'05 Epiphone Les Paul Classic - Vintage Sunburst


Mods:

Bridge - Gotoh Tune-O-matic with studs/bushings (no drilling required)
Improved intonation adjustment. No retaining wire rattle.
Stewmac P/N - 1511 (chrome)
Price $21.75 (us)

Tuners - Grover Deluxe Keystones (drilling required for 2 tiny screws 1/16")
Original tuners worked fine. These just look more vintage.
Stewmac P/N - 3754 (nickel)
Price $47.44

Wiring Kit - Les Paul(standard length pot, not long).
Better quality pots & switch. Kit comes with output jack, cheap caps and shielded wire.
Stewmac P/N - 0133
Price $34.64

Pickup - Tonerider "Rocksong" Bridge, Zebra (12k Alnico II) switch added to split pickup.
Clearer pickup, less hot than original, 4 wire. Zebra looks good ;)
Price ~ $40 - $50

Guitar
Shielded cavities with aluminium tape.
Levelled & dressed frets.
Filed nut (original).
Engraved "Classic" on original TRC.
Tried various wiring configurations (50's, 60's etc) and settled on standard wiring. Replaced 0.022 bridge cap with a 0.015 unit
Would highly recommend adding strap locks if taking a 10lb guitar on the road.

Headstock Front - original decal rubs off TRC easily



Main - small switch added to split bridge pickup. A push/pull pot would be a more elegant solution.



Tuners Rear - some drilling req'd for 1/16" screws.



Bridge - no retaining wire to rattle. plenty of intonation adjustment available. generally more 'solid' than stock.



Overall - the bridge pup looks more 'cream' than white, in person





MORE INFO: Well, I was bored on Boxing day (editor note: Boxing day? this must be an Australian thing)so I figured I might do some work on my Les Paul while I wait for the new bridge to arrive.
Keep in mind, I was seriously bored... I stripped everything out of it, except the tuners and bridge studs. I've never been happy with the look of the chinese wiring and soldering so this was a good excuse to rip it all out. I've noticed that the uncovered pickups can get a little noisy at high volumes so I went about shielding everything in an attempt at quietening it down a little. I shieldied the following using aluminium tape approx 2 1/2 wide.

Switch cavity
Controls cavity
Output socket cavity
Neck & Bridge cavities
The cutout that allows all the wiring to get to the control cavity; and The inside face of all cavity covers.
I then checked everything with a multimeter to ensure that I had good continuity throughout the whole guitar.
While I was at it I decided to change out the tone capacitiors for smaller value units (0.018 uF - 50 cents ea).
I also straightened out the neck and ran a straight edge over it to check for high frets. I found 2 high ones (17 & 20).
I filed 'em down a bit and polished 'em up real nice. They were still a smidge high so I took to 'em with a plastic mallet. THAT sorted 'em out. Flat as a tack.

Next job was to spray the pots and switch with contact cleaner to remove any crud and improve reliability.
Then I gave the output jack a tweak to tighten up the cable connection. All up, about 4 hours work. The shielding took a lot longer than I thought.
Total cost = $1 Aus, (about 75c USD) for the 2 caps. Stole the tape from work.
A real good way to get to know your guitar.

Looking forward to the bridge arriving so I can fire this bad-boy up.
Tip. A flat boot lace wrapped under the knobs and pulled gently up is a great way to get those knobs off.
I tidied up the shielding job a little after these shots were taken.







Oh, so that's what that thing in the closet is for.


Update on project Les Paul.
I came across some xmas money I forgot about and decided to blow it on some vintage keystone tuners.
They're the cheaper Gotoh brand but still look real cool on the classic.
I had to order them locally but I dont think they'll take long to come in.
Purely a cosmetic upgrade, the original 'grovers' are still doing a fine job. Not the girly gold ones....


MOre on the Fret Level:

It was the perfect time to do the work. I had everything off the guitar.
I used a 24" steel rule initially to check for flatness (after straightening the neck via the truss-rod).
The big rule showed that I had some high frets up the high end but it didnt show which ones were high exactly.
I then used a short (maybe 2") length of 1/4" square steel rod to locate the exact frets.
I just checked them 3 at a time until I found the 2 that were 'rocking'.
I didnt attempt to dress any frets unnecessarily and just focussed on the 2 high ones. They were quite high actually.
I think it could get a little messy if you start dressing the whole fretboard unnecessarily.
The most time consuming part is the re-crowning.
I wouldnt want to have to do that to 22 frets , 2 was enough.
If I had to do a complete fretboard, I reckon I would try using a sharpening stone for the job.
I received one with a set of wood chisels I once bought. Its about 8" x 2" x 1". Looks like it would be ideal.


Minor Update

Received and fitted the new bridge today. Intoned up real nice with a little extra room to spare.
Good news, it doesnt rattle. Looks more substantial than the original epi bridge too.
That's all I've got to say about that.
Still waiting for the tuners (which i don't think will fit the way I want anyway).
The guitar shop dude said that the Gotohs I ordered will fit but I havent seen any keystones on the Gotoh website that are right.
Grovers, yes. Gotoh's, no.

Still no tuners. The guy in the guitar shop is turning out to be a real jacka$$.
I could have ordered them in from USA quicker than this.
He convinced me that the Gotohs would fit.
I've sinced researched them and definately reckon that they will be too small and will need an adapter bushing.
The Grovers will fit perfectly but he insisted I order the Gotohs.... We'll see.

Guitar shop guy can kiss my lilly white butt.
Dipstick still hasn't got the tuners in so I ordered them from the US like I should've done all along.
These babies are gunna fit and that's that.
Turns out that the Gotoh's have a shaft length of 0.965" and the Grover's are 1.125" long.
I reckon longer has gotta be better than shorter (please guys, there's no joke here, I checked...)

They're called Grover Deeeeeeeluxe Keystones. #3754.



The bridge I ordered from the US arrived in 10 days.
That's OK I reckon. I figure I'll need to drill at least 1 hole per tuner if I want to do it properly.
One hole might line up with the existing hole, but there'll still be 1 to drill.
That's cool. I'm also the worlds best hole drillerer and am supremely confident in my ability to pull this off.

The tuners turned up today. About 2 weeks give or take. They fit beautifully but needed 2 holes drilled per tuner.
They were a little harder to line up than I expected.
The peghead holes drilled by Epiphone are all over the place.
I just had to position them the best i could and drill them off. They look great and seem to work fine.
It will take a while to determine if they are solid or not. I have no reason to think they will be anything other than rock solid.
The originals were 18:1 and these are 14:1. Picky later when someone comes home who knows how to use the camera....
Hmmm, Ok, I'll try...






Thats it!