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Hot Rodding a Gibson Hollow

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by charley, May 22, 2006.

  1. charley

    charley Supporting Member

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    I have a 1969 Gibson ES 150 (a 3 inch deep 335 style guitar) that is stock. I want a little more out of it for added sustain and better performance so I am replacing the pickups with some WCR Goodwoods. In addition, I would like to convert the trapeze tailpiece and bridge to a 335/les paul stop bar tailpiece. What is a good tailpiece and bridge to get? Does anyone know any good techs who can do the work in the NYC area? Thanks for the help.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  2. mavrick10_2000

    mavrick10_2000 Member

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    I believe Evan Gluck is one to contact. He's a member here.
     
  3. BPlexico

    BPlexico Gold Supporting Member

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    Is the bridge directly screwed into the body or is it on a wooden base?

    I thought these were fully hollow guitars - in which case I dont think you would be able to use a stop bar...is there a block of wood under the bridge?

    -- Barr
     
  4. seafoamer

    seafoamer Member

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    w/out playing it, it's hard to tell. But, my gut says, "don't try to make that gtr into something it's not".
     
  5. stratzrus

    stratzrus Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B Supporting Member

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    I agree with Seafoamer; I wouldn't "booger" your vintage instrument in search of something that you may or may not find.

    I just bought a Memphis dot reissue ES 335 and I think that it does everything that you want the ES 150 to do. Rather than spend money changing the 150 I'd save up for a 335 and consider the 150 more of a pure jazz guitar.

    stratzrus
     
  6. Kiwi

    Kiwi Silver Supporting Member

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    It's a 1969 Gibson. Please don't mod it. Sell it if you have to, and go get a guitar that plays and sounds what you want it to.

    Kiwi
     
  7. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    What Kiwi said. Don't.

    I know it's a musical instrument not a museum piece, and normally I would say the opposite, but this is a fairly rare and actually quite nice guitar the way it is. You can't fit a stop tailpiece anyway, the top won't support it. I wouldn't even change the pickups... I doubt you'll get that much improvement over the stock 60s Gibsons - they aren't all that different from original PAFs. It's actually not that easy a job if the wiring harness is original, as the wires are soldered right around all the pots by their braids; replacing the bridge one especially is a lot more work than it might look.

    One thing that you might consider is bypassing the Master Volume and connecting the switch directly to the jack - that's a 500K pot in parallel with the other two, in any position, giving a total effective load of 250K (166K in the middle position). That and the additional wiring to and from it will significantly dull the tone - although I've never removed one to see how much, I've only ever seen two of these guitars... both of which sounded great to me, although I didn't like the necks.
     
  8. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    Listen to a story about a boy and a bass.

    Once upon a time there was a little boy who went and got the bass of his dreams, a 1971 EB-0. But when that little boy plugged in that bass it sounded like poop. The first thing that little boy did was to rout out for some P-Bass pickups. He did that with a hammer and a screwdriver sharpened on the floor of the garage. After the P pickups were installed, the bass sounded like poop. Over the course of many, many years, the little boy tried a dozen or pickups, and routed out a pound and a half of wood from the body. The little boy also replaced the bridge... But still, the bass kind of sounds like poop.

    That little boy learned some valuable lessons from those experiences with that bass.
    1. Don't rout out a 25+ year old instrument.
    2. Pickups are in places that sound good, generally not "over by the bridge some."
    3. Plastic (nylon) is not a very good conductor of vibration.
    4. G&L bridges are the cat's pajamas.
    5. An instrument is what it is- it's pretty much futile to fight with it and make it do something it doesn't want to do. In this case, a short scale, mahogany bodied bass is NEVER going to sound like a full scale Precision or Jazz, no matter what pickups, what bridge, what strings, what ever you do- it's not going to do that.


    Your guitar has made it 37 years without being disfigured, don't **** with it. Change pickups- that's cool, but there's thousands of people that would kill for a guitar like that in that good of shape- sell it and get a 335 or something.

    Any status it would have as "a 1969 Gibson" is tempered with "I cut holes in the top to put a bridge that doesn't belong on it..." or " I had to remove the back and have a block of mahogany put in it so I could mount a bridge and tailpiece that don't belong on the guitar..."
     
  9. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    It's probably a little late for this, but did the boy check to see what would happen if he removed the extra tone cap that's permanently in circuit across the volume control?

    Just asking... :)

    :eek:
     
  10. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    Yeah, the little boy replaced the pots years ago.

    The little boy found the stock pots and re-installed them somewhere around 8 years ago. (and broke one of the legs on the tone cap while re-installing them.):rolleyes:

    No one ever said the little boy was all that bright.
     
  11. Evan Gluck

    Evan Gluck Member

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    While I am flattered Bob reccomended me, I have a strict don't mess with vintage policy so I would pass on the job and suggest doing whatever it takes as long as it is completely reversible.
    Evan
     
  12. scottlr

    scottlr Member

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    Don't those have a floating bridge? I agree with everyone. Leave that vintage guitar stock. If the pups work and sound decent, and are stock, I wouldn't even change them. If I did, I'd tuck the originals away so it can be put back stock later. I always thought those were cool guitars. Put some flats on it and play jazz with it. That is really what it was for, if I remember correctly.

    As for suggestions on selling it and getting a 335, the pic on the left seems to show a thinline hanging beside it.
     
  13. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    It's a direct-mounted Tune-o-matic, like an ES330 (or 335 or LP). I can't remember whether the block the posts screw into is like a 330 as well - the full length of the body, effectively one very wide brace, but made up of multiple narrow strips - or whether it's quite small and just around the bridge area itself. Even if it was the full length it isn't thick or strong enough to take tailpiece studs though.
     
  14. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    I'll chime in here. I agre with John Phillips et al - don't mod an original '69 Gibson. The mods you want to make can't be done on this guitar the way you want them to turn out - it's the hollow-ness - nothing to drill the studs into.

    That said, if it doesn't sustain well (here goes Dana's broken record ...)

    Have you had a pro set-up person look at it? There are often small and medium adjustments that can be made that dramatically affect the sustain, tone, playability etc.

    Often, a little truss rod adjustment, or better saddles, a new nut, a fret dress ... something like that can make a pretty big difference in the playability and sustain.

    If there's somebody good in your 'hood, have 'em take a look at it. Ask them specifically to look into the issues you have with the insturment and see if they can readily identify things on the guitar that may be contributing to the probs you have with it. ie Guitar dosen't have enough sustain - they discover the truss rod is too tight - like that.

    My "broken record" is my often repeating that a good guitar tech can bring out the best in your axe. If you've never had your guitar looked at by an experienced pro, you owe it to yourself and your guitar to try it out.

    You might be amazed.

    Dana
     
  15. Magoo

    Magoo Member

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    Charley,
    I have that exact same guitar! Same year, same color. All stock except Grovers. I got it about 25 years ago and it has sat in the case most of the time. Plays beautifully, but pretty lifeless, tone wise. I think I'm gonna change the pickups. Gently, no mods or damage. I'm not convinced that Gibson necessarily put anything special in these guitars and if it helps, then I will play it more. If not, then back to stock. What to use? That's the dilemma. Charley, keep us posted as to what you decide to do and I will do so also. -Rich
     

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