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kebob

Biggest bang for buck in upgrading an Epi Dot

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Thinking of upgrading my Epi Dot, but don't want to go crazy. Looking for recommendations for the biggest bang for buck upgrades on an Epi Dot (Deluxe version).

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New TUSQ nut, and new knobs (the amber ones look awful with the cherry finish).

That's all I did.

The pups on my Dot sound very good, so I saw/heard no reason to change those.

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Thinking of upgrading my Epi Dot, but don't want to go crazy. Looking for recommendations for the biggest bang for buck upgrades on an Epi Dot (Deluxe version).

 

What type of music are you looking to play on it may determine what is recommended.

 

With that said how about an Epiphone ES-339 PRO limited addition or a Casino.

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A bottle of high quality guitar polish?

A good setup/adjust pickup heights?

 

What don't you like about it?

It cost nothing to switch from modern wiring to 50's.

The first thing I change on mine is all the electronics. Some say it's a waist of time.

 

From cheapest to most expensive...

Change wiring style. (cost nothing)

A good setup. (cost nothing if you do it yourself)

New electronics.

New pickups

New amp

 

Along the way is a lot of practice, a new bridge, (sometimes the stock ones aren't that great)..a new band.

 

So, what ya thinkin' about right now....aside from what a wise guy I must be?

 

Willy

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I guess normally I'm in the "if it ain't broke" category.

 

Frankly I think the best "upgrade" if you're where there's a guitar repair sorta person, it would be to first be certain you are wearing the strings you prefer, then a better-than-plastic nut and a real pro setup for what you play.

 

I'll wager that would not only make the guitar play better, but also with pickup height adjustment, sound better.

 

If there's a problem with electronics, that's a different game. Otherwise the pro setup could improve everything by a significant and audible degree.

 

m

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What type of music are you looking to play on it may determine what is recommended.

 

With that said how about an Epiphone ES-339 PRO limited addition or a Casino.

 

I will be playing mostly classic rock/blues ranging from Petty to Black Keys to Foo Fighters using Fulltone pedals (Fulldrive and Plimsoul) mainly. I like the guitar as is, but if I could spend $100 on say some after market pickups that would noticeable improve it, then I'd do it. I'm not looking to spend hundreds of dollars -- that would negate the value of the guitar in the first place.

 

When people say "replace the electronics" what exactly are they talking about and how much does something like that cost generally? Also, what exactly would the improvement be? With better wire and pots that improves tone?

 

 

I have some high end guitars and am Typically not a tinkerer, BUT if I can upgrade my Epi without spending too much more (say $150) then I'd consider it. Don't get me wrong -- I like it as is. I only paid $250 with a hardshell case and the setup is nice.

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A new Gotoh bridge that does not have the retaining wire is a good upgrade.The model with the large posts is a direct fit on models from 2000 on.My link

 

Ditto for the nut upgrade, be it bone or Tusq.

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I'll just make one last comment:

 

"noticeable improve it" is subjective - that is, it's in your own ears.

 

There's a similar thread asking whether pups or whatever should be replaced on an Epi version of the ES175. My answer would be about the same.

 

An electric guitar is not just a batch of wood. It's a batch of wood and metal and whatever else may be on the nut, some electronics (pups, pots and stuff) various types of strings and various adjustments to the properties and distance of strings to the magnetic pickups - but that's just half. The other half is the cord to the stomp boxes and then from there to the amp.

 

There are bunches of different potential settings on a given guitar as to mix, volume and tone variations on either one or both pups. Then that signal can be varied in different ways by a given stomp box or stomp box combination. Then the signal from that combination can be widely varied by the mode in which one's amp is set. Even the direction and height of the amp itself in a given "room" can make a huge difference on sound.

 

From the beginning of the playing of musical instruments, all of "us" for centuries have sought various ways to improve our sound to our own ears. Usually that's reinforced by those who sell stuff and even "friends" who suggest you could/should get a "better" sound if you just bought this or that. So we dump even marvelously playable instruments in search of a grail.

 

Believe me, I'm not pointing at you, but at every one of us and perhaps more at myself. You don't wanna know some of the guitars I've dumped because "It's not the sound/look I need for this (or that) band." Ditto amps.

 

Oddly I've never had over-ripe vegetables tossed at me even when playing guitars wildly out of character for a given "style" of music as long as I was in time, in tune and playing along with the appropriate chords and timing. Other than actual parts failure, that also in my "old days" has included some stuff most pickers nowadays wouldn't even take for free, let alone play in a gig, as well as some very, very nice pieces.

