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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 8:09 am 
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A couple years back, I was idly scrolling through the listings for Electras on eBay (c'mon, you know you do it too!), when I came across this totally stripped down and gutted old MPC Omega:

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I regret not having taken pictures at the time it was delivered to me: the above shot represents a whole lotta elbow grease already expended. Perhaps I can be forgiven for just diving right in with the sanding, as I recall thinking to myself when the guitar arrived, "Oh my, what have I gotten myself into here?"

You see, the guitar was supposed to be structurally OK, but all parts had been removed, and a previous owner had also attempted an amateurish refinish. This putting it lightly, folks -- the original paint job had been stripped, which would be fair enough as a first step in a refinishing process, but then fake flames had been painted on with what appeared to be, I dunno, it could have been fingerpaints. And not flames like from a fire, which could have even been kinda cool looking, if you're into that, but no -- the maple figuring had been covered up by paint intended to look like maple figuring. Egads!

And the back was even worse. There was some kind of nasty epoxy-like substance covering a significant area. The back of the neck was also painted (poorly), besides also having a fair number of nicks and gouges, and neck binding was missing on the entire bass side all the way around the headstock.

But on the bright side, I had me a platform: 30+ yr old wood, in the form of a set-neck Les Paul. So far I was only $150 in for the guitar husk, which also included a bag containing the original tuners (green and terribly pitted, no grommets), a probably non-original bridge in terrible shape, the MPC cavity cover (with that little round doodad that holds it in place), and a beat-up jackplate.

Since Neil Young has always been one of my fave players/writers/singers (yeah, I actually LIKE his voice!), I was thinking, hey, why not fashion me a guitar like his? And since my only other electric at the time was my Invicta, heck, they'd be like brothers. Not matter that the paint job was all FUBAR, since I was thinking of just spray-painting it black to look like Old Black. Well, as I started scraping off that epoxy and sanding off that bumpy paintjob, it occurred to me that it might just be worthwhile to learn something about woodworking/finishing in the process, if only not to make the same kinds of mistakes that the previous owner had made.

Time for some research, during which I turned up the tutorials and forum at the Guitar Reranch. OK, I was on the right track, as any kind of refin demands good prep work. The funny thing was, as I sanded and sanded and sanded some more (part of the fun, I thought, would be to do everything by hand, no power tools :blush: ), I started to uncover the beauty of the wood. The actual maple flame of the veneer top came into view.

Time to reassess goals. Cover that beautiful wood in black paint? Nah -- and as a matter of fact I've always gravitated toward natural finishes. And as that thinking evolved, so too my plans for the fitting of the hardware and electronics. From the get-go, it was going to get a Bigsby, like Old Black, and like Old Black, pickups would be P90 neck and Firebird bridge. But wait -- there's all that extra room in the empty MPC cavity. Leave it empty? Mount springs like a Strat trem cavity just for the extra resonance? Hmmm…

Point is, I had plenty of time to think as I continued sanding, and sanding some more. Time passed, and I had to leave the project alone for a while as I had taken a job abroad, which turned into the couple years I mentioned at the start of this post. Returning home a few months ago, I was able to begin anew, and with a much clearer but very different idea about how I wanted the guitar to turn out. I'm abroad again, maybe permanently this time, but the work continues, and I've got just about all the parts etc I'll need to make this old Omega into something truly unique yet also true to its origins.

Apologies for the rambling nature of this post, and for its teasing nature. I am waiting on a day off from work to coincide with good weather so I can take new photos of the guitar in its present state -- the wood refinish is nearly done, and I've got mocked up all the hardware minus pickups and electronics -- which I hope to post to this thread in the coming days. In the meantime, though, since I know y'all like pictures, here are some more shots of the guitar I made up to the point when I began the staining etc.:

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If you look closely, you can see where the new binding (installed by a local luthier) meets the older binding at the high-E side of where the nut would be.

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Obviously a laminated top. Still at this stage vestiges of the original finish are visible between the fingerboard and neck pickup rout.

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Neck seems straight enough, though I'm still a little leery about the condition of the truss rod. I will be relying on the expertise of a pro luthier to help with setup and nut work, so hopefully he will be able to assess this and deal with any issues.

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Despite some gouging in the fretboard, frets and abalone inlays are in decent shape.

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No sign of a stamped serial as per my Invicta, nor were there any model number stickers to be found in the cavities.

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Thankfully, the brass sustain block was included in the sale.

