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Larrydata

Korean Casino with Lennon Updates

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Hi Folks,

 

TLDR: I Lennon-ified my regular 'ol Casino

 

About a month or so ago I picked up a Korean Casino built in the Unsung factory in 2010 from a local guy on Craigslist who had upgraded to a Gibson. He had swapped the bridge pickup for a Kent Armstrong P-90 and changed the covers and pickguard to black. He also swapped to tulip style tuners. The guitar came with all the original parts and the case and the action was nice. I had never played a Casino before but since I'm a big Beatles fan I thought it would be fun to try it out.

 

After I got it home, cleaned it up, and changed strings I found that the neck fit my ergonomics (smaller hands) just right and I really connected with the hollowbody P-90 sound. For fun I swapped back to the original chrome pickup covers, removed the pickguard, and started researching John's Casino. Thus began a fun journey of upgrades and Lennon-ifying my Casino.

 

Obviously this would be a flight of fancy and not a practical investment. I know I could look for a Revolution or 1965 but I already had a guitar I was connected to, so why not?

 

I first decided to send the pickups to Jason Lollar for a 50's rewind, and ordered a new 50's wiring harness from Tone man Guitar. While waiting I continued to play the Casino every day and even without pickups it sounded great...and light too!

 

I ordered some knobs, Grover tuners, Switch ring, and a Gotah Tune-O-Matic bridge. The Gotah bridge could drop in, but I replaced the posts too (not the studs though). I had to setup the string spacing and slot the saddles to get it dialed in to my preferences. The new knobs were needed to fit the Bourns 18-spline 500K Pots. I went with the one-black knob like the rooftop-era even though Lennon's Casino currently has four gold knobs.

 

Following some online StewMac tutorials I aged the hardware with etchant solution and used some other tricks to make everything look older, although I didn't touch the finish. This was all super fun and interesting to me. I'm not a big fan of shiny hardware, especially in this case.

 

I got my pickups and wiring and did the solder job outside of the guitar. As many people have said the job of putting the pots, jack, and switches back inside the guitar is frustrating and time-consuming. I don't have any great tips for this. I tried fishing line but everything just tangled up so in the end I just used my fingers through the F holes and pickup cavities and used a couple of dental-type tools to fish parts up into their holes. It was a bit tricky fishing the ground wire into the bridge stud cavity but eventually I got everything in its' right place. This whole process was a great opportunity to see every nook and cranny of the guitar.

 

I spent some time converting my 3-hole trussrod cover to 2-hole, but you can still tell up close so in the end I bought a vintage 2-hole TR cover which I should have tomorrow to complete the vintage look. I have a guitar strap similar to John's, but it's not identical and at least for now I'm not going for the replica Ace strap. I'm using the strap lock system and horn strap button that the previous owner had included in the sale, which is another divergence from Lennon's Casino.

 

When I strung her back up I was happy to discover that the wiring was working properly, and the Lollar pickups ARE MONSTERS! The tone from the improved wiring and pickups are like night-and-day from how it was before. It truly sounds huge now. There's a nice variety of tones with volume rolled back that wasn't available before. When I ordered the harness I went with the recommended .033uf Bridge .015uf Neck caps, and so far I'm quite happy with the tone.

 

Here are some pics:

 

Wiring from Tone Man:

 

IMG-0846.jpg

 

Pickups:

 

IMG-0840.jpg

 

My 3-hole TR cover converted to 2-hole until my vintage one arrives:

 

IMG-0833.jpg

 

Naked Casino waiting for the electronics to be installed:

 

IMG-0835.jpg

 

Full body no TR cover:

 

IMG-0848.jpg

 

Right side:

 

IMG-0851.jpg

 

Left Side:

 

IMG-0850.jpg

 

Buttons (Stewmac aged the gold ones, I aged the black one):

 

IMG-0852.jpg

 

Grovers:

 

IMG-0853.jpg

 

Thanks to those that gave helpful advice!

 

Larry

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The Casino is indeed a wonderful thing...

 

The Beatles and many other players/bands knew a good guitar when they heard one

 

A subtle instrument which reveals it's depths over the long term

 

Personal favourite is it's predecessor the ES 225 which evolved into the ES330 and Casino

 

V

 

:-({|=

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Wow. Looks like you learned a lot and had got great results from what turned out to be a fun project! Nice job.

 

Red 333

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Thanks for all of the kind words. :)

 

I received the vintage mid-60's TR cover (I will paste a pic at the bottom).

 

Even without the mods the Casino is a great guitar. As I continue to read about the history of Epiphone and the Casino model in particular I keep getting surprised by the reach of this guitar. Lots of the music I love by Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, Aimee Mann, Johnny Marr, Jeff Tweedy/Wilco, Radiohead, and Keith Richards/Stones was played on this model. The sound is really distinctive and riffs like in "She Said, She Said" sound so right on a Casino.

