Upgrades on 2016 R8

Netwarrior

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Hello Folks,
I've purchased a 2016 R8 in faded Tobacco finish in February this year. Since I wasn't really inspired by the standard electronics I decided to commit for few upgrades, similarly to what I already done on my ebony 335.

Below you can find the R8 HGND thread:

and the 335 modification thread:

Let's have a looka the parts first. I've chosen a Crazyparts 50s style harness with Luxe Bumblebee and Throbak SLE-101 pickups:



 
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Netwarrior

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Unfortunately, here in Europe I was only able to source the Throbak pickups with unaged covers. Clearly they wouldn't suit the VOS finish of the guitar. I therefore decided to do some light aging. Overtime I developed my own method.

I need of course to remove the covers first. Soldering Iron has to heat up:



Back of the pickup:


After melting the solder joint I quickly break it with a thin but stiff knife:



Cover removed:

 
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Netwarrior

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My aging method relies on diluted etching solution. So I need to mix the bath first:



Then I mask the strings area with thin masking tape to limit the aging there. After applying the masking tape I've degreased the cover perfectly with alcohol:



Here's the result after dipping it for few seconds in the etching bath:



I know, it doesn't look very good. But I will make it look better in the next step.
 

Netwarrior

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It's now time to remove the excessive patina. My method relies on polishing with a fine grit micro mesh and polishing compound:



Here's the result after some elbow grease. I only like really light aging:





It's difficult to catch the strings lines in the picture but they are there.
In person the result looks really similar to covers that have been factory aged by throbak.
 
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Netwarrior

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It's time to complement the new pickups with some proper mounting rings. I've contacted Steve from vintage heaven and after some chatting over email, I've ordered a set of lightly aged M-69 rings in bone tint. I must admit I'm very pleased with the way they look:






All assembled:




 

Netwarrior

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Time to fiddle with the guitar itself. Here she is all set:



Blocked the abr-1 thumbscrews with some masking tape and took note of the standard pickups height:



Now the strings can be removed:



And the control cavity plate can be finally removed:



Original wiring close-up:

 

Netwarrior

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The guitar back has been all covered up to avoid wrecking the precious finish:



Pickups leads unsoldered:



Now the pickups can be removed:



 

Netwarrior

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It's now time to remove the original knobs and uscrew the pot nuts:



Switch leads marked and original harness removed:



Original harness compared to the new one:



New harness in situ:



New pickups in situ as well:

 

Netwarrior

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Everything soldered up:



Back plate re-installed. I also took the time to replace the Gibson custom medallion with the black plastic switch cover, that I like better:




Of course before closing it back, I tested the electronics and everything was working mighty fine!
 
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ESchmidt

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Very nice and tasteful upgrades, I must say. I think you improved the guitar tenfold.
 

Netwarrior

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Ok since I improved the sound of the guitar, it was worth taking the chance to do some cosmetic changes as well.
The M-69 rings are not the only bits I've ordered form Vintage Heaven.

Here's the truss rod cover compared to the standard one. Roll marks are really difficult to show in photo:



Vintage heaven top hat knobs VS Gibson to hat knobs:



I also noticed the original knobs were all cracked, even if I've never removed them before. When I purchased the guitar they weren't cracked so I guess it develop over the span of few months.

Knobs installed:



Vintage heaven switch ring VS Gibson switch ring:



Switch ring installed:



Guitar gets finally stringed up and pickups adjusted:

 
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Netwarrior

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With the new parts, the stock switch tip was really looking out of place. Fortunately, I had a spare historic switch tip laying around.

First step was to remove the factory casting marks by sanding it with micro meshes. Top has been flattened out a bit as well:



Then I sprayed it with few cots of amber nitro lacquer:



Final results compared to original:



Installed. Picture looks darker than reality:

 

Netwarrior

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Oh I also almost forgot to mention, that I took a departure from vintage correctness and installed a Faber aluminum stop tailpiece and locking studs, aged by me:



The look is similar to the original setup, but it will make string changes a breeze when gigging. It should also add a little bit of sustain.

Here' s the finished guitar:





I'm now really eager to sound test it !!!
Unfortunately I won't be able to play it today. I wil be having some studio time tomorrow morning !!
 
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Netwarrior

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I’ve also a jack plate, a knurled switch nut and a new pickguard coming in. I’ll update the thread as soon as I receive the parts.
 
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emerald81

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Great job, love that aged vibe. And tobacco burst its beauty.

Good data because I need to age some new hardware in a 14 years old les paul now. Thanks.
 

bossaddict

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Not sure how I missed this before, but nice job with a lot of really good choices on parts, IMO. Thanks for documenting!
 


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