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Nighthawk CST3 Seeker First Post

#1 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:27 PM

Hello fellow forum members! I am posting here for the very first time to see how the Gibson community that is online is doing. I have a Gibson Nighthawk SP3, Epiphone NH (ST3 replica essentially), and have always had some sort of Gibson/Epiphone in my possession since I started playing years ago. I started music when I was 9 with piano lessons and migrated towards guitar playing when I was 14. My first guitar was a used Epiphone SG replica I purchased for $230. I loved this guitar and eventually explored the other models of the Gibson family. One day, I ran into my Epi-Hawk and ever since then, I loved the guitar. I loved its tone, the look, just a wonderful piece of work! Anyhow, my true intention is to see if it is possible to poll the community if there is a better way to attain a chance at getting my hands on a 90's Nighthawk CST3. Whether or not it has FR bridge, not interested as much. This I gather is more rare, but I would be happy with a great condition CST3. I really like the ebony fretboard, the binding on the neck, body, and headstock, and of course the versatility and tone it provides when plugged in. My SP3 is quite nice and I see some important differences between the actual Gibson and the Epi-hawk... I'll take the Gibson, thank you. Nonetheless, what would be my best bet to run into this guitar? Should I try to suggest it on this forum? I regularly check the typical places online (eBay, Reverb, Letgo, etc.). Currently there's nothing of interest to me, but that may change day to day. Is this my only chance of getting this prized guitar, or can I send the word out here to get someone interested in making a sale? Any advice is welcome. I figured before I start "spamming" this forum for potential sellers, I might ask if there is some sort of etiquette to follow as not to abuse the forum rules. Thanks for reading this!
- Vintage Sunburst 1993 Nighthawk SP3
- Ebony 1994 Nighthawk SP3
- Fireburst 1995 Nighthawk CST3
- Fireburst 1996 Nighthawk CST3
- Translucent Amber 1996 Epiphone Nighthawk (MIK ST3 Replica)
- Fireburst 1997 Nighthawk ST3 w/ Floyd Rose
- Snow White 2006 Jackson Dinky DK2M (MIJ)
- Tri Burst 2015 Les Paul Custom

- Peavey 5150
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#2 User is offline   4Hayden 

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 08:13 PM

Welcome Chris there is a place on here to sell guitar/gear look under the trading post



4H
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#3 User is offline   Retired 

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 10:26 PM

Welcome Chris and best luck with your adventures. Have you checked with Sweetwater?
Herman
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#4 User is offline   dReit1 

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 10:26 AM

Welcome Chris, I'm a big fan of 'Hawk type guitars too. The CST3 is one of the best for sure. Problem is they were built 20 years ago and getting harder to find all the time.
Best advise I can offer is "Patience grasshopper"
2nd best advise is check all the smaller shops with online sales constantly and have your cash ready because if a nice one does show up, it won't last long.

Good luck in your search.

Question. Was your 1st Epi-Hawk the early version with the bolt on neck or the newer setneck?

This post has been edited by dReit1: 18 July 2017 - 10:31 AM

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#5 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 11:47 AM

Thanks fellas for the replies, much appreciate all the feedback on my "quest" for the holy grail AKA the CST3 Nighthawk. I have checked with Sweetwater per @Retired's advice, but they are primarily new guitars after talking with a sales rep over there. No worries, just keeping cool over here. I did also look into the trading post area as well per @4Hayden's advice. Something might come up eventually there. Appreciate the boost in morale :-)

