71 Gibson EB-0 (SG bass) resto-mod project aka my eBay EB0

Discussion in 'Vintage SG' started by Plan Zero, Jan 19, 2018.

  1. Plan Zero

    Plan Zero Active Member

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    I picked up a husk off eBay for an unbelievable deal. So unbelievable to me there's no other explanation than it was surely meant to be. I've been looking for a vintage Gibson "find" for many years, scouring antique, thrift and pawn shops, classified ads, garage sales, etc and I used to have an Epiphone EB-0 about 20 years ago. Never imagined I'd find this on eBay. Not sure why the seller didn't auction this, just sold it outright. He could have easily got double what I paid. It was only listed for 30 minutes and had 52 watchers when I pulled the trigger. I figured I'd ask questions later.
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    A husk is perfect for me. I love projects and modding everything so this gives me free reign to do what I want and make this bass one of a kind. Almost every EB-0 or EB-3 I've seen looks the same and boring to me.
    Everything I'm doing is reversible, just in case I decide to do a period correct restore somewhere down the line. For now, it's new and improved parts.
    First thing first, clean thoroughly and glue the neck on: 20180110_155953.jpg 20180110_201305.jpg
    A word about the neck, it had a very professional headstock repair and refinish at some point. The slot head bass only existed for two years because it is utterly ridiculous. Gibsons already have headstock breakage problems. Let's put slots in to make it weaker then add tuners that face backwards so it's guaranteed to break if you lay it down too hard. The break/repair resembles an upside down scarf joint without a complete "U". Serial # was then etched into the base of the neck after the refinish. Furthermore, this bass has a nice volute which technically didn't appear until after the slot head in 72. I realize SG guitars got the volute in 69 but the basses didn't start until later. The volute didn't help headstock breaks, just made the breaks nicer looking. Unfortunately a lot of unprofessional volute headstock repairs exist which make the truss rod useless due to glue in the cavity. I'm hoping I don't have to do any truss rod adjustments just in case.
    I'm surmising that this bass was a 71 transition model because of this very unique feature. I have yet to see an image of a slot head with volute.
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    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  2. Plan Zero

    Plan Zero Active Member

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    Here's everything you need to know about this bass:
    http://www.flyguitars.com/gibson/bass/1970gibsonEB0.php
    The slot head was a bit of a challenge. Schaller hasn't made the tuners in 30 years and when they do pop up they ain't cheap. There are a couple selling on ebay for about $100 each. After some trial and error with some cheap tuners I found a set of NOS Gotoh tuners with fat posts. They practically threaded into the headstock holes. I applied a thin layer of wood glue to the inside of the holes then ran a tap through when the glue was still pliable. Then a few wraps of teflon tape on each post for a snug fit. The bushings for the tuners won't fit in this headstock because there is no room to spare to open the holes up. Conveniently once the old center bushings were popped out of the headstock the new posts rested into the existing holes about 1/16". We're gonna try and make these work. It'll be a PITA to string, but I'm using tape wounds so they should last many years between changes. There's still basses out there with the same tape wounds on them since the 60s.
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    I made an offer and got the Gotoh tuners for $30. I'll keep an eye out for a set of proper tuners but it could be years til I find them at a reasonable price. A full set sold on reverb for only about $150 a few months ago so I'm not too concerned yet. I think the Gotohs look beatiful, and between the mounting screw and center support hole I think they'll string up good and hold tension.
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    Needless to say, I am very pleased that these fit. My whole project may have been on hold indefinitely. The "Cosmo black" gotoh tuners look almost identical to the originals but better cuz they're black. The original schaller tuners were quite ugly and I've always been a fan of the Tbird's black hardware. True to Gibson hand crafted quirkiness, the top two posts land slightly uneven. There's other quirks as well, such the crooked truss rod notch and the pick guard ring and jack plate holes are slightly uneven. Judging by my one sad little bevel I'm not suprised.
    15164527010141299975475.jpg check out the old box
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018
  3. Plan Zero

