Project '59 (modding my 5420)

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by j_double_u, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. j_double_u

    j_double_u Electromatic

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    ^ Project '59

    My goal is to create a 1981 Straycats tribute guitar. Even though I'm impressed and very happy with my 5420 I got a couple of months ago, I really got it because I think it is the best platform for upgrading towards a slightly less poor man's 6120. A late 50s version and particularly that original Setzer Gretsch. For me the thumbnail inlay, the headstockshape, en especially this beautiful shade of orange are the things that convinced me to buy this particular version. Sure, it has the pre '58 electronics configuration, but as a player I kinda prefer that over the post '57 mudswitch version... I'll just have to hide that tone knob.

    What I've done so far:

    - blacked out 'Licenced' (on Bigsby)
    - straplocks (schaller)
    - strap (made out of leather belts)
    - stickers (vinyl + spraypaint)
    - pickguard (made from plexiglass)
    - drilled a 2nd hole, moved pu switch


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    ^ Cut 2 cheap leather belts to make a strap.

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    ^ finished homemade leather strap

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    ^ One of two homemade halloween stickers as seen on Setzers original 6120 in 1981

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    ^ because I'm not to fond of the shape of the original Setzer-pickguard I tried a more Gretschlike shape, but that just didn't look right. I decided to go for the Setzershape. I like it now. Very much. Because it turned out so well.

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    ^ Testfitting new scratchplate before spraying it a Smokey clear black.

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    ^ I taped off the front and sides and sprayed it with a few layers of Tamiya smoke clear.

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    ^ Adding some historical correctness by drilling the 2nd hole (or should I say removing some historical incorrectness...)

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    ^ Moving pu switch to the new hole

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    ^ My 5420 as it is now. I know the holes aren't exactly spot-on as vintage 6120s, but a lot of other 58/59 and on Gretsches do have these two switches on these spots, so I'm good.

    Hope you like it.
    Stay tuned for more!
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
  2. JC higgy

    JC higgy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    48
    Jun 6, 2008
    Belfast Norn Iron
    Looks the business !:cool:
     
  3. calebaaron666

    calebaaron666 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    Nice work, and welcome to the forum!
    I also have a 5420TG-59 that i’ve made a lot of changes to.
    Very pretty guitars.
     
  4. Alberta_Slim

    Alberta_Slim Gretschie

    466
    May 18, 2018
    Ontario
    Are you going for dice knobs? My suggestion:

     
  5. j_double_u

    j_double_u Electromatic

    Thanks guys!

    @calebaaron666 : I've checked out yours. Cool guitar man. Loving the naked Bigsby. And that handle is the best.

    @Alberta_Slim : I hear ya! Dice knobs is an option. I'll probably make some. But my intention really is to do a 1981 tribute. With standard knobs. I'll order nickel plated hardware when I've decided what to do for pickups and wiring. (US vs metric)

    Loving the Palpatine-quote!
     
    Alberta_Slim likes this.
  6. j_double_u

    j_double_u Electromatic

    [​IMG]
    ^ That other homemade Halloweensticker for my Straycats-tribute. (Satin black spray paint on satin yellow vinyl. Traced from my computer screen.)
     
    Alberta_Slim likes this.
  7. Outlaw

    Outlaw Gretschie

    499
    Jul 13, 2011
    UK
    J_double_u : that's a cool project and its looking great, I'm no stranger to modding electromatics, they are without doubt a perfect platform for all of that stuff.
    Are you going to swap out the black top filters?
     
  8. thunder58

    thunder58 I Bleed Orange

    Age:
    60
    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Looks great . Are you going with locking tuners and a jack plate ?
     
  9. j_double_u

    j_double_u Electromatic

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    I found this Bigsby long before the 5420, and I got a good deal on it. Always thought to myself: if the tribute wasn't goin to happen I'd make sure I'd find another project that would need a B6. But luckily the 5420 crossed my path.

    I'm highly impressed of the licensed Bigsby the 5420 came with. I've played all sorts of us-made Bigsbys and I must say, this Asian version is nothing less than the US version it's trying to be, imho. I'm even wondering if the Asian version might be slightly better in handling and build quality than a us made... I can't think of a single reason why wouldn't be. It feels very precise, especially compared to my us made B7 which is very wooly and floppy, and certainly not precise... It also looks very well made. Probably in a cnc machine? And it does look like it has some kind of clearcoat over the aluminum... Any thoughts on that?

    Anyway, of course I'll be mounting the US version to the 5420 because it just looks way more authentic. Just hoping it'll perform as well as the licensed one... I'm planning to mount the licensed B6 to my Epiphone which at the moment is equipped with a B7.

    I will install the replacement B6 when funds allow for the other mods I've planned.

    Thanks guys!
    I have no intention to install locking tuners because they don't look authentic enough to me. Remember, I'm trying to do the 1981 version of Setzers 6120. The standard tuners perform pretty well, and I haven't had any problems with em in the 3 months Ive been playing this guitar. I however like to replace em with similar (looking) nickleplated version in the end, if I can find any.

