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‘70 ES-345TDW modification question


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This was my dads guitar and I don’t want to part with it for sentimental reasons, but I find it difficult to play.  Partly it has to do with the narrower neck than I prefer...1 11/16 is my choice and the 345 seems to be 1 5/8 which feels a bit crowded.  The frets are in desperate need.  I’ll employ Joe Glaser here in Nashville to do that work.  I’m on the fence about going SS but love the idea of the longevity they promise.  I’ll probably  forego the PLEK, though, even though Joe and his staff are the go-to guys for that in this area (or nearly any area).   I’ve toyed with the idea of having the Varitone removed and a new harness be made in a 335 fashion to reduce the weight in the tail.  Plus, I’m no fan of running a Y cable to 2 channels just to blend the bridge in.  It’s got the factory Bigsby and I can’t stand how it’s in the way or how annoying it makes string changes....I’d like to swap that out for a period correct trapeze if a local shop could do it without butchering the top.  

Everything’s original except the tuners which were changed in the ‘80’s.  It doesn’t matter to me if the value drops by doing these mods, since this guitar will be in my collection permanently.   But, I want to WANT to pick it up and play it.  Has anyone done the Varitone delete/Bigsby delete/refret in one of these 345s and noticed a favorable improvement?   I’ll never sell it but it seems a waste to never play it either.  

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I know what you mean "narrow" neck. Every time I play my sixties guitar I've got to adjust to the narrowness of the '60's neck.

It is really up to you if you want to remove the varitone since it's too close to the Bixby, hard to get at. It is really up to you if you convert to a standard ES-335. Just keep the old components.

I did the easy method on both of mine. I use a stereo plug (TRS) at the guitar end;  soldered the two hot leads in the in the TRS plug. The other end of the mono instrument cable is a mono plug. This made it mono like an ES-335. However, you have to rotate one of the pickup magnets. Otherwise the stock pickup will be out-of-phase (Peter Green tone), and also the volume when in the middle will be lowered a little. So reversing one of the magnet will fix the out-of-phase.  Of course, if you like the Peter Green sound then just leave the magnet as is.

I like to use the varitone for quick tone change when singing in a gig. Usually, I only use 1,2, and 3.

I'm glad you're keeping the guitar; it meant a lot to your Dad and I am sure you will enjoy it as much as he did.  I too, trust my kid will also keep some of my personal guitars.  I'm just like one of the caretakers, and he'll be next...etc.

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