 

m

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I'll just make one last comment:

 

"noticeable improve it" is subjective - that is, it's in your own ears.

 

There's a similar thread asking whether pups or whatever should be replaced on an Epi version of the ES175. My answer would be about the same.

 

An electric guitar is not just a batch of wood. It's a batch of wood and metal and whatever else may be on the nut, some electronics (pups, pots and stuff) various types of strings and various adjustments to the properties and distance of strings to the magnetic pickups - but that's just half. The other half is the cord to the stomp boxes and then from there to the amp.

 

There are bunches of different potential settings on a given guitar as to mix, volume and tone variations on either one or both pups. Then that signal can be varied in different ways by a given stomp box or stomp box combination. Then the signal from that combination can be widely varied by the mode in which one's amp is set. Even the direction and height of the amp itself in a given "room" can make a huge difference on sound.

 

From the beginning of the playing of musical instruments, all of "us" for centuries have sought various ways to improve our sound to our own ears. Usually that's reinforced by those who sell stuff and even "friends" who suggest you could/should get a "better" sound if you just bought this or that. So we dump even marvelously playable instruments in search of a grail.

 

Believe me, I'm not pointing at you, but at every one of us and perhaps more at myself. You don't wanna know some of the guitars I've dumped because "It's not the sound/look I need for this (or that) band." Ditto amps.

 

Oddly I've never had over-ripe vegetables tossed at me even when playing guitars wildly out of character for a given "style" of music as long as I was in time, in tune and playing along with the appropriate chords and timing. Other than actual parts failure, that also in my "old days" has included some stuff most pickers nowadays wouldn't even take for free, let alone play in a gig, as well as some very, very nice pieces.

 

m

 

No offense, but I'm not new to guitars. I purchased a lower end guitar and simply wonder if anyone has experience with changing out pickups or whatnot with positive results than the stock equipment. I realize it's all subjective, but that's really kind of the point to a forum such as this -- to knock around ideas that work for some and to pass that experience on.

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A new Gotoh bridge that does not have the retaining wire is a good upgrade.The model with the large posts is a direct fit on models from 2000 on.My link

 

Ditto for the nut upgrade, be it bone or Tusq.

 

cool - thanks.

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Yup, you're far from new to guitars.

 

I started on acoustics myself nearly 50 years ago.

 

I'll stick by what I said because I'm utterly convinced that if "we" acoustic pickers always are looking for that little bit of extra from strings, nut, bridge... the electric is yet another creature that is far more complex as a "whole instrument" and brings a far greater challenge of determining what is "better."

 

My point is more in line of analysis of preferences and adjustment of what one does or doesn't do with the instrument (which now includes stomp boxes and an amp) in order to meet those preferences.

 

With a Dot stock pups there's an incredible potential range of sound with just messing with strings, pup height, pot settings and such. Yes, there are potential changes in pots and/or capacitors that will bring some change in a different electrical way than changing settings and srings. Etc, etc...

 

But without a determination of the goal and determining a road to that goal ... a random road others have taken is far less likely to lead to your personal goal.

 

Frankly the "feel" of a guitar is something I've found makes a huge difference in a lot of how one plays with both left and right hand, which then makes a huge difference in how it sounds.

 

Your guitar collection reflects what appears to be the same conclusion with acoustic instruments.

 

m

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Yup, you're far from new to guitars.

 

I started on acoustics myself nearly 50 years ago.

 

I'll stick by what I said because I'm utterly convinced that if "we" acoustic pickers always are looking for that little bit of extra from strings, nut, bridge... the electric is yet another creature that is far more complex as a "whole instrument" and brings a far greater challenge of determining what is "better."

 

My point is more in line of analysis of preferences and adjustment of what one does or doesn't do with the instrument (which now includes stomp boxes and an amp) in order to meet those preferences.

 

With a Dot stock pups there's an incredible potential range of sound with just messing with strings, pup height, pot settings and such. Yes, there are potential changes in pots and/or capacitors that will bring some change in a different electrical way than changing settings and srings. Etc, etc...

 

But without a determination of the goal and determining a road to that goal ... a random road others have taken is far less likely to lead to your personal goal.

 

Frankly the "feel" of a guitar is something I've found makes a huge difference in a lot of how one plays with both left and right hand, which then makes a huge difference in how it sounds.

 

Your guitar collection reflects what appears to be the same conclusion with acoustic instruments.