 

One more thought on the mods: Changing the bridge and tuners tightened up the sound and eliminated the stray rattles. The Grovers are a lot heavier than the tulip Kluson style, so the guitar feels a bit heavier now.

 

Before I updated the pickups the neck pickup was fairly one-dimensional and I was only using the Kent Armstrong installed in the bridge. But after installing the Lollars the neck is almost my favorite pickup. Yes you can get a cutting tone from the bridge, but the neck now has so many great tones, especially with the K42Y-2 PIO Vintage NOS Russian 630v Caps from Tone man Guitar. I can really nail the Aimee Mann "How am I different" tone.

 

Here's Lollar's description of their 50's wind P-90 dogear pickups: "Based on pickups from Sean Costello's '53 Goldtop that he sent to Jason Lollar to copy, these dog ear P-90s are coupled with weak magnets to produce lower output, a delicate attack, and less midrange and bass. This produces a brighter overall tone with less grinding distortion. It's also slower to overdrive an amp as compared with stock P-90s. An excellent choice for players seeking an early Freddie King style tone. Includes de-gaussed Alnico 2 magnets. DC: Neck 7.1K, Bridge 7.4K"

 

You can only get the chrome covers with Lollars if you send your originals in for a rewind. I actually think that the brighter pickups get muffled a bit by the chrome covers, and when you add in the cap values from Tone man's caps it becomes a perfect balance of tone without any mud.

 

The only other mod I might do is to get a new bone nut cut by my local luthier.

 

New TR cover pic:

 

IMG-0859.jpg

Edited by Larrydata

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Some updates...sent my Casino to my luthier for a new bone nut and basic setup. He cured some buzzing up the neck and it really plays beautifully. 

In the spirit of the Lennon thing I bought a locally-made felted ball that looks similar in color to the Japanese wicker ball that John had on there before he stripped the finish from the original sunburst. We strung it with a red cord and I’m dangling it from a tuning peg. It’s soft so it won’t scratch the finish and it’s out of the way of my hand when I play.  This might be what it would like if John had put the charm back on in the 70’s or 80’s.

03-D879-C1-EFAD-43-FB-85-A7-83-F45-C213-

Here’s a full pic with strap

E9-DC569-C-D92-D-4909-B716-D8342-AD08-AF

And I added some fun retro stencil to the case to imagine what John’s case might have looked like labeled for touring.

E9-E1876-D-AE31-4-B49-9741-D1-D08335-C48

Edited by Larrydata

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4 hours ago, Larrydata said:

... In the spirit of the Lennon thing I bought a locally-made felted ball that looks similar in color to the Japanese wicker ball that John had on there before he stripped the finish from the original sunburst. We strung it with a red cord and I’m dangling it from a tuning peg. It’s soft so it won’t scratch the finish and it’s out of the way of my hand when I play.  This might be what it would like if John had put the charm back on in the 70’s or 80’s ...

03-D879-C1-EFAD-43-FB-85-A7-83-F45-C213-

 

The felt ball is new to me.   Any pics with Lennon and the ball that you can point to?  Just curious?

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On 6/8/2019 at 1:44 AM, 01GT eibach said:

The felt ball is new to me.   Any pics with Lennon and the ball that you can point to?  Just curious?

There are a bunch of pics at this site where you can get a replica of John's Suzu charm.

Here's a pic from the web:

John-Lennon-and-his-Epiphone-Casino-the-

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One thing left................................... Nylon bridge saddles [thumbup]

 

BTW, the Casino looks great.

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2 hours ago, duane v said:

One thing left................................... Nylon bridge saddles [thumbup]

 

BTW, the Casino looks great.

 

Lol...not going there! But you’re absolutely correct about that difference.

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15 hours ago, Larrydata said:

 

Lol...not going there! But you’re absolutely correct about that difference.

 

I think I have an ABR1 with nylon bridges laying around in my parts drawer.... If I find it I can toss it your way..... I need to start thinning out my spare parts bin.... There's ssshhhhstuff that hasn't seen the light of day in years.8-[

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I'm a huge Fan of these Guitars.. Probably my favorite of all my Guitars.. These are fantastic Guitars. Congrat's on yours & to you for having the fun of making it your own!

I have the Sunburst Epi 50th Anniv. 1961 Re-Issue with Trem-O-Tone, an Epi Peerless Sunburst Casino with Bigsby like George & Paul's.

I also have an Epi IBJL Revolution which is accurate Spec wise including the Matte Natural Finish... Do you have plans to do that onyours??

Enjoy!

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