Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replicas - SG-2 Finished p15/18

Talk about modding or building your own guitar from scratch.
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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - guard done

Post by chase » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:28 pm

theworkoffire wrote:Some minor works to update before the final push. Just waiting on a laser-cut neck plate and an experimental bridge base (stand by for Kahler mash-up), then I can get the SG-2 fully assembled. Oh, and special string trees, too, hopefully.
Love this project.

What are you thinking for the string trees, or is that a surprise? And is the laser-cut neck plate a monogrammed plate like Mr. Rhoney uses, or something else?

Standing by for Kahler mash-up...

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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - polishin'

Post by Harvester » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:08 pm

wow, that is all looking gorgeous !

AP

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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - polishin'

Post by theworkoffire » Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:30 am

Just collected these:

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Massive assembly picture bomb on the way.


Bonus points for anyone who can guess what car I own from that pic ;D

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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - polishin'

Post by Murph » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:10 am

those look amazing.

no idea on the car.

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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - polishin'

Post by theworkoffire » Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:36 pm

Clue - that's the middle seat...in the front.

So, I've been too busy to update this last week. I have about three days of day-job work left and then I'm stating a full-time PhD (my attempt to fit one in part-time a couple of years ago misfired - I've won a proper scholarship this time) so now that my time is my own my plan is to schedule in one full day a week of guitar work and see where it goes. Mustn't forget to actually do some studying, though.

Anyway, this is where it all get's a bit tricksy. I think I underestimated just how much customization this one was going to need.

The neck was more or less straightforward. Levelled and polished the frets, more than usual to give it a nice worn-in feel:

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The lacquer was cracking slightly around the holes on the front of the headstock as I tried to insert the bushings, so I stupidly tried to drill them out a little. Sure enough, I managed to chip around the first hole, and I ended up having to drop-fill a little with some clear and flash the whole face with another coat of very thin lacquer to re-melt the cracks. Rather than bodge it with the reamer I decided to use the router and a makeshift template to open them up a bit.

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Lining the tuners up and marking for the screws:

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Drilling 2mm pilot holes after making centre-point holes with a sharp point:

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All done. The spacing is loads wider than on a Fender neck - these Schallers were the most appropriate I could find. They're basically F-funers with Kluson buttons:

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Cutting a brass nut - I drew up a spacing template specially for it. I normally just use old nuts to guess the spacing but nothing I had seemed right for this one.

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Now it gets messy. I'm using TonePros locking posts for the bridge, but the shafts are designed for wraparounds and are way too tall for what I need. Plus, the top screws are really ugly, and have shitty little M3 threads that feel like they'll snap or strip in an instant. The bridge base here is one I had a friend of Ludo's in France make for me ages ago - just using it for now until I get the correct ones. This is the stock post/screw combo:

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First, I drilled them out, wider and deeper with a 4mm bit:

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Then I tapped them out with an M5 thread:

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Then I dropped them into a hole in a block of wood and sanded the tops down on my disk sander:

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Checking the level with a screw as a makeshift level gauge. Excuse the filthy thumb - I was restoring my new 1940s drill press at the same time:

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Checking the look with an M5 machine screw - I have nicer stainless steel ones on the way. Much closer to the original Yamaha - in looks, not function. The original bridge floats on strong springs and the screw goes straight into a threaded insert in the body. I might try that next time.

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Borrowing saddles from a re-issue Yamaha bridge. I cocked up the string spacing on the base I had made (I used JM spacing which is too wide) but it will do for testing:

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It actually makes a really nice bridge. I'll have to find a use for it some day:

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I swapped the ugly flat head pivot plate screws for some nice oval-head stainless ones. Much better - thanks Mark!

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Drilling through from the trem to the controls for a ground wire. Hate doing this, ever since I drilled right through on that body for Dug a couple of years ago. Should have done this before finishing, but I always forget:

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Marked up and drilling pilot holes for everything:

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Drilling 11mm holes for the bridge inserts, praying for no chips in the lacquer:

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I also drilled recesses for neck screw inserts - I made a template for this with the four holes in it, clamped it to the body and drilled through that. Must have been absolutely shitting myself about chipping the lacquer because I clean forgot to take a photo of the jig, but it turned out fine. This will all be covered with a plate, but there's barely 1mm either side so no room for error. This is after I'd mounted the neck - you can see the slotted end of the microtilt screw I made. Slightly rough around the hole, but it will be hidden:

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Strung up with the temporary bridge for testing:

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I decided I wanted the option of using a series circuit instead of the rhythm circuit, so I needed to rout the switch cavity out a bit to accommodate the massive 4PDT switch it needs. Again, terrified of chipping the lacquer:

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I mounted the guard and packed the pickup covers into place with a chopped up credit card, then used the covers a a guide for drilling pilot holes in the cavities:

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I tested the conductivity of the cavity paint I was using, and it seemed way higher than the last stuff I used, so I panicked and bought a couple of vials of very expensive silver paint from Maplin and gave the cavities a coat of that. Not as pretty as the black, but much more conductive:

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When I had it strung up, I tested the trem and it was just awful. I've only used AVRI and vintage JM trems before, which have been virtually silent and clean-running. This one, which uses the guts of a Classic Player, made a horrible scraping sound as it rocked, and wouldn't pull up properly because the ball ends of the strings rammed straight into the plate. Another classic example of Fender making products that are just a shadow of their former glory. But easily fixed. First problem was the square-ended pivot plate:

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I used my belt sander to sharpen it up, and at the same time made it slightly smaller so the string plate would sit a little higher up and further forward. I actually over-cooked this a little:

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Because of the string plate sitting further forward more than I originally planned, I needed to make the collet hole a little larger and file a small indent for good trem-lock clearance:

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The string holes in the classic player trems are just drilled holes with no countersinking like on AVRI ones. I used a drill bit to countersink these, then cleaned them up with a dremmel grinder:

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End result: a nice sharp pivot and string ends safely away from the top plate. It's now absolutely silent when in use. It's funny - the Classic player threaded arm and collet (with tension spring inside) is a massive improvement on the AVRI one - weird how they would go to the trouble of re-thinking that but not bother to get the pivot and the string holes functioning properly:

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...

