A Week Out the Shop

30 Apr 2023

Tags: älgen, mighty beast, plectrums

No workshop time this week as I came down with some kind of bug: nothing too bad thankfully but enough that I had to stay at home for a few days. Still, this gave me some time to rest up and play a little guitar, which was about as much as my brain could cope with, and something made much easier thanks to the delivery of a pair of handmade guitar straps from the ever awesome Rachel at Mighty Beast.

Before I could do that, I did need to give Älgen a bit of a set-up, as the bridge saddles were not set right initially - in all the fighting with the strings I’d ignored setting those, so I was getting some notable string buzz on the middle strings. Of course all my tools were at the workshop, but being somewhat impatient, I did just spring out for a new hex key set, as in the workshop I just have a random draw in my parts rack that has keys I’ve collected over time. So now I have a full metric/imperial set, which will help when setting up guitars of any sort:

A close up of a plastic case made of two halves that close like a book, in which sit a lot of hex keys, the left page is imperial sizes and the right metric sizes, going from 10 to 0.7 mm. Next to them sit a set of radius gauges.

Thankfully, by chance, I did have my radius gauge set at home, so I didn’t need to make another one of those appear out of thin air. Setting up a guitar is a pain in general, as you need to de-tune each string to adjust things like saddle heights and the intonation point, and that’s true regardless of whether you have a regular style bridge or an unusual one like this Mera Submarine III set.

A close up on the Mera Submarine Bridge unit on the guitar, where each string has it's own tube like tuner.

With the saddles set higher, now the guitar plays much better. The nut could do with a little lowering still, but that’ll have to wait until I get back to the workshop and have my nut-files to hand. The intonation also needs adjusting now I’ve messed around with the saddle heights, but that can wait for me to be more awake - it’s good enough for solo play.

One (to me) amusing aspect of the Älgen design is that in this iteration there’s no where for a clip-on tuner to attach, which is all I have at home. I toyed with the idea of getting a cheap pedal tuner, but in the end opted to get a fancy one for my phone, the Peterson Strobe Tuners app iStrobeSoft. I’ve always fancied one of their tuner pedals, but their price is a bit hard for me to stretch to, but the app I’m pleased with. I has a very clear display of where you are tuning wise, and gives you precise information beyond the usual “up a bit”/“down a bit” style display. It’s ten quid, so not a cheap app, but as tuners go that’s very cheap, so I quite recommend it for home/workshop use.

The plectrums I ordered last week turned up, and I’ve been putting them through their paces:

A close up picture of two plectrums placed under the strings of a guitar neck. One is white with a stylised MWD initials, and the other is a brown pearly look with the Electric Flapjack logo on it.

I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised by how good they are. I expected them to be a bit naff, but I’ve actually been playing with them all week in place of my usual Herco Flex 75 plectrums that I’ve sworn by for the better part of the last decade. One thing I like about the Flex 75 is the textured grip, which is why I ordered some of the white plectrums you see in the above picture - despite the uninspiring blank colour, they have an invisible (in photo at least) patter printed on them to give them some grip. However, even on the non-grip-printed plectrum, the printed logo is enough to give you some sense of where you’re holding your plectrum.

I need to do more testing, give out the remaining ones to friends to get them abused, and put them through the washing machine a few times, but yes, I was quite cynical about it all when I ordered them, but I actually think they are good plectrums. If they last over the next month then I’ll probably order a bunch in different tortoiseshell colour variations to give away at shows.

And that’s been it really. I wanted to do more, like work on my pickup winder or go into local maker-space and finish rewiring my amp, but I think I just need to reset to get over this virus and come out rested and well for next week.