Completed Guitar and Bass Projects in the Shop

Click on any guitar to learn more about its project in my shop!

I have been repairing and modifying guitars since I was a teenager.  For years now I have professionally repaired, set up and modified fine electric instruments. Hundreds of parts, strings, etc. are in stock.  All my work is guaranteed, and turnaround is quick.  Your guitar is treated like it was one of mine, and it always goes out as much like new or better as possible.

Drop-offs and pickups are by appointment, but my schedule is  flexible.   

Call 703-362-6066.


Vintage Kay archtop guitar restored from old customizing job; pickup added

The goal of this project was to restore this guitar to as close to original as possible and add a jazz-style pickup. This 60's - vintage archtop Kay guitar had been modified to allow for 8 strings - including two raised drone strings.  The headstock had been fitted with two extra machines and the nut and bridge both had raised portions.  The neck had become unplayable over time as well.

Step one, shown at right, was to mill and crown and polish the frets, remove and clean years of rust and corrosion off all parts, lube & adjust the truss rod and
other mechanical parts, carve a vintage bone nut, order and install a new, adjustable bridge, clean, oil, and polish the guitar and test it with new strings.

Phase II included removing the extra tuning machines, filling the holes, sanding flush, then repainting the headstock a custom color to blend with the original color, After bringing the headstock, neck and the rest of the guitar to a high sheen, a Kent Armstrong jazz pickup was mounted on the neck and wired to a hidden volume pot which was mounted under the original Kay pickguard which was reintroduced to the guitar.  In the process of wiring, an internal pickup was discovered, so the original jack was replaced with a stereo jack to allow for either or both pickups to be used. Felt bushings were installed to save the finish in critical places.  Finally the restored Kay archtop was strung, tuned, set up and tested

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Squier Stratocaster Guitar turned into a built-to-order Superstrat

This owner wanted a stratocaster that was made 100% to his specifications - a superstrat.  After multiple discussions, he decided to start with his black Fender Squier strat, which had a good neck and body, and replace the rest.  The color scheme was to be nothing but black and gold - no pickguard laminations even.  The single humbucker pickup would be replaced with four lace sensors, the hardtail bridge was to be replaced with a Gotoh fulcrum tremolo, and staploks installed.  The Squier headstock would be painted black.  Wiring was left up to me.

After the headstock was  painted, the body was routed and shielded.
Now it was time to assemble all the parts into a superstrat. The images show cavities painted with shielding conductive paint.

Step one - paint and polish the headstock, and install new gold tuners.

Step 2: route the body to allow for three pickups and new wiring.

Step 3: route out the body from both sides for the tremolo.

And here is the happy owner with the finished product.  The back cover has a removable access panel - the switching includes three 3-position pickups switches (bridge:humbucker/off/single coil, middle: in-phase/ off/ out of phase, neck:in-phase/ off/ out of phase), a tone switch equivalent to tone control at about 6, at 10, and at 0, and a single volume control.  The unusual tone switch turns out to have two very usable settings.  Color-wise, the only parts that aren't  either gold or black are the logos on the pickups, and the neck.

 

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Washburn "Memphis" Guitar: Added gold Bigsby tremolo and neck pickup

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A gold Bigsby tremolo bar was added to this gorgeous Washburn "Memphis" guitar (with P90's), replacing the gold trapeze-style tailpiece

- The neck P90 pickup sounded muddy, so it was replaced with a ' gold' Lace Sensor cleverly attached to the underside of the P90 cover,  to maintain the aesthetics.

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Vintage Electra MPC guitar: Added Seymour Duncan pickup w/ coil tapping

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This guitar was one of the early MPC's before Electra started making them more cheaply.  This one has a jacaranda top over a mahogany body, gold hardware,
abalone inlay.  It has built-in effects modules and a 5-way tone selector switch.  The project was to add a Seymour Duncan neck pickup, and a switch  for single-
coil tapping.

