Monday, 18 August 2014

Nevada Les Paul

A few months ago I spotted this really sexy looking beast of a guitar on Ebay. It was some sort of cheap chinese Black Gibson ES175 clone. With three humbucker sized P90s and a Bigsby B6. I put in a lowball bid and failed to win it. But as time went on I kept thinking about it. Even though it was pretty beat up and had electrical tape all over it, it was still a very striking guitar.

Then one day as I was thinking about it I was hit with the inspiration to convert my Nevada Les Paul. The Nevada isn't a semi acoustic, but it is the right shape and colour and desperately in need of TLC. The Nevada was a guitar I picked up from the local cash converters for a whim. I hadn't really thought about what I was going to do with it other than do some coil tapping and splitting but restyling it to a carry three p90s and a Bigsby seemed like an fun project.

I ordered three p90 pickups from Vanson guitars on Ebay and a Bigsby B70. For the wiring I had no fixed plan but thought I would try out a 4 pole 11 throw rotary switch. I also managed to get old of an old soviet military 5 pole 11 throw switch which would allow me ultimate freedom, but unfortunately was too big to fit in the body.

I thought the main challenge would be cutting a hole for the middle pickup but in the end it was planning the wiring that would be the hard part. But more on that later.

Cutting the hole for the pickup turned out to be easier than I thought it would be because the guitar isn't solid all the way through. I was able to cut through the arched top just using a dremmel tool. After getting the hole in place all I needed to do was drill two holes in the body for the pickup mounting screws to fit in and there was enough room to fit the pickup.

The other bit of woodwork that needed doing was to fit couple of pieces of dowling into the holes left after removing the stop tailpiece. I left these 24 hours to let the glue dry before attaching the new Bigsby B70 tremelo. The Bigsby conveniently covered the slots so I didn't bother painting them.

I put the dremel to use again to cut the scratch plate to fit three pickups. its not the neatest job but only noticeable close up.

With the guitar all styled out. The next step was to plan the wiring. This turned out to be very challenging. When I wired up the Gretch I only had two pickups to contend with. I'd come up with a clever way of planning the wiring but with only 4 poles on my switch and 6 wires plus a huge number of wiring options for three pickups it wasn't easy.

The 11 way switch combined with phase switches on the volume controls would allow me access to most of the 35 tones that are possible with a 3 pickup guitar . However the type of rotary switch has limitations that means that it is not possible to do every possible combination. Also how do you choose which tones you want easy access to?

There is still a lot of thought that will need to go into the wiring and a little experimentation before I commit to a wiring scheme.

More on the wiring in the next post.

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