Music Shops in London
We love checking out our Local London Guitar Shops. Our particular favourites include Guitar Guitar clearly the biggest professional guitar store in the Capital. Its located in Camden (6 Delancey Street Camden London, NW1 7NH). Westside on Denmark Street in Central London ( the manager Paul Waller is a great guy who is a super guitarist and true knowledge on Martin’s, Guild & Gibson acoustics. Also well worth checking out is the North American Guitar Store with its brilliant selection of custom guitars in Wapping is a cracking store . Hobgoblin in Central London is also well worth going in to with a wonderful array on six & Twelve string guitars as well as ukulele’s and mandolins. If more tech based take a look at our London Guitar tech‘s Terry’s repair notes below. With interesting detail you get a real insight into a master craftsman at work. In the sessions below er take a look @ both Electric & Acoustic Guitars in eluding a repair to a rare electro acoustic Ovation!
Repair log – 11th April 2001 Gibson Les Paul Standard, SN xxxxxxx, made at the Nashville plant in Tennessee.
© Terry Relph-Knight 25/12/15 Used with permission, copyright retained by the author.
Current value range – £ 1,000 to £1,200
Weight = 4.2kg, 9.26lbs.
Guitar delivered in a light brown Gibson case with a broken 3 digit combination lock.
Body – One piece mahogany with a two piece maple cap, fitted with standard strap buttons. Feels like no weight relief. Finished in transparent red with cream binding around the top. In good condition, minor scratches.
Neck – 1 piece mahogany (apart from the normal two extension wings to make up the width of the headstock), 22 flat wide nibbed frets , C profile neck finished in trans red nitro-cellulose. Cream plastic bound rosewood fretboard with trapezoid pearloid markers. Black side markers. Factory fitted Grover chrome plated ‘kidney’ button tuners. Truss rod adjustment behind the nut under a ‘bell’ shaped cover printed with the word ‘Standard’ in script, 5/16 adjustment nut. Front of the headstock has a black fibre veneer that bears the Gibson logo in MOP, and Les Paul MODEL in gold script. The serial number is stamped into the back of the headstock.
Hardware – Chrome plated zinc alloy stop bar and ABR bridge. Chrome plated brass bridge adjustment screws and stop bar posts. Standard 480R and 490T Gibson humbucker pickups with chrome plated brass covers. 4 gold drum control knobs, no metal pointers. Cream triangular pick guard (broken) removed and in the case. Two 0.022uF small ceramic tone capacitors. This type of capacitor is not recommended for guitar tone controls, they are wide tolerance and have a high temperature coefficient (bridge pickup – 23.3nF at 21 degrees C replaced with a plastic film cap 22.12nF, neck pickup 20.95nF replaced with a plastic film cap 22.71nF). Gibson branded controls: 300K linear volumes and 500K log tones –
268K neck volume 278K bridge volume, 407K (24.88K at half rotation) neck tone, 407K (21.03K at half rotation) bridge tone. So, rather bizarrely, the tone pots appear to be 5% curve.
It looks as though the guitar may have been converted from vintage (tone cap to wiper of volume pot) to modern wiring (tone cap to top of volume pot).
Guitar delivered strung with – 0.009, 0.011, 0.016, 0.024, 0.032, 0.042 odd mix of ball end strings
Problems – ABR bridge shows signs of ‘bridge collapse’, about 1mm in the centre. Corian nut needs replacement as a chip is broken out under the low E string and the string no longer has a functioning slot in the nut. Output jack makes poor connection.
Work done – Entire guitar cleaned and polished. Original chipped Corian nut replaced with a Graph Tech PQL – 6010 – 00 nut. Saddles removed from bridge and bridge base straightened (a little) in a vice. Saddle notches filed smooth. Fretboard and frets cleaned and polished. New set of 0.010, 0.013, 0.017, 0.026, 0.036, 0.046 Ernie Ball strings (except for the 0.013 taken from the Rotosound light top heavy bottom) fitted (all strings supplied by the owner). Truss rod, bridge height and intonation adjusted. Nut on pickup switch tightened. Pickup heights and pickup poles adjusted for a good balance between the pickups and across the strings.
