Tech Stuff , massive LP setup ( pic heavy)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Roman, May 4, 2010.

  1. Roman

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

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    Here is a Long one....with Lots of pics.

    Some of the info may be useful, enlightening, or you may just scratch your head and wonder what the hell Roman is doing.

    Well here we go.

    The Les Paul arrived, loved but in bad shape. Cracked headstock, green inlays, worn frets, electronics issues, etc.

    [​IMG]

    Doesn't look too bad? Lets look closer. The bridge studs are all wack!

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    The bridge pickup was collapsed. (shipping damage??? No evidence of that on the box or case)

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    cracked and previously repaired headstock

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    Oh, We cannot forget the NASTY green inlays that had turned kind of black!

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    Well, there we have it............time to go to work!

    The first thing after taking the strings, mounting rings, bridge and tailpiece off, is taping off the pickups so they do not accumulate gunk.

    Now I start.

    With a brad point I drill through each inlay.

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    I use a heat gun to soften up both the inlays and the nasty green glue that they use.

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    This glue is NASTY stuff! It is a bit green which may attribute to the inlays turning green..who knows. All I know it has to go!

    I insist you use a heat gun, if you are going to do this to your LP classic. If you don't, you run severe risk of damaging the F/B with pull out of the rosewood.


    After the inlays are out, with an exacto, micro chisels, dremel or what ever you have to approximate these tools ALL the old glue needs to be removed.

    Here again Heat helps to soften the glue.

    Sorry I don't have pictures of every damn step, I got tired of taking them.



    Now we are ready for new inlays.



    Here I have got some new celluloid plastic laid out on the F/B.

    [​IMG]

    Instead of The nasty Green glue, I have mixed up a batch of 2 part epoxy mixed with rosewood dust.

    When ever I sand a fingerboard, I always save the dust. It is beautiful fine dust with a million and one uses.


    I now have the new inlays glued in. With a blade I scrape the inlays flush to the rosewood.

    [​IMG]


    We are coming along.

    After sanding the inlays and board smooth, I hit the board with a coat of oil.

    [​IMG]


    Next up is fretwork.

    See you in a few.

    Roman
     
  2. djwilbanks

    djwilbanks V.I.P. Member

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    Nice work, Roman!
     
  3. rockstar232007

    rockstar232007 Senior Member

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    Awesome Roman! Cant wait to see the rest!:wow:
    :applause:
     
  4. thrawn86

    thrawn86 Senior Member

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    Very nice.
     
  5. Roman

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

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    We are on to the frets now.

    Remove the nut, always! ( tips on nut removal are in my epi setup thread)

    With the nut removed your fret leveling tool can travel the full distance ensuring level frets.

    Make sure your neck is straight! I eyeball it and adjust the rod to achieve this but some may want to use a straight edge.

    I like my trusty homemade Fret file. it is a Simmons "nucut" mill file epoxied to a nice, made to fit my hand, mahogany base.

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    Notice how the travel of the file goes over the area the nut would have been at. This ensures that the first fret gets cut as much as the second or third fret.


    I take just the "tops" of the frets off, or the lowest part of the fretwear grooves. ( which ever comes first)


    Once this is accomplished, it is crowning time.

    I use a rough crowning file, a finer one, and a triangle file to shape the frets.

    Tape off the board and go to work.

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    (For more detail go to my epi setup thread)


    With a long sanding block I lightly go over the tops of the frets. This block started out with 220 grit, but I haven't changed the sandpaper in literally 10 years, so I am sure it has worn down to 1000 grit.

    It just skims the fret tops.

    [​IMG]


    I now sand the frets, I do this by hand. Your fingers make an excellent sanding block, that happens to be able to "feel" the progress as well.

    [​IMG]


    You want to run the paper putting pressure along the "side", Not the top.

    I continue this going through grits from 400 to 1000 till I am satisfied.


    I now pull off the tape and round off the sharp binding edges, Steel wool the frets, fingerboard, and soak in some more oil.

    [​IMG]


    Next up is the bridge work.
     
  6. Roman

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

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    OK, Remember that crooked bridge? Well we have to take care of that before doing the nut.

    Temporarily I use the old nut while I am doing the bridge work.


    Here are the old bridge studs, bent all to crap. I am going to replace them with Longer Stainless Steel studs :cool:

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    You can find these at pretty much any hardware store such as OSH, Home Depot. Lowes, etc. Check First at your local Mom and Pop store though, Keep them in business:thumb:


    I take the screws and literally screw them into the body, there is no need to drill.

    Here are some of the benefits of this mod, I call them the three "S"s. Stability, strength, and SUSTAIN.


    Before Tonepros, this was one way to go that is still viable and in many ways better.

    There are a couple of routes to go.

    One, cut off the head after you are done installing the screws

    Two, Use the pan head and the thumb wheels to LOCK the Bridge in place.