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The hollowed out MPC cavity. Is the extra battery-sized rout on the right intended for storage of an extra 9V?

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Sanding nearly complete, along with plugs in stop tail holes.

Watch this space for updates, coming soon! And stay tuned for the revelation of the Grand Plan I've been hatching for the MPC space... 8)


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 8:52 am 
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Will be watching this one always good to see an old forgotten Electra brought back to like again.

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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 1:09 pm 
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Looks like a fun project. Keep us posted. One point though, Omegas did not come with MPC.

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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 5:14 pm 
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yyzrondo wrote:
Omegas did not come with MPC.


I was hoping someone might be able to give a more informed guess as to what the original model designation was. After going through countless descriptions in the archive I must have gotten confused.
So, X330?


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 5:38 pm 
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MPC LP style models were x310, x320, x330, x340, x350. 310 was Black, 320 Transparent Red, 330 cherry sunburst, 340 Jacaranda Rosewood, 350 Antique sunburst.

The most logical ones that yours could be are the x330 and x350 because of the wood grain. Although the black and red ones were painted, they still could have had good figured woods. The only one that it is not is the x340 because yours is not rosewood.Image
Picture is from Electrafest 2012 and are owned by that years host Guitrials.

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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 7:01 pm 
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8) From the remaining colors from the neck joint and pickup cavity my vote goes for the X330 Sunburst MPC. :up:

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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 7:43 am 
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mortarman120gang11c wrote:
8) From the remaining colors from the neck joint and pickup cavity my vote goes for the X330 Sunburst MPC. :up:


agreed. really obvious from the MPC cavity pics.

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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 5:43 am 
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Good weather today, so when I got home from work I shot these photos of the work in progress.
Just a mock up with hardware minus pickups still, and cavity covers and trc still need screwing in, but a darn sight better than before if I do say so myself:
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After sanding to 400 grit, applied stewmac medium brown stain, after which a few coats of truoil, some wetsanding, and voila! There's still some thinking to do regarding the knobs/controls. Black and white will be volumes for respective pickups, and the two concentrics will be for passive treb/bass cut tone.

It's the effects, see, which will determine what happens to the other holes -- and there's a good chance that a couple more will need drilling if all goes according to my master plan. <laughs maniacally/>

I'll let you speculate as to what that might be. In the meantime, I've some work to do before posting more updates. Thanks for the words of encouragement so far! :up:
:D


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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 6:10 am 
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Very smoky. Looking nice so far. I like the look of the truss rod cover too.

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PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 10:14 am 
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8) Nice job on this one. I like the way the finish looks and the way the flame top looks in natural. This one will be a looker when you are done and will have the mojo andstory to go with it.Thanks for the photos. :up:

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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 2:22 am 
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Thanks for the encouraging words, everyone!

Work and other responsibilities have been and will likely continue to keep progress confined to starts and spurts, though I do hope to have at least "phase 1" of the project up and running by the end of July. This will mean pickups and vol/tone circuits installed, as well as having the nut/bridge/action properly set.

Phase 2 is where the real challenge lies: The plan is to stuff the innards of a couple effects pedals into the MPC cavity and wire the controls to switches/knobs on the face of the guitar. I've been doing a lot of reading about electronics, specifically regarding pedal effects, and collecting the parts. I think I can get 2 or 3 PCBs and/or vero boards into the space, and have no qualms about adding a hole or 3 to the top to accommodate extra controls and LEDs.

So far, I've got a couple kits from BYOC -- analog chorus and germanium boost -- to build (as pedals) for practice. The effect I really wanted to build into the guitar the most was their Armstong Twin, a clone of the Orange Squeezer compressor and Green Ringer octaver. This kit was unfortunately discontinued, although they do still offer the PCB and some of the parts, so I was able to order a la carte from them and Small Bear using the parts checklist in the pdf instructions. With any luck I'm not missing any!

So, the question for you forumites is this: what 2nd effect would you choose to build into the guitar? Keeping in mind that these won't be modular (can't pop them in and out without some surgery). The famous Electra distortion circuit? Boost? Fuzz? I'll be tending toward effects that work well early in the signal chain, so no reverb and chorus, but I'd still be curious to know what y'all think.


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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 5:59 am 
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8) Phase Shifter gets my vote or maybe a tube screamer. :up:

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2015 8:15 am 
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I'd love to see finished product on this one. Any updates?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2015 11:06 am 
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Same here!


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:45 pm 
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Im in on this one also........


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