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

Simon & Patrick acoustic – Reduce action height

Not the greatest of guitars, but could still play a lot better.  It just needs the action height bringing down a little….

Before I take the strings off I like to set the neck relief where it should be, so I can tell exactly how high the bridge is.

Now I know exactly how much to take off the bottom of the bridge saddle.

While the strings are off the fret-board needs a good clean…    

and oil….

So back to that bridge saddle, that’s how much that’s got to come off the bottom…

Got a new tool to make this really easy.  Just clamp it in place with the bit you want to remove sticking out…

and file it down on a flat surface.

This leaves the bottom perfectly flat and square, easy paesy…..

I’ve changed the gauge of the strings which means the neck set will have changed.

so another slight change on the truss-rod.

Hopefully it all comes together with the right action back up at the 12th fret, which it did.

Then the action back up at the 1st fret.  That was a little high as well,

so cut the slots in the nut down a little…

And there it is, ready for action and playing nicely now.

If there is anything else you 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

Martin – Bone nut and saddle

How does your guitar sound?  One simple improvement is to replace the existing nut and saddle with bone ones…

I’m a traditionalist and I really like traditional bone nuts and saddles.

To make sure I get the size exactly right I need to get the action setup properly first.  

The neck was a little too curved, so a twist on the truss rod.

Now I know just how high the new bridge needs to be.

It needs to be exactly that shape, just a little shorter.

Get it roughly the right length to start with.

and then the top to the right curve.

The blank was also rather too thick so it needs to be thinned down.

With the end rounded off it now fits the guitar.

So then get the height right.

The top also needs to be sharpened to a neat ridge, compensated to correctly intonate each of the strings.

Just like that…..

Much the same with the nut.  Out with the old…

Just a case of cutting, grinding and sanding a bone blank to the shape of the old one.

Rough length…

Correct thickness..

Once it fits the slot….

Get the ends flush with the neck.

and the shape of the top.

Glue it in place…

Mark the outside strings…

and the other 4….

With the strings back and at tension I can measure how deep to cut the slots…

There it goes, paying and sounding really great.

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

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 Les-Paul – Fret dress and bone nut

Nothing particularly odd about this one.  A fairly standard fret dress to even out a few playing problems.

and a nice bone nut.

It’s got a lovely colour, I don’t think I’ve seen one like that before.

I rather like the poker chip, I’ve never seen one of these either!!

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

A word or 2 from the owner:

“And plays a lot better love this guitar, I’d recommend George 100% bb”

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

Epiphone Sheraton – TLC

Here’s a beautiful little guitar, just needs a little attention and an upgrade or 2 along the way…

The frets are rather worn for a starter….

and it came with a nice pair of Gibson pickups……

To start with, out with the old, the old nut…

off with the volume and tone knobs, so I can pull out the electrics.

There’s nothing wrong with the existing pots etc. so I’m going to re-use them…..

Before the electrics I need to sort the mechanics though.  So flatten out the neck….

and tape up the neck to protect it while I’m working on it.

With that done it’s just a case of grinding everything down to the lowest point….

Having put marker pen on the frets beforehand you can see where the levelling beam isn’t yet touching.

Once I’ve got the common level the fret tops need to be rounded off again.

and then re-polished.

With the frets nice and clean…….

a good clean-up of the fretboard…..

That always leaves it a rather dry so a little lemon oil to reinvigorate it.

Back to the electrics, with the new pickups in place.

and the old electrics..

The other upgrade is the nut, I’m replacing the old plastic one with a bespoke bone one.

First grinding it down to the right thickness to fit the slot…

and then the ends to blend it in with the neck.

and of course the shape of the top….

That’s it in place, of course it needs string slots….

making sure the spaces between the strings are equal.

The bridge was a little gummed up so I pulled it apart and gave it a good clean.

With it all back together all it needs now is a full setup, starting by putting the truss-rod back to where it should be….

Next the action up at the 12th fret….

by adjusting the bridge height.   

Then the action back up at the first fret.  The action there was going to be very high since I only put shallow groves in the new nut.

Now’s the time to cut the slots to the correct depth..

That often leaves the top of the nut a little high..

so I’ll file that down to a reasonable level..

That’s better….

With all that done the intonation needs to be re-set.

And last of all, the height of those new pickups.  

That’s always rather subjective though.  You really have to listen to the outputs to get that right.

so there it is, ready to rock and roll… Looking, playing and sounding spectacular if I say so myself!

For anything else 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

Gretsch Pro-Jet – Tuning stability upgrade

I love these guitars, the best value out there in their price range but this one has a common problem.  It’s common to most guitars with Bigsbys, tuning stability.  Use the tremolo and it doesn’t always return to normal.  There are a couple of things that can be done….

While I’m at it, why do they put the stop on the swivel? You can’t move the arm any higher than this…  So you can’t pick the bass side and reach the arm?  I’ve never understood why?  I’m going to have a go at that while I’m at it….

The most common cause of tuning stability problems is the nut.  When you bend a string or use the trem’ the string pulls through the slot but doesn’t go fully back again, leaving the string out of tune and the note slightly flat.  The secret is to reduce the friction.

The same applies to the bridge.  The existing bridge (top) has simple slots for the strings to pass over.  I’m replacing it with a roller bridge (bottom) to reduce the friction at that end as well.

In this case it’s an easy, one-for-one swap.  The intonation will need to be reset, and it’s slightly taller so that might need adjusting a little as well.

While I’m at it then, that lug stopping the arm from swivelling higher.

Quite easy to file off….

When it comes to the nut, I prefer bone, I still don’t think you can beat it.  It does to take some work though, each one has to be individually cut and shaped by hand.

The old on (top) and the new one, just needs the slots.

There it is, and with an arm that moves all the way round as well.

Seems to holding it’s tuning as well, I guess only time will tell!

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