    Three, and this is the ultimate (if you have the courage to modify your bridge)

    Countersink your bridge and recess an oval head screw. very stealthy and solid.

    For most I would imagine this to be too nontraditional and borderline blasphemous, however.

    Methods 2 and 3 however, give you a rock solid bridge like you would not believe!

    Here is a shot to give you an idea. You can see how the thumb wheel and screw head lock the bridge in place.

    [​IMG]


    You can also see here one of those handy Stew mac radius jigs, which I will use later in the final setup.


    Ok, Moving on, since we are all wussies here, and don't want anything too radical here, we are going to cut the heads off the screws and go for the traditional look but still having the benefits of the longer stainless steel studs.


    Out comes Mr Dremel.

    I protect the body with towels. I dont have to worry about the pickup picking up metal shavings. Stainless is non magnetic, don't try this with ordinary steel, you'll regret it.:naughty:

    [​IMG]


    I now file the tops of the studs to clean them up, and it looks stock.

    [​IMG]

    Next installment is the nut.

    See you in a few.

    Roman
     
  7. Roman

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

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    On to the Nut. My favorite material by far is bone.

    I clean up the nut slot bottom with a small square file to ensure a good flat surface free of old glue.

    I thickness a nut blank on the belt sander to the right size, then rough shape it.

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    The height and width at this point is still a bit over size.


    With a sharp exacto blade I score a line where the nut meets the fingerboard.

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    In the cut you just made just rub your finger over it and the score line will show up as a dirt mark. ( believe me after working on guitars all day your hands WILL have dirt on them):D

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    File off the excess leaving it a bit proud, we'll get to that in the final shaping.


    Stew mac has a nice Nut Slot Marking Tool, but you can get by with using your original nut as a reference as well.

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    Just line it up behind your new nut and mark the string slots with an exacto blade.

    Once again use the "dirty hands" trick to rub in the lines

    With a very small file do a "starter cut" right in the center of your line.

    [​IMG]


    String up your guitar and proceed to rough cut your Nut slots. Make sure you are cutting on a downward angle.

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    I like to rough in the nut, and the next day finish it off with fresh eyes. It gives the added benefit of letting the neck and truss rod re adjust to the string tension.

    [​IMG]


    Another trick I use is to "oil up" the nut. Since bone is porous it soaks up the oil.

    This gives the nut a nice vintage look, and in essence lubricates your nut, since the oil is soaked in.

    Also it makes it nice and easy to do the final height filing. Your files glide through the bone, and so will your strings.

    I use good old fashioned 3 in one oil

    [​IMG]


    Next up in this installment, fixing up the headstock

    later,
    Roman
     
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  8. djwilbanks

    djwilbanks V.I.P. Member

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    I think we'll put some of these up on the website. :dude:

    Speaking of, we need to take that live soon, Roman. ;)
     
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  9. Roman

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

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    The headstock "seemed" solid but I opened it a bit anyway. Some hot water and creative clamping did the trick.

    I then re glued it and sealed up the cracks with some CA (superglue).

    I sanded smooth the break area and had to redo the color.

    Boy I'll tell you I was very surprised, that Stew Mack rattle can stuff is a dead ringer for the Gibson cherry color. I just misted on several coats till I got the depth I wanted, then did my normal clearcoats.


    I then hand buffed it out to match the patina of the rest of the guitar, and we're good to go.

    [​IMG]

    While I was at it, I buffed out some of the scratches on the back of the body as well.

    I put tape over the control cavities so we wouldn't get polishing compound in there.

    [​IMG]


    Once it this was all done I took off the tape and dug into the electronics.


    The jack was cutting in and out, so I replaced it.

    We still had a NASTY hum, worse than single coils, so I investigated further.

    Look what I found!:shock:

    [​IMG]

    There was a glob of solder from the pickup leg of the pot touching the metal plate.

    I got out my solder sucker and made that critter gone!

    I went through all the solder joints and cleaned it up.

    The pots got sprayed out with contact cleaner.

    [​IMG]

    Get a dedicated contact cleaner, don't succumb to WD 40. It has many uses but not in pots. it may temporarily clean your pots, but leaves an oil residue behind that only collects more dirt.


    Maybe it is luck, but these pots worked really well after being cleaned, they had a nice taper.


    Oh, and the hum was gone.


    We are getting ready to button it up soon.


    Later
    Roman
     
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  10. Roman

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

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    The final installment, then I am going to bed. this picture uploading and typing takes forever. :rolleyes:

    Keep in mind all these steps I laid out are not necessarily in the exact order the work was performed in. the majority of the work was done before I moved to my new shop and I have been just sorting through he pics of it all.

    This does give you an idea of the steps involved and I hope some useful info.

    At the very least it may answer the question of "how come my guy charges so much"

    Well, it is a lot of work.:)

    In random order these things were done as well.

    The broken mounting ring was replaced taking care to match the color of the existing plastic.

