Author Archives: James Stratton
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Repair log – EBAY purchase, Daphne Blue ‘Stratocaster’ assembled from parts.
Owner – James Stratton, London Guitar Academy, 07957 230354, email@example.com
Purchased for £500, estimated parts value £889.21
© Terry Relph-Knight 09/05/19
Weight = 3.5kg or 7.72lbs.
An EBAY purchase Stratocaster style guitar, presumably assembled by the EBAY seller, from various bits. It is not surprising that the original owner / assembler sold this guitar, because they had made such a poor job of assembling it that it didn’t play well or sound good. Fortunately most of the parts they used are high quality and the damage caused by poor workmanship can be fixed.
The guitar has a high action. The most obvious thing wrong with it is that the neck is not screwed down / has not been properly fitted into the neck pocket. There is a visible gap between the neck and the bottom of the pocket of 1.5mm on the bass side narrowing to about 0.5mm.
Although the neck probably came with a nut fitted, it had been removed and a very poor attempt made at replacing it with a Graph Tech white Tusq nut, now trashed.
The Fender locking tuners were all sitting at odd angles on the headstock because the holes for the dual locating pins on each tuner had not been accurately drilled.
The guitar was fitted with a 1.22m thick, gold anodised Aluminium pick guard. A poor choice because eddy currents in metal pick guards muffle tone, as confirmed by later measurements.
The volume and tone controls sound like they are the wrong taper (first tone is wired to the neck and middle pickups, the second tone is wired to the bridge pickup). Later measurement shows they are all 250K 10% log law pots and the wiring is neat, tidy and apparently without flaws, so I’m not sure why the control characteristics seemed odd, it may be a grounding issue.
Whoever wired up the pick guard (obviously it wasn’t the previous owner as the wiring is quite neat and tidy) did not fit a daisy chain ground wire across the back of the pots. The anodising on the aluminium pick guard is a very good insulator, so the guard cannot be relied on to ground the pots. And if the guard itself is not solidly grounded it won’t act as an electrical shield.
Body – The body has MJT stamped in the neck pocket and is from MJT Aged Finishes of Carthage, Missouri, USA. This body is (probably) a two piece Alder body, finished in a very heavily reliced Daphne blue with a white undercoat. Fitted with standard reliced strap buttons – the button on the upper horn was fitted upside down. There is no tremolo cavity cover and no screw holes have been made to fit one, which is fortunate because the previous owner drilled the holes for the two bridge spring tension screws at quite a steep angle and the springs and spring claw protrude above the level of the back of the guitar. Although fitted with a modern Fender two point vibrato bridge, the body was originally drilled with six holes for the screws of a traditional vibrato bridge and four of those holes remain, between the two-point posts. Originally routed for three single coils, the bridge pickup route has been expanded to a humbucker route, after the body was painted. None of the body cavities are screened.
Neck – There are no identifying manufacturers marks on the neck. It is a single piece, heavily flamed (tiger flame) maple, 9.5 inch radius neck with 21 medium jumbo frets. Abalone dot fret markers, all off centre towards the bass side of the neck by about 1mm. Dark skunk stripe with some staining from the stripe bleeding over into the maple by 2 or 3mm on either side of the stripe. The stripe stops before the end of the truss rod route inside the heel and the remainder is filled with an off cut and some other filler. Finished in a high gloss. The truss rod is a bi-flex rod adjusted at the neck heel (4mm hex key adjustment). I think the neck is a cheap Chinese neck similar to necks listing on EBAY for £88. Like many guitar related Chinese products it looks amazing on first look but has several flaws, poor fretting being the most critical. Bogus water slide Fender decals have been applied to the headstock and roughly over sprayed (Voodoo Decals £5.15 on EBAY).
Hardware – Three, modern stagger, Fender Custom Shop pickups with cream covers (middle pickup is RWRP for hum cancellation in the in-between positions). Prices for a set of Custom Shop pickups vary, but £122 is perhaps typical for a set of Custom 54’s. The pickups are mounted in a gold anodised aluminium pick guard with SLF 4.28.16 written on the back in black felt tip. Cream knobs and switch tip. The tip of the screw-in trem arm is a non matching white (the arm has some unpleasant looking goop on it). The tremolo/vibrato bridge looks like a genuine Fender two point trem with a chamfered steel block and block sintered steel saddles with offset intonation screws. The two bridge pivot posts are screwed down as tight as they will go into their threaded inserts. 3 springs fitted. The neck plate is a square, four bolt Fender Corona plate, with a fifth hole for micro-tilt adjustment, unused on this guitar as delivered (I have now added a Micro-tilt kit).
