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My SG bass modding project

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by probert, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. probert


    Feb 25, 2009
    Dear TBler,

    Last year I found my first electric bass at my parent’s house, which I haven’t played (and seen) for about 6 years. Because it’s my first electrified instrument I decided to never part with it for sentimental reasons, but then again it needed serious setup and tuning to make it playable again. Besides from regular setup I thought that it may be an interesting project for modding, because as far as value goes, you can’t really ruin much here (street price of the epiphone SG is about 150 Euro, considering its condition I probably couldn’t make more than 80 Dollars on ebay). So in the end I decided to do the following:

    1) Take of the neck and defret it. The net is full of guides for it, varying in quality. I found two great resources with detailed descriptions and some tipps, so if you plan to do a defret yourself check them out:
    - The bass defret book (downloadable as pdf) from http://www.bassdefret.com, my main resource with great tipps
    - http://www.geocities.com/charlesarms/ a very nice online guide with pictures
    Both guides work with veneers to fill the slots of the frets. I did that too, because looking at pictures of other techniques (glue, wood filler) in the internet looked a lot messier. Many people are a bit frightened of doing it themselves, but I have to say it’s much easier than it looks you can don’t need to be a carpenter, but you have to be very careful an patient. It took me approx 8 hours for defreting, glueing in the veneers and planing the fretboard. Here some pictures of the result (before I did the last sanding with 400 grit paper):

    Attached Files:

  2. probert


    Feb 25, 2009
    The neck feels an plays very smooth now, you really can’t compare the feel of it to a fretted neck.

    2) After the neck was done I decided to change pickups. To replace the “mudbucker” I ordered a Dimarzio Model One pickup, but am still waiting for it to come (the store I ordered it had to import it from the states). Apart from that I decided to install a seymour Duncan quaterpound pickup, to match the high output of the neckpickup. As I really dig the P sound I decided to order the 51’ style single coil (not the split model). The next step was to carve out the cavity for the pickup, which I could do at my university with the great help my colleague Andi (thanks again at this point). If I hadn’t have the option to do it at my university I would have run into some trouble to do it myself, but I guess it’s doable by hand – the outcome may look a bit messy.
    3) After this was done it was time for finishing the neck and the body, applying wax to the body and good ol’ lemon oil to the neck. I also sanded the backside of the neck just a bit to get it roughed, because I don’t like the super slick necks. Usually epiphone guitars have quite a bit of lacquer applied to it .
    4) I placed the pin of the strap just under the place where the neck joins the body, to account for the head diving the SG bass is known for. After the modifications (no more frets, additional pickup and replacement of the strap button, suede strap) the head diving is no more noticeable (and I am quite picky about that).
    5) New strings (short scale D’addario roundwounds 0.45 gauche, maybe they are more aggressive to the fretboard, but then again I guess I can replane it if needed;) ). Neck adjustment (almost flat), bridge adjustment (low) and a first rough intonation check.
    6) still to do: I am waiting for the DiMarzio to arrive and after putting it in, I will to the final setup and it’s ready to go. But already now: With the SD on full and the mudbucker on half the sound is fabulous, deep, bassy but also very tight and not flabby at all.
    7) Here some pictures of the almost finished bass (however the looks will not change any more):

    Attached Files:

  3. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Awesome to see a fretless sg bass. Usually, Js are the target of defretting, which gets a bit old IMO. Nice work. Looks great!

    Make sure you post some audio files when you get the chance, ok? ;)
  4. LCW

    LCW Banned

    Mar 2, 2009
    thats pretty cool
  5. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford

    Feb 15, 2008
    About how long does a defret take?
  6. probert


    Feb 25, 2009
    well that really depends on the neck (long scale will take a little more I guess) and your crafting skills ;). It took me about one hour to remove the frets, another hour to prepare and glue in the veneer. After that I let it rest over the night and then spent two hours for the sanding of the board. So without the finish (I just used lemon oil, no epoxy or stuff like that) about 4 hours.
  7. aquamentus


    Apr 15, 2005
    Keokuk, IA
    Thank you for posting this. I defretted an OLP bass a while back and did a hack job at it. Thinking of picking it back up and spending some quality time with it.

    *OK, after posting this I spent an hour on this neck and thus far it's going awesome.*
  8. BluesDawg

    BluesDawg Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    Can you expound upon the strap pin placement a bit (or, even better, show a picture). I don't quite follow you. I have a Gibson SG bass reissue and it has just a little more neck dive than I like. I'm thinking if I could move the front strap pin just a bit to the left, the balance would be perfect. There's not a lot of meat there, though, so I want to be careful.
  9. probert


    Feb 25, 2009
    I moved the pin perpendicular to its original position (which was on the back of the body), just underneath where the neck joins the body. I will make a photo of it if not clear (just don't have no time now).
  10. BluesDawg

    BluesDawg Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks--when you get a chance, I would appreciate a photo.
  11. Why did you go with the single coil SD? You'll always have hum..
  12. VERY nice job on the defret. I defretted a P-special and used white styrene plastic strips to fill, but I wanted visible lines. Your approach worked nicely. Gluing back any rosewood chips that come loose takes time, doesn't it?

    And congratulations on your idea to use a '51 P pickup! I've never seen that pickup used in that application, and it looks pretty darn good.

    IMO you need a matching control knob for the third pot on the body.

    Nice work!
  13. probert


    Feb 25, 2009
    Hi guys thanks for your comments. I like the sound of 51 P pickup - it's quite twangy and thus blends in nicely with the mudbucker and the hum isn't really a problem for me, except when playing next to telly... the idea was stolen from some page on the web, where a guy used that puckup for his older Gibson EB0 and I wanted to give it a try + the routing for that pickup is much easier than for a split pup.
    Haven't had big problems with rosewood chips cause I did the following: use some tape on the fingerboard during defrett and
    aplying some wood glue to spots when needed before planing everything.
    Then again the whole defretting plus "veneering" and sanding took me a couple of hours...
    I didn't get the matching control knob, but maybe i'll find one. However I do like it the way it is.
    BTW I finally got a DiMarzio Model One (they didn't have any in stock in whole germany and had big troubles with DiMarzio to send them these pickups, so I had to wait for about three months. Problem is: DiMarzio Model One (and Will power) are the only replacement pickups for mudbuckers I heard of). And I changed to D'addario chromes, which had two effects: my fingerboard doesn't get destroyed and the sound changed for the bassier better.
  14. probert


    Feb 25, 2009

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