Any love still out there for Epi SL and projects?

Lester

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TL; DR: Picked up an Epiphone SL LP to have fun with... doing some mods. Anyone else still doing the same?

Longer story: Picked up an Epiphone LP SL a couple weeks back for $100 to have some fun with. A "leave it out all the time" guitar... and some single coils!

Played fairly well although I think it will benefit from a nut and a bridge with better break over the saddles. A little bit on the sitar side like a lot of single tailpiece/bridge setups. Tuners hold OK but there's a lot of slop between up and down, so replacing those.

First thing I noticed was the neck was a rough matte finish and impossible to move up and down when playing because the spray was so rough. Started with 400/ wet sand, went up the line to 2000. Fixed that issue.

Second thing was the frets: the ends were terrible and almost dangerous. They needed polishing. Some more fine sanding took care of that.

Next I decided that I'd paint the body. The factory finish was matte black and they hadn't filled the (very open) grain at all before painting. It's going to be finished lime green lacquer, because these guit's should all be fun colors and I like lime green :) . Priming and surfacing done; painting now.

I drilled a standard LP jack hole so that I can move the jack to the proper location with a plate. The spacing between the vol/tone controls and the factory pick-guard jack is uniform, so I am using the newly available hole to add a second volume control. It has some nice sounds with both pickups engaged but if I could blend them, it would be nicer. So two volume, one tone.

I'm thinking of serial/parallel mods before I reassemble - not sure if that's one fancy selector switch, maybe a rotary, or some other toggles. There's a lot of routed space, so another switch or two is just a drill bit away.

Photos when I get the paint done. Might do a relic (not horrible relic, realistic relic; we'll see).

Anyone else still having fun with these?
 
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DrBGood

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Played fairly well although I think it will benefit from a nut and a bridge with better break over the saddles. A little bit on the sitar side like a lot of single tailpiece/bridge setups.
It's called a wraparound bridge. You have a model in mind ? There's not that many that are that simple. I find the ones with moving saddles rob away some of the tone.
 

Lester

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It's called a wraparound bridge. You have a model in mind ? There's not that many that are that simple. I find the ones with moving saddles rob away some of the tone.
Really? I was thinking the opposite but I have no hands on experience.

Thinking something like this: https://www.stewmac.com/parts-and-hardware/all-hardware-and-parts-by-instrument/electric-guitar-parts/electric-guitar-bridges-and-tailpieces/non-trem-electric-guitar-bridges/adjustable-wraparound-bridge.html

The wraparound old-school combined type like this have the string resting on the back curve of the tailpiece... so when it hits the little intonation ridge, it doesn't get much of a hard break. The upper e-string is almost level coming across. I'm thinking that's giving me some sitar features. I tried elevating the string with a little cheater spacer in place of the intonation bar, just a tad higher, and it seemed better.

Since my traditional LP with a separate tailpiece & bridge has a 30-45 degree break (depending on top or bottom wrap), and with my crude test in mind, I was figuring that I could probably remove some of the sitar twang by using one of those wraparound bridges with adjustable Nashville/ABR style saddles and a sharper break... string not resting on the rear of the tailpiece curve.

But, I'm all ears... have you experimented with this area before?
 

rbraad68

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you can find them cheaper if you just scroll around, just posting this as an example of what i found to be cool looking...

 

Lester

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you can find them cheaper if you just scroll around, just posting this as an example of what i found to be cool looking...

Thanks, that's an interesting style variation. I'm kind of digging the string grooves on the backside that would let the strings drop a little lower before hitting the saddle.
 

