That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby Marlow » Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:05 am

I've just started working on an Alligator 1.2, based on this Warmoth body:

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Leo's making a brass plate, which is great. But why did Jerry even have this thing?? I know the pickguard broke in '71 and Steve Parish had to "rig up a template on the spot" (Waldo's site) but ... a hand-made, hammered brass replacement??? Why not just spend like five bucks (at that time) for a new pickguard? It's like saying Jerry broke a string, so Parish had to fabricate a new one using lightbulb filaments and spider web. There must be more to the story.
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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby PaulJay » Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:16 am

My guess is that having it cut like that made easy access to the electronics and that brass was good for shielding. It also is unique and looks cool.
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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby waldo041 » Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:13 pm

Access to the electronics was precisely the reason for it. And Alligator was not the only pickguard guitar to have it. His second Travis Bean TB 500 #12 also had a cutaway.

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"Tone is in the instruments. Technique in the hands. Do what you will." ~ quote from some guy at the TGP forum
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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby Marlow » Sat Feb 01, 2014 2:09 pm

waldo041 wrote:Access to the electronics was precisely the reason for it. And Alligator was not the only pickguard guitar to have it. His second Travis Bean TB 500 #12 also had a cutaway.

~waldo


That makes sense.

I didn't realize the black line above the controls on #12 was a break in the pickguard. So this would be for access to the battery, then? But if the pickguard on Alligator broke in July '71 and the first Blaster wasn't installed until March '72, why was speedy access to the controls even needed? Even pickup swaps would seem easier with a full pickguard, and I can't think of any other reason to have fast access to the cavity. Oh, unless it was for ..... storage. :-)
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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby waldo041 » Sat Feb 01, 2014 2:49 pm

Before Alligator he used stock instruments for the most part. Early on with Bear they used some form of transformer circuit to change impedances, but from that point up until Alligator it was by all accounts stock wirings. Alligator became a test bed for both the physical attributes Jerry wanted in a guitar as well as the beginning of trying out many types of wirings. IIRC, Alligators control part of the pickguard cracked and eventually fell off in one of those moments when they were trying or fixing something in there. And the notion was probably just leave it like that so they didn't have to pull the strings off to actually rewire it. This is all hypothetical because i was not there, but from first hand accounts i have had from those that were there, this is a very plausible explanation. Wickersham stated that in those days Jerry was one of the guys who would be in there tweaking stuff!

Alligators battery was actually placed under the output jack, they widened and put a brass plate under the jackplate to accomodate it according to Frank Fuller who did the work.

~waldo
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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby Marlow » Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:49 pm

Thanks, Waldo. It's one of the many cool things about Jerry that he was technically savvy and curious.

Any suggestions for an Alligator-esque bridge? The full brass TOM apparatus in the later Alligator isn't really an option, and anyway my body's a hardtail. It'd be nice to have something in brass, though, just for aesthetics. But after two days of searching there's nothing available in brass for under $160. Maybe I could strip the chrome off a Gotoh -- it''s a solid brass plate and saddles, just plated chrome. Probably harder than it sounds.
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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby waldo041 » Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:35 pm

Brass saddles will work just fine.

http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200 ... =824&kw=lg


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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby Mr.Burns » Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:57 am

Just remember that a Fender style bridge needs to be compensated when its installed to allow for proper Jerry string-height and intonation (if that is what you're after) as the stock position won't allow quite enough travel in most cases. However, this bridge seems to do it no problem: http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Bridges,_ta ... ridge.html
No brass option, tho. Sorry.
Just a suggestion that I would have appreciated when I was building mine... :cheers:
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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby waldo041 » Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:50 am

Mr.Burns wrote:Just remember that a Fender style bridge needs to be compensated when its installed to allow for proper Jerry string-height and intonation (if that is what you're after) as the stock position won't allow quite enough travel in most cases. However, this bridge seems to do it no problem: http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Bridges,_ta ... ridge.html
No brass option, tho. Sorry.
Just a suggestion that I would have appreciated when I was building mine... :cheers:


DOH! :oops:

I completely overlooked this fact! My apologies, yes, you will need to make a small adjustment in the bridge placement to get it to intonate correctly if you plan on using the string height Jerry used. The reason is the stock type strat bridge location does not allow for enough travel for the low e and g strings to move far enough away to intonate properly. It doesn't need much, I think no more then a 1/4".

Again, that is if you plan to use his action which brings out more of the natural acoustics of the instrument.

~waldo
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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby Marlow » Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:26 am

Thanks Mr Burns. And no problem, Waldo. You've helped everyone here so much that you're allowed the odd mistake!

Let me make sure I understand correctly. So, Alligator's neck was shimmed, I guess, to change the neck angle? This would result in the strings being too far off the body. To make compensation accurate, the solution is to have a taller bridge that's 1/4" closer to the pickups. Right so far?

One would need an extremely precise shim, I'm thinking .... something like a wedge-shaped sliver of brass ... to get the angle exactly correct without harming tone. I wonder how much tonal difference the different neck angle made between v 1.2 and post-Blaster, post-TOM versions of Alligator.

So, the Schaller bridge (slightly relocated) and a fancy shim are all that's needed to get the proper angle (around 2-3 degrees,I guess)?
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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby waldo041 » Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:53 am

Not up, but back toward the bottom strap button. The shim is only needed if you use a taller bridge.

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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Mon Feb 03, 2014 10:24 am

Shimming bolt-ons to change the neck angle is pretty common, at least in basses. Especially if you're fitting the taller Leo Quan Badass II bridge that was so common in the 70's. It doesn't take a full-length, custom fit shim at all, I usually just cut a thin guitar pick in half and place both halves lengthwise inside the pocket between the neck heel and the body. You don't really need full contact between the neck and body, as long as the neck is solidly mounted it sounds and plays exactly the same whether it's shimmed or not, other than the change in neck angle.
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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby Marlow » Mon Feb 03, 2014 10:49 am

waldo041 wrote:Not up, but back toward the bottom strap button. The shim is only needed if you use a taller bridge.


I see: the geometry of the rising string, which would otherwise imply movement forward, not back, is offset by the greater compensation needed because of the higher action. Makes sense. But that is some pretty high action. The only issue I can see is that the Schaller's mounting holes are 20mm apart instead of the vintage 22.6mm.
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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby Marlow » Mon Feb 03, 2014 10:54 am

Rusty the Scoob wrote:Shimming bolt-ons to change the neck angle is pretty common, at least in basses. Especially if you're fitting the taller Leo Quan Badass II bridge that was so common in the 70's. It doesn't take a full-length, custom fit shim at all, I usually just cut a thin guitar pick in half and place both halves lengthwise inside the pocket between the neck heel and the body. You don't really need full contact between the neck and body, as long as the neck is solidly mounted it sounds and plays exactly the same whether it's shimmed or not, other than the change in neck angle.


Rusty: ok, that seems more do-able. I have shimmed a neck with a slice of business card, but it was just to fix a bad route job on a low-value guitar. If it's that easy to shim, maybe I should go the full monty and install the riser, brass bar tailpiece, and brass bridge. The riser etc would conceal the pre-drilled holes, so cosmetically there would be no problem. Hmmmm
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Re: That Brass Alligator Control Plate ... Why?

Postby hippieguy1954 » Mon Feb 03, 2014 1:22 pm

Jim

First show: 1973
Last show: 1994
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