Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Bringing your older offset back to life.
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vr6pilot
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Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:36 pm

I actually started this in a different community but it belongs here.

Thought I'd chronicle my Univox rebuild here as the Carvin site is the forum I call home for guitar stuff.

I have this Univox UC-2. Made back in 1965~1966, there aren't too many of these around and surviving examples tend to be pretty beat up. I love the shape of this guitar but I've definitely played better. And...its ugleeeey. Really beat and the sunburst, well...yeah. Ah but that shape, offset and stretched....too cool Got a killer surf vibe so the main focus of this build will be a repaint to surf green.

Okay, pics:

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Lets peek at the damage...

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The rosewood on the fretboard has some dips in it from play and the frets, while playable, seem to be pretty worn as well. The neck and board are quite straight but keeping it is optional. The bone nut is chipped pretty good and will need to be replaced.

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Okay, and for posterity's sake, one last shot of the old girl before the facelift begins.

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Next, I'll go over the plan.

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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:39 pm

Okay, the plan:

First, gotta move this relic into the new millenium. All the electronics gotta go so new pots, wiring, and of course pickups. Also gonna copper shield the whole cavity. Haven't decided on pickups. Thinking maybe humbucker or go with a high-output noiseless single like a Lace Sensor?

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Either way, I'm cutting a new pickguard for it.

Now for the [only?] interesting part... the color scheme. The UC-2 will be stripped, filled, and finished in Surf Green with a white pickguard. The guitar shape screams "surf guitar" so I want a color to help bring that out. Something like this:

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Thought about engineering-in a new bridge, actually test-fit a Kahler, but decided to keep the original so to retain the 'feel' of the UC-2. I'm hoping that a thorough cleaning along with a graphite nut will improve tuning stability.

The bridge is filthy. The saddles will need a good brushing out and the plate needs to be polished (you can see where I test-rubbed the center of the baseplate in the pic below)

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Close up of the saddles assembly...

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Note the angled cut at the heel of the neck. Replacing it won't be easy. First I need to find a 24~3/4 scale bolt-on neck, then file down the heel to fit. Fun. If I replace the neck, I'll swap over the Univox logo. My fretboard is well worn. Other option is to scour eBay for another UC-2 neck in better condition.

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vr6pilot
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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:41 pm

I've shipped the body to http://www.guitarpaintguys.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; for the paintwork. You can look for them on eBay as they advertise there and the deal seems pretty reasonable. Once I get the body back, I can provide some customer feedback on the quality of the work.

eBay is also going to be my primary source for supplies.
--I'm ordering a 3-ply white/black/white pickguard blank (good luck finding a direct-fit replacement for this! lol)
--I'll get my potentiometers from eBay if needed (I have some on hand).
--Need a tremelo arm to fit this old, uncommon, off-brand bridge.
--If I don't use pickups I have on-hand...eBay.

Surf Green is one of many "Fender" colors that they keep in stock. Perfect.

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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:41 pm

pickguard blank ordered.

considering a Seymour Duncan quarter pounder for the bridge position. Comments/recommendations welcomed!

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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:42 pm

No turning back. Photo courtesy of guitarpaintguys.com

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Guitars look so naked and uninteresting without all the add-ons.

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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:43 pm

Another problem with the UC-2: the selector switch location. I can NOT strum thru the neck pickup without knocking the pickup selector switch out of position. The fix is to do away with the 3-position slider and, in its place, install a Gibson style toggle down and forward on the pickguard.

Pics for concept:

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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:45 pm

Been working on polishing the bridge/tailpiece and cleaning up all the hardware.

Before:
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After:
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To keep the two bridge parts from 'clanking' against each other when returning the tremelo arm to its relaxed position, they glued a felt strip along the edge where the two metal parts would meet. I peeled it off to polish the chrome and, in its place, stuck 2 silicone bumpers. The silicone won't compress as much as the felt assuring that the tremelo returns to a more precise point after each dive.

Here you can see the silicone bumpers and the felt strip I removed:
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Time to start cutting out the pickguard.

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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:48 pm

Started work on the pickguard, but have some slight changes to the original in the works.

A. Since the switch is being relocated, I'm going to spread out the knobs a little.

B. As for the scratchplate itself, the lower left tip (nearest the knobs) will be more rounded; the upper right corner will be extended out to hang over the top of the fretboard just a 'lil; and I may pull the top left of the pickguard back a little so it hangs over the bridge.

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Discovered that the original pickups are under white plastic covers which were easily removed and could be used to cover the new pickups.

