddle with it's own cable for each string. This means that you have to make a suitable bridge to hold them. Here is how I make height and intonation adjustable saddles for solid body basses or acoustic bass guitars.
To be able to do the necessary machining I need to make a jig that will hold the ebony. I cut a slot in a squared block of mahogany so that the ebony is a cosy fit.
The next thing is to make an index pin that can use to position the ebony precisely in just about all the next steps. This is a 2.5mm diameter dowel in the centre of the jig slot.
Then I drill a 2.5mm hole in the centre of the ebony, locate this on the index pin and move the jig to the left. I then drill as many more holes as I need saddles (or more in case of errors!) by moving the ebony along after each hole has been made onto the index pin. This gives me exactly equally spaced holes. These holes will be the exit point for the saddle cables.
The saddles are 4.8mm long and 14.2mm wide. I have already allowed 0.15mm extra space for the width and now I have to rout a slot for the saddle squarely across the ebony with similar clearance. To do this I make a sliding table for the main jig by grooving the underside of the mahogany and matching this to a wooden lath fixed in a hardwood block. When the block is clamped to the drill table I can slide the jig at 90 degrees to the router cutter. The index pin holds the ebony in exactly the right place
For the saddles to be adjustable they will need threaded grubscrews to position them. If you have tried drilling precise, small holes in hardwood you will know how difficult it is to get the hole exactly where you want it. My friend Jerome who is an engineer gave me a centreing bit that is used in metalwork. With this, using the index pin again) I can make an indentation that will make it easy to centre the drill for the screw holes. Jerome has come up with lots of neat tricks to make my work easier over the years.
The holes are then threaded and checked to see that the grub screws fit. The plastic tool holds the M3 tap vertical to ensure a good alignment of the thread.
There you have it. Each unit needs a bit of sanding to tidy it up and a baseplate to be made to hold them. The tight tolerance and pressure from the strings will hold the units in place.
If you have a topic for the Tech Bit let me know and I'll try to cover it.
In the Workshop.
Another good month for visitors. First was Theo Cheng over from London. Theo is an old friend who, for almost 30 years since we met at The Barbican Guitar Show, has demonstrated my instruments at music fairs all over Europe. He was in Ireland to perform at Listowel Writer's Week which is Ireland's premier literary festival. Listowel is about 50km from here so he stayed with us.
Theo is a fine player in almost any style (I've not heard him playing country licks but I'm sure he could!). Here he is spanking the ASAS T from the stocklist.
It is that time of the year again when a student from the Kerry School of Music wins the guitar competition and, for his prize, gets to have a guitar made for him by me. If you think this is me being amazingly generous let me quickly explain that the guitar is paid for by an anonymous benefactor! I just make it. This year the winner is Dorian and he visited the workshop to talk about the possibilities and try some instruments. Here he tries the stocklist Superstrat.
I'm looking forward to making whatever he decides he wants.
Towards the end of June Niall Fenix came to visit. Singer/songwriter Niall is originally from Tralee but has lived for many years in Australia. He was home for a visit. Niall has a couple of guitars from me. Here he is in the store room trying the ASAPJ JM.
Gig picture of the month. Andrea Navratil from Vienna plays metal! Andrea is a great friend, a biker and a teacher. Here she is playing fingerstyle bass at the end of year concert at her school. Some how she managed to 'acquire' her brother's custom Vee bass. Note the nice T-shirt and strap. Thanks to Christoph for the picture.
For a couple of months I have been threatening to have an ASAS Semi Stealth finished. Finally I did it. You can find out more about it on the Stocklist page of the website. And the strange thing next to it? It's an almost finished SC5 bass for which the saddles in the Tech Bit were made. More about it in next month's Newsletter. p.s. I told you I was getting a haircut last month!
The Stealth was part of a batch of semis, here are the others. A deep bodied ASAS Semi in beautiful Irish cherry.
And a more conventional version with custom soundholes and floating bridge in Spruce and flamed Irish sycamore.
