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mods of dot body ??


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hi, i am new to the forum. some weeks abo i purchased a chinese epi dot (vintage sun burst) which got a repaired neck.

i have read a lot of posts in this forum giving some good ideas of how to modificate the epi (in order to bring the sound closer to the gibson original). i already started with an aluminium stop tail and i am thinking of replacing the plastic nut with a bone nut (or by the a tusq - can you give me some advice? is a tusk as good as a bone nut?) and the built in pubs with gfs... in one of the posts i found an article where the differencies between a gibson and an epi les paul was explained. it was said that the replacement of the humbuckers would already make 90%... and the last 10% is partly due to the fact that the gibson instrument is covered with a very thin coat of nitro lacquer.... in all the posts i haven't found something about this idea. do you think that sanding the epi dot and making a new surface including an thin nitro lacquer coat would have a considerable impact on the sound of the dot. or does this have no effect to a semi-hollow body? sorry for my bad english. but i hope you all get the idea. thanx joerg

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You would be talking about a high amount of work... Not to mention it takes a fair amount of experience and some expensive equipment, as well as a controlled environment, to properly apply a lacquer finish. Unless you have a dust free spray booth, a decent spray rig, and have done lacquer finish work before... You'd be better off settling for 90%. You will NOT achieve Gibson quality results with a spray can in your garage. What you will end up with would be a ruined dot. Odds are that you would most likely damage the burst pattern when sanding, too... Because for the lacquer to properly adhere to the body, ALL of the existing poly finish would have to be removed.


You could have it professionally refinished with a nitro finish, but that would definitely cost more than the guitar did, and would quite possibly push you into the range of just buying a used Gibson by the time you're done with all the other upgrades. My advice? Upgrade the pickups and hardware, and be happy with your upgraded epiphone for what it is. If you feel you just HAVE to have a Gibson, buy a Gibson. Trust me, I know... I've had stock epis, upgraded epis, and upgraded Chinese fake gibsons... They all are great guitars, but not as great as my real Gibson. Don't get me wrong, I love the epi and the fake just as much as the Gibson, but you just can't upgrade an epi to bring it to 100% Gibson quality. You can, however, get it pretty close, for far less than the cost of a Gibson, if you do it smart.

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why not sand the guitar down for good and letting it breathe would surely improve your sound... I personally am not a fan of the dot... I think it's Gibsons answer "Haha, you can't afford a Gibson with nicely shaped F-holes, so go f... yourself and play the epi instead"... If they wanted, they could make every epi look like a gibson (which the Japanese models show!)


Replace the humbuckers and maybe the tuners. That's it... Forget about the dream of "having a cheap guitar made into a killer-machine".. it doesn't work that way (unfortunately) if you're not willing to pay a fortune.

Save some money and get the real deal (es-335/345/355) someday. Keep the epi as a reminder of the way to how you got there...


Epi rules, but it's a budget guitar I'm afraid :)





PS: Grüsse aus der Schweiz :)

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I'll just ignore the comments about having a lower priced instrument sound like a killer machine, and keep playing my two killer epis.


There are people who, not liking the thick glossy look of some epis, have found that using a certain type of black and decker pad can reduce the gloss and thin the finish to good results.

I'll look up the type for you and post later.


I plan on using it myself, so I'll show you how it works.


We've had the discussion about how much guitar you can get out of an epi ad nauseum.

Even guitar player magazine, as you know, jo, has said you can get close.

I'll add this. Not all the top end guitars sound as good as their reputation, either. So what's the difference between 95% of it with an epi, and 80% of it with a gibson? Mostly brag.


For my money, you want either bone or tusq nut. I've always used bone, but lately I'm using tusq and like it every bit as well.

Tusq also makes saddles.. for epis.. and those are nice for being easier on the strings, and for tone.

Cheaper than replacing the entire bridge, too.


Aluminum tail you've already got.


Sure, refinishing with nitro helps.. but let's be realistic, as GZ points out. It's very difficult, an environmental hazard, and you're working with something important here.. not that it's a lowly epi, but that it's laminated woods to start with. The amount of tone you'd get out of the expense and effort could be more easily done by just thinning the finish.

Of course, not as good, but look at the effort and expense. Hard to say that would be worthwhile or even noticeable.


Get good pots caps and wiring in it.

Replace that nut with Tusq.

consider the tusq saddles, or even graph tech graphite saddles.. also very good.

good pickups will make ALL Of that worthwhile and enhance all of it.

The finish is less important.



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The Dot/335 is a sort of "missing link" between solid and hollowbody guitars.


Listen carefully. A Dot does not have an acoustic presence. It will not benefit at all from refinishing in nitro lacquer, even if you could afford to do so.


BTW, the nitrocellulose worship thing is another urban legend I would like to dispel. Years ago, automobiles were painted with nitrocellulose lacquer because it was the state of the art finish. Gibson started using it because they appreciated the wide range of colors it was available in and it gave a beautiful, glossy shine. At the time, there were plenty of detractors praising the "traditional" French polish or shellac finishes because they allowed the wood to "breathe" better.