    I had planned a jackplate, but go back and forth on this idea. For now, I think I'm happy that I can go 'Standard 6120' at the moment I get bored with this whole Straycats tribute. I did buy a plate, just in case.

    I also bought a piece of mother of pearl, to do an authentic remake of a late 50s headstock inlay. But now I don't think I have the guts to mess up the factory 5420 headstock. I really think it's beautifull even though it's black.

    What I do have planned in the near future is installing a nickel space control bridge, nickel knobs and tips, and of course some filtertrons + wiringharness.

    But at the moment I have no clue to which filtertrons... Any sugestions? I really am happy with the sound/attitude of the blacktops combined with my Vox AC10. But it must have the look of authentic filtertrons. Again: nickel plated of course. (not planning to use this guitar on stage.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
    Alberta_Slim likes this.
  10. Outlaw

    Outlaw Gretschie

    499
    Jul 13, 2011
    UK
    If your really happy with the blacktop leave them in!
    After all if it ain't broke Don't fix it!!

    However if you are anything like me you will be sorely tempted to experiment. TV Jones are awesome and also worth a punt are Gretsches own HS Filtertrons, my fave at the mo and about half the price of classics!!
     
    LongJohn and j_double_u like this.
  11. stiv

    stiv Synchromatic

    813
    Sep 12, 2014
    Florence, Italy
    I say if you want to do a replica, go with the full package (if money isn’t an issue of course... :)). Filtertrons were what defined Stray Cats sound from the beginning, so why not? After all, I guess it’s the most important mod of any guitar. Some good fella here will address you to the right model (I’m no Filters expert sorry, the only ones I have are the early 90s ceramic model that aren’t exactly a classic type), TV Jones as well may be the one for you.
    Also, you miss the Lucky Lady pin up with the horseshoe sticker! ;)
     
    j_double_u likes this.
  12. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Friend of Fred

    Jan 19, 2012
    Maldon UK
    The licenced Bigsby is die cast, as opposed to the sand cast original. As such it gets a much better machined hinge, without the ever present slop on the original. The roller bearing on the original arguably trumps the plastic bush in the licenced version.
     
    Outlaw and j_double_u like this.
  13. j_double_u

    j_double_u Electromatic

    Thanks Guys! Great input here.

    @Uncle Daddy , wow... The use of a plastic bushing is new to me. Kind of a bummer. Nonetheless, my US B7 feels more plastic than my licensed B60. I wonder how the B60 will perform over time.

    @Outlaw
    I'm with you on 'if it ain't broke...', but... In this case looks are more important than sound because I don't think I really can go wrong with any filtertron upgrade nowadays. If I go TV that is... Stock HS filters are also an option. In due time I will ask advice on the right choice for me.
    (by the way, the Blacktops, incl. Wiring will probably end up as an upgrade for my Epiphone.)

    @stiv
    Keep in mind, my goal is the 1981 version of that guitar. The one pictured on the debut album. With the custom black pickguard. I'm not trying to make it look like the official Setzer Tribute guitar. To my knowledge the horseshoe lucky lady sticker was never on the guitar in combination with that black pickguard. Therefor to me, the official setzer tribute guitar is one that NEVER existed...

    But please, anyone, proof me wrong. I'm here to learn.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
    Alberta_Slim likes this.
  14. calebaaron666

    calebaaron666 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    Very cool.
    If you don’t want to drill new holes in your guitar, there’s the option of drilling/punching out the pin and swapping hinges. That’s what I did to put a US bigs on mine. Worked well.
     
    j_double_u likes this.
  15. j_double_u

    j_double_u Electromatic

    @calebaaron666
    hey! Hadn't thought of that option! What kinda risk will be involved doing that? Is it possible to get the pin back in the right shape? Or did you install the hinge with another pin..?

    I had a similar problem some 20 years ago when installing a B6 in place of a G-tailpiece on an Anniversary. What I did was create a footprint out of stock aluminum which I glued to the hingeplate after copying the G-tailpiece holes. I then drilled that hole-patern through the B6 hingeplate. Worked like a charm!
     
    calebaaron666 likes this.
  16. calebaaron666

    calebaaron666 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    That sounds like a good method! I was able to reuse pin from the USA bigsby, but the pin from the licensed bigs was a loss. I just hammered in a new pin that i found in my friends garage.
     
    j_double_u likes this.
  17. j_double_u

    j_double_u Electromatic

    @calebaaron666
    I'll keep that in mind. Sounds like a clean swap. It's not that I mind drilling in wood, but the holes probably are going to be very close to each other...
     
  18. calebaaron666

    calebaaron666 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    Yeah, i’d probably plug the existing holes with some wood glue and wood plugs, and then drill the new holes after they dry. Way easier than it sounds.
     
  19. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    The only plastic bushings on the Bx0 series are on the roller tension bars of B70 and B50s. Every Bx0 in recent times are made with steel needle bearings on the primary string bar.
     
    j_double_u likes this.
  20. johnny g

    johnny g Synchromatic

    842
    Sep 2, 2017
    union, ms
    Great work so far. Can't wait to see the final product.
     
    j_double_u likes this.
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