My first Les Paul project guitar. A $50 Kopy Kat made in Japan.

Discussion in 'Other Single-Cuts' started by Antmax, May 21, 2017.

  1. Antmax

    Antmax Junior Member

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    Someone had it on craigslist for $100. I sent them what info I could find and said I'd be interested in it for a bit less if they haven't sold it by the weekend. They said I could have it for $50.
    I haven't heard of this brand and the only example I could find online was http://www.maindragmusic.com/vintage-kopy-kat-lp-copy-by-greco-was-950-00.html

    They claim it is a Greco. Anyway, since it's a bolt on neck it's probably not particularly valuable. Needs some work. I mostly got it because I've been doing my own setups on my other three guitars. And I'm at the stage where I want to try fret leveling. I figured a vintage MIJ would be much nicer than a modern budget guitar. And one I might actually enjoy after the work is done.

    It has no bridge or tail piece, someone chipped off some wood removing the nut. and the frets need leveling and crowning. I plugged it in and knobs, switch and the pickups work perfectly when I tap them with something metal.

    Here's a pic after some lemon oil on the fretboard and windex on the body. Not sure if it is a poly finish. The inside of the gig bag it came in smelt a bit like pot lol.

    [​IMG]

    So it seems like it's easily worth $50. I can get the parts I need for about $100 and have a spare JB B and 59 N if I don't like the pickups. Thr flamed front and binding is all intact with minimal issues. the back has some nicks around the edges and missing screws. But pretty good overall.

    Any information about the guitar would be cool. It has Kopy Kat inlay in the headstock and Made in Japan on the neck plate. Not seeing any other identifying marks or serial numbers.

    Not too bothered about value, just hope it plays nice when it's in working order.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2017
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  2. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Senior Member

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    Nice, I love rimbursts!
     
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  3. Antmax

    Antmax Junior Member

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    Cool, I didn't know the term rimburst till now. Might come in handy.
     
  4. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Senior Member

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    Not to be confused with the job. :naughty:
     
  5. scott 351 wins

    scott 351 wins Senior Member

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    couldn't one experience a rimburst while performing a rimjob? :naughty:
     
  6. Side Burns

    Side Burns Senior Member

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    ;) I'd rather experience a rimjob while performing on a rimburst........ but different strokes lol
     
  7. chasenblues

    chasenblues Senior Member

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    "[​IMG]
    Parent brand:
    BRUNO & SONS
    product types:
    • banjos
    • mandolins
    • acoustic guitars
    • classical guitars
    • electric guitars
    Information:
    There was a full range of Castilla classical, acoustic, electric and bass guitars as well as banjos and mandolins. The Castilla Kopy Kat series were straightforward copies of the popular Fender and Gibson electric guitar models.

    Castilla guitars were made in Asia (probably Japan) in the mid 1970s for the New York wholesaler C. Bruno & Sons, which in turn was owned by the Kaman Corporation.
     
  8. Antmax

    Antmax Junior Member

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    Sweet. Thanks for the info chasenblues.

    I found the bridge in a pocket of the gig bag it came in. So just need a tailpiece too be able to string it. I have a compatible nut from the short scale ibanez in my profile pic.
     
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  9. Antmax

    Antmax Junior Member

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    Well, I got the parts to get the LP playable. Just some of the nicer cheap parts at GFS. It plays pretty well even with fret wear and those pickups sound really nice.

    But I'm probably going to have to replace all the frets. they are historic style frets and a bit awkward if your used to medium and extra jumbo frets. I have a hard time adapting to them being so close to the fretboard, I guess I feel them to get my bearings sometimes.

    I'm not too familiar with Les Pauls. The GFS bridge seems to be based on the classic LP one with the wire retainer. I had to switch all the saddled around to get proper intonation, the wire retainer reduced travel slightly when the bridge had the screws facing the tailpiece and I'm still slightly off with low E.

