Just bought a Epiphone SG Special VE

Discussion in 'Epiphone SG' started by BADAXE, Mar 21, 2019.

  1. BADAXE

    BADAXE New Member

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    I could not resist grabbing a 'worn ebony' Epi Special VE while it was on special- I thought I could hear some fret buzzing while trying it at the shop. Further testing in the quiet of home confirmed my suspicions- playing power chords sounded like I had a tambourine backing track going. A quick google and away I went- a minor adjustment to the truss rod (with a capo on first fret), and I screwed the bridge down a couple of turns at a time.....bingo. 98% of the buzz is now gone. After about 5 hours playing over the last three days the tuners seem to be holding out, I've only had to do some minor adjustments. Having said that, the tuners are pretty basic. But they work. I've adjusted the neck pickup closer to the strings and the bridge pickup further away along with adjusting the pole pieces as per a reputable website....now, it sounds really good! I like noodling around with blues pieces, and with the both bridge and neck pickup engaged (playing through my BlackStar ID Echo 10, clean- light reverb) the sound is really nice. Clean, with a nice bit of 'woody' depth and some bite. Works really well for finger picking. And, switching over to the preset 'supercrunch' I can play some awesome sounding standard power chord riffs like 'Godzilla' and "Rock you like a hurricane', I tried out "Cowboys from Hell" with some hilarious results. It is a very light guitar and neck feels fast and easy to play, overall I am pleased. I've been slowly polishing in some Glitz bees wax, which looks good and keeps the matte finish- just with a bit more shine. Next step: change to 10/52 strings. Then.......an Iron Gear pickup upgrade. I'm calling this the...BLACK DOG project.
     
  2. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the site and congratulations on your new SG. Also, well done doing a basic setup on your own. It's a great skill to have so you can keep your guitar playing the way you like.
     
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  3. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    Those are nice easy to play SGs. Their bolt on neck makes them a bit shorter overall.

    Welcome aboard. You know we will want to see it don't you ? :naughty:
     
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  4. BADAXE

    BADAXE New Member

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    Photos to follow! I'm especially pleased with the neck- not only does the 24.75" length 'feel' faster/easier to move around then my beautiful 25" HSS Strat neck(copy), but the Okoume wood (never heard of this type of wood..but c'mon- it sounds cool) has a really nice grain to it. Once I get the courage to change the strings, I imagine a dose of lemon oil will bring it out even more. I'm really loving the matte "Black Dog" finish, it just seems to fit the SG profile. I've really enjoyed the pickup adjustment process- quite interested with how the tone changes with minor adjustments. I happy with where its at now. Getting rid of the fret buzz seemed to be pretty easy- probably due to the guitar being basically well made. I may upgrade the tuners....I assume that this is a straight swap with some Wilkinsons? I wonder what the gear ratio is on the factory tuners. Maybe I'll do something stupid and get some bad ass Kluson or Gotoh tuners.
     
  5. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    I say if tuners and pickups do well what they're meant to do, keep your money for a good pedal or something.
     
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  6. BADAXE

    BADAXE New Member

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    Good point- but the Blackstar Core ID amp (with its effects) covers everything I need sound effects wise, so no pedals required. But I love modding stuff. The Iron Gear pickups appear highly rated and I could buy a pair for the same price as one Seymour Duncan. But would the sound be dramatically better?? I'll see what sound samples you tube have...
     
  7. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to ETSG!

    I recommend new strings as the cheapest and easiest
    mod you can make to improve your tone.

    Trying to judge pickups and tone while using old dead strings
    installed by gawd knows who... well that's just an exercise in futility.

    Whenever I buy a new or used guitar, the strings are the first thing
    to come off. Then I clean and oil the fretboard... especially on a used
    guitar, to get all the dead punk skin off there. Then I check the neck to
    see how level it is... adjust to flat as a starting point.

    Then I install new strings in the gauge I prefer, using the 'self locking" method (you can look it up if you don't know about this... you should)
    Then I check the action with the guitar tuned to pitch: lower the bridge
    till the strings start to buzz, then raise it a bit.
    then I set the intonation for those strings.

    After you've done these steps, play the hell out of it.
    Play lots of different songs, loud or soft, fast or slow, crazy or soulful...
    and listen a lot. Listen some more.

    Then you might have an idea about maybe some mods.
    Or maybe not.

