NGD: 2011 Melody Maker Explorer that was begging to be modded...

Discussion in 'The Custom Shop' started by Danelectro, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. Danelectro

    Danelectro V.I.P. Member

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    I grabbed this Melody Maker Explorer from the forum classifieds last month. I still find it hard to believe that I paid only $275 for this guitar including the soft case. I know its just an entry level Gibson, but this is a really wonderful guitar. The neck is very comfortable measuring .865" at the first fret which I would classify as a '59 profile. The fretwork is perfect. This is the time guitar I've owned with a baked maple fretboard, and although I initially thought it that going to baked maple was a step in the wrong direction, now that I've used it I really can't knock it. I don't like the light brown appearance of it, but more on that later.

    I received the guitar in stock condition which is a pretty basic feature-wise. It features a wraparound bridge, a Gibson humbucker of some sort, a volume control (no tone) and an output jack, all of which are mounted to the pickguard. The plastic is all 1-ply and pretty bland looking. The good news is aside from its boring appearance, its a really nice playing guitar.

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    This guitar is just begging to be modded, and considering the price paid I figured its a no-brainer. Before I even received the guitar, my thoughts were to add a neck pickup. Once I had it in hand and took a look at the neck joint beneath the pickguard, I decided not to compromise its structure by routing it for the neck pickup.
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    Another mod I had in mind was to move the output jack to the side of the body and add a tone control to the pickguard. I clamped the body into my WorkMate and bored a hole for the jack. The body is too thin for a standard jack plate, so I had to make a rectangular plate.
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    Tone control and PIO cap added, and I replaced the stock pickup with a Duncan JB that was sitting in the parts drawer:
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    The stock 1-ply pickguard disappears into the body, so I made a 5-ply guard to make it stand out a bit more. I thought about changing the guards's profile, but that would mean filling holes and painting which I don't have time for right now so I kept the same profile. One thing that I don't like about this pickguard profile is that it goes under the bridge, so you have to remove the strings and bridge in order to tinker with the electronics.
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    After looking at the BWBWB guard, I thought a white guard might look better so I made a 4-ply WBWB guard. I first assembled the guitar with just the pickup mounted to the guard as it came from the factory, but that looked a little unfinished so I added a pickup ring.

    Also, I think a dark fretboard makes any guitar look better than a light-colored board. I had no idea how Fretdoctor might affect a baked maple board, but I was amazed when I brushed the oil onto it and the fretboard turned a deep chocolate brown. A 1000% improvement in appearance:
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    I installed an aged cover onto the JB and added a MojoAxe compensated wraparound along with a pair of locking studs
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    The last bit of cheapness remaining was the 1-ply truss rod cover with gold-leaf printing. I created the CAD data for the cover as well as the Gibson logo and machined a lapel-type cover from 2-ply laminate, which puts the finishing touch on the guitar

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    The best cheap guitar I've ever owned....
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    Alligatorbling, Tanner, Zarg and 21 others like this.
  2. TheZ

    TheZ Senior Member

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    Great looking guitar!
     
  3. Who

    Who +1 Premium Member

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    Thanks for posting.

    The next mod should be making a headstock that's the proper shape for an Explorer! ;)
     
    Dineley likes this.
  4. stp

    stp Member

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    I thought of that same mod the only other thing would be a ajustable bridge
     
  5. Bud Stoner

    Bud Stoner Senior Member

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    Wow! That is some damn fine work!

    Also, that truss rod cover is nothing short of amazing!

    One of those on my Joe B Firebird 1 would be freaking sweet!

    And a pick guard with the bird...........:hmm::naughty:
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
  6. bossaddict

    bossaddict Premium Member

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    Nice mods, Dan. Love the wraparound bridge look on an Explorer.
     
  7. jdmp

    jdmp Junior Member

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    That looks so cool. I wish I had your skills!
     
  8. C_Becker

    C_Becker Dat Gibson smell Premium Member

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    Very nice.
    And I agree about the neck, I own a MM Flying V, fantastic.
    I am currently modding mine with a new pickguard as well, and I installed a badass-stlye bridge with individual saddles
     
  9. BWOTW

    BWOTW Senior Member

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    It should come just like that from the factory! Great taste!
     
  10. Blushingmule

    Blushingmule Junior Member

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    LOVE it!
    2011 Melody Maker? Have I been out of the loop?

    I'm still kicking myself for donating a Melody Maker "SG" that I won on e-bay for $300 back in '01. It appeared green - 'twas blue (pulled the cover). The lacquer had yellowed over the years. Never thought of modding at the time.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017
  11. rockbeare

    rockbeare Junior Member

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    IMG_0198.JPG I really enjoyed this post. Glad I'm not the only one with a weakness for single PAF / wraparound Explorers!
     
    Who, lung plunger, Danelectro and 2 others like this.
  12. kiko

    kiko Senior Member

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    Nice mods! I particularly like the TR cover :applause: I have the sg version and love it!
     
  13. deadlyweasel

    deadlyweasel Premium Member

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    Whoa! Dan that looks great!
     
  14. jimbob137

    jimbob137 Senior Member

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    Brilliant work, looks like a guitar that justifies the fact it's a Gibson explorer.
     
  15. Jura

    Jura Senior Member

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    Great job!
    I think I like the black pickguards (both of them) a bit more.
     
  16. Scream And Fly

    Scream And Fly Senior Member

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    Jeez, that one sure has a lot of compensation on the bridge.
     
  17. northernguitarguy

    northernguitarguy SWeAT hOg

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    Looks kick ass, Dano! I luv MM's. I was wondering, is it possible and how much work involved to make it a string-thru body?
     
  18. studio1087

    studio1087 Senior Member

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    You really improved it without killing the original mojo. Great work.
     
  19. Chilli

    Chilli Senior Member

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    Great project, thanks.
     
  20. Lenny Tha Doosh

    Lenny Tha Doosh Member

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    Thats a beautiful axe!!!
     

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