    The GFS Tailpiece is really nice and solid brass but let down with really short studs. It's bolted straight down rather than having the horse shaped slots that slide over the studs for maximum surface contact. Problem is the studs that come with the bridge are a bit on the short side. The original stud bushings are long and glued in. I ended up keeping them, but the studs were way too short and the top of the Japanese bushings are smooth the first 1/4 inch as though they are supposed to accomodate a shank. So I ended up temporarily using some spare screws from my Car car lol.

    Here's some pics.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Here's photos of the Brass GFS Tailpiece and studs for reference, just in case it's helpful to someone. I think the studs are too short for any bushings which kind of defeats some of the benefit of the chunky brass tail since it wouldn't be as solidly anchored as one might like.

    [​IMG]

    Anyway, I was pleasantly happy with how it sounded. I replaced the 3 way switch and output jack with switchcraft. The originals were quite worn.

    Not sure if the Pups are the original stock Japanese ones, but it sounds surprisingly good. All the wiring is shielded so probably no need to shield the cavities? Though a little RF noise does get through in the study with computers and routers.

    I will probably replace the frets with something slightly taller and more in my comfort zone. One of the main reasons I bought the guitar was as a guinea pig to learn more advanced setup techniques like fret dressing. So removal and replacement is just another challenge.

    If I'm lucky the taller frets will mean I have to raise the nut a and bridge slightly which would give me a little more room for intonation. Tuning pegs look like they are transplants and I wonder if the posts are not original height.

    Anyway, if all goes well and I love the guitar, I'll get the Tonepros AVR-II bridge that looks pretty stock but has more intonation range.

    Pretty pleased with this old guitar so far. The Bridge pup is pretty hot while the neck has a nice deep warm vintage sound and has a really melodic full combined with good articulation. Much better than I expected.

    Only real negative with the guitar is that it does feel quite heavy compared to what I am used to. Somewhere between 8/9 lbs with strap.
     
  10. Antmax

    Antmax Junior Member

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    Well. I found a guitar almost identical in every single way except for the Greco EG420S says Greco on the headstock.

    https://get.google.com/albumarchive...CPO-vuy38NevtAE#slideshow/6186697788427238226

    Even the 8 screws on the control backplate and internal wiring color and pots, plus the back of the bridge pickup are identical.
    [​IMG]

    The neck is very dark smooth with no grain and might be ebony. There seems to be two fretboard variations, the rounded bottom or square bottom.

    Here's one on reverb with the square bottom fretboard.

    https://reverb.com/item/4107633-greco-eg420s-1973-sunburst?


    The Neck pickup seems to have been transplanted judging by the cut and splice job very close to the baseplate. It has a strange adjustment screw tab that bridges two tab holes. Whatever it is it sounds fantastic combined with the bridge. And very warm and deep on it's own.

    UPDATE it seems to be a My neck pickup seems to be a Ibanez Super 70 like this one:
    [​IMG]


    The bridge seems to be a Greco MAXON U-1000 Alnico8 8.3K like this one. Sounds amazing with some gain but cleans up amazingly.

    [​IMG]

    Greco SE420S Sunburst was made by Fujigen and
    has Laminated White Sycamore Flame top
    Body is semi hollow with Mahogany Pan caked wood
    Maple neck with Ebony Fret board is slim profile, 314m/m scale
    PU-Greco Original U1000 “Jazz Rock Type High Performance Humbucker” for Rear and Front, 2VOL+2TONE and 3way PU selector
    Tuners are Original Greco Rotomatic Type “YFG# printed, weight:3.8kg

    Anyway. Pretty cool.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017
  11. Antmax

    Antmax Junior Member

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    More info on Maxon U-1000 (Translated from Japanese site)

     
  12. chasenblues

    chasenblues Senior Member

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  13. Antmax

    Antmax Junior Member

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    Since the holes were already on the guitar I thought I'd get a pickguard. I didn't want to spend too much, just in case it it wouldn't fit. So I got one from Guitar Fetish, the Vintage style one with a fairly thick bevel. $14 including the bracket and a perfect fit. I just put some masking tape under the pickguard to prevent the nut scraping the finish on the guitar.