    Now let's see some pictures. Our motto here:

    PICTURES, OR IT
    NEVER HAPPENED
     
  8. BADAXE

    BADAXE New Member

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    Solid advice. I'm changing strings tomorrow. I will attempt the other set up tips over the next week and report back as I progress. I should have saved the website where a guy used a tuner to check the strings intonation....it seemed like good advice. Now I just need to Google how to convert my photos to a URL.
     
  9. GrumpyOldDBA

    GrumpyOldDBA Well-Known Member

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    We do not use lemon oil bwa ha ha. ( Well many of us do not ... lots of opinions ).

    Try a small dose of Guitar Nomad F one oil instead please ...

    Congrats welcome to the forum!
     
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  10. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    You can't adjust intonation without a tuner, if you're not a robot.
    You have a cell phone ? There are apps for it.
     
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  11. BADAXE

    BADAXE New Member

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    Changed the strings to Ernie Ball 10/52's after I polished the frets and neck wood with 000 steel wool and gave a very light application of lemon oil (I know, I should use the Nomad stuff but all I have is lemon oil and I buffed it off after...). Then, found a free tuner app and had a crack at the intonation thing. Worked out well, definitely made a difference- especially higher up on the neck. I then did the exact same thing on my HSS strat copy and just finished a humbucker comparison. The strat has a Wilkinson humbucker that is significantly brighter(and louder) sounding then the Epi stock humbucker. But the Epiphone sound better when I choose the middle position- hard to beat two humbuckers I suppose! The Epi sounds better after the tune up and string changes- the best sound is without a doubt the middle position. Both neck and bridge humbuckers sound a bit weak on their own. I really enjoyed comparing the Epi humbucker to the Wilkinson - this helped me with my decision to upgrade the stock pick-ups to Iron Gear pick-ups. I could easily live with the stock set up- but the Wilkinson humbucker has a superb crisp "sizzle" that the Epiphone is lacking. Time my 'Black Dog' got some new teeth...
     
  12. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    I use lemon oil, the guys at my local shop use lemon oil, Dan Erlewine uses lemon oil, so what's the problem?

    Those VE Specials would have cheap ceramic pickups in them, and some people seem to like that sound. Personally I prefer alnico magnets, I have heard good things about the Iron Gear stuff and you already know you like the Wilkinsons. Both of those would be good, moderately priced replacements for the stock pickups and you should see a big difference in your tone.

    Happy modding! :cheers:
     
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  13. BADAXE

    BADAXE New Member

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    I'm pretty sure the Wilkinson humbucker is ceramic as well, but obviously better made? Another interesting and very cost effective humbucker choice are the Artist Bullbuckers- they have Alnico V magnets and the sound comparison to Seymour's is impressive. I read that lemon oil will eventually melt the glue holding the frets, thereby causing your guitar to literally melt in your hands. So I'm going to buy Nomad.
     
  14. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    Wilkinson makes both ceramic and alnico pickups, so you could have either. All of their stuff, both pickups and hardware, is well made and great value for money.

    Artist is an Australian company, I have one of their Strat copies. Are you from down here? The Bullbuckers are meant to be copies of the SD JB and Jazz pickups. I haven't tried them, the "JB" is too high an output for me.

    Another reasonably priced pickup brand I have used with good results are Vanson, a UK company you can find on ebay.

    As far as lemon oil, you're certainly free to make your own choices, but like I mentioned above, Dan Erlewine who is one of the most respected guitar repairmen alive uses and recommends lemon oil used sparingly to lubricate a dry, unfinished fretboard. Many guitars don't even use glue on the frets, and even if one came loose, your guitar is certainly not going to "melt in your hands".
     
  15. BADAXE

    BADAXE New Member

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    I was exaggerating just a wee bit about the melting thing...but I read it on the internet! Yes, I'm in Nz and also have an Artist strat - it is a really well put together guitar . I've just ordered a set of the artist Bullbuckers! At 75 dollars I just had to go with them!
     
  16. BADAXE

    BADAXE New Member

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    And......I've just realised I can have the Bullbuckers set up with the split coil function. The 'Black Dog' project is becoming more dynamic than I planned.
     
  17. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    Cool, good to have some more members from down south. :cheers:


    We're also going to need some photos of these guitars.
     
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  18. BADAXE

    BADAXE New Member

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  19. BADAXE

    BADAXE New Member

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    Really love the wood on the neck. I like a dark wood neck- I tried a Squier Affinity telecaster with a maple neck and wow did I hate that.
    I've finished polishing the beeswax since the photo and lemon oiled the neck after changing the strings- looks even better now.
     
  20. BADAXE

    BADAXE New Member

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