Cow's final build NGD

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UnexplodedCow
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Cow's final build NGD

Postby UnexplodedCow » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:15 pm

This one came a whooole lot faster than expected. The ETA was 10/26, so it's basically an entire month early. Pretty crazy.

Coming in at about 6.8 pounds, sporting a Cocobolo neck and Ash body, with vibrato and Fluence pickups, it's a pretty healthy-feeling guitar. Obviously, I'm stuck with the choices, since two of 'em (neck and color) aren't returnable.

A solid (heavier) piece of Ash was used for the body, so neck dive doesn't exist. The arm bevel; WOW. Man, this feels even more comfy than the Vader bevel, which is itself excellent. Zero wrist strain/pain for me, and I just feel relaxed playing it. The lower cutaway is perfect for wide, stretching chords or runs. Totally out of the way, but sits in classical position exactly as hoped. Upper "horn" is out of the way, and keeps the body situated where I like on a strap. Very, very well designed shape and ergonomics.

Bolt-neck design is not my first choice, however, it's out of the way to where I don't notice it, and it doesn't matter. The inlays are simple on top, and the lumilays on the side are a nice touch.

The color doesn't look exactly like the pictures (it's more pink than the magneta-ish pictures would show). However....it's a killer color, and I don't mind it at all. The grain comes through more in person than in the picture, and I think it complements the color rather well. It looks clean.

The pickups: Wow. The bridge genuinely makes an EMG81 feel muddy/loose by comparison. It's so...responsive. I've never played such a responsive guitar before. Tapping is easy, zero strain or effort to it. Harmonics (pinch/false or otherwise) are as easy as I've ever seen, yet sustain far longer. Complex chords under heavy distortion aren't mushy and bleeding each frequency out. It's clear, bright, articulate. I'm very, very glad I went with them; they do not disappoint, and I may have found a new favorite pickup (yeah, it's that much better than my much-vaunted favorites of M22V/SD or L500R/XL). Sure, it takes a battery; not a problem.

Here are some pictures:
Without flash
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With flash
Image

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The only issue I've run into is a very small tuning stability where it won't return to pitch all the time, and I'm hunting the tuning (factory strings).

I decided to take a good look at what may be going on. At first, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. Then I started measuring with a micrometer and machinist straight-edge just to prove to myself. Here's what I found.

Image

Image

Image

The top of the body is as dead flat as anything made of wood has a right to be; it's on the money, no doubt about it.

Both trem posts lean forward slightly. No body cracks, and no shifting when removing or adding tension. They are quite solid. Based on what I measured (from the top of the adjustable section of trem post), both are tilted forward by 3.84 degrees. There is a rise of .52mm at the rear of the trem post compared to the front, and they measured 7.75mm diameter. Simple trig (inverse tangent of the rise over the run) gives the degree. This is consistent when turning the posts, so neither is bent. I don't know how the holes are drilled, or if this is supposed to be part of the design (I've never seen one built this way), but it doesn't conform with any previous Kiesel/Carvin I've had. The second picture of the treble side is after lowering the action a smidge (from .065" down to .045" as is my preference).

That is the *only* potential issue I see on it. It's otherwise flawless.

So, it's been an exciting head-scratcher of a day. I'd love if other people chime in on this..maybe just how it's designed (never seen it, but...I haven't seen everything). I'll call tomorrow and see what's going on. Hello Option 50 bliss :P

Still a looker, though.
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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby spudmunkey » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:50 pm

Congrats on your epic ngd!

I feel like I remember them talking about it before, but I can't remember for sure... does it look like the fretboard and neck came from the same piece of wood?

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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby DWG » Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:02 pm

Beautiful guitar! I am curious about the orientation of the Trem posts. Please let us know what you find out.

