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 Post subject: 2259 restoration project
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:47 am 
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Location: New Jersey
The electronics on this one are all OK but it's really a mess cosmetically. The pictures don't really capture it's spectacular beat-ness. I hope to fix most of that by a refinish. 2 sets of treble side tuners have to go. I can't find the right tuner bushings so far (8mm od) so the keystones I bought are in limbo. I prefer not to ream the headstock so I'll keep looking for the right size for a while. A little binding repair on the headstock, wood filler by the input jack and tuner screws, and a new cavity cover will get the job done. The nut is a problem as well - it seems to be an oddball for length and string spacing. I may have to get one cut for that. I haven't seen this type bigsby on Electra's before but it seems to be original. I know how much everyone likes pictures - so here they come.

Before shots.
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After removing hardware
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For such a beat to hell body, the neck is in surprisingly good shape and I'll leave that alone. I'm a little hesitant about removing it but I guess I really should in order to work on the body. A small test with spray on stripper did very little finish removal so I think the heat gun comes out today. Any pointers on the project will be gratefully accepted.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:09 am 
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Whoa, looks like someone tried to do a Pete Townshend at Woodstock on that SG look-alike there... and the headstock looks like Swiss cheese from the back! So is the front over the control cavity salvageable? What finish are you going for, see-through or opaque? This should be a good restore to watch, thanks for posting Jead.

P.S. is the Serial Number readable? Would like to know how close it is to the one I've got in bound.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:43 am 
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It has lots of "mojo" haha. I think the top is just finish cracking but it does have me concerned. If it is just finish then I want to go with a see through. I'm hopeful that 90% of the bangs will disappear when stripped down and that a good deal of the others can be lightly sanded out. It doesn't need to be perfect but it can be a lot better than it is and I think it's definitely worth the effort. I think the serial is obliterated but I'll give it a good look today under natural light. If I have to re-stain and seal it - I will.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:35 am 
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The picture of the top with the route showing illustrates some NICE potential, really great looking wood if you ask me. Personally I think Bigsby's are next to useless, you move the bar three inches and the pitch barely changes. Any thoughts about putting a stop bar on there and letting even more wood show through? Again, I really like the see-through Red Finish showing the Mahogany. This is going to be a great project, thanks for taking it on, Mike.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 2:37 pm 
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I'm not crazy about bigsby's either but I think I'll leave it. It's one less thing for me to screw up. :-? :roll: The heat gun did a real good job of taking off the finish - actually too good. There seemed to be a lot of sanding sealer or similar material in all kinds of different places on the body and in the end I really had no choice but to bring it down to bare wood. Heat gun to palm sander worked well. I believe bare wood is going to be the right choice by far. Most of the body is stripped down except for the inside of the horns and a bit of stubborn stuff on the bottom by the strap button. The cracks by the control cavity on top did go through to the wood but they were surface cracks and sanded out - big sigh of relief! There is a crack from inside the control cavity through to the outside bottom of the body but it seems very solid. I think I'll probably smear wood glue on it or maybe the thin super glue. I'm not concerned about it. I removed the binding from around the headstock and it came away pretty clean. The neck binding seems very fragile and a small piece right at the headstock end of the fretboard disappeared. I hope to piece in a replacement. I don't really want to replace the neck binding because it seems to be cut in around the frets. I don't know how that's done unless it's melted around the frets. Anyone know how that's done?
Here's todays work - a little more than 5 hours worth. No sign of the serial number at all Mike. I may have to pull the studs to really get a uniform staining surface. I hope not.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:07 pm 
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That was Fast! The control area cleaned up really nicely, congrats. This is more than I'd ever try to tackle, good luck with the binding. I bet that body weighs about 1.7 pounds now with no hardware or paint on it! Salute, Mike.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:41 pm 
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:up: Thats one nice slab of wood you have there now. Great Job on getting the finish off.Who would have ever guessed that the wood would look that nice underneath. I like the stock finish alot also but I think this one would look great in natural or stained finish. Will be watching to see the progress. Nice work and glad there was no major wood damage or cracks. :up:

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:31 am 
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I'm leaning towards the original color for the finish because the neck will hopefully remain untouched. I'm not a big fan of poly finishes but they're hard to beat protection wise and much faster and easier than lacquer or nitro. The nice thing about tearing down a guitar like this are the options it opens up. I could go with any color and any finish, convert to a stop tail or string through, and I can shield the pickup and control cavities much more effectively with the guts removed.

I'd like to hear what everyone out there in Electra land thinks.
What color/finish should I go with?
Bigsby or stop tail? String thru?
Chrome Tuners or Pearloid/Ivory?
Clear Plexi or Black Control cavity cover?


