1. Last month I had posted to The ARIA 1802t/1803t - EPIPHONE ET 270 DATABASE thread about a Domino Olympic that I purchased. Since then I've done a fair amount of work on it.
From the information available on the web, my best guess on the year of this guitar is 1969. This would mean it predates the Aria/Epiphone versions by a few years.
I popped the neck off to do a refret. Here was the marking on the heel. I have no clue what it says. I took one semester of Japanese in grade 9, skipped half of the classes, and got an F minus minus minus.
Starting to take the frets off:
The wood was pretty dry and fragile, so there were a few minor chips. The worst was by the 15th fret. But even this one was minor. I resurfaced the board and sanded up to 12,000 grit. I found it interesting that the two dots at the 12th fret are smaller than the rest.
Then it got a fresh set of frets with a level, crown, and polish and a few applications of StewMac fretboard oil (which is the only oil I've tried that doesn't turn waxy in a few weeks). I also replaced the plastic nut shimmed with paper and super glue with a proper bone nut and found a replacement for the missing headstock badge.
I disassembled the tuners, gave them a cleaning and lube then reinstalled them. A few weeks of playing with the tuners convinced me that they needed upgrading though. The G tuner was so stiff that I had to use my string winder when tuning.
Since the tuners have a Schaller type F mount screw pattern, I tried looking for Kluson Revolution F-mount tuners without a collar. The only ones I could find anywhere were in gold though. Ultimately, I ended up purchasing a set of the collared models, which required opening up the holes in the headstock. I was reluctant to make a permanent mod to a 50 year old guitar, but in the end functionality trumps everything else. But, the button style is the same, the bushings look almost the same and the screw pattern is the same.
The original tuners were installed a bit wonky, so I plugged the screw holes to get a fresh surface for mounting the new tuners. No pics of the new tuners, but they make a huge difference to the usability.
On to the body.
Here is a comparison between an 80s MIJ strat pickup on the left and the Domino pickups on the right:
The Domino are slightly wider, being in between a strat and tele bridge in the width of the bobbin. The Domino are significantly taller though (around 50%). The poles are clearly smaller as well. I measured the bridge pickup at around 10k. I wasn't able to get a reading from the neck, but it is definitely functional.
This guitar should have had pickup covers originally, which are now missing. So I drew up some new covers and had them 3D printed. The originals would have had holes for the pole pieces I believe, but I chose to do a closed cover.
Here are the custom covers next to a strat cover.
Then I rewired everything. None of the pots or switches were original, so used all new parts. Currently it has just one three-way lever switch for the neck and bridge. The middle pickup is a dead strat pickup that is just there to fill the hole for now. Each pickup has a tone knob and there is a strangle switch.
I am considering a few options for the missing middle pickup.
- A custom pickup to match the other two
- An off the shelf pickup with a custom printed cover to make it look like the other two
- A surface mounted pickup like a gold foil
This thing is playing and sounding awesome now. The pickups, despite the high reading, are nice and bright without muddiness, but have a good midrange grittyness. When I put them through my Topanga they really nail that garage-y/surf-y Man or Astroman? sound that I love. This was a steal for $200!
I'm going to keep things as they are through the winter. In the spring I'll work on removing the bad maroon finish. I did a test scraping on the rear and I believe the original (laquer!) finish may be able to be saved, provided the person who did the refinish didn't really mess up the edges or corners.
The original finish is a faded fiesta/coral type of color
It would have looked like the Domino Spartan shown below:
If the original finish is too messed up or if I damage it too much while removing the maroon, I'm leaning towards a Daphne blue color as seen on the Olympic below:
Finally, I need to source originals of and/or reproduce the truss rod, neck screw, and jack cavity covers.
2. The Talman refinish is complete and reassembled. I need to get good pics taken, but it looks great.
3. The Mahogany Blaster build hasn't had any progress. I have a neck, but need to wait on good weather to paint the headstock black. I also need a name so I can order or make a decal.
4. I have a new updated take on the shape I've been prototyping. I'm planning to do a quick build of this version in the coming months. I have most of the parts on hand already, and just need to make the body and pickguard. It will be ash with a clear finish and a black acrylic guard.
As previously mentioned, this is inspired by Gibson's experimental late 50s shapes, the St. Vincent signature, Brutalist architecture and my perennial inspiration - Bauhaus design. It has no complex curves, using only simple arcs and a handful of straight lines where necessary. I've been thinking about an offset tele build for awhile, but had trouble settling on an existing shape and decided to come back to this one (it's not easy to tell, but the waist is offset 13°). It's tele-ness should be apparent, but the only tele part is actually uses is the bridge.