Fender branded locking tuners, staggered 3 tall for the low strings 3 high for the trebles – typically £ 71.99 a set. The bevelled washers on three of the tuners are fitted upside down. One white Graph Tech string tree.
250K nominal value CTS pots all 10% log law, Volume, 281.2K tone, 233.3K bridge tone. OAK 5 way switch. The three cream with gold lettering knobs are the universal fit type with smooth centre holes. Although these smooth hole knobs can be problematic, they seem to fit tightly on the control shafts for the moment. There is no daisy chain ground between the pot cases, circuit ground relies on the mechanical connection between the pot case to the front metalwork and then through the anodised pick guard.
Pickup measurements –
A set of three Fender Custom Shop pickups
The first set of measurements are no strings, with the pickups mounted in the old aluminium guard. The second column measurements are with the pickups mounted in a plastic pick guard, no strings.
NeckD.C. resistance = 6.2K
L in H (Al, plastic) Q (Al, plastic) ESR in K (Al, plastic)
100Hz 2.503 2.499 0.25 0.25 6.26 6.25
120Hz 2.5 2.506 0.3 0.302 6.27 6.25
1000hz 2.381 2.525 1.957 2.39 7.64 6.61
Magnet polarity = South
Low E gauss = 1110 gauss
High E gauss = 1110 gauss
Middle D.C. resistance = 6.28K
L in H (Al, plastic) Q (Al, plastic) ESR in K (Al, plastic)
100Hz 2.579 2.583 0.255 0.256 6.35 6.33
120Hz 2.573 2.587 0.304 0.308 6.36 6.33
1000hz 2.429 2.605 1.953 2.44 7.81 6.68
Magnet polarity = North
Low E gauss = 1110 gauss
High E gauss = 1110 gauss
Bridge D.C. resistance = 6.47
L in H (Al, plastic) Q (Al, plastic) ESR in K (Al, plastic)
100Hz 2.686 2.69 0.258 0.259 6.52 6.5
120Hz 2.684 2.684 0.309 0.311 6.53 6.5
1000hz 2.539 2.712 1.99 2.48 8.01 6.84
Magnet polarity = South
Low E gauss = 1180 gauss
High E gauss = 1110
The magnet strengths indicate they are Alnico 5, so these aren’t Fat 60’s. The low E and high E are extraordinarily well balanced for strength. Which may just be coincidence, or an indication of the care taken in manufacturing the Custom Shop pickups. At these strengths the damping effect of the magnet field on the strings is quite noticeable and the pickups must be set low in the pick guard to avoid the low E from warbling / pulsing.
As the measurements show the aluminium pick guard has a significant damping effect on the higher frequencies, about 8% lower inductance at 1000Hz. Compared to the Bare Knuckle Mothers Milk pickup set – neck and middle are around 2.3H and the bridge is 3H at 1000Hz – in the clients other Strat, these pickups will be a little darker in the neck and mid (2.5H, 2.6H) and a little brighter for the bridge (2.7H).
Fender custom shop pickups
Fat 50’s Alnico 5 Neck: 6.0K 2.4H. Middle: 6.3K 2.75H. Bridge: 6.2K 2.8H Formvar wire, Black Forbon flatware
Fat 60’s* Alnico 2 Formvar wire, Black Forbon flatware
Custom ‘54 Alnico 5 Neck/Middle Pickups: 5.9K 2.4H. Bridge: 6.5K 2.75H Formvar wire, Black Forbon flatware
Custom ‘69* Alnico 5 5.8K 2.2H Enamel wire, Grey Forbon flatware
Texas Special*Alnico 5 Neck Pickup: 6.2K 2.4H. Middle: 6.5K 2.6H. Bridge: 6.5-7.1K 3.58H
Enamel wire, Black Forbon flatware
The three pickups in the guitar are only labelled with a Fender Custom Shop sticker. They have Formvar magnet wire wound on black Forbon flatware. Identifying exactly which set of Fender Custom Shop pickups they are can be determined by a process of elimination comparing the magnet wire type, the flatwork colour and the measurements of the pickups, with the Fender published specifications above. Right away the Custom ‘69 and the Texas Specials are eliminated because the pickups in the guitar have Formvar magnet wire, not Plain Enamel.
The closest match between the measurement and the published Fender specs is the Custom ‘54s.
Work done – Disassembled the guitar. Screened all the body cavities with self adhesive copper tape.
