Search This Blog

Saturday, April 25, 2015

FingerBoard wood selection

WT. Foster Guitars Tech Tip April 25, 2015

In Guitar building the fingerboard wood affects both the look and sound of the finished guitar. There are many choices available but the three main wood types used for fingerboards are rosewood, maple, and ebony. WT. Foster Guitars primarily used rosewood and ebony fretboard wood, after many trial and error sample neck and sound sampling, we are now offering maple fretboard on select models available later this summer. Below is a summary of the 3 main fretboard woods, we hope this sheds a little light or clarity on the different values and effects on tone by using each type of wood. These findings are subjective as for the effect on the tone or sound of the guitar, it is a more personnel preference than actual tonal difference. The actual change in tonal characteristics by the different fretboard wood are slight but could make all the difference in the world to individual players.  
Is the most commonly used wood for fingerboards in the guitar industry. Rosewood has an open porous grain and has natural oils giving rosewood a smooth feel and “warm tone”. It has a medium density that is less reflective than harder woods with a tighter non porous grain, giving rosewood a slightly softer feeling fingerboard. There are a variety of rosewoods, the most used by instrument makers is Indian rosewood. Indian rosewood has the familiar rich, darker brown color with even grain, with the availability and comparable lower cost of Indian rosewood this makes it a preferred choice for instrument manufacturers. Then there is Brazilian rosewood another favored variety but limited availability makes it costly for most guitar manufacturer to use on stock instrument and is usually reserved for custom shops and high end stock.

Combines the hardness and density of maple with the natural oils of rosewood, ebony is generally used as an in between fretboard wood offering the best of both worlds. Ebony has a consistent blackened color that is appealing to the aesthetics of guitars. The tight grain and natural oils in ebony offers a smooth glassy feel with a more “crisp and snappy tone”.

Maple is a light colored and very tight grained wood. Maple is a very stable wood, has “bright tonal quality”. Maple is almost always finished due to its lack of natural oil. Generally gloss or satin clear coat is used some manufacturers use tung oil as another option. Availability and re-growth make maple a highly sustainable wood choice and have some manufacturers experimenting with a curing process known as “baked” This gives maple a softer feel and sound with a rosewood type appearance. Moisture is also infused into the wood during torrification so clear coat is not used.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fretboard Care

WT. Foster Guitars Tech Tip of the day April 21, 2015

There are several reasons fingerboards dry out.  Players living in very hot and dry areas and regions requiring indoor heating for a significant portion of the year are much more likely to have their guitar fingerboards dry out because the humidity is low.

Those living in these types of environments definitely need to apply a coating of fingerboard oil to keep the fingerboard wood suitably moist. There are many fretboard conditioners on the market priced from $3 to $10 for a small spray bottle; every guitar owner should have this on hand along with a 100% cotton cloth for application and removal. There are all sorts of products and kits available, your local instrument store can help you choose one.

WT. Foster Guitars uses linseed oil to quench the fingerboard which is a long standing tradition amongst Luthiers and craftsmen and is available at most hardware stores. If you choose to use linseed oil, follow the instructions on the bottle for safe disposal of rags used to apply the product. It is our opinion that this the best product for fingerboards however it takes a little more care in applying and removal of the oil. Apply 4 or 5 small drops on the fingerboard, wipe and spread to cover entire fingerboard and let stand no more than a minute. Using a clean cloth, wipe off any residue left on the fingerboard and make sure you clean the back and sides of the neck. This should only need to be done once or twice a year it is an excellent wood moisturizer and preservative.    

In some cases your guitar may have a white residue in the grain of the rosewood; it’s possible that some sort of preservative was applied to the fingerboard before shipping and when the residual moisture evaporated, it turned into a powdery substance. In order to remove this substance, wash the fingerboard with a small amount of soapy water and use an old tooth brush to scrub the fingerboard, this will remove all the residue and grime. Dry the fretboard thoroughly before applying your conditioner/linseed oil.

 Final note do your fretboard care and conditioning when you change the strings on your guitar, all conditioning products will deaden guitar strings with an oily build up.  