 

m

 

Fair enough, Milod. Thanks for the insight. I will say, the more I play this Epi Dot, the more impressed I am with it. I may end up doing minor setup work and leave it at that.

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I will be playing mostly classic rock/blues ranging from Petty to Black Keys to Foo Fighters using Fulltone pedals (Fulldrive and Plimsoul) mainly. I like the guitar as is, but if I could spend $100 on say some after market pickups that would noticeable improve it, then I'd do it. I'm not looking to spend hundreds of dollars -- that would negate the value of the guitar in the first place.

 

When people say "replace the electronics" what exactly are they talking about and how much does something like that cost generally? Also, what exactly would the improvement be? With better wire and pots that improves tone?

 

 

I have some high end guitars and am Typically not a tinkerer, BUT if I can upgrade my Epi without spending too much more (say $150) then I'd consider it. Don't get me wrong -- I like it as is. I only paid $250 with a hardshell case and the setup is nice.

 

Hopefully I can answer your questions with any bias.

 

Replacing electronics: Refers to all controls, pups, wiring, and switches. The thought is that some guitars come from the manufacture with low end electronics, i.e. Volume and Tone controls, capacitor and especially the sector switch. You might gain some tone quality by especially changing the value of the capacitor and better response or sensitivity by changing the pots. Upping the quality of the wiring harness with a well shielded harness will help reduce noise or interference (especially in single coil pups) if that is an issue. I believe you'll find a .022mfd cap with 500k potentiometers in your guitar now.

 

This is where it gets complicated there are Audio pots and Liner pots. You can use all Audio or all Liner or a combination of both. It depends on the reaction you are wanting to get from a particular combination. The value of the cap will affect the tone quality and in most guitars equipped with humbuckers you'll find 500k pots and .022mfd caps. Guitars with single coil pups , i.e. Strats and Teles will come with 250k pots with .047 caps.

 

Different types of pups will give you different sounds, i.e. P90s vs Humbuckers and then there are different types, quality, and grades of Humbuckers.

 

In answer to your question "Yes" changing the wire and pots can improve tone. As far as cost can't help you there, because I do my own work and haven't needed to do a complete change out. If your happy with the tone and not getting any noise then I wouldn't change a thing.

 

I have to agree with the others changing the Bridge and Nut would probably be a good starting point before doing any electronics. And having the guitar professionally setup will improve playability and sound if the pups need adjusting. Of course strings play a big part in sound, tone, and playability.

 

What string make and gauge are on the Dot now?

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Kebob...

 

Just ensuring the setup matches my string choice that matches my technique is all I did with my Dot. Using one or the other pups or various mixtures of both will vary. Ditto amp settings. I do use a multi-effect box mostly to "thicken" this or that guitar's sound given my penchant toward quite light strings.

 

I'm convinced that out of the box, the Dot is at minimum one of the best values in guitars today.

 

Some folks have gone the route of functionally replacing the pups and electrical stuff with Gibson or quality aftermarket stuff.

 

I have nothing against that, but I guess my question remains: Is it worth that much given how, what and where "you" play in comparison to whether it's well strung, set up and such for your technique.

 

That isn't just for you as an individual Kebob. Others with similar questions are reading this. It's questions I've not asked myself enough my first 40 years of playing and sometimes ignore today when I get the lust of changing something. Anything.

 

And boy, did I spend time and money trying to find answers that I hadn't invented questions for.

 

Messing with and modifying guitars is a great hobby. It makes a lot of folks happy. It helps one learn how to fix stuff that's broken.

 

But as I said, ain't had folks tossing overripe veggies at me for playing stock but well-setup guitars. Flirting with their girlfriends maybe, back in my rock years, but... I learned that wasn't a good idea around the time I started playing country for money. And... <chortle>

 

m

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Some folks have gone the route of functionally replacing the pups and electrical stuff with Gibson or quality aftermarket stuff.

 

I have nothing against that, but I guess my question remains: Is it worth that much given how, what and where "you" play in comparison to whether it's well strung, set up and such for your technique.

 

I would think most people who go to the trouble to upgrade various electronics also go to the trouble to make sure their guitars are set up properly. I know I do.

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I bought a Samick/Korean-built 2001 Dot which was already in good shape and...

 

1. upgraded the plastic nut to a tusq one

2*. replaced the amber knobs with black/silver reflector knobs

3. replaced the TOM bridge with a nice solid Wilkinson roller bridge (gonna add a bigsby later on, otherwise I would have went with a Gotoh bridge)

4. added new strings! 11's do the trick for me.

