Gibi-Phone Transformation: Phase 3: Custom Wiring Harness and 1950s-Style Selector Sw

ProfChaos

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Gibi-Phone Transformation: Phase 3: Custom Wiring Harness and 1950s-Style Selector Switch Upgrade

Parts:
[Previously-installed Gibson BurstBucker 2 wax-potted, four-conductor pick-ups]
Martin Six-String Customs “Les Paul Dual Coil-Split Harness,” with “short-shaft” controls ($114.95 US, including the option for dual Luxe Bumblebee-replica capacitors)
Martin Six-String Customs “Les Paul Pre-Wired Short-Frame Switchcraft Toggle Switch” ($37.95 US)
Gibson Speed Knobs (gold) ($15 US)
A new set of Elixir .010-.046 strings ($11 US)

Tools and Materials:
T-Handle Reamer
Half-Inch ASE socket
Teflon tape for long-term securing of speed knobs on the push-pull, “coil-cut” tone controls
Safety glasses (for soldering activity)
Soldering Iron, 40-watt-or-greater, with a 700-degree F tip
60/40 (Tin/Lead) Solder for electronics
Solder wick
Needle-nose pliers
Diagonal cutters or a decent-quality wire-stripping tool
Jeweler’s screwdriver: Phillips-head
Cheap plastic bolt and screw gauge
Electrical tape for securing parts and wires while soldering connections
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The Process:
Phase 3 of the Gibi-Phone Transformation involved installing a nicely-made, hand-wired Martin Six-String Customs coil-tapping wiring harness and installing a Switchcraft ‘50s-style selector switch with braided steel shielding and cloth-insulated wire.

A few weeks ago, the parts for Phase 3 of Gibi-Phone Transformation arrived.


The custom harness from Martin Six-String Customs comes with wiring instructions.
UseInstructions_1_zpsa95c515e.jpg


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Step 1: Removing the Old Stuff
Open the control cavity and disconnect the Molex connector for the stock pick-up selector switch.
DisconnectMolex_1_zps4b38f067.jpg


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Now, remove the stock tone and volume control knobs and the entire stock wiring harness. When cutting the BurstBucker pick-up wires free from the stock Epiphone harness, be sure to label each pick-up harness with a piece of masking tape and a pen, or with standard wire-marking labels (“B” for bridge pick-up harness and “N” for neck pick-up harness).
RemoveOldControls_1_zpsbd743084.jpg


RemoveOldHarness_1_zpsaf503b93.jpg


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Also cut the bridge ground wire soldered to the case of the stock Epiphone bridge tone control. Then, temporarily remove the stock input jack and cut the wires to the jack. (You will later connect this bridge ground wire again by "tinning" it with solder and soldering it to any one of the metal cases of the volume or tone controls, since they are all at ground potential on the pre-wired "ground bus.")
RemoveAndCutJack_1_zps2818d7b2.jpg


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Remove the stock pick-up selector switch.
RemoveOldSwitch_1_zps91b722ec.jpg


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Then, cut the stock selector switch harness so that you can later more easily remove the harness from the guitar body when you feed the new selector switch harness through the cable tunnel in the body of the guitar.
CutOldSwitch_1_zpscec84045.jpg


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Step 2: Modifying the Control Cavity
Tape the BurstBucker 2 pick-up wiring harnesses to the side of the control cavity to prevent possible damage to the pick-up harnesses when you ream the volume and tone control holes to accommodate the new harness.
TapePickupHarnesses_1_zpsd4fc1c30.jpg


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Place a cotton towel or guitar-polishing cloth over the top of the guitar and use the t-handle reaming tool inserted through the 3/8-inch hole of the bolt and screw gauge to ream the individual tone and volume control holes so that they will accommodate the control shafts in the new harness. Since the reaming tool is tapered, I reamed the holes the opposite way as well (without the aid of the bolt gauge), just to fine-tune the control shaft holes.
ReamerAndGauge_1_zpsa8d7fa08.jpg


NOTE: The end of the reaming tool is sharp and pointy, so be especially careful not to jab yourself: The end of the tool will poke out past the control cavity, and if you are not careful, you might end up accidentally poking yourself and subsequently using a few colorful expletives.

