Tweaking my Epi Les Paul Special II

Discussion in 'Epiphone Les Pauls' started by apd2010, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. apd2010

    apd2010 Junior Member

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    First, I'm fully aware I bought myself cheap guitar ($150 new in 2009), but it seems to me that if I could fix two playability problems it has, it wouldn't be half bad. I'm a beginner so I don't deserve a better guitar just yet.

    Anyhow, here's what I'd LOVE fixed:

    1. It won't stay in tune. From what I've read the stock tuners are crap, is my only option to spring $50 for some grovers? What about a locking nut?

    2. The action is great (low) for the first couple of frets up from the nut, but by the time you get halfway up the neck the strings get pretty high off the fretboard. I tried lowering the bridge, but I get some bad fret buzz if I lower it to the point where the action mid-neck is acceptable. Would replacing the nut with a higher one help to get the strings more parallel to the fretboard, or do I need to have someone who knows what they're doing (probably not me) monkey around with the truss rod?

    I'm not adverse to spending a little money to fix this puppy up, but given the cheapness of the guitar to begin, I'm looking to keep it on the cheap a well.

    Any thoughts??

    Thanks,
    Adam
     
  2. maxxi

    maxxi Senior Member

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    take it to a guitar shop for a complete setup.
    costs you about 30-50 bucks, but at least your guitar will be set up 100% correct:slash:

    if you really want to fiddle with it yourself i can suggest following things:

    try putting some graphite in the nut slots, this prevents the strings from binding in the nut and helps with your tuning problems.

    also try to adjust your truss-rod, if you never done this before i suggest you take it to the shop anyway. because when you overtighten it you can damage your guitar neck.

    hope this info helps you:)
     
  3. apd2010

    apd2010 Junior Member

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    Thanks--I think that's probably wise advise. I like to tinker but no sense risking making the problem worse. . .
     
  4. gearhead63

    gearhead63 Member

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    Does it still have the original stamped tuners? If it does throw them in the trash and get some new or good used ones. The graphite (pencil lead) trick works well if the strings are binding on the nut. But DEFINITELY trash those original tuners. It's THE very first thing I have done to any of the Epi's I have gotten.
     
  5. nerdzpluggedin

    nerdzpluggedin Member

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    Yeah new tuners for sure.
     
  6. Howard2k

    Howard2k Premium Member

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    I would not bother with new tuners. Get it set up. On the tuners that you have there is a little screw in the end, tightening that slightly will probably help prevent it from going out of tune.

    It will still go out of tune of course, but if you are not playing out with it then tuning it up every day (or even every few hours) seems like no big deal. Especially if your tuner is in your cable path.

    Take the $50 and put it towards a better guitar.

    There is a book called The Gibson Les Paul Handbook that even has a section the Special II. Worth a review if you think that your next guitar is going to be a Les Paul too.

    [ame=http://www.amazon.com/Gibson-Paul-Handbook-Maintain-Troubleshoot/dp/0760334706/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1289574664&sr=8-1]Amazon.com: The Gibson Les Paul Handbook: How To Buy, Maintain, Set Up, Troubleshoot, and Modify Your Gibson and Epiphone Les Paul (9780760334706): Paul Balmer, Les Paul: Books: Reviews, Prices & more[/ame]
     
  7. rybass

    rybass Senior Member

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    I'll second leaving the tuners alone. I had a 90's epi junior that I restored, setup and cleaned. The cast tuners did their job fine, the nut was the culprit. I cut a new bone nut but you can lube your nut and it will help temendously.

    The neck needs the adjustment. You can do it yourself. Half the point of a cheap guitar is learning to do your own mods. Watch some youtube vids of guitar setups, ask for the earlwine book for christmas and get to work learning.

    I would replace the pots. A set of CTS pots from Jonsey will do wonders. If you have the cash get a decent pup, GFS or the likes. The epi is ok but a better pickup will hide the lack of tonewood in the guitar.

    If you are looking for parts check the classifieds and ebay. You'll save over buying new.
     