DrBGood

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You should try crowning the lighning bolt ridges, I will try it too on a spare bridge to see how that goes,

The Stewmac bridge you showned is the worst bridge ever made. I ha ve a clone of that and could never get it to work on any guitar. That is the Badass style. What you want if you need to go that way is a Pigtail style, like this cheapo.
https://www.amazon.com/Musiclily-Tune-O-Matic-Wraparound-Adjustable-Electric/dp/B0757K41W1/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505693825&sr=8-1&keywords=MX1280CR

... and a sharper break... string not resting on the rear of the tailpiece curve.
I can't see why strings would need a sharp break over the saddles, that is some internet belief or something. On most of my bridges, the break angle is real shallow and it works great without putting too much down pressure on the bridge, that can collapse.

bridge.jpg
 

ucsteve

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You should try crowning the lighning bolt ridges, I will try it too on a spare bridge to see how that goes,

The Stewmac bridge you showned is the worst bridge ever made. I ha ve a clone of that and could never get it to work on any guitar. That is the Badass style. What you want if you need to go that way is a Pigtail style, like this cheapo.
https://www.amazon.com/Musiclily-Tune-O-Matic-Wraparound-Adjustable-Electric/dp/B0757K41W1/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505693825&sr=8-1&keywords=MX1280CR

I can't see why strings would need a sharp break over the saddles, that is some internet belief or something. On most of my bridges, the break angle is real shallow and it works great without putting too much down pressure on the bridge, that can collapse.

top wrapped?
 

ucsteve

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aside from my bigsby i havent tried that yet. Im thinkin i may give that a go when i do the "fall clean up" soon. Maybe do 1 with, 1 reg see how that shakes out. What gauge are you using?
 

DrBGood

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aside from my bigsby i havent tried that yet. Im thinkin i may give that a go when i do the "fall clean up" soon. Maybe do 1 with, 1 reg see how that shakes out. What gauge are you using?
9-42
 

Lester

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You should try crowning the lighning bolt ridges, I will try it too on a spare bridge to see how that goes,

The Stewmac bridge you showned is the worst bridge ever made. I ha ve a clone of that and could never get it to work on any guitar. That is the Badass style. What you want if you need to go that way is a Pigtail style, like this cheapo.
https://www.amazon.com/Musiclily-Tune-O-Matic-Wraparound-Adjustable-Electric/dp/B0757K41W1/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505693825&sr=8-1&keywords=MX1280CR

I can't see why strings would need a sharp break over the saddles, that is some internet belief or something. On most of my bridges, the break angle is real shallow and it works great without putting too much down pressure on the bridge, that can collapse
I actually tried one of those (Musiclily) on another guitar. The saddles were so low (short) that the strings barely broke on them after clearing the rear wraparound height... and then the tolerances in the posts let the bridge tilt forward. The result was that the high e was basically strung from the back of the bridge to the nut, not from the saddle to the nut.

If you look at their engineering drawings (one of the photos in that item link) you can see that the saddle slot is basically at the same level as the rear of the bridge - with a couple degrees of bridge tilt from a loose post fit, the saddle becomes irrelevant on the high e. The only way to eliminate it was to run the strings up to a very high action and force it to break on the saddle again.

EDIT: ^Been reading around the net... I think locking bridge studs would have solved the problem with that bridge. Didn't know about them before. The studs I used came with the bridge, but they were too loose. Lockdown would have fixed the issue.

I don't think the Pigtail design itself is an issue, but the low saddles and the loose tolerances definitely were. I have seen some similar bridges that have a lot more saddle height over the bridge - more like a nashville/abr setup. I'm thinking I need one of those.

What was bad about the Stew-Mac / Badass version (not that I want to pay their price for something that doesn't work... just looking to avoid whatever defect you found when selecting an alternative).
 
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Lester

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I'm guessing those are just multi color paint layers sanded thin in some areas?

Curious: Why does the three pickup model have one odd-man-out knob? Tone for all? Or tones on all and it's a master volume?
 

ucsteve

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I'm guessing those are just multi color paint layers sanded thin in some areas?

Curious: Why does the three pickup model have one odd-man-out knob? Tone for all? Or tones on all and it's a master volume?
yeah, my plan was to take all that paint off, but then those wacky layers came up so after a while i just said what the hell. Fit with the Dali motiff I figurered. It was a 2 p/u body when i got it, with some sort of replacement neck. pretty good one at that tho. Decided to route for the middle just cause, what the hell and thro a p90 in it. And obce I stuck the eye on there, I really didnt feel like drilling a new hole for the switch so thats 3 volumes and a master tone. My next plan is to upgrade the HB's, they are old mudbuckers from my 2002 Epi LP. That will a be a good time to snad down the muck i made around the p/u rings so i casn straighten her teeth out a bit.
 

