PDA

View Full Version : Making it better... Epi Les Paul



Tudorp
06-12-2011, 08:32 AM
A brudda here on UU asked me to make his Epiphone Les Paul better. The Epi Les Paul is an inexpensive uke, that is pretty decent for the money. But, Epi to save a few bucks on this endevour took some short cuts that maybe they shouldn't have. So, can we make a decent cheap uke, a good cheap uke? Of course we can.. This is a brudda's uke, and he may or may not chime in here if he wishes to not be anonomous. That's his call. But, you can follow if you wish as I progress with this Epi Les Paul upgrade.

Epiphone didn't do themselves justice on these ukes. Are they worth the money? you bet. They are pretty cool, decent ukes for a single Bengie. But, Epi does make nice stuff, but they could have done a bit better with these ukes, but now that is my job. I didn't take pictures from the start, but did take some when I did mine a couple months ago of the neck reset. This one, was just the same. I finished up the neck reset to give it a bit more break, which also lowers the action a little bit. I gained a bit more volume and sustain with this "fix". Now, onto getting rid of those crappy nut and saddle they put on these things. The nuts these come with is pure crap. Looks like a cheap piece of plastic that should have been sucked up a vacume cleaner. Looks like Epi took them and jabbed them into a band saw to create the nests for the strings.. They didn't even bother to debur, or even clean off the plastic dust and scrap before they boxed it up. Epi, I'm a fan, but am ashamed of you for that. This uke deserves a bit better. I don't even try to clean these up. I simply knock em off to get sucked up by the vacume cleaner. I see a new hand diamond honed nut in this Epi's future. Those pics will come later.
http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/P1040486.jpg
But, for now, ops. The wife was vacuming, and sucked up the old epi crap saddle. Oh well, epi didn't even bother to smooth out the knit lines from the molding process, which will jack with your tone, not to mention damage, by cutting your strings eventially. Oh well. It's gone.. But cool, now you can see the cool under saddle pick up..
http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/P1040484.jpg
Now, a nice smooth, diamond honed saddle that replicates the old crap plastic one, but bone this time..
http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/P1040487.jpg

And taking the seat from the old crap saddle, is the new one.. But, this is just a trial fit into the bridge. I will remove this saddle again to true it up, clean it up, and take some off the bottom to lower the action a smidge more.
http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/P1040488.jpg
The new Aquilas that are going in the Epi are gonna thank me for this. Believe me.

Well, now back to that crazy nut.. stay tuned..

Gmoney
06-12-2011, 08:42 AM
I appreciate you taking the time to post this walk-through. But... you gotta go back & explain you do a "neck reset" on a $99 uke?? I'm gonn be watching this thread, cause I will probably have to break down & buy one of these Epi's.

Tudorp
06-12-2011, 08:45 AM
I'll see if I can find my old thread when I did mine.. But basically, it just entails unbolting and removing the neck, shimming the front edge of the butt of the neck, and re-installing. It will kick the neck back ever so slightly increasing the break angle just a tad. It made a substancial, and noticeable difference in playability, and even sound.

Tudorp
06-12-2011, 09:13 AM
The neck reset on mine is tangled up in this thread.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?45049-Epiphone-Les-Paul-Uke-1st-review/page4&highlight=neck

ksiegel
06-12-2011, 04:28 PM
Well, I don't need to be anonymous - I think I've mentioned in a couple of spots here that I was going to try and send the Epi to Tony to make it better., and so I did.

I've basically given Tony Carte Blanche with the Epi and the Republic Spruce Top/ laminated Zebrawood concert that I bought back in March. I see what he's doing with the Bruce Wei ukes, and know what he's done with kids in his neighborhood, and asked if he'd be willing. I'm prepared to be completely amazed when he's done, and I will do my best to compare my two (Yes, Two!) Epiphone Les Pauls when he is done - TweedleDee and TweedleDum. Tony has Dee, Dum is still in the original box (although when I tried it at the store, the intonation was better out of the box than the one I sent to Tony. Still the same crap saddle and nut, but the 12th fret was really close to the harmonic when I tried it, original strings and all.


So stay tuned, campers, and we'll see what happens!


-Kurt

Gmoney
06-12-2011, 04:29 PM
The neck reset on mine is tangled up in this thread.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?45049-Epiphone-Les-Paul-Uke-1st-review/page4&highlight=neck

Thanks - I may try that w/a bolt-on neck like these Epi's but... wouldn't be reasonable on anything else. Now I understand what you mean. Thanks again!

fitncrafty
06-12-2011, 04:32 PM
3
Well, I don't need to be anonymous - I think I've mentioned in a couple of spots here that I was going to try and send the Epi to Tony to make it better., and so I did.

I've basically given Tony Carte Blanche with the Epi and the Republic Spruce Top/ laminated Zebrawood concert that I bought back in March. I see what he's doing with the Bruce Wei ukes, and know what he's done with kids in his neighborhood, and asked if he'd be willing. I'm prepared to be completely amazed when he's done, and I will do my best to compare my two (Yes, Two!) Epiphone Les Pauls when he is done - TweedleDee and TweedleDum. Tony has Dee, Dum is still in the original box (although when I tried it at the store, the intonation was better out of the box than the one I sent to Tony. Still the same crap saddle and nut, but the 12th fret was really close to the harmonic when I tried it, original strings and all.


