The Guitar Gallery Forums - The Guitar Legacy of Matsumoku

Q&A, discussion, and information for the labels covered by The Guitar Gallery (Specifically and exclusively guitars made by Matsumoku up to 1987)
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Nov 2010 12:56 PM 
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Virtuoso
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Joined: Thu 15 Oct 2009 06:43 PM
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Location: Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada
Reposting this ancient thread to see the pics again.

I'm seriously considering putting my Atak 1b and Atak 2B through this process, seeing how well the finished product turned out. The black finish on both is in pretty rough shape, but the wood looks to be decent, and the workmanship is clearly first rate.

I'd probably put the black pickguard back on the 1B, though, it would look more like the Electra X630N. I've always liked that look.
- Mike


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I don't know why I even bought this guitar. Well, that's not true. It was cheap, in pieces, and made by Matsumoku. Yep, another rescue case.

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I took to calling it 'the Hot Wheels guitar'... something about the ungainly swoopy lines and the really badly done black spray paint... it sat on my studio shelves for months, until I started thinking how cool it might look if I sanded it, painted it flat black with flames. And that's how this project started.

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It turned out the black paint sanded off really easily... well yeah, that's what happens when you enamel spray paint a guitar with no primer or wood filler. Once the paint came off and the wood grain got exposed... well, it started looking not so bad. I went ahead and applied grain filler and sanded it back- and that's what you see here.

It's funny- because the PO had painted it black without filling the grain, there was black paint left in all the grain- and I started to notice that the paint acted something like tinted grain filler, that it kinda brought out the grain nicely. Still an ugly guitar, mind you, but it was starting to get under my skin.


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Here it is after the first coat of neck amber- I use only Reranch nitro, it's the best, and I've learned a lot from hanging out at the ReRanch forum

Notice that with the first coat it's shiny on the top, but flatter on the sides, especially along the side cut where the end grain is exposed, and it soaks in more. Very typical.

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Here it is with one coat of amber, a couple coats of tinted clear, and topped off with clear. Neck amber is very yellow, designed to match Fender maple necks. Tinted clear is more amber, like the color of faded nitro. It's starting to look good!

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Now the neck is attached, it's a guitar again. The bridge is set in place for testing. By this point I'd scrapped my original plan to paint it flat black, I was liking the wood grain way too much. Now, mind you, it's not a solid body, but rather an ash cap over mahogany core layers- and you can see it at the edge of the body and especially the body bevel, no hiding it, but who cares?

The bridge is a Bendmaster, one of the chrome stamped ones like was used on Spectrum DX's (not the stamped + cast black ones used on the LX, FX, etc). I was actually planning to use an ACT3 bridge I had around, but when I got to this point I realized the ACT3 was missing its fine tuner fingers, so that was out. The Bendmaster is fine though, if a little crude.

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One of the things that had motivated me to rebuild this guitar was realizing that with its S-H pickups, it was basically a fat tele- I figured I'd give it the same wiring plan I'd developed for the Telerez.

If you're thinking tele, you should use a tele-style pickup, at least in the bridge- I had this MIM tele bridge pup that was dead, and AP2 had kindly repaired for me. It almost fit the bridge pickup cavity!

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Heh, most people at this stage would think nothing of making the pickup fit by getting out the chisel and hacking at the body- however this is a Matsumoku body we're talking about, and just a mere Fender pickup. I'm not about to go hacking at the body when I can trim the pickup instead. It was very close, but I made it fit!

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OK, I'm skipping some steps here- I liked the woodgrain so much I wanted to avoid covering it up with a big ugly pickguard- and the Atak1 pickguard is ugly! So my plan was to make a clear plastic pickguard that would hold the pickups and controls in place and show off as much of the wood as possible. I did a bunch of sketches and finally got it the shape I wanted.

Then it got ugly. I started to cut the clear pickguard out of Lucite, using a scroll saw like I've done before. I had all the usual problems of having the cut edges weld back together behind the blade- plus it was so brittle. After seven or eight tries I finally had it cut- and then when I went to drill holes, it just shattered into fragments. I must have gone through two dozen pieces of Lucite.

The lesson learned? It's Lexan that you use for pickguards, not Lucite!!! D'oh! I sourced a couple pieces of Lexan at my local R/C model shop and after a couple more attempts, I had my clear pickguard.

