Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Crap to less crap build

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by mitchfinck, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. mitchfinck

    mitchfinck Tele-Holic

    Dec 7, 2015
    Stratford, Ontario
    So, I bought a crappy Epiphone Les Paul Jr. this weekend for $15 Canadian. It's in pretty rough shape, but my girlfriend has been talking about getting into guitar and has a pretty specific taste (simple shape, ridiculous colour), so this seems like a fun project to get her invested. I also have a Gibson P90 that a guy gave me a while ago and I haven't put to use yet... so electronics upgrade!

    The plan is:
    - Tear it down (done)
    - Strip the body and neck
    - Refinish the neck white
    - Refinish the body and front of the headstock with gold leaf and black decals (it will blind everyone)
    - New tuning machines (have some gotohs kicking around)
    - Bone nut
    - Fret cleanup
    - New bridge (have one of those hipshot baby grands in the box o' stuff)
    - Small amount of routing in the pickup cavity
    - P90
    - Tort pickguard
    - Concentric tone pot for treble and bass control

    Wish me luck. Here's the ugly little guy now.

    Dismalhead likes this.

  2. el cheapo

    el cheapo Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 13, 2011
    Southcentral Pa
    Nice deal, and that should be a fun project!

  3. jenos

    jenos Tele-Meister

    Mar 28, 2012
    Columbia, SC
    And all this work on this guitar is for your girlfriend... Whatever it takes to get new gear to tinker with!
    the_lyall, hellopike and Danjabellza like this.

  4. Danjabellza

    Danjabellza Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 22, 2014
    Pahrump, nv
    That's a lot of work. I don't know if the newer ones are any different, but the cheapo epi LP I started out with was literally plywood. That beatiful baby grand bridge and that p90 might be falling into the category of pearls on a pig. I hope that's not the case.
    Bill Hubbard likes this.

  5. mitchfinck

    mitchfinck Tele-Holic

    Dec 7, 2015
    Stratford, Ontario
    You know it.

    I'm fairly certain it is. But these parts are literally all stuff that I got for free or next to nothing that is just sitting around. The neck is actually pretty flawless on it. It plays quite nicely. All for fun!
    the_lyall and Danjabellza like this.

  6. Zuzax

    Zuzax Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 1, 2011
    That's a big list. Start with the essentials and only do what is needed unless you've done all this before.

    If a guitar like this dropped into my lap I'd do a fret level and crown first, adjust the action and then I'd play it for a while to see where it's weak. Might not need anything. Sound issues are most likely the wiring, pots, and caps.

    Don't fix what's not broke.

  7. mitchfinck

    mitchfinck Tele-Holic

    Dec 7, 2015
    Stratford, Ontario
    I've built a few from the ground up and modded some of my other guitars before.
    The nut and finish were really bad. The bridge may not get changed... otherwise it's mostly cosmetic (difficult) or electrical (easy) changes.
    My girlfriend basically wanted the cheapest guitar we could find (she's a Master's student and has no money therefore) but it was pretty beat up so I said that we could screw around with it before she started playing. Currently I'm teaching her a bit on my SG.
    I appreciate you chiming in!
    Danjabellza likes this.

  8. studio1087

    studio1087 Telefied Ad Free Member

    May 10, 2003
    Near Milwaukee
    ^^ Yep.......pretty much.....

    Tuners, bridge, nut, pickguard, pickup, pots, finishing paint and're way past $200 on parts. I hope your time is worth $50 an hour. On craigslist or eBay you have a $55 guitar there as is. You're putting $200 into a $55 guitar. The gloss coat doesn't come off of Epi's or Squiers; it's a thick horrible plastic crust. I refinished a cheap guitar for fun and it was a tragic money pit.

    I'm truly sorry that I sound like Donald Downer. I'm trying to be pragmatic. It just is what it is.

    I bought the Epi SG Jr off craigslist for my son a few years ago. I paid $50 for it and took it home and cleaned it and restrung it and set it up and I bought a new strap for it. I added old Tele knobs and he liked that. That's as far as I went.

    His guitar is on the left. It's just fine. He has other guitars now but he still enjoys the Jr. Be careful. That Epi is OK and you're standing next to an expensive rabbit hole. :twisted:

    zippofan and jimash like this.

  9. mitchfinck

    mitchfinck Tele-Holic

    Dec 7, 2015
    Stratford, Ontario
    I'm not spending anything on parts outside of paint, pickguard, and time. All the parts I already have and were given to me or taken off of other guitars. I fully understand that I'm not crafting a valuable guitar, just something fun for me and the girlfriend to work on together.
    So I'm not worrying about the money because there's not much to go into it. I still think it will be fun.
    That is a nice Jr. you found for your son. I've never seen one of those IRL or online around here. There really are very few good deals to be had in these parts.
    studio1087 likes this.

  10. kafka

    kafka Tele-Holic

    Oct 18, 2013
    I'm not sure how crappy the Epiphone LPJ's are, in general. For a while, Epi made the 57 LPJ RI, which had a set neck. It was a fine little guitar, and is still what I recommend for people learning to play, if they can find one. And actually, if I found a used one hanging in a store, it would probably come home with me.

