NGD: 2011 Melody Maker Explorer that was begging to be modded...

Danelectro

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I grabbed this Melody Maker Explorer from the forum classifieds last month. I still find it hard to believe that I paid only $275 for this guitar including the soft case. I know its just an entry level Gibson, but this is a really wonderful guitar. The neck is very comfortable measuring .865" at the first fret which I would classify as a '59 profile. The fretwork is perfect. This is the time guitar I've owned with a baked maple fretboard, and although I initially thought it that going to baked maple was a step in the wrong direction, now that I've used it I really can't knock it. I don't like the light brown appearance of it, but more on that later.

I received the guitar in stock condition which is a pretty basic feature-wise. It features a wraparound bridge, a Gibson humbucker of some sort, a volume control (no tone) and an output jack, all of which are mounted to the pickguard. The plastic is all 1-ply and pretty bland looking. The good news is aside from its boring appearance, its a really nice playing guitar.





This guitar is just begging to be modded, and considering the price paid I figured its a no-brainer. Before I even received the guitar, my thoughts were to add a neck pickup. Once I had it in hand and took a look at the neck joint beneath the pickguard, I decided not to compromise its structure by routing it for the neck pickup.


Another mod I had in mind was to move the output jack to the side of the body and add a tone control to the pickguard. I clamped the body into my WorkMate and bored a hole for the jack. The body is too thin for a standard jack plate, so I had to make a rectangular plate.




Tone control and PIO cap added, and I replaced the stock pickup with a Duncan JB that was sitting in the parts drawer:



The stock 1-ply pickguard disappears into the body, so I made a 5-ply guard to make it stand out a bit more. I thought about changing the guards's profile, but that would mean filling holes and painting which I don't have time for right now so I kept the same profile. One thing that I don't like about this pickguard profile is that it goes under the bridge, so you have to remove the strings and bridge in order to tinker with the electronics.




After looking at the BWBWB guard, I thought a white guard might look better so I made a 4-ply WBWB guard. I first assembled the guitar with just the pickup mounted to the guard as it came from the factory, but that looked a little unfinished so I added a pickup ring.

Also, I think a dark fretboard makes any guitar look better than a light-colored board. I had no idea how Fretdoctor might affect a baked maple board, but I was amazed when I brushed the oil onto it and the fretboard turned a deep chocolate brown. A 1000% improvement in appearance:


I installed an aged cover onto the JB and added a MojoAxe compensated wraparound along with a pair of locking studs



The last bit of cheapness remaining was the 1-ply truss rod cover with gold-leaf printing. I created the CAD data for the cover as well as the Gibson logo and machined a lapel-type cover from 2-ply laminate, which puts the finishing touch on the guitar







The best cheap guitar I've ever owned....


 

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stp

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I thought of that same mod the only other thing would be a ajustable bridge
 

Bud Stoner

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Wow! That is some damn fine work!

Also, that truss rod cover is nothing short of amazing!

One of those on my Joe B Firebird 1 would be freaking sweet!

And a pick guard with the bird...........:hmm::naughty:
 
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bossaddict

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Nice mods, Dan. Love the wraparound bridge look on an Explorer.
 

jdmp

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That looks so cool. I wish I had your skills!
 

C_Becker

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Very nice.
And I agree about the neck, I own a MM Flying V, fantastic.
I am currently modding mine with a new pickguard as well, and I installed a badass-stlye bridge with individual saddles
 

BWOTW

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It should come just like that from the factory! Great taste!
 

Blushingmule

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I grabbed this Melody Maker Explorer from the forum classifieds last month. I still find it hard to believe that I paid only $275 for this guitar including the soft case. I know its just an entry level Gibson, but this is a really wonderful guitar. The neck is very comfortable measuring .865" at the first fret which I would classify as a '59 profile. The fretwork is perfect. This is the time guitar I've owned with a baked maple fretboard, and although I initially thought it that going to baked maple was a step in the wrong direction, now that I've used it I really can't knock it. I don't like the light brown appearance of it, but more on that later.

I received the guitar in stock condition which is a pretty basic feature-wise. It features a wraparound bridge, a Gibson humbucker of some sort, a volume control (no tone) and an output jack, all of which are mounted to the pickguard. The plastic is all 1-ply and pretty bland looking. The good news is aside from its boring appearance, its a really nice playing guitar.





This guitar is just begging to be modded, and considering the price paid I figured its a no-brainer. Before I even received the guitar, my thoughts were to add a neck pickup. Once I had it in hand and took a look at the neck joint beneath the pickguard, I decided not to compromise its structure by routing it for the neck pickup.


Another mod I had in mind was to move the output jack to the side of the body and add a tone control to the pickguard. I clamped the body into my WorkMate and bored a hole for the jack. The body is too thin for a standard jack plate, so I had to make a rectangular plate.




