Advice on upgrading an Ephiphone G1275

jazzbludgeon

Member
Messages
336
So, I've had an Epiphone G1275 for the last couple of years. I've had it setup and changed the 12-string pickups for Seymour Duncan Phat Cats. However, both necks have high tension (particularly the G string on the 12-string), with unison bends past the 12th fret on the 6-string being particularly difficult to pull off. I've been told by my local guitar repair guy that the plastic nut will have to go eventually. For the most part, both necks play great (especially the bottom 6-string neck). However, the 12-string neck has some serious intonation problems - particularly on the B string, where even a light touch on the first 3 frets will make the notes go sharp(er) by as much a 1/4 of a note. There is also some buzz when the E and D strings play open.
I've been looking around old TGP threads for some advice and the general consensus is to dump the Epiphone and go for the real thing. While it would be nice and all, I don't have the funds and am still convinced I can get theEpiphone to a workable level. I got it second-hand w/ a case for a decent price, so I'm not looking for resale nor to pour endless amounts of money to pimp it out with bells and whistles (it's an Epiphone after all!). With that said, to get it up to playing level I need advice on:
- Tuners - I hear Kluxons are great, but which ones? So many choices and I'm not an expert on different tensions (for both the 12 & 6 strings). Aesthetically, I'm trying to avoid the snot-green tuners as much possible, but also something that will fit smoothly and look in place, not look like something like a Frankenstein creation.
- Pickups for the 6 string - As mentioned above - I've got Duncan Phat Cats in 12 string to replace the muddiness and lack of definition of the stock Epiphone pickups. What I'm looking for is something that compliments Phat Cats but also has its own character. Since it's an SG-type body P90-type pickups (like the Phat Cats) seem to be the choice, but I need something that has matching output to the Phat Cats and its own voicing. Again, I'm not an SG expert - so chime in with suggestions.
- Bridges - I'm tempted to get roller bridges (especially for the 6 string). I'm no expert, but from what I read they provide better stability and will less likely have the strings snap. On the other hand, I've read that they are not so great for tone - that they take away too much high-end from the sound. Thoughts? I'd probably avoid them for the 12-string if someone can make a case for it.
- Finally, the bone nut - I've seen cheap to super expensive. Someone chime in on the different quality & brands I should be going for.
 
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tnjazz

Runs with scissors
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
946
I had 2 of the Epis a few years ago. They were fun and interesting, but with many of the same issues you're describing here. I started down the path of modding but in the end the best decision I made was to go with the real deal. There is a world of difference between them and my EDS.

If you insist on modding though, ABM makes a 12 string bridge with individual saddles that should remedy your intonation issues. I would avoid roller bridges because your sustain will roll over and die.

The tuners are probably pretty decent if you replace the nut. I'd do that first to see if they hold tune better. If not, Kluson strip tuners are pretty appropriate for these guitars. I'm actually looking to change mine out to the button style (they are single ring tulips).

Pickups...I'd go with most any vintage wind. Most pickups will have an equivalent output level to the Duncans. That's a matter of what tone you're looking for. If you like bright and defined, stay with Duncans. Otherwise, the possibilities are endless really.
 

jazzbludgeon

Member
Messages
336
I had 2 of the Epis a few years ago. They were fun and interesting, but with many of the same issues you're describing here. I started down the path of modding but in the end the best decision I made was to go with the real deal. There is a world of difference between them and my EDS.

If you insist on modding though, ABM makes a 12 string bridge with individual saddles that should remedy your intonation issues. I would avoid roller bridges because your sustain will roll over and die.

The tuners are probably pretty decent if you replace the nut. I'd do that first to see if they hold tune better. If not, Kluson strip tuners are pretty appropriate for these guitars. I'm actually looking to change mine out to the button style (they are single ring tulips).

Pickups...I'd go with most any vintage wind. Most pickups will have an equivalent output level to the Duncans. That's a matter of what tone you're looking for. If you like bright and defined, stay with Duncans. Otherwise, the possibilities are endless really.