The two large switches control the onboard effects.  The small switch was added to select single or double coil use of the new Seymour Duncan humbucker in the
neck position.  Single coil use sounds Strat-like.  Gold strap locks were added, plus shielding of the control cavity to help overcome any hum from the single-coil mode.  Not shown was the subsequent addition of a gold Bigsby tremolo.

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Double Neck Fender Stratocaster guitar

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Wire and modify and set up

This guitar was put together from two Fender stratocasters by a very talented
recording engineer at a studio that sometimes gives me their guitars to work on.  
The owner hadn't had time to finish the project.  

See below for the work that went into making this a very cool doubleneck guitar!

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WIRING:

Disassemble and diagram current wiring
Expand routing to accommodate pickups and switches
Paint all old and new routed areas with conductive shielding paint & connect to ground
Shield control cavity with copper shielding foil
Rebuild Gibson switch to act as [ 6-on / both off / 12-on ]
Install and wire two matching Gibson pickup selector switches
Install shock-reducing capacitor between strings and ground

PICKGUARD/PLASTIC
Bevel and polish neck selector switch plate
Superglue cracks in pickguard
Reshape pickguard  to match both bridges
Countersink 12 screw holes in pickguard to match screws
Install pickguard/electronics with 12 new screws
Add black backplate & 6 new screws

SETUP
Clean and oil fingerboards
Install .010 string sets on both necks
Remove 3 springs from tremolo, and balance for good tremolo operation
Add matching black tremolo arm
Adjust pickup heights
Adjust bridge height for good action
Adjust intonation on Peterson tuner
Test; clean, polish/light wax

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Fender American Telecaster guitar: New body and Bigsby

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This project combined the best of two guitars into one.  It started with a white Fender American Standard Tele and added parts from a Japanese Fender reissue model to get the best features of both. The original American Telecaster Neck was preferred over the thick round neck on the original "reissue" guitar.  The body from the reissue a gorgeous semi-transparent white.  The pickups on the American Telecaster were dramatically better than the reissue, so they were removed and installed in
the new body. The Bigsby tremolo from the reissue was kept.

As always, the finishing touch was adding chrome strap locks to the body and a wild lizard-skin strap (black and white). After assembly, it was tested, the action and
intonation were set up, and it was cleaned and polished

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Fender Strat Plus guitar

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The original baby blue body was replaced with this gorgeous Warmouth body with a "Mary Kay" finish - semi transparent white with pinkish overtones. A new Warmouth tortoise shell pickguard and rear spring cover were used.

To get an "acoustic" sound, A Fishman PowerBridge was installed along with their PowerChip preamplifier.  It puts out either a stereo signal that can route the piezo "acoustic" sound to a PA, and the normal pickups to the amp, or a mono signal which mixes both signals together for some unique tones.  The small chrome switch by the middle knob switches from piezo, to both, to magnetic pickups.  The middle tone control was changed to a "VOLUME" knob and controls the "acoustic" output.  The remaining tone control was rewired to work on all magnetic pickups.


The interior was shielded and star-grounded to reduce hum from the Lace Sensors. The guitar came with Strap locks, so all that was left to do was setup and polishing.

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Ibanez JSM 100 with repaired finish damage and wiring enhancements

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Despite the excellent care taken of this gorgeous semihollowbody Ibanez, it had sustained a deep fingernail sized gouge deep into the wood of the neck, a half inch finish dent in the front, and numerous small dings on the headstock.  

The owner wanted to make the damage disappear as much as possible.  He also wanted to add circuitry to maintain treble while turning down the volume, and also allow one pickup to still stay active when the other's volume was all the way off and the pickup selector switch was in the middle position.  Gold straploks were also requested.
 