So stay tuned, campers, and we'll see what happens!


-Kurt

Can't wait to strum that baby! :)

ksiegel
06-12-2011, 04:54 PM
3

Can't wait to strum that baby! :)

And you will be welcome to, when I get it back, Carrie! (And when i get back, for that matter!)

-Kurt

uke4ia
06-12-2011, 05:08 PM
Well, I hope the Epi Les Paul isn't too bad as is. I have an acquaintance who's covetous of my Kiwaya K-Wave Telecaster, and since those aren't being sold any more, I pointed her toward the Epiphone.

ksiegel
06-13-2011, 01:11 AM
No, it isn't too bad - it is well worth the price paid. I've got two - the second one was quite playable out of the box, but the first needed help.

I'm just not the person to do the setup, and Tudorp is, so I asked if he'd do it, and he's making a decent uke into a fine uke.

Before I sent it to him, the intonation was just fine for the first 4-5 frets; when I get it back, I'll be able to play up the neck... or rather, a real good player will be able to play up the neck. I'll just muddle along. (g)

-Kurt

Tudorp
06-14-2011, 01:57 AM
Hey Kurt, I got a bone to pick with you.. ;)

hehheh... Well, I guess I got some work tado...

http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/P1040525.jpg

fitncrafty
06-14-2011, 02:26 AM
Hey Kurt, I got a bone to pick with you.. ;)

hehheh... Well, I guess I got some work tado...

http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/P1040525.jpg

What a tease you are.. Since Kurt will be away.. you can send that thing to my house.. and I will bring it to him next uke night.. HA HA!!!

Tudorp
06-14-2011, 04:01 AM
The stages of Kurt's new nut. From back to front, the original blank, to the roughed out nut. Starting to take shape, now just adjusting to fit the Epi and then we will move onto truing up the nut and saddle. Also in the picture is the original Epi LP plastic crap nut.

http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/nut1.jpg

Tudorp
06-14-2011, 06:37 AM
Ok, Kurt brudda. I'm gonna let the strings settle in for a day or two and re-check the intonation, but the Epi has come together pretty good. Sounds allot better. The action is at about 1mm at #1, and 2.5mm at #12. Preliminary intonation check is pretty darn close. Harmonics at the 12th shown spot on. Plucking the string at 12th, showed just slightly sharp, but within specs really. I will check it again when they settle down some. But, new bone nut, Check. new bone saddle, check. Neck adjusted, check, action set, check, New Aquilas, check.

So, this one is pretty done, next onto your Replublic.

http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/kurt5.jpg

http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/kurt4.jpg

http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/kurt3.jpg

http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/kurt2.jpg

Tudorp
06-14-2011, 06:38 AM
http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/Kurt1.jpg

Tudorp
06-14-2011, 07:37 AM
This was asked about, so I thought I would show a diagram I drew up quick. Pardon the art..

When you building a nut, and ready to file your slots for the strings, be sure not to get them too large, but also you don't want the string to be tight in the groove. You do not want to bind the strings up in the groove. Also, when you file your groove, be sure to file at an angle backwards so that the string (blue line) come to through the nut with a break angle and leads off of it to the bridge from a clean point from the nut. The break angle also keeps you from having buzz issues due to the nut. You want it to break away from the nut cleanly, and sharply. You want a clean sharp break angle, BUT a smooth transition so as to not cut or damage your string on the nut edges. Not sure if that makes any sense, but I hope the drawing will help to know what I mean. (The red dotted line is the cross view of the cut groove. )

http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/nut.jpg

Tudorp
06-14-2011, 08:56 AM
Kurt, here's your epi. Not sure if you can tell the true sound, but here's a little bit of an idea..


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlDtMZIta58

ItsMrPitchy
06-14-2011, 10:01 AM
Beautiful tone you have gave that epi. I bet Kurt will be happy.

ksiegel
06-15-2011, 02:58 PM
Sounds great, Tony!

Thanks much!

Things in California are doing well - my father in law has been singing with me! Can't pronounce all of the words, but he's really trying, and his pitch is better than mine. The therapists are already amazed, and want me to keep working with him, which of course was my intention. When I told him about you, and working on ukes for kids, and working on mine he had a great big smile and gave a thumbs up.

I've got to dig into the box of Gospel songs for him very soon - he's looking forward to it!.

Mahalo, Bro! I'll chat with you later!

-Kurt

Tudorp
06-16-2011, 01:26 AM
Thats Awesome Kurt. Tell him he is in my prayers, and sending him lots of good juju... ;)

kissing
06-16-2011, 03:08 AM
I put D'addario Pro-Arte (concert) strings on my Epiphone Les Paul.
I find that it's the ideal strings for this uke. It really brings out how mellow and bluesy this uke naturally sounds.