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Step 3: Preparing to Install the New Parts
Slowly loosen, cut, and remove the strings of the guitar, and loosen the eight corner screws to remove the pick-ups from the body and gently set the pick-ups onto a cotton towel or guitar polishing cloth placed on the guitar body, to avoid scratching the top of the guitar. You do so in order more easily fish the new pick-up selector switch wiring harness through the body of the guitar. Lightly tape together the ends of the wires of the selector switch harness to make fishing the wires through the cable tunnel that much easier. After you fish the new selector switch harness through the selector switch cavity, very carefully feed the new selector toggle switch through the hole for the toggle switch (no hole-reaming necessary). It is a tight squeeze, so be careful not to pull any wires loose from the new switch as it fits into place.
InstallSwitch_1_zps06e0ee61.jpg


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After you have fished the other end of the selector switch harness through the cable tunnel and into the control cavity, use diagonal cutters (or tweezers) to gently remove the tape from the harness. Be careful not to damage the steel-braided shield as you do so.
CutTape_1_zps1667ee43.jpg


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Step 4: Connecting the Input Jack Wire and Making Ground connections for the Jack
First, remove the stock input jack, and use solder wick to remove the solder from the two points of connection (tip is “hot” [signal] and ring is ground)
WickJackSolder_1_zpscaf5a807.jpg


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Connect the cloth-covered center wire on the braided harness labeled “Jack” to the solder eyelet for the tip. (Use an ohmmeter if necessary, to determine which is which.)
ConnectJackWire_1_zps726850c9.jpg


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I used a piece of small white wire from the stock selector switch harness to wire the ground eyelet to the case of the bridge volume control. Again, be sure to “tin“ the wire with solder and to secure the wire with tape before soldering.
SecurePotsWtape_1_zps4cc57d68.jpg


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I used another piece of small white wire from the stock selector switch harness to ground the braided shield of the Martin Six-String Customs Jack wire.
ShieldWireTape_1_zpsafe569a1.jpg


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I connected the other end of this ground wire to the case of the neck tone control, using the tip of the t-handle reamer to scratch the tone control surface and then “tinning” the scratched surface with solder, before taping the ground wire onto the tone control and making the solder connection (see arrow).
GndToTone_1_zpse91f679f.jpg


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Step 5: The All-Important Business of Wiring the New Custom Harness
You are now ready to begin the wiring the new control harness. Trim to length, strip, and “tin” with solder the four wires of the BurstBucker 2 wiring harness (red, green, white, black, and bare wires).

You will notice that the new harness includes labels marked “Series Link Neck” and “Series Link Bridge.”
SeriesLinkLabels_1_zpsaca90342.jpg


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These “series link” wires are to be connected to both the green and white wires of the respective four-conductor BurstBucker pick-ups.
SeriesLink_1_zpsdd2cfc47.jpg


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The red (signal) “hot” wire from the respective Gibson BurstBucker pick-ups is to be connected to the input eyelet of the respective volume controls.
ConnectRedHotWire_1_zpsfaa359d8.jpg


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The selector switch cloth-coated center wire is to be connected to the middle eyelet of the respective volume controls. To avoid cold solder joints while soldering, I taped each control to the side of the control cavity, and I used needle-nose pliers to secure the connections before applying solder to the eyelets.
SecurePotsWtape_1_zps4cc57d68.jpg


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Since I had access only to a wimpy “Radio Shaft” 20-watt soldering iron, I did not solder the steel-braided ground shields directly to the backs of the individual controls, as shown in the instructions: Since there is a ground bus running between all of the controls and “a ground is a ground,” I used pieces of white wire scavenged from the stock Epiphone selector switch harness to connect each braided shield to the side of the respective control cases at ground potential. I used electrical tape to secure the ground wire to the individual control, thus reducing the chance of a “cold solder joint.”
ShieldWireTape_1_zpsafe569a1.jpg


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I left the tape on the secured wires so that the tape might serve as “strain-relief,” in case of later removal of the harness during maintenance or control-replacement. Be sure to “tin” each braided shield slightly with solder before soldering the ground connection.