5. replaced the Epiphone pickups with some inexpensive but high-quality PAF copies from Harpmaster ( http://www.harpmasterpickups.com/hms3-classic-paf-humbucke3.html )

6*. Oiled the fretboard and polished the frets.

7. Changed the selector switch to a new Switchcraft switch.

 

The majority of these changes enhanced the sound, tone and sustain on my Dot by a mile. Very, very pleased now.

 

* Cosmetic changes that entice me to play more. ;)

 

Just play, figure out what you like, educate yourself (there is much to learn), and make alterations you feel you need if any. Good luck to you.

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Hopefully I can answer your questions with any bias.

 

Replacing electronics: Refers to all controls, pups, wiring, and switches. The thought is that some guitars come from the manufacture with low end electronics, i.e. Volume and Tone controls, capacitor and especially the sector switch. You might gain some tone quality by especially changing the value of the capacitor and better response or sensitivity by changing the pots. Upping the quality of the wiring harness with a well shielded harness will help reduce noise or interference (especially in single coil pups) if that is an issue. I believe you'll find a .022mfd cap with 500k potentiometers in your guitar now.

 

This is where it gets complicated there are Audio pots and Liner pots. You can use all Audio or all Liner or a combination of both. It depends on the reaction you are wanting to get from a particular combination. The value of the cap will affect the tone quality and in most guitars equipped with humbuckers you'll find 500k pots and .022mfd caps. Guitars with single coil pups , i.e. Strats and Teles will come with 250k pots with .047 caps.

 

Different types of pups will give you different sounds, i.e. P90s vs Humbuckers and then there are different types, quality, and grades of Humbuckers.

 

In answer to your question "Yes" changing the wire and pots can improve tone. As far as cost can't help you there, because I do my own work and haven't needed to do a complete change out. If your happy with the tone and not getting any noise then I wouldn't change a thing.

 

I have to agree with the others changing the Bridge and Nut would probably be a good starting point before doing any electronics. And having the guitar professionally setup will improve playability and sound if the pups need adjusting. Of course strings play a big part in sound, tone, and playability.

 

What string make and gauge are on the Dot now?

 

Thanks for the detailed reply. That answers many of my questions. The strings that were on the Dot were thicker strings -- felt like 11s or 12s. I use 9s on my Tele, and I just put some 10s on the Dot tonight and lowered the bridge a bit to get the action more to my liking. Plays really well. I'm leaning more of just leaving as is. Like I said, I'm not a tinkerer with my guitars. With my tele (American standard) I didn't change a thing out of the case -- the set up was dead perfect and still is.

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I bought a Samick/Korean-built 2001 Dot which was already in good shape and...

 

1. upgraded the plastic nut to a tusq one

2*. replaced the amber knobs with black/silver reflector knobs

3. replaced the TOM bridge with a nice solid Wilkinson roller bridge (gonna add a bigsby later on, otherwise I would have went with a Gotoh bridge)

4. added new strings! 11's do the trick for me.

5. replaced the Epiphone pickups with some inexpensive but high-quality PAF copies from Harpmaster ( http://www.harpmasterpickups.com/hms3-classic-paf-humbucke3.html )

6*. Oiled the fretboard and polished the frets.

7. Changed the selector switch to a new Switchcraft switch.

 

The majority of these changes enhanced the sound, tone and sustain on my Dot by a mile. Very, very pleased now.

 

* Cosmetic changes that entice me to play more. ;)

 

Just play, figure out what you like, educate yourself (there is much to learn), and make alterations you feel you need if any. Good luck to you.

 

Thanks -- good stuff :)

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Thinking of upgrading my Epi Dot, but don't want to go crazy. Looking for recommendations for the biggest bang for buck upgrades on an Epi Dot (Deluxe version).

 

Looking at the list of guitars you have, I'd say that you probably have something in that mix that will give you any sound that you are looking for. You don't say what part of the guitar you have a problem with or if you are doing the mods yourself, but if you haven't done an electronics upgrade to a guitar like the Dot, I'd say to start with the parts on the exterior like the nut, bridge, strings, or tuning knobs. Your $150 budget isn't enough to do a complete upgrade anyway so make it easy on yourself and judge what part of the sound you are not happy with and pick something easy that might make an immediate difference. You just might find the difference you are looking for and won't have to go any further. You can really get a lot of variation in sound with the exterior parts upgrades. Companies like Gotoh and Tonepro make good bridges and tuners for an Epi which are a relatively easy mod. I personally like locking tuners and think they add sustain to a guitar as well as making an improvement in the guitar staying in tune.