    Plan Zero Active Member

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    I tried at first to fit a Bill Lawrence blade style humbucker (EB50) with no luck. Go figure, an EB pickup doesn't fit an EB bass. Dark matter pups were a little pricey. I settled on the Dimarzio model 1 (DP120) instead. It kind of resembles the earlier black gibson eb pups. I'm not a fan of the chrome mudbucker. Unfortunately the pickup ring for the EB-0 is long gone and I'm not paying $100 for one, which is the current going price. Also, the original screw holes were stripped out so after finding proper screws I decided to glue 4 oak dowel plugs into the holes to drill new mounts. I will color them black so they're not visible. I went with 1/2" dowel so I can always pop them out with a screwdriver if needed.
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    Pickup mounted with SS screws:
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    I'm not a fan of these screws (#6x1.25"), I'll probably paint them black eventually. This is a massive pickup, and skinny black pick up screws' heads are too small. The SS screws that came with the pup were too short. I also have some foam behind the pup which is adding some force to the screws and I want this thing to stay put so they'll do for now. I'm probably going to wind up moving the pup over slightly after the strings and pickguard are installed.
    I would've also been doing some soldering today but unfortunately the push/pull pot is too big for the rear cavity. Guess no coil splitting for this big sucker. I'm waiting on a CTS pot to start wiring. This whole project involves a lot of trial and error, as this particular model was only made for 2 years and there is very little info on modding them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  4. Plan Zero

    Plan Zero Active Member

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    The original jack plate was made out of 3 ply pick guard plastic, which I'm not a fan of, ntm no one makes it anymore. After spending hours researching I found a plate for an explorer 2 with almost identical measurements. Big thanks to Philadelphia Luthier, the first one they sent had a tiny scratch so they sent me another. Of course I got mine in "jet black nickel" plate.
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    OK here's the deal. I can only get two holes to match up at a time. I would have to either drill two new holes or four new holes (once again, Gibson uniqueness) to get the plate properly centered. For now the two screws seem to hold the plate very well, so we'll leave it. I'll probably come back to this, for now I'll just be careful with the jack. I don't feel comfortable drilling into the guitar at this point. It doesn't look like it in the picture, but the plate sits perfectly to the curvature of the guitar.
    Now the truss rod cover problem. I bought a black metal Gibson size TRC from China for $1 before I found out the EB-0/3 slot head TRC is slightly smaller than the standard Gibson size. I attached the cover with just the lower screw for now until I find one that fits. I can't wait to see how the pick guard and rear cavity cover fit. Something else about slot heads, they were the only non-black headstock. You can really enjoy the mahogany grain when the light hits it.
    Edit: I found a Guild TRC from Phila Luthier I'm gonna try to modify to fit.
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    I'm going to try to use the original nut, if not I'll upgrade to the Axe masters brass nut for the EB-0/3. The slots are pretty worn and I was able to lay a tapewound E into the A slot so I'm not expecting to keep it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  5. Plan Zero

    Plan Zero Active Member

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    Finally got my hipshot supertone 2 Gibson replacement bridge. I wish my tuners didn't look so good in comparison. Honestly I'm not impressed with the finish considering the price I paid. It looks like it's painted instead of plated. Idk why they don't make it in black chrome or black nickel, the MSRP is the same as for chrome or gold plate . My Wilkinson bridge on my Jr. cost $25 and has a nicer finish. I also had to file out the screw slots a little bit to match the existing holes which I had already anticipated. Overall it's a nice light aluminum piece but I'm sure the finish will wear off quick. I'm not too concerned. Matches the pickup at least. The little holes on the sides were for the original bridge cover.
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    Also got my LaBella tapewounds. A little pricey but should last for many years. I love the sound of tapewounds and there's less chance of fret buzz if some are worn. Also they're lower tension which I'm sure will be less stress on the repair.
    20180122_184001.jpg I decided to string her up now so I can line up the pickup poles with the strings. Also got some better pup screws. Who knows how long it's been since this girl sang.
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    I was also able to properly string her up fairly easily. The tuners move freely in the center holes as if they were meant to be. I really can't believe I got regular machine heads to work with this headstock with practically no modification. They lend a look to this bass I've never seen and very much like.
    I had to use the flash for clarity but the string wraps are actually a dark purple. You can see the uneven post holes as mentioned earlier. 1516710592602844722669.jpg

    This bass is starting to match my vision for it. I want an EB-0 that looks like no other. Honestly even though I bought (and later sold) an Epiphone eb-0 years ago I've never been content with how they look. Never liked the big chrome mudbucker and general layout of the bass. I do love the SG body and short scale neck, I just think it could be styled better. I also don't want the character of this bass to be lost on a bunch of shiny new parts. FWIW this bass has a beautiful aged color that the subtle black hardware accentuates perfectly.

