Gibson Copy – Complete overhaul

Well here’s an interesting project.  Want a Les Paul but can’s afford one?  Well I know that feeling.  There are some, not too bad, Chinese copies out there.  The trouble is the hardware tends to be rather cheap and nasty.  A decent one can be a good starting point though.  Just replace everything else!!

With all the old hardware off I need to also sort out the frets.  They’re all over the place, this one would never have played properly.  A fret dress then to get them all level.

We’re even getting down to the pickup rings, which were the wrong colour. Rather than just bend the new ones around the top I’m going to sand them to fit.

Some low adhesive drafting tape to protect the top and sticky back sandpaper.  That way as I sand down the bottom of the ring it’ll fit perfectly.

Some of the other genuine Gibson parts aren’t going to fit either.  The holes for the jack-plate are in the wrong place.

So drill out the old holes…

and plug them.

Once the glue dries cut them flush…

re-drill new holes and screw it in place.

There’s also a problem with the holes for the new pots’  too small.

Not too difficult to tease them out a little.

That’s the new pots in place.

All I need now are the pickups and put the wiring together.

There it all is. The screw holes for the backing plate were too close to the edge as well, so I glued a couple of strips of wood in the cavity, so the screws will have something to grip.   

Next the nut.  Out with the cheap plastic one and carve a new bone one.

Once it’s fitted it needs new slots cutting into the top.

That’s a good starting point.   I’ll cut the slots to the right depth as a part of the setup later.

A good quality bridge and tail to lift it from the average.

With all the new bits and pieces fitted, and a new set of strings, all it needs now is a full setup.

No.1 The neck relief.

with a twist on the truss-rod.

No.2  The action at the 12th fret.  Very low, but then I have just fitted a new bridge, obviously I got it wrong and set it very low.

Ease the bridge up and wind the adjusters.

No.3  the action back up at the 1st fret.  Those slots in the nut.

The slots need to be cut down quite a bit to get the playing action right.

That left the nut rather tall so I took the strings off and filed it down a little.

It’s a really nice roller bridge, being new the intonation needs setting properly.

That break action is a little extreme so the tail needs to come up a little.

Lastly the pickup heights.  Once again, as I’ve only just fitted them, they were always going to need a final adjustment.

There we go.  A close inspection will tell It from the real thing but at least this one plays really nicely and sounds terrific.

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