Thanks for the suggestions. I have thought about the real thing, but at more than $5K I'd rather prioritise my budget towards a new amp, perhaps. Besides, I'm not really looking to make it a Gibson EDS - I know it won't ever be. But I do need to make it at least workable for recording. I do have a limit as to how much I'm gonna invest into it - it's a 2007 Korean made model and from what the repair guy tells me the fret work is actually very decent, so no major work needs to be done to it. I bought at about $720 w/ a hard flight case and so for have invested only $110. I'm thinking this will be the last upgrade.
 

sixty2strat

Member
Messages
12,561
The nut sounds like the culprit. The b slot is too high, had the same issue with an explorer the first 3 frets were all out of tune as the nut was so high fretting the string pulled it out of tune , the g strings playing a g# was most susceptible. Sounds like some slots are too low. odd you saythe tension is high on oth neck as they are set further into the body, IIRC the scale length is shorter than an SG. Pick ups' love my stock ones for the most part, not a fan of them in other Gibsons but wish the neck 12 was clearer on od sounds.
 

sixty2strat

Member
Messages
12,561
Thanks for the suggestions. I have thought about the real thing, but at more than $5K I'd rather prioritise my budget towards a new amp, perhaps. Besides, I'm not really looking to make it a Gibson EDS - I know it won't ever be. But I do need to make it at least workable for recording. I do have a limit as to how much I'm gonna invest into it - it's a 2007 Korean made model and from what the repair guy tells me the fret work is actually very decent, so no major work needs to be done to it. I bought at about $720 w/ a hard flight case and so for have invested only $110. I'm thinking this will be the last upgrade.


I have the Gibson and at 5k I agree, ....got mine when you could grab a recent used on for 2k.No way I spend 5 k today. Saw GC trying to sell a similar one to my 90's for 4400, crazy money for a guitar I use on 5-6 song in a 40 song set list
 

jazzbludgeon

Member
Messages
336
The nut sounds like the culprit. The b slot is too high, had the same issue with an explorer the first 3 frets were all out of tune as the nut was so high fretting the string pulled it out of tune , the g strings playing a g# was most susceptible. Sounds like some slots are too low. odd you saythe tension is high on oth neck as they are set further into the body, IIRC the scale length is shorter than an SG. Pick ups' love my stock ones for the most part, not a fan of them in other Gibsons but wish the neck 12 was clearer on od sounds.

I think this was perhaps down to the fact that not many manufacturers make really long strings. The Epiphone I've got has the tailpiece further down in the body, which means the G string seem to have a particularly hard time with the stretch. I barely had any string left to wrap around the machineheads - making tuning a nerve-rattling experience. The Dunlop Nickel Wound Lights 9-42 have remedied the situation to a degree.

I have the Gibson and at 5k I agree, ....got mine when you could grab a recent used on for 2k.No way I spend 5 k today. Saw GC trying to sell a similar one to my 90's for 4400, crazy money for a guitar I use on 5-6 song in a 40 song set list

Yeah, here in the UK one costs (w/ hard case included) £4700 or $5800. Besides, whether an Epiphone or Gibson, the doubleneck is not my go-to guitar. It's simply unjustifiable for my needs.
 
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tnjazz

Runs with scissors
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
946
Thanks for the suggestions. I have thought about the real thing, but at more than $5K I'd rather prioritise my budget towards a new amp, perhaps. Besides, I'm not really looking to make it a Gibson EDS - I know it won't ever be. But I do need to make it at least workable for recording. I do have a limit as to how much I'm gonna invest into it - it's a 2007 Korean made model and from what the repair guy tells me the fret work is actually very decent, so no major work needs to be done to it. I bought at about $720 w/ a hard flight case and so for have invested only $110. I'm thinking this will be the last upgrade.


You just have to bide your time and wait for the right one to come along. I paid $2500 for mine a few months ago locally (1981 EDS) and at the time there were 2 others on regional craigslists within a few hours of me for the same price. I think if you can walk away with one for $3000 or under you've done well, and they are out there.

