Univox Coily electric guitar repair
- Inlay prep
- Fretboard planing
- Fretboard finishing
- Pickup rings
- New nut
- Refret, continued
- New nut, continued
- Rebuilding the vibrato tailpiece
- Another vibrato repair!
I picked this up for under $65 on that wonderful guitar cloud in the sky. It's a late 60's Univox Coily thinline hollowbody. The Coily was made by Matsumoku, the same company that made the Epiphone EA-250, which is basically the same guitar. I've heard that Yamaha also made a model which is the same design as the Coily and the parts interchange. I don't know what that model is called but I have seen them occasionally on eBay. In terms of in-production guitars this is basically an Epiphone Casino with a crude Bigsby tailpiece.
The pickups, bridge, and critical parts of the tailpiece are long gone. There's a bunch of wiring inside but no idea if it's any good. But really not too much wrong with it other than all the inlays are peeling up.
First up, the refret. The frets are actually in decent shape but the block inlays needed a lot of work and you'll see below that pretty much means planing the fretboard.
Defretting this neck was a real pain. Maybe they started making frets a little better or maybe it was glued in, but this was the first time I felt heating the frets was completely necessary. If it wasn't heated it wasn't going anywhere. Also the frets were seated so nicely that I couldn't get my fret pullers under then. Ended up prying one end up with a chisel to get it started. You can see some of the pain on the end of the raised fret below.
In between bouts with the frets I started working at the inlays. Most of them were a little loose on at least one corner. The original glue wasn't very good. It was brittle and chipped easily. I used a razor blade and a piece of guitar string to slowly get the gaps cleaned out.
Ah, much better. With everything cleaned out it's time to get enough glue in there to hold the inlay down. I'm using the glue part of the two-part Loctite superglue (glue + activator). The normal stuff has activator mixed in and does that white crusty thing and gets everywhere. Not what you want for this job. The glue flows into the crack and underneath nicely because superglue wicks really well. It isn't necessary to fill the cracks on the sides completely at this point, you need to make a 2nd pass anyways.
And then I clamped them any way I could. Cable ties and a tiny block would probably work better.
Once the inlays are set then I went about filling the gaps. In most cases this took a couple passes. One thing I learned is that you want to minimize the amount of glue you get on the inlay. That way if part of the inlay is a tiny bit below the fretboard you won't have to plane so much of the fretboard away to get the glue off.
After planing with 100 grit sandpaper. I usually start with 60 grit but the neck is perfectly straight to begin with and 60 grit can really put some deep grooves in inlays. It's a shame I had to plane this, the fretboard was in really good old condition. When I'm done it will be in really good new condition, not quite the same thing. If you're really careful with the glue you can get away with spot sanding. I've done this with fretboard dots but these big blocks just scream for a planing.
This is the one block that turned out perfect, a few others had tiny spots where they needed more glue (which I'm doing on the left). This one doesn't look so good in the picture but running my finger over it it's completely flush. When it's sanded down all the way to 600 grit that glue will be so polished you won't know it's there.
Sanded down to 400 grit and then worked on just the inlays with 600 and then 1500 grit to get them shining.
This turned out pretty nice all around. Sad to see that nice aged layer of rosewood gone but the newly exposed wood is really pretty. It's no brazilian rosewood but still, look at that grain! The inlays ought to stay put now until kingdom come.