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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:48 pm

WOW!! :shock: Paint looks phenomenal! Color is perfect. This is turning out every bit as well as I had hoped. Back to the pickguard....

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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:51 pm

The pickguard thus far.
Not easy to work with the dremel sanding drum on this plastic but that is how I got the basic shape worked out. REALLY not easy to get an even 45-degree bevel all the way around as the thin black pinstripe that shows in the middle of the 3-ply plastic reveals all your little mistakes. Going around the entire thing by hand with a piece of sandpaper is the only way to get it more consistent. I did this with some 150 grit and followed up with some 220. Once I get it where I'm satisfied, I'll follow the outer edge with a polishing bit on the dremel.

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The paint job is really nice. It's not perfect but I'd give it a 96 out of 100. On the topside (the most important side) its a beautifully flat, almost mirror finish. Considering how dinged-up and wrecked some areas of this body were, guitarpaintguys really deserve a standing-O for the prep and smoothing. And to get that done along with the repaint in as high quality as they did for the price I paid...highly recommended.

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So far, I'm very pleased with where this is headed.

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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:54 pm

Decided that I would retain the single-coil size openings but may use single-size 'buckers to get the right tone. Regardless, made the cuts and test fitted a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder so I know the cutouts are true. They did have to be smaller than the original cutouts as those were cut to accomodate the Univox pickup covers which are much wider than skinny lil standard single coils.

On the hood of the car:
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Test fit on the body:
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Really dig the double slanted pickup arrangement. Had to retain that as it's a key characteristic of the UC-2.

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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:58 pm

I'm considering the DiMarzio Tone Zone S as my top contender. White, of course.

The stock Univox single coils have a LOT of copper so I assume they are pretty hot, but they are ugly. I could use the original plastic pickup covers but they are slightly yellowed from age and would clash with the bleach white pickguard. I could paint the covers but if I route for them, then I commit to using them no matter what pickup goes underneath as they require larger openings.

A cost-effective option would be to use a pair of matched Carvin H60 stacked humbuckers, 1992 vintage. They are black but they are like EMGs in that they are sealed with no poles or rails showing...just smooth plastic. These, too, require larger openings in the pickguard but not as much as the stock pickup covers. Not sure if the H60s are "all that" but may work well in this guitar (who knows) and I have them sitting on a shelf, hence the "cost effectiveness".

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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 7:00 pm

Working out the electronics; ordered some 500K pots for Volume and Tone (audio and linear, respectively) and a white-tip Gibson-style toggle which comes with a RHYTHM/TREBLE mount plate. May use that, may not.

Also thinking some solid white chickenheads for the Vol and Tone knobs.

- Aligned and drilled for the two control knobs and the toggle switch in the pickguard.

- Routed out the body (below the neck pickup) to accomodate the toggle switch in its new position and a channel for the wiring to go to it.

Going to line the route cavity with copper shielding and will post up fresh pics once done. I mistakenly ordered a toggle with a cream colored tip so, had to order up a white one.

Also have some chrome knurled barrel knobs and a 2" diameter chrome output jack surround plate. The theme is sort of coming together now as a homage to a '57 Chevy type car with the Surf Green/White/and Chrome. Fits the vibe.

Wish I could get the neck's fretboard redone in a very light colored maple. Not feeling the rosewood.

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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by vr6pilot » Sat Jun 25, 2011 7:02 pm

Started copper-lining the cavity. Note the extra channel for the wiring to the toggle...

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May as well document the follies I'm suffering while doing this project: Started by ordering the wrong switch: a toggle with a cream tip (wanted white). No worries, just order another tip for 2 bucks and screw it onto the switch, right? Okay, did that. But the new tip is a different thread and won't screw on. Ugh... get the dremel. Drilled it out and forced it on to the switch. At least it worked out in the end:

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Ordered that chrome round output jack surround mentioned earlier but between that and the guitar body's thickness, the jack wouldn't thread all the way thru everything so I had to do some extra routing behind the jack's hole.

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Ordered a funky trem bar from an eBay merchant and it arrived today! Very cool bar, proper thread pitch, looks amazing...uber funky...damn I got the wrong color :x

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Spoke with seller and he's going to trade me for one with a white tip...maybe even make it a tad shorter.

Tomorrow: finish the shielding; wire and install the jack with plate; screw in the strap buttons; drink a beer.

.

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Re: Univox UC-2 resto ~ custom

Post by Jazztastic » Sat Jun 25, 2011 7:05 pm

Awesome, love your choice of colour. Can't wait for more ;)

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