Tulip Mania -- A Neck Resurrection from Back Bow

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by jvin248, May 16, 2019.

  1. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    For those who follow the stock market gyrations ... The 17th century saw the Dutch speculate in a market bubble of Tulip flower bulbs. It ended catastrophically https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania .. Hopefully this has more of a happy ending :)

    IMG_20190511_174527b.jpg


    So I bought this 1960s Teisco Tulip Del Rey three or four years ago. Most parts were original, no strings, and bad back bow to the neck with a single action truss rod. I bought it for a price I could do ok just selling the pickups (Ry Cooder created a market for these types of pickups), anything else would be a bonus. Model is E-200 (fixed bridge).

    I initially removed the truss nut and clamped it up to give it some forward bow. Left it for a year like that. thought about clamping it in the oven at elevated temperatures but decided against that. tapped the rod to make sure it wasn't bound up and it wasn't. Left the neck another couple of years with and without clamp load (there are a few projects around to work on so it wasn't a rush). Still the same back bow.

    IMG_20190511_174827b.jpg
    IMG_20190429_104910b.jpg


    As spring was appearing in warmer weather here and there, I decided to get the iron out and see if this Tulip could be salvaged.

    For the players seeking light weight guitars ... this one weighs 5.5 lbs. Basically a Strat neck on a thin, small form factor body.
    Gibson scale length 24.75inch.
    Zero Fret nut system.
    Single coil pickups, more like P90s but kind of their own thing.
    Pickup switching is either on/off or both pickups in series if both are on.

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    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  2. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    Hope it works out.

    If it doesn't, tall nut and a slide is all you need.;)
     
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  3. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    I love those old plank Teiscos, Harmonys and the like. You're right, the pickups in those can be quite special.

    I rescued this Harmony, which has a lot of parts interchangable with Teiscos, Kays etc. The necks are usually swappable and often quite good.

    0 - Harmony 25 NEW BRIDGE & TAILPIECE - 05.jpg

    It was a nearly discarded pile of junk when I got it, showing many battle scars, but now it's one of the sweetest playing—and sounding—guitars I've ever had. I just adore it.

    I finally got a tulip of my own, odd that I haven't got pics yet... I fashioned a "buzz bridge" to make it an "electric sitar," with some success. I actually used a Harmony H802 neck on the Teisco tulip body.. which had a Kay neck on it when I got it. :lol:

    Subscribed.
     
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  4. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Harbor Freight $3 end nippers, ground flat for pulling frets. Heat the frets with an iron then pulled them right out. Came out so easily I wondered if I even needed the iron but I kept using it to minimize tear out.

    If you are familiar with modern frets, you've seen how there are molded-in darts on the side so the frets go in easier and then have grip on the way out. These were rolled in the fret shape and then pressed on the tang from the bottom of the tang to create bumps, the practical nature of them is reverse of what you'd want: thickest part of the dart goes in first then the easiest is on the pull out side. So I can imagine many frets falling out of these.

    IMG_20190429_093952b.jpg


    Regular clothes iron set on high. Started at the headstock end where the nut was and worked down the board with a thin putty knife.
    Picture here is close to the end of the neck.

    IMG_20190429_103149b.jpg

    This was probably forty to fifty minutes of heating the board and wiggling the putty knife. Hardest was getting started at the nut.

    After separation. Some tear out and split near the headstock end. Probably much better glued joint and getting the neck started. Seems like a grain fracture was in the original board too. It's ugly but it needed to come off to have a playable instrument.
    IMG_20190429_103732b.jpg

    I sanded the fretboard and neck flat and repaired the fretboard fractures.

    Here is a close up of how they constructed the truss rod. Remember that these guitars originally sold for super cheap -- they had to for buyers to get them over a Fender or Gibson, just like other brands struggle today.

    They heated and pressed the end of the rod into an oval mushroom and then ground it to a "T" shape after cooling. The other end of the rod they threaded (shown in the first post). Then dropped the rod in the curved channel. They pressed and glued in wood strips with different depths and planed them flat before gluing on the fretboard.

    I'm always amazed at how flimsy feeling and bendy necks are without their fretboards glued on.

    IMG_20190429_104858b.jpg

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    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I didn't get any photos of clamping this neck. Here are a couple of pictures of another build I did a few years ago... probably double the clamps shown here. A forest of clamps. I see some lash a wide rubber band around and around but that might end up in back bow again.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Except this Tulip guitar I allowed the center of the neck to bow forward when clamping the fretboard on to fix the original problem of back bow.

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  6. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    I got 2 pair of those End Nippers, small File Set for dressing frets and a set of Wood Chisels from Harbor Freight.
     
  7. El Famoso

    El Famoso Tele-Meister

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    I had a cheap epiphone with bad back bow. I pulled the neck and clamped it against a couple 2x4s screwed together. Used a thin piece of cork flooring (free sample from hardware store) doubles in the middle and and single at the ends. Clamped just the ends.

    That neck was so bad it actually had a little twist as well as back bow.

    Stuck the whole contraption in the oven turned down as low as it would go for 5-6 hours. Worked a treat.

    Not sure if I would have tried it with a guitar I really cared about though...
     
