NGD/Epiphone Casino questions

Jack Clayton

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So this weekend, I picked up this 1994 peerless Casino. I love the fit and finish, the neck, the frets, the resonance from the wood... It's a keeper.

But the pickups sound a bit muddy, and are super microphonic. In addition, the three way switch seems to have a short. Par for the course on a 26 year old instrument, but these problems will need addressing.

It appears from my research that the pickups on casinos are oddballs. Weird pole spacing that makes a direct drop in impossible for a standard p90. I could sell another organ on the black market to get a set of aftermarket Lollars, but I'm considering instead getting the stock pickups professionally potted and rewound to more precise specs. Seems like a more budget friendly solution. But some say the chrome plated covers are what sucks the tone and makes the pickups so microphonic.

My plan at the moment is to start by replacing the wiring harness with 500k pots, and .022 orange drops, to see if that brightens my tone and improves my clarity. If it doesn't, then I'll have to choose between new pickups, new covers, rewinding etc...

Has anyone been down this road before with a MIK Casino? Any tips?
 

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paulblackford

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I had the '96 Epi Sorrento, and it's the same general layout with the same issues. When I got it, the guitar had no electronics (including the covers), so I started from scratch. I put in a regular set of Fralin P90s, as well as plastic covers and spacers. The pole pieces were not perfectly aligned, but I could not perceive any dropout in continuity. Unless you're really into the chrome cover look, you can always set them aside until someday when you sell it. See attached for the route I took.
 

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Boreas

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Never owned one, but first set the pup heights to see what that does. I think the 500k pot switch will do the trick tone-wise. Using different covers may help as well, if you can find them. As rze99 said, save the originals in the case. See if some contact cleaner fixes the switch.

Nice guitar!
 
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E5RSY

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I wouldn't sweat it. I have an original ES-125TDC from the '60s. Strings aren't over the polepieces on that one either. It's a feature, not a bug. :D
 

backporchmusic

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Lindy Fralin makes a pair specifically for Casinos, I got my new off of Reverb for $200. Bought a 920D 335-50s harness and am in the middle of installing it all, in that I got all my parts and its laying on a table ready for me to get the patience required to do the job.

But yes, those old Casino pickups are not good. Some say just getting plastic covers will help, and may be a cheap way to begin. Still, you have to buy ones specifically for a Casino.

FWIW my Casino is a MIK but a 2006 Saein factory model. The pickups attach with snap mid-line connectors, which I only discovered when I pulled the whole mess apart.
 

charlie chitlin

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I feel plastic covers make a difference.
I have them on my Sorrento.
Lose the switch and jack.
Come to think...I think my Sorrento is a 94.
What really woke it up is a rosewood saddle.
 

JRapp

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A lot of those Epi P90s in the Casinos/Wildcats/etc are way too hot---12K+. Add a metal cover and MUDBOG. They are soldered together so you can't even swap magnets or fit new pickups without major surgery. Just throw them away.
 

tfarny

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As others have said, you can use regular P90s. The need for exact polepiece alignment is an internet created problem I think. When you bend a string away from its polepiece, does the volume disappear? Nope.

As far as P90s go, you definitely want then to be in the 7-8.5k range, max, traditional construction with Alnico magnets. One good option is a used set of Gibson P90s. They did invent the things after all, and you can get them used for not too much.
I've had great luck with Lollar 50s wind and Duncan Antiquities, not the cheapest out there, I know. But as long as they are not too hot and use A2 or A5 magnets you should be ok with GFS, Tonerider, etc.
 

Jack Clayton

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Why would a Casino need different pickups than a Sorrento, an ES-125, or ES-175???

My understanding is that while the bridge is a standard tuneomatic, the nut spaces the strings a bit narrower than other guitars. So while the pole spacing on the bridge pickup is 50mm (standard Gibson I believe) the neck is 48mm. Just enough difference that it doesn't match up properly.

What might complicate things further is that the bridge is set so high that the bridge pickup cover seems to be higher while the neck cover is lower and at an angle. I don't know whether that is standard on other guitars like a sorrento.
 

