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Sheraton Upgrades, part four


dbirchett

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This is the fourth stage of upgrades on my Ebony Sheraton. In the first part, I replaced the knobs, pickguard brace and pickguard. Nothing startling, just minor things to make it more my own.

 

http://forums.epiphone.com/Default.aspx?g=posts&t=3083

 

In part two, I replaced the tuning knobs to Ebony and put on a custom truss rod cover with my name on it. Kind cool and the knobs did reduce the peghead weight. Initially there were missteps with both but the vendors came through and they were replaced with ones that are great!

 

http://forums.epiphone.com/Default.aspx?g=posts&t=3605

 

Then the first major upgrade to add a B7 Bigsby.

 

http://forums.epiphone.com/Default.aspx?g=posts&t=3790

 

So tonight I first replaced the switch. I used an AllParts gold switch. Unfortunately the switch tip that comes with it is Gold and the old one from the original switch that worked ... ummm ... sometimes does not fit. So now to find a black switchtip.

 

Then the big one. I replaced the pickups.

 

I had a pair of GFS Liverpool Alnico pickups that I had installed on my Guild at one time. Liked them, a lot, but missed the Guild sound so I took them out (actually I had a tech do both of those things) but I held on to the pickups. In talking to my tech (who is cross country) he said that the Liverpools were the pickups that he would put in it. So They went in tonight, via the cheat method. I have been trying to find replacement connectors and, failing that, cut off the connectors and spliced the new pickups in.

 

PICT1317.jpg

 

PICT1316.jpg

 

Kind of a Gretschiphone.

 

Anyway, how does it sound? So far, so good. The notes have good separation from each other, good tone but they also sustain nicely. Most of my gear is over at our rehearsal basement so I will know a lot more after Thursday. The preliminary report is very good!

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Thank you all for your compliments. I am pleased at this point with how it has come out. It is, however, a booger to keep the prints off the gloss black so they don't show.

 

I have a band practice tonight and should have a better idea of how it sounds. I have only plugged it in for about 15 minutes total with the Retrotrons installed. I thought the clean sounds were great and reminiscent of a Gretsch but then I have never owned a Gretsch with Filtertrons. Didn't seem to be harsh at all. Very smooth and rounded. Good articulation (separation or distinctness of the individual notes) and sustain was good as well. I was able to get a little feedback in the small room but I didn't notice any hum. It could get boomy with the neck pickup and the tone control for maximum bass. This was all through my Vibroverb RI.

 

These pickups are a bit hotter than Filtertrons so they should give me more drive when pushed.

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I had a '63 Chet Atkins Country Gent for years (1982-07) and it was a cool guitar, but I finally went with my Gibson LP Deluxe because it had more even response up the neck, more accessible upper frets, and had the more user-friendly (and versatile) Gibson tone/volume layout. The Gretsch was my main axe until I got Lester in 1997.

 

The Country Gent was the ultimate reason I got my Sheraton II recently: I missed the thin archtop body, but I didn't want to deal with the peculiarities of Gretsch.

 

Now the only thing I REALLY miss about Chester is the Bigsby. =sigh= Guess that's next on the list.

 

Here are pics of Chester and Lester:

GretschChetAtkinsCountryGentleman.jpg?t=1218743629

GibsonLesPaulDeluxe.jpg?t=1218743698

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've had the sheraton with the retrotrons at a couple of rehearsals now and I have to say that I like them a lot. They don't sound exactly like filtertrons but they are reminiscent of them. There is a definite filtertron flavor. But there is some PAF in there too. Playing single string overdriven with my Route 66 sounded great. A lot of definition to the notes.

 

Anyway, some had asked and so I wanted to post this but they are staying in for now!

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Thanks, dbirchett. The Filtertrons came from the era of more mellow music and generally don't have the edge of more modern pickups. I had a chance to A/B my Country Gent against a Tennesseean with the hi-lo trons (single coil) and the difference was dramatic.

