Univox Coily electric guitar repair - Projects - Audio Artillery

Univox Coily electric guitar repair

  1. Intro
  2. Defret
  3. Inlay prep
  4. Fretboard planing
  5. Fretboard finishing
  6. Pickup rings
  7. Refret
  8. New nut
  9. Refret, continued
  10. New nut, continued
  11. Finished!
  12. Rebuilding the vibrato tailpiece
  13. Another vibrato repair!

6: Pickup rings

I've been amassing parts for this project for a while. One of the problems was this guitar used odd sized pickups and they're hard to find. So I decided to convert it to humbucker-sized pickups. But I needed pickup rings to make that happen. I poked around a little and dropped a line to Dave at fretsonthenet.com. I ended up sending him a drawing.


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And 3 weeks and $40 later I had new rings.


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(click for full size)

Now it's starting to look like a real guitar again. I'd been wanting to try the GFS pickups out for a while, and they are relatively cheap. The neck is a "Mean 90" humbucker-sized P90, the bridge is a "Dream 180".


 

7: Refret

I've been waiting to refret this neck for a month because the fret tang nipper I ordered from a seller on ebay was taking forever to show up. The seller disappeared so I started looking around and found someone using a cheap tool for this.


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It's called a nibbling tool and it cost me all of $12 (beats the stew-mac $50 tool and it actually works great). They're used for cutting sheet metal kind of like a jigsaw is used on wood. I had to grind one edge down so that the fret could lay right while I nip it. I should have instead cut a groove in it (closeup here) so the fret would have a hard time slipping around, but it works. Sometimes I have to file a bit afterwards but it's very usable. WAY faster than the dremel tool I used on my mandolin.


 

8: New nut

Starting off with the nut. The neck on this guitar is on the thin side, so I didn't have a nut to copy the slots from. The calculations are trivial but measuring and cutting the slots is tricky. The frets.com guy has a tool for slot placement but I used a CAD program to draw up a slot template.


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(click for full size)

With this template it's pretty easy to tape the nut down (double sided tape is good for so many things!) and use a straight edge to project the slot lines onto the nut. Then get the old nut files out and go at it.

My nut is way too tall because I wanted to slot it and see if the spacing seemed right. If I didn't like it I could sand it down and re-slot it. But it seems about right. I was able to string it up and play a little slide on this last night. The neck pickup really kicks ass, I am kind of surprised. Not yet sold on the bridge pup.


 

9: Refret, continued

I got some nice big fret nippers from Stew-Mac. I'd been using wire cutters to trim the fret ends but it kills my hands. This is much better. I noticed a few frets sticking up a little bit...


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... not any more they're not! That's my new neck caul. I need to mount it to something taller for it to be of any use, but it is handy for clamping operations.


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I was getting ready to level the frets and noticed this. It seems to be a little back bow. It's probably fine, but I wanted to tighten up the truss rod to see if I could get the frets really level. But I can't find an allen wrench that would fit :(. I've tried 7/32" (too big), 3/16" (too small), and 5mm (too small). You'd think it'd be a metric size since it's a Japanese guitar.

Well I did get the truss rod turning. I had to sacrifice a 7/32" allen wrench and file it down to fit just right. That helped with the neck bow. Anywho, I leveled the frets and found out they weren't as evenly installed as they could have been.


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That one fret was a real b****. You can see how flat part of it is. There were a couple other spots that had some buzzes but another pass of leveling cleared that all up. It helps to set the action really low to find those spots.

I haven't quite perfected my fretting skills. The fret ends are a bit ugly (though functional) and like the one above there's some really flat places...


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... but you really can't tell without looking really hard, and everything feels fine.


 

10: New nut, continued


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(click for full size)

I used a "vintage bone" blank from Stew-Mac, it's just unbleached bone. It looked really ugly to begin with (brownish, splotchy) but now that it's polished it looks great. One thing I learned is you don't want your nut blank any taller than it needs to be. When I cut the slots they tend to walk a little. The deeper the slot the more it can be off.


 
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