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 Precision Bass – Setup

I often get asked if I can set up a Bass guitar.  The simple answer is yes, there’s no real difference. Some of the numbers may be a little different but the principles are exactly the same.  It’s the same 5 point setup….

No.1  The neck relief.

By adjusting the truss-rod.

No.2  The action at the 12th fret.

By adjusting the bridge saddle heights.  Starting with the outside strings and then the others, to match the radius of the fretboard.

No.3  The action at the first fret, cutting the string slots in the nut if needed.

No.4  The Intonation, the relative position of the saddle up and down the string.  

No.5  the pickup heights.  Fairly subjective, to make sure the outputs from he pickups are even and balanced, bass/treb’

So there it is.  Set up nicely now.

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

Burns Steer – Setup

What a great looking guitar.  I’ve never really liked Burns guitars but this one’s rather lovely.

It’s an odd sort of thing, It’s got a sound hole, but there really isn’t any sound coming out of it?

Some of the frets are a little worn….

and just a little uneven.

A fret dress will sort out both problems.

So, off with the neck and out with the nut.

Level the neck…

Tape it up to protect it, some black marker so I can see where the file is touching.  As soon as I start you can see the low and high spots…

Once I’m down to the lowest point I can re-crown each fret.

and then re-polish them.

Finish that off with a good clean-up of the fretboard and it’s good to go, well good to re-fit it to the body.

The screws in the bridge are all a little gumed up and corroded..

So pull them all out and give them a good clean with a dremel and a wire brush.

Give the base a good polish and a spot of oil on the screws

The pots were a little lose but still had some of the original plastic film from the pick-guard.  Again, just a bit of a cleanup needed.

The pots’ were a little grubby inside as well, making them crackle as they were turned, so a little switch cleaner.

Once the strings were back it became obvious that the neck wasn’t quite on straight.

So just slacken off the screws a little and re-set it.

That’s better.  

All it needs now is 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.

Start with the outside “E” strings.

and then the other 4, to match the bridge radius with that of the fret-board.

No. 3  The action at the 1st fret.

Fine on the treble side but a little high on the E and A strings.

No. 4 The Intonation.

No. 5  The pickup heights.

There it goes, plays every bit as good as it looks now.

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

A word or 2 from the owner:

“An absolutely stunning job George, thank you for taking the Steer & turning it into a raging bull, a total joy to play now after spending 10 years as a piece of wall art”

Dean – EMG Pickup upgrade

Not quite my cup of tea but a nicely built guitar.

The owner has decided on a pickup upgrade so it should be a fairly simple job.

Off with the control knobs.

It’s all plug in so shouldn’t need any soldering, apart from the cable for the neck pickup, just not long enough so I spliced in some extra wire.

Back in place using the old pickup ring.

Even the pots and the electronics are simple plug in items.

A quick check of the pickup heights and it’s good to go.

So there it is, ready to rock…

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

Fender Telecaster – Body Transplant

Odd one this, I’ve been asked to fit a new neck to an old guitar but never fit a new body to an old neck?

I was a little sceptical at first, it was a nice guitar to start with, and I wasn’t very sure about that pink?

Some of the hardware is going to be transferred a well, starting with the control panel.

Unfortunately the new knobs are splined but the old pots’ have solid shafts!  I’ll have to replace the pots’ as well then.

The strap buttons should be simple.  

The neck should have been easy, but unfortunately the holes in the body were just a little out.  So I drilled the old holes out….

and plugged them.  All I’ll do is drill new holes later.  There’s quite a way to go before that though….

At a first fit it looks like the neck is going to line up OK.  The question is which bit do you fix in place first?

The neck overlaps the scratch-plate so that has to go in first, but I don’t know where to put it until the neck is in place?

With the scratch-plate lined up on the neck it left an uneven gap between the scratch-plate and ash-tray bridge.

It should all line up like that in the end, just needs some careful attention to detail.

The one thing that can only go in one place is the bridge, so that’s where I need to start.

Since the neck pickup wires have to pass through the rear cavity I do need to fit that one first.  and of course the bridge pickup fits in the ash-tray before it’s screwed down.

With the bridge fixed in place I can now accurately judge the neck angle…

and re-drill the holes in the neck.

With the neck and bridge fixed now I can accurately locate the scratch-plate.   

The next problem was the jack cup.  The hole in the body is just slightly too small for the fender cup.  I don’t really like them anyway so I’m going to fit a screw in one.

So with the new pots’ wired in all it needs now is a new set of strings and a setup.

Starting of course with the neck relief.  Theoretically since it came off a perfectly good guitar it should be OK.

But it wasn’t so a little tweek on the truss-rod.

Next the action at the 12th fret.  That was always going to need to be done.

Start with the outside strings…..

and then the inside four, to match the radius of the fetboard.

Next the action at the first fret.  That was OK.

And the Intonation.  Always a bit of a compromise with three screw Tele’ bridges.

And there it is.  The photos don’t really do it justice, now it’s finished I think it’s gorgeous!  An with the Fender pickups and hardware it sounds as good as it looks.

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

Les Paul – Final Assembly

What a great guitar!  A friend of mine has been working on an Epiphone Les Paul.  He’s done some fantastic work on the finish.  It’s a gorgeous satin finish with just enough of the natural wood showing through.  Pity, but the photographs don’t really do it justice!  I was called in at the last minute just to help with the final assembly and setup….

I just love that finish….

There are also some problems with the fret ends.  They were never really finished off terribly well.  some of them are quite sharp…

Some of them are a little short, but there isn’t really much I can do about that without replacing them, but at least I can tidy up the ends….

A with a nice fine fret file….

Since we’re finishing it off with the best quality parts a bone nut will finish it all off nicely.   

The first stage is to get it to roughly the right length…

It’s also a little too thick to the slot..

so grind it down to fit the slot..

like that.

Next get the ends nice and square, well not quite square since the sides of the neck aren’t quite square at that point.

Fits nicely now.

next a rough height…

and angle on the back edge.

Of course it needs slots for the strings.  I normally aim for about 3mm from the edge of the neck to the string.

and the other string slots..

With the nut in place I can fit the strings, and with the “E” strings I can work out exactly where the pickup is to be fitted.  Squared off against the bridge…

and centrally under the outside strings.

Just there….

With a single pickup the wiring is at least very simple, and a fantastic sounding pickup as well.

With the guitar together all it needs now is a standard 5 point setup.

No.1:  The neck relief…

A Little high..

so tighten the truss-rod a little.

No.2:  The action at the 12th Fret..

By setting the bridge height.

No.3:  The action at the 1st fret.  Way too high.  I wasn’t trying to get the action right when I cut the new nut, if I get it too low a can’t correct that so I deliberately left it a little high.

Perhaps not that high but then better safe than sorry…

So file each slot down to the right depth…

It does rather leave the rest of the nut rather tall though…

so back to the grinding wheel and shave the top down…..

With it back in place and the strings fitted again now it looks good.

So back to the setup..

No.4:  The intonation.

No.5:  The pickup height.  Since it’s only got one pickup it’s a little more simple.

And there it is.  I have to say I absolutely love it!  Sadly the owner turned up today to take it away, I did hope he’d forget all about it, never mind, it’s gone to a good home.

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