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  8. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Clamping in the oven for hours was my plans too. It might have worked but I feared I'd still have to iron the fretboard off. Original frets were in poor condition anyway so I knew I had to replace those. I also wondered what finish was on the neck and how that would fare in the oven. A modern Epiphone with two part cured polyurethane is nearly indestructible.

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  9. Controller

    Controller Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I clamped a back bowed neck for a few months without any success. Clamped in the oven for a couple hours fixed it. Just an experiment, not a neck I really cared about but it was good experience.
     
  10. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Afflicted

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    Excellent work!

    We have a really cool press set up for necks that need relief adding or removing for a neck beyond what the truss rod can do. It's basically a large, thick metal bar about 18" long with a heating element inside and you clamp it over the neck using shims to dial in the curvature you're looking for and leave it to do its work. There's a bit of an art to using it and it's not 100% accurate but it's rescued quite a few guitars that would otherwise have required major surgery.
     
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  11. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    After cleaning up the glue I cut and installed new Stainless Steel frets, that seemed a little bit of a wicked trick -- a low end guitar getting top end frets, but they will 'never wear out'. Then I loaded up the guitar in my leveling jig like this PRS I did previously.

    [​IMG]

    I crowned the tops and contoured the ends of the frets. $3 harbor freight rat tail file (thin sides and tip ground and polished into safety edges) and a $15 ebay crowning file (one side I ground so it cuts shallower for used frets and new frets).
    [​IMG]

    The guitar was designed with a zero fret but a prior owner had swapped out the guide nut with a traditionally cut 'bone' nut. I can only imagine that the guitar was always horribly out of tune -- and probably a guitar trading impetus. I dug out my Corian nut blanks box and fit a guide nut to the guitar so the zero fret was actually useful again. I used my flush-cut hand trim saw to make the notches.

    I have heard that zero nuts wear out fast, but these are Stainless Steel frets and so that should pose no problem. A little bit of a tan line remains from someone's prior removal of the Del Rey logo, could have been to hide the logo origin or that was sold before the guitar was sold as those original logos can be valuable.

    IMG_20190511_174704b.jpg


    The switches I got working with contact cleaner and a little grease to make them slide easier. The original pots were shot, too far gone even after spraying with contact cleaner. So I had to replace them. I rewired just like original parts and found the tone knob works in the opposite direction of a standard Fender Strat where 10 is max clean and 1 is max mud, this teisco is wired so 10 is max mud and 1 is max clean (which makes sense that 10 is max tone effect). When used to spinning all the dials to 10 for the starting point, I have to think about this. I may swap the tone pot wiring to get it in line with modern knob interface operation.

    IMG_20190511_174740b.jpg


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  12. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Pickup switching was/is set up so forward toward the neck is off, back is on. Nearest switch (black) to picking is the bridge pickup, the further one (white) is the neck pickup. When both switches are slid to their on positions, the two pickups are connected in series. These are non-humbucking pickups in this configuration.

    (internet sourced image), tone pot in this diagram is wired like a regular Stratocaster not like this Teisco was wired from the factory. Teisco may have changed the wiring style in their later production. Teisco as received (and repaired) ground on the right lug with signal off the center lug and open left lug.
    [​IMG]

    Back of the pickup (internet image sourced)
    Under the plate is a flat bar magnet laying inside an oval bobbin wider than it is tall. The tones out of these are more like a P90.
    These were the precursors to the 'Goldfoil' style made popular by Ry Cooder.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Here is a side shot of how thin the pickups are. The bottom plate is screwed to the guitar body, then adjustment screws go through the pickup, a spring, and threaded through the bottom plate. This image also shows the bridge height adjustment with a pair of grub screws. The bridge bar is straight with no fretboard curvature which makes for large string action differences in the Es vs the D/G pair.

    IMG_20190511_174925b.jpg


    Comparison of several Teisco Tulip models ... based on the video it seems mine was one of the earliest built, 1966. And built earlier than the one shown in the video (his is 31xxxxx and mine is 28xxxxx). Solid neck like he shows.



    Reverb Tulip Price Guide.
    https://reverb.com/price-guide/guide/980-teisco-et-200-1960s-sunburst
     
  13. Controller

    Controller Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Great pics and descriptions, thanks!
     
  14. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Here all finished. I'll go over the setup again after it settles in to it's 'new shoes'

    IMG_20190511_175233b.jpg

    I had been curious what the pickups sounded like since I got this guitar. Wide flat and thin. Thin guitar body. I mostly expected the guitar to sound more like a cigar box contraption. But it's a lot beefier than it leads on from appearances.

    I did a quick recording running through all the switch positions.
    The tones from this most closely matched my Jazzmaster single coils, not the P90 guitar nor the Strat/Tele. Which was interesting to hear.
    Amp is my little practice Line 6 Spider 4 because it's handy with the presets.

    Order is: Neck alone, Bridge alone, Neck+Bridge in Series (there is no parallel option, and series is not hum canceling). The Jazzmaster switch combination is of course parallel.
    Repeat switching for each Clean, Blues, Metal

    Teisco Tulip:


    Jazzmaster (alnico pole piece style):



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