Transferred the pickups and electronics from the old aluminium pick guard to the new orange ‘Big Cat’ pattern plastic pick guard (actually the pattern looks like amber toned blotchy vintage tortoise shell). Modified the tone control wiring so tone one is on the neck pickup and tone two is on the bridge, partly because the protruding tone-two, bare wire link on the back of the pickup selector switch was shorting to the copper tape screening. Previous to screening this was pressing on the bare wood of the control cavity and didn’t allow perfect seating for the pick guard. Replaced all the rusty pick guard screws with stainless steel screws, which I spin polished.
Also spin polished the heads of the four original stainless steel neck screws.
Sanded the neck and body neck pocket to improve the neck fit. Used a blade scraper to remove the hump from the back of the neck where it fits the pocket, which made a big difference to the fit. Drilled out the over large screw hole in the neck, plugged it with a glued in hardwood dowel, re-drilled the screw hole the correct size and threaded the neck screw in with a little wax. Reinforced all four screw holes in the neck with superglue. Drilled the neck pocket in the body and fitted an M5 T nut ( three for £2.43 or £1.08 each) and M5 by 8mm grub screw (£0.16 each, 3mm hex key for adjustment) Micro-tilt neck angle adjustment. Drilled a shallow 19mm diameter hole on the back of the neck heel and glued in a 5p coin to act as a Micro-tilt pressure plate. Reversed the upside down strap button.
Corrected the uneven tuner fit by plugging all 12 tuner locating pin holes and then re-drilling them, so the tuners now sit in a straight line. Reversed the three upside down tuner washers.
Removed the old, very poorly fitted Graph Tech nut, cleaned the lumps of glue from the nut slot and replaced the nut with a new Hosco bone nut. Smoothed the sharp ends of the nut and filed the nut slots for correct string height.
Improved the fit of all the frets using a Stewmac Jaws Fret Press and smoothed numerous sharp fret ends. Unfortunately the first experiment with the fret press and 7.25” radius brass caul to put extra pressure on the high fret ends resulted in one fret, fret 6, ending up far too low under the high E string. By switching to a 9.5 inch caul I managed to get the rest of the frets levelled.
Ended up carefully pulling fret 6, re-lacquering the chip in the lacquer under the high E and re-inserting the fret. Adding a drop of glue in the fret slot for strength and pressing it carefully home with the fret press and the 9.5 inch caul.
Disassembled, cleaned and reassembled the vibrato bridge. Removed the thick layer of grey paint from the top of the bridge inertia block.
Re-assembled the guitar, fitted a set of strings and set the neck angle and truss rod for relief. Adjusted bridge springs for vibrato action and the bridge saddles for string height and for intonation. Set the pickup heights.
Although some people set the two point vibrato bridges parallel to the guitar body by raising the two pivot posts I decided to set up the bridge on this guitar as recommended by Fender, which is with an up tilt, like the vintage six screw bridges.
I wanted the saddle grub screws to be no more than level with the tops of the saddles to not dig in to the players palm, so I set the saddles fairly high while also following the 9.5 inch fretboard radius. The two bridge posts are screwed in to the brass inserts almost as far as they will go and the spring tension (with the three original springs) is set to float the bridge plate about the same as a six screw vintage bridge (actually 2.5mm from the body to the underside of the back of the bridge plate). There’s 14mm from the end of the vibrato cavity to the top of the spring claw.
As is usual with most after market necks, the frets on this one had never been levelled and careful work with the Stewmac Jaws fret press and a fret hammer allowed me to correct the poorly set frets without having to remove material from the top of the frets through fret levelling.
I filed down the string slots in the Hosco replacement bone nut by eye, depressing each string beyond the second fret and looking for minimum clearance over the first fret. I had meant to use my Stewmac nut slotting kit, but could not find it.
The Chinese neck has a bi-flex truss rod with access at the heel, which means you have to remove the neck from the body and adjust the truss rod by trial and error, without string tension. Without string tension and with the rod in the neutral / slack position this neck has a visible back or convex bow. Unfortunately, with string tension, the ideal of just a small amount of forward bow is in the grey area of having a completely slack truss rod, at least with 9 to 42 strings. With the rod just starting to tension up in the clockwise direction, the neck is dead straight under string tension. Eventually set the rod perhaps 1/3rd of a turn anti-clockwise, just on the point bending the neck forwards. I’m really trying to get just a little forward bow.
Ideally you want the truss rod to mostly affect the bow of the neck between the nut and the twelfth fret. In the case of this neck, at the more extreme settings the rod bends the entire neck, resulting in the higher frets sloping upwards.
The measured fret height is 0.033 (0.838mm re-measured 0.88mm) by 0.096 inches (2.438mm re-measured 2.42mm) wide and allowing 0.02 to 0.018 clearance bass to treble that puts the required nut slots and string height at the nut at 0.053 to 0.051.