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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby freakofnature » Wed Sep 26, 2018 5:59 am

Looks great! A while back I ordered 2 Vaders when the new Trem was available. Both had the same minor tuning stability issues you mentioned. I returned them immediately for something else as Trem stability is an absolute MUST HAVE for me. Went back to my trusty Floyd's. I did NOT however notice if it had leaning posts like that so I can't comment if that's normal.

Let us know if you get things sorted. I loved everything else about those Vaders and the Trems performed brilliantly! Just gotta have that tuning stability because I use the hell out of my trems (80's Hair Metal cover band. It's a must have! lol)

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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby UnexplodedCow » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:09 am

Spud - I didn't take a picture of the side of the neck. It could be from the same piece, but might not be. The grain is similar, but not the same. Fantastic neck, though.


Freakofnature - I agree - tuning stability is a big, big deal for me, too. I'm familiar with the Contour, which was rock solid for me. I expected this from the headless version, given the same pivot design, and the headless string claw, which has been good on everything except some non-reinforced strings (specifically Darco has been problematic).

It acts like a classic worn knife-edge problem; goes a little flat, or goes a little sharp, and always hunting an even tune. Oh, one string went flat, tune it up, suddenly another goes sharp. The strings are tight at the head end. I'll be calling when they're open, and hopefully figure this out. If it were a regular, catalogue option set, it would be sent back. Now, I'll probably have to deal with warranty.
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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby Doctor Turn » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:53 am

If you get a chance, some pickup sounds would be awesome, especially as they contrast with the M Series!

Congratz on the acquisition and enjoy!! Hope all works out w the bridge.
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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby UnexplodedCow » Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:35 am

Doctor Turn wrote:If you get a chance, some pickup sounds would be awesome, especially as they contrast with the M Series!

Congratz on the acquisition and enjoy!! Hope all works out w the bridge.


If I get some time, yeah, I'll do something similar to what I did for the M vs. Lithiums (not the same amp/speaker, though). The sound clips I'd heard of the Fluence pickups were good, but hearing them on my own equipment...crazy. Never had nearly as much pinch harmonic sustain of any guitar. Try the 3rd string at 7th fret. Just touch your finger to it while picking for that super high pitch harmonic. See how long it lasts.

Yeah, I want the trem post thing to work out. The guitar is unbelievably good beyond that, and it's an issue that can be corrected (either by plugging/redrilling, or making a new body :? which I don't know would look as good with the grain of this one). It's so bittersweet.

Should I name it, I was thinking Achilles may be more appropriate.
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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby skully13a » Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:31 am

Wow :shock: That came out looking super. I hope you get your issue worked out.
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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby UnexplodedCow » Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:43 am

Update:

So, I called, and was able to get in touch with Chris, explaining the situation. He agreed that it sounded strange, and that the studs should be perpendicular to the body. Pictures were sent, so we'll see what happens.

Still, just by looks alone, it turned out rather well. Things will work out, one way or another, so I'm not going to worry. If I have time today, I might have to go home and give it some more play time.
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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby ChrisN » Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:27 am

Major congrats on the spectacular build, Cow!
No worries with the potential issue, Chris H is The Man!
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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby ioneater » Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:13 pm

Looks good UEX! How does the tung oiled cocobolo feel compared to mahogany? It's got a beautiful grain for sure.

Regarding the stability.....I wonder if a dab of chapstick on the bearing surfaces would make any difference? Hope Kiesel takes care of the posts like they should :shock: .

They totally dropped the ball on my last order. Ordered a vanilla JBO6x the day it was announced in June using the website instead of calling. Found out a couple weeks ago the order never made it into the cue despite receiving an invoice email. Grrrr...Always call!

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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby UnexplodedCow » Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:55 pm

ioneater wrote:Looks good UEX! How does the tung oiled cocobolo feel compared to mahogany? It's got a beautiful grain for sure.

Regarding the stability.....I wonder if a dab of chapstick on the bearing surfaces would make any difference? Hope Kiesel takes care of the posts like they should :shock: .