    [​IMG]

    The guitar was set up and intonated.

    The neck pickup got a beautiful nickle aged cover. It's a pity but the cover that was sent out didn't fit the gibson pickup. ( both covers had the same spacing but the Gibson bridge pickup has wider spacing)

    I'll leave you with this tech tip, 2 books of matches work great for holding the stings, when you want to get to the fingerboard for oiling cleaning etc.

    [​IMG]


    Before I forget, the bridge was also slotted to get the radius to match up the fingerboard.

    [​IMG]

    Here is a done shot.

    [​IMG]


    The guitar is on it's way to the owner I hope he will enjoy it.

    goodnight all, I hope this wasn't too damn long of a post.


    Roman
     
  11. tomaseriksson

    tomaseriksson Senior Member

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    With the risk of getting shoot down by all your experience, I would like to discuss the usage of contact cleaner in pots. It's just bad! I have a 3 year electronics education and have worked with reparing reparing TV's, cell phones, etc in the summers when I was younger.


    • First of, it doesn't matter if it's carbon or plastic based pots. The contact cleaner removes the grease that actually is supposed to be inside the pots and will most probably accelerate the time to complete failure for the pot.
    • Second, it can disolve the carbon and allows it to get into places where it shouldn't be.
    • Third, it doesn't actually fix the original issue which is oxidation inside the pot.
    What should you do then? There is actually one product that is made for these kinde of issues and it's DeoxIT from CAIG Labs. It's used by Boing and many other companies.

    You can use the contact cleaner for the pickup selector, but you shouldn't use it for the pots period.


    Other then that, as always excellent work on the guitar! :dude:
     
  12. ExNihilo

    ExNihilo Senior Member

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    Very nice post Roman! One question I have. After you filed the frets, do you sand with a radius block?

    Thanks again.

    Sincerely, Scott
     
  13. BCRGreg

    BCRGreg V.I.P. Member

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    Roman is the man.
     
  14. Gothika777

    Gothika777 Senior Member

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    Just one question, how do u know how high to make the nut and how deep to cut the slots?

    I also noticed on your initial assesment that you did not pick up on the gastly choice of colours that the guitar has been painted with!!!!!

    [​IMG]
    EWWWW!!!!
     
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  15. Roman

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

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    Thanks for the kind words.
    No one is going to shoot you down. Remember in the first lines of the post I stated there would be some that would ask "What the hell is Roman doing":laugh2:


    DeoxIT is very good stuff. I have used it. I also have a background in Electronics including high tech military flight simulators.


    Here are some of my points of view on guitars. It ain't rocket science. I also have 30 some years experience in the real world working on guitars.

    Unless it is a "Vintage Valuable" pot, Big deal, it is a Pot.

    A pot is a mechanical device prone to wearing out anyway. Just like the brakes on your car. Pots are also cheap. So when they go bad throw them away. It is no big deal.:)

    I have found though repeat clients that cleaning out a pot with contact cleaner has no substantial effect on the pot wearing out faster. Also, if you notice on the can it has lubricant as well.

    With WD 40, I have found, that although it does work for a short time, it tends to gumm stuff up.

    Now vintage pots, well, there is a whole other science to get them good. I don't want to reveal to much. :naughty:
     
  16. Roman

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

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    Thanks Scott.

    To answer your question, I am my own "radius block" :laugh2:

    Seriously, I just sand with regular rubber blocks going though the grits. I have a couple of longer blocks I use as well.

    Here, I am going to show some age :)

    I have been doing this since before Stew Mack had stuff like that, one learns to use the tools he has.

    Us old timers in this field NEVER had available the goodies you guys have now, nor the internet

    On most of my builds I do all the radiusing on a belt sander, only to use the radius blocks for fine sanding.

    One trade trick I picked up along the way, is to do a slight compound radius in the frets themselves. It's all in how one uses the tools.:)
     
  17. Roman

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

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    Wow! that was harsh. :rolleyes:

    The cherry sunburst, or as some call the clownburst, is not my favorite finish either, but Gibson has sold quite a few "classics" in this color. For many they are quite happy with this finish, and love their guitars.

    In my profession my job is to fix what the client finds undesirable and not to criticize their tastes.

    :)



    I forgive your criticism, and will answer your question:thumb:



    The rule of thumb on nut height is this;

    If you fret the first fret, measure the distance between the string and the second fret. that distance should be the distance from the string to the 1st fret.

    Make sense? In other words, the nut is kind of like a ZERO fret.
    At some time I'll do a picture thread on just this.


    Roman
     
  18. jbrookeiv

    jbrookeiv Senior Member

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    Another amazing thread. Ever considered writing a book?
     
  19. PINKBITS

    PINKBITS Senior Member

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    Fantastic job Roman. That guitar looks amazing. I bet it will play better than it ever has.
     
  20. dougk

    dougk Senior Member

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    Fantastic work and pictures!
     

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