With the bridge and truss rod set I can make small adjustments to the neck angle with the Micro-tilt to get the perfect low action. Eventually settled on 0.06 inch low E and high E at the twelfth fret open string.
Pickup heights – As mentioned these Fender Custom shop pickups are really strongly charged and very even across the pickups and I had trouble with the low E in particular warbling or pulsing because of damping from the pickups magnetic field (tuners go nuts). The Fender standard pickup heights are as follows (from bottom of strings to magnet poles, strings fretted at the last fret) –
Bass Side Treble Side
Texas Specials 8/64″ (3.2 mm) 6/64″ (2.4 mm)
Vintage style 6/64″ (2.4 mm) 5/64″ (2 mm)
Standard Single-Coil 5/64″ (2 mm) 4/64″ (1.6 mm)
This guitar 3.5mm 2.4mm
I think the neck is a cheap Chinese job – the installation of the skunk stripe truss rod filler is a bit crude. An extra piece of wood, plus some wood filer, has been used where the stripe runs in to the heel of the neck. As I later discovered this is part of a hump in the middle of the heel and the neck would not fit the neck pocket until this hump was scrapped away. It looks like some stain was wiped over the stripe to darken it, after it was glued in to the back of the neck, and this has also stained the maple around it. The bi-flex truss rod adjusts at the heel, 4mm hex key. The hex socket is set a little way into the neck with a short tube or collar in front of it. The truss rod is probably held in place by this collar. It didn’t seem as though the rod had ever been adjusted. Nut looks a bit mangled. Bogus Fender decals have been applied to the headstock, presumably by the previous owner. The Fender logo is orange with a black outline.
The Fender all-maple necks are fretted, levelled and re-crowned before the lacquer is applied. Then (if you are lucky) the lacquer is scrapped and polished off the crown of the frets. This does at least secure the frets in place, with the lacquer acting as a glue. On this Chinese neck the frets have been installed after the neck was lacquered. In fact it is difficult to work out how they finished and fretted the neck. It almost looks as though the fretting was the very last process after the fret slots had been cut, the ends of the slots plugged with filler and the neck sprayed and polished. All the frets have the tang cut back about 2mm or so from the ends. The fretting isn’t brilliant, with sharp ends and almost all of the frets are high, not fully seated in the fret slots at either end.
The neck looks identical to this EBAY listing – £88
The measured fret height above the fretboard is 0.033 inches.
The previous owner drilled the locating holes in the back of the headstock for the two peg tuners and made a very poor job of it. All the tuners are skewed to a greater or lesser degree. I eventually plugged all the tuner holes and re-drilled them to correct the odd angles on the tuners.
The very high action on this guitar as delivered, is largely due to a very poor neck fit with a large visible gap between the back of the neck and the neck pocket, the neck tilting forwards as a result. Neck fit is not helped by the fact that the back of the neck, where it is supposed to fit the body pocket, is not flat, but has a central hump over the skunk stripe. Apart from the poor fit, the neck screw under the biggest gap is completely loose. The hole in the neck for this screw has been drilled oversize and the neck screw just drops into it.
As part of rebuilding this guitar, and since the neck plate has the required access hole, I decided to fit a micro-tilt system. The micro-tilt kit I purchased is supplied without a pressure plate for the neck, a 5p coin is suggested. I fitted the T Nut and grub screw (3mm hex key) in the body, drilled a shallow 19mm hole in the neck and superglued in a 5p coin.
The nut, an after market white Graph Tech, is a mess, only half seated in the nut slot and oddly shaped on top where it has been filed because it was sticking up because of the poor fit in the slot.
With the nut removed the nut slot is clogged with chunks of glue. I cleaned out and enlarged the slot and then fitted a new Hosco bone nut. From the EBAY listing these necks do come with a fitted nut so it seems the original owner removed the nut the neck shipped with in order to fit a white Tusq Graph Tech nut (and then made a horrible mess of it).
It is difficult to correct all the neck problems without marring the high gloss finish.
The body is from MJT Aged Finishes, run by brothers Mark and Matt Jenny, are based in Carthage, Missouri, USA. MJT specialises in reliced finish bodies and necks. MJT does sell via EBAY with bids currently running from $45 up to $300. Their direct order price for this type of body and finish is $385 (plus shipping, taxes and handling to the UK). This body is (probably) a two piece Alder body finished in a very heavily reliced Daphne blue, white undercoat. Fitted with standard reliced strap buttons – the button on the upper horn is upside down. There is no tremolo cavity cover and no screw holes to fit one. Although fitted with a modern Fender two point vibrato bridge, the body was original drilled with six holes for the screws of a traditional vibrato bridge and four of those holes remain between the two point posts. Now routed for single/single/humbucker, the original bridge pickup single coil route has been expanded to a humbucker route after the body was painted. None of the body cavities are screened.
