In the video, Dave Johnson of Nashville’s Scale Model Guitars shows you the steps for replacing a standard 1/4" jack, with a boat-style plate, with a Pure Tone Multi-Contact Output Jack.
It has four points of contact, versus the OEM two, and dual tension grounds to hug the cable sleeve in place from both sides, providing more reliable performance and better tone. After explaining how a jack carries mono or stereo signal, and taking a sidetrack to detail how to solve the issue of a loose output jack with a severed ground wire, Dave relates how to remove the two jack plate screws, and then remove the output jack nut with a 1/2" nut driver. And then strip the wire—red is hot, white is ground—to prepare for soldering.
Dave takes a few minutes to teach the basics of soldering, with a Hakko soldering station—his preferred instrument. He also recommends Kester 60/40 rosin core solder, which is 60 percent tin and 40 percent lead, in .062" thickness. (Hint: Look for silver beads of solder, not gray, when soldering!) Before joining the wires to the jack connections, he slides some shrink tubing (from Harbor Freight Tools) on them.
After making the connections, he shrinks the tubing with a cigarette lighter, to preserve the integrity of those connections. A locking nut and the nut driver takes care of the next step, and after a quick test—plug in and hit the strings—it’s time to screw the boat plate back in place. Dave also shares a golden rule for working on guitars: always go slow. Think of the tortoise and the hare—although this entire process can be done in less time than it takes to watch this video.
For an in-depth written version of this jack replacement lesson, with photos, check the June 2023 issue of Premier Guitar or go to premierguitar.com.
A lucky 7-year-old builds the guitar of his dreams with his father during the pandemic … with knobs that go to 11!
Name: Scott and Aksel McDermott
Location: New York, New York
Guitar: The Akselerator
Back when things were locked down for Covid in 2020, my then 7-year-old son Aksel found an old Epiphone SG in the back of a closet that I’d bought 25 years ago but never learned to play. He took to it immediately. A weekly lesson soon started at the Williamsburg School of Music when things opened up a little and he was hooked. However, after sitting for so long, the SG needed to go in for a tune-up eventually. With nothing to play for a few days, we started talking about building a simple string between two nails on a board stretched over a Coke bottle contraption, as a fun little project. But it’s only rock ’n’ roll if it’s electric. Suddenly we were researching pickup-wiring schemes and the difference between a single-coil and a humbucker, etc. It quickly became clear: Why don’t we just build a real guitar?
And so, it began. I guess kind of like the Suzuki method, but with a few more RPMs. We set about building his dream guitar with as many design elements that a 7-year-old would want while at the same time trying to avoid anything that would be cringeworthy later in life.
The Akselerator Build
The design is based on an Explorer but with an extra lightning-bolt notch cut at the base. Besides being badass, the Explorer shape is a great option for kids because they can reach over the smaller body shape above the pickups easily. It can be tricky for him to get his arm around larger guitars or acoustics. We started with two blocks of black limba for both the body and the neck from BYOGuitar. We decided to burn a basswood top sheet using the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique, which we’d seen on an architecture show. It worked well, and we found a great clear coat solution that soaked in just enough to make the charcoal stable and not come off on your hands but didn’t make it look like a shiny candy apple, either.
Here's a look at the character created by the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique.
I have some experience in woodworking but have never built a guitar before. A friend who has a full woodshop in his basement let us come over on and off for six months to work on the project. With the help of many YouTube videos and countless StewMac specialty tools, we were able to build the “Akselerator.” We put the same burned finish on the headstock and inlayed Aksel’s personal logo in brass on it. This also matches the brass-wire thunderbolt inlays in the ebony fretboard. The pickups are a Gibson ’57 Classic Plus in the neck and a Gibson Burstbucker in the bridge. It has glow-in-the-dark side dots, a magnetically attached back plate, Hipshot locking tuners, and knobs that go to 11. For when you’re on 10, but just need a little more!
Scott and Aksel McDermott pose with their 6-string creation.
The Akselerator came together well and sounds fantastic. Aksel plays it every day at home and uses it as his show guitar whenever he plays a gig. (He’s now in a band with a fellow 3rd-grade drummer friend.) I’m his roadie/security for the Akselerator, so that it makes it home without getting damaged by little sticky fingers. The project was an extraordinarily positive experience for both of us on many levels. Aksel learned all about guitars, inside and out, how to use all kinds of tools and techniques, had lots of shop time, and now has a one-of-a-kind custom axe to shred on and melt faces with for years to come!