Over the years, many builders have perfected the application of nitro lacquer and I have seen some truly beautiful finishes. But the success of these finishes may be due more to the maturity of the material and the expertise in its application than in its solitary suitability for the task.


Recently, there have been a number of other finishes developed, including water-based ones. These hold a lot of promise for a future in which 1) the solvents used in nitrocellulose won't be tolerated (they are harmful) and 2) a more foolproof finish needing less exotic equipment is desired. With time and practice, builders are learning to use these finishes to produce very fine and durable finishes. (Several boutique builders are using them.) It's as much technique as material.


So, even for truly acoustic instruments, the world is not confined to nitrocellulose. And for a Dot, it's not even an issue.


Enjoy your Dot. Relish your ability to not worry about clouding of the finish from damp hands or skin. I have fixed up my Epis for fun, but I have never thought I could make them into Gibsons.


End of rant. ;-) Cheers.

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There are people who' date=' not liking the thick glossy look of some epis, have found that using a certain type of black and decker pad can reduce the gloss and thin the finish to good results.

I'll look up the type for you and post later.


[/quote'] Dunno if this is the thread you're referring to, TWANG, but here ya go: http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/epiphone-les-pauls/17007-dulling-poly-finished-guitars-pic-heavy.html

- job came out quite nice, I do have to say !!!

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I always thought the term 'breathe' was not on target.

the purpose of a finish is to fight off humidity, to protect the wood from the air.. not to increase it.

What is meant by breathing is really vibration.. thick finishes dull vibration.


Acoustic tests have shown that laminated wood does indeed vibrate.

It has acoustic propertys for sound. and does benefit from thin finishes.


The air pumping out of my sheris f holes when I crank it up has to be being moved by something, and it's sure not that solid center block.

This is an issue for any guitar, and not just cosmetic in my opinion.


The new poly finishes, such as ultra violet cured, used by companys like Taylor, are really really thin. And still tough.

That says a lot about the new painting materials.


I think the best way to go is as RSDX is saying.... reduce the gloss for looks, and reduce the thickness for better acoustic propertys.

How much? Hard to say. You know, it's hard to tell a good nut from a mediocre nut, sometimes, but you can certainly tell good or mediocre from bad. And that's how I feel about thick finishes. Epis are often too thick. And I believe you will get better tone.

But I also have to say.. compared to switching pups.. ha! The real meat is going to be in big changes like that, with incremental

changes adding up to more when you do so.


Get good pups and pots and caps.. then add up the finish, nut, saddles as alone they don't really make big changes.

The point is often said in here.. if you're changing pups. get new pots.. and I feel the same attitude is best for the

nut, saddles, tail, etc.


Think of it this way, pups are measured in thousands of ohms.. nuts measured *not literally* in hundreds of ohms.

When you start to tweak for tone.. it pays to look at the details, too.



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I've been painting nitro on many things for decades .Its worth bearing in mind that unlike a poly finish ,nitro will polish up superbly in the end .As long as it doesnt get moisture in it when wet ,it will always polish up from a dull degraded finish or orange peel .Its very forgiving .Its poly that is difficult unless the equipment is right .That takes no prisoners ,its either perfect or useless .It can be worked to remove very small blemishes but it is long hard work .As long as nitro has an fairly half decent finish its can be polished.I have so far removed runs ,drips ,flies amd a huge gob of superglue from nitro finish model cars,motor cycle tanks and a guitar years ago with a great effect .it just gets shinier is you polish it .I now use Poly for model cars but its a once only affair .

I put new pickups and a new grover deluxe tuners and gotoh bridge and stop tail ,a quick fret job and reworked the nut .Its a great guitar now but it still dont have Gibson on the top .I would still love a sunburst Gibson 335 .Its got a different neck and a better finish .Not sure its actually much better than an upgraded Dot ,certainly the ones I played were not .

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I agree, nitro is the superior finish for repairing--and have mentioned it, if obliquely, here before. If you are building a carved archtop, finish it in nitro.


But I maintain that any acoustic characteristic of a 335 (or relative thereof) is more of a side effect and will not be appreciably altered by the finish as would an archtop. I'm afraid we must agree to disagree. Cheers.


PS-TWANG, I always enjoy reading your responses.

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Yah I agree there really.. the thinness of the finish might let you have more, but you're only gonna get what you're gonna get.

The point of lamination is not just to make it less expensive, it's got to be to reduce the feedback you'd get from a thin solid top.

The thing is, that top does move.. and people worry about it quite a bit.

Unless there's some reason for that I'm not aware of... could be!


and thanks! this is a good group entirely, I think



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hi, everybody. first of all thank you all very much for your replies and comments that really helped me much. this kind of interactivity works really incredibly. RSDx you posted the link to the mylespaul forum where i found exactly the practical hints i need to work on my dot which is a very nice instrument. i am sure with all of things that i have learned here and with the direct help of twang i will "pimp up my epi" and hopefully in about 6 weeks i will be able to show you all what i have experienced. thanx and stay in tune!

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