The Epiphone 5102T rebuild / restoration thread!

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by samuelmorrissey, Apr 18, 2019.

  1. samuelmorrissey

    samuelmorrissey Tele-Meister

    Age:
    26
    Posts:
    159
    Joined:
    May 12, 2017
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland, Earth
    Firstly, admins - please move this to the correct forum if needs be!

    So, I'd like to make a post about my current rebuild / restoration of an Epiphone 5102t.


    **** LONG POST AHEAD! ****


    This project actually started a while back so I'll be posting everything I have done so far over this timeline; photos, steps, equipment etc up to where I am now and plan to continue posting until it's finished - so please bare with me!


    Bit of background into the guitar;

    It's a Japanese Epiphone Riveria style hollowbody guitar made in the Matsumoku factory between 1970 - 1974/75 ish. There are a number of variations of this guitar sold under different brand names; Univox, Aria, Lyle etc. and the 5102t model became the EA-250 model in 1972 - same guitar but just a different model number. My one is stamped 5102t on the Epiphone product label on the inside of the F-hole so this one is anywhere from 1970 - 1972.


    This one is the Epiphone redburst version that features a bolt on neck, floating bridge, two doublecoil pickups with staple poles alongside the screw poles and a quirky looking vibrato, typical for those 70s MIJ guitars. Interesting that the strap button is on the upper horn and pickup switch on the lower horn.

    This is what the original guitar looked like:





    [​IMG]





    So, now let's get a look at mine. I bought this off a classified ads site that is popularly used by musicians for buying, selling and trading gear here in Ireland. I got this way back in maybe 2013-ish for next to nothing given its condition.

    The neck was taken off the body, and looks like the previous owner tried to strip off the finish and gave up halfway through the front face. Image below is the best I have from this period. It was packed away for a number of years after this and took out recently to continue with the project.


    [​IMG]


    The wiring was totally taken out of it although it was all there and still connected. The tailpiece looked like it was sawn off the guitar with the screws still in the base and the trem arm was also missing.


    The original pickups also came with the guitar which was a surprise, considering the whole thing had been stripped of hardware and the seller didn't mention the pickups in the ad. Only downside was that the pickup leads were cut off right at the base of the pickup and the coils were no longer connected. I don't have a picture of my originals from this time but he's ones I snapped from the web to show the general idea and construction;


    [​IMG]



    This one above is a vintage Hofner Diamond. Similar to these ones.


    With the covers on, it looks like:


    [​IMG]



    Moving on, the neck itself was in really bad shape. The nut (and also the bridge for that matter) looked like someone had hit it repeatedly with a hammer. The inlays look to have shrunk (or wood expanded?) and were starting to curl up and separate at the ends. The frets were in a really bad way and there was sizeable gouges in the fretboard. See below;


    [​IMG]


    Back then, I felt like I had bitten off more than I can chew with this one and figured the cost to rebuild this would far outweigh any potential value it may hold down the line.

    So I packed it away for a few years with numerous other projects coming and going in the meantime.

    Jump forward to earlier this year and after gaining some experience with other guitar projects; finishing, wiring, alterations, mods etc, I decided I'd finally give this one a go.

    I thought, I need to do this guitar justice and so it will be a total labour of love and I should see it right through to the bitter end, no matter what the outcome! Having said that, I knew some of the parts and repairs for this could run up hefty bills so I figured I'd attempt to do as much of it as I can myself and just take the hit on the costs. I figure if I get this restored and finished properly then it'll be good for another 40 years and well worth keeping for myself!

    Because we all love a money-sucking guitar project, right? If nothing else, it'll be a good wall hanger for sure!

    I figure now is a good time to end the first post for those who have read this far. Like I said above, I will be posting progress updates in the comments below and try catch up with my current workflow.

    See post below for the next stages and my inspiration and ideas behind the project!

    Thanks for looking - I'll sure to take advice on this one and will certainly be looking tips along the way!
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,963
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    Can’t wait!
     
  3. samuelmorrissey

    samuelmorrissey Tele-Meister

    Age:
    26
    Posts:
    159
    Joined:
    May 12, 2017
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland, Earth
    So - what's next?

    I gathered everything I had for this guitar for a full inspection; neck, pickups, hardware, electronics etc.

    Bridge - this was in such bad condition that it was pretty much unusable - need to upgrade

    Pickups - as stated above, all the parts were the but none of it was connected with leads missing. I was browsing sites to try find similarly styled pickups to no avail. The only ones I could find were vintage Hofner or other 60s / 70s pickups with huge price tags. I did however find a set on eBay coming from China that looked exactly like the originals. Very cheap with like up to 3 month delivery. I wasn't sure if I'd wanna put cheap Chinese pickups in this thing I held off on buying those, and I'm glad I did - more on that later.

    Neck - Again, this was in really bad shape. I mean REALLY bad. Nut was totally destroyed, fretboard was like the Grand Canyon and the frets were near flat to the board in places. Other than that, the finish was quite nice and the original tuners were there and seemed to work fine.

    Tailpiece - the tailpiece was missing the trem arm. But seemed to hold up fine. I love the look of those tailpieces and I wouldn't use a lot of tremolo so I decided to hang onto it for the moment. Figure I could pick up a trem arm online somewhere later down the line.