The vibrato bridge had a layer of dirt under the saddles and had been assembled with the various intonation springs in the wrong order.
I disassembled and cleaned all the parts, soaking the saddles, grub screws, screws and springs in WD40. Unscrewed the steel inertia block from the bridge plate and sanded off the thick layer of grey paint from the top of the block to allow metal to metal contact from block to plate. Reassembled the block and plate with a thin coating of wax on top of the block to inhibit rust.
As received the saddles had;
Grub screwsSpringIntonation screw – all lengths in mm.
E 6 7 15
A 8 8 15
D 8 8 15
G 8 8 15
B 8 6 15
E 6 9 15
The low E should have the 6mm short spring and the next shortest, the 7mm should be on the G, longest spring, the 9mm, on the high E. The 6mm grub screws should be fitted to the the two E saddles, as they were.
About Fender Gold Anodised aluminium pick guards
The Fender after market gold anodised aluminium guards are around 1.2mm thick and electrically the aluminium is a very good conductor, although the anodised layer is a mechanically tough electrical insulator. The hard anodised layer stiffens the aluminium so I suppose there might be an audible difference compared to raw aluminium because of the acoustic effect of a stiffer guard, but the main effect on tone is due to eddy currents circulating in the aluminium, creating an opposing magnetic field that damps the high end from the pickups. This damping effect is both audible and quite easily measured.
You should not rely on the anodised aluminium as a ground connection between the pots because the anodised layer is such a good insulator.
In the past Fender briefly used, and then dropped, gold anodised aluminium pick guards, as well as fitting much thinner aluminium sheets under plastic pick guards. I believe that Leo Fender chose to do this for the purposes of electrical screening. It is often said that Fender stopped using the gold guards because players would eventually wear through the anodised layer and the exposed aluminium would then leave black marks on their fingers. However, I suspect these pick guards were dropped because they robbed too much of the high end and made the guitars sound lifeless. The thinner aluminium shields used under the plastic guards provided good electrical shielding and, although they produced some eddy current damping, because they were thinner than the full aluminium pick guard, the damping effect was only just enough to make the guitars sound just that bit ‘sweeter’ without killing the treble altogether.
I transferred all the electronics from the gold aluminium pick guard across to the ‘Big Cat’ plastic guard. On initial installation of the guard, following copper screening all the body cavities, I had no signal out of the guitar. As it turns out the live contact of the output jack was shorting to the screening and a link of bare wire on the back of the pickup selector switch – switches the second tone control to the mid or bridge pickup – was shorting to the bottom of the control cavity.
Parts – 09/05/19 Big Cat orange pick guard £13.99 via EBAY from Supermusic57 paid PayPal transaction number 55L13968FC525004F.
Fender may use, or have used, a couple of sizes for the micro-tilt. Here is one
Accepts standard 3/32″ hex wrench for adjustment. Material: 18-8 Stainless Steel, Size: 10-32 x ½” dome point. The spiked nut inserts are called T-nuts
13/05/19 Ordered two micro-tilt ‘kits’ from EBAY bloodstoneguitar Item number: 162838470735 delivery 16th 17th . Total: £7.98 (note – these are metric and without a push plate for the back of the neck)
Pick guard – £13.99
Micro-tilt – £3.99
Strings – £6.00
Hosco bone nut – £7 plus 80p post
Copper screening tape – £4.00
13 x stainless steel pick guard screws. – £2.00
Parts total – £37.78
Labour – £150.00
Total – £187.78
Estimate of the parts value of the guitar
Tuners – £71.99
Neck – £88
Graph Tech Tusq nut – £9.99
Bogus Fender decals (Voodoo Decals) – £5.15
Body – $485 = £373
Pickups – £122
Neck plate and screws – £11.90
Strap buttons – £1.97
Pick guard gold aluminium – £59.04
13 pick guard screws – £2.80
3 x 250K pots – £15.30
Tone cap – £2.50
3 Fender UFO knobs – £8.00
5 way switch – £10.48
Output jack – £3.60
Jack plate – £3.50
Fender vibrato bridge – £99.99
Total – £889.21
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Guitar Hub Electric Guitar Lessons Guitar Hub's guitar instructors all have the same goal in mind and that is to provide the highest quality education in a fun, energetic and welcoming environment. Our focus will be on playing a song by the end of each set of...