As mentioned above, small ceramic tone caps replaced with plastic film caps. Tip contact on the output jack was bent inwards so it did not make a strong contact. Unfolded the contact so it makes a more positive connection.
Further notes – This guitar is fitted with 300K linear volume controls (something Gibson switched to doing from 1973 onwards) and 500K log 5% curve (an unusual choice of curve) tone controls – Changing the volumes to 500K would add a little more top end and the 5% curve tone pots are perhaps a bit abrupt. On the other hand 4 high quality pots are going to cost around £20 plus the labour involved in fitting them.
In 1973 Gibson switched to using 300K linear volume controls to cater to the fashion for darker tones and smoother control of overdrive tones across the upper range of the volume controls. Using linear pots also allows for smoother blending of the two pickups when the pickup switch is in the centre position.
300K pots place more load on the pickups resulting in a small drop in treble output.
London Guitar Repair: Guitar Shop London
Repair log – January 2010 Epiphone Les Paul Custom SN xxxxxxxx made in the Qingdao Plant (Epiphone), China.
© Terry Relph-Knight 17/12/15 Used with permission, copyright retained by the author.
Current value range – £ 300 to £400 (around £500 new)
Weight = 3.7kg. 8.16lbs.
Body – Black gloss finish two piece mahogany body and cap (no maple cap – apparently the Les Paul Custom was always mahogany only). Wood is probably nato rather than a true mahogany. Cream/white plastic binding with black/white/black/white purfling. Fitted with a triangular black/white/black/white vinyl pick guard. Control cavity coated with black graphite screening paint.
Neck – 1 piece slim taper D profile, glued in mahogany neck (nato), 1 and 11/16 inch nut. Truss rod adjustment behind the nut (4mm hex key). Rosewood fretboard bound in cream/white plastic with rectangular block MOTO inlays. Epiphone style 2 headstock with cream binding and black/white/black/white purfling. Epiphone logo and split diamond motif inlaid in mother of pearl. Medium frets overlapping the binding (not nibbed). Scale length 24.75 inch, 12 inch radius.
Hardware – All metal work gold plated. Grover, 3 on a side, 18:1 ratio, sealed, kidney button, gold plated tuners. Epiphone ABR1 style Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop bar with Epiphone LockTone retainer clips. All adjustment posts in gold plated steel.
Epiphone Alnico Classic humbucker pickup in the neck position and an Epiphone Alnico Classic Plus humbucker pickup in the bridge position, both with gold plated covers.
4 black drum knobs for vol. / tone, vol. / tone. 500K tone pots throughout 0.022uF plastic film tone caps.
Delivered with 0.010, 0.013, 0.016, 0.026, 0.036, 0.046 strings.
Problems – In for a set up. Odd tone on the bottom E (bottom E pinched quite tightly in the nut slot). Dead note on open G string. Slight bridge collapse (0.5mm) and the U notches, that the intonation screws drop into, are partially blocked by flashing not cleaned out after the moulding process resulting in a poor fit on the intonation screws so the saddles do not seat properly. Top E wound onto the tuner in reverse for some reason. Neck pickup set too high.
Note – One of the design flaws of the Gibson Les Paul is that the bridge is cast from zinc alloy. At the time the LP was designed die-casting was the only economical method of producing such a complex metal part. Zinc is not an ideal material from an acoustic point of view, but even worse is that it tends to slowly deform under pressure, but tends to crack under impulse bending loads.
These bridges have a built-in radius that is intended to match that of the guitars fretboard so that when the height of the bridge is adjusted all the strings stay at the proper relative distance from the fretboard. However all die-cast ABR1 and Nashville (Gibson type) bridges can gradually collapse under long term string pressure. As a result the middle strings wind up closer to the fretboard than they should be (relative to the outside strings) and the bridge can no longer be adjusted for optimum playing action.