@dReit1

I have to have the earlier version as I bought it before 2000 (or just after) I believe... It is amber translucent type finish with bolt on neck with 2 OBL pickups (OBL visible in white letters) and some mini HB. I like the body and the hardware for the most part, but you can tell where some corners were cut. The input jack plate is plastic - broke that (go figure if you play it a ton). The wiring is not like the actual NH where there is actually some dead spot. I had to rewire it entirely and gut the electrical components aside from the tone cap (replaced pots and 55 position switch). The switch was straight up not making contact after a while, so I replaced with some Fender 5 position which worked MUCH better. The original switch was plastic too - go figure. Piece of junk IMO. Nonetheless, I know how to solder very well and I cleaned it up phenomenally inside the guts of the guitar. Oh, and there was some dummy coil in there too. Don't think it made much of a difference, so I took it out. Still have it, but just not wired in the guitar. Another interesting thing it has is the 2 position switch externally located around the 5 position switch which does pickup "splitting" (which there is really no tapping or splitting really going on - just wire in close proximity coils together or separately). I do a simple series circuit to place 1 or 2 coils in series - nothing in parallel or out of phase, etc. Pretty standard as I am not one to make this some "magic" guitar. All in all, it is in wonderful shape and has served me well. Intonation is spot on and frets aren't worn out badly or nothing like that where there are obvious issues. I take care of ALL my stuff.

My plan is to put in a JB slanted pickup (SH4 I believe I have), replace the single coil with another Seymour Duncan PU (want to see if STK4 will fit), and I don't know if I want to put in a JBE PU... Don't know much about this PU, but the others I have heard good things about pertaining to the style of play. I guess you don't really go wrong with a Duncan PU. I really not a huge fan of those OBL Korean PU's. They aren't malfunctioned, but the tone they provide is nothing to write home about. I think this would be a great upgrade which will cost around $300 on top of the original $700 I paid when I purchased the Epi-Hawk. So it becomes the price of the real NH in the end, haha! I plan on giving this to my son when he's ready to pick up a guitar - something to start with. Sure will beat the Epi-SG I had when I was 14 :-) That guitar was good too. Put in passive EMG PU's in that years ago, but this is another story.

Another thing is that I did find a great condition NH ST3 with FR tremolo (Sunburst finish). This is a great find, so I pulled the trigger on it. It was in a smaller guitar shop I happened to run across that had one used - VERY lucky. I really don't know if I really need a CST3 as much as I will now possess an Epi-Hawk with Duncan's, SP3 NH in great condition, and now an ST3 with FR Tremolo in great condition... 3 Hawks are more than most would hope for in their lifetime :-D If I run into a CST3 in great condition - with or w/out FR - I would be tempted, but all I would get is a bound headstock, ebony fretboard, and cloud inlays I believe. Pretty much cosmetic. The ST3 I just bought is absolutely beautiful. I know there are CST3's a little bit more beautiful, but it seems ridiculous to have 4 Hawks!? Essentially, the low-end SP3 has the same stuff as the other models from what I gather, so I am not gaining tone with the CST3. Would I be correct to say this, or does the CST3 have some X factor that makes the tone stand out from the other NH models? I would imagine all the Gibson NH's have the same PU's and the rest is wires and some pots and a cap. These only have to do with frequency response and signal loading. The coil(s) in the PU conduct the EMF generated from the string's motion... These I can see playing a bigger part of affecting the tone.

Overall, thanks for the feedback again everyone. Maybe one day I will get into the real bucks and start looking at LP's. Those customs are magnificent! I don't believe I will have as many issues locating a LP, but a good LP is VERY expensive compared to some NH - even the typical fireburst finished CST3. I have seen LP's that get into the hundreds of thousands. Gee! I could get a 9' Steinway D ('D' for DAMN big) for that money - and a VERY GOOD one at that :-D Sure a ton more of work (and time) put into a Steinway than a Gibson - not to discredit the craftsmanship of Gibson guitar makers. Although, I haven't heard much of assembly process of Gibson's, but I know a Steinway takes quite a while to make as there are a very limited number made per year because of the time it takes to make these BY HAND. Anyhow, this is Gibson forum. We like guitars, so I will stop talking about pianos. Feel free to comment on anything I have mistakenly mentioned incorrectly. I appreciate learning from others. Thanks again!
- Vintage Sunburst 1993 Nighthawk SP3
- Ebony 1994 Nighthawk SP3
- Fireburst 1995 Nighthawk CST3
- Fireburst 1996 Nighthawk CST3
- Translucent Amber 1996 Epiphone Nighthawk (MIK ST3 Replica)
- Fireburst 1997 Nighthawk ST3 w/ Floyd Rose
- Snow White 2006 Jackson Dinky DK2M (MIJ)
- Tri Burst 2015 Les Paul Custom

