Krayt Dragon Lightsaber part 1

After the huge reception my Obi-Wan costume, which included a “kitchen sink saber”, got one year for Halloween I decided it’s time to build another lightsaber.  A Krayt Dragon Lightsaber.  First, a little history about my first lightsaber.  The “kitchen sink saber” is a build that relies heavily on plumbing equipment.  A drain and pipe for the main body and emitter with a knob for the pommel.  With a few exceptions, my build is easily disassembled.  A “kitchen sink saber” is a build modeled after the inspiration from Obi-Wan’s original lightsaber, which was mostly plumbing parts with a couple additions.

Kitchen Sink Saber

Very early on, I decided that I wanted to to make something much more unique.  Here is where I came up with the theme of a Krayt Dragon Lightsaber.  I’m no Star Wars fan-fic writer, but I thought to myself “What if Obi-Wan’s lightsaber had gotten damaged on Tattoine?”  So was born the idea of a lightsaber modeled after the beast he imitates in his first moments on screen.  Thank funky sound you hear as he makes his appearance?  He’s imitating a Krayt Dragon to scare away the Tusken Raiders.  I thought a carved pommel in the shape of a Krayt Dragon’s head might be amazing.  Also, a Krayt Dragon pearl for the primary focusing crystal.  I came back to this sketch and wrote out the word Krayt in aurebesh script, the written form of Galactic Basic Standard.  The intention was to originally have the script etched or engraved down the body of the saber.  I want this saber to seem very functional and include not only a viewable crystal chamber, but also allow the removal of the crystal.  Crystals may crack or weaken over time, leading to saber failure or explosion.  It only seems logical that a crystal should be removable without too much effort.  For a full explanation of lightsabers, including their mechanics and history, head over to Wookiepedia.

Krayt Dragon Lightsaber Illustrations

In the next illustration I tried to piece together a basic hilt with my ideas.  I decided that for a more authentic feel, a leather wrap of some sort should be added towards the emitter.  Maybe it could be a strip of leather left over from killing a Krayt Dragon.  I would like to think that a Jedi would not just kill the beast for the pearl, but would also use it’s hide as leather for clothes or repairs.  I decided on a traditional location for the on/off switch and had decided that a potentiometer to control volume of effects and brightness of blade would be best placed in the same area as the on/off switch.  Very traditional.  I thought about this more and more and have decided that this tuning knob should be somewhere it could not be accidentally turned during combat.

Krayt Dragon Illustrations 02

Here I’m getting a basic feel for dimension with regards to a pop-out crystal chamber.  I also added a guard towards the emitter and a wide stripe of non-slip coating towards the pommel.  I like the idea of brass for the guard, but I’m shying away from machining any parts or having them machined.  I want something that could actually be assembled by a Jedi from whatever he or she may find in some spare parts bins and a couple trashcans.  A Jedi stuck on a planet would have a lot of time to scavenge for great parts, but would usually lack the technical knowledge to sit down with machinist equipment and lathe out a new lightsaber hilt.  At this point I’ve decided that a large, 1″ diameter, clear marble should make a believable Krayt Dragon Pearl.  As shown in the first illustration, it would be separately lit to match the color of the blade I go with.

Krayt Dragon Illustrations 03

Krayt Dragon Illustrations 04

I decided that the most logical place for the aurebesh engraving would be the brass guard.  The illustrations do not reflect it, because it has not been a major factor yet, but I plan on placing the attaching ring on the pommel.  When hanging from a belt, the word Krayt would be legible this way.

These are currently the only illustrations I have.  I want to get a very detailed picture of how this is going to work together before I start spending money on parts.  I’ll be occasionally scavenging for some good inspiration and will post picture of anything I feel I can use.  This is going to be a detailed project that will take me many months, but will be worth it when I get to wield my very own Krayt Dragon lightsaber.