The ABR1 bridges are narrower and more delicate than the later ‘Nashville’ re-design and are therefore more prone to ‘bridge collapse’.
Work done – Guitar cleaned, fretboard and frets cleaned and polished. Several prominent scratches on the front of the guitar buffed and polished out. Bottom E nut slot widened and the G string slot re-shaped so the string contacts at the front of the nut. Neck pickup lowered away from the strings a little (magnetic pull from the pickup was causing ‘wolf’ tones from the bottom E string). Flashing removed from the intonation screw notches and the notches filed to the correct U shape so the screws seat fully into the notches. Tried to bend the bridge ‘flat’ using controlled vice pressure but it cracked. Replaced the bridge with a new ‘Nashville’ style bridge.
Screw poles on both pickups adjusted to match the string radius for a balanced output. Guitar fitted with a new set of D’Addario EXL110 0.010 to 0.046 strings. Truss rod, bridge height and stop bar adjusted for correct playing action.
For reference – Gibson factory set up specs. Jan 2009
To check neck relief: fret the low E at the first and 15th fret (not 12th) reach to the 7th fret and tap string. There should be a small space between string and fret – no thicker than a piece of paper. Do the same with the high E.
ACTION: fret low E at first fret and measure the distance from the bottom of the to the top of the 15th fret. It should be 5/64″. Do the same with the high E, measurement should be 3/64″. Now measure the string height at the nut; underside of the string to the top of the fret. Low E and A should measure 2/64″, D and G =1.5/64″ and B and high E = 1/64″. If string height at nut is correct, recheck string height at 12th fret with strings open. Measurement for low and high E’s should be the same as measurement taken at the 15th.
PICKUPS: Fret low E at 22nd fret and measure pickup height from underside of string to point on pickup closest to string. Bridge pickup should be 3/64″, neck pickup should be 4/32″. Fret high E at 22nd fret, distance for both pickups should be 3/32″.
Repair log – 1998 Ovation electro-acoustic Standard Balladeer Model 1861 SN XXXXX, made in New Hartford, Connecticut USA.
© Terry Relph-Knight 08/12/15 Used with permission, copyright retained by the author.
Current value range – £ 400?
Weight = 2.1 kg. 4.63 lbs.
Body – Black gloss finish, solid spruce top with Ovation A / fan bracing, walnut ‘pinless’ bridge, shallow black Lyrachord bowl body with cutaway. White plastic binding with a thin black/white purfling. Standard Ovation plastic ring rosette.
Neck – 1 piece mahogany neck, soft V profile with rosewood fretboard. Ebony cap at the heel. Very thin matte finish (oil?). Truss rod adjustment, 3/16” hex key at the heel of the neck inside the body.
Hardware – Ping, 3 on a side sealed tuners. Ovation undersaddle piezo pickup with Ovation OP 24+ pre-amp. With Ovation hard case. Strung with Martin SP (Lifespan, Flexible core or Acoustic?) strings – 0.013 to 0.056. These seemed new and in good condition so they were re-fitted to the guitar.
Problems – In for a set up. High E is near the edge of the fretboard. Action is high (neck has way too much forward relief). Neck shows signs of some kind of mildew and / or water damage. Frets heavily oxidised. Dead battery in the pre-amp.
Work done – Shallow dent in the back of the neck around the 7th fret mostly steamed out. Neck cleaned, mildew marks bleached out, buffed and polished. Fretboard buffed and polished.
Truss rod tightened to remove the forward bow. The integrated saddle and piezo pickup had two paxolin shims under it to adjust action height. Synthetic saddle smoothed and one of the shims removed to reduce the action height.
Unlike most acoustic guitars where action can be adjusted (within limits) by sanding and re-shaping the saddle, the delicacy of the Ovation integrated saddle and pickup means that the only realistic height adjustment is through the factory fitted shims. In addition Ovation bridges have a built in height offset between the top E and bottom E string. As a result, although removing both saddle shims would provide a lower action for the bottom E, the top E is then too low.
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