Hofner President Bass – Refurbishment

What a lovely old guitar.  I don’t quite know how old it is but it’s a beauty.  Sadly I don’t think it’s been out of its case for quite some time and is in need of a little TLC.

None of the electrics are working for a start.

The bridge is missing a couple of its saddles….

along with the height adjustment wheels.  There were a couple of washers and curtain hooks holding it up?

There are a couple of other minor bits and pieces, the arm has come adrift of the scratch-plate and the screw hole is a little slack.

Rather than try and clean the existing volume and tone pots’ I replaced them all.

Before all that, I gave the body a good clean and polish.

including the fret-board.

Since the pots were replaced I used all new wire.  The template was to give me the layout so none of the wires went immediately behind the sound hole.

There was another problem mind you, standard size pots’ were too large to fit via the sound hole.

No only that, the shaft is too wide to fit the control knobs.

With a new set of mini-pots that’s where they all need to go.

Just like that.

I had to wait a while to fit it all though.  One of the pickups didn’t work at all so I sent it off to Radioshop Pickups to have it sorted out.  Follow the link here to check out Radioshop pickups. They really do a fantastic job.

While I was waiting for the pickup to come back (unfortunately the Post Office took just about a month to get the pickup to South Wales, I could have walked and got it there quicker!) I turned my attention to the rest of the guitar.  First then the bridge.

The pictures are a little fuzzy, but the bottom part of the bridge doesn’t follow the curve of the top.

With some low-tac drafting tape and sticky backed sand-paper it’s a fairly simple task to sand the bottom down to match the top.

Before..

After…

With the refurbished pickup back, time now to put it all back together.

To make it a little easier I extended the earth wire a little

Always a fiddly job, working through the sound hole but that’s the wiring back together.

A new set of strings and it’s looking good.  All it needs now is a standard setup.

The zero-fret and scale length made it impossible to use my straight edge to measure the neck relief.  So put a capo at the first fret….  

Press down at the last…

and measure the gap between the fret and the string half way up the neck.  Way too much curve so I tightened up the truss-rod.

Next the action at the 12th fret.  It was way too high so I needed to bring the bridge down by quite a bit.

Unfortunately the new bridge was already at its lowest..

So I took a lump off the bottom, you can just about see the pencil marks that I aimed for…

Rather than just keep the flat bottom I took a little more off at each end, to make a space for the thumb-wheels.

So there it is, working nicely now.  The rest of the setup was easy, the action at the 1st fret was just fine and with the bridge back in it’s original position the intonation was fine.

Lastly, back to that support arm for the scratch-plate.

And there it is, ready for another 50 years or so.

For any other services, just follow the link to http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

Gretsch – Setup

I do love a big semi-acoustic. For a Chinese made guitar these are excellent value.  This one’s been fiddled around with a little though, so it needs a setup.

It’s fairly new so doesn’t really need any cleaning as such, but a splash of lemon oil never goes amiss.

A little polish on the top before fitting new strings.  The bridge is pinned on this one so there’s no problem in getting the position right.

So with a new set of strings fitted a 5 point setup is al that’s needed.

  1.  The neck relief..

2.  The action at the 12th fret.

3.  The action at the first fret.

4.  The intonation.

5.  The pickup heights.

There it is, ideal for a bit of rockabilly action.

If there is anything else you need then check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

Custom Stratocaster – Build

I usually enjoy a complete guitar build, something to get my teeth into and turn out something nice.  It helps to work with the customer first mind you, to make sure I get bits that work together.  The trouble with cheaper parts, from various places it can be a bit of a challenge!

At first It all looked good….

But before I even start, spot the first problem?  Yes, the body is cut for 2 humbuckers and a single coil but it’s come with a set of single coils!

The cavities may be bigger, but there isn’t enough space for the screws on the single coils…

That’s where they’re going to have to go.  

So I need to rout out a little more wood each side.

Just a little here and there…

Next problem, with the bridge.  I hate working with cheaper parts like this, It’s always worth getting genuine Fender or similar high quality parts if you possibly can, they fit and work far better.  The holes on the bridge don’t line up with the holes in the body!  I’ll re-drill them centrally so that the trem’ sits in it’s cavity and doesn’t foul on the sides.  Otherwise it won’t move properly.  The neck alignment might be a problem later on though.

The silver pickup covers were also very difficult to fit, very tight.

Next the nut, guess what, it doesn’t fit either, too long and too thick.

A little bit of sanding should do the trick.

At least the pickups and electrics fit, well fit on the pick-guard anyway.

I might have known it wouldn’t just drop in place though….