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Lester

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AND... after all that thought and a lot of reading aroung threads here and elsewhere, it looks like the cheap Epiphone bridge actually does have enough clearance to the lightning bolt ridges. Definitely better than the Gibson version on the previous guitar.

I will probably try changing the nut first to see if that solves the sitar issue before changing the bridge. Next up I'm thinking locking bridge bolts. There is some play in them (comments?).

Meanwhile, I got a few coats of lacquer in today. I sand lightly, more aggressively in the early coats, so it's not very thick yet. I'll try to get in a few more coats tomorrow then let it age for a few days before finish sanding and polishing. Pretty sure I'll just do hand polished lacquer. I don't think clear / high gloss is the right look for this guitar.
 

Lester

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yeah, my plan was to take all that paint off, but then those wacky layers came up so after a while i just said what the hell. Fit with the Dali motiff I figurered. It was a 2 p/u body when i got it, with some sort of replacement neck. pretty good one at that tho. Decided to route for the middle just cause, what the hell and thro a p90 in it. And obce I stuck the eye on there, I really didnt feel like drilling a new hole for the switch so thats 3 volumes and a master tone. My next plan is to upgrade the HB's, they are old mudbuckers from my 2002 Epi LP. That will a be a good time to snad down the muck i made around the p/u rings so i casn straighten her teeth out a bit.
Nicely done. Gives me some motivation for my relic version. Still haven't made a hard decision as I have to finish the lacquer first anyway... but this wood is incredibly soft. So, I think it's going to self-relic anyway. Might just help it along with a theme.

Editor's Note: Turns out there are two woods known as poplar. The first is the inexpensive hardwood with a greenish tint and wide grain patterns that they sell at Lowes. It is not actually poplar but it is popularly (pun intended) known as that. It's something else. The second is real poplar, which is a very soft, very light wood that has a fine, open grain like mahogany. You can dent it with a fingernail. Gibson chose the latter for this guitar.
 

DrBGood

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I actually tried one of those (Musiclily) on another guitar. The saddles were so low (short) that the strings barely broke on them after clearing the rear wraparound height... and then the tolerances in the posts let the bridge tilt forward. The result was that the high e was basically strung from the back of the bridge to the nut, not from the saddle to the nut.

If you look at their engineering drawings (one of the photos in that item link) you can see that the saddle slot is basically at the same level as the rear of the bridge - with a couple degrees of bridge tilt from a loose post fit, the saddle becomes irrelevant on the high e. The only way to eliminate it was to run the strings up to a very high action and force it to break on the saddle again.

EDIT: ^Been reading around the net... I think locking bridge studs would have solved the problem with that bridge. Didn't know about them before. The studs I used came with the bridge, but they were too loose. Lockdown would have fixed the issue.

I don't think the Pigtail design itself is an issue, but the low saddles and the loose tolerances definitely were. I have seen some similar bridges that have a lot more saddle height over the bridge - more like a nashville/abr setup. I'm thinking I need one of those.

What was bad about the Stew-Mac / Badass version (not that I want to pay their price for something that doesn't work... just looking to avoid whatever defect you found when selecting an alternative).
The Pig tail worked great for me. I had it on a few guitars with no issue.

Pig tail wraparound.jpg


Hauteur P90.jpg

The badass has to be pulled back off the studs so much that it was tilted up to a point where it didn't make sense. Its saddles were too high to get a decent low action and they were sharp and poked my hand when palm muting. Not a fan ...

Wraparound bridges.jpg
 

Lester

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Got the color coats down. Not sure if I want to just polish it and stop or put some clear on it. The originals on these are matte... so maybe touch up sanding on the glitches and polishing the color is enough. Still undecided on aging it or not.

Guitar Painted.JPG


And yeah, I know painting the pocket is usually verboten. This thing was so rough that I painted it anyway for the fill factor and will scrape back to (now will be flat) wood. That should increase contact and stability a bit.
 
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