    [​IMG]

    I'm undecided on how I will keep it yet. With it looks traditional, without it looks rock'n'roll. Close up in case someone else is interested in the vintage style pickguard.

    [​IMG]

    The only other thing I did was file the back of the Low E brass saddle to give it a couple of extra mm of travel. These vintage style Tuneomatic bridges don't seem to have quite enough.

    Now I have to decide on whether I want a quality pickup cover for the bridge and whether I should refret the guitar. I did originally buy it as a cheap project guitar for trying out refretting but have gotten quite attached to the guitar. It sounds fantastic, pickups sound really warm rich vintage and articulate compared to my others.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2017
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  14. Antmax

    Antmax Junior Member

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    Well, I bit the bullet and made a start on refretting. I chose Jescar EVO fret wire medium/wide which is actually more like medium tall. I hadn't seen EVO wire and though I knew it was a goldish color wasn't prepared for how gold it actually was.

    Still, I was willing to take a chance since the binding and fret inserts are either aged or dark.

    [​IMG]

    I got the wire pre radiused along with a caul to fit a drill press and really good end clippers. Taking the frets off was a breeze and it was only slightly harder to put new ones on.

    Now I just have to wait for the 37/90 degree bevel file I ordered. Have one hand made from portrugal which is about 70% cheaper than stew mac.

    [​IMG]

    Visually the frets don't look terrible, This wire is tough and supposed to be shaped really well so hopefully only minor crowning will be necessary. These frets are a bit higher than the original vintage ones, should be easier for me to do bends and have more meat for dressing. The extra height might give me more options with bridge and intonation adjustment, though probably not enough to really notice.

    Here's the original frets around the cowboy chords area.

    Looks like someone liked the guitar and it has been played a lot over the years.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
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  15. Antmax

    Antmax Junior Member

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    I got all the frets done and my bevel file arrived so I did those over the last couple of days. It was HARD work, partly because I have never done it before. I imagine the EVO didn't help, I hear the alloy is much harder than regular nickel silver.

    I was really pleased with the wire, I bought it pre radiused at 12" from Philadelphia Luthier Tools & Supplies. It went on nicely with the radiused caul on the drill press. I haven't done a proper fret dressing yet. I managed to put the old strings on and it already plays better than before. No dead spots and easy bends, the higher frets mean a softer touch, so much easier to play overall.

    The frets are probably too gold for a lot of guitars, but actually look great on this one with the aged yellow style inlays.

    [​IMG]

    Have a nickel cover for the bridge on the way, It will probably look nicer, but a lot depends on the sound. I sprayed the original part cover to clean up the guitar a bit. It wasn't soldered and came off easily, so I figured I might as well try a full cover.

    Really happy with the guitar.
     
  16. Antmax

    Antmax Junior Member

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    Not a big upgrade but the nickel cover came yesterday. the pole screws in the bridge pickup are 50mm spaced with slightly wider heads than standard. So I had to widen the holes with my drill press. Everything worked out ok and it looks good. I extended the poles out of the cover to get the sound as close to the old half cover that was on there before.

    [​IMG]

    Another thing I did today was change the neck angle, I noticed was that someone had previously added two shims which ended up making the neck almost level with the body, even with the bridge at the lowest setting the action was a little high past the 15th through 22nd fret. That's when I discovered the shims, only took a few minutes to tweak and add about 4-5 degrees back angle and now the action is pretty much perfect, I only had to raise the bridge about 1/16 to prevent any buzz around the 13th fret.

    Sounds great, looks great.
     
  17. I Break Things

    I Break Things Senior Member

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    Really cool thread. Looking forward to more!
     
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