Restoring a Guitar Need Advice

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Restoring a Guitar Need Advice

Postby Larry Marchino » Fri May 09, 2014 12:50 pm

I am restoring/repairing an old Custom Kraft guitar from the 1960s. The guitar was under a bed when a house burned back in the 60s. It got so hot that the plastic buttons on the tuners were melted. The finish on the head and neck was badly blistered, but not burned. The body of the guitar is in remarkably good shape considering, but the binding is a little more yellowed than would be normal for a 50 year old guitar and the finish was very dirty from smoke damage. The neck is attached with screws so that makes it easy to work on. After the fire it was disassembled and the fingerboard removed from the neck for later repair and it has been sitting in a box since. It was not an expensive guitar when new, but it is an exact duplicate of my first guitar that I got in 1963 and I'm finding it to be a fun project. So far I have cleaned and replaced the buttons on the tuners and have striped the finish from the neck to be refinished (or I may decide to make a whole new neck). I have cleaned and polished the body of the guitar. (Normal guitar polish wouldn't touch the smoke that was baked on and has set for all these years. I found that tooth paste applied with elbow grease had just enough abrasive to clean up the finish.) I don't want to put a lot of money into this project, but I am going to put in all new electronics. I have some used single coil Gretsch pickups I plan to use. I am fairly handy and not a novice at working on guitars or general woodwork (I have replaced a truss rod before and I have put TV Jones pickups on my 6120DSW). But, I am a novice at knowing what components to use for guitar wiring. I have read what I have been able to find regarding wiring a standard 2 pickup four knob Gibson Style system - which this is.

Now for my questions: The standard Gibson style wiring kit I'm considering comes with four 500k pots for use with humbuckers, but I have read that usually 250k pots are used with single coil pickups. The info I've read also says that you can use either depending on the sound you want but that the 500k pots produce more treble. Should I just use the 500k pots or get all 250k pots? Should I use 250k pots for one pickup and 500k for the other or is it not advisable or possible to mix them? If I did use one of each which one for which pickup? Or can you use a 500k for volume and a 250k for tone or vice versa. What else do I need to be thinking about? I know there are some very knowledgeable readers on this board so I am hoping for some advice. If these are stupid questions please forgive me. As I said I am a novice when it comes to electronics. Thanks in advance for any and all advice, suggestions and further education on the topic.
Larry Marchino
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Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:15 pm

Re: Restoring a Guitar Need Advice

Postby Tompicks » Sat May 10, 2014 12:05 am


Your post reminds me of how much we miss Paul Yandell here; this is a post I am thinking he might have addressed thoughtfully.

Tom Redmond
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Re: Restoring a Guitar Need Advice

Postby Norm » Sat May 10, 2014 10:40 am

no such thing as a stupid question...

When considering the tone ouput of the two pots look at it this way... I'm pretty sure the one that gives you the most highs is the one that lets the pickup do its business. In a passive circiut (no battery) your tone control knobs cut back the highs. They sound like they're "boosting the bass" but all they're doing is cutting back the highs.

As for mixing them, that would be an interesting project. The parts involved aren't prohibitively expensive so if you can solder decently give them a try.

Chet liked to have a beefier pickup at his bridge on his D'Angelico and hsi 59 and as pointed out elsewhere he liked to run his guitars full out and control his volume at the amp

Think about those points. I wish I could be more help but I never dabbled in anyting but Gretsch guitars.
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Re: Restoring a Guitar Need Advice

Postby bill raymond » Sat May 10, 2014 11:30 am


Try asking your questions on the Musical Instrument Makers Forum ( I think you'll get good, expert advice there.
bill raymond
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Re: Restoring a Guitar Need Advice

Postby Larry Marchino » Sat May 10, 2014 1:02 pm

Thanks for your thoughts Norm. I don't have anything specific or extreme in the way of a tone or sound in mind. I don't want to do something that might exacerbate the hum that will occur at times due to the single coil pickups (if the pots would even make a difference).

Thanks also for the suggestion of the builders forum Bill. I'll do that.

Quick up date: I have now replaced the binding on the fingerboard using cherry wood instead of the yellowed cracked plastic that was there. Not a perfect job, but I'm pretty pleased as it is my first stab at replacing binding. (I'm not ready to tackle the binding on the body of a guitar yet though.)

Thanks again guys!
Larry Marchino
Posts: 84
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:15 pm

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