  8. -=[Shifty]=-

    -=[Shifty]=- Epi Verification Expert V.I.P. Member

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    What exactly is wrong with the Epi tuners? :hmm:
     
  9. blink75

    blink75 Senior Member

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    I set up my Special II myself and haven't had any issues. Read the book referenced above and try it yourself and give it a whirl. Just go slowly and make small adjustments.
     
  10. TeleDog

    TeleDog V.I.P. Member

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    I had a Special II I bought for my kid and one I bought used to play around with. Both needed new tuners, badly. Those tuners are the so-called "economy" tuners but THE ONES I HAD were extremely crappy.

    You can get a replacement set from Stewemac or Guitarfetish without spending a bundle. Do it, you won't regret it.

    A new nut and new bridge will help you with the staying in tune problem. Stewmac sells bridges for imports, a Gotoh bridge will be an improvement over the stock bridge and it's only $20 or so.

    You can replace pots and pups but keep in mind it's silly to upgrade everything but there, where the string meets the body, you have some crappy hardware. Just a thought.
     
  11. Goostah

    Goostah Senior Member

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    I bet the tuners are not the problem. As long as you string the guitar correctly, wooden pegs are good enough for tuners if only for holding tune. Accuracy and ease of tuning is another matter.

    Your tuning problem is most likely the nut - some nasty cheap plastic nut that's unable to hold tune. You can quickly and painlessly change the plastic nut to a precut graphtech tusk nut - model number PT-6060-00 or PQ-6060-00. You may need sand the underside of the nut to get it to the right but if you google nut replacement you'll get some good info on how to remove your existing nut and instal your new nut. You'll also need to get a feel of what is an appropriate nut height "for you" as the will impact your action.

    When you get your nut in place then look to the action. You may need to adjust the trust rod. It's simple enough if you use common sense - looking down from the headstock to the bridge, turn left will increase convexity of the neck, turn right it will decrease the convecity of the neck. Make sure you loosen the strings before adjusting the truss rod. For your first trust adjustment always turn your wrench left first a touch to lossen the trust rod before moving right (just a precaution for the tightness of the truss rod and the neck being settled). Only turn the truss rod a quarter turn at a time (another precaution to not stress the neck). After moving the truss rod and increasing strings to tension, give your neck some time settle before considering your new action.

    Hope that helps
     
  12. Howard2k

    Howard2k Premium Member

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    The truss rod should be adjusted when the strings are at tension.
     
  13. The_Sentry

    The_Sentry Senior Member

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    I recently rebuilt one of these for a friend of mine...

    (Here he is holdin' it)...

    [​IMG]

    You're going to really want to invest in new tuners. They won't be easy to install as you'll have to expand the holes to fit newer, better tuners. (I went with some Grovers.)

    A new Nut is also a must have. Graphtech/Graphite nuts are not that expensive. Get it all...take it down, get it installed...and get the setup.

    You won't regret it.
     
  14. nzo

    nzo Senior Member

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    As others have stated, new nut and tuners. Those "economy" tuners are awful.
     
  15. Bullfrog

    Bullfrog Junior Member

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    Which tuners will fit without having to redrill the post holes? I have a Special II that I'd like to mod a bit for the hell of it.
     
  16. onioner

    onioner Senior Member

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    Meh, swap the nut first. You can do that really cheaply. Buy a pre-cut nut (TUSQ, for instance), and put it in yourself. It's not difficult, and it's nearly a guaranteed upgrade. If you still have trouble staying in tune, then look at new tuners. I can't say I like 'em, but those stock tuners aren't really that awful. I'd replace 'em, but I'd replace everything. In any event, if a new nut solves your problem, then hurrah. Sure, new tuners would be better, but so would a new bridge, new pickups, new wiring, new pots, new caps...

    As to the truss rod, read up, and do it yourself. It's also very easy. Just be careful. Make little turns, give it time to adjust, and measure as instructed. In the end, it can make a huge difference in setting your action, and you can save yourself the cost of a pro setup. Plus, you've learned something.

    My main point here is that it may be possible for you to fix both those issues for under ten dollars. I'd give that a shot before buying a new set of tuners.
     
  17. Bullfrog

    Bullfrog Junior Member

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    Thanks but I've already put in a Tusq nut and adjusted the truss rod. Tuners are the next step - then most likely the rest of the things you mention just for the heck of it.
     

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