- Peavey 5150
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#6 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 09:23 AM

Hi Fellas,

I have scoured the "inter-webs" for one long tiresome search, and I have FINALLY found a 1996 CST3 w/ OHSC at some small shop many miles away from my residence. It has a beautiful tri-burst finish and in excellent condition (per the images and description). The only thing I noted was that the slanted pickup was a Seymour Duncan pickup - not original, but that doesn't bother me so much. I can put in another pickup one day if I really want to... All the 90's Gibson NH's have the same pickup if I am not mistaken and I have 2 others - but not really going to be happy about removing their original installation. So I will have 3 beautiful Gibson NH's now - an SP3, ST3 with Floyd Rose, and a CST3... I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of this instrument. I hope it is in the condition as described - and images seem to suggest it is in excellent condition - as it will sort of take some wind out of my sail if it isn't. It wasn't easy to find at it was a bit expensive. Not too worried about the price as much because if it is in great condition all around, I will treasure this piece of art. I really don't want to keep looking anymore :-) Good news is that I believe I can return it if I so choose, so I am not too worried. Anyhow, most sellers like to keep up their reputation and this place online has good feedback overall, so I will bet the description doesn't lie and I will receive something I expect. I mean, the guitar is over 20 years old... I expect to see some scuffs here and there from normal playing, and most people who buy used guitars don't care that much about these - especially if you're going to play them. All in all, I will appreciate my NH collection very much, and I hope to pass them on to my son one day. Until then, he can get one guitar from me - a basic one for his first - then he has to buy his own as I had to do afterwards :-) My parents bought me my first Epiphone SG for my 14th birthday for $230. I remember how happy I was when I first received that guitar... After nearly 23 years of playing, I still get excited to get a new instrument, and this one is AWESOME!

Bad news is I have to part ways with a few of my old instruments to recoup the cost in the long run. I simply don't want to horde all my musical instruments and accessories if I don't play them - just leave in the case and take them out to clean/maintain. Whoever gets my used stuff is getting a good deal though, because I take good care of all my gear. It's my passion to play music, and in order to do that, it requires a good - and maintained - instrument. I don't buy crap and I am sort of pedantic about cleaning and such when I maintain my gear. Anyhow, I hope whoever gets my old gear will appreciate it as much as I have over the years. Thanks again for all the advice and discussion on this topic. I sincerely appreciate it!
- Vintage Sunburst 1993 Nighthawk SP3
- Ebony 1994 Nighthawk SP3
- Fireburst 1995 Nighthawk CST3
- Fireburst 1996 Nighthawk CST3
- Translucent Amber 1996 Epiphone Nighthawk (MIK ST3 Replica)
- Fireburst 1997 Nighthawk ST3 w/ Floyd Rose
- Snow White 2006 Jackson Dinky DK2M (MIJ)
- Tri Burst 2015 Les Paul Custom

- Peavey 5150
0

#7 User is offline   dReit1 

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 09:44 AM

Congratulations Chris! Sounds like you got lucky. Please post a pic or two when you can. [biggrin]
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#8 User is offline   Retired 

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 08:41 PM

Yes, congrats on finding one Chris.
Herman
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#9 User is offline   Megafrog 

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 10:06 PM

Welcome to the forum Chris! Detroit is a great place to be from. I was just out there last week. Cool choice of guitars as well. I always wanted a real deal Gibson Nighthawk but settled for an Epiphone because I can't find one in the stores out here in Pennsylvania.
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#10 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 07:59 AM

Thanks Megafrog, appreciate the welcoming message. The Epiphone is not bad after you replace all the lower quality components such as the pots, 5-way switch, and input jack plate. The pickups on my 96 Nighthawk (OBL's) are not that bad actually... Other than that, that is what I have had to replace. I changed up the wiring too since it had a dummy coil, it was not being employed that well per the factory wiring scheme. I had this hard-wired to parallel any of the middle selections of 5-way (1-3, 3, and 3-5) when my 2-way switch (simulates the push-pull pot since my Epi-Hawk didn't come with push-pull) is engaged to do the "splitting". It really mellows out the tone and seems to help reduce electrical noise present in amp output. The Gibson NH didn't come with this, but that has the push-pull and the "super switch". Overall, they are different to a certain extent. Both are great guitars.