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Double A Band Plays Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze at St. Vitus Bar
Aksel McDermott puts his stamp on a Jimi Hendrix classic at iconic local venue Saint Vitus n Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
One of my recent gigs was playing pedal steel with country artist Brooke Eden on live TV in front of millions of eyeballs. Here’s how it went.
Yesterday, I played The Today Show with country artist Brooke Eden. I’ve played Today and/or Good Morning America seven or eight times over the past 28 years: a few times on guitar, four or five on steel, and once on banjo (I’m terrible at banjo but can play a simple part under pressure). Here’s an inside look at the gig while the memory is still fresh.
Last week, Brooke Eden’s musical director, Miles Aubrey, texted to ask if I was available. I jumped on it. The band was Miles on guitar, Megan Jane on drums, Carl Fields on bass, and me on pedal steel with Brooke singing. The steel part was prominent yet somewhat simple, but the song had some keypads and a second guitar part that I tried to cover with a dotted delay trick to fill out the sound. We had one quick rehearsal at Brooke’s home, and although the five of us had never played together, it sounded great on the first run-through. We played it once more then planned to meet in New York on Sunday night.
The next day, Miles texted everyone that he was sick and should bow out. Our drummer Megan brought in guitarist Gabe Burdulis, who she was touring with, to fill in for Miles.
I tried to re-find that sweet spot between deafening and inaudible, but erred on the side of volume, as my personal motto is “better too loud than too quiet.”
Today has a 4:30 a.m. call time, allowing bands to soundcheck before the guests and hosts arrive, which means you fly in the night before. I checked my steel (a Show Pro single-neck E9 10-string), a duffle bag with show clothes, a volume pedal, some cables, and a small steel-specific pedalboard with a Peterson tuner, Keeley Compressor Mini, Keeley Red Dirt Mini Overdrive, Ibanez Echo Shifter for weird analog delay, and an Electro-Harmonix Oceans 11 for a second digital delay or ’verb, tremolo, etc. Both delays have a tap tempo: I used a dotted delay on the Oceans 11 running into a trippy quarter-note delay on the Ibanez to cover a lot of space.
I checked into the hotel by 5 p.m. and then spent Sunday night walking around Times Square people watching, eating, and dreading my 4:15 a.m. lobby call. Today requested that Brooke play a second song as a teaser, so I listened to the new song and the single“Left You for Me” on a loop on my phone as I walked around, hoping to solidify my parts. We hadn’t ever played the second song together, so I was a bit nervous about remembering it under the pressure of TV.
I was so deliriously tired when we arrived at 30 Rock that I literally had trouble putting my steel together. (I miss having a tech.) Because Today’s studio is fairly small, I requested a Fender Deluxe but instead they had a massive ’90s-era, 100-watt Fender Tone-Master with a matching 4x12 cabinet. With the volume on 1, I could hear nothing but the hum of electronics. At 1.5 it was so loud it was peeling paint off the stage. I found a sweet spot just one hair over 1 that worked.
Today’ssound team are total pros—they dialed in a high-fidelity mix very quickly. We ran the song twice, then were released to wait in the green room until our performance. Brooke’s team wanted to go with a summery wardrobe of light blues, gray, and white. Gabe, who left straight from tour, didn’t have time to grab extra clothes and had only black jeans. Megan, our drummer, had some white jeans. When Brooke’s manager noticed that Gabe and Megan were roughly the same size, he suggested that Gabe wear Megan’s pants, so Gabe would be in white out front while the black jeans would be hidden behind Megan’s drum kit. They did the switch and, although not a perfect fit, those tighty-whitey pants looked hip on Gabe, who is handsome enough that it would be impossible for him to look bad.
The talent wrangler brought us on deck at 9:30 a.m. The volume had been turned down on my amp, so I tried to re-find that sweet spot between deafening and inaudible, but erred on the side of volume, as my personal motto is “better too loud than too quiet."
We ran the teaser song twice. I was thinking this was another soundcheck/rehearsal, but they filmed it and used it as a teaser. It was literally the first time these five people had played that song together, but it sounded great. After the teaser, Today host Craig Melvin walked over to me and said, “I love pedal steel. I’m a big Robert Randolph fan.”
They called quiet on the set, and we went live. The hosts did an interview with Brooke and then we played “Left You for Me” live. I thought I was a bit flat on the first bend in my turnaround solo, but other than that, it felt good going down. Brooke’s vocal performance was killer, and the band served the song well. What more could you want?
When you think about playing in front of 3 to 5 million people live, that can get in your head. The trick is to just play, don’t think. In fact, that may be the secret to life.