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A little tip on guitar cables

WT. Foster Guitars Tech Tip of the day April 18 , 2015
Guitar cables, for sure some are better than others! That doesn’t mean you have to spend hundreds on cables. Fact of the matter is it doesn’t help to buy the cheapest cable either! If you have an inferior cable that’s going from your guitar through your effect rig or pedals you will not get the quality sound the effects are capable of delivering. The same reaction or result if your one-and-only cable is being plugged directly from the guitar straight into your amplifier. We would strongly suggest purchasing the best quality cables you can afford, if you have to save up to get the cable that is just a little too expensive it will be worth every penny in interference free sound quality. Just be sure that the cable is of sound construction and states it’s constructed with “shielded” cable, the preference being Braided and shielded. The signal carried by a cable’s conductors is measured in bandwidth with sound’s lowest to highest frequencies. With an electric guitar there is a narrow bandwidth. The signal sent from the guitar also has phase relationships among its frequencies, which are defined by the string vibrating in the magnetic field of the pickup, this affected by the character of the wire used in the cable. The above stated cables will generally deliver a lifetime of exceptional service, plus your rig well suddenly sound better with less signal loss and less interference from outside sources!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Removing the control knobs on your guitar or bass, use a spoon silly but it works!!

WT. Foster Guitars Tech Tip of the day April

At some point in the life of your guitar or bass, you’ll want or need to remove the control knobs from the volume and or tone pots. Now before you reach for a flat-head screw driver to help yank off a tight fitting knob (or knobs) just stop! A screw driver might get the job done, but will in most cases also damage your guitar in the process. There are a number of tricks you can use to yank off a tight knob, you can order a knob puller from Stewmac ranging from 9 to 50 bucks probably your best bet for safe removal! but one of your best friends in a pinch is a spoon! This is particularly useful for guitars with carved maple tops like our model F8001 DLX PRO or Les Paul style guitars. Place a soft cloth on the guitar’s body and lay a popcycle stick on top of that, then insert the spoon tip under the edge of the knob with the bowl of the spoon on the popcycle stick using the spoon as a lever. Because spoons have a convex shape this acts like a fulcrum.You might need to move the spoon to several different positions before finally easing the knob off. Patience here is key! Gouging the top of your guitar is never fun and always hard to fix so remember the mighty spoon is our friend for knob removal…
Stewmac model P-51 knob puller

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Do I need to refret and should I try doing it myself?

WT. Foster Guitars Tech Tip of the day April 9, 2015
There is no easy answer to this one. However, we can say that often guitars are re-fretted when they only needed a neck adjustment and set-up by a professional. Most manufacturers of fretted instruments use nickel alloy fret wire which is softer than stainless steel frets; market standard nickel alloy fret wire should last the life of your guitar. For most guitar players, the original frets will never have to be replaced however a fret level and polish may be required at some point in time. Failure to keep the fretboard clean of dirt and finger snot will wear away frets almost as fast as the string will. Professional and session guitarists who consistently play one instrument are the ones who typically require a refret at some point during the life of the guitar. A word of caution: Poor refrets are the number one cause of fingerboard replacements due to improper fret removal. It is not recommended that you attempt to refret your guitar unless you have personally done this under the supervision of a professional. There are so many stages to refretting a guitar that the layperson wouldn't have the knowledge to accomplish or have the correct specialty tools needed. If you really have that burning desire to refret a guitar, grab a old cheap used guitar and practice on it before diving into the work on your favorite guitar.   

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Protecting your instrument finish from cracking

WT. Foster Guitars Tech Tip of the day April 7, 2015

Winter is a hazardous time for the guitar finishes, if your instrument lives anywhere that the temperature varies and your instrument is subjected to those changes such as when being transported in a cold vehicle on the way to a warm gig, then it is in danger of checking. With WT. Foster Guitars fortunately our modern finishing processes are much more durable than those of years past but checking can still happen if precautions are not taken. Always use a good quality and appropriate polish whether your guitars has a urethane or nitro finish, polishing will add a micro thin layer of protection against minor surface checking.  

To prevent checking or cracking always allow the instrument to acclimatize to the temperature of its environment slowly. Meaning leave your guitar in its unopened case for as long as possible after bringing it into a warm room from the cold. It may take as long as a few hours for the instrument to completely warm up. Absolutely avoid the temptation to open the case to check on it this is the exact scenario that will cause small cracks in the finish! Who here has had the finish crack on their guitar? A horrible sight and feeling!!  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Question of the day! humbucker cover vs uncovered

WT. Foster Tech Tip of the day April 5, 2015 
Question of the day! humbucker pickups that have covers, while others are open or uncovered, Is it just for looks or is there a reason for having pickup covers?