    After stringing her up I played her for the first time. Unbelievable. The nut is still good, the action is low and perfect without any adjustments to the bridge or truss rod. Frets are about half worn but still very good overall. Only some slight buzzing in a few spots, which may be fixed by raising the action a little. Sounds pretty damn good unplugged.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
  6. Plan Zero

    Plan Zero Active Member

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    Today my CTS pots arrived and I got her wired up and plugged in for the first time in who knows how long. She sounds really good and even with the tone rolled down she isn't muddy. I credit that to the Dimarzio and the aluminum bridge.
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    I was able to get the jack plate screwed down and of course I had to get these:
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    Pick guard and rear cavity cover should be here in about a week. After that she'll be ready to jam out with her clam out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
  7. Plan Zero

    Plan Zero Active Member

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    It took about three weeks but I got my pick guards from Pickguard Planet/ Chandler Guitars. It was worth the wait. I had to get a custom cut guard to fit my pickup and after talking with Kenny the tech at Chandler I also decided to get them made with no screw holes.
    First off, test fit the rear cavity cover. There was only one template for an EB-0/EB-3 cavity so I wasn't expecting a perfect fit. I had to take a little bit off the edge with my dremel and one of the screw holes just wouldn't line up but overall it is a nice fit:
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    In order to line up the screw holes I took a few tiny screws and dabbed them with toothpaste to transfer the locations:
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    Then drilled out pilot holes and carefully reamed them out to line up almost perfect. I countersunk the holes with a Phillips head screwdriver and used black screws left over from my Maestro project.
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    The material is actually thick one ply gloss black; the overhead lights give it a matte finish.
    This was practice for the pickguard.
     
  8. Plan Zero

    Plan Zero Active Member

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    Since this bass originally came with a different pickup with a giant pickup ring I had to get this pickguard custom cut to fit the Dimarzio. Even if I bought a new pickup ring it wouldn't fit this pickup. Chandler has like 6 different templates for these basses so I gave the measurements to Kenny and in all honesty I was not expecting it to fit.
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    Perfect fit!
    Now to use Kenny the tech's tip for the screw holes. I cut the heads off of some brad nails and put one in each hole. You can see if you look close:
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    Then place the pickguard on the guitar and press firmly on the screw locations. This leaves very light indentations I used to drill out my pilot holes. Then one by one carefully ream out the holes to line up. Countersink with a sharp Phillips head screwdriver. I may go back at some point in my life and make the countersunk holes a little deeper but for now they're fine.
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    Once again the lighting is giving this a matte finish. Ironically I changed my mind about 20 times deciding on a matte or gloss pick guard. It is really beautiful gloss black and reminiscent of early EB basses. I'm pleased. Here's a better pic:
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    Did I mention how much I love playing this bass? Nothing at all like my old Epiphone EBO of 20 years ago. Between the Dimarzio model 1 and the aluminum hipshot bridge the sustain on this hunk of mahogany is amazing. The frets are nicely worn which combined with the tapewounds make this neck super fast feeling. I only have a couple buzz spots on the upper frets but I have yet to adjust the action on this girl. Needless to say I'm surprisingly pleased with how well this project turned out.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
    Gahr and SG standard like this.
  9. njpaulc

    njpaulc Well-Known Member

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    Beautiful.
     
  10. Plan Zero

    Plan Zero Active Member

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    Thanks!
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  11. Plan Zero

    Plan Zero Active Member

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    After taking a little material off the bottom to clear the nut I made this Guild truss rod cover fit.
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    The screws are black. I'm happy this TRC matches the one ply pick guard.
     
  12. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Well-Known Member

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    Turned out well. Glad you found some tuners that worked for you!

    Tom
     

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