Repair log – 2009 Gibson Goldtop Traditional Les Paul SN 00939030, made Nashville USA. Owner – James Stratton, London Guitar Academy, 07957 230354, email@example.com Current value range - £1,104 to £1,499 in excellent condition (but with original...
Back to Basics: Counting Rhythm Hey guys, Dan here again with another mind-boggling article for y’all to wrap your ears/eyes/whatever around. Up to now, I’ve mostly done either gear based posts, or intermediate to advanced music stuff and something has occurred to me;...
Bounds Green Guitar Lessons Guitar Lessons in Bounds Green we offer private one-on-one lessons custom-tailored to the needs and goals of the individual student. Playing the guitar is a great hobby that can bring you many years of enjoyment. We guide you along your journey...
East Finchley Guitar Lessons Guitar Lessons in East Finchley with friendly, professional local guitar teachers London Guitar Academy. We teach all ages and are very experienced at teaching total beginners and making the great musicians and guitarists. Our lessons are often the...
Guitar Lessons In Brentford Learn to play guitar the smart way with super friendly professional tuition at our West London studio or via home visit in Brentford. We provide quality music tuition and coaching, helping students of all abilities to...
Guitar Hub Electric Guitar Lessons
Guitar Hub’s guitar instructors all have the same goal in mind and that is to provide the highest quality education in a fun, energetic and welcoming environment. Our focus will be on playing a song by the end of each set of lessons.
We offer lessons in either classical acoustic, modern acoustic and electric guitar. Learn guitar in beginner, intermediate, and advanced group lessons for all ages. Customise your lessons to focus on playing, jamming and improvising with others while still receiving personal instruction
Guitar Lessons London offers 1 hour, 45 and 30 minute lessons. Play your favourite songs and develop your own songwriting. Our instructors offer a diverse understanding of technique, musical expression, range of dynamics and interpretation. Learn where all the notes, chords, scales, and arpeggios are on the fretboard. Whether you are an absolute beginner or already know a lot about music theory our guitar lessons are individually tailored to cover everything from the most basic scales to the most advanced melodic, harmonic, and rhythmical understanding.
Repair log – 2009 Gibson Goldtop Traditional Les Paul SN 00939030, made Nashville USA.
Owner – James Stratton, London Guitar Academy, 07957 230354, firstname.lastname@example.org
Current value range – £1,104 to £1,499 in excellent condition (but with original pickups)
Purchased used for £1,000, Weight = 4.3Kg, 9.48lbs
© Terry Relph-Knight 23/03/19
Received with a Gibson hard case.
This Traditional Les Paul is close to the original specifications for the 59 Les Paul. It has a chunky symmetrical C shaped neck, conventional controls with no switching options and only a small amount of weight relief. This is still a heavy guitar. The Standard model Les Paul has an asymmetric neck carve, a number of switching options added to the controls and modern weight relief.
Introduced in 1983, ‘traditional’ weight relief means nine large blind holes are drilled in the mahogany under the forearm area and covered by the maple cap.
Body – 2 piece centre joined light coloured mahogany, with a carved maple cap. Apparently with some weight relief (traditional). Gold top and clear coat back and sides nitro-cellulose. Cream binding around the top edge. There is a small, but deep, dent in the outside of the cutaway horn and mild buckle rash that does not go through the finish on the back.
Neck – Set, one piece, neck of a much darker piece of mahogany. It looks natural rather than stained, this model of Les Paul seems to usually have been made with lighter coloured necks of the same shade as the body wood, with the the usual two (lighter coloured) wings to make up the headstock width. 22 wide, flat dressed, frets on a light coloured, 12 inch radius rosewood fretboard. The fretboard isn’t super smooth, Gibson never seem to sand these very well. Pearloid trapezoid inlays above the 3,5,7,9,12,15,17,19 and 21st frets. The neck is bound with cream plastic and the binding is nibbed at the fret ends. Truss rod adjustment is as usual at the headstock with a 5/16 inch brass hex nut. The two ply ‘bell’ truss rod cover, with Traditional printed on it in white script, is unfortunately broken and cracked around both fixing holes.
Tuners are real Kluson Deluxe (the Kluson brand is now owned by, and manufactured for, WD Music ), 3 on a side box tuners with ‘green’ plastic, single ring, tulip buttons. The tuners are attached both by two screws at the back and a hex bush nut at the front. High quality nickel plated zinc alloy Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge and humped stop bar. Supplied with the bridge height at 9mm low E, 8.5mm high E (from body to top of thumb wheel). As the guitar was supplied the strings were loaded top wrapped over the decked stop bar. The stop bar post screws are nickel plated brass with the imperial thread.