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:13 am 
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For what it's worth here are my chioces:
1. Natural finish or stained finish
2. Stop tail
3. No string Thru
4.Ivory or pearloid tuners
5. Black covers
6. Bone or plastic nut

The Bigsby is nice but I prefer the stop tail SG. The Bigsby offers subtle bends and tone changes but is less comfortable to play than a stoptail. can't wait to see this one. :up:

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:29 am 
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Well you already know I prefer the way the stop-tails work and look... but I understand that means buying more parts and carving into the body even more, so that's up to you man.

Definitely prefer the see-through Red finish, it's just such a natural fit with Mahogany, show it off! It is really common though, so if you were going for another look, don't listen to me.

I'm not a big fan of the plastic 'keystone' tuners, but that is what they (and Gibbys) came with, do as you see fit.

Black control cover.


How are you going to get the finish off in those tight areas? Mike.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:26 am 
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I think the Red see through is a slam dunk. I believe I have alp jr tailpiece and studs lying around so I need to really mull that over. 99% of the time the bigsby wouldn't even be touched - since I have the screw holes, I'm leaning towards sticking it back on. It will function fine as a stop tail. The single ring Gotoh keystones are decent and would look pretty accurate but I do prefer Grovers overall - I just don't think the Grovers would like right. I have clear plexi on hand and I was just at my Home Depot and they did not have any black in stock so I'm going to go ahead with the clear and probably use it as a template when the black comes in.

To get rid of the finish inside the horns I'm going to soak it in zip strip a few times, scrape, and then hand sand. I'm surprised at how quickly the mahogany sands. It seems quite soft. A belt sander would be taking a huge chance. The palm sander has been good since it doesn't cut anywhere near as deep and has a bit of an orbital action. A drum sanding attachment for a drill would be perfect for inside the horns but since I don't have one, I'll hand sand.

If I ever get started today I'll pull the bridge studs, sand off the horns and then go over the whole body with wood filler. I have some epoxy to build up the tear out by the input jack a bit. I'll try to have that recessed so I can patch in with woodfiller and mahogany sawdust/glue mixture on top.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:10 am 
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The problem with the Bigsby (or at least the one on mine...) is that it will drift and not necessarily come back to the same exact spot, sometimes even if I'm just bending strings... I do not see a way of tightening or locking it down, and I'll probably learn to live with it, but just not using it doesn't completely take it out of the equation.

Lots of people put Grovers on their Gibsons. This was super popular in England, in fact some of the mega relic Jimmy Page Tribute guitars literally have the Kluson holes in the headstock with the chrome Grovers installed over them for that authentic look. So I wouldn't worry about looks man... go with what you like!

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 1:40 pm 
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proendorser wrote:
The problem with the Bigsby (or at least the one on mine...) is that it will drift and not necessarily come back to the same exact spot, sometimes even if I'm just bending strings... I do not see a way of tightening or locking it down, and I'll probably learn to live with it, but just not using it doesn't completely take it out of the equation.

Lots of people put Grovers on their Gibsons. This was super popular in England, in fact some of the mega relic Jimmy Page Tribute guitars literally have the Kluson holes in the headstock with the chrome Grovers installed over them for that authentic look. So I wouldn't worry about looks man... go with what you like!


It's not like I don't already have enough holes in the headstock. :lol: I like the looks of the Keystones so they'll go on. If I can find a blueprint for an SG body I think it might be smart to put a stop tail in and bid sayonara to the knock off bigsby. More research. YAY! I got the horns cleared out of finish and what a pain that was. First I tried hand sanding after multiple coats of Zip strip. No good. Then I tried sandpaper wrapped around a soda can - meh, sandpaper around water bottle - meh, and then the light went on. Dremel and little sanding barrel. Worked great. I'll need to smooth out the insides by hand a bit but the finish is gone. Wood filler revealed more pores in the body than I thought. Sanded to 150 - tomorrow to 320 and done with that part. I did lay in the epoxy to try and repair the input jack area. Tomorrow I'll drill and fill with the glue sawdust mixture and hope for the best. I'm semi-optimistic that the repair will be invisible when its done. (crosses fingers).

Todays pictures.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:12 pm 
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Great work so far Jead-but be very careful,it's extremely addictive...soon you won't be able to pass up any orphan you see!
I'm with Pro on the Bigsby,especially with stock tuners...not very reliable for keeping tune,almost have to lift arm to return to pitch while playing-my vote for stoptail-screw holes easily filled,stained and blended since you are bare wood already
The finish originally was classic,maybe grain fill,red mahogany stain,tru-oil finish
Go with better tuners if it's gonna be a player,makes a huge difference to my ear
All depends if you are keeping to play or are going to resell-as original as possible if reselling,build to taste if she's gonna be a player.
Good luck and keep the pics comin'
Joe :oops:

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:35 pm 
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Great job this far. That was not an easy task and all I did was watch. That is far past my level for certain. The wood looks very nice and once done will clean up nicely and look good as new. If I put this much sweat and labor in I would never get rid of it and would make it a player as I see fit. After all we do need alternative sounds to our Electras every now and again. Make it a screaming rocker or a smooth blues player whichever you decide. It's going to look great. :up: :up:

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