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Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by jvin248, Aug 28, 2017.
IT... COULD... WORK!
Lol! A long time since I watched that movie. I'll need to look it up again.
Earlier in the summer, before getting this guitar, I built a customized version of the Matt Vinson/StewMac fret leveling system.
I watched a few videos like this one, this one, this one, and this one, but there are a lot more to see. I changed a few details on my jig. I have several guitars with frets dashed with sharpie marks to indicate high rocking frets. At the time I got this PRS guitar I had leveled only one guitar victim to ensure the device worked as advertised. It did. So here we go!
Changes I made to my rig from the MV plans:
-Dial indicators are in-line with the neck. I tried the offsets and bent rods (the reason for the extra holes in the beam) but really all that was unnecessary. The height changes are done under the guitar body rest.
-2x6 beam cut to actual 4 inches deep, not a 2x4 that is 3.5 inches.
-Thumb screws instead of knobs, big cost savings.
-Mounted to a base plywood sheet with a pair of hinges (kitchen cabinet leftovers) so I can flip the guitar up into the playing condition easily while having it securely clamped to the bench. The jig top rests on the bench solidly.
-Head jack is built from the smallest turnbuckle I could find at HD. I thought about routing a slot to drop the lower end into the beam but it works again by the under-body rest.
-Under-body rest, covered with the protective cloth, has a pair of door hinges on the heel side with a plywood sheet that spans to spacer blocks on the rear. The regular plans have those screw pads that seemed way too fiddly to me (enough fiddling with the jig as it is). A high angle neck to body would just use fewer blocks on the pad to lower the back of the body and pivot at the heel until the neck sits in the correct location for the dials.
-No slot for the eye-bolt, but that will get added 'soon'. The hardware store didn't have any smaller eyebolts long enough when I was there so I used this one, with a wing nut for adjustment.
-Two square chrome rings for the wrist tie-down from the junk drawer, strap cut from the long tail of the ratchet straps. Stitched on a 1940s sewing machine.
-One ratchet strap shown, I actually use a second behind the bridge to avoid nudging the guitar after lock-down and setup.
There is a definite technique to getting a guitar set up on this, best to watch those videos.
Shown here how I read the dials with my in-line alignment rather than the offset used in the plans. Final tweak will be rolling the guitar forward into playing position, setting to zero, and backing up with the support rods before rolling it back into working position.
Black 'Sharpie' marks show the high fret spots I found while playing. Low fret wear, especially for a gigged guitar.
(I used up the last of my blue masking tape and finished with standard beige)
Fret leveling ... I use a strip of granite counter top an inch square and slightly longer than the neck with 240 grit emery-type cloth.
First fret after the initial pass to show how light the frets were actually worn. PRS says they order the top end of the hardness spec for their fret wire "so it's almost like stainless steel". I'm not sure if the SE line gets the same revised fret wire spec or not but wear shows minimal here. I have fixed a lot worse.
The most severe cuts, as I expected the heel, and some at the neck. The factory doesn't use pre-tension in fret leveling, Tweaking the neck/board from level at the beginning could have minimized this but the pre-tension reveals what happens with strings on this neck with this body and this truss rod. Each piece of wood in every neck will bend slightly different under load. It was kind of dramatic for me that in the space of the first to the third fret how much the leveling changed (I used that little wear mark on the third fret as my 'bottom point' for leveling).
I use these two files, the edge of the wide one for the crowning, I ground one edge back to do worn frets and the other as shipped for new frets. The other is a flat rat file that I used to use for both the fret ends and crowning but it's slower on crowning so I switched. The flat rat file I ground and polished both narrow sides and the end round and smooth.
Then I go through with 600 grit and a small block to ensure the leveling scratches are removed in a level manner. Next I use 800, 1500, and 2000 grit with my fingers to smooth out any burs and polish up. Remove the tape and a little mineral oil and all factory fresh again.
Some finished pictures. Or at least restoration-finished as I do a couple of minor changes coming up... The fret level allows me to lower the action so much that the strings are hitting the bridge pickup surround.
Here is what the guitar sounds like. Three switch positions from clean to some dirt.
Neck humbucker wired for single coil screw bobbin, screws set with a slight Strat-like stagger with stock humbucker bridge wiring.
Line6 Spider-IV 15w set as clean as it goes and a Boss DS-1 pedal set with low gain.
Recorded with an Android phone near the amp.
Thanks for the awesome thread and work shots -- these are my favorite things to read on guitar forums! Enjoy that guitar -- I'm sure it's thankful for the new lease on life you've given it!
I enjoy a repair thread, especially broken neck thread, you're PRS turned out nice, considering it was doomed to the trash heap.
Great repair, very entertaining too
Loved following this !!
Some days that amp absolutely refuses to sound clean
Great job turning a pos into a lovely PRS
Great job Jvin.
Nice work, thanks for showing the jig process. Seeing it cleared up a few questions
After a few cosmetic changes: truss rod cover, different trim rings, and new knobs (amber hat style and a brass switch tip).
The custom truss rod cover is long enough to cover the Santana logo.
Very nice job!