They totally dropped the ball on my last order. Ordered a vanilla JBO6x the day it was announced in June using the website instead of calling. Found out a couple weeks ago the order never made it into the cue despite receiving an invoice email. Grrrr...Always call!


Hey, thanks! The neck....incredibly smooth, silky feeling. Not like Maple or Mahogany. It quickly became a favorite neck. Extremely stiff, too. It easily competes with a five piece neck. I think the cost is totally worth it. No regrets.

That stinks about the order. I think I'd heard someone else mention a similar situation once before, recently. Were you able to call in and get it Rollin?

If you go to flickr and check the pictures, the last one of the treble side, with flash, is available at full resolution. When zoomed in, the angles are obvious and I noticed that the cone is ever so lightly out of tue groove in the post. It doesn't quite line up. It's miniscule, but there. I sent the full size ones to Chris. The initial suspicion, over the phone, was that the setup may be off, but I haven't heard back since sending the pictures. I imagine they're all really busy, so I'll wait and see.

Here's a link to the photo. At the least it should take you to my "photostream."

https://www.flickr.com/photos/unexplode ... ed-public/
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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby Cynical » Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:37 am

Re: Fishmans, are you favoring active or passive voicing? A friend and I did an EMG vs. Fishman comparison, and found we favored Fishman "Passive" > 81 > Fishman Active.

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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby UnexplodedCow » Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:23 am

Good question.

It depends on what I'm doing. For clean to mild overdriven, the "passive" sound would be my favorite. For certain styles of overdriven, the "active" sound works well. For extreme high gain, doing chords, "passive" sounds best to me, and "active" sounds best for leads/tapping/harmonics.

I prefer either setting to the 81, which I happen to really like as a pickup (neck or bridge). No, the Fluence doesn't have quite the bass response as the 81 (to my ear, same amp/settings anyway), or at least dampens it better, so slightly less "boom." The highs are clearer, without question, and the overall Q of the pickup just sounds even-response. It doesn't have that mid hump I typically associate with higher output stuff, including an EMG 81.

My only thought is that the pickups can easily be modified to go into split mode using a 5 way switch similar to how Kiesel wires their passive dual-humbucker guitars. That would give just a bit more voicing difference, which is more academic to me, as I'm really quite happy with how the stock setup sounds.

It's good enough that I'm debating on getting a set for my V6, and putting a battery in the control cavity.

Oh, and acoustically, the Z6X compared to my V6...sustain is about the same between the two, and acoustic tone is extremely similar, with a bit more volume from the Z6X. I don't really consider this to be especially important, but the construction is completely different between the two. Plugged in, I'd actually give the better sustain to the Z6X, and that's probably due to the pickups.

As for the neck, the V6 was my go-to choice for neck. It feels almost waxy compared to the Z6X's Cocobolo neck. Not quite as smooth, either. The arm bevel on the V6 isn't as comfy as the Z6x is, and the latter also really does have better upper fret access. Both are genuinely great, but the neck on the Z6X amazes me. It isn't a honeymoon feeling, either, or "something new." Yes, it's cool to try something new out, but I've never personally thought as a guitar practically playing itself. It's almost like I have some telepathic bond with it and can just...barely touch, and float on the strings, and there's the sound I want. I have not had a guitar do that to me before. Ever. Even the V6 felt like an instrument that worked better than others for me. It didn't feel like an effortless extension of me (nothing has, until now).

It's a game-changer for me. This guitar was meant to replace 5 others. It may wind up replacing more, as it's just blown me away. The *only* downside are those leaning posts, which consistently throw the tuning off. Makes me sad, 'cause I love this guitar. I'll wait a few days on a response, and if I don't hear anything by next Monday will be emailing/calling to see what they say.

Sorry for the rambling, but this is an eye-opening instrument for me.
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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby ilyti » Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:06 pm

Spectacular build, man. Easily the best looking Zeus to date.

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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby UnexplodedCow » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:17 am

I spent some time this morning with a cheap dial gauge, and not-so-cheap micrometer to measure things out.