Something in there doesn’t quite fit properly…

Not enough space for the wiring in the single coil configuration, so a little more work there.

Looking at the little odds and sods, the tip for the tremolo arm is much too loose so I glued it into place.

On the other hand the tip for the pickup switch was too small so a little filling on the switch shaft.

The fret-board was very dry so some lemon-oil to bring it back to life.

With the strings fitted, as I suspected the neck didn’t line up properly….

So off with the neck and a little work on the neck pocket.

All it needs now is a standard 5 point setup.

No.1  The neck relief.  Amazingly about right!

No.2  The action at the 12th fret.

Of course I need to get the tremolo action right first.  It was a little high.

so tighten up the springs in the back.

With the tremolo set the action was still never going to be right, so up with the bridge saddles, starting with the outside “E” strings.

Once they’re in place set the remaining saddle heights, to match the fret-board radius.

No.3  The action at the 1st fret.  The bass E and A strings were a little high….

so cut the slots down a little.

While I’m at that end it needs a string tree on the 2 treble strings.

No.5  The Intonation, to make sure chords sound in tune all the way up the neck.

Just the last little bits then, the cover for the trem’ springs.

Just about fits…

Lastly, strap buttons.  establish the centreline

and then the mid-point…

about there then…

So there it is.  If there is anything else you need, from a re-string to a complete bespoke guitar then just check out www.guitar-george.co.uk

Gretsch – Bridge, Nut and Bigsby update

I like these, great value, really well made although there are some slight problems.

Much as I love a Bigsby they do have one or 2 weak points.  The first one is not staying in tune, or more correctly not returning to tune once you use the trem.

Part of the problem is the bridge saddles and the friction there.  By replacing the bridge for one with roller saddles.  

A really easy swap, one off one on.

It also niggles me that the arm travel is limited by the lug one the swivel.

A simple enough job to file it away..

Now the arm is free to swivel all the way up.

While I’m at it the other reason guitars don’t seem to stay in tune is the nut and the strings sticking there.

I much prefer Bone to any other material so, using the old nut as a guide cut and shape a new one.

There it is, with a more flexible tremolo arm.

For anything else you may need go to http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

Epiphone – Fret Dress and Setup

I rather like these, I’m always a sucker for a semi-acoustic.

This one’s brand new but sadly isn’t playing very well.

the pickups still even have the plastic film on them.

The biggest problem is in the frets, some of them a very uneven..

So out with the nut…

and level the neck.

Tape it up to protect it.

Using the calibrated beam to grind the fret tops down to a common level.

You can see as I started where all the high spots are.

Once all the fret tops are even they just need to be rounded off again.

and then re-polished.

a spot of Lemon Oil on the fretboard.

Back to that nut.  Rather than put the plastic one back I’m going to make a new bone one.

First get it to the right thickness..

and then get it cut to the right length and squared off.

About like that…

Then got the top to the right shape.

with an angle on the back edge.

With it in place mark the string positions.

So with a new set of strings all it needs now is a standard 5 point setup.  Starting with the neck set.

with a twist on the truss-rod.

next the action at the 12th fret.

starting at the outside “E” strings….

followed by the other strings, to match the radius of the fretboard.

Back to that new nut.  Now is the time to cut the string slots down to the right depths.

With the string action all sorted set the intonation.  It turns out that the bridge is basically in the wrong place by about 5-6mm, I had to take the springs out to move the saddles far enough backwards.

Lastly, the pickup heights.  To make sure their outputs are balanced.

And there it is.  Can’t say better than new, as it is new, just better!

For any other guitar problems check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

A word or 2 from the owner:

“It plays well now thanks to George”

Fender Stratocaster – Hard Tail

This is a rather nice US Strat, just needs a little tweek here and there.  The basic setup wasn’t far off ,although the intonation was all over the place.

The owner also didn’t like the tremolo, he doesn’t really use it so I’m going to block it off.

You can just clamp the trem’ claw springs all the way in, but if you want to maximise the sustain you need to fit a wooden block that will sit between the trem’ block and the body.

It needs to fit the gap exactly, so has to be cut and shaped accurately.

  Just like that.    

A little bit of glue to hold it in place.  Although once the trem’ is re-fitted and the springs tightened up it’s never going to move.

There it is, with the trem’ re-fitted and the springs tightened fully.

It’s not going to move now.

All it needs now is full 5 point setup…..

There it is, rockin’ better than ever, with a nice solid tail.

For anything else you may need just check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

Epiphone SG – Bone nut and setup

I’ve rather fancied one of these myself.  One of these years.  This one just has a few problems though, the biggest one being not staying in tune.

