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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 8:07 pm 
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New project - X150 liberated from a local pawn shop, about a block from where Electrafest 2014 was held this year! I never had been in the place, but a guy that I recently repaired amps for called me because he knew I am into electras. Well, more or less he texted me the picture. Thanks man. :up:

Now about the X150 - it appears to be mostly original. Electronics seems to be there. I spent tonight mostly cleaning and polishing. It has it's share of dings, but it isn't bad. It has the built in boost/EQ - the board is all there and nothing visibly fried on it. Shot cleaner in stuff. Removed the rings to reveal two MMK 45s - just what they should be. Main things i see that are not right now are it does not have the brass knobs (has speed knobs), it is missing the brass nut and has a conventional one there, as well as it is missing the battery compartment metal cover (it has the control section cover). I cleaned it all up, cleaned the board, polished the frets, dropped the action a lot (needs a little tweaking at the nut and the intonation needs to be checked as well as just to plug it in and see what it does.

Image

Anyone have the knobs? Or suggest a near-correct-replacement. GFS for instance has a 60s flat style brass tele knobs they sell I think in pairs.

No one is going to have a battery cavity cover.

The brass nut, not sure it I am so concerned over having that or not.

Yes, they are all longshots.

Kind of disappointed at how off the pickup's pole pieces were - how they spacing of the strings seems rather wide but the pickups seem narrow - but they ARE the right ones - all the wiring looks kosher. Later MMK45s were spaced differently by position weren't they? These don't appear to be. But I am only looking and have not measured.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:23 am 
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Got to actually plug in and try it today. It plays pretty good (not finished with setup). At first the electronics did not work. But with a little coaxing and some deoxit, I was able to get the switches all working and all the functions going. How useful? Well - what others have said sort of sums it up. I think maybe it there is a little more use than some have suggested. There is a useful boost when enabled with a tube amp at the edge of distortion and not a lot of headroom. It gave me a nice bit of overdrive on my 60s EKO Prince Riverb (a 1x12 2xEL84 amp - prob 15w or so). It is subtle compared to current pedals that usually are over the top, but still useful.

Now just some more setup tweaking, putting a battery cover on, and maybe that is it - unless I find the right battery cover, some closer brass knobs, and maybe a brass nut - but I may just leave it like it is and try to enjoy it. I keep wondering if it would sound better with an F spaced Dimarzio Super Distortion or a Trem-spaced Duncan JB - Those MMK 45 poles are not even under the strings. I should not let that bother me - but it does! I should just leave it as stock as possible - every thing works and it plays well. It is a nice piece. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:16 am 
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Yay, you!! That looks to be in OK nick, too!!

OK... knobs; I think you will just have to watch eBay for knobs or a donor guitar, though I think Armadillo Guitars made some replicas a while ago?
Westone used then early on, as did Vantage....

The battery cover; the one on my VA900 is anodised aluminium and I'm picking a standard size; just make one!

I'd be smacking the brass nut on so fast it'd make your head spin; I like them that much, and I certainly wouldn't be worrying about the pole pieces not lining up directly under the strings - some of mine do, some... not so much; I just play 'em and enjoy 'em!!

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 10:31 am 
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I looked up those armadillo knobs, and they look spot on, but it would cost me $60 for them! That is a lot for just some knobs. I did a search for them online, some used ones under the usual suspects - and found nada right now. I have found some cheaper ones I am willing to try that look close (but don't cost $60!).

I also found a source for a brass nut that looks to be identical to the ones I have on my other Electras (although those were MPC style guitars I think the brass nut is the same). I sent the seller a specific question, and if he answers correctly I'll order it.

On the cover - are you saying make one out of anodized aluminum? Never worked with it nor would know where to get the right color. I found a place that does that, but they only work in black anodized aluminum. I also located a place called Anotone in Chicago that does some really cool anodized pickguards and parts (really cool stuff!) - so I will send a photo and check with them. I know they can do it, but again, may be an expense issue.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:25 pm 
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Yeah, mate; just make one out of thin aluminium plate and paint it with a thin wash or two of gold or find a piece of thin anodised plate of the right colour or close enough - most aluminium fabricators have offcuts lying about that they'll sell you for pennies - and have at it! :D

Gee.... Armadillo know how to charge, eh!? $20 apiece.... mind you, it was a limited run, I suppose, but.....

From memory, the nut is a standard size? Well, the ones I have here are all the same size, eh! :lol:

I like this one, John; it needs to be thrashed a little.... :D

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 4:13 pm 
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That pickup thing? Yeah the bridge hardware on the 81's were wider than the pole pieces. My first X150 had that issue on the treble pickup. Also sometimes the bridges were a slight bit off center. My high E string was closer to the edge of the fingerboard than low E. As quality control issues, a lot of that stuff is noticeable on some of the guitars. It is obvious that the guitars had a lot of hand made aspects to them. It seems that if the drill hole got started 1/16th" off, they just went with it. Especially the neck plates.

