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kebob

Biggest bang for buck in upgrading an Epi Dot

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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

 

Yeah, after getting the feedback I've received here, I think I'll wait to do anything with the Dot until after playing it a few months, and then perhaps leave it as is. I played around with pickup height tonight. Noticed more volume difference than tone difference depending on height. It's definitely more "raspy" sounding than my single coil Tele when using my Fulltone Mosfet overdrive pedal.

 

I'm new to Epiphone -- I have to say, I'm impressed with this guitar for the price. Holds tuning good. Good intonation. Very solid guitar and a great value.

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Sometime next week I'll receive the Epi Dot Deluxe I just bought from another forum member. Other than the flamed top, what differences am I likely to find in it from the regular Dot I once had, (and wish I had never sold)? My avatar picture is of my old Dot.

 

The guy I bought it from changed the bridge for a Gotoh aluminum bridge, but is sending the original bridge with it too. He used 10-46 strings on it, as do I on my electrics except my Les Pauls, which use 11-48s.

 

Is there any real need to replace pots, caps, switch and wiring? I've always liked the sound of the Dot pickups, so I doubt I'll want to consider that anyway. I don't gig, but I do record at home sometimes and it's nice to have volume controls you can turn down without them shutting down around 5 like some guitars I've had in the past.

 

I'm considering whether to install a Varitone switch in it. Does anyone have experience with this and can tell me whether the pickups in the Dot Deluxe react well to the effect?

 

Unfortunately, I have HUGE hands and the idea of working through an f-hole doesn't really appeal to me, so there would be a cost applied to whatever I decided to do. I think the called them f-holes, not for the shape, but for the language used to express how people felt working in them. [cursing]

 

The one thing I might do sooner than later is put on a graphite nut. I bend strings with my fingers and hate a nut that holds the strings out of tune after a whole note bend. So what's the story folks?

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I'm going to throw my 2 cents worth in at this point.

 

As some of you know I do repairs and setups part-time. Recently one of my customers came in with a Dot, wanting to change the pickups, pots, and switch. I asked him some of the same questions asked here.

 

1. What kind of music did he play?

2. Was he a hard strummer, or a light finger picker?

3. What kind of amp was he using?

4. What tones was he getting that he did not like?

5. Had he had a setup done recently?

6. What kind, and guage of strings was he using?

7. How old were the strings?

 

He answered all my questions with some vague answers, but he did say he thought the tone was "Thin".

 

I said "How much do you want to spend?" He said he had a budget of 200.00.

 

I told him that for that much money, the biggest bang for his buck would be to change the nut, the bridge, and do a setup.

He said OK, so That's what I did. I put a new Babicz Full Contact bridge on the guitar, changed out the plastic nut for a Tusq, and did a setup.

He had a lot of sharp fret ends, and 2 high frets which I looked after in the setup also.

 

When he got the guitar back and went home to play it, he called me back asking "What the H had I done with his guitar?"

Immediately I was concerned thinking I had screwed up. He went on to say that it played and sounded like a totally different guitar, and went on to thank me profusely. Nice to hear from a player after working on his guitar.

 

In my mind, the bridge and nut made the largest difference. New strings were second. The setup, which of course included adjusting pickup heights, was third.

 

Just my opinion. [biggrin]

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I'm going to throw my 2 cents worth in at this point.

 

As some of you know I do repairs and setups part-time. Recently one of my customers came in with a Dot, wanting to change the pickups, pots, and switch. I asked him some of the same questions asked here.

 

1. What kind of music did he play?

2. Was he a hard strummer, or a light finger picker?

3. What kind of amp was he using?

4. What tones was he getting that he did not like?

5. Had he had a setup done recently?

6. What kind, and guage of strings was he using?

7. How old were the strings?

 

He answered all my questions with some vague answers, but he did say he thought the tone was "Thin".

 

I said "How much do you want to spend?" He said he had a budget of 200.00.

 

I told him that for that much money, the biggest bang for his buck would be to change the nut, the bridge, and do a setup.

He said OK, so That's what I did. I put a new Babicz Full Contact bridge on the guitar, changed out the plastic nut for a Tusq, and did a setup.

He had a lot of sharp fret ends, and 2 high frets which I looked after in the setup also.

 

When he got the guitar back and went home to play it, he called me back asking "What the H had I done with his guitar?"

Immediately I was concerned thinking I had screwed up. He went on to say that it played and sounded like a totally different guitar, and went on to thank me profusely. Nice to hear from a player after working on his guitar.

 

In my mind, the bridge and nut made the largest difference. New strings were second. The setup, which of course included adjusting pickup heights, was third.

 

Just my opinion. [biggrin]

 

Cool -- your post is very helpful. At this point I have no inclination to change out the electronics as I'm overall happy. I am curious about the bridge swapout -- why does the Gotoh or Babicz bridge improve tone? Is it the material used or the design? Seems hard to believe just swapping out the bridge piece improves tone by that much. And the last question, is swapping out a bridge something anyone can do or is it best left to a guitar tech?

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Sometime next week I'll receive the Epi Dot Deluxe I just bought from another forum member. Other than the flamed top, what differences am I likely to find in it from the regular Dot I once had, (and wish I had never sold)? My avatar picture is of my old Dot.

 

The guy I bought it from changed the bridge for a Gotoh aluminum bridge, but is sending the original bridge with it too. He used 10-46 strings on it, as do I on my electrics except my Les Pauls, which use 11-48s.

 

Is there any real need to replace pots, caps, switch and wiring? I've always liked the