Complete EPI custom setup

Discussion in 'Epiphone Les Pauls' started by Roman, Jul 30, 2008.

  1. Bizarro

    Bizarro Senior Member

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    This definitely should be made into a sticky. Very informative. Thank you for this. I am looking forward to the rest of the story.
     
  2. Hectgore

    Hectgore Senior Member

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    Ah,well thats what im going to see tomorrow too lol.Ive never had my gutiars setup profesionally,but this one really needed it.I bet theyll be a big difference in playability though.

    I say you should at least get a basic setup
    fret level,fix the nut,adjust the truss rod,adjust the action,fix the intonation and etc.

    The rest can wait until you want to mess around with pots and electronics.
    Maybe someone here knows of a tech near your area thats really good.
     
  3. Roman

    Roman Master Luthier V.I.P. V.I.P. Member

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    A lot of new players experience this phenomena. As you get better, you WILL be able to tell the difference.

    I would be willing to bet though, that you could tell the difference right now..:naughty:

    There is all the factory hype about "pro set up". They are not.

    It takes me hours to do a good setup, the factories simply do not have that luxury of that time. Out the door is the motto.

    What a lot of players fall into is the "this is as good as it gets" syndrome.

    I will do a setup for some one that previously liked the instrument...........and then we made it better. It does make a difference. :thumb:

    Roman
     
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  4. ac4rd

    ac4rd Senior Member

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    Romeo, when the monsters get together to talk, THEY say, "That Roman, he's a MONSTER!" :) You are just flat amazing, and it is INCREDIBLY nice of you to share a bit of your amazing skills and experience with the rest of us! THANK YOU!
     
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  5. Roman

    Roman Master Luthier V.I.P. V.I.P. Member

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    Now I do a complete scraping of the fingerboard. There are a couple of reasons for this.

    1) I get all the super glue off.

    2) I smooth out the inlays and make sure all are level to the rosewood

    3) It always appears on import guitars that there is some type of coating on the fingerboard. When they are brand new, they do not look and feel like wood, but wood with a plastic coating.

    I don't know exactly what it is but I don't like it. So, I scrape it off and get to real wood!

    Also, we need a good surface for the oil to seep into.

    4) This is also the point where we start to "Roll" the binding.

    I do this with the razor blade. As I am scraping I take the blade at an angle on the edge of the binding and take off the square edge.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Roman

    Roman Master Luthier V.I.P. V.I.P. Member

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    At this point, with a smaller file I take all the sharp edges off of the ends of the frets. People get used to them, but once they are gone it feels much better!

    [​IMG]

    Now, I lightly go over the tops of the frets again with the larger fret file.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Sinmastah

    Sinmastah Epi Verification Expert V.I.P. Member

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    Thanks Roman, you are the man! This will help a lot of people, espicially because a lot of newer people start with Epi's, and they don't know how to do a set up. People with Gibsons have been there and done that.

    BTW what do you do with white gunk in the fretboard cracks. I heard a toothbrush works, but didn't help.
     
  8. Roman

    Roman Master Luthier V.I.P. V.I.P. Member

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    Thanks, man.

    I think the white gunk is left over buffing compound. The factories buff the fingerboard and frets to make it "look good"

    When do the work on the fingerboard it is gone.

    Roman
     
  9. Sinmastah

    Sinmastah Epi Verification Expert V.I.P. Member

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    It didn't come with it from the factory, I think its from skin cells and sweat, I forgot that you are supposed to wipe the fret board down when you play for a while. At least thats what I've been told. I'll see if I can get a pic up.
     
  10. Roman

    Roman Master Luthier V.I.P. V.I.P. Member

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    Up to this point most of the work has been rough work. Now it is time for some finesse.

    With a very fine file, I start to roll out the binding edges. this rounds and smooths then out.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a shot, not a good picture mind you, but anyway a shot of the fingerboard after the file and the edges have been sanded.

    If you will notice in the bottom left, there is an old fashioned fingernail board. this works great!

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. arcanis494

    arcanis494 V.I.P. Member

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  12. Roman

    Roman Master Luthier V.I.P. V.I.P. Member

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    Now, with my trusty old 3 corner file I get ready to smooth things out.

    I make a lot of my tools, as all the veterans have. Remember, Stew mac wasn't always here.:D

    A lot of old school luthiers use a 3 corner file exclusively for the fret shaping. Me, I am not that hardcore. I use both, this file and the store bought files.

    [​IMG]


    With the 3 corner file I round the fret edges as well as rough shape the crown of the fret.

    [​IMG]

    With my crowning files, I round the frets making sure to still have a bit of the top that is untouched.

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. diceman

    diceman V.I.P. Member

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    Good stuff. I'm learning a lot!
     
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  14. Roman

    Roman Master Luthier V.I.P. V.I.P. Member

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    Glad to hear it diceman:)

    Ok, moving on.

    The frets are ready for sanding. I tape off the fingerboard so I do not scratch it.

    [​IMG]


    Some people use fancy "sanding sticks" I use my fingers. With my finger I can control the pressure and "feel" what is going on.

    I put pressure on only the sides of the fret, so as not to take any meat off of the top.

    I start with 220 and go down to 600 grit.

    [​IMG]

    Then I take an old auto body sander and make sure the tops are still level and intact.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Roman

    Roman Master Luthier V.I.P. V.I.P. Member

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    I am done with shaping and sanding now. Time to smooth and polish.

    Keeping the tape on, I go though various grits of steel wool till I have all the sanding marks out and the frets begin to get a shine to them
    [​IMG]

    Next, the tape comes off and it is time to oil.


    More to come..........

    Roman
     
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  16. GNR4EVR

    GNR4EVR Epi Verification Expert V.I.P. Member

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    Very Nice!
     
  17. lifele55

    lifele55 Senior Member

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    Seriously, this is top notch RFR.

    As always, pictures speak a million words.. some even words can't describe! Learning a heck load just from these 2 pages. Looking forward to how the fretboard looks like.. I hate looking at all those white spots and have been trying to get them out.

    HUGE thanks RFR for not leaving us Epiphone lovers out.
     
  18. Sinmastah

    Sinmastah Epi Verification Expert V.I.P. Member

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    Too bad we all don't have that kind of stuff though :(
     
  19. -graham-

    -graham- Senior Member

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    +1 and even then I couldn't bring myself to file away at my guitar :Ohno:, I'm not much of a handyman...
     
  20. Roman

    Roman Master Luthier V.I.P. V.I.P. Member

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    The tape is now off and we oil the board. I usually do it a couple of times on a dry board.

    My preference is good old fashioned Old English lemon oil. I have been using it for years.

    I apply it, let it soak in for about a half hour, wipe off the excess and repeat.

    Here it is soaking

    [​IMG]

    Here it is after the oil. The fingerboard is now much darker as well.

    [​IMG]

    sorry for the poor photos, but any white stuff on the fingerboard that people have complained about, is gone.

    Its funny, I got a newer, better digital camera. but I take better pictures with my old crappy one.

    Anyway.............................

    The last step I do on the neck is to buff the frets. I use a piece of cowhide. Just like the old barber shops used to finish the edge on the razors.

    This shines them up, and you don't have to use polishing compounds or other stuff that will want to get in the pores of the fretboard.

    Some guys use a dremel with a small buffing wheel attachment, I like the leather.

    [​IMG]
     

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