    Electronics - all the electronics were given to me in a separate plastic bag when I got this project. And it was all still connected! The leads had been snipped from the pickups right at the pickup base and the switch / output jack still connected. It looked rusty and dusty as hell and the braided wire was incredibly fragile. The switch looked ok although a little loose when switching. The pots looked a bit rough and some were stiff and others too loose. I had originally planned to re-use all of this but eventually caved in and decided to completely upgrade all the wiring and electronics.


    Now lets move onto....THE BODY!

    So at this point, I have a lovely 70's 335 / Riviera Style body that the previous owner tried to refinish. They had gotten right down to the maple top on about 20% of the front face. Nothing done to the back or sides. This is what she looked like just after I dug it out;



    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]



    So what now?


    This is where I was coming up with ideas for the project. Do I try and re-match the finish on the front? Do I go a completely different colour? I did also think about doing a burst type finish but decided I couldn't manage it.

    This was a real head-scratcher. I have done some solid colour finishing before in the past so figured if I was going to do a refinish, that'd be the best place to start......


    THEN.....


    Not long after the Beatles 50th anniversary of the famous rooftop concert, an idea hit.


    Why not strip the whole finish and style it like Lennon's Casino?





    [​IMG]





    OH YES!!!!!


    Being a big Beatles fan, I thought this was a genius idea. Obviously it would never be a Casino, but a nice, quirky tribute I thought.

    There was a few things I'd have to consider here. Pickups are different, headstock is different, bridge is different, tailpiece is different, body shape is slightly different - I think the horns are cut deeper on the 5102T.

    Now that the idea was firmly rooted in my psyche, I left it at that for a while to develop this idea more and see what I could come up with.

    At this point, it's worth noting that the weather here in Ireland is pretty terrible at times. Particularly at the very start and end of year. So finishing guitar in this weather is not ideal. Especially since I'm using my old man's small workshop out the back garden for most of this work, I figured I'd try get as much done in the dry weather as possible and in cold / wet times I can be ordering / waiting on parts to arrive etc.

    So that's the backstory behind this project. Thanks for bearing with me and keep an eye out for the next stages!
     

    Attached Files:

    rangercaster likes this.
  4. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    66
    Posts:
    3,480
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2008
    Location:
    Brentwood, TN
    This is a very interesting restoration project. Make it like you want it. Don't try to re-create unless that's what you want. For that fretboard near the cowboy chords region - maybe you can do a regional scrape to plane it flat without removing all of the frets? The nut has to be replaced, so scraping betee the first fret and the nut could easily and carefully level out that area. ??
     
  5. Mr. St. Paul

    Mr. St. Paul TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    58
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Location:
    Saint Paul, MN
    I think your Casino idea is spot on, especially since that is a fully hollow body, just like the Casino. And there's just enough of the finish scraped off to make you want to see rest of the natural top. Keep us posted. Cheers!
     
  6. samuelmorrissey

    samuelmorrissey Tele-Meister

    Age:
    26
    Posts:
    159
    Joined:
    May 12, 2017
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland, Earth
    Cheers!

    I'm working from a backlog of photos and stuff I've done over the last couple of months so I've progressed a good bit since then. Trying to make progress posts whenever I get a chance.

    At present, the neck is all sorted now - you'll just have to wait for that post!

    I know it won't be exactly like a Casino, but it'll be good enough for me. I already have a cherry red 335 and several other sunbursts so I figured a natural finish would be nice to the collection!
     
  7. 10orgtr

    10orgtr Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    282
    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    western PA
    I've got one of those and the top completely unglued itself. Check around the horns and see if it is loose. The one I have has no kerfing. So the only glue surface is the edge of the plywood sides. String tension pulling the neck block acted like a crow bar and pried the top loose. Once it got started it just kept on going. One of these days I have to put it back together. The trem arms are often seen on Ebay.
    Cheers,
    Woody
     
  8. samuelmorrissey

    samuelmorrissey Tele-Meister

    Age:
    26
    Posts:
    159
    Joined:
    May 12, 2017
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland, Earth
    Thanks for the reply Woody and sorry to hear about yours. Do you still have it? Did the top come off in one solid piece or did it crack or break?

    This one seems to be fine for now but I guess I won't know until it settles in under string tension. Here's hoping!
     
  9. 10orgtr

    10orgtr Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    282
    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    western PA
    I still have it, haven't got around to fixing it yet. The top came off in intact, in one piece, binding and all. When I saw how far gone it was, I just kind of peeled it off. I have since heard that some of them have kerfing, some don't. Look in the sound holes, if there's kerfing like an acoustic you're good to go. I there's just a square corner where the sides and top or back meet I'd be worried about its structural integrity. The first indication I had was a noticeable gap between the bottom edge of the top binding and the side.
    Cheers,
    Woody
     
  10. samuelmorrissey

    samuelmorrissey Tele-Meister

    Age:
    26
    Posts:
    159
    Joined:
    May 12, 2017
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland, Earth
    Thanks Woody! Hopefully yours can be repaired and reinforced!

    I'll have a look at mine to check for kerfing - will try get some more posts up over the weekend!
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.