Rust begone! You’re no match for this homemade cleaning tool.
Image 1 — Illustration courtesy singlecoil.com
This month we'll launch one of two new Mod Garage series that are inspired by emails I've received from PG readers around the globe. (I really appreciate getting messages and requests, so if you've reached out, thank you.) One series will explore how to “relic" guitar parts and the other will focus on making DIY tools for your home workspace. We'll begin with the latter.
Why make your own tools? After all, today we have unprecedented access to specialized tools for building, repairing, and maintaining guitars, basses, and amps. If you're running a professional guitar repair shop, you already know the value of purchasing high-quality tools that will serve you for decades. But if you're a hobbyist, do you want to spend a small fortune on professional tools? If you're a tool hoarder or fetishist the answer will be “yes." And I understand that. It can really feel good to be surrounded by top-notch tools, even if you don't use them very often.
On the other hand, you can derive great pleasure from making your own tools for only a few bucks. It's not merely a matter of saving money. Nothing beats the feeling of using DIY tools that work great and get the job done. If you haven't experienced this before, I urge you to give it a try.
Take, for example, a budget electrolysis tool. I'll show you how to build one that works as well as any professional device. In fact, for our purposes, it may even be better. Not only will this device let you clean grimy metal parts, you can use it to remove rust and corrosion from hardware. In layman's terms, we're using electricity and iron to remove the gunk. I really like this method of cleaning hardware because it's super simple, it works perfectly, and—best of all—it removes dirt and rust without affecting that patina we admire so much on vintage hardware. Your parts will still look aged, but will be restored to full functionality. You know how string saddles can be hard to adjust when they get caked with sweat and rust? Give them an electrolysis bath and they'll be as good as new.
For starters, here's your supply list:
1. A wall-wart or power adaptor that matches your local primary line voltage—anything from 6 to 24 volts will work. A perfect solution is a 12/24-volt battery charger rated at 2 amperes or higher, but a power-supply for a notebook or stompbox will work too. The more power and wattage it has, the shorter the cleaning time. Chances are good you can dig up an unused wall-wart from your gear closet, but if not, inexpensive units are available at your local home-improvement store.
2. A glass or plastic dish that's large enough to accommodate the hardware you want to clean or de-rust. Don't use a conductive metal dish!
3. A piece of iron. I like to use a hammer with an iron handle. Use a magnet to test and confirm that the item is made of iron and not another material, such as aluminum.
4. Two standard 4 mm banana plugs—one red and one black.
5. Two clamps: A small alligator clip for gripping fine wire and a larger one that can attach to your hammer handle or the piece of iron you're planning to use.
6. A spool of uncoated copper wire.
7. Hot water.
8. Baking soda.
9. Rubber gloves and safety goggles.
Image 2 — Photo courtesy singlecoil.com
That's all you need. Depending on what you already have at home, these supplies shouldn't set you back too much. Let's begin by preparing the power supply.
If you use a wall-wart or standard power supply, you'll find one of two logos on it to indicate the polarity (Image 1). Negative polarity means the negative is inside the tip and the positive is the sleeve, and vice versa for positive polarity. Usually one of the two wires is marked with a dashed or solid line, but you can't see where the wires attach inside the plug.
So how do you determine which wire goes to the tip and which goes to the sleeve? Here's a neat trick to help you figure this out: Cut off the plug from the power supply, leaving some wire on the plug so you can see which one has the line printed on it. Take note of this, and then strip both wires and tin both their ends, as shown in Image 2. (On this plug, the dashed line is on the lower wire.)
Image 3 — Photo courtesy singlecoil.com
Now set your digital multimeter to continuity, put one probe inside the tip and touch the other to each wire to see which of them is making contact. Depending on whether your power supply has positive or negative polarity, you'll know which wire does what. In our case, the marked wire is positive.
Now split apart the two wires connected to the power supply. Separate them right down to the strain relief, so you can work with them independently. If the wires are really long, you can secure them near the power supply with a small cable tie to keep them manageable. Strip the two ends and solder a banana plug to each one: The plug with the red sleeve connects to the positive wire; the black one goes to the negative wire.
Attach the black banana plug to the small alligator clip, and the red banana plug to the bigger clamp. Image 3 shows the DIY electrolysis bath we use in the shop.
That's it ... at least for now. Next time, we'll tackle another guitar mod before returning to our new DIY electrolysis tool to learn how it works. Until then ... keep on modding!
- Mod Garage: Inside Yamaha's Dry Switch | Premier Guitar ›
- The Life and Death of an Electrolytic Cap ›
- Mod Garage: Goo Begone! | Premier Guitar ›
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.
Dunable announce new Minotaur model featuring Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners.
The Minotaur's DNA is rooted in their classic Moonflower model, which Dunable discontinued in 2017. However, they have long since wanted to create a fresh take on a carved top guitar design, and various attempts to rework the Moonflower led them to a brand new concept with the Minotuar.
Dunable's goal is to give the player a guitar that plays fast and smooth, sounds amazing, and gives maximum physical ergonomic comfort. The Minotaur's soft and meticulous contours, simple and effective control layout, and 25.5" scale length are designed to easily meet this criteria.
- 25.5" scale length
- Dual Humbucker
- one volume, one tone, push pull for coil splitting
- Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners
- Grover Tune O Matic bridge with brass Kluson top-mount tailpiece
- jumbo nickel frets
- 12" fretboard radius
This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
Adding to the company’s line of premium-quality effects pedals, Missing Link Audio has unleashed the new AC/Overdrive pedal. This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal – the only Angus & Malcom all-in-one stompbox on the market – brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
The AC/OD layout has three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone. That user-friendly format is perfect for quickly getting your ideal tone, and it also offers a ton of versatility. MLA’s new AC/OD absolutely nails the Angus tone from the days of “High Voltage” to "Back in Black”. You can also easily dial inMalcom with the turn of a knob. The pedal covers a broad range of sonic terrain, from boost to hot overdrive to complete tube-like saturation. The pedal is designed to leave on all the time and is very touch responsive. You can get everything from fat rhythm tones to a perfect lead tone just by using your guitar’s volume knob and your right-hand attack.
- Three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone
- Die-cast aluminum cases for gig-worthy durability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- True bypass on/off switch
- 9-volt DC input
- Made in the USA