Louis Electric

November issue is here!
more... Premier BlogSolidbodyHumbucker-equippedFebruary 2014EpiphoneVibramate

Massive Makeover! See a Vibey ’74 Epiphone Get Totally Transformed

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Fig. 19. Using the original pickup rings to make a temporary jig for marking centered mounting-screw holes.

Normally I’d replace the pickup mounting rings with new rings that matched the Lovers’ mounting brackets, but the original Epi rings were much larger than modern ones and they nestled snugly into the pickguard. Modern rings would have left an ugly gap, so we had to keep the old rings. As much as I hated to modify them, I had little choice but drill a center hole into the bass side of each ring. I temporarily attached the original rings to each other, which gave me a jig to mark the new screw holes (Fig. 19).


Fig. 20. (left) Drilling the new centered holes in the old mounting rings. Always scribe a mark and then make a pilot hole before drilling into soft plastic. Fig. 21. (left) The neck pickup mounted in the original ring.
Note the trimmed pole piece screws.

Using the mark as a guide, I scribed a pilot hole, then reverse-drilled a deeper pilot hole, and finally drilled a new hole in each ring to accommodate the Lovers (Fig. 20). (Fig. 21) shows the neck Lover mounted in the original Epi ring. Note the trimmed pole pieces.


Fig. 22. (left) Bourns pots and Switchcraft jack and 3-way toggle are mounted on the pickguard, the harness wires are cut and tinned, and the pickups are mounted in their rings. Time to wire this baby up. Fig. 23. (right) Everything is now wired on the pickguard. Cable ties keep the harness neat so the pickguard will easily fit onto the cavity.

Firing up the soldering iron. Next I mounted the pots, toggle switch, and output jack to the pickguard, and then cut and tinned new harness wires using braided shield wire with a cloth core jacket (Fig. 22). When I was done wiring all the electronics, I added a couple of cable ties to keep everything neat and compact, and also inserted a pair of screws to each pickup ring to fill the empty, unused holes (Fig. 23). The latter was strictly a cosmetic decision, but such little details can make a big difference.

I connected the bridge ground wire to the harness, and after testing the electronics to confirm everything was working properly, I used new screws to attach the wired pickguard to the body.

Replacing the string nut. The original bone nut wasn’t too bad, but the bass strings sat too low and the overall string spacing was just a little off. I found a nice piece of bone stock and carved a new string nut. I shaped the nut blank to fit the nut slot, and marked it with a pencil to determine how much material to remove from the top. Next, I used my belt sander to remove the excess material and then contoured the nut top with a radius block and fine self-adhesive sandpaper. With the nut blank shaped and ends trimmed, I measured out the string spacing and began to carve the string slots.

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