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Lets build something that looks like an ES-335

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Freeman Keller, Dec 19, 2020.

  1. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Stick around, I'll show you a couple of tricks about wiring semi hollows.

    In the mean time lets fret the board

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    The little L shaped thing is a piece of fret wire with the barbs filed off. It tells me the slot is deep enough and clean before I press the fret in

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    At the time I built this guitar I was still pressing frets with my drill press, knowing that was a really bad idea. Since then I have bought an arbor press just for this task


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    I glue my frets in with a drop of CA and clamp them overnight

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    This picture is kind of interesting. You can see the slight back bow from the compression of the fret tangs in the slot. This is sometimes used on old guitars without adjustable truss rods to control relief. It will go away when I glue the fretboard to the neck

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  2. Paul45

    Paul45 Tele-Meister

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    I've rewired a few semis now, but the first one was a steep learning curve.

    I have a pretty good technique worked out, but I'll stay tuned for any tips I can borrow/steal!
     
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  3. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

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    You've done it multiple times! I've done one pickup swap on an a semi hollow. Never again!
     
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  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Here is one of the obvious ones. Before you start tie a string (I use dental floss) on each component and pull the entire harness out. Make what ever change you need, then fish everything back in with the floss

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    Protect the finish with tape

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    The tool that StewMac calls "jack the gripper" is priceless for holding the jack while you tighten the nut. I'll show a couple more when I get into it on this guitar.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2020
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  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    With the frets installed I give them a rough dressing - trim the ends back, file flush with the binding, do a little bevel. Glue the fretboard to the neck

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    I'm pretty paranoid about the whole geometry thing when I build a guitar - get it right and its a joy, get it wrong and the guitar will never work the way it should. As soon as I can get the fretted neck temporarily on the guitar I double check the geometry

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    I have the bridge sitting on little pieces of wood that emulate the adjusting wheels and the flange of the studs, this is the lowest possible adjustment. I know that if the fret plane just touches the tops of the saddles at their lowest adjustment I will have sufficient travel to get good playable action and have lots of adjustment for the future

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    Whew.

    One more wiring trick is that normally the wires from the pickups go thru holes in the center block and then solder onto the volume pots (normal LP style wiring). That is really a hassle and makes it very hard to put it together to test, then take it back apart to finish. It also means that changing a pup down the road will involve fishing that whole harness back out.

    What I do is mount a couple of little terminal strips in one of the cavities and wire them to the pots. Now I can connect the pickups, test things, and then remove them for finish

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    The really nice thing is that I can now plug the guitar into an amp, tap on the pickups with a screw driver and hear the taps in the amplifier. I can make sure all the pots are working, that I didn't get something cross wired - if so the back is still off the guitar and I can fix it. I like to do the little wiring mod that makes the volume controls completely separate - I play a lot with the switch in the middle.
     
  6. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I can't resist stacking on the shiny bits on it and taking a couple of glamour shots

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  7. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    Looking great!
    amazed at your building skills!!
     
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  8. peteycaster

    peteycaster Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Now that sounds like a good name for a guitar. Loving this thread. Fantastic work as usual.
     
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  9. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    One more look at the wiring from the insides

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    Took all the pots and switch and jack out of their holes and just laid them on the inside of the guitar. Put some blue painters tape across the f-holes and the electonic holes


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    Then I tied a piece of string (actually dental floss) to the shaft of each pot and jack and switch and ran them out thru a hole in the blue tape. Tied a knot in the end of the string outside the tape. The components will all stay inside the guitar after the back in on, later I can pull them into position with the strings.

    Made a label for the inside - its just under the bass side f-hole

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    From the serial number on the label this is my eighteenth guitar.

    Closed the box

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    Last edited: Dec 31, 2020
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  10. photondev

    photondev Tele-Afflicted

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    Loving your build Freeman.

    I am going to copy the terminal block idea and the tying of the components to floss for my x-hollow build. Thanks for sharing the details.
     
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  11. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

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    Awesome!
     