Today I picked up some bridge bases, neck plates and string trees I've had specially made by Aitchee engineering down in East Grinstead. I discovered that the saddles on certain old Kahler bridges are almost exact copies of the original Yamaha ones, and I've managed to hunt down a couple of them to sacrifice for the greater good. They're actually really well designed units, and I'm sure there's a community of Kahler aficionados out there who will hate me for this...never mind.

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This is the finished bridge installed. The only immediate difference from the vintage Yamaha one is the lack of support bracket at the sides. I'm pretty sure it will be fine without, since the stainless steel base is slightly softer than the original chrome one - if not, I might try to dremmel a slight channel for the outer saddle height screws to rest in.

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Lastly, the nut, which still needs refining:

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EDIT: The last image would have spoiled a big surprise for the recipient - I'll re-post it later.

Sorry for the avalanche of images. Not long to go now.
Last edited by theworkoffire on Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - bridge mash-

Post by chnlone » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:10 pm

Amazing work as always! :? I really can't wait to see this finished.

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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - bridge mash-

Post by PorkyPrimeCut » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:35 pm

Yep, fantastic stuff as usual. Fascinating!

Very thorough with the pics too (which is always a good thing).

I have screw envy now!! Those domed screws you found for the trem plate are much nicer looking than mine.
Mine, as you probably noticed, have diagonal lines etched across the crosshead. Annoying!

One teensy, weensy bit of constructive critisism (from one aesthetics perfectionist to the next), those bridge springs look like the ones I bought for my reverb unit.
The coiled wire is much thinner than I'd expected & nothing like the Fender springs (for Reverb Tanks & bridges). I gave up looking for better ones.
Anyway, I'm sure they work perfectly & are so small it doesn't matter. Those bridges, with the little brass wheels, look fantastic now that they've been hotrodded.
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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - bridge mash-

Post by PoppaPopp » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:05 pm

Oh lord... incredible... sooo beautiful!
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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - bridge mash-

Post by theworkoffire » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:30 pm

Thanks guys! Getting really excited about finishing it.
PorkyPrimeCut wrote:Yep, fantastic stuff as usual. Fascinating!

Very thorough with the pics too (which is always a good thing).

I have screw envy now!! Those domed screws you found for the trem plate are much nicer looking than mine.
Mine, as you probably noticed, have diagonal lines etched across the crosshead. Annoying!

One teensy, weensy bit of constructive critisism (from one aesthetics perfectionist to the next), those bridge springs look like the ones I bought for my reverb unit.
The coiled wire is much thinner than I'd expected & nothing like the Fender springs (for Reverb Tanks & bridges). I gave up looking for better ones.
Anyway, I'm sure they work perfectly & are so small it doesn't matter. Those bridges, with the little brass wheels, look fantastic now that they've been hotrodded.
I had to order those screws from the states to get the right ones. The ones you showed me are Pozidrive, rather than a plain Phillips head.

Re the springs - I missed a delivery from TNT yesterday which contains 12 each of three different lengths of springs matched to the Yamaha originals. I just re-used the Kahler ones to get it working. Hopefully I'll be able to replace them today if I catch the delivery. I love that you're so tough on me with these things! A man after my own heart, definitely.

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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - bridge mash-

Post by PorkyPrimeCut » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:50 pm

theworkoffire wrote: I had to order those screws from the states to get the right ones. The ones you showed me are Pozidrive, rather than a plain Phillips head.
Aah, I see. I really don't know my shit when it comes to this kind of thing. I still live in the world of flathead/crosshead.
theworkoffire wrote: Re the springs - I missed a delivery from TNT yesterday which contains 12 each of three different lengths of springs matched to the Yamaha originals. I just re-used the Kahler ones to get it working. Hopefully I'll be able to replace them today if I catch the delivery. I love that you're so tough on me with these things! A man after my own heart, definitely.
It's good that I don't come across as being awkwardly picky. I find it pretty hard to find fault in your work. That whole trem plate modification & bridge build process is a joy to read through! It's good to see so much top-drawer stuff coming out of your shed! Oh and yes, those domed screws look perfect!!
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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - bridge mash-

Post by rexter » Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:35 am

Such intricate work going on here Ben, and that finish is looking fantastic too. Let me know when you need me for testing!

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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - bridge mash-

Post by theworkoffire » Fri Oct 12, 2012 1:32 am

rexter wrote:Such intricate work going on here Ben, and that finish is looking fantastic too. Let me know when you need me for testing!
Today, tomorrow or wait for the next one!

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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - bridge mash-

Post by garyptaszek » Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:15 am

amazing work. loved all the detailed pictures and your revamping of the trem system

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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - bridge mash-

Post by mynameisjonas » Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:46 am

I just read this thread from start to finish. You are a master, Ben. Can't wait to see them finished :)

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Re: Yamaha SG-3 & SG-2 replica project builds - bridge mash-

Post by druunkonego » Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:52 am

Massively inspiring! :-*

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