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Turning an Epi ES-335 into a player?


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I just completed my first ever fret leveling, crowning and polishing on my 6(ish) year old Epi ES-335 Pro Limited. This thing was a buzz factory at 6/64th @12th fret and .010 neck relief. I won't even get into how much the frets did not match the radius. If I knew then what I think I know now.....  but I have it and it's not going anywhere now. I can now set neck relief anywhere from .010 to .007 land on 3/64ths on both sides of the fret board. I left a little bit in the nut grooves for wear, though I still have to knock the top of it off.

So this is not intended to be an investment. Just a player. The original plan was to get used to a 335 shape until I bought a Gibson. I've decided to keep this and see how far I can get with it. It's very useful now.

So what's next?  This is not a money is no object situation, but I am not one to spend $50 on something when $100 would leave me infinitely satisfied. The first thing that has to go are the tuners. I hate them. I am not the type to replace tuners as a matter of course. They really have to stink. These are that. Any suggestions? I do like the locking ones on my Gibson LP from that era. (2013?) I am not sold on the green ones, but whatever. I just want tthem to work well.

I need my 3rd toggle switch. Yeah, I know. I go through them even with playing it.

Pickups are split coils. Unlike my LP, thise guitar does not have that active circuit. Essecially, these single coils are useless for me. Kind of boring and I have a Tele, Strat and two guitars with P90s. I saw someone mention filter-trons to someone else on a Casino thread. Those good for this? (I play lots of stuff from Rock to almost Country to almost Jazz to whatever I feel like. Never much in the way of metal.

And fianlly, bridge and tailpiece. I have a suspision that what I have is on the cheapo end. I suspect that getting something of better quality might help with the lack of resonant feeling I can get out of some cheaper guitars. In other words, Roller would be nice, but not the big priority. Any big favorite around these parts for 335s and tone transfer?

I'd love to hear any thoughts, advice and direction on this little venture of mine.

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I got a 2000  korean saein plant dot deluxe that came with epi classic 57’s.  The build quality is excellent. Needed a good set up    but frets were good. Bought it for $79.00 open box with hard case because the output jack was loose. I changed output jack, pup switch and put a used gibson classic 57+ in the bridge and bottomed out the tailpiece. Thats as far as I’m willing to go to get it as close to a 335 as i need it to be. It’s a great playing and sounding guitar. Of course i run it though a fender deville 212. Im a firm believer in running a cheap guitar through a great amp and not vise versa. Tuners, tailpiece and bridge are solid but plating is poor quality. But its now what i like to call a relic look and there are people paying more for that look. Lol.

Edited by labomba
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I have an '04 MIK LP Custom. Heavy as heck, but as with yours, the build quality is great. This 335 was not even in the same ball-park, 'fraid to say.  

I agree with you on the better amps thing for the most part. As long as the pickup and signal has any sort of bite and clarity. At least to get through a mix, I mean.

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I bought a set of locking Grover tuners off ebay for $70 a set (for black) and they are perfection.

As to the pickups you'll just have to research youtube and try some to find the sound you want.  Start with some less expensive imports first, I've known lots of players who were happy with them.  You don't always have to go with the name brands (at $100 each).  I don't like the really cheap Amazon sets but the GFS from Guitar Fetish are popular and many seem to like their sound.  They make good wiring kits too, and sell them for decent prices.  I'm planning to get a set of their HB-sized P-90s for my Epi SG.

Guitar Fetish sells lots of bridges and tailpieces too.  https://www.guitarfetish.com/

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I keep forgetting about eBay. Good point.

I do enjoy some of GF's offerings. Especially the humbucker sized P90s. I put those on a Floyd Rose Discovery Series quite some time ago and they will quack with the best of anything I have. Superb for that "Midnight Rambler" tone. I've long forgotten which of the two tones I bought. Advance Middle age and memory ...sigh. Anyhow, those are an option.

Why do I get the feeling that their bridges and tailpieces are no better than what went on my Epi to begin with? Especially when their best features brass saddles, which is supposedly not the best material for energy transfer. This might be one of those get what you pay for moments.

I may even replace the nut, too, though I did get the grooves down to size. It does not appear that this one was fit in perfectly. 

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An update on this. It's still an ongoing setup project. This truss rod and neck situation has a mind of it's own. When in factory specs of somewhat near .010 relief, the truss rod has no tension on it if I was to turn it slightly. It's as it loose. Doing the knock test does reveal some truss rod rattling. This decreases in either direction as I turn the truss rod. The dual-action truss rod is nifty, but is proving to have some quirks.

So, turning left  - It behaves decently on the lefty-tighty front to a point. At that point, turning it further left increases the bow. I can still hear the truss rod rattle on the knock test, though reduced. On turning it back to no tension and then to a righty-tighty thing, to get any tension at all is to being be way past factory spec, but still with-in a more generic or traditional window of acceptance. That is, of course, providing other factors are all in good states. My truss rod is set to .003 relief ATM. It is .004 and below that this guitar comes close to playing and feeling like a guitar costing 5-10x it's cost, but only so when the strings are down to 3/64th at the12th fret.

The really odd part is that any combination of neck relief and string height that is larger than those I've described results in a noisier guitar, and one that becomes "stringy" to play. The sources of the noises vary. At times it's the truss rod being not tight enough in the neck. At other times, it's pure fret interference. My preference for guitar neck relief is a few thousandths above it's lowest point of playing well, and string height about .5/64 (1/128) higher than it perfect lowest spot. This is to make up for weather changes and humidity fluctuations.  Impossible so far with this one.

And so it sits on a stand for a few more days to settle in from yesterday's activities. I am hopeful that it stays in it's current state. I have a feeling this one will end up being one of those that lives out it's day with the truss rod cover in a little baggie. The tweaker's delight.

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