Potatoes RAWK!

Well, they do.

Installing the tremolo was all new to me, and required at least one specialised tool I didn’t have - a superlong drill bit. I checked a few of my normal tool suppliers, but nobody had anything really long in the right size, so it was time to improvise.

Funnily enough, Easter Sunday at my grandparents yielded a perfect solution. Dad was browsing a 1948 signed edition of ‘The Amateur’s Lathe’ by L.H.Sparey (I know, how rock and roll is that?), which contained a paragraph on making extension drills, by turning down the drill shank, boring a suitably sized hole is a piece of steel rod, and brazing the drill into the hollow centre of the rod. Most importantly:

To prevent the brazing heat from softening the drill it is an old dodge to insert it into a potato during the brazing operation.

-The amateur’s lathe p.85

Duly equipped with a small metal working lathe, and a carefully calibrated potato, we made up a special drill for installing tremolo claw screws. Result!

The 4mm mild steel was originally intended to become a Gibson style compression rod and is pretty soft, but this makes it very easy to use, since it can be flexed slightly to get the best angle into the tremolo cavity. On a similar note, the only way I could get at the screws to adjust them was to daisy chain 3 magnetic screwdriver bits to make a long bendy screwdriver - not elegant, but it works!

With the trem springs in, it was time to string it up. Lots of fiddling to do to get the optimum setup, but even with an unfinished nut, and the neck relief unset, it plays nicely, with no buzzes and very low action. Apart from final levelling and buffing of the lacquer on the headstock and trem cover, all the finishing is complete - leaving the wiring and final setup still to do.

The spiffy case was John’s birthday present from Pete and Sarah. I was really hopefull they’d be able to deliver it to him with the guitar inside, but the finishing trouble I had delayed me too much. It’s a Hiscox case, and I can see why they have a good repuatation - it’s well put together, very sturdy, and (IMO very importantly) not too heavy.

9 Responses to “Potatoes RAWK!”

  1. Pete Says:

    Why no picture of the potato? Boo!!!

    For the record, the guitar case was a joint present from Sarah and Matt. I gave John a dvd of Kung Fu Hustle, which is obviously the perfect present.

  2. Ant Says:

    Ah, I stand corrected.

    The potato has subsequently been eaten. I ask you, is there a more versatile tool? I think I’ll try using a potato to press the frets on the next guitar…

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