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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Who has modded a semi-hollowbody? How did you do it?

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LeftyMeister
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Buckeye Country, USA

Tone is in the lingers
Mar 17th, 2019 01:59 PM   Edit   Profile  

My next project guitar (not mine) is a 1989 Epi Sheraton. It needs new pots and a jack. I've never attempted a repair on this type of guitar but I've heard the horror stories.

I popped out the pickups and this one has a centerblock, so I'll need to go through the F-holes. I envision needing to fish some strings through the holes as I remove parts in order to fish back in the new parts. Also, I know I'll need to go back in with a complete harness.

This should be fun (not). Any advise from those with experience?

Gene from Tampa
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Tampa, FL

Press On Irregardless
Mar 17th, 2019 02:24 PM   Edit   Profile  

My experience was paying someone to completely re-wire an older Epi Dot and add Duncan '59's It transformed the guitar.

Below is a link to the Seymour Duncan website. It's a step by step tutorial rewiring what appears to be an Epi dot. It seems to be exactly what you would be looking for.

SD EZ Way

capnhiho
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USA

Mar 17th, 2019 02:35 PM   Edit   Profile  

I performed a pup and wiring harness swap on my Ibanez AS73 (335 clone). IIRC I tied string around the pot shafts to coax them through their respective holes; used a chopstick to line up the output jack. Not the easiest job I’ve tackled but it all worked out pretty well.

I also replaced the complete wiring harness in my Gretsch G5420. For that one I followed the T.V. Jones suggested method of pushing flexible vinyl tubing over the pots and switch, then carefully pulling everything into place.

Both methods have their pros and cons - you’ll have to decide what you think will work best. Remember, the Internet and YouTube are your friends.

Peegoo
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Just beyond Mars

there's a world of fools
Mar 17th, 2019 02:38 PM   Edit   Profile  

When working through F holes, the most important thing to remember is to prevent damage to the finish in the F holes as you pass the pots and jack though. There are certain ways the parts will easily slip in without having to press them through. You can apply some painter's tape to the edge of the F hole, but on older, aged/crazed finishes, tape is a bad idea because removing the tape often brings pieces of brittle finish with it.

Usually when I rewire a hollow or semi, I cut a piece of cardboard the size of the face of the guitar, and then transfer the locations of the controls, jack, and pickups to the cardboard. Then I cut holes in the cardboard and mock up the circuit on it (attach everything to the cardboard). This allows me to get all the wire lengths correct. When you do this, remember to account for the center block because sometimes a wire path is not a direct line from one component to the next.

If you have two or more wires running parallel to each other anywhere in the circuit, tie them every 2" or so with unwaxed dental floss to keep the wire loom nice and neat. This also cuts down on noise and buzzing of wires against the inside of the guitar when it's played. You can use little zip ties, but that's not as cool as using string.

Some people use 3/16" ID surgical tubing to fish the pots in (stick a 24" length of tube through a pot hole, pull it out the F hole, poke the pot shaft into the tube, and then gently pull the tube to bring the pot into the F hole up and out). I've tried it and it works, but the technique I prefer is to use unwaxed dental floss to do the same thing. I give the pot shaft several wraps and tie it securely.

To bring the jack into place, I use a 24" length of coat hanger wire with a little hook on one end. The straight end of the wire goes in through the back of the jack and out the front. Then the straight end of the wire is poked through the F hole and out the jack's mounting hole. The hook allows you to pull the jack into place while you slip a washer and nut on the end of the wire and secure it. All that's left to do is push the wire back into the guitar and out the F hole.

A very useful tool to have when working on a hollow guitar is a small shop vac. If you need to fish a length of string trough the body, hold the vac's hose over the F hole and poke the string through the location for the control. The vac pulls the string up and out the F hole. Super simple.

One thing to always remember is on the jack and pots, remember to have an inside-tooth lock washer on them before you pull them into place. This helps prevent them rotating as you snug the fixing nut on the outside of the body. And always use a little flat washer under every nut.

There are a hundred other things you can do to simplify this process, but these are the big'uns.

Remember the #1 rule is Do No Damage. If you get frustrated, set things down and walk away for 30 minutes. Being angry gets you 75% of the way to damaging something as you work.

Rule #2 is put all your hammers in the trunk of your car before you start. Sometimes this proce3ss gets so frustrating that a hammer seems like an appropriate tool :o)

Pinetree
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Mar 17th, 2019 03:09 PM   Edit   Profile  

It's a giant pain in the ass.

I use FireLine and surgical tubing.


Leftee
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VA

Toxic Humility
Mar 17th, 2019 05:24 PM   Edit   Profile  

I swapped pot wiring on a Dot, years ago, using the string method. It was the least fun I’ve had working on a guitar. So much so that I’ve had an Ibanez SHB for probably 5 years now - needing the pot wiring swapped.

I was going to do it one day but I had a root canal instead.

LeftyMeister
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Buckeye Country, USA

Tone is in the lingers
Mar 17th, 2019 05:47 PM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks for all of the advice! I have the electronics pulled and, as expected, they're cheap quality.

I'm having trouble finding the right pots online. I tried to fit a CTS pot through the F-hole but there's no way it will go. These pots are 3/8" in thread length but only 5/16" thread diameter. The body is significantly smaller than a CTS.

LeftyMeister
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Buckeye Country, USA

Tone is in the lingers
Mar 17th, 2019 06:11 PM   Edit   Profile  

I found them at guitarelectronics.com. The thread diameter is 3/8" so I may need to open up the holes slightly.

