Claescaster

Tag: Artec

Hondo II P-bass

Hondo II P-bass
It took 3 months but now it’s finally ready, Verushka’s Hondo II P-bass

We had such a bad luck with the pickups we ordered for Verushka’s Hondo II P-bass. First we ordered a set of Artec P-bass pickups my favourite Hong Kong store EY Parts, but they never arrived, we waited for more than two month and finally got refunded instead. Then we decided to order from Custom World in Holland but that took ages too. Now we got everything we needed, full sized 250K Alpha pots, Orange drop cap, cloth covered wire, new jack and the Artec pickups. I put it together the other night and got it to work fine. I’m still really impressed with these Hondo II basses, the electronics and hardware are pretty cheap but that’s easy to change, and it’s so worth it for these amazing necks.

Hondo II P-bassIt was pretty straight forward to change the electronics. I checked the Seymour Duncan’s wiring diagram for P-basses and followed that instead of the old wiring.

Hondo II P-Bass
Hondo II P-Bass
I really liked the look of the Hondo II I got for Dani but this is ten times better for Verushka, all black just like her

Hondo II P-bass

Hondo II P-Bass
Hondo II P-bass copy, it’s a bit roadworn but the neck is in a really good state and it feels great to play.

Hondo II P-Bass
The machine heads could do with being replaced too, it seems like Hondo II have great necks but cheap hardware and electronics.

As I mentioned before I got a Hondo II P-bass for my colleague Verushka, she plays in an awesome punk group called Sect. The bass arrived last week and I took it home and had a look at it. It was sold as untested so I presumed that nothing worked, and I was right. The wood seems really solid and good, just like the Hondo II I got for Dani a few months back but the electronics seemed to be pretty bad. I took it a part and cleaned it, polished all the metal and then started to go through the electronics. It turned out that the pickups doesn’t work. Or rather they work, but the output is so low that you can hardly hear them. We ordered a new set of Artec P-bass pickups, new pots and jack from my favourite Hong Kong store EY Parts so as soon as they arrive I can get the bass sorted.

Hondo II P-Bass
I cleaned it, polished the frets and all the hardware with wire wool and metal polish. I have to say that this cheap little bottle of Harley Benton Hardware Polish has proven to be extremely worth the 1.90€ I paid for it. I put in a little shim when I assembled it, just like I did with Dani’s and it made wonders to the action. Now it’s really low and easy to play.

Hondo II P-Bass
I took all the electronics apart, cleaned the jack, cut the ends of all the wires and replaced the mini pots with some newer mini pots I had at home, I did everything I could to make sure that all the connections would be as good as possible but it didn’t help. Well I got rid of the extremely loud humming noise that was there before but the pickups are still way too weak for being usable. Let’s see what it sounds like when the new full size pots, jack and Artec pickups arrive.

L.R. Baggs M1

David Gilmour LR baggs M1
David Gilmour from Pink Floyd with his Gibson Southern Jumbo and a L.R. Baggs M1

L.R. Baggs M1
I’m not sure if the L.R. Baggs M1 passive that I ordered comes with volume control

I just ordered myself a L.R. Baggs M1 and I really hope it’s as good as people say. I have only tried cheap magnetic soundhole pickups so far, like Artec and Belcat and they worked ok both of them but sounded a bit thin, hopefully the M1 will be more full and warm without sounding muffled or muddy. I have an old Shadow humbucker from the 1970’s that I kind of like but it’s a bit too dark for dreadnought guitars. The undersaddle ARTEC PP-607 I installed in the parlour was way too uneven when played hard, and a bit thin sounding as well. My favourite magnetic pickup is still the old Japanese 1960’s one that my dad fitted in his Levin LT-16. I got the L.R. Baggs M1 new from dont_tell_the_wife_guitars on eBay and it only cost $139.00 with free shipping so I felt it was worth a try. If it’s good enough for David Gilmour then I’m sure it will be just fine for me.

Update 2013-09-10
I just received my new L.R. Baggs M1 and it looks awesome. Cheap, quick shipping and no customs issues, couldn’t be better. I noticed that the M1 Passive doesn’t have a volume control but I’m pretty sure I can live without since I have never used that on any of my acoustic pickups. I’m really excited about rehearsing with Chest Fever on Thursday so I can try it out loud. I hope it sounds as good as it looks. 

Update 2013-09-20
Last night I finally got to play the L.R. Baggs M1 loud, we had to cancel the rehearsal last week since Araceli’s and I celebrated 6 years together. I fitted it in my Kiso Suzuki WE-150 and it sounded pretty good, well it sounded just like the Suzuki does unplugged. It was the first pickup I have ever tried that could handle my hard hitting solo playing and I’m really impressed with how responsive it is, loud enough when picking and not too loud when strumming. I can’t wait to put it in an even better guitar and really hear it’s full potential.

Levin LT-16 1966
The Japanese pickup fitted in my dad’s old Levin LT-16 from 1966


A nice example of L.R. Baggs M1


David Gilmour playing L.R. Baggs M1, skip to 1:06

How to… fit a undersaddle pickup

Vintage V880N Parlour acoustic Vintage V880N Parlour acoustic, newly fitted with a ARTEC PP-607 undersaddle Piezo pickup

I got the basic ARTEC PP-607 undersaddle Piezo pickup cheap of eBay, I think it was 15€ with the endpin jack including shipping. I got around to install it last night and I have to say that I’m well pleased with the result. I had read that Piezo’s without a preamp isn’t much but I have to say I disagree. This pickup is way louder than some magnetic soundhole pickups I’ve used in the past and sounds ten times more acoustic and natural. It’s without any doubt my favourite way to amplify an acoustic guitar, well I still haven’t tried fancy things like the LR Baggs M1, I have been thinking of investing in one of those. However, this is a cheap, discrete and really nice way of playing electric with an acoustic guitar.