The problem, however, was that the Lexan pieces I could get were too small, they wouldn't cover the entire rout. Well... by now my original plans for the guitar were mutating wildly, and I started eyeing some pieces of exotic (repro plastic) tortoiseshell that i'd been holding... thinking how nice it would look against the wood body... trouble was, the tortoiseshell was really thin, designed for acoustic guitar pickguards where it's glued directly to the wood front, and is really thin. I cut out the pickguard shape I wanted, but it was way too flimsy, so I laminated it to a piece of white, with aluminum foil inbetween to show off the tortoiseshell. Looking good! (btw, I haven't yet removed the protective plastic from the tortoiseshell in this pic, as you see)

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What's wrong with this plan? well, uh... I'm attaching all the wiring to the pickguard, and installing it, and THEN testing to see if the wiring all works? Hmm... and what strings am I going to test it with?

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Fortunately, I do (ahem) have other guitars here. The Telerez kindly donated some vibrating strings, and it turned out the wiring was all OK.

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This shot shows the components I used- similar to what I've used on the telerez, but not exactly. From left to right they are:

Volume control, with coil tap. In the past I've used a pull-switch pot to trigger coil tap, but this time I used a concentric pot so I'd have a variable coil cut and master volume on the same position.

Tone control- this is an inductive tone control that is neutral at 5, turn it down to 1 and it cuts the midrange, turn it up to 10 and it cuts low and high and leaves midrange. I find for tele pickups this is an extremely useful control.

Blend pot- instead of a selector switch, I used a blend pot to allow gradual mix of the pots- again very useful when one pickup is a very thin trebly single and the other is a nice warm humbucker- did I mention it's an MMK51 with cream bobbins? And the two pickups are permanently out of phase- but you only get that effect when you dial the blend pot so they're perfectly balanced, which is a different spot depending on the coil cut.

Output jack- just the usual thing.

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Here you can see the pickguard installed (but not screwed down). I'm taking apart the bridge... partly to clean it and partly to get strings on. Trouble with this kind of bendmaster is you practically have to remove the individual saddles to get strings on. And there's no height adjustment, they're permanently set, so you have to not mix up which saddle is which. But then, after all that, it's fine.

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And finally- the finished guitar!

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I had no plan to make this surf style, but with the amber wood and the tortoise pickguard, it's really bitchin' radical, dude. I selected chrome knobs with a cream chickenhead for the blend pot (makes it very easy to tell where it's set)

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I like it, I really do. Next session gig I get playing Ventures covers, I'm there with this axe, man!

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PostPosted: Fri 26 Nov 2010 01:38 PM 
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Virtuoso
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Location: Grand Absurdity, TX
Outstanding! I did that body.
I'm a big fan of Reranch as well.


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PostPosted: Fri 26 Nov 2010 03:20 PM 
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Virtuoso
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Location: Mount Hunter, NSW, Australia.
Fan-bloody-tabulous; very very cool!! :up: Love yer work!! :up:

Now, that Bendmaster should be able to allow the strings to pass up through the sustain block which screws to the underside of the main bridge plate, a la Fender - you certainly shouldn't have to take the saddles off!! I agree that it is a PITA bridge to intonate, but it doesn't move once it's set!! And my guess is that you'll need the stringlocks if you intend working the wang bar very much; my Bendmaster Deluxes had a tendency to go quite flat with extended wang bar use until I put the lock washers on and made it work properly! Realise, too, that the saddles are pre-set to different heights to allow for the curvature of a fretboard.

I've never, ever seen a Bendmaster Deluxe on anything other than a Westone, so my question is, "Did it come with the Bendmaster??"

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FWIW, an after market esoteric nut is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist, and a great way to convert your money into someone else’s.


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PostPosted: Fri 26 Nov 2010 05:10 PM 
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Virtuoso
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Joined: Thu 15 Oct 2009 06:43 PM
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Location: Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada
Just to be clear, the original poster did the work, not me. I reposted the original since the links were dead on the first page.

It's truly a great piece of work, and I think anyone with an old, tired guitar can take a lot of inspiration from this rebuild.

Like I said, my two Quest basses are likely going to be given this treatment.

Mike

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