Fixing Defect on Epiphone EJ-160e (John Lennon) Model

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Elliot_G, Aug 4, 2021.

  1. Elliot_G

    Elliot_G Tele-Meister

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    I'm visiting my parents in Canada, and I've been reunited with some of the guitars of mine that they've continued to hold on to (there's a hope of moving them to NC where I live now, but not in the immediate future).
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    I have this cool Epiphone John Lennon acoustic that has been giving me trouble since I got it in 2006. The issue is that that low E bridge pin will not stay pinned in; it rises about 1/3 of an inch off the bridge when I bring it to pitch. Holding it down while I wind does not work. For the longest time, when I showed it to techs they would tell me I was just stringing it wrong. Other than this issue, it's a lovely guitar.
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    Looking further into the issue, I've found that the problem is with the bridge plate and the bracing. The the hole for the low E is going through the bracing instead of the bridge plate. Because of that, the string's ball end seems to nestle itself into the bracing rather than sit at the level of the bridge plate, and it pulls the pin up. It seems that this might have happened because these 160e's join at the 15th fret to accommodate the pickup, and the geometry gets screwy.

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    How would y'all approach this problem? Here are some of the options that I see:

    - Call Epiphone and ask for warranty help (but this seems like it will involve shipping headaches; I did buy it new, but I no longer have the receipt, and the store that sold it — Avenue Guitars in Edmonton — is now defunct)
    - Get some kind of aftermarket fixed bridge pin system like Powerpins . (I dislike this option because they are ugly, and I've heard they offer weak downward pull).
    - Modifying a pin; I imagine a shorter pin could hold the string in, but might not get pulled up so badly.
    - Take it to a luthier
    - Use a sanding block to make the part of the bracing with the hole flush with the bridge plate, which would allow the ball end to get seated in the right spot.
    - Or, just let it be. Like, the high pin is annoying but doesn't keep the guitar from being playable.

    Are there options that I missed? How would you approach this problem?
     

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  2. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    When I have runaway pins, I apply a small dab of paste wax & let it dry.
    Insert & It's a little "sticky"

    Peace - Deeve
     
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  3. Elliot_G

    Elliot_G Tele-Meister

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    Like, you put the paste wax on the peg itself?
     
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  4. dogmeat

    dogmeat Friend of Leo's

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    I would glue a small block next to the brace (next to the hole). doesn't need to be much, but at least maybe 1/4" by 3/8"... just make it the same height as the brace. glue it up, then drill the string hole through. the ball of the string will no longer have the the wedge effect to work on the pin

    you'll may need to run a peg hole reamer in there
     
  5. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    yup - just a little makes it stickier
     
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  6. wabashslim

    wabashslim Friend of Leo's

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    First try twisting the pin as you push it in, you might find it tightens up when the string slot is off-center.
     
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  7. Boreas

    Boreas Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Sometimes damage to the plate can be helped by taking the ball off the end of an old string and sliding it to the base of the new string. Can add a little length to get to the meat of the plate. In this case???

    Ideally, the bridge pin should NOT be holding the string in place.

    Does the high E also cut through the brace??

    Does the plate run under the brace, or does it stop at the brace? In other words, is the ball supposed to sit on maple, or the spruce top??

    You could also try bending the end of the string toward the gap in the brace, and rotating the pin toward it. That is the only way I can see of properly stringing it so that the ball rests solely on the plate and not wedged in the brace.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2021
  8. jfgesquire

    jfgesquire Friend of Leo's

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    Wait a minute. I only see 5 holes . . . you mean the high e string is clean through the maple and the low E string is through the X-brace!?!?!? Wow that does not sound right.

    I mean, real J-160Es were ladder braced, but a forward shifted X-Brace should have been enough to clear one fret. And if it's only on one side of the X then something is seriously asymmetrical where it shouldn't be.
     
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  9. tomasz

    tomasz Tele-Meister

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    I'd say, that is a construction defect. First of all, tat brace is weaker due to that hole and does not do its job very well. Secondly, that exact whole through the brace is probably the problem.

    Correctly strung up, a ball end of the string sticks to the side - here it executes tension on the end of the pin vertically, pulling it out. Stringing it in a different way is probably not a good idea. At best contact a local luthier for an opinion and depending what he/she says, you may want to contact Epiphone.
     
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  10. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    Well, it the top had not bellied, the I guess the horrible error of having a hole drilled through a major brace at a critical structural point is not going to cause failure. From the photo, and notinf that the other E pin hole does not come near the brace, it's cklear that the placement of the bracing and plate was sloppy beyond belief. But Epis are overbuilt, so it looks like it's not going to fail. Personally, I would treat it like any poorly fit bridge pin. Withgout having it in hand, I can't say if something as simply as using a different pin, or using an unslotted one, or a different taper, etc. would work. A pin that pops like that is common, and the remedies include all that I've mentioned plus a few others. It's almost never an incurable glitch. Good luck. ...I'm still trying to get over what a hack move it was for the builders to drill through that brace. Yeesh.
     
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  11. Hags

    Hags Tele-Meister

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    I’ve seen bad Epi stuff but this the worst
    Drilling through bracing?
    Bridge plate not under bridge?
     
  12. Elliot_G

    Elliot_G Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for the advice and feedback, folks!

    I put it on the bench and tried out a few things this afternoon. The biggest surprise was that a thinner d-string in the same hole would hold still and not wedge the peg up if I made sure the string would not rest against the bracing. For the long term, that would suggest the guitar can at least function as a nashville-tuned guitar without a trip to the luthier.

    The solution I found later on was to thread the string itself through the ball end, and then thread the knotted string through the soundhole and then the bridge. I found that this put enough 'meat' on the low E so that it's not sliding up the softwood bracing, and it's not pulling the peg way up. I worry a little bit that the knotted string might chew on the bracing, but on the other hand, the bracing's already been string-damaged, so this will get me through until I decide to take it to a luthier.

    Yeah -- my soundhole phone photography missed the high-e hole, but all the other ones except the low e are clean through the bridge plate and missed the bracing. It's only the low e that's an issue. I agree that this amount of asymmetry is weird and I wonder what happened in the factory that day.

    Thanks for these tips. And yes, the top looks dead flat after all these years, so I'm not terribly worried about structural problems. In spite of the bonehead placement of the braces and the plate, the rest of the guitar seems to be what it should be.
     
  13. Torren61

    Torren61 Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I’m not at home right now but when I get home, I’ll have a look inside mine to see if it’s the same. Do you bend the ball end of the string before you put it in the hole? I do that on all my acoustic strings on all my guitars and I never have a lifting pin. That may not fix this issue but I thought I’d ask.
     
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