 This all depends upon whom you ask. In the 1960s, players with Les Pauls or other humbucker-equipped guitar felt that removing the covers gave them a hotter, fatter tone. The earliest humbucking pickups, which were designed by Seth Lover at Gibson, first appeared on the 1957 Les Paul models. While the nickel/ gold-covered pickups were aesthetically pleasing, odds are good that if Lover felt they compromised the overall sound quality, he wouldn’t have designed around using them. Another factor that may have influenced him to use covers was for the protection of the fragile wire wrapping on the magnets. Not many places had air conditioning in 1950’s. Seth probably felt the covers would prevent sweat from getting inside the pickups and corroding the magnets or the coil wire. This would be one of those discussions that really doesn’t have an end. Humbuckers have been around for more than half a century with nobody to date showing any absolute evidence for or against the use of pickup covers. This remains a personal choice. Most modern humbuckers are wax potted making the removal of covers very difficult and a risk of damage to your pickup is very real.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Coil Tapping vs Coil Splitting

WT. Foster Guitars Tech Tip of the day April 3, 2015

Difference between coil tap and coil splitting pickups

Most people use the terms interchangeably. Technically there is a difference within guitar pickups, “coil split” is the breaking of a connection between the two coils in a humbucker pickup so that one is disabled and the other coil functions as a single-coil pickup.
“Coil tapping,” refers to taking the signal from a location within a single-coil pickup’s coil of wire, rather than at the end of the coil. This is done to reduce the output of the pickup, the more turns of wire the coil has, the higher the output. Tapping the coil somewhere in the middle reduces the output. This feature is commonly found on higher-output single-coil pickups, which can be tapped to produce an output more similar to a vintage Fender style single-coil.
Coil tapping could also be used to tap off the signal from a humbucking pickup from somewhere within one of the coils but this is not so commonly done.
We hope this helps to understand the difference with coil tap and coil splitting of pickups…

WT. Foster Guitars OEM string choice! Dean Markley

WT. Foster Guitars uses Dean Marley Blue steel 10-46 strings exclusively on all our guitars! the following is some background info on the process to achieve these excellent quality strings. after many tests with just about all strings out there we found Blue steel string just bring our guitars to life with crisp and stable tone.
By now you probably know that our ingenious Blue Steel strings are cryogenically frozen with a blast of liquid nitrogen. But why would we do such a thing? By freezing our strings down to -320ºF, we tighten the molecules, minimizing microscopic gaps. This process removes transient frequencies that produce harsh highs and muddy lows, creating a more consistent string, with true tone and longer life. A method to our madness!
Made of 8% nickel-plated steel outer wrap on tinned Mandolin wire hex-core, Blue Steel strings have been top-sellers for years and are used by pros worldwide. Once you try Blue Steel strings you’ll be hooked. They feel great, ring true, are durable and long-lasting, and they just plain sound good.
(This information is from Dean Markley's website and is for informational use only)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Adjusting Neck Relief

WT. Foster Guitars Tech Tip of the day March 31, 2015

Adjust neck relief:
We wanted to give a condensed overview of how to check and adjust your guitar neck relief. You can check out our website for more info on Foster guitars setup.
The first step to determining whether a guitar’s neck needs to be adjusted is to check its relief, or the amount of bow the neck has. You should use a straight edge (16 to 18” steel ruler) to help determine the neck’s straightness or lack of. If you don’t have a ruler your guitar actually has a built-in straight edge! Your strings. To determine neck relief, simply tune the guitar to pitch, then fret the low E to high e strings at the first fret with a capo, then at the last fret where the neck meets the body depress the low E string. The string will form a straight line, Use a standard feeler gauge set to measure the amount of relief at the 7th fret. This measurement should be approx.010” from the bottom of the string to the top of the fret, if adjustment is required this is obtained by adjusting the truss rod. Most modern electric guitars have a 2 way adjustable truss rod. These adjustments should only be done if you are familiar and comfortable with this procedure. Turn the truss rod in ¼ turn increments, (with the headstock top pointing at you) Left will loosen the truss creating more bow or right to tighten the truss straightening or leveling the fret board. Never adjust more than a ¼ turn at a time and allow a few minutes for the wood of the neck to adjust before measuring.

This is the basics to adjusting your guitars neck relief we hope this helps with furthering your knowledge of the finer workings of the guitar!