Jack Clayton

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I feel plastic covers make a difference.
I have them on my Sorrento.
Lose the switch and jack.
Come to think...I think my Sorrento is a 94.
What really woke it up is a rosewood saddle.

I'm looking at a bridge replacement as well. The stock tuneomatic buzzes like all get out. Someone turned me on to compton bridges. Might try one, but they're pricey.
 

Jack Clayton

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I wouldn't sweat it. I have an original ES-125TDC from the '60s. Strings aren't over the polepieces on that one either. It's a feature, not a bug. :D

Fair point. But I'd rather not drill holes in the body if I can help it, since it's a vintage instrument. I mean I will if I have to, but I wanna exhaust every other option first.
 

tfarny

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My understanding is that while the bridge is a standard tuneomatic, the nut spaces the strings a bit narrower than other guitars. So while the pole spacing on the bridge pickup is 50mm (standard Gibson I believe) the neck is 48mm. Just enough difference that it doesn't match up properly.

What might complicate things further is that the bridge is set so high that the bridge pickup cover seems to be higher while the neck cover is lower and at an angle. I don't know whether that is standard on other guitars like a sorrento.
For P90 dogear height adjustment you use shims. That's standard. And this polepiece spacing thing is not an issue. I'm far too lazy to do the math, but there is no way there that a 1 5/8" nut on your Casino compared to a 1 11/16 nut on most Gibsons corresponds to a 2mm difference at the neck pickup. Maybe 1mm, total, at most, which will be 0.5mm at either end and nothing in the middle. Not an issue.
 

schmee

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There are two spacings on P90's or some p90's anyway, 50 and 52 mm IIRC. So you have to be careful when buying covers. Are you sure there aren't direct replacements for that Casino?

Bottom line on pickups is dont worry about the spacing, I've put P90's on several non Gibson/Epi guitars and the string doesn't have to be right over the pole, especially with P90's.

The other thing that is easy to do is buy some modern Soapbar Gibson P90's. $100-$120 for the set. Use little machine screws to hold them onto the dogear covers you already have! Of course the p90's you buy must have the pole spacing of your covers.
 
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E5RSY

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What might complicate things further is that the bridge is set so high that the bridge pickup cover seems to be higher while the neck cover is lower and at an angle. I don't know whether that is standard on other guitars like a sorrento.
Yes, it's the exact same on all the models I listed.
 

charlie chitlin

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sorrento finished.JPG
I'm looking at a bridge replacement as well. The stock tuneomatic buzzes like all get out. Someone turned me on to compton bridges. Might try one, but they're pricey.
Comptons are very nice!
I have one on my Gretsch.
I bought an inexpensive rosewood bridge on Ebay.
IIRC, the stud spacing was right to replace the TOM, but I took the studs out and use it floating, like my old ES125.
I also have a new-ish Guild Aristocrat that got rosewood...that one went right on the studs.
Both took a lot of carving and tweaking because they;re very tall.
The difference was pretty amazing.
NOT more mellow...more zingy and alive...at least as much treble.
I was really surprised.
I have another around that I'm going to put on a Les Paul, just out of curiosity.
 

JuneauMike

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Those MIK Casinos have pickups that are way too hot. I think mine measured 17k. I bought Kent Armstrong replacements for the Casino. Nothing remarkable, they aren't boutique, they are just wound to something closer to vintage specs. Dropped right in and I haven't looked back. Everyone says the chrome covers are a problem, but mine sound great now.

But if you have a winder willing to rewind what you have, even better.
 
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Jack Clayton

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Those MIK Casinos have pickups that are way too hot. I think mine measured 17k. I bought Kent Armstrong replacements for the Casino. Nothing remarkable, they aren't boutique, they are just wound to something closer to vintage specs. Dropped right in and I haven't looked back. But if you have a winder willing to rewind what you have, even better.

17k? Wow. That's a lot. Can you put into words what the sonic effect is of pickups that are too hot? Is it just warmth? Muddiness? That would explain a lot in my case.
 




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