Guitar Building

A few years back, I was involved in a little accident with a shear at the design studio in which I was working. It wasn’t anything too bad, but I lost the very tip of an index finger. It was very sensitive as it was healing up, and I quickly realized that it would be a while before I could play my acoustic guitar again. I was poor, but had a good amount of woodworking tools, so I started looking into what it would take to build myself an electric guitar. ( For those non-guitarists out there, electric guitar strings don’t require nearly the same force to play, so I thought this might be a solution.)

I also started looking into using nylon strings, because they are a bit softer then the metal strings that electric guitars use. I then started looking into what it would take to make an electric guitar with nylon strings. Now for those who don’t know, electric guitars use magnetic pickups to “pickup” the vibrations of the metal strings, so nylon strings won’t work with standard electric guitar pickups. That’s when I discovered piezo pickups.

I spent a couple years in R&D working with inkjet printheads that use piezo technology to I understand a bit about them, but print heads work completely opposite of piezo pickups, so I had a bit to learn, but I decided to give it a try anyways. I’m glad I did.

RG1

My first guitar design (RG1) turned out a little smaller, lighter, and not as unique as I was hoping for, but it was playable. As I was working on it, I got the chance to build a couple other guitars as display pieces, so I got a couple other chances to “practice” building guitars that would probably never be played. And with the first couple out of the way, I refined my design, applied the lessons I’d learned from them, and came out with my next design.

The first RG5 was my 4th complete build, and it turned out exactly as I hoped. The guitar looks great, feels great, plays great, and sounds great. I was so happy with it, in fact, that I built one for my dad with a different sound hole design, and helped my brother build one with yet another sound hole design (you can see all three below).

I used pre-built necks for each of the models I’ve previously built, and have all the supplies I need to build another guitar, so over the summer I will be building another one, including the neck, and documenting the process on this blog. And who knows, I might even look into what it would take to do a giveaway when it’s all done.

Candied Bacon (and butter pecan ice cream)

So the other night I was fixing bacon for dinner, baking it in the oven, and I realized a few pieces would have to go on a separate cookie sheet. I figured that since they were on their own sheet I could do a little something different, so I decided to try my hand at candied bacon. Having never candied bacon before, I didn’t know what to expect, and though desecrating bacon is tantamount to sacrilege I decided to try it any ways and I’m glad I did.

This is just my first attempt and by no means a perfected recipe but it will give you an idea how simple it really is. I cannot recommend highly enough that you try it for yourself.

Ingredients

  • Bacon (I only used a few pieces)
  • Brown sugar (I used too much)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Layout bacon on parchment paper with one hand and sprinkle brown sugar on it with the other, flipping to get a light dusting on both sides.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, being careful not to burn
  5. Let cool for 5-10 before serving

Additional Thought:

  • Again, this is just the initial recipe so changes will be coming, probably even to baking time and temp
  • A lot of recipes suggest using a combination of brown sugar, rice vinegar and maple syrup, but again I went simple the first time out
  • Other recipes also suggest adding salt, pepper (black or cayenne), cumin or even nuts. I might have to try some/all of these next time.

Chocolate Lava Cake

The way to my wife’s heart is easy – Chocolate. Because of this, and my own love of it, I have many recipes that involve chocolate. I will be posting all of them at some point, but the most recent recipe is also the one everyone seems to enjoy the most – Chocolate Lava Cake.

Guys, this recipe will score you major points with the ladies and is extremely easy to make. The only thing that might deter you from making it is the fact that you need to bake it in ramekins (basically a small ceramic bowl). I’ve heard of people making lava cakes in ceramic coffee mugs, and that might work for this recipe too, but I’ve not tried it. And to be honest, ramekins aren’t that expensive (especially on Amazon) and they’re great for other dishes, or even as bowls for dip, so get yourself some; you’ll use them. This recipe will make 4 small (~half filled), 3 good sized (~3/4 filled), or 2 “my” sized (full) servings.

Ingredients

  • butter (as needed) to coat the inside of the ramekins
  • 4 eggs (2 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate (chopped or chips)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Completely cover the inside of the desired (5 1/2 ounce) ramekins with butter. I keep these in the fridge while I mix the batter.
  2. Separate the two egg yolks first, in case you break the yolks you can still use it as one of the whole eggs.
  3. Blend together egg yolks, eggs, and sugar in a bowl, preferable with a hand mixer, but a whisk will work.
  4. Melt chocolate and 1/3 cup butter in a microwave-safe bowl for 1-2 minutes, checking every 15-20 seconds. Time required will vary depending on your microwave. Do not over-heat.
  5. Stir melted chocolate mixture into egg and sugar mixture until combined.
  6. Mix in cocoa powder.
  7. Add flour, salt and vanilla extract into the mixture and continue blending.
  8. Spoon or pour mixture evenly between the buttered ramekins. For the best presentation you can gently tap the ramekins on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
  9. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes (but you can prepare even a day in advance and leave in the fridge over night).
  10. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  11. Place the ramekins in a casserole dish. I’ve found that 4-6 ramekins fit nicely in a 9″x13″ dish but I use a smaller 8″x8″ if I’m doing less. Pour enough hot tap water into the casserole dish (not into the ramekins) to reach halfway up however far you filled the ramekins.
  12. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes.
  13. Remove from oven and cool for at least 15 minutes.
  14. Dust with powdered sugar.

Additional Thoughts:

  • If you buttered the ramekins well you should be able to remove the cake by loosening the edges with a knife and inverting onto a plate before dusting with powdered sugar. This looks a little more fancy but also makes an extra dish so I usually just serve in the ramekins.
  • Separating eggs really isn’t that hard, just watch a few you tube videos and take your time.
  • Using this recipe to make 3 servings seems to be the best amount for most people
  • The inside is supposed to me gooey / runny, that’s what makes it lava cake. But you can adjust the cooking time to get your desired texture.
  • I suggest making this once or twice before you try to make it to impress anyone else. I’ve never had it come out bad but it’s best to know what to expect from your oven.