 

Pickups, pots, and caps make a difference but are not the first thing to jump on if you don't have the experience and will probably cost you more than you want to spend if you have to pay someone to do the work for you. I doubt that you could change the pickups to something better than you have for the budget you are talking about unless you find something used. Pots and caps are cheap enough if you are doing it yourself but are not the easiest thing to do on a Dot. I've done it for myself but I'm not sure I would do it for someone else for $150 if I had to be the one to guarantee the guitar. The thought of making any mistake at all and having to go back into one of these for a do-over is enough to make me turn that job down.

 

There is so much personal judgement in what an individual likes in their guitars that I'd take what everyone says and think it over from your own perspective. You can also do a search for your guitar on this forum and read about every mod that has been done to a Dot to get a better idea of what is the most popular solution for the type of sound that you are looking for.

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Thanks for the detailed reply. That answers many of my questions. The strings that were on the Dot were thicker strings -- felt like 11s or 12s. I use 9s on my Tele, and I just put some 10s on the Dot tonight and lowered the bridge a bit to get the action more to my liking. Plays really well. I'm leaning more of just leaving as is. Like I said, I'm not a tinkerer with my guitars. With my tele (American standard) I didn't change a thing out of the case -- the set up was dead perfect and still is.

 

Putting a set of 10s will help improve tone, but not affect playability that noticeable. I have my Ibanez AS73 setup with 10s and like the sound and feel.

 

Lowering the bridge helps with action, but you may need to also tweak the truss rod just a bit if you found that the action increased with the 10s. Set the bridge too low and you might get get buzzing or if the sound has changed and not for the better you may need to adjust the pickup height.

 

If your pretty happy with the way it is, then don't change anything. If you find some issues arise with the 10s and since you don't tinker around with your guitars I would strongly recommend having the guitar setup with the 10s by a guitar tech. And sit down with the tech and let him know how you want it to sound and feel.

 

You would want the guitar tech to:

 

1. Set relief - for your playing style, so there are no buzzing, but not too high that the action is bad.

2. Action - for playability and to match your playing style and so there are no buzzing.

3. Intonation - So the guitar plays in tune up and down the neck. The tech may require holding onto the guitar for a week or more while it settles in with the new strings and previous adjustment.

4. Nut action - Usually most noticeable at 1st fret, because you really have to use a lot a pressure. If your not have issues now then it's probably okay, but just mention it to the tech if it is an issue.

5. Pickup height - Basically too low and less output to high and issues with string pull and false noting.

 

Best of luck.

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The cheapest thing you can do is give it a good setup - especially the pickup height adjustment. That can make a very significant difference in how your guitar sounds. Often times they are way out of whack - especially if it is a used item. New strings as part of it are a gimme.

 

FWIW - it costs nothing to try it.

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Kebob...

 

Don't be afraid of a decent set of 9-42 in the Dot, either. There's enough difference between the Tele fingerboard radius and the Dot's that they'll still feel different.

 

I'm a very gentle fingerpicker and wear 9-42 on everything electric except one new hollow I just got that I'm thinking about using for experimentation. Well - and always 8-38 on my old S100c Guild that was their high end SG clone back in the '70s. I don't think I miss a bit on tone. Maybe if I were a stronger picker. On the nylon AE (one of the first, an Ovation Country Artist from the 70s) I tend to wear higher tension strings, but no brand preferences 'cuz where I've lived, I got what I could get.

 

= Oh, strings on my acoustics? Depends.

 

First, all are AE and 98 percent of my pickin', whether rock or ragtime, is bare fingers. My little fingerpickin' Epi PR5e has 9-42 gauge of the relatively new "Zebra" strings on it. Decent practice sound acoustic and run through an amp has gotten a thumbs up from some Brit videographers who have done music vids. Most, however, wear 10s. The big boxes are more likely to be hauled to this or that "strumalong" sorta thing and I want a shade heavier but could be fingerpicked or used with what is still my pretty gentle flatpicking strums. Also I wear the lightest non silk'n'steel I can find for the 12 string.

 

m

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Play it for a few months before making any decisions. Try it with any and all amps you have. Use different cables with it.

 

I have gutted and completely rewired a Dot I had. Not a task if you don't like to tinker. Takes a bit of time and some finesse to do it well. If you want it to sound more like the Gibson then I like the SD Seth Lovers - as close to the real tone as can be. IMO

 

Your Deluxe model should be good to go as-is. IMO

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