There isn't one as I write this. There is one on the way but it was delayed due to work load on the author. Personally I don't think anything should get in the way of being published in the Newsletter but I accept this excuse. But only this one time!
So it could be you!
Why not contribute an article for the Newsletter yourself? Write a paragraph or two about something relevant (or irrelevant!) and get a chance to shamelessly publicise yourself and/or your project in the Newsletter. Send your effort to me along with a suitable pic/video/soundclip/url/link, etc., and I'll see if I can include it (if I don't lose it). It does not have to be about how good your guitar is (even if it is!) but maybe something about a situation it got you into, a gig experience, the design and ordering process or anything related to it. Use your imagination! Or simply send me a pic of you and your Chris Larkin gigging.
This is where you will find the finished examples of instruments that are available to buy from the workshop. I work in batches of three similar instruments where possible , two for customers and one for the stocklist. There are more pics (including the fronts and backs!) and full details on the Stocklist page of the website.
Finally, after much heralding, there is another ASAS Semi Stealth model available and it's a goodie! You have seen the pic with me holding it above and you can read more about it in detail here. OK, just one more pic.
Irish wood in a 5 string bass? This beauty has a top of Irish yew which is hard to find and extremely pretty. Versatile too with the custom wound pickups and Aguilar 3 band EQ.
5 strings too many? Don't like active electronics? What about this Syra 3 pickup in subtle pink? More than enough sounds thanks to the different pickup internals and the 5 way switch.
Fancy something that looks old with a special sound? This ASAPJ JM with top, back and sides made from the same board of highly figured sapele might be it. This has been much admired this month and one player left the workshop wondering which organs he could sell for medical research in order to acquire it!
Pointy Superstrat. Top of zebrano overlaid on alder. Looks fast and hot - is fast and hot!
And still there and available to buy now is the ASAST archtop jazzer. A real head turner in looks and an ear turner in sound!
The ASAD 2HB. Beautiful Irish maple top and very, very versatile.
All available now. More details on the Stocklist and you can contact me for other pics and details if you would like to know more. If you are in Kerry, call and arrange to meet with one of them and it could be the start of a long term relationship.....
And Finally..The Recipe.
This one is stolen from Stu Witts. It is worth reading to the end even if you never intend to make it!
Recipe For Whiskey Cake
And finally, finally....
Ian 'Jacko' Jack posted this picture (which he claims is me) on my Facebook page. It is one of my early basses, one of my early sweatshirts and it is my handwriting underneath but I was never that young looking! I've removed Jacko from my Christmas card list.
T-Shirts and Straps
I now have extra Tees in L and XL sizes in black and blue which were the most requested colours and sizes. Still some mediums in most colours too.
These are high quality, heavy cotton Tees either by Fruit of the Loom or Gildan with the Chris Larkin Custom logo embroidered on the left side in bright green. Become the envy of your friends by wearing one of these highly desirable fashion essentials! They cost 12.50 Euro each with shipping of 2.70 Euro to Ireland or 3.50 Euro for the rest of the world.
Also available for the first time in a while are the much sort after Chris Larkin Custom guitar straps. Again, numbers are limited.
These are custom made Levy's 'Signature' series 2" adjustable, heavy duty cotton straps with reinforced suede ends including the embossed CLC guitars logo. They are suitable for acoustic or solid bodies and can be adapted to fit straploks if required. The cost per strap is 11.00 Euro with the same shipping costs as the T-shirts - for Ireland the postage is 2.70 Euro, for the rest of the world it is 3.50 Euro. The postage for two or more will be a little higher.
If you are interested in buying a T-shirt or strap please email me and we can sort out all the details.
And finally, finally, finally....
If you have any suggestions for the Newsletter please send them to me. If you think anyone you know might be interested in this Newsletter please send it on to them with their permission. If you do not wish to receive future issues please email me with unsubscribe as the subject and I'll remove you from the mailing list. If you are a new reader and would like to subscribe to get future editions please email me with subscribe as the subject or sign up on my website. There is an archive of previous Newsletters on my website.