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.

31. May 2013 · Comments Off on New GOTOH SG381 MG-T Magnum Lock Traditional locking tuners now available · Categories: New products · Tags: , , , , ,

SG381-MG-T Magnum Lock tuning machinesGOTOH MG-T tuners set

The new GOTOH SG381 MG-T Thumbwheel style locking tuners are now available from Philadelphia Luthier Tools & Supplies.  These are GOTOH’s much requested and long-awaited new tuning machines.  The “Magnum Lock – Trad” combines classic functionality with Gotoh technology and quality.  Turning the thumbweel to the left will release and a turn it to the right will lock the sting.  This will allow ease of locking and unlock of the strings during routine maintenance.  These come standard with staggered string posts so string trees are not needed.

The SG381 MG-T comes with GOTOH’s patented Lubri-Coat and Rock-Solid string posts.  The application of Lubri-Coat establishes a better contact between the worm and the gear wheel.  The result is that backlash is minimized during tuning.  Rock-Solid incorporates a special elastic components on the main parts which eliminates post movements.

The GOTOH SG381 MG-T are now available on our website and available in Cosmo Black, Chrome, and Gold finishes.GOTOH SG381 MG-T dimensions

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.

18. April 2013 · Comments Off on Japanese Shinto Saw Rasp · Categories: New products, Tools · Tags: , , , ,

Shinto Saw Rasps

Now available through our website is the Shinto Saw Rasp.  These rasps are made from 10 pieces of double-sided riveted saw blades and will make quick work of your carving needs.  The combination of the saw tooth design and the large open areas prevent clogging that happens with normal rasps.  Use the coarse side for quick shaping and very rapid material removal.  Use the fine side for the finishing pass. Guitar builders will love using these to shape a guitar neck or to work a beveled edge on the guitar bodies.

We also have available the Shinto planer style saw rasps that comes with a removable blade. The two handles are raised above the work surface to allow you to work on larger surface areas without your hands getting in the way.  The blade is easily removed to allow access to both a coarse and fine sides.  By removing More »

13. April 2013 · Comments Off on Vintage style Telecaster® bridges and neck pickup covers. · Categories: New products · Tags: , , ,

A new product we just received in are US manufactured vintage style telecaster bridges and neck pickup covers.

We are selling these in both full and half bridges.  The full tele bridges are direct replacement for US and Mexican Fender Telecaster guitars that were originally equipped with this style bridge.  Both of these are also great for custom guitar builds since they can be strung either through the body or top loaded.  Drilling the holes through the guitar body can sometimes be difficult for the novice builder.  The full bridges also feature a satin finish area on the inside starting just below the pickup mounting holes.  The half bridges are fully polished on the inside.  The brass barrel saddles are uncompensated and can easily be upgraded.

Vintage style telecaster bridges.

From left to right – Chrome, Gold, Nickel finish

The other new product we added are the Telecaster neck pickup covers.  These are standard tele sizes and come in both closed and open styles.  The open pickup covers will give your tele a very different sound then the standard covered neck pickup covers.  Like all of the other pickup covers we sell these are manufactured in the US from stamped nickel silver metal.  These are available in unplated, chrome, gold and nickel finishes.

Telecaster neck pickup cover selection.

From left to right – unplated, chrome, gold, and nickel finishes.