First the strings were removed, and corrosion was cleaned off the gold hardware.  One hopeless screw was replaced.  Straploks were installed.  Custom bypass and shock-resistant capacitors were added and volume wiring changed for single-pickup use when switched for both.  Then the damaged areas of the front and neck were cleaned and filled.  The neck filler was stained, then both areas were laquered multiple times, sanded flush and polished. The headstock dings were filled.  Strings were installed, the guitar was set up and tested.    All pictures taken after the work was finished.

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Custom guitar built on unfinished Epiphone Custom Shop WildKat body, with Fralin pickups and Bigsby

This is my personal "dream guitar."  

It started as a sanded-down Epiphone "Kat" body and neck - no hardware or finish.  Smaller than a 335, bigger than a Les Paul body.

I filled in wood defects and changed the shape of some holes, slimmed the neck, and had it painted white to start my all gold-and-white color scheme.  

My logo was inlaid in abalone in the headstock.  

My plastics supplier custom-made white perloid switch covers and the truss rod cover.

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Rewire HSH solid body guitar

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Step one was to disassemble, unwire, and clean the guitar inside and out.  The pickguard was unshielded (invites hum), so best-quality copper shielding was applied. The pickup supplied for the middle position was a double-coil blade pickup designed to fit in All three pickups were capable of coil-tapping, so the old controls were replaced with new push-pull types for coil tapping the neck and bridge pickups.  The customer wanted a mini-switch installed between them to allow the new middle pickup to be coil-tapped as well.  The 3-position switch was replaced with a new 5-position switch which performed the same as a Strat.  Finally, an anti-grounding-shock capacitor was placed between the ground and the bridge/strings.  Wires were bundled, the guitar set up and tested before a final buffing. This guitar is an example of some pretty fine cleanup and electronics work.  The guitar came with two humbuckers and an empty middle slot in the pickguard.  It had a 3-position pickup switch.  It was very dirty inside and out and had shoddy wiring (the tone control wasn't even connected) and incomplete shielding.    

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Fender Squier Jagmaster guitar

This Fender Squier Jagmaster is a marriage of the Jazzmaster and the Jaguar models.  The customer wanted two new pickups installed, switching designed and wired, and a setup performed.  After initial measurements, the guitar came apart.  There was no shielding in the control cavity, so step 1 was to copper-shield this hum-producing area.  During this process an anti-shock capacitor was added to reduce the chance of dangerous cross-grounding shock.   

Next a wiring diagram was developed to allow 5-way switching and coil tapping:  1: Neck Pickup  2: Both Parallel  3: Both Parallel, out of phase  4: Both Series  5: Bridge Pickup...where either humbucker can be made single coil by pulling up either the volume or tone controls.

At the customer's request, the jack was replaced by a Switchcraft jack, and the switches were wired and tested.  After reassembly, the guitar was strung and thoroughly set up (nut and bridge action, relief, pickup height, tremolo adjustment screws all checked, intonation adjusted)  and polished.

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Addition of Fernandes Sustainer and Bigsby to Telecaster guitar: Wire and modify and set up

This very nice Telecaster was enhanced by the addition of a Fernandes Sustainer and Bigsby B5 tremolo.

The original pickguard and bridge plate are the starting point for new ones. In the first picture, paper templates for positioning and for sending to the pickguard manufacturer are made.

In order to cover original routing and various holes, a large pickup ring was made out of the  original bridge plate, and a small plastic piece was fabricated from pickguard material to cover holes between the Bigsby B5 and the new pickup ring.   

In the 3rd picture, all the parts have arrived and two custom routing templates have been made. On  the right, ciruit card, installed in custom pickguard, next to its cavity after copper and carbon shielding is applied.  

5th picture: positioning of the Bigsby and the bridge must be precise.

6th, 7th & 8th pictures: the finished project

8th picture:  battery box covers the worst parts.

last picture:  original back with damage to be covered.

Guitar repaired in shop

Information coming soon..

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Guitar set up and repaired in shop

Details coming soon..

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Six string custom Johnson Bass guitar

Project information coming soon..

Custom Edition Fender Telecaster 6-point guitar