I don't know what today's Epi-Hawks are about, but my Epi-Hawk is a solid instrument. Good tuning machines, body construction (screwed on neck), very beautiful amber finish. People complain about the tuning machines weighing down the top of the guitar, but I don't buy it... My Epi-Hawk has the metal tuners and they have done a great job holding the string tension and haven't ever been inclined to believe the guitar was getting top heavy because of these. Oh well, I find my Epi-Hawk to be a quality instrument. I paid $700 for it from this horrible store near me (who ripped me off all the time) without a case, and this was back in 1999 or 2000... I cannot remember clearly when, but that's what it was for me to get this instrument in my hands for good. Either way, I have received my $700 worth out of it. Played gigs for me and recordings. Those are priceless...
- Vintage Sunburst 1993 Nighthawk SP3
- Ebony 1994 Nighthawk SP3
- Fireburst 1995 Nighthawk CST3
- Fireburst 1996 Nighthawk CST3
- Translucent Amber 1996 Epiphone Nighthawk (MIK ST3 Replica)
- Fireburst 1997 Nighthawk ST3 w/ Floyd Rose
- Snow White 2006 Jackson Dinky DK2M (MIJ)
- Tri Burst 2015 Les Paul Custom

- Peavey 5150
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#11 User is offline   Megafrog 

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 04:22 PM

Very cool. I got my first Les Paul out of the Roachville Guitar Center back in 1995. I still go back there every time I head "home". That GC, ABC and coney islands are must dos in Detroit. My life is pretty pathetic though...
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#12 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 08:38 PM

The only guitar I have purchased from any GC is my Jackson, and I bought it dirt cheap because my friend was an employee who helped the cause :-) I have spent a lot at GC for keyboards and other audio equipment... all my guitars bought from smaller shops. Not that I have anything against GC, just that after 23 years of playing guitar, I only bought 1 guitar at half price from them. I love the place though. Has most everything a musician could ever need.
- Vintage Sunburst 1993 Nighthawk SP3
- Ebony 1994 Nighthawk SP3
- Fireburst 1995 Nighthawk CST3
- Fireburst 1996 Nighthawk CST3
- Translucent Amber 1996 Epiphone Nighthawk (MIK ST3 Replica)
- Fireburst 1997 Nighthawk ST3 w/ Floyd Rose
- Snow White 2006 Jackson Dinky DK2M (MIJ)
- Tri Burst 2015 Les Paul Custom

- Peavey 5150
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#13 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 11:17 PM

Here's my CST3 attached! Finally arrived ��

-Image Removed
- Vintage Sunburst 1993 Nighthawk SP3
- Ebony 1994 Nighthawk SP3
- Fireburst 1995 Nighthawk CST3
- Fireburst 1996 Nighthawk CST3
- Translucent Amber 1996 Epiphone Nighthawk (MIK ST3 Replica)
- Fireburst 1997 Nighthawk ST3 w/ Floyd Rose
- Snow White 2006 Jackson Dinky DK2M (MIJ)
- Tri Burst 2015 Les Paul Custom

- Peavey 5150
2

#14 User is offline   dReit1 

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Posted 05 August 2017 - 10:13 AM

[thumbup] Looks great Chris. Congrats![biggrin]
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#15 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 11:25 AM