Bourns Mini Pot

wrnchbndr
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New Jersey

I'm back with the otters again
Mar 18th, 2019 09:24 AM   Edit   Profile  

Just last week I did a full component replacement on a '65 ES-335-12. After doing a hundred or so of these type of repairs -- it does get easier but I gotta say that this one was sort-of the first one in which all of the experience came together and I was able to apply all of the tricks and processes in a smooth continuous flow and get the job done properly with a factory quality result with no glitches, distractions, or sideways complications.

The real issue above everything else is strategy. You need to think like the assembly line manager at the factory. All of the tips and tricks are relevant but put yourself into mindset of what happens on an assembly line and understand that the poor idiot whose job it is to install the wiring harness is going to get fired if they take more than 5 minutes to install the harness. Get a pencil and paper and write down your sequence of events.

Remove the old wiring harness intact and invest into taking notes and snapping a few pics with your phone.

My respected colleague and friend Peegoo mentions many of the ways to duplicate the original process. Put yourself into the mindset of the original guy on the assembly line. The poor fella has a pile of prewired wiring harnesses. The wiring harness itself is part of the strategy. The length of the wires and orientation of the components is as important as everything else. Create a mockup of the guitars top using a sheet of cardboard and install the original wiring harness into it. See and understand how the harness sits within the guitar -- the visual of this is very valuable and the 5 minutes it takes to create the mockup pays off tenfold when putting it all together.

Make a second mockup of the guitar top and install the new components orienting them in the same way as the original. Going as far as securing the components with nuts and washers isn't a stupid idea.

DON'T FORGET THE GROUND WIRE TO THE BRIDGE OR THE TAILPIECE.

Make an exact copy of the original harness. Don't be tempted to lengthen the wires in the hope that it'll make the install easier. The original length of the wires was part of the original process to speed along the production line process. Do all of the soldering with the components installed in the mockup. The rigidity of the wires and the correct orientation of the components will assist you when you install everything in the guitar. If you don't have the original spec wire, order it from a supplier. There may be sections of wire that have heatshrink or insulation tubes between the components. Copy everything.

THINK LONG AND HARD ABOUT MAKING ANY MODIFICATIONS TO THE HARNESS. The original harness was purposefully designed to aid in the assembly of the guitar by clever people.

Write out the sequence of events when it comes time to install the harness into the guitar. On most guitars like this, it is possible or necessary to solder the pickups into the wiring harness before any of the components go into the guitar. With the harness still hanging out, connect it all to an amp and test that it all works. At this point, it just becomes a matter of strategizing which component goes in first and choosing the right method to steer it to its destination.



Peegoo
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Just beyond Mars

there's a world of fools
Mar 18th, 2019 09:44 AM   Edit   Profile  

"DON'T FORGET THE GROUND WIRE TO THE BRIDGE OR THE TAILPIECE."

Oh yeah, that bit me on the bee-hind more than once early on. Forget that step once or twice and it will guarantee you'll always remember it in the future.

Pain is the best teacher!

ejm

usa

Mar 18th, 2019 10:12 AM   Edit   Profile  

"Pain is the best teacher!"

Another way of putting it: Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.


Doc Sarvis
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Tuned Strings and Tight Lines
Mar 18th, 2019 10:56 AM   Edit   Profile  

My tech used a flexible claw tool on my ES335. I can change out pickups, pots, and switches but not on a semi-hollow!

Peegoo
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Just beyond Mars

there's a world of fools
Mar 18th, 2019 12:57 PM   Edit   Profile  

You can also get a really inexpensive 'endoscope' that plugs into your phone. These have a fixed focus and little LEDs to illuminate the view.

These are a huge help because you can set it in place and see proper orientation--unlike when using a mirror.

While you're in the guitar, always inspect for loose glue joints, damage, and cracked braces.

LeftyMeister
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Buckeye Country, USA

Tone is in the lingers
Mar 18th, 2019 05:15 PM   Edit   Profile  

I plan to reuse the existing harness and just replace the components. It's in really good shape.

Pic

(This message was last edited by LeftyMeister at 07:20 PM, Mar 18th, 2019)

Leftee
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VA

Toxic Humility
Mar 18th, 2019 06:03 PM   Edit   Profile  

I should sell this Ibanez and buy a 335. That way I wouldn’t have to mess with the wiring.

LeftyMeister
Contributing Member
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Buckeye Country, USA

Tone is in the lingers
Mar 18th, 2019 06:15 PM   Edit   Profile  

Ship it to me and I'll fix it for you.

Wait...let me finish this one first before I say that.

Mick Reid
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Australia

American-made in Oz!!
Mar 18th, 2019 06:33 PM   Edit   Profile  

"You can also get a really inexpensive 'endoscope'..."

"While you're in the guitar, always inspect for loose glue joints, damage, and cracked braces."

And polyps...


Leftee
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VA

Toxic Humility
Mar 18th, 2019 07:18 PM   Edit   Profile  

LOL

Peegoo
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Just beyond Mars

there's a world of fools
Mar 18th, 2019 07:22 PM   Edit   Profile  

Ew!


LeftyMeister, if you have any coaxial wires in that loom, I recommend using a hemostat, alligator clip, or some other heat sink when desoldering and making your new connections.

Most imports (and may domestic) guitars use cheap wire with a PVC jacket that does not handle heat very well. Get a wire just a bit too hot, and the insulation melts.

A clip-on heat sink will save your bacon because soldering the core or shield on coax often causes a short from center conductor to the shield.





LeftyMeister
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Buckeye Country, USA

Tone is in the lingers
Mar 18th, 2019 07:33 PM   Edit   Profile  

Good advice!

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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Who has modded a semi-hollowbody? How did you do it?




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