Modding vintage guitars

nopea

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I know the general consensus is that one should not mod a vintage guitar in a way that is not reversible, i.e mod with parts that will leave no permanent scares when restoring to the original parts. But what if the parts on the guitar are considered of a cheap variety and upgrading them will leave such scares? Does it affect the value?

For example, a guitar that was a lower tier model back in the day and would be considered 'Japanese Vintage' having trap tuners? I imagine if the tuners are fine (being trap tuners I am sure the consensus is also that these would be crap) then no worries, but if upgrades are required new screw holes would also be required and I wonder how this may affect the value of the guitar.

I like to keep my old guitars as stock or at least can be returned to stock with no scares if possible.
 

ArchEtech

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Save the original parts, and put on the parts that you want. Whatever makes you want to play it.

I personally think original vintage guitars that are modded and played by real musicians are way cooler than a closet queen, or some purist example that everyone is afraid to make play the way they want it to play.

Yes non stock screw holes, routing out tuner pegs for different ones, installing a Bigsby will devalue that perfect collectors piece, cut I can’t imagine tasteful and useful mods that improve the guitar are going to completely destroy the value. Are you playing or collecting?
 

nopea

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I am playing :)

But.... (alway a but, right) I do like to keep my guitar as stock as much as possible. Most of the older guitars I buy will have stock parts that I have no issues with. The guitar I am looking at has trap tuners. I have only played the guitar once (yet to purchase it) and it tuned and held fairly well so I might not have to do anything. These tuners have a bad rep. However they were MIJ tuners, so they might have a better build quality than the ones found on Squiers in the late 80's till now.

Everything else on the guitar is perfect (for me anyways). But it would look so cool to put some Gotoh SD91's on there for sure!
 

ArchEtech

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I don’t think I have typical tuners in any of my guitars. I bet you can find some that will fit without modifying anything, you might just have to try a few different on and off brands.
 

strayedstrater

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I've got a couple of early/mid '80s cheap Korean guitars (an Arbor and a Memphis) with trap tuners. They look cheap and they feel cheap, but they work fine.

So give them a try for a while and see if you actually need to change them.

But if you do end up wanting to change them, there are lots of unobtrusive options. Hipshot has "no screw" mounting plates. The plates will cover the existing holes, and also cover up the dents/impressions from the traps.

Many tuners have pins that poke into the wood instead of mounting screws. Some tuners with screws have them where the new hole would be covered up by the traps if you reinstall them for resale.

Most will require enlarging the shaft holes, but there are conversion bushings that will neck-down the holes to original size. The bushings won't be a big hit on resale value.

The big thing is that if you have to drill screw holes, choose something that will be covered up by the traps if you reinstall them.
 

LuthierVandross

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I am playing :)

But.... (alway a but, right) I do like to keep my guitar as stock as much as possible. Most of the older guitars I buy will have stock parts that I have no issues with. The guitar I am looking at has trap tuners. I have only played the guitar once (yet to purchase it) and it tuned and held fairly well so I might not have to do anything. These tuners have a bad rep. However they were MIJ tuners, so they might have a better build quality than the ones found on Squiers in the late 80's till now.

Everything else on the guitar is perfect (for me anyways). But it would look so cool to put some Gotoh SD91's on there for sure!
You can lock your strings so even trap tuners work better.
 

nopea

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If I did upgrade the tuners I would not be going with sealed tuners as I do not want to enlarge the holes, I would keep to the 6mm shaft size even though conversion bushings are awesome.

My 1999 MIJ Epiphone SG had Gotoh Kluson type tuners (SD90) when I bought it in 99', I then upgrade them to Grover type for a few years (enlarging the holes), then Gibson Deluxe (sealed tuners that look like Klusons). But last year, with the help of conversion bushings, went back to the original Gotohs - lucky I kept them in the case for nearly 2 decades. I much prefer the Gotoh Kluson type tuners :cool:
 

nopea

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You can lock your strings so even trap tuners work better.
I do have a 2002 Squier beater guitar that I sometime grab for fun (not the best guitar in the world, but fun to play). It has trap tuners (although I took the covers off) and even though they are stiff and hard to move, they do hold tune quite well.