 

I've been playing my Sheraton w/Seymour Duncans a lot more now that I've found the sweet spot with the Fender Jazzmaster Ultralight (drive channel, gain about 1/4 of the way up, roll off the highs, a little of the straight reverb) and it will make its debut at church (my excuse for getting it was that I needed a purty f-hole for church) this Sunday.

 

I'll spend the afternoon practicing with my backup, who's playing a Guild F212 for the occasion: we'll also have a snare/hi hat drummer and possibly a fretless bass (the bass player's a lawyer, and stays really busy -- doesn't make it in every Sunday).

 

The Sheraton, to me, is a perfectly comfortable guitar, and I'm glad to have it tonified to where I like it.

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I had a mid-60s Tennessean with hi-lo Trons and thought that was a great guitar. I do like a Bigsby as well. They are not difficult to add but you need to make sure that the end pin is centered. It was off by a considerable amount on the Sheraton.

 

I still have my Tennessean. Don't know what year but it is early '60's. I don't play it any more because it really needs work that I will only trust to the factory. I played that ax all over the country for years. It is still my favorite. I tried out some of the new Tennessee Rose models and they all suck. I haven't played a new Gretsch that I like.

 

On the other hand I have been playing around with the idea of getting a Casino Elitist. I was playing one the other day and it sounded amazing. I even drew a "crowd". The Casino Elitist could be my next favorite ax.

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That's cool. I was playing my Epi Sheraton II with Seymour Duncans through my new fave, a Fender Jazzmaster Ultrallight, and I and the guy I was playing with were impressed with how good the little Epi sounded. He would never own one: he won't consider an axe that isn't MIA, and he's got an impressive collection of Guild 12-string, Martin EM-18 solid body electric, Gibson ES-340 from the late '60s, a very nice sounding Dobro and Minnie Moore, as we say, each one a gem.

 

I developed a theory that Gibson (and I include the Epiphone offspring here) really nailed the thin f-hole design with the 335. It seems like all other makes of that style are not as good, because they didn't want to, or couldn't, copy Gibson's key design elements.

 

I owned -- and played -- a '63 Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gent from 1982 until I got my Gibson LP Deluxe in 1997, and I recently traded + a small amount of cash for the Epi.

 

Compare the controls: the CACG had a master volume, individual pickup volume controls, a standby switch, and a tone switch that routed the signal through different caps for varying degrees of treble rolloff. I could get some distinctive sounds with it, but could never nail **THE** sound, because it didn't have the flexibility: the tone choices were hard wilred at the factory.

 

Compare the neck: I liked the flat "neoclassical" neck with the halfmoon markers, but I didn't like the 25-1/2" scale or the fact that resetting the neck is a much more invasive form of surgery than the equivalent on the Gibson design (the Gretsch, in addition to the dovetail, has a large dowel embedded in the joint, which about triples the cost of a neck reset...and in fact, that's why I sold it). Another issue was that the Gretsch neck joined the body around the 16th fret, which meant that higher fret access was limited in comparison.

 

Compare the body: the 335 has a solid center, and my Epi has nicely bound f-holes; the Gretsch had painted on f-holes. Seems like it'd be classier to just leave the fakes off. As I have posted here before, I rewired my Epi the "hard way" -- fishing everything through the f-holes. Remember those fakes on the Chet Atkins? They mean that the only access to the wiring inside (and I had to replace frozen pots at one point) was through a small oval hole in the middle of the back.

 

I now have what I wanted all along, which is a thin f-hole electric with a wide choice of pickups that drop right in (with the qualifier concerning the wiring above) sensible controls, and relatively sane repair requirements.

 

But the Chet Atkins shore was purty. I just wish it'd been better designed.

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  • 1 month later...

We had a band practice last night. After playing the Sherry with Retrotrons for a little over a month, I am really loving it! I was playing it through a '63 Vibroverb RI through a Blues Driver or Route 66.

