Lost pics, a headstock make over and pickup installs


Well, it’s been a while since we updated anything here, so let’s jump in.  But first I’d like to point out that the reason we haven’t updated anything is that we’ve been busy and keep forgetting the “before” picture. And to be honest, the before is usually as or more important than the after for this kind of stuff. Anyway, here’s some pictures to look at.

What you’re not seeing is that the top of the treble side of this Ovation’s headstock was missing when it came into the  shop. Seems it had an unfortunate accident that split the top very badly in two places, each about 6″ long. It was also separating it from it’s composite back in a few places.

First we glued and cleated the seams of the crack. The acrylic finish on these ovations is very hard but also brittle when hit hard enough. That meant that a lot of black finish was missing around these cracks. Since we were on a budget for this job, we sharpied the top wood and did a super glue drop fill.  We used enough Super Glue at one time that the fill-pool of glue started to smoke. Nasty stuff.  So we used our accelorator spray to instantly harden it, scraped it level and wet sanded.  We then sharpied with a fresh broad tip marker over the offending crack.  Since it was a big area to touch up, we used painter’s tape to make sure the touch up lines were clean and matched the grain lines.  The clean lines make the slight color mismatch a little more forgivable. It just wasn’t in the cards to have the top refinished, and this looked a heck of a lot better than it sounds.

Now for the headstock.  Our customer said the headstock was the least of his concerns, but he brought it to the wrong place if he didn’t want it handled with at least a little effort.  Wait, that didn’t come out right. Anyway, I don’t know how to backspace with this voice recongnition software. Um, so here we are gluing a piece of pale mystery wood to his headstock to start the reconstruction process. I had a piece of a 1″x3″ from another project that did the trick. We glued it on at the best angle we could, shaped it and used some wood filler for the rest. Now the back of this USA-made ovation’s headstock shows the 5-piece neck construction with the missing part being mahogany. Next we use some mahogany veneer from the tip of the headstock down to the tuner. We can’t sand the veneer flush as it loses it’s grain after a few passes of 600 grit paper. So we conceal the edge witht the tuner. It still looks a heck of a lot better than staining and faux graining. Next we shape the rest of the headstock and overspray that little ledge at the end of Ovation’s headstock. We’re hiding the 5-ply edge as it was before, instead concealing the repair with Golden Oak lacquer.

After staining the edges to blend it with the veneer, it looked pretty good. Wish this was the finished picture. Just imagine it smoothed out nicely and less “in-progress”.  You have a great imagination. It did look that good.  Now go get yourself a refreshing drink. This blog will still be here when you get back.

Here we are after polishing it all up.  From 300 feet away, you can’t tell the difference.

What next. Oh I know. While doing a pickup install and electronics overhaul in a customer’s Strat, he mentioned that we never put one of his all-timers in our blog.

This is Mike S’s heavily moddified Jazz Bass.  And I mean heavy. Probably 12-13 lbs.  It features Fender Custom 60’s Jazz pickups, series/parallel switching, a blend pot, master volume and tone controls. The series/parallel was a little tricky with the blend pot, but that’s what the internet’s for. I ended up finding a guy’s napkin drawing on a discussion board.  Thanks Google!

This is an older production Kahler bass trem that Mike got on ebay. We’re a Kahler dealer, but this was before they were back in the trem business. Transitioned to golf clubs for a while if my memory is right (I’m not kidding).  I remember them being very helpful even when they weren’t producing trems for a while. Nice guys, sent us some parts a long time ago for a repair. Maybe even the router template. Anyway, I guess that means this job was done years ago. But still, it deserves the attention only modern blogging can provide.

We had to put a support under the lip of this 24 fret fingerboard to support Mike’s tapping style.

I think the neck is a Warmouth and it has a super flat radius.

Of course it has a Hipshot Drop D tuner.  It has to. Mike’s a heck of a good player and really gets the most out of all of the features on here with his aggressive style.  Now onto a guitar that’ll get similar treatment from him…

Alright, now were back to undocumented work. No pics, but here’s what we’ve got. That’s a Gibson Firebird pickup, DiMarzio Area 67 middle and a Gibson Classic ’57 Plus bridge bucker.  He’s also sporting the G&L PTB system with passive bass cut to go along with the traditional tone pot. This way he can tame either humbucker without losing too much volume or adding noise.  Also, his volume control is push/pull to activate the neck/bridge combo. Some folks call that 7-way switching when added to a conventional 5-way.  He’s also all -graphited up with saddles, nut and string trees for tuning stability. Also, yes there’s more, he has a Hipshot TremSetter installed for even more reliable trem use.  And it all works like a charm. It stays in tune even under the worst conditions, like Castrol motor oil.

Hey man, that Tele has too many knobs. I heard you say that. Don’t worry, it’s just an active gain boost. WHAT!!! in a tele? That’s ludicrous.  No man, it’s great! This American Tele was upgraded with Duncan’s Classic Stack for Tele (STK-T3B for bridge and STK-T-1N) set.  Jim wanted a noiseless set of pickups that would give him a little more output but still deliver the Tele sound he as after. He’s a Strat guy and has all of his guitars outfitted with Vintage Noiseless or Samerium Cobalt Noiseless pickups and, most importantly for him, the EMG Afterburner active gain boost. It lets him overdrive his clean tone at whim and is completely variable from totally transparent to a roar.  Great for blues jams when dynamics is key.  Anyway, that’s what the 3rd knob is.  But the Afterburner requires a 9-volt and he didn’t want a battery compartment cut into the back. So, as we do with his strats, we hide it. For a Strat style with a trem, you can do like Fender does with the Eric Clapton and hide it next to the springs in the back.  But for a tele, we figured under the guard worked best.

So we cut a big enough cavity to fit the 9-volt. But we realized that his neck pickup is mounted to the guard which would make quick changes a hassle. So we decided to mount the pickup direct to the body like a 50’s Tele. Note the screw holes in the neck cavity. We just put the pickguard back and drilled through the adjustment screw holes to line up. Simple.

Now he can remove a few screws and slide the guard away to change the batter every 6 months or so. Battery changes are very infrequent as this unit has a really low draw. Everyone should have an Afterburner.

Here’s the Afterburner in the ‘engaged’ position. It’s a push/pull pot and only works when pulled up. You can leave it pulled up and just dial in the amount of boost you want. Even when engaged, if the knob is all the way off, it’s completely transparent. There’s no kick when you just pull it up. Awesome preamp that adds humbucker beef and beyond to any singlecoil guitar. Definitely recommended with some sort of noiseless pickup like the Duncan Stacks or the DiMarzio Area series. We’ve gotten amazing results with these.

We had so many cool jobs lately, but always forget to take pictures. Maybe next week.

Thanks for watching.  Oh, and I know all of those Ovation pictures are missing. They’re on the hard drive at the shop. I’ll update this on Monday. Sorry. At least I had some pics on my phone.

Anyway, remember to be kind to one another. And buy a G&L guitar. I think that’s it. Click here to see our great selection of G&L guitars.  And don’t forget to run it through a Tech 21 amp.  And you know, for acoustics, these new Washburns are tough to beat. We LOVE them. And be kind to one another.


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