EDIT: Just saw you are overseas. That does complicate matters somewhat I suppose.
 

cuz/karl

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,133
Some upgrades should make it a very playable instruments.
I have seen pro's using these.
A new nut,crown and level will make the most difference imo.
I got a clone for right around $500 that is solid mahogany and all Wilkerson hardware and pickups.
It still needed nuts a a crown/level,but the wood is better(epi is plywood with a veneer)and I actually like the pickups and hardware.
Best part is you can choose your options.
Cool,neck size,ect.
I actually got 1piece necks and nitro for no upcharge.
View media item 50117
 

bob-i

Member
Messages
8,762
Intonation on a 12 is difficult at best. The joke is...how long does it take to tune a 12 string? no one knows.

The issue is that you have strings of differing size and tension that are played together. The bridge can be accounted for but the nut is the challenge. A bone nut, cut properly will go a long way. The nut slots need to be cut so that the bottom of the string is the same height from the fret, making it feel a bit odd. The top of the string, where you play, will be quite different in height making it more difficult to fret cleanly.

Once the nut is done you'll find tuning is far easier and it will sound much better.

As for replacing the guitar with a Gibson, the haters will hate, but I'd stick with the Epi. You'll have the same setup issues with any doubleneck. Tuners, switches and pots are not all that bad, don't change them unless there's a problem. People are often quick to blame tuners for tuning issues. In over 50 years of playing and working on guitars I've never had a tuner slip. Occasionally I've had tuners that don't turn smoothly, these need replacing. I've had as many issues with Gibsons and switches as with any other guitar.

I'd spend the time and money on the Epi, you'll save in the long run.
 

Mincer

Senior Member
Messages
4,596
I bet the Phat Cats sound good...and I don't think you have to go to the full Gibson model. The Epi should be fine. For the 6 string neck, I'd look at the Whole Lotta Humbuckers. They match in output with the Phat Cats, and sound great in an SG-type body.
 

jazzbludgeon

Member
Messages
336
Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

Keep'em coming.

Perhaps I need to re-articulate some of my posts and be more specific in advice I'm looking for (I was actually thinking of posting this on the Luthier section) regarding the tuners, the nut and the bridge. I'm not an expert, but I'm assuming it all has to work as one system. Particularly regarding the tuners, what would I need to consider when upgrading - ratio, for example? Should I get direct replacements or something different? This is from a Premier Guitar article (http://www.premierguitar.com/articles/19548-a-players-guide-to-tuning-keys?page=2 ):

For starters, if you have a vintage guitar (or an expensive modern instrument) and the keys are deteriorating or not working properly, I recommend installing direct replacement keys that do not require any modifications. Whenever you drill new holes or enlarge the existing holes in the headstock—or anywhere, for that matter—it devalues the instrument.

For a vintage axe, always store the original keys in a safe place to preserve them. Gotoh, Kluson, and Grover make excellent direct replacement keys that typically offer higher ratios than vintage tuners, but are otherwise a drop-in retrofit for Strats, Teles, Les Pauls, and other popular models. If you do the research and find the right tuner, you can make a clean installation with simple hand tools. We’ll cover this in a moment.

If you have a modern instrument and decide to install tuners that aren’t direct replacements, be aware that this usually affects the guitar’s tone. When you change mass on the headstock—by adding heavier or lighter hardware—it changes how the neck responds to string vibration. It’s hard to predict exactly how the tone will change—and guitarists debate this endlessly—but if you like how your guitar currently sounds, think twice before you install non-direct replacement tuners.


And how does the tuner choice then affect what corresponding nut and bridge?

I'd like to hear from people who have experience modding the G1275


I bet the Phat Cats sound good...and I don't think you have to go to the full Gibson model. The Epi should be fine. For the 6 string neck, I'd look at the Whole Lotta Humbuckers. They match in output with the Phat Cats, and sound great in an SG-type body.

