$80 Plywood Junior Makeover

Brians Evil Twin

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Here's a yellow bolt-on Junior that I got for $80 with HSC:



Stripped the neck, routed holes for Kluson-style tuners, and re-lacquered headstock front and back to hide old tuner holes and fix a scrape. (Labels are masked off, rough edges will be scraped down later before gloss coats applied.)



Had to fix the "E" with some gold model paint...



Going for that old Gibby headstock look...sort of. Will be finishing the whole neck with clear gloss lacquer.



Re-routed the pickup cavity to accept a standard P90 - note the undersized stock opening:



Working on bolt-ons is easy - no annoying neck to get in the way. No wonder Leo loved them...



Measure ten times, plunge once.



Note the 6 voidless laminates in the pickup cavity...clean, clean, clean.



Shielding tape - a single piece, so no shorts.



A perfect fit:

 

Brians Evil Twin

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Now to add a knock-off Bigsby:



Checking the string break over the bridge:





A chrome pickup cover is next...



Old control cavity:



New control cavity. freshly routed and shielded, with 250k Alpha pots, cloth wiring and orange drop cap:



Old neck pocket, full of paint and tape:



New neck pocket scraped and sanded:



Old neck with cheapo tuners and yellow poly:



New neck routed for Kluson-style tuners and finished with tung oil:




Old body with el-cheapo P90:



New body with standard P90, chrome cover and knock-off Bigsby from eBay:

 

Brians Evil Twin

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With all mods done, after several learning-curve hurdles:









I used Tung oil on the neck, and it's really a great feeling finish, but PIA to apply. I started out applying thin coats with a paper towel - one coat per day and steel wool after each coat dried - and it was real slow going, hard to get much thickness. Then switched to a foam brush, but that ended up producing drips, so had to rub back to nothing and start over. I'm still not satisfied with the results, but live and learn. Also, I had the Epi logo touched up with gold paint (several times) but it just dissolved when I put the tung oil on, so I just gave up. Frustrating.

I tried using several different kinds of bridges including a Leo Quan modified with rollers, but after doing some research, ended up filing notchs in the wraparound and putting it back on. It works fine:



I also hand-filed a new Corian nut....



...installed a Standard Epiphone P90 and chrome Allparts cover (see previous post pics), and fiddled with the neck and action until it was as low as possible without fret buzz. It's very comfortable and easy to play and sounds great.

So to recap:

- Refinished neck
- Repainted headstock, front and back
- Steel-wooled frets and redyed fretboard
- Scraped and sanded neck pocket
- Installed new GFS Kluson-style tulip tuners
- Rerouted and shielded pickup and control cavities
- Installed Epi P90 pickup, chrome cover, Alpha pots, orange drop cap, Switchcraft jack, knobs, knob pointers and cloth wire.
- Installed Bigsby knock off and filed notches in wraparound bridge
- Hand-carved and installed Corian nut
- Installed Schaller strap locks
- Adjusted nut, neck, and bridge to play "like buttah"

Whew!

Cheers, Brian
 

Hack

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Great job! Does it stay in tune very well?
 

cicone

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SWEET!!!! How did you apply the finish. Looks fabulous.
 

leocuellar

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Wow, very nice job, I am also working on my Special II Project, I hope it goes as nice as yours. Thanks for sharing!
 

Brians Evil Twin

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What "Bigsby" is that?
Knock off from eBay. Never could find it again, but GFS just came out with some Bigsby clones: New Arrivals

Great job! Does it stay in tune very well?
New tuners and nut are 90% of the battle. I tried several bridges, but went back to wraparound after reading about several other similar mods. Stays in tune at least as well as any of my other Bigsby-equipped guitars.

SWEET!!!! How did you apply the finish. Looks fabulous.
The body is the stock paint, it was in good shape. Neck is hand-applied Tung Oil (see thread), headstock is lacquer from a rattle can (Stew Mac).
 

tommytoolz

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Man, that is one sweet lookin guitar!!!

I like what you did with the neck. I'll probably be doing the same with mine, so rest assured I'll be checking back and probably picking your brain too.
 

Brians Evil Twin

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Man, that is one sweet lookin guitar!!!

I like what you did with the neck. I'll probably be doing the same with mine, so rest assured I'll be checking back and probably picking your brain too.
I didn't cover stripping the neck in the thread, but I use a heat gun on low and a metal paint scraper to get poly off guitars. It's easier and faster than sanding and doesn't gouge the wood if you're careful. Not for use on lacquer or oil-rubbed finishes.
 

tommytoolz

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I didn't cover stripping the neck in the thread, but I use a heat gun on low and a metal paint scraper to get poly off guitars. It's easier and faster than sanding and doesn't gouge the wood if you're careful. Not for use on lacquer or oil-rubbed finishes.
Awesome man, thanks for the info! I'll be posting pics of my progress as I make some headway. I should start sanding the body this weeked.
 


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