17. June 2013 · Comments Off on Differences between Nickel and Chrome plating for Guitar Hardware · Categories: General · Tags: , , , ,

One common question facing many guitar players looking to replace or upgrade their hardware is…Nickel or Chrome?.  Many think there isn’t much difference between the two or that they look the same.  It is sometimes hard to tell them apart unless you have them next to each other.

Nickel and Chrome tailpieces

Nickel(left) and Chrome(right) tailpiece.

Nickel plating was used on a lot of vintage instruments.  It has a slightly yellowish tint and warm look when compared to chrome with its blueish tint and cooler look.   Nickel plating is corrosion resistant but tarnishes easily.   Nickel isn’t as hard as chrome and will age nicely with normal use.  Usually the metal is copper plated before the nickel is applied.  The copper is easier to polish then the bare metal and will give the nickel a smoother finish.

Nickel tailpiece, Chrome TOM, Chrome tailpece, Nickel ABR-1

From left to right: Nickel tailpiece, Chrome TOM bridge, Chrome tailpiece, Nickel ABR-1 bridge

Chrome(chromium) is used on many guitars today for its ability to stay looking new longer.  The benefits of chrome are that it is very durable, corrosion resistant, and won’t tarnish.   Something that is seen often is the term “triple chrome plating” or “show chrome”.   Both of these terms mean that the item is first plated with copper, then nickel, and last chrome.  Copper is used for its ease of leveling and polishing.  Nickel is used because it is needed for good chrome adhesion.  If the copper plating is omitted then more polishing is required of the bare metal to give the smooth liquid appearance commonly seen on chrome products.

Nickel and Chrome Pickup covers

Nickel(left) and Chrome(right) pickup covers.

You should not mix chrome and nickel hardware on the same guitar unless they are a distance apart.  Tailpieces, bridges and pickups should all be the same finish because of their size and close proximity to each other.  A chrome bridge and nickel tuning machine might not be as noticeable  Small screws don’t always make that much difference.  Some will find that small zinc plated screws from the hardware store are a good substitute for either nickel or chrome screws.  Everyone will have a different opinion about what is acceptable.  

Nickel Chrome and Zinc screws

Nickel(top), Chrome(right) and Zinc(bottom left) screws.

It can be frustrating when you receive your new part only to find that it doesn’t match your existing hardware.  I sometimes find myself grabbing a known nickel or chrome part to compare the finish.  Looking at the pictures above, you can see how easy it is to tell the difference when they are next to each other.

We hope the information and pictures provided here will help you pick the correct parts for your next project.  If you have any questions please contact us at support.

16. May 2013 · Comments Off on Choosing the correct knob for your guitar or bass. · Categories: General · Tags: , , , , , , ,

Bell, Speed and Dome knobs

Introduction

This article will help you pick the correct knob for your guitar.  Choosing the correct knob for your guitar isn’t difficult when you have the right information.  We will discuss some of the different styles, control shaft types, and whether you need recessed or non-recessed knobs.   Pictures will be included with each explanation to help you see the differences.

Knob styles

There are 3 common styles of knobs; bell, speed, and domed.

Bell knob examplesFirst, are the very popular bell knobs.  These can also be referred to as hat, bell hat, UFO or hut knobs. They are typically found on LP and strat guitars. On Les Paul® guitars, they are typically clear knobs with the color and numbers painted underneath.  The most common colors are gold and black.  Amber knobs use translucent amber plastic and are painted gold on the bottom.  Strat bell knobs are solid colors with the numbers and volume/tone embossed on the outside.

Speed knob examplesSpeed knobs, also called barrel knobs, get their name from their beefy, large diameter shape that allows for easy and quick adjustment of the controls.  The diameter is about the same as the bottom skirt of a bell knob except they don’t taper inwards. Typically, construction is clear plastic with the color and numbers painted underneath.  When looking at the amber version of these knobs, it can appears darker than the bell version because the plastic is thicker, which makes the numbers harder to read.

Dome knob examplesFinally, the domed knobs.  These are not always domed and sometimes have flat tops.   They are can be constructed of metal or plastic.  The sides usually have a knurled texture that can range from fine to coarse.  This appears on a lot of Telecaster guitars but has become very popular on super strats (ie. Ibanez®, Charvel®, Jackson®, etc.).  A domed knob will give the guitar a sleek appearance.

Control shaft types

Fine, coarse and solid shaft examples

When choosing a knob for your guitar, it’s not just about picking a style that you like.  It’s about whether it will fit your guitar or bass properly. The shaft on your control comes in two common styles.  Either a splined (sometimes called knurled) split shaft or a solid shaft.

Split shaft knobs come in two versions, both are 6mm in diameter and only differ in the number of splines.  Either a coarse spline that is usually found on import potentiometers (often abbreviated as “pots“) or fine spline found on US CTS pots.   Almost all press-on knobs that fit coarse 18-spline pot shafts won’t fit fine 24-spline shafts, and vice versa. NEVER pinch the control shaft with pliers to make a knob fit.  This can cause the split shaft to break.

