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

Rebuilding a '65 SG

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by tigger, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. tigger

    tigger Tele-Meister

    First a disclaimer: This thread has an original over at, but the crowds are not identical and I'm making one here as well to tap the collective knowledge of the two excellent fora.

    I acquired this guitar for more money than it's objectively worth, but the project itself has value to me. Listed as a "probably '65" SG, it indeed looks like a very early '65 standard, before all of the modifications that happened in 1965 hit.

    The owner knew nothing about it - he wanted an electric guitar in the late 70's or early 80's and bought this one off his guitar teacher, a since deceased German jazz player. He in turn got it at some time, possibly late 60's from a US Airforce pilot stationed in the former West Germany.

    The stats of interest for dating are: small cavity route, "lip" on neck heel (much more on it later), 1+11/16 inch nut width, ~17 degree headstock angle, short magnet red/copper wire nickel covered pat no. pickups, '63 dated pots, early '65, 329782 serial number. The guitar had 1 headstock break with the former owner, properly glued by a guitar repair shop. However, it has been significantly worked on before that, most likely in the late 60s or early 70s.


    I'll upload a good headstock shot later. It'll ring all sorts of alarm bells, it seems the whole veneer has been stripped off at some point and the logo replaced with a later masked-out pearl block, no crown. Further, you can see two wooden dowels through the headstock. What damage they must be holding together I cannot yet imagine but we'll see.

    Not a crooked camera angle. The author of the stop-tail install wasn't very good at measuring.

    Pickups sound awesome. 7.73kOhm neck, bridge 7.17kOhm.

    What's the deal with the right (bridge) pickup ring? I think it was replaced because the original one was too tall. This brings us to the main problem: the heel was broken as you'd expect:

    However, the repair person put it back flat with the body, causing all sorts of issues. You might notice I said there is a "lip", but above there isn't. It's because it was covered with wood putty:


    Here is the inside of the neck pocket, with the spliced-on long but flat tenon (I got the fretboard off meanwhile):

    Barncaster, lewis, Bruxist and 10 others like this.
  2. src9000

    src9000 Poster Extraordinaire

    Same year I was born. If you do a good job, I'll let you rehab me.

    Looks like it's going to be a labor of love.
  3. Barncaster

    Barncaster Doctor of Teleocity

    Im a 65 baby too and love SGs. Subscribed.
    tigger and src9000 like this.
  4. Marn99

    Marn99 Tele-Meister

    Nov 25, 2016
    Brookfield, WI
    Bridge mounting ring looks wrong to me, if I remember correctly both the neck and bridge rings should have codes stamped on to it, like the ones you see on your neck ring (MR49, M69, and 7, so the neck ring all checks out as correct by the way). Smell the neck pickup ring, you may or may not notice it smells funny, that's because the originals were made with Cellulose Acetate Butyrate, or CAB for short. A lot of CAB made these days as scent maskers in it, but not the original Gibson stuff. Compare that smell to the smell of the bridge ring, I am going to assume the smell is nothing?
  5. TenaciousP

    TenaciousP Tele-Meister

    Apr 1, 2016
    This looks like a really awesome project!
  6. BopT

    BopT Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 6, 2011
  7. Barncaster

    Barncaster Doctor of Teleocity

    Interesting on the pup placement. Personally I would have the 7.2k in the neck and the 7.7k in the bridge. My $.02.
    skunqesh, Tonetele and Zepfan like this.
  8. tigger

    tigger Tele-Meister

    Yes, I wrote a comment underneath that it isn't a correct ring, and my belief is that it was replaced when the neck was reset presumably in the late 60s, because the original neck pickup ring was too tall. Even the bridge had to be ground down and was completely flush with the body:

    and the bridge pickup was routed deeper:


    (Note the add-on tenon in the neck pocket, it's some other hardwood)

    Sadly I cannot do any smell tests here because the whole guitar smells rather terrible of being kept in an attic somewhere for decades. I'm trying to clean all the bits with water and soap and it helps, but not completely. I suppose someone will suggest naptha, but I have not yet figured out where can you get it in Europe.
    BorderRadio and faulp like this.
  9. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 31, 2016
    Naptha = lighter fluid for Zippo lighters.
    BorderRadio and Piggy Stu like this.
  10. tigger

    tigger Tele-Meister

    I double checked if I measured correctly, but I believe I had. It could be that the pickups were removed during the repair and put back the other way around, I don't know. Here is a photo of the electronics cavity, it has definitely been tampered with including 1 replacement pot:

    faulp likes this.
  11. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    Could this SG have originally been a JR model? or a Special that used a JR bridge?
  12. tigger

    tigger Tele-Meister

    Also note the burn on the left-bottom side, someone placed a soldering iron against the wood I think.
  13. tigger

    tigger Tele-Meister

    This would seem essentially impossible: Neck inlays look original. Neck is bound (JRs weren't bound). Both pickup routes are there and have traces of original stain, electronics cavity is not enlarged, vibrola mounting points are present and filled-in.
  14. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    Didn't some of the late 60's early 70's Gibson's have a large wrap around adjustable bridge? Could that be a possibility? Just thinking of why the stop tail was done crooked.
  15. tigger

    tigger Tele-Meister

    The original bridge was a vibrola, you can still see the mounting holes towards the strap button. Standards came either with one of the two different vibrolas, or vary rare I think, with a bigsby. Switch to a hard-tail was however a really common mod.
  16. tigger

    tigger Tele-Meister

    Here is my implement for trying to saw out the neck. A razor blade with notches made into it. It's surprisingly effective, but still probably not enough to cut through all of the wood.


    Here is a partially uncovered heel. What is the black stuff? I think it's some adhesive with a wooden shim inside it, in some places only. I believe the neck reset was done by putting a shim in, covering everything with a ton of glue and waiting for it to set in the correct position. Hot knife slices into it but doesn't get too deep, something else is there. Perhaps it is just the wedge created by moving the neck flat rather than at an angle.

    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
  17. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jun 4, 2005
    Williamsville NY
    Wow. That SG's been mauled more than once. Looks like the bridge and tailpiece are at opposing angles with neither being perpendicular to the center line of the guitar. When it's strung up can it be intonated, or are all the notes flat? The saddles are slammed at the limit of their travel toward the nut, like material might have been removed from the heel when the neck was reset.

    Cool, old SG with a lot of miles on it. Bringing the old ones back to life is a labor of love.
    Barncaster and Piggy Stu like this.
  18. tigger

    tigger Tele-Meister

    Good point. It played in tune but I didn't bother to check the intonation since I am taking the neck off anyways. When the guitar came, the bridge was installed the other way around and therefore almost maxed out long. That makes sense: with the neck angle low and the bridge low, the distance from the fretboard gets shorter. So I think once I correct that, the saddles should be in the middle. Thanks for pointing it out though, I'll measure twice before installing.

    The bridge isn't supposed to be perpendicular (at least on my untouched new Gibsons they are at the same angle as there). For the tail piece... I am having a real hard time figuring out how you can mount it so sideways...
  19. tigger

    tigger Tele-Meister

    For some reason I don't see my later photos, tdpri is running some sort of proxy which isn't letting them through, unsure why.
  20. Torren61

    Torren61 Tele-Meister

    Mar 12, 2013
    Humboldt County, CA
    What a mess. I'm looking forward to seeing this poor guitar made right (as can be).
    jimash, Piggy Stu and tigger like this.
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