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Step 6: Finishing Touches and Control-Knob Installation:
After wiring the harness connections and removing the tape that secures the last of the controls to the side of the control cavity, feed the shafts of the controls through the newly-reamed holes while arranging the wiring of the harness to avoid strain on the leads of the Bumblebee capacitors.
FinishedProduct_1_zps9bfb7e3e.jpg


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Lastly, flip the guitar over onto its back and place the Custom Harness washers and nuts onto the control shafts, and use a 1/2-inch socket to secure the controls and harness.
SecurePotsWsocket_zps3237f229.jpg


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After the nuts for all controls are tightened, add a little Teflon tape to the shafts of each of the two tone controls, to ensure that the Speed Knobs do not come off some day during coil-tap activation of the push-pull tone pots. After the Teflon tape is in-place, install the Speed Knobs, ensuring that “0” and “10” are appropriately placed in the knob rotation.
KnobsInPlace_1_zps83f3e04a.jpg


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The Verdict:
While Phase 1 involved installation of BurstBucker 2 wax-potted, four-conductor, nickel-plated pickups and Phase 2 involved tone-enhancing mass-reduction and a hardware upgrade, Phase 3 of the Gibi-Phone Transformation turned-out to be the second most important modification, second only to substituting four-conductor Gibson BurstBucker 2 pick-ups for the stock Epiphone pick-ups. More specifically, it is so nice to have high-quality ETS volume potentiometers with a logarithmic “audio taper,” especially for volume swells and for volume fades at the end of songs. It is also quite nice to experience a more seamless coil-tap function than with the stock Epiphone wiring harness, which—to be honest—is quite noisy. Getting rid of the stock pick-up selector switch means getting rid of a noisy piece of junk, as far as I’m concerned: Switching between pick-ups and between coils is now a much more elegant process, since it no longer involves all of the noise that it once involved. It is also quite nice to have the coil-tap function linked to the tone controls, and not the volume controls, as with the stock Epiphone Les Paul Standard Pro harness. This enables more elegant operation of volume pots during volume swells and fades at the end of songs, since the volume pots remain at the same height, whether or not the coil-tap is switched on. Finally, I am more impressed by the day with the rich tonal quality of the Martin Six-String Customs hand-wired harness. The Gibi-Phone with the Martin Six-String Customs harness is the first Les Paul that I’ve played on which I actually found the tone controls to be useful. And, Nigel Tuffnel of Rob Reiner’s film This Is Spinal Tap would be pleased to know that these 550K-ohm CTS pots actually do go to “eleven.” (More specifically, 50K ohms = 10% of 500K ohms, and at 550K ohms measured for each of these military-spec pots, the pots are actually rated at 50K ohms--or 10%--above the standard Les Paul pots. So, they really do go to “eleven.”) :)

I hope that this page of pictures and text helps someone with a similar modification in mind.

cheers,
--Professor Chaos
 

alcxam

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Nice work - some tasty upgrades going on there...

I noticed in phase 2 that you put your machine heads on backwards - hopefully you haven't put strings on yet, so you can swap them over before it's a bigger job! (They'll still work OK the way you've got them, but the gears may wear quicker because the string tension is pulling the posts away from the mechanism...)
 

Papa

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Good pics and an interesting thread.
Congrats on the upgrades.

It's always a good feeling when the DIY was your doing and not some tech.
(BTW...Love the finish on the guitar!)

Papa
 

ProfChaos

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Nice work - some tasty upgrades going on there...

I noticed in phase 2 that you put your machine heads on backwards - hopefully you haven't put strings on yet, so you can swap them over before it's a bigger job! (They'll still work OK the way you've got them, but the gears may wear quicker because the string tension is pulling the posts away from the mechanism...)


Thanks for the information. Now that I look at it, they actually are on backwards (with the shaft in the lower portion of the tuner rather than the top). The funny thing is that I wasn't sure about the orientation of the shaft when I installed the tuners, so I used the first online picture of a Les Paul with Kluson tuners that I could find to make the determination, and that particular random person had his mounted backwards too. lol :D


You're right: they do work fine as is. Nonetheless, to save potential gear-wear, I will flip them around when I get the next set of new strings, since at that time I was going to use steel wool to polish the frets and a fingernail file to smooth the outer edges of the frets, as shown in another "Handyman Corner" thread on this site. (The screw hole patterns will be the same, so it will merely be a matter of flipping the Kluson tuners from one side over to the other.)

Thanks again.
--Professor Chaos
 

ProfChaos

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Good pics and an interesting thread.
Congrats on the upgrades.

It's always a good feeling when the DIY was your doing and not some tech.
(BTW...Love the finish on the guitar!)

Papa

Thanks.

Even though I flipped the shaft-orientation of the Kluson tuners around backwards during Phase 2 of the upgrade, it is still almost always better to save money that would have been spent on paying for labor so that it might be spent on more parts for another modification. :D

cheers, :cheers:
--Professor Chaos
 

SLewis

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Congrats on the results. I'm sure it sounds great

.
 

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