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  12. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thanks Photon. The terminal blocks that I used were made by a company named Waco and were designed for very low level signals (strain gauges ad load cells). I thought that might be important for the weak signals from magnetic pickups. Also, I put in three terminals for each pickup, hot, ground and the series connection between the two coils (red and white for SD pickups). Ordinarily you would solder those two wires together and put a piece of shrink tubing over it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2021
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  13. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Happy 18th...
    Looks good.
    Clearly not a bolt on neck, slab body, factory guitar - and that's why a US built 335 type won't be found @ the prices we're seeing on partscasters.
    Peace - Deeve
     
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  14. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    With the back on I buzzed off the overhang with a flush trim bit and set up the laminate trimmer to do the binding. The little router rides vertically on three cam followers with the little white UHMW donut resting on the top of the guitar. The bearing on the bit is selected to make the cut into the side. The guitar itself is sitting in a cradle that keeps it level and can slide around on my work bench to present the body to the router bit.

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    Binding channels routed

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    There are several different ways to glue binding into the channels, one of the most popular is to either use a plastic cement like Ducco or make your own by dissolving binding in acetone, smear it into the channel and try to tape or clamp the binding in place. I'm using plastic binding on this guitar because it is "correct" for the model, but most of my guitars get wood binding. Plastic glues don't work on wood and the whole operation of trying to clamp the binding when you have glue on your fingers is just a hassle.

    Instead, I tape the binding in place, leaving little gaps between the pieces of tape. I can take my time and get it perfectly positioned, if I have any gaps I can work with them until they are gone. Tighter curves can get more tape. When I am completely happy with the fit I just put a drop of water thin CA between each piece of tape - kind of like a welder tack welding something after clamping the parts together.

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    I can add tape or clamps as required, and if necessary, hold the binding with a piece of UHMW while the CA kicks off. After it is all tacked in place I take the tape off and run a bead of thin CA all the way around both the top and side seams. The thin CA wicks into the seam by capillary action, and a nice thing about the method is that it works for plastic or wood binding and any purfling that I want to use.

    When the CA has completely cured I scrape back the binding level with the top and side

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    One of the other nice things about the CA method is that while I try to get it all sanded back if there is any left on the wood it does not show up under finish like plastic or wood glue.

    All bound

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  15. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Took a deep breath and glued the neck on,

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    About this time a friend brought his old one (I think its a 67 or 69 or something) over for a little wiring work. Mine thought it would spend some quality time soaking up forty years of mojo.

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  16. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    While the guitar is getting sanded and scraped and otherwise pimped, I started thinking about finish details. I'm building it for a friend who once a long time ago had a red 335 and this is more or less a replacement. The wood has medium figure - good but not stunning. It is also a thin veneer laminated to the top and back and I don't want to do too much sanding for fear of blowing through.

    The wood needs a coat of stain to highlight the flame, but because of the veneer I can't do a dark one and then sand back. Took four scraps of the maple and applied different stains in different concentrations

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    Mixed up some cherry red lacquer and shot over the stains

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    I'm liking the red over red the best, my friend agrees.
     
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  17. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Time to finish this puppy. Literally.

    Here is the guitar wiped with some naphtha to show the flame. Its good, but not great - probably a 1A.

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    Masked off the fretboard, cavities and binding, the f-holes are already done

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    A coat of the transtint red stain directly to the wood and very lightly sanded it back

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    Tried to leave it a little bit darker around the edges, just a very subtle shade.

    Here are the ingredients of the finish itself. The baby food jar has some of the lacquer mixed with the cherry red dye

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    First coat

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    third or so coat

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    Six coats

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    Let that dry for a couple of days
     
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  18. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Pull the masking tape, there were a couple of places that I didn't have it down tight and some color got under

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    Forturnately plastic binding scrapes back easily. In fact Gibson (and I) don't try to mask the skinny part on the top and back, just scrape that

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    I like to finish with the guitar laying flat on its top or back on a low table outside

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    Sand back to 320 between sets of three coats

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    and put on a dozen coats of clear

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    Let that dry
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
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  19. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    And dry
    And dry
    And dry

    Don't ask why I remind myself to let finish dry completely...

    Peace - Deeve
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
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  20. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I usually allow at least two and preferably three weeks for lacquer to dry. We have an expert at the finishing forum who says it only takes a day or two if its the right kind of lacquer and he says that StewMac puts naphtha in theirs so it takes longer.

    Its kind of a moot point for this thread, remember this is not real time and I can pretend that I waited three weeks and do the next post tomorrow.
     
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