Gibi-Phone Transformation: Phase 1

ProfChaos

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Gibi-Phone Transformation: Phase 1

Hello. :wave:

In another thread, I mention that I am in the process of transforming a stock Epihone Les Paul Standard Pro into a "Gibi-Phone" by installing Gibson BurstBucker pick-ups--and later adding other after-market upgrades. I decided to use my digital camera to document the process, thinking that it might prove at least a little useful to someone who might choose a similar route to an affordable Les Paul that is "close enough for government work" to the real deal.

I initially wanted to install BurstBucker 3, four-conductor, zebra-coil, wax-potted pick-ups, but some numb-nuts at the Guitar Center Warehouse in Kansas City accidentally shipped BurstBucker 2, four-conductor, nickel-plated, wax-potted pick-ups instead. (I had single-conductor nickel-plated BurstBucker 2 pick-ups in a 2007 Gibson "GC" Double-Cut Les Paul that I had to sell during the economic down-turn, and that guitar sounded fantastic. So, I decided that the shipping mistake might be God and the angels looking out for me, especially since, while waiting for the pick-ups to arrive, I read a Pro Audio review of the BurstBucker 3 that claims that it is a "bridge only" pick-up; they seemed convinced in the review that using a BurstBucker 3 in both neck and bridge positions might cause a muddy sound with both pick-ups activated. Their explanation is that the neck pick-up signal would be too "hot" and thus wouldn't balance well with the bridge pick-up signal.) Anyway, the nickel-plated covers of the accidentally-shipped BurstBucker 2 pick-ups go quite well with the Trans-Blue quilt top of the Gibi-Phone, so there you go: BurstBucker 2 pick-ups it is! :thumb:

Step 1: Gathering Materials
TheGoods_2_zps5a8b9eb9.jpg



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Materials: Replacement pick-ups, guitar/patient, solder, soldering iron, electrical tape/heat-shrink wrap (for covering permanent solder connections), two jeweler's screwdrivers--medium-sized, flat-blade and phillips-head (off-camera)--, diagonal cutters [serving also as wire-strippers] (off-camera), and needle-nose pliers (off-camera) for fishing the BurstBucker 2 wiring harness into the control cavity.

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BridgePU_Stripped_1_zpsa82ea631.jpg

Step 2: Neck Pick-Up Removal and Replacement: Open the control cavity and cut the neck pick-up wiring harness, leaving a rat-tail of a little over an inch out from the Molex connector on the neck pick-up volume control assembly, and pulling-off the outer gray insulation so that the red, green, black, white, and bare wires are exposed and ready to be stripped.​


Next, loosen slowly and then cut the guitar's strings, make note of the bridge pick-up height above the pick-up ring (looks like ~1/8-inch to me), and remove the stock "wanker" neck pick-up by using the phillips-head jeweler's screwdriver to loosen the screws in the four corners of the pick-up ring ; remove the stock pick-up ring; place the stock pick-up ring around the new bridge pick-up, using the Gibson height-adjustment screws and height-adjustment springs that came with the Gibson BurstBucker kit (stuck to the back of each pick-up magnet). (This is the toughest part of the whole operation, and you should be prepared to chase-down a run-away spring if it suddenly flies out when you are seating the Gibson height adjustment screws in the new BurstBucker.)



StockNeckPU_Removed_1_zps75a6619d.jpg

Fish the neck position BurstBucker wiring harness down through the guitar cavity, and if necessary, use the needle-nose pliers to pull it into the control cavity. Folding the individual stripped wires back against the gray insulation makes this operation fairly simple: just push the harness into the wiring harness tunnel while looking for it to appear in the control cavity.



BridgePU_Stripped_1_zpsa82ea631.jpg

I left more rat-tail than necessary on the pick-up wiring harness, because I plan to soon replace the Epiphone volume and tone controls with an upgrade harness that includes teflon-coated wire, ETS military-spec, audio-taper, push-pull pots, and ETS tone controls with bumble-bee replica capacitors. It is available at the following hyperlink: https://www.martinsixstringcustoms.com/store/prewired-guitar-electronics-harnesses/prewired-les-paula-dual-coil-split-harness/prod_125.html (Thanks to Premium Member SJM for the information and the hyperlink.)