Tone control and PIO cap added, and I replaced the stock pickup with a Duncan JB that was sitting in the parts drawer:



The stock 1-ply pickguard disappears into the body, so I made a 5-ply guard to make it stand out a bit more. I thought about changing the guards's profile, but that would mean filling holes and painting which I don't have time for right now so I kept the same profile. One thing that I don't like about this pickguard profile is that it goes under the bridge, so you have to remove the strings and bridge in order to tinker with the electronics.




After looking at the BWBWB guard, I thought a white guard might look better so I made a 4-ply WBWB guard. I first assembled the guitar with just the pickup mounted to the guard as it came from the factory, but that looked a little unfinished so I added a pickup ring.

Also, I think a dark fretboard makes any guitar look better than a light-colored board. I had no idea how Fretdoctor might affect a baked maple board, but I was amazed when I brushed the oil onto it and the fretboard turned a deep chocolate brown. A 1000% improvement in appearance:


I installed an aged cover onto the JB and added a MojoAxe compensated wraparound along with a pair of locking studs



The last bit of cheapness remaining was the 1-ply truss rod cover with gold-leaf printing. I created the CAD data for the cover as well as the Gibson logo and machined a lapel-type cover from 2-ply laminate, which puts the finishing touch on the guitar







The best cheap guitar I've ever owned....


LOVE it!
2011 Melody Maker? Have I been out of the loop?

I'm still kicking myself for donating a Melody Maker "SG" that I won on e-bay for $300 back in '01. It appeared green - 'twas blue (pulled the cover). The lacquer had yellowed over the years. Never thought of modding at the time.
 
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kiko

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Nice mods! I particularly like the TR cover :applause: I have the sg version and love it!
 

jimbob137

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Brilliant work, looks like a guitar that justifies the fact it's a Gibson explorer.
 

Jura

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Great job!
I think I like the black pickguards (both of them) a bit more.
 

northernguitarguy

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Looks kick ass, Dano! I luv MM's. I was wondering, is it possible and how much work involved to make it a string-thru body?
 

studio1087

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You really improved it without killing the original mojo. Great work.
 
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I grabbed this Melody Maker Explorer from the forum classifieds last month. I still find it hard to believe that I paid only $275 for this guitar including the soft case. I know its just an entry level Gibson, but this is a really wonderful guitar. The neck is very comfortable measuring .865" at the first fret which I would classify as a '59 profile. The fretwork is perfect. This is the time guitar I've owned with a baked maple fretboard, and although I initially thought it that going to baked maple was a step in the wrong direction, now that I've used it I really can't knock it. I don't like the light brown appearance of it, but more on that later.

I received the guitar in stock condition which is a pretty basic feature-wise. It features a wraparound bridge, a Gibson humbucker of some sort, a volume control (no tone) and an output jack, all of which are mounted to the pickguard. The plastic is all 1-ply and pretty bland looking. The good news is aside from its boring appearance, its a really nice playing guitar.





This guitar is just begging to be modded, and considering the price paid I figured its a no-brainer. Before I even received the guitar, my thoughts were to add a neck pickup. Once I had it in hand and took a look at the neck joint beneath the pickguard, I decided not to compromise its structure by routing it for the neck pickup.


Another mod I had in mind was to move the output jack to the side of the body and add a tone control to the pickguard. I clamped the body into my WorkMate and bored a hole for the jack. The body is too thin for a standard jack plate, so I had to make a rectangular plate.




Tone control and PIO cap added, and I replaced the stock pickup with a Duncan JB that was sitting in the parts drawer:



The stock 1-ply pickguard disappears into the body, so I made a 5-ply guard to make it stand out a bit more. I thought about changing the guards's profile, but that would mean filling holes and painting which I don't have time for right now so I kept the same profile. One thing that I don't like about this pickguard profile is that it goes under the bridge, so you have to remove the strings and bridge in order to tinker with the electronics.




After looking at the BWBWB guard, I thought a white guard might look better so I made a 4-ply WBWB guard. I first assembled the guitar with just the pickup mounted to the guard as it came from the factory, but that looked a little unfinished so I added a pickup ring.

Also, I think a dark fretboard makes any guitar look better than a light-colored board. I had no idea how Fretdoctor might affect a baked maple board, but I was amazed when I brushed the oil onto it and the fretboard turned a deep chocolate brown. A 1000% improvement in appearance:


I installed an aged cover onto the JB and added a MojoAxe compensated wraparound along with a pair of locking studs



The last bit of cheapness remaining was the 1-ply truss rod cover with gold-leaf printing. I created the CAD data for the cover as well as the Gibson logo and machined a lapel-type cover from 2-ply laminate, which puts the finishing touch on the guitar







The best cheap guitar I've ever owned....


Thats a beautiful axe!!!
 

wedontneedakey

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Very cool. I went right to Reverb and Craigslist, looking for a cheap MM Explorer. Nada.
 




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