  11. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

    Feb 26, 2017
    I think this sounds fun

    Some of the people on here are counselling you like this is a business plan. I'm sure it isn't but to those people I would think of flower arranging. The act of doing it might cause you and the recipient pleasure - it doesn't have to be a commercial success creating profit

    Even if it winds up in the bin, with everything stripped, that is no worse than flowers you enjoyed for a period

    Do what makes you and your lady happy

  12. teletimetx

    teletimetx Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Jul 25, 2011
    Houston, TX
    ^^^^^Landed as I was typing - I agree!

    Sounds like fun! Sometimes it's good to do stuff just because you can. It's just that simple. I'd like to see it when you're done. The only thing that made me tilt my head a little was the tort guard idea. I like tort on black just fine, but for some reason, the shape of this guard was just not saying tort to my eyes. Whatever.

    I've got one of these el cheapo Epi juniors and it's a kick ass little guitar. I don't worry about getting my money back, 'cuz I've already done that just playing it at a few gigs. I did put a new set of tuners on and it's a player.

    just my 2 cents
    awasson likes this.

  13. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Nov 18, 2010
    A lot of responses from the fiscal responsibility committee. Maybe it's because it's not in the Home Depot section. I don't think they get what you're doing... I get it though.

    This is going to be awesome. Let the wood chips and sawdust fly :D

  14. tfarny

    tfarny Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    If all of that sounds like fun, go for it! I would definitely not strip it though - any refin should be done on top of the existing paint. Stripping thick poly off of a plywood guitar is not fun for anyone.
    I would, personally, at most change the nut, maybe the pickup, tuners if you can get cheap ones.
    Piggy Stu likes this.

  15. djh22

    djh22 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Jan 12, 2012
    From a professional bean counter, an official curmudgeon, and someone who has transformed more "crap" into "less crap" or at least "different crap" than I care to acknowledge, go for it! :)
    awasson and Piggy Stu like this.

  16. scooter_trasher

    scooter_trasher Tele-Meister

    Jul 2, 2012
    I really like my $40 epi les paul special, plays great sounds good, only problem it had was a pot lug grounding to sheilding paint, in the cavity , if she's learning and it's not broke, why fix it,If I had your jr, I might change the pickup ring to black, but at 8 or 9 bucks on ebay, I don't know :)

  17. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    I have several guitars with tuners and pickups that some would describe as "el cheapo" or "crap". I can tell you that despite the lack of well known brand names, all these tuners hold the strings in tune without slipping and the pickups are doing a great job.

    Only exceptions was one set of tuners that had 2 out of 6 bad ones, but was put on a 4 string CBG, so no biggie.
    Other exception was a GFS Minibird pickup that needs a little magnet swapping to get the desired effect since it isn't what it was marketed to be.

    A lot of people will change out parts because they are though to be "Crap" instead of doing some actual investigation. Pickups can sound awful in a guitar because of wrong pot/cap values, bad electronics in general, over-wound/under-wound, poor magnets or just the wrong magnets.
    I had a SX guitar with ceramic HB's that sounded awful in videos I'd seen, I removed them for another set of HB's. Later, the thought to be inferior HB's were put in another guitar and to my suprise, they sounded great.

    So try everything out first to see if the parts are indeed crap or if something else makes them seem like crap before yanking them and replacing unless you just want to.
    Zuzax likes this.

  18. scooter_trasher

    scooter_trasher Tele-Meister

    Jul 2, 2012
    And of course you can hear the difference in tone of the different species of wood in a electric guitar, as opposed to the tonal differences, in string gauge, pickups, tone cap values and amps, I've heard that people that can hear the difference in tone between a sandwich bodied plain maple topped les paul and a two piece bodied flame top, can even hear the difference in the color of a Stratocaster!
    Danjabellza and awasson like this.

  19. Danjabellza

    Danjabellza Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 22, 2014
    Pahrump, nv
    No, but cheap plywood is still cheap plywood. I'm no snob, but the plywood in the epiphone lespaul I had was hardly even quantifiable as plywood. It was 1 or 2 steps away from particle board. That guitar had no sustain at all, I would assume because the "wood" was absorbing all the kinetic energy from the strings. If the wood is soaking up the energy so the strings don't ring out the way you want them to, then all the high end end components in the world aren't going to do jack. It's possible that I had a fluke guitar (Maybe... it it was between $85-$100 if I recall correctly). It's possible that OP's guitar is a fluke in a good way. It just seems like quite a gamble for all the effort going into it.

  20. SweetClyde99

    SweetClyde99 Tele-Holic

    Feb 1, 2016
    Jefferson City, MO
    As long as you're willing to take pictures along the way for all of us, I say go for it. I've taken on my fair share of unprofitable projects with few regrets. But if you're going that far with it, you might as well reshape the Epiphone headstock to look more like a Gibson, just for fun.

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