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Friday, September 10, 2010

Wiring a Kawai F-I

As you'll see from the pic in the post below, not all the wiring on my "new" Kawai was quite as it should be.

I believe that it's traditional for both ends of a wire to be connected to something.  Apparently, circuits don't work too well if one end of the wire is just hanging around mid-air.  So it turns out that electrickery isn't quite so clever after all.

Anyways, with huge help from National Express (they couldn't run a train service if it was in "O" guage on their kitchen table) who considerately decided to delay my journey home by a couple of hours this week, I found enough time to work out the correct wiring diagram.  Well, I say "I" did it, but actually I had a lot of help from my good friend Andy who also enjoys the service provided by National Express trains.  And there's a new meaning to the word "service".

So, with a wiring diagram that works perfectly in theory, I shall shortly try to implement it.  That will involve inserting a very hot soldering iron into a rather small space which is already rather full of wires.  This has the potential to be a bad experience ... cross some fingers for me ...

(For readers not in the UK, "National Express" is a company which runs train services. I use the words "run", "train" and "service" in the loosest possible sense of the words.  They frequently don't run - they stumble, slowly, then stop, in the middle of nowhere.  They're barely trains - I'd call them museum pieces, but most museums look after their exhibits.  And "service" ... well, my credit card gets hugely serviced every time I buy a ticket, but that's about the end of it).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Kawai F-I

I grabbed this one from eBay last week.  It was expensive as there were a couple of other bidders who seemed particularly keen on it.  If you were one of those, please get in touch, as I'd be interested in knowing why you were so interested!  The price was <£100 with about 20 seconds to go.  In the last 10 seconds, the price went up a lot more than I expected it to! 

The eBay seller had found the guitar at a car boot sale.  The previous owner says that it had been in a shed for many years prior to the car boot sale.  And it looks like it! 

The guitar was going to need some TLC, just to clean it up cosmetically.  However, the problems are a little more fundamental as it currently doesn't work at all.  One of the downsides of all the complicated electronics on this guitar is that the control cavity is stuffed full of wires;

Unfortunately, not all wires are connected to where they should be connected, so the guitar is not producing any sound at all.  A number of solder joints have clearly failed, but working out which wires should be connected where will take a while, and only then can I try re-soldering those joints.

The controls are; Master Vol & Tone plus 3-way selector switch (all standard so far).  Coil tap and phase mini-toggles (fairly standard options on many Kawai guitars).  A 6-position varitone (that's a complex looking little switch!).  But then it gets slightly more complex ... a pre-amp with level control and boost/distortion, all powered by a 9v battery. 

Inside the cavity we have 3 standard sized pots, 4 mini-toggle switches, a 3-way pickup selector, the Varitone switch, the pre-amp circuitry, the battery connector and a large output jack that allows the battery to be switched on or off.  It's a standard sized control cavity.  I'm going to need a small soldering iron!

I've spent a couple of hours trying to draw out the "as is" state of the wiring, including the wires that don't get connected anywhere at the moment.  Then I'll try to work out WHY they're connected as they are, and how to reconnect the "spare" wires.  One day, my knowledge and competence with electrics - even basics like this - will reach the rudimentary stage.  Right now, I'm nowhere near that level.  So this project could take a while ... stay tuned for updates!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The return of ... Kawai guitars

My life has been completely swamped with work over the last few months.  I've barely been into the workshop and there's certainly not been any guitar building activity.  And I mean swamped to the extent of working 12-14 hour days, 6 days a week.

I miss the challenges of guitar building and hope to get my life more balanced shortly. 

As well as building new guitars from scratch, another of my guitar-related interests is the Kawai brand of guitars (see - my site - if you want to see what all that is about).

This quick update is just to share that, after many months of not seeing any Kawai guitars for sale anywhere, 2 came up in the past couple of weeks.  I've now got a couple of new additions to the collection, both of which needing some degree of TLC, which might at last force me back into the workshop.

Not quite as exciting or creative as building something new, but I will (hopefully) at least get to spend some time fiddling with guitar set-ups on the bench.

Pics to follow.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Where did those months go?

I've only just realised that I've not posted anything here for about 3 months. 

What happenned?  Have I been in hibernation?

Well, part of the reason is that "work" has been rudely interrupting my spare time over the last few weeks.  Plus the time of year really doesn't help - when you leave home in the dark and don't return back until after dark, it's difficult to find the time or enthusiasm to wander off to a dark (and cold) shed.

But the MusicRadar forum peeps are talking about repeating the £100 challenge again this year, so that should be the catalyst for some more shed time.

I'm a little wary about building another "cheap" guitar, as it won't get played in preference to my various other non-cheap guitars.  So I've got to try to build a guitar for little money which plays and sounds either as well as my favourites, or completely different in some way ... now, *that* could be an interesting challenge ...