 

The other guys were raving about how good it sounded and when I used a slide through the Route 66, they stopped and went WOW! (It was not my playing that caused the exclamation, I guarantee!).

 

The sound is Filtertron meets PAF. Doesn't sound like either one exactly but is a great and unique sound. Anyway, I love 'em. Just wish they didn't look like a huge tooth gap.

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We had a band practice last night. After playing the Sherry with Retrotrons for a little over a month' date=' I am really loving it! I was playing it through a '63 Vibroverb RI through a Blues Driver or Route 66.

 

The other guys were raving about how good it sounded and when I used a slide through the Route 66, they stopped and went WOW! (It was not my playing that caused the exclamation, I guarantee!).

 

The sound is Filtertron meets PAF. Doesn't sound like either one exactly but is a great and unique sound. Anyway, I love 'em. Just wish they didn't look like a huge tooth gap.[/quote']

 

Haha. I'm glad it's where you want it.

 

My own Epi is on the block, replaced by a 2000 ES-335 with '57 humbuckers and a fancy case. I probably won't be modifying this one (I have said that part of the charm of the Epi is that you can mod to your heart's content without messing with resale value). I almost got an ES-347 instead of the Country Gent in 1982, and this makes up for all those lonely years without it.

GibsonES-335.jpg?t=1223734668

 

That's a '63 Silvertone Twin Twelve behind it. I just had the amp in the shop, and the tech was calling people over to show the old point-to-point wiring.

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Haha. I'm glad it's where you want it.

 

My own Epi is on the block' date=' replaced by a 2000 ES-335 with '57 humbuckers and a fancy case. I probably won't be modifying this one (I have said that part of the charm of the Epi is that you can mod to your heart's content without messing with resale value). I almost got an ES-347 instead of the Country Gent in 1982, and this makes up for all those lonely years without it.

 

 

That's a '63 Silvertone Twin Twelve behind it. I just had the amp in the shop, and the tech was calling people over to show the old point-to-point wiring.[/quote']

 

I remember those amps. They were pretty cool and pretty loud as I remember. Weren't they made by Nat Daniels (Danelectro)? Powered thousands of garage bands.

 

Don't sell your Sheraton, go ahead and put the Bigsby on it and keep it too. There will be times when you will really miss it even with your new beauty!

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I remember those amps. They were pretty cool and pretty loud as I remember. Weren't they made by Nat Daniels (Danelectro)? Powered thousands of garage bands.

 

Don't sell your Sheraton' date=' go ahead and put the Bigsby on it and keep it too. There will be times when you will really miss it even with your new beauty![/quote']

 

I'm tempted, but I have a strict rule of only eight guitars and basses, and I'm not selling any of the other seven. Like everybody else, I have this agglutinative tendency when it comes to instruments, and it's a constant battle not to be run out of house & home due to the accumulation of "man, that guitar would be perfect for..." pieces.

 

I'm getting used to the 335: tonight I'm doing a few songs with it (Pancho & Lefty, Wild Horses, and one I'm learning today, the slide part to Mazzy Star's Fade Into You) backing up a couple of people at a church "talent show" they do the second Saturday of the month.

 

Last month I played harp on A Pirate Looks at Forty and Son of a Son of a Sailor and this month it's electric bottleneck. The interesting thing is that I've played with the singer for several years in a working band, and he never knew I played anything other than bass. =sigh=

 

Yeah, the Silvertone is a Dan-O. It's Western Electric Tube Circuit 101 and it sure sounds good. I got mine on the advice of Sterling Morrison, whom I knew at the University of TX graduate school back in the '70s. He said, "buy it, or tell me where it is! We recorded the first Velvet Undergrouind album through a couple of those." Sure enough, some time later I was looking at old photos of Velvet and there Twin Twelves all over the stage.

 

It's one amp that, when players my age see one, they immediately say "I used to have one of those." I'm proud to say it's still healthy, even though my new Fenders are getting more use.

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