The bridge is mounted with the intonation screws towards the stop bar. A moulded cream plastic pick guard is fitted. Strap buttons are conventional conical buttons. Four gold speed knobs on the controls – the two knobs on the bridge volume and on the neck tone have visible cracks across the top.
The bridge pickup is the original Gibson ‘57 Classic Plus with an Alnico 2 magnet.
The neck pickup has been changed for a Bare Knuckle HSP90 (Humbucker Size Pickup $90) which could be one of four models – a Blue Note 6.8K Alnico 2, a Nantucket 7.1K Alnico 5, a Mississippi Queen 6.9K Alnico 4, or possibly a Supermassive 9.5K Alnico 5, model. Measurements show it is likely to be a Blue Note.
Electronics – Gibson stamp branded two volumes, two tones and a three way lever toggle for pickup selection. The bridge volume pot is 242.5K (121.5K at 5) and the neck volume is 221.5K (113.3K at 5) so both volumes are nominal 250K linear pots. Neck tone pot 446K, bridge tone pot 485K, both at around 20K at 5 so these are 5% log law!! The tone capacitors are small disc ceramic 223M nominally 0.022uF, measured at 0.0185uF for the neck and 0.0188uF for the bridge, although these caps are very temperature dependant.
The four pots are mounted on Gibsons steel parallelogram plate. Apart from the use of screened cabling there is no other screening in this guitar.
Problems – Just in for a set-up. The owner feels the action is on the high side. Although the top wrapping of the strings places them at the break angle over the bridge they were originally designed to be, it places a sharp bend in the strings right at the end of the ball end twist lock. This makes the strings prone to breaking at this point. It also means the strings leave ugly marks on the top of the stop bar.
Work done – Converted the stop bar to raised and locked with Faber Tone Lok components, to eliminate the need for top wrapping, while still achieving a sensible break angle over the bridge. Waxed the fretboard. Re-strung with Rotosound 10s. Levelled a group of high frets from 13 to 19. Adjusted the truss rod, bridge height (now 7.5mm both sides from the body to the top of the thumb wheel) and the intonation.
Having raised and locked the stop bar with the Faber parts, I strung the guitar up with a set of Rotosound Yellow 10s and tried to adjust the truss rod (which was only just snugged up with string tension removed) and the bridge to achieve a comfortable low action. This turned out not to be possible without a lot of buzzing on the high frets above the 12th.
A fret rocker test, with the strings on and at tension, shows a group of high frets – 3 frets on either side of the 16 fret neck joint. Frets 13,14 and 15 are all generally high. Fret 16 is high on the low E side. Fret 18 is high in the middle and fret 19 is high on the high E side. Eventually managed to level all these frets out with a fretting hammer.
Re-check after letting the guitar sit for while – fret 5 and 11 slightly high middle, 12 high mid and treble and 14 high bass and treble.
This not a playing wear or a poor factory levelling problem, either the fretboard wood or the frets themselves have moved since this guitar was made.
For comparison to the Bare Knuckle HSP90, a Seymour Duncan P90 bridge pickup with Alnico 5 magnets measures 900 Gauss at the low E and 756 Gauss at the high E.
The Bare Knuckle HSP90 measures 458 Gauss at the low E and 502 Gauss at the high E, so it appears to have Alnico 2 rather than Alnico 5 magnets and its D.C. resistance is 6.85K, so it is probably a Blue Note model.
Neck Bare Knuckle HSP90 D.C. resistance = 6.85K
L in HenrysQR in K
100Hz 5.398 0.485 6.98
1000Hz 5.075 2.31 13.74
Alnico 2 ?
High E Gauss = 502 Polarity at screw poles = South
Low E Gauss = 458
Bridge Gibson 57 Classic D.C. resistance = 8.0K
L in HenrysQR in K
100Hz 5.054 0.39 8.13
120Hz 5.053 0.466 8.16
1000Hz 4.827 2.17 13.93
High E Gauss screw poles = 392 Polarity at screw poles = South
Low E Gauss screw poles = 420
Intonation as received –
Error in cents
New strings +5 -5 +2 -3 0 0
Intonation now corrected to all 0 error with the strings fitted.
Unfortunately, like all Gibson’s guitars, this one has poor tuning stability due to the strings sticking in the nut. This caused by the traditional Gibson 17 degree raked, three on side headstock design that results in acute string angles over the nut and therefore high friction through the string slots in the nut.
Faber Tone Lok for the stop bar £25
1 set Rotosound Yellow strings (10s) – £6.99 inc postal delivery to me.