I tried the guitar once and had to tune it up in the store, they were stiff (but they are very old and looks like the guitar was hardly played), but once in tune it held pretty well (I wasn't doing any crazy bends of anything though LOL).
 

LuthierVandross

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Do this. Saves hundreds in tuners you just have to pull off to put the stock ones back on when you sale it.
Seriously had Hondo LP with the bolt in neck and the trap tuners were so bad you could hardly fret a note without it going out of tune. I learned how to string lock on it because I didn’t want to spend any money on it. I got it for free, cleaned it up and once I did this, it was playable. I ended up liking it a bit. Gave it to a younger musician, taught him how to string lock and he still plays the crap out of it. No tuner swaps, though the fretboard has been re-radiused (to an honest 14 where as before it was 12-16 but not consistent) refretted with super jumbos, swapped the saddles and nut and he found a late 70’s set of all slug Humbuckers, we wired it up with CTS pots and some orange drop caps. Still no need for tuners. He purposely keeps it like that. :dunno:

 

Ph03n1x

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I used Hipshot locking tuners in my 1980 Greco. I also refinished the top but it came already pre-sanded and was missing the tuners. The hipshot tuners are good because they come with a special plate and do not require screwing any new holes into the wood.

You can also get a Dusenberg tremolo that requires no holes and weighs less than a bigsby. They have versions now that have a similar shaped handle to a bigsby.
 

Roxy13

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To be honest I don't worry about it much. Sure some of these guitars have gone up in value like the top models of the Super Real Series, but I don't think they are ever going to hit the kinds of prices that vintage Gibsons have.

When tuners need replaced (and in my case, broken gears are usually the reason) I just buy new ones that fit all the stock holes and then it's not a big deal. However I did recently buy a Bacchus that has new holes drilled for the screws on the back of the hs and the shaft holes were enlarged as well. To me it wasn't that big of a deal. The Fresher I bought for my niece had also had a tuner change and plugged holes on the back of the hs, but in the case of that guitar the original tuners are known for being really poor so it was an upgrade.

I also replace sagging bridges and hardware that is rusty or very, very corroded. I definitely change rusty screws as those may ome back to haunt you if you don't.
 

jlee

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I’m not that precious about mods and value. All 3 of my 80s Tokai’s have enlarged control holes for aftermarket pots, new pickups and 1 guitar has new tuners. Tuners were a direct replacement though. I don’t plan on ever selling them and would rather they sound and play the way I want them to.
 

zeneffect

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Rusty screws? Lyman treated walnut media and vibratory tumbler will fix that right up in a couple of hours. Great for things like polishing brass, getting crap off metal parts, etc. Usually for gun/reloading stuff but it's usefulness in restoring metal parts goes far beyond the reloading bench. Not for gold plated parts unless you want th to become silver.

Maybe not vintage gibson, but I see it hitting 5 figures in the next 20 years for the super real series, tokai les paul reborn, etc.
 

Roxy13

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I had a Greco with screws so rusty they turned into little piles of rust dust. Definitely not salvagable.
 

nopea

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My Fernandes Revival RST-50 64 (1984) had some rusty screws when I bought it, just took a fine wire brush to them and cleaned most of the rust off and the screws looked fine under all that :D
 

ThePanda

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I am fine with it as long as it adds to the playability of an instrument and a bit conservative.
 

ThePanda

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I dont know how I feel about it. My greco could use 3 or 4 more strap button holes. 5 just isn't enough.
It would give you more options. I think this adds to the playability quite a bit.
 

BadPenguin

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9 times out of ten, it's not the tuners, but the nut. If the nut slots are right, no pinging when tuning, then you don't need tuners. BUT some tuners are just either worn out, or trash to begin with. Figure out what you have, then act accordingly.

And my simple opinion is this: Blowtorch or bandsaw, whatever it take to make it play and sound the best it can.
 

BadMongo

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I had a Greco with screws so rusty they turned into little piles of rust dust. Definitely not salvagable.
Same. And one seemed like it had been glued into place and and exploded when I tried to get it out.
 


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