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PICTORIAL: Thumb screws mod from John Grados into Jonathan Grados (No 56Ks Allowed!)

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
I searched far and wide for either a tutorial or pictorial, anything, but I couldn't find anything really helpful for the cautious, beginner DIYer. Thus in the spirit of DIY, I thought I'd take the first step.

Equipment used:
- 1 Grado with plastic headband connector
- 1 Drill
- 1 Dremel with that cutting bit
- 2 Thumb screws
- Drill bit set (I have 21 to choose from in my cheapo set)
- 1 pair Heat-resistant gloves

NB: having a tap for size-correspondent screws is preferred.

Here is the raw headband. Notice the tape on the right rod. I lost the little black cap in an unfortunate schmelting accident.


Here are the test screws. I wanted to get the oh-so popular round thumb screws you see on portable amps (try the AMB Mini3). Rona didn't have one, so I opted for the only thumb screws they had.

Here is my array of possible drill bits. You never know what the final size requirement for each screw will be, so you should be extra cautious when drilling.

Checking hole diameter. It's not quite there yet, but we must be patient.

Try again.

Nope, not yet.

Hm, I just realized these things are pretty long. I wonder if there's a simple cutting tool that can solve this problem.

Of course! The Dremel! Remember your goggles and gloves. Sparks went flying into the garbage can over which I was cutting the screw. I was afraid my used tissue might start a very smelly booger fire.
CAUTION: The screw gets pretty hot. That's what the gloves are for.

Ah, sweet success. That wasn't so hard, except that I skipped over a couple tries with other drill bits in a drill that requires one of those dagnab tightening keys.

Here we have the residue from just one side.

: Just because you found the right size for one screw doesn't mean it will fit on the other side just like that. Here is a picture of both of them inside their respective holes, except that the right one can't tighten at all. You have to go through the same arduous process of hand-matching drill bits like they're transistors to ensure a size match. This is one of those "Don't screw up or a nuclear bomb will explode inside a spaceship on top of an asteroid headed towards Earth that will kill everyone you love and don't know since you couldn't hold your horses for just another couple minutes of work and completeness" moments. Don't you just hate those moments?

I tried jamming stuff inside to increase the friction. What a stupid idea.

Instead I just drilled a hole underneath the first one, after rushing over to Rona to buy one more thumb screw with a little bit of a bigger diameter. I screwed up in the same way yet again, not realizing I could just redrill underneath the first hole. Here is the finished product.

Money shot.


Look out below!

Geronimo! The second hole will be a reminder to me of how I "cowboyed" this adventure. It's like the Canadian engineer's Iron Ring.

That's all it took. If done right you can get this done in 10 minutes including prep time. It took me a whopping hour because I had to rush out to Rona before they closed for the night (the one girl at the cashier both times didn't even recognize me after I came back, or she just didn't say anything) and I was being super careful. My two bits of clich├ęd advice:

1) Better safe than sorry. Make sure the hole is smaller than the screw. If you screw up, you'll never screw in.

2) Allow room for error (Alternately: Allow for breathing room). My thumb screws were drilled above the middle line of the plastic piece, so I could try again at the bottom half if I messed up, an investment I almost immediately cashed in after starting.

End result? Soundstage has doubled -- strike that -- tripled, and the highs aren't harsh anymore; they've found a perfect balance between precision and lushness. The bass has tightened up amazingly, and I feel like this is what an electrostat/electret would sound like in a perfect world. Amping has bumped the quality up to that of the HP2s, both in build impedance, quality, desirability and market value. Historically speaking, the Jonathan Grados (my name is Jonathan) are a one in a couple hundred thousand collector's item. Best investment of my life. And it only cost me 2.55 CAD, not including travel costs.


UPDATE Nov. 05, 07

Upon advice from this thread (and the fact that screws completely lost their bite), I went out and got an actual tap and new thumbscrews (shorter, so no Dremeling) to boot. While I was at it, I added some Dynamat sticky goo to the back of my drivers, as per kontai69's driver mod. See post #
post #2 of 34
So from what I gather the screws are gripping into the plastic purely by friction due to a tight fit. Is there any reason why you didn't use a 10-24 tap to cut proper threads instead?
post #3 of 34
those are some big shiny screws....
post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 
I didn't use a tap because I don't have one and also I'm running pretty low on funds. Midterm week is upon us, and I don't have time to work. Perhaps I shall invest in one eventually.

And the screws are actually digging into the plastic by some miracle. As such, I'm not going to be touching it for a long time. It ain't broke.
post #5 of 34
Well you could always order some replacement plastic blocks from Grado and do this project over later on.
post #6 of 34
Dude I wanna know where you got those pads? I could use a set of those...
post #7 of 34
Just be sure to not overtighten those bolts so you dont strip out the hole in the plastic.
post #8 of 34
If you were to do it again I'd recommend getting a smaller screw with a much finer thread and a matching nut.

Slide the rods out of the plastic blocks and drill a hole just a hair larger than the nut's outer diameter so it's a tight fit. Rough up the outer edges of the nut for good measure and then epoxy it into the hole
post #9 of 34
Originally Posted by dcheming View Post
Well you could always order some replacement plastic blocks from Grado and do this project over later on.
Since when did Grado actually start allowing people to buy parts?
post #10 of 34
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by labmat View Post
Dude I wanna know where you got those pads? I could use a set of those...
They're the GS1K pads, or Grado Jumbo pads, that you can find at any Grado dealer. I got mine from TTVJ.

I also glue-modded them, which seals in the bass and kicks it up a notch. It works along the same lines as the Grado Basshead mod.
post #11 of 34
In the future you would definitely want to use a tap. I understand the lack of monetary funds for this go around but a tap and matching drill bit would have cost a couple bucks at your local hardware store. Just food for thought, nice job taking the pictures and explaining what you were doing.
post #12 of 34
Wow, huge screw. How many foot-pounds did you torque her to? Did you use pipe dope on the threads?
post #13 of 34
Originally Posted by joneeboi View Post
It ain't broke.
It wasn't broke to start with was it?
post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 
I was referring to the expression, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." In that sense, it's working for me now, so I have no more real need to mess around with the screws.
post #15 of 34
hows the sound with the jumbo pads? better compared to bowls?
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