The X150 is really a good specimen for judging the symmetry of the hardware and pickup installation. The stripes really accentuate the placement of those items. The 1986 Westone Spectrum ST I own seems to have no defects like that, so the QC must have tightened up over those years.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:21 pm 
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Progress report, got the brass nut in and installed it today. darn those are a pain in the rear to do right. Took a long time.

Knobs on the way, but likely a week or two out.

Cut a plastic cover to use until I can find some gold anodized pieces that match this. I will paint the plastic gold. It will look OK - but wish I had the original.

Neck is lined up well. The strings really cover every bit of that neck, meaning if it was not lined up just right one of the E strings would be off the side of the neck. That bridge is really wide (as you said or implied) and that bridge pickup is probably 50MM spacing (old gibson spacing) - but I am not sure a 52MM spaced trem or fender spaced pickup would even match in that bridge position. It is pretty wide. But NO ONE was doing that back then I guess, or at least this particular one didn't this year. Later models did have wide spaced MMKs in the bridge didn't they? I thought they did. Just don't know when that started.

It is pretty close - just a few tweaks here and there and it will be done! Thanks guys for the good suggestions.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 10:50 am 
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As an owner of three X150s and an X149, I get so conflicted about the different "eras" of these guitars.

I like the peace sign logo enough to seek out guitars that have it --- but man, I HATE those 1980/1981 bridges. I find it impossible to believe that Tom did anything other than just find the cheapest brass hardware out there and use it.

The late '81 bridge and after is infinitely better, and you get better string spacing, but you don't get the peace sign.

Can't have it all, I guess!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:02 pm 
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Here it is now, with the brass nut and the battery compartment cover. I used black pick guard material for the back and sprayed it gold to match. I am delighted at how closely it matches - given the texture and finish is different, the color is really close. Nothing most people would be able to pick unless they had a closeup. I still don't have the knobs, those are still likely a week or two out. But besides the knobs and a little tweaking I consider it done. I invited a friend over and he quickly pointed out every single flaw (that is what anal-retentive friends are for) but hey, it is not mint at all, but it is still really good. I'd say it is a lot better than most guitars I find that age. Now it looks right, and is about as close as I can make it, and all the serious stuff is original.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 5:34 am 
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Looking good. minty s nice but you have to wonder why a 30+ year old guitar would be minty. There are people who keep them that way but not many. Frequently it is because there was something wrong. Sometimes fixable, sometimes not. I like a well played instrument.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 5:14 am 
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Great job on the plate! :up:

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 5:44 am 
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Thanks! :D

I got lucky - the gold paint I had turned out to be well matched.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 5:48 pm 
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If you ever decide to let it go, you know who to call!


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:17 pm 
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Haven't you already got some of these, Jack?! :lol:

An active Spectrum/Phoenix would be on my to-do list, along with an FX/X199 set neck, but these days, I'm afraid, they cost more than I'm prepared to pay for what was really a budget instrument - albeit a very good quality one! - and shipping kills most overseas deals for me these days!

Looks good, Thorny; what'd ya do about the knobs?

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:21 am 
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I ordered some flat top gold tele knurled style knobs from hongkong off of ebay - they appear to have a similar look and are inexpensive. They will get me pretty close - a flat top tele style knob - somewhat close to the originals. They were scarcely more than plastic speed knobs. If they turn out to be stinkers, I didn't lose too much. I can throw them in the parts pile and use them somewhere. The flat top tele knobs in brass or gold are pretty close - they generally look "right". Certainly better than plastic gold speed knobs.

Your mentioned armadillo making the repro knobs - and I looked them up. You were right, they looked like near perfect repros (from memory). But it would cost $60 to replace the knobs on this (they only sold them in pairs and at $30 a pair) plus probably more to ship than it did for the knobs I am getting from ebay. If I only needed a pair I probably would have done that. Cost is always a consideration. Either knob is a repro when it comes down to it, just the Armadillo ones were a lot closer (and better). But a knob is a knob, and cosmetic. The exception is the switchmaster, which has some additional functionality built into it. I might get lucky and find some more afford-ably on ebay someday. I might get lucky and find the real thing.

Yep, Jack's got a few - but what's a few more? Jack - you have a warehouse somewhere full of these phoenixes don't you? :rofl:

Here is a link to the knobs I am using:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/4-pieces-For-Fender-Tele-Style-Guitar-1-4-034-Dome-Knobs-Flat-Top-Gold-Push-On-GFT-/331321957910?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2047675.l2557&nma=true&si=cSCK652h0CXbcpa1EMvHsEKUZwo%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

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