Coarse spline control and knobIf you count the splines on a coarse knob you will have a total of 18 splines.  If you count them on the pot, there are 8 on each side of the split (16 total).  

Fine Spline control and knobFine spline knobs have 24 splines, and the pot has 10 on each side of the split (20 total).   It is easier to count the splines on the control than on the knob.  

Universal Fit strat knobSome strat knobs are universal fit and will fit both coarse and fine spline pots.  These knobs don’t have splines and are made with just the right diameter that the splines on the pot will make their own path.  

Dome knob and solid shaft examplesMost dome knobs use a set screw to secure the knob to a solid shaft.  These are available to fit two shaft diameters; 6mm or a 1/4″.

The 6mm solid shaft knob will fit coarse spline, fine spline and a 6mm solid shaft. 6mm is a common size for import guitars.  When installing a 6mm solid shaft knob on a split shaft pot you want to tighten the set screw in line with the split.  Tightening the set screw perpendicular to the split will compress the shaft and cause the knob to come loose. 

Correct position for a set screw on a split shaft control

1/4″ will fit only solid shaft pots normally found on US/Mexican Fender Telecaster® guitars.  Fitting a 1/4″ shaft domed knob on a split shaft control o the smaller 6mm shaft will cause your knob to spin off center.

Recessed or Non-recesses knobs


Recessed and non-recessed knob examplesBottom view of difference between recessed and non-recessed knobs.Another consideration when choosing a knob for a Gibson Les Paul® is whether you want vintage style non-recessed knob.   Guitars fitted with this style of knobs will look like the knobs are not pressed on all the way.  They can sit anywhere between 1/8″ to 1/4″ above the guitar body.  These are found on a lot of vintage Gibson guitars and also their historic line of guitars.   On some guitars the knob can look like it is sitting way too high and will need the control lowered to make it look better.   This can be difficult to do on some guitars(ie. Gibson guitars with the PCB).  Here are some examples on a Gibson Historic and a 2010 Gibson Traditional with non-recessed knobs installed.

Gibson Historic with non-recessed knobs

Gibson® Historic with non-recessed knobs.

 

Recessed vs non-recessed knobs on a Gibson 2010 Traditional

Recessed vs non-recessed knobs on a 2010 Gibson® Traditional.  No modification done to the guitar.

We hope you found the information provided here useful.  You will find most of the different styles of knobs available on our website.  If you have question please leave a comment below or send us an email at support.

22. March 2013 · Comments Off on New truss rod cover design for Gibson® and Epiphone® guitars · Categories: General, New products · Tags: , ,

New truss rod cover shapes for Gibson and EpiphoneIn early December 2012, we were contacted by the Gibson Corp. about our use of the Gibson bell design for the truss rod covers that were selling.  They asked us to stop producing the truss rod covers and that the bell design was protected by their trademark. We were unaware that the shape of the truss rod cover was protected by a registered trademark.  The protected trademark included the standard Gibson bell shape used on almost all Gibson guitars and the Epiphone truss rod cover with the similar design.

Gibson has no problem with us engraving their own products.  The only problem is that Gibson only sells the Gibson bell shaped truss rod cover(PRTR-010) and none of the Epiphone truss rod covers.  With some help from Gibson, we came up with the above design changes for truss rod covers.   Customers who order a custom engraved Gibson truss rod cover will get a genuine Gibson product engraved by us.  For the full color Gibson and Epiphone truss rod covers we will be using our new truss design.  They still have the same mounting hole locations and share the same bottom edge as the original.  The sides are a little narrower and the top has more pronounced shoulders.

Overall the new design is a good compromise.  This should keep most of our Gibson and Epiphone customers happy.  Because these are our own design, we will allow others to use these on their own guitar builds without worrying about violating any trademark.  If you have any questions please contact us at support.

01. February 2013 · Comments Off on New online website for Philadelphia Luthier Tools & Supplies! · Categories: General

Today we launch our, new and greatly improved website! Please check us out! This is only the first step in many improvements to our website.

Things to look for in the near future:

  • New shopping website – DONE
  • Facebook and possible Twitter pages – soon
  • New Blog – soon
  • More advertising – website and print – started
  • Up to date gallery of custom products – started

We hope to become a great source of useful information.

New website screen capture

29. November 2012 · Comments Off on Question: Can you make me a truss rod cover with a different font? · Categories: General · Tags:

Truss rod covers can be engraved with almost any standard Windows font (ie. Truetype or Openfont). Fonts that will work best have simple and clean lines. Before you specify a font for an order you need to get permission from us first. We want to verify it will engrave properly. It would also help if you would include a link or attach the actual .ttf file to your email. We will not use any font that needs to be purchased by us.

A few good resources for free fonts are www.dafont.com, www.fonts101.com, and www.fontpark.net. All three sites give you the ability to preview the fonts, using your text, before downloading. This is very helpful when trying to find the perfect font!

If you have any additional questions please contact us via email at support@philadelphialuthiertools.com.