Red Blossom Tea Company – Dragonwell Spring 2010 Green Tea

During our honeymoon to San Francisco, CA my wife and I traveled to China Town with one real purpose: to buy tea from the Red Blossom Tea Company I had heard so much about.  The experience was amazing.  Red Blossom Tea Co. has an amazing store.  It’s very upscale and trendy when compared to the shops surrounding it.  I did not take pictures of the shop, because I did not want to seem forward or rude.  On to the tea.

Red Blossom Tea - Dragonwell Spring 2010

The Dragonwell Spring 2010 from Red Blossom Tea is a green tea.  While my experience with green teas is minimal, this is the best I have had to date.  Caution should be used when preparing this, or any, loose tea.  It really is a delicate thing.  Red Blossom have great instruction for preparing their teas on their site.  The staff are also a great help in the store.

Epiphone SG Special Project

(updated – April 17, 2012) The Epiphone SG Special project is currently delayed pending parts.  This project is being moved to the back burner for a while.  When I start working on it again, I’ll start talking about it again.

Epiphone SG Special in Cherry Red.

Epiphone SG Special
Stock image from Musician’s Friend.

The color is amazing in person.  See my image below.  The paint job done at the factory is pretty flawless.  I had read that the paint may have several flaws in it.  I did decide to hang on to it stock for the full 45 day return period.  After the 45 days is up, however, I’ll be wiring in a set of TV Jones Powertrons.  Another decision I’ve made is to not install a Bigsby Vibrato.  I think the look would be amazing, and it is a future upgrade.  My initial plan regarding the vibrato was to install it, replacing the stop-tail bridge, and leave the tune-o-matic in place.  I think this would have resulted in nonstop tuning problems and frequent string breakage.  When I’m ready, I’ll make the change and also install a roller-bridge to decrease friction.

The tone of the stock pickups on the Epiphone SG Special aren’t too bad, but aren’t really anything to write home about.  The super-twang of the TV Jones paired with a solid body like this is going to be crazy.  I hope it’s not too much.

Epiphone SG Special
My personal Epiphone SG Special hanging on the wall.

Gibson 498T

Gibson 498T Chrome

I purchased this hum bucker, a Gisbon 498T Chrome, to go into a custom Stratocaster copy, but after being stalled on that project for more than a year I decided to install it into a vintage Japanese Les Paul copy.

The guitar it went into is a mid-70′s Aria produced by Matsumoku.  The exact model number is unknown, but it’s a Les Paul copy.  Two humbuckers (Maxon), each with a volume and tone knob, and a three-way selector switch.  (due to a damaged potentiometer, the guitar had to be completely rewired to use a master volume and tone)  I originally thought that the original bridge pickup had gone dead, but I believe it may in fact be fine.  At any rate, I had decided to wire the Gibson 498T into the bridge position.

Gibson’s Product Description: “A high-output version of the 490T, Gibson’s 498T humbucker combines the more powerful response of an Alnico V magnet with additional matched windings on each coil, which puts the emphasis on the pickup’s upper midrange frequencies for enhanced crunch and sustain. The 498T is perfect for any hard rock application, easily overdriving amplifiers for a beefy, sizzling output that boosts any guitar’s power and presence. The pole pieces on the 498T are also aligned a little further apart to accommodate the spacing of the strings at the bridge, which is different than the spacing of the strings at the neck. This aids in producing powerful leads and thick rhythm without sacrificing single-note definition. The 498T features shielded, four-conductor wiring for series, parallel or split coil operation, and is fully wax potted to eliminate any chance of microphonic feedback.”

I’ll go on the record and say that I love the tone produced by the neck pickup.  It’s very warm and bluesy.  I would say that any decently made pickup acquires a beautiful tone after more than 30 years of aging.  For any “hot” tones the 498T certainly fits the bill.  Licks like ZZ Top’s La Grange come to life, and the grinding riffs from The Smashing Pumpkins’ Today are easily attainable.  Installation of the 498T was not very complicated, because Gibson makes the wiring diagrams available for download.  Also, I did not set it up for coil splitting, which aided in the ease of installation.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this humbucker to anyone looking to get a hotter tone out of their guitar.