Turns out the screw-in posts are out-of-round by .0010" (.0254mm)

There is some thread looseness which allows almost a degree of forward pivoting. The posts are not bend (re-checked threads against a known-flat micrometer insert).

The dial gauge (just one picture here), I normally use for checking gasket surfaces for cylinder heads. It's a cheap gauge, but has proven itself accurate, so I trust it.

Image[/url]

I also compared the flatness of the inserts (the part stuck into the wood) and confirmed they are machined flat on the tops, which is nice.

So, compared to the top of the guitar, the posts are both off by .4mm (rear sits higher than front) in the same 7.75mm footprint as the top of the screw-in section takes up. That ramp results in a 2.9 degree pitch forward.

Factor in the loose-enough threads (not terrible, but could be better), and that gives the near 4 degree pitch forward, and, at this point, I'm sure is the culprit.

For fun, I measured the angles of my other guitars (DC127T, Bolt+C, and have the measurements of my old DC135T that was converted to a Hipshot Contour). All their posts are within .1 degree of perpendicular, which is plenty good for me.

Something is definitely not right. I still don't know the cause, but added all this info in a second email to Chris H, as I've not heard anything back. Changing the action or putting some lube on the pivots has not helped.
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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby ElfDude » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:08 am

It looks great. :applause: :applause:
And your description of the pickups really piques my interest!
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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby UnexplodedCow » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:14 am

Update:

Got a reply from Chris H, and he'd mentioned speaking to the head tech. I'm supposed to get a return label to send it back and get it right. Kind of a teaser to have it and send it back (I really, really fell in love with this guitar).

But....it'll be 100% when I get it back again, and I at least was able to see the finished product.

Elfdude - I've usually been a passive pickup fan, but tried an EMG 85/81 in a neck-thru Jackson a couple years back. It piqued my interest. They are good, but really, the Fluence pickups just sound better to me. It's kind of hard to describe all of it, but it just sounds really full and complete in terms of response. Nothing seems lacking to me.

I'll keep this updated as needed. Gonna miss it while away.
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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby Cynical » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:52 am

UnexplodedCow wrote:Elfdude - I've usually been a passive pickup fan, but tried an EMG 85/81 in a neck-thru Jackson a couple years back. It piqued my interest. They are good, but really, the Fluence pickups just sound better to me. It's kind of hard to describe all of it, but it just sounds really full and complete in terms of response. Nothing seems lacking to me.

My best attempt at describing the Fluences is that "passive" voicing is like a SuperD with a fuller treble (it doesn't have the comb-filtered-ish twang that the SuperD does on the top), and the "active" voicing is like a more polite EMG 81 (a bit tighter, high-output but clear, too soft and smooth of an attack for my taste).

I really like the passive voicing. Not a huge fan of the active voicing (but, I'm almost exclusively a rhythm player).

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Re: Cow's final build NGD

Postby UnexplodedCow » Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:19 pm

Cynical wrote:
UnexplodedCow wrote:Elfdude - I've usually been a passive pickup fan, but tried an EMG 85/81 in a neck-thru Jackson a couple years back. It piqued my interest. They are good, but really, the Fluence pickups just sound better to me. It's kind of hard to describe all of it, but it just sounds really full and complete in terms of response. Nothing seems lacking to me.

My best attempt at describing the Fluences is that "passive" voicing is like a SuperD with a fuller treble (it doesn't have the comb-filtered-ish twang that the SuperD does on the top), and the "active" voicing is like a more polite EMG 81 (a bit tighter, high-output but clear, too soft and smooth of an attack for my taste).

I really like the passive voicing. Not a huge fan of the active voicing (but, I'm almost exclusively a rhythm player).


That makes sense, as the second voicing is really good for rhythm. The first voicing (the active style one) is great for lead. I like 'em both. There is potential to coil split them, which I'd like to explore in the future.
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