Epiphone Riviera Upgrade suggestions...

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by lance71, Sep 28, 2019.

  1. lance71

    lance71 TDPRI Member

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    I could use some suggestion for upgrading my Epiphone Riviera. This is one of the newer limited edition China Custom Shop versions. The neck pickup doesn't work anymore. I figure it's just a connection since it used to and the pots are really spongy for lack of a better term. So I'd like to change out the pots, switches and tuners. Possibly the pickups but only if there is a good recommendation on a period correct mid 60's sound. Love the Epiphone brand. I had a 1971 a long time ago with a vibrato bar. This one reminded me of it plus I'm a Magic Sam fan and he used a mid 60's Riviera also. Thank you in advance if anyone has any knowledge to share.
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  2. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I have lots of gigs on lots of epis.
    Usually, all they need is an output Jack and a switch, which, BTW, is probably at the root of your dead pickup problems.
     
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  3. lance71

    lance71 TDPRI Member

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    Thanks, that will be a good place to start.
     
  4. KC

    KC Friend of Leo's

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    good suggestions here. Lollar makes a mini-hum, haven't played with one but I've never been disappointed. the pots & switch in my old '67 Riviera were crap too -- maybe it's just authentic.

    Magic Sam mainly recorded with a Strat, though. Middle pickup on a Strat through a Gemini or Reverberocket nails that West Side Soul / Black Magic sound.
     
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  5. lance71

    lance71 TDPRI Member

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    Lollar always has had a great track record for quality pickups. Not bad place to start. Thank you.
    I wish we had more footage of the late great Magic Sam, thankful for the recorded works.
     
  6. gusfinley

    gusfinley Tele-Holic

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    ooooo! Is this the one with mini-humbuckers?

    If so, that would limit your drop-in options, but I wouldn't try to convert it to anything else. Its too unique to drop on regular sized humbuckers!
     
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  7. lance71

    lance71 TDPRI Member

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    Thanks. I would definitely keep to Mini-Humbuckers. I'm not too familiar with the options if I was to consider finding a new set. Wondering who might make a good vintage sounding set.
     
  8. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    These often have a Nashville bridge. It's a bit of a potential rattler.

    Worth swapping for a ARB1 type - you need adaptor posts with the 8mm bottom threads
     
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  9. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Something to keep in mind is that the pots on Epi is often smaller than say Gibson units, so you have to drill out the holes to mount upgraded hardware. If you liked the pickups when they both worked, just replace them with another set of Epi pups (if bad) to keep things simple. I played a P93 Riviera for a few years and found the weak link was the pickup selector switch, if you don't switch between settings for a awhile they will give you trouble. Often you can recover that pickup by working the selector switch back and forth a dozen times....a little deoxit can help it as well, but just excersing the switch often does the job.
     
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  10. Paul45

    Paul45 Tele-Meister

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    +1 on squirting some contact cleaner into the switch. My Crestwood had the same problem and the switch was the culprit. Saying that, I did eventually swap out the pickups for a set of Lollars. They are fantastic.

    Beautiful guitar Lance, I'm on the lookout for a Riviera with minis myself. Here's my Crestwood...

    Crest1.jpg
     
  11. lance71

    lance71 TDPRI Member

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    Thank you. Yeah Epiphone has made some beautiful guitars through the years. Saw someone posted recently about a John Lee Hooker anniversary Zephyr. Yes that Crestwood is so unique. Love that.

    Yes, it was the switch. Rocked it back and forth a dozen time or so and like magic the bridge pickup was back. Definitely my favorite sound out of the guitar. I'm going to let this one soak in for a bit before anything changes. Sounds and plays so nice. Just glad to have both pickups working again. I will research Lollar as that seems to be the favorite for pickups. Take it out to some jams first!
     
  12. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    That switch fix is temporary. Promise.
    switch craft switch and Jack and you have a gigger. Sweet guitar.
     
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  13. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    If you like the minibuckers, Gibson's are great, but the SD Antiquity ll are pretty much equal to the Gibsons.
    Us a Switchcraft input jack ONLY and a good switch!
    I like CTS pots but Alpha's are fine. Your Fender music store usually has CTS/Fender 500k pots. With mini's I kinda like 250k pots myself though.
     
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  14. lance71

    lance71 TDPRI Member

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    Great advice. Looks like the switch and jack are important to upgrade. I will look into the antiquity line. Always heard good things about them. Thanks.
     
  15. dezb1

    dezb1 Tele-Holic

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    Nice guitar - I have a 1994 Korean full size humbucker Riviera great guitar but the Epi switches and pots are junk didn't need any other upgrades once that was sorted.
     
  16. Twang Deluxe

    Twang Deluxe Tele-Meister

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    Nice guitar
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
  17. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

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    I have one of these and have swapped the neck pickup so I know a few things about the electronics.

    Neck mini humbuckers have a reputation of not sounding great. I know epi pups dont have the greatest reputation (exception for the probuckers) and I dont like neck humbuckers in general. But I really didn't like the neck position on this guitar even with experimenting with pickup and pole piece hieght. So I swapped it out for a custom wound single coil thats fitted inside mini hum/firebird case. I swore a long time ago that I wouldnt mess with the electronics in a semi hollow because it is a PITA, (and it was) but I never used the neck PU so I had to do something and I didnt want to risk another mini hum with their rep. Id consider looking at a firebird PU for the neck position if you want something you can buy thats readily availiable. Firebirds generally sound pretty good (actual firebirds and not mini hums in a different case) so probably worth lookong at.

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    I can confirm my bridge does rattle so if this is a remedy thats useful.

    Pots inside these guitars are full size alpha pots, 500k linear for the volumes (I was suprised and actually like the taper) and 500k audio for the tone controls. If you dont like the current alphas, which are generally regarded as good, I would suggest if you go for CTS go for something like emersons premium brand versions, suppliers can order CTS pots with all different kinds of specs beyond taper, resistance and shaft type. And Ive found some to be pretty bad (coming from someone who thinks the alphas are alright in this guitar).
     
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  18. Bellacaster

    Bellacaster Tele-Afflicted

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    I'd start with replacing all the electronics, but keep the pckups. How do the pickups sound to you? I've had Gibson minihumbuckers and they are great, but expensive. If money is no option, change out the pickups while you're at it to Antiquities or Gibsons. One Gibson that I ordered had a wiring problem that took me a long time to figure out, just an FYI.

    Big fan of Magic Sam too. That's a beautiful guitar.
     
  19. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Holic

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    Fix the switch and replace the jack and love it the way it is :)
     
  20. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Leave the pickups, change out all the pots, switch, jack for the premium models. Measure the group of pots you get and select the highest and lowest kohm ones of the group for using on your volume pots for brighter or darker tones from which pickup you want brighter or warmer (higher=brighter just like 250k vs 500k).

    I tend to like the next lower uF size of tone caps, so if the guitar has 0.047uF then go with 0.033uF and you'll get a little more presence and sparkle out of the pickups.

    Then spend a lot of time raising and lowering the pickups to get the best tone by ear, over several days helps get beyond ear fatigue.

    .
     
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