I have a question... I have a "scrap" 1994 Gibson NH that has an original slanted M-Series HB, and as you can see in my CST3 image I shared, the HB is a Seymour Duncan. Whether it be a '59 or JB, I don't know, but it sounds good... I simply wanted to swap this SD HB with the M-Series of the "scrap" NH, so I do not believe that there was any difference in this HB along the lineup of NH's (SP, ST, CST 2 and 3 pickup versions)... Correct me if I am wrong. Basically, doing the eyes and ears test, my SP3 and ST3 look/sound identical when the bridge PU is isolated, and this would be my basis that confirms that the NH's all had same M-Series PU in the bridge position. The CST3 would be no different - just fancier instrument body as compared to the SP and ST models. My idea here is to bring this guitar back to its "vintage" state more or less. I inspected the electronics of the CST3 (opened cover on backside of guitar) and it looks nearly identical to the untouched NH's I have. The only difference obviously are the couple points where the SD PU was soldered to "super" switch and grounding to volume pot - where the original PU was soldered to. It was done clean where the original wiring was not needlessly affected as everything else is 100% factory. I have been soldering for quite a few years now, and I can tell what is good and bad. I used to solder SMT IC's on compacted PCB's... I think that I can handle a guitar pretty well - and I can as I have done some fabulous jobs on other guitars in the past. I don't use cheap wire and I have high quality solder meant for electronics - solder doesn't just burn up and dull when melted as a cheap solder would.

Overall, replacing the bridge slanted HB with 94 NH slanted PU - I would hope it brings the guitar back up to spec. Is this a good idea if I am interested in bringing back this guitar's vintage quality? Everything else is real nice on this guitar, just the bridge PU is not original and could be technically considered a type of damage that is in need to a suitable, acceptable repair. Is this statement in agreement? Thanks for the feedback, it is much appreciated!
- Vintage Sunburst 1993 Nighthawk SP3
- Ebony 1994 Nighthawk SP3
- Fireburst 1995 Nighthawk CST3
- Fireburst 1996 Nighthawk CST3
- Translucent Amber 1996 Epiphone Nighthawk (MIK ST3 Replica)
- Fireburst 1997 Nighthawk ST3 w/ Floyd Rose
- Snow White 2006 Jackson Dinky DK2M (MIJ)
- Tri Burst 2015 Les Paul Custom

- Peavey 5150
0

#16 User is offline   dReit1 

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 11:50 AM

My question would be. If you are playing all of your 'hawks, do you really want the same pup in all of them? I understand the desire to have them factory stock specs if you are collecting or if you were going to sell them. But if you're going to be rawking them do you want them all to sound the same?

The SD pups are both really well thought of pickups. You should be able to identify them with a multi-meter.'59=8.13K Ohms, JB=16.4K Ohms. Both are great pups and many a tune have been done with them. Which ever you have I would guess it is a nice pickup.

Since you have a ST3 and a Sp3. Both with the Gibson slanted pup. Why not leave the SD in the CST3 for a bit of variation?

You already have the extra Gibson M-pup and can change it any time you need to but leaving it in the drawer for awhile would probably be my suggestion for now.

Rawk on! [biggrin]
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#17 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 01:09 PM

REMOVED - Nonsense here...
- Vintage Sunburst 1993 Nighthawk SP3
- Ebony 1994 Nighthawk SP3
- Fireburst 1995 Nighthawk CST3
- Fireburst 1996 Nighthawk CST3
- Translucent Amber 1996 Epiphone Nighthawk (MIK ST3 Replica)
- Fireburst 1997 Nighthawk ST3 w/ Floyd Rose
- Snow White 2006 Jackson Dinky DK2M (MIJ)
- Tri Burst 2015 Les Paul Custom

- Peavey 5150
0

#18 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 08:56 AM

dReit1, thank you for sharing those SD PU values. Via resistance measurement, I have determined that my CST3 came with a SD '59 PU - obviously slanted for the NH. Put PU coils in series while being disconnected entirely from guitar electronics and was in 8k range give or take. Well, I have options... I own an unused original NH PU (measured ~16k), a SD '59, and a brand new SD JB.