Total parts – £ 31.99
Labour – £ 45
Back to Basics: Counting Rhythm
Hey guys, Dan here again with another mind-boggling article for y’all to wrap your ears/eyes/whatever around. Up to now, I’ve mostly done either gear based posts, or intermediate to advanced music stuff and something has occurred to me; what about the beginners? What about those brave rockers who are just starting out on their musical journey and need some help? You guys arguably need more help right? Well fear not beginners, I’m starting a new series called Back to Basics which is going to touch on the simple but essential tools that are necessary to get you’re skillz up. Today we’re looking at real doozy; Rhythm.
How to Count Rhythms
So it’s fairly simple, if you don’t know how to play in time, then you can’t play along to songs or with other musicians, and that would suck. Rhythm is the foundation that music is built on, so you can imagine that its pretty important right? At first, understanding rhythm can seem pretty daunting, but it’s actually pretty chill. We’re going to be looking at three of the big dawgs of time signatures used in music: 4/4, 3/4, and 6/4.
So what do these terms mean? Put simply, the two numbers in a time signature are there to tell you how many beats there are in each bar of music. So if we’re playing in 4/4 there are four quarter-note beats in each bar. Equally if we’re playing in 3/4 there are three quarter-note beats in a bar, and the same goes for 6/4 (six beats in a bar).
Counting Rhythms Practice
Now for some of you that will make total sense, for others it still may be confusing as to how those words help you count rhythm. So lets use a song that helps you understand it better.
This is “Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys. A song I’m sure most of you are familiar with. If we listen to the intro of the song we can hear a kick drum and a snare drum. If you focus in on the kick pattern you’ll be hear that it’s actually spelling out the time signature of the song, which is 4/4. You can almost count along with the pattern as it plays e.g:
//1, 2, 3, 4 // 1, 2, 3, BA-NA-NA-NAAA //
Counting rhythm is a simple as that!
Ok so no we’ve got an understanding of what it sounds like lets look at it written down:
As we can see, there are two crudely drawn bars of music here. We’re playing in 4/4 so there are four black dots (i.e quarter notes) in each bar. Those four dots are the anchor of the song’s time signature, what all other melody and rhythms used in the song will be based around. Going back to the Arctic Monkeys song as an example, if you listen to the snare pattern you’ll hear that it falls on the second and fourth beats of each bar. Part writing such as this is a really easy way to help understand how we use rhythm to help us write parts for songs. Lets try it with another time signature:
So now we’re playing in 3/4. For those of you unsure of what a 3/4 tempo feels like, listen to any waltz. The waltz is style of music based entirely around 3/4 signatures. It’s got a sort of Um Cha Cha feel if that helps at all. As we can see from this drawing, there are now only three beats in each bar, three quarter-note beats. 3/4, get it?
Finally lets look at 6/4
So 6/4 is slightly trickier to get your head around but stay with me. We know that the first number in our time signature denotes how many beats there are in a bar, so we know that there are six beats to each bar. The sharpest tools in the shed out there may have noticed that 6/4 is essentially the same as 3/4 because its just doubling the number of beats in a bar, and you’re right it is counted in a similar way, but its not the same. Because of the larger number of beats in each bar, it is still technically in three, but it’s got a much slower feel. Here are some examples to help you understand that better:
So the Bob Dylan tune is in 3/4, and the Metallica tune is in 6/4. We can hear that because the Bob Dylan song feels like it has more pace about it. The song feels like it’s going somewhere quicker. Whereas the Metallica song has a much more laid back feel. You can count either song in either time signature, but trust me; you’d just be making more work for yourself if you do.
So yeah that’s basically an intro to counting Rhythm, not as scary as it sounds is it? There’s more daunting time signatures out there like 7/8 or the very unnerving 5/4, but we’ll save those for another day. Happy counting!
Bounds Green Guitar Lessons
Guitar Lessons in Bounds Green we offer private one-on-one lessons custom-tailored to the needs and goals of the individual student. Playing the guitar is a great hobby that can bring you many years of enjoyment. We guide you along your journey step by step, helping you to correct the mistakes that you’re going to make along the way, and developing your musicality & guitar skills.
Bounds Green Guitar Lessons London
“Learn to play a wide variety of musical styles including rock, jazz, blues, pop, finger style and classical guitar or bass with one of our skilled instructors. We offer examination preparation, student recitals and group performance opportunities for interested students”
- Playing songs you actually enjoy
- Learning to play in a supportive creative environment makes learning fun!
- Great value on guitar lessons and packages
- We’re dedicated to mentoring new and advancing musicians
- Develop your guitar playing from the ground up
- Our convenient lesson times accommodate even the busiest schedules
- We are experienced music teachers, pro musicians, lifelong students of musicians
- Guitar Instruction in any style right to your door or at our studio