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Making Connections: Overview: Soldering individual wires to both bridge and neck pick-ups is merely a matter of matching the color of wire coming from the Molex connector on the volume control assembly: The color-coding for Gibson and Epiphone wiring harnesses is the same: green wire and white wire for coil taps, red wire for signal lead ("hot"), black and bare wires for ground (soldered to the volume control case in a normal setup that doesn't use the Epiphone volume control's printed circuit assembly and Molex connector.) If you don't plan to later add upgraded controls, you would likely want to trim the wires by leaving just a little slack for comfort and then use heat-shrink wrap instead of electrical tape, to save potential hassles down the road from wires shorting against either one another or something metal in the control cavity. (Electrical tape can work its way loose after exposure to heat and humidity through time.) If you use heat-shrink wrap to cover the soldered connections, be sure to place the heat-shrink wrap over one of the two wire sleeves before soldering the wires together :rolleyes:, also sliding the heat-shrink wrap back a bit to keep it from shrinking from the heat of the soldering iron. Lastly, be sure to guard against "cold"--discolored and poorly conductive--solder joints when soldering connections between wires. Make sure that the soldering iron is plenty-hot and of the proper temperature-rating to solder electronic components--a "Radio Shaft" off-the-rack, cheap-o unit should be fine, because they should come with 700-degree-F tips installed. To ensure that solder flows evenly, be sure to "tin" the soldering iron by melting a little solder onto the tip, and then heat the joined wires from below while applying solder to the top of the junction so that solder flows down to the iron through the junction. If your soldering iron is properly tinned, the solder should then flow nicely and evenly, even to the point of your being able to distinguish the individual strands of the soldered wires. (Never blow on a solder joint to dry it, and be sure that there are no stray pointy masses that might later go "cold": The phrase "the bigger the blob, the better the job" does not apply to solder joints.) ;) Preventing issues with cold solder joints is paramount, since troubleshooting for them is a genuine pain in the arse.



BridgePU_Removed_1_zps36427b3c.jpg

Step 3: Bridge Pickup Removal and Replacement: For the bridge pick-up, repeat the above pick-up removal and installation process, again making note of the height of the pick-up above the pick-up ring (looks to me like ~ 1/4-inch for the bridge pick-up). IMPORTANT: Be sure also that the polarity of both pick-ups is correct by ensuring that the adjustable pole pieces are closest to the fret-board on the neck pick-up and closest to the bridge on the bridge pick-up (See last photo below). This will prevent issues with pick-ups being wired with incorrect phasing.​


Lastly, adjust the pick-up heights, making use of your earlier pick-up height observations. Then, plug the guitar into your favorite amplifier and flail away. :jam:



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The wiring in the control cavity is a bit of a rat's nest for now, but that will change when the after-market, premium wiring harness is installed later.



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Viola! Gibi-Phone Transformation Phase 1 is now complete, and the Gibi-Phone has joined the arsenal of guitars, no longer a wimpy-sounding thing.​

I hope that this helps someone.

cheers,
--Professor Chaos
 

Hack

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My wife lets me get by with alot of stuff in bed,... this would not be one of them!


Good job!!
 

miwolverine754

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Nice man! I have an epiphone les paul custom, the three pickup one. and man I love how it plays! eventually I'm gonna do the same thing once I have an extra few bucks. :)
 

Papa

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Gibi-Phone Transformation: Phase 1[/B]
I hope that this helps someone.
cheers,
--Professor Chaos
Threads like this are always helpful and insightful.
That's what this forum is about!

36_2_25thumbsup.gif


Great pics!
Thanks for posting,

Papa
 

navyboy

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good job I did the same on my standard in my sig pic some time back ago.
 

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