Maybe when I refinish that "scrap" NH, I can put one of the SD's in there. It has a slight headstock crack that was partially repaired, but I believe I will take to luthier to do the professional fix. I mean, its finish is bad right now. I want to do a total re-image of this guitar by taking off all pre-existing finish - that's what previous owner was trying to do. BTW, I got this 94 NH from "the bay" in auction for around $300. Has original bridge and all PU's are genuine. I figured the PU's are not readily available, so for less the price of an Epi-Hawk, I got genuine Gibson stuff and a project NH body. Previous owner has sanded down the neck and back of headstock around the SN (which I can still read fortunately - event he "made in USA" or whatever it says is there). There are several dings and dents and all sorts of things that can be fixed with refinish. Simply stated, it needs a COMPLETE refinish - sanded to the bone and new covering. Just wait until I get my concept of refinish physically realized... It will be killer! Thinking all black with red binding (why not replace binding at this point - I'm willing to pay for it), and repaint neck as well. Not looking for any burst coloring as the NH was an SP3 - not as "pretty" wood as the ST or CST models. It was originally solid black with white binding. I am wondering if I want to paint neck different color or do a colored wood grain look like Gibson does for some models. I also want to replate the HW with 24K gold. This will be the finishing touch!
- Vintage Sunburst 1993 Nighthawk SP3
- Ebony 1994 Nighthawk SP3
- Fireburst 1995 Nighthawk CST3
- Fireburst 1996 Nighthawk CST3
- Translucent Amber 1996 Epiphone Nighthawk (MIK ST3 Replica)
- Fireburst 1997 Nighthawk ST3 w/ Floyd Rose
- Snow White 2006 Jackson Dinky DK2M (MIJ)
- Tri Burst 2015 Les Paul Custom

- Peavey 5150
0

#19 User is offline   dReit1 

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 10:47 AM

View PostNighthawkChris, on 14 August 2017 - 08:56 AM, said:

dReit1, thank you for sharing those SD PU values. Via resistance measurement, I have determined that my CST3 came with a SD '59 PU - obviously slanted for the NH. Put PU coils in series while being disconnected entirely from guitar electronics and was in 8k range give or take. Well, I have options... I own an unused original NH PU (measured ~16k), a SD '59, and a brand new SD JB.

Maybe when I refinish that "scrap" NH, I can put one of the SD's in there. It has a slight headstock crack that was partially repaired, but I believe I will take to luthier to do the professional fix. I mean, its finish is bad right now. I want to do a total re-image of this guitar by taking off all pre-existing finish - that's what previous owner was trying to do. BTW, I got this 94 NH from "the bay" in auction for around $300. Has original bridge and all PU's are genuine. I figured the PU's are not readily available, so for less the price of an Epi-Hawk, I got genuine Gibson stuff and a project NH body. Previous owner has sanded down the neck and back of headstock around the SN (which I can still read fortunately - event he "made in USA" or whatever it says is there). There are several dings and dents and all sorts of things that can be fixed with refinish. Simply stated, it needs a COMPLETE refinish - sanded to the bone and new covering. Just wait until I get my concept of refinish physically realized... It will be killer! Thinking all black with red binding (why not replace binding at this point - I'm willing to pay for it), and repaint neck as well. Not looking for any burst coloring as the NH was an SP3 - not as "pretty" wood as the ST or CST models. It was originally solid black with white binding. I am wondering if I want to paint neck different color or do a colored wood grain look like Gibson does for some models. I also want to replate the HW with 24K gold. This will be the finishing touch!

Glad those numbers helped out Chris. I had that information from when SD 1st came out with the slanted pups and I considered changing the pickup in the then new Epi Nighthawk RI. Never changed them but kept the information. Glad it was useful. Looks like the SD JB is pretty close to the oem in your NH.Only you will be able to decide if you like one better than the other.
As for the refin of the extra NH, It's your opportunity to have anything you want. So enjoy it. But it may not be necessary to sand all of original paint and fill off. Talk to your painter and see what he suggests. If the guitar is solid, I would probably just do all necessary repairs, scuff the shine off the existing finish and prime it. Then color with whatever makes you smile.
But if all the Gibson stuff is still on the back of the headstock, I would not attempt to do anything more than clear coat over that part.
However it goes, I'll be looking forward to progress reports and pics.
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