Project (almost) finished : Trapeze tailpiece Goldtop

For guitars of the straight waisted variety (or reverse offset).
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HH1978
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Project (almost) finished : Trapeze tailpiece Goldtop

Post by HH1978 » Sun May 17, 2020 2:58 pm

Sometimes things don't go as initially intended... This is a project I've never meant to do, but finally it turned great...

It started as a LP standard kit I got cheap two years ago, because it had a flaw. When the neck was inserted in the neck pocket, there was a gap between the fretboard and the body. I wanted to practice on spraying a sunburst finish, so that seemed to be a good candidate.

But the flamed top, that was supposed to be solid maple, appeared to be a very thin veneer applied on a plain top, and a good portion of the flames disappeared when I sanded the top before spraying. So it had to be a solid finish. I wasn't overly eager to do it at the time, so the body and the neck sat for a couple of months in my workshop.

Last year, a bought a 1959 ES-225TD, on which the original tailpiece had been replaced with a Bigsby. I started looking for an original tailpiece at a decent price, and was sold a beaten up one by some seller on Reverb. When it arrived, I realized it wasn't a 225's, but a shorter Les Paul's. The seller wouldn't hear anything, so I decided to keep it and see if I could make a good use of it. Then I remembered I had a body and a neck for a LP.

I couldn't do anything to convert the HB routing for P90's, and had a nice set of Wizz pickups on my shelf, so I decided I was ok with a conversion look. The shape of the body is approximate anyway.
I plugged the stopbar and TOM holes with birch dowels, and sprayed the top with goldtop nitrocellulose. I used medium brown on the neck and the back.

Since the tailpiece was beaten up, I aged the finish also. Glad I sprayed before gluing the neck, or it wouldn't have fit in my freezer ;D

The difficult part was to set the neck at the right angle. This tailpiece was never popular at the time, because there wasn't enough neck angle and the strings had to run under the bridge, which made the early Goldtops unsuitable for palm muting. I definetely wanted to avoid that, so a reshaped the neck tenon. It came out great.

I found a vintage bumblebee in my drawer, that readed 15nf on my DMM, so I decided to use it on the neck pickup tone control. I used a russian PIO for the bridge pikup. Volume pots are VIP 550K, tone pots are CTS 500K Log. 50's wiring.

I didn't have the proper tuners, so I used oval buttons Kluson, with the idea that if the guitar plays good, I'll order the correct ones (and bell knobs also).

To be honest, I'm surprised how the guitar came out. I expected the neck to be junk, but it's quite ok. Fret job is nothing to write home about, and jumbo's wouldn't have been my first choice, but I can play with a low action through the whole neck without buzz, and the intonation (once the tailpiece properly setup, I'll come to that later) is good. The profile is chunky but not too much.
On the other hand, the body is pretty low quality, at least the top. I already mentionned the unadvertised veneer, but I'm not even sure the top is maple. It's way too soft, so I would guess it's actually basswood or similar. I had 2 chips coming off when enlarging the pot holes. The good side is that it is lightweight (for a LP standard). It's also pretty resonant acoustically.

So, about the tailpiece... It's a pain to adjust intonation, because you need to loosen the string and pull the bridge back toward the lower part of the body to be able to adjust the nuts. Maybe it was possible to do it with the bridge in place when it was new, but now it's rusty and I would fear to damage the threads. But once you've found the right adjustments, intonation is pretty good, certainly not worse than with a wraparound.
The feel is also similar to a wraparound, and it has the same quick, snappy attack.

Lot of talking... Pictures now :

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jthomas
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Re: Project (almost) finished : Trapeze tailpiece Goldtop

Post by jthomas » Sun May 17, 2020 4:36 pm

Very pretty build. Damn fine job. I'm jealous of your skill.

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Gordon
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Re: Project (almost) finished : Trapeze tailpiece Goldtop

Post by Gordon » Sun May 17, 2020 8:26 pm

I love those bridges, and never understood why replicas where so expensive... I tried to engineer a bent rod that would somehow clasp onto the existing posts of a wraparound, just for aesthetic purposes, but never had a guitar to experiment on. I imagine it'd rattle a bit, though, as an add-on. :ph34r:
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BoringPostcards
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Re: Project (almost) finished : Trapeze tailpiece Goldtop

Post by BoringPostcards » Tue May 19, 2020 8:28 pm

Good job. It looks fantastic. I've always been curious about that bridge. I'd like to try one set up for underneath, just to see how odd it feels.
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HH1978
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Re: Project (almost) finished : Trapeze tailpiece Goldtop

Post by HH1978 » Sat May 23, 2020 2:08 am

I've never tried that setup, but I have a Magnatone MKIII Deluxe with a non removable bridge cover (kind of a lap-steel bridge style). Not really understringed, but the feeling must be similar. And while I think the MKIII Deluxe is the best sounding guitar that was produced under the Magnatone name, the feeling is pretty awful because of that.

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Re: Project (almost) finished : Trapeze tailpiece Goldtop

Post by will » Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:51 pm

HH1978 wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 2:08 am
I've never tried that setup, but I have a Magnatone MKIII Deluxe with a non removable bridge cover (kind of a lap-steel bridge style). Not really understringed, but the feeling must be similar. And while I think the MKIII Deluxe is the best sounding guitar that was produced under the Magnatone name, the feeling is pretty awful because of that.

I actually just picked up a Magnatone MK III with a missing bridge/bridge cover - What a weird design!!

I'm making one that bolts on the the holes on the guitar but uses some Tele saddles in a more conventional arrangement.

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