I got the suggestions for the Phat Cats from someone here and TGP and the difference is truly night day - I could actually hear the octaves for the first time. I think this really reinforces the idea that a 12 string really needs single-coil type pickups to hear the chime fully.
I'm very much tempted by the Whole Lotta Humbuckers - especially hearing a demo on youtube and just how close it sounded to Page's sound. I definitely intend to get my hands on the Whole Lotta Humbuckers - it's just a quest of whether they would work better on a Les Paul (as they're being advertised) or an SG. If I come across a demo or can get someone's experience with it on an SG I'll go for it. This is a great video for reference (skip to about 3:00 to hear some Zeppeling):

 

Mincer

Senior Member
Messages
4,596
I actually like the way they sound in an SG...it is slightly LP-ish. But that boosted PAF thing is there.
 

dewey decibel

Member
Messages
11,487
Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

Keep'em coming.

Perhaps I need to re-articulate some of my posts and be more specific in advice I'm looking for (I was actually thinking of posting this on the Luthier section) regarding the tuners, the nut and the bridge. I'm not an expert, but I'm assuming it all has to work as one system. Particularly regarding the tuners, what would I need to consider when upgrading - ratio, for example? Should I get direct replacements or something different? This is from a Premier Guitar article (http://www.premierguitar.com/articles/19548-a-players-guide-to-tuning-keys?page=2 ):

For starters, if you have a vintage guitar (or an expensive modern instrument) and the keys are deteriorating or not working properly, I recommend installing direct replacement keys that do not require any modifications. Whenever you drill new holes or enlarge the existing holes in the headstock—or anywhere, for that matter—it devalues the instrument.

For a vintage axe, always store the original keys in a safe place to preserve them. Gotoh, Kluson, and Grover make excellent direct replacement keys that typically offer higher ratios than vintage tuners, but are otherwise a drop-in retrofit for Strats, Teles, Les Pauls, and other popular models. If you do the research and find the right tuner, you can make a clean installation with simple hand tools. We’ll cover this in a moment.

If you have a modern instrument and decide to install tuners that aren’t direct replacements, be aware that this usually affects the guitar’s tone. When you change mass on the headstock—by adding heavier or lighter hardware—it changes how the neck responds to string vibration. It’s hard to predict exactly how the tone will change—and guitarists debate this endlessly—but if you like how your guitar currently sounds, think twice before you install non-direct replacement tuners.


And how does the tuner choice then affect what corresponding nut and bridge?

Sorry, I didn't read the entire OP (paragraphs are our friends :p). With direct replacement tuners you don't have to make any modifications to the guitar, that's the difference. That said, tuning issues usually have nothing to do with the tuners. You're right, nut and bridge are kinda like one system, but I consider tuners different. You may want to go with a higher ratio to better dial in the 12 string, but I wouldn't say it's mandatory. Get the nut and bridge right and go from there.
 

guitargeezer

Member
Messages
1,149
I got a clone for right around $500 that is solid mahogany and all Wilkerson hardware and pickups.e
It still needed nuts a a crown/level,but the wood is better(epi is plywood with a veneer)and I actually like the pickups and hardware.
Best part is you can choose your options.
Cool,neck size,ect.
I actually got 1piece necks and nitro for no upcharge.
View media item 50117

Not to hijack the OP's thread and I'm not really in the market myself, but...where did you get a clone with those features for $500?
 

jdogric12

Member
Messages
2,582
Nut first, definitely, and see how that does. Make sure you're using 10-42 with wound .020's for the G fundamental and the A octave. Pick of the Ricks (in New Jersey) sells a Curt Mangan "Pick of the Ricks" set for electric 12's that does a great job and matches the tension and gauges of a standard RIC 12 set. Tell Chris that "J Dog" sent ya!

www.pickofthericks.com
 

Peter Krasov

Member
Messages
1
Hey Jazzbludgeon,

The sympthoms you are describing can be met on any guitar. Have you checked the fret levelling?

As for pickups, if Phat Cats sound right for you, you can go two ways: with HB-sized P90s for 6-string as well, or some low-output PAF-style humbuckers will work great.
 




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