Vintage V880N Parlour acoustic I just drilled a 2 mm hole through the bridge. I wish I wouldn’t have been so lazy and gone and bought a 3 mm drill because the 2 mm was too small and the next size up in my tool box was a 4 mm which would have been too big. I tried to widen the hole with a screw, which worked but it was still a bit tight so when I was fiddling with getting the plug through the hole the plug came off. I was so happy to have purchased a solder free pickup that you could just plug in to the endpin jack, but no, not this time. I had to take the soldering iron out and fix it. I managed to figure out that the thin wire in the middle, the one shielded with plastic, should be connected to the top of the plug and the wide braided wire should be soldered to the side. It worked.

Vintage V880N Parlour acoustic I start to get used to making holes in acoustic guitars now to fit the endpin jack, this was the third one I did. I normally use a round file first to make the hole big enough and then even it out with some sandpaper rolled up, just to get the hole perfectly round. It’s important to check all the time with the plug from the outside so you don’t make the hole too big. Next I had to file down the saddle to compensate the extra height from the pickup.

This guitar is for sale here, Vintage V880N Parlour acoustic

Here is a little sound clip

How to… change pickups

Morgan Telecaster, Claescaster

Last Sunday I decided to change the pickups on my old Claescaster. I had ordered a cheap $24.00 set of Artec ones, just regular Alnico V pickups from EY Guitars. I also ordered a new Wilkinson vintage bridge, without any doubt my favourite Telecaster bridge, since I took the old one and put on the new Claescaster. It was a pretty straight forward procedure as usual, I didn’t even have to check Seymour Duncan’s wiring diagram this time.

IMG_9082 copy
The old stock pickups and bridge from my Morgan Telecaster, aka the old Claescaster

IMG_9084 copy
The new Artec Alnico V pickups in gold, mounted on a Wilkinson WTB bridge, in gold of course

IMG_9085 copy
I got 3 Meters (9.8 Feet) of wax coated cloth wire, 22awg, for $1.70, that’s about a tenth of the price here

IMG_9078 copy
I changed the pots a while ago to nice full size Alpha 250k audio pots. I should probably get a new switch as well but the old one is still working fine

IMG_9090 copy
Since the new Artec pickups came with cloth wire I thought I should change all the old crappy pvc wires for some fancy 22awg cloth wire, not sure why I chose yellow though. I stuck to the old 50′s vintage wiring like I had it before

I haven’t tried them properly yet, just plugged them in to see if they worked, well I did a quick little sound clip just to see if there was any difference. I really like the bridge sound of the new ones, really twangy but the neck might be a bit too muffled. I’m rehearsing tonight so then I will get a chance to play loud and see if it was worth $24.00 or not. Hopefully the neck pickup will sound less muffled when I play it through my Fender Blues Deluxe which tends to make even humbuckers sound clear and crisp. Please don’t judge my guitar playing too hard, it was after all a Sunday morning after a long weekend. I think you can hear both my cat and my woman going about their business in the background.

Claescaster Morgan stock pickups (Neck, middle, bridge)

Claescaster ARTEC pickups (Bridge, middle, neck)

Update 2013-07-12I might have got a bit too carried away last night because the two sound clips I recorded are very LOUD. I guess I had more fun with my new pickups than I expected. I think they sound pretty good, I’m not the worlds greatest guitar player but to me they sound way better than the old stock pickups. The neck pickup didn’t sound muffled at all through my Fender Blues Deluxe, and the middle sounds sweat like hell, well worth $24.00.

Claescaster ARTEC pickups with Fender Blues Deluxe (Bridge, middle, neck)

Claescaster ARTEC pickups with Fender Blues Deluxe (Bridge, middle, neck)

EY Guitars

EY Guitars

I just received my package from Hong Kong, the guitar parts I ordered from EY Guitars for the old Claescaster. How cute is this, they have packed it in a lunch box to keep it safe. I wonder if that something they always do or if it was just a really considerate worker that thought that Spain was really far away and it might be a bumpy ride so he or she better pack it in a Tupperware. They were pretty quick too, I placed the order on the 6th, sent out on the 8th and here on the 25th, just two work weeks. It was holidays here in Catalonia this weekend so I bet no one was working on Friday or Monday, it might have been lying around here in the post depot since the middle of last week, it has happened before.

The Old Claescaster

I have just ordered a new set of pickups for the old Claescaster. Since the new Claescaster is done I felt I needed another project so what could be better than giving some love to the old Claescaster. I went for some cheap Artec ones, just regular Alnico V pickups but with a bit of luck they could be good. They only cost  $24.00 for both so I don’t expect too much. I bought them from a Hong Kong site called EY Guitars, I didn’t want to order things from USA since I had so much trouble with the customs last time. I also ordered a Wilkinson vintage bridge in gold since I took the old one and put on the new Claescaster. Let’s see how it goes, how long it takes and if I get charged any extra custom fees.

cropped-claescaster3.jpg The old faithful Claescaster

These are the Artec Hot Ceramic Telecaster Pickups, a bit fancier then the ones I bought but they were sold out in gold so I had to go for something else.