Most tuning stability problems come from the nut, bending a string pulls it through a little but when you let go it doesn’t go back fully, leaving the string out of tune.

I still don’t think you can beat good old fashioned bone for the nut so I’m just going to replace the old one.

While the strings are off, a good clean…

and oil.

So on to that new nut. From a large blank, start by cutting it roughly down to size.  

And then grind it down to the right thickness..

With it fitting in the slot next get it to the right length.  

Then shape the top, using the old nut as a guide.

With the shape and profile done glue it back into place.

Mark out the location for the outside “E” strings.

noting that the bass “E” string is thicker than the other so it’s the outside edge that’s important.

With that then mark up the other strings locations.

and start the slots.  Being careful not to go too deep, just enough so hold the strings in place.

Now a standard 5 point setup..

No.1  The neck relief.

with a tweek on the truss-rod.

No.2  The action at the 12th fret…    

by adjusting the bridge heights

No.3  The action at the first fret.  Way too high of course…

Now I can cut the slots to the right depth.

That does leave the top of the nut a little high and rather ugly.

So take the strings off again and file the top down to a reasonable profile.

That’s better.

All I need to do then is to check the intonation and pickup heights and it’s good to go.

And there it is, all done.

For any other guitar needs check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

Gibson les-Paul – Fret Dress

A nice one here, just a little worn…

You can see the worn spots here…

So off with the strings, level the neck and tape it up to protect it while I’m working.

I believe in doing the whole lot together, with adhesive backed sandpaper and a calibrated beam.

You can see there were some low points as well.

That’s just about done…

All I need to do now is to round off the tops of each fret.

And then re-polish them.

There we go, look at that….

All it needs now is a standard 5 point setup and it’ll be as good as new, probably better!

So there we are ready to go back into service.

A word or 2 from the owner:

“Thanks ‘George’ for the great work plays great now – can highly recommend – it will be out in public tomorrow night at the NAV in Newark.”

For all your other guitar service needs check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

Gibson Les Paul – Setup

A nice one this. just needing a little work to get it playing nicely.

Before anything else I like to start with a good clean.

A spot of Lemon Oil to keep the wood in good condition.

So a full setup, starting with the neck relief…

with a small twist on the truss-rod.

Next the action at the 12th fret, a little high…

so drop the bridge down a little.

Then the action up at the first fret, again just a little high.

so cut the slots in the nut a little deeper.

There was also another problem, not staying in tune.  The most common cause of that is a sticky nut.  teasing out the slots will hopefully cure that but, just in case though, a little Guitar Grease.

Next then the Intonation.

and last thing the pickup heights.

And there it is, ready to rock.

For all your guitar servicing needs check out http://www.guitar-george.co.uk

Fender Showmaster – Fret-dress and setup

What  beautiful piece of wood.  Sadly it’s a little worn and actually wasn’t very well built in the first place, but I can sort all that out…

As I say, some of the frets up at the paying end are rather worn.

Some of the frets are way off.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Fender as bad as this.  I can even get a feeler gauge under the fret rocker!

So tape up and level the fretboard.

Then grind down all the fret tops to the lowest common point.

You can see the high points, where the black marker has been sanded away, and low points where the marker pen is still there.  That’s bad….

You can see just how low the first fret is as well, This guitar can’t ever have really played well.  

I had to go a long way, this was the lowest point but you can see how flat some of the frets are now.

With that done now I need to round the tops off again.

The one on the left has been done and the one in the middle is about half way.

Once that’s done they need to be polished again, using 4 finer and finer grades of micromesh.

Just like that.

While the strings are off a spot of lemon oil on the fretboard to stop the wood drying out.

A small spot of glue to fix the nut back in place.

With the new strings fitted all it needs now is a tweek here or there on the setup.  The first thing is the tremolo.  It’s sitting rather flat on the body and will only bend notes down.

So slacken the trem’ springs off a little.

That’s better, comes up and down now.

With that working all it needs is a standard 5 point setup.

No.1 The neck relief.

with a turn on the truss-rod.

No.2 The action at the 12th fret…

by adjusting the bridge saddle heights.  Starting with the outside “E” strings and then the others to match the radius of the fretboard.

No.3 the action at the 1st fret.  Something that was about right.

No.4  The intonation, so that it plays in tune all the way up the neck.

Lastly the pickup heights.  To give a nice balanced output.

And there it is, better now than when it was new.

For anything else check out www.guitar-george.co.uk.

A word or 2 from the owner:

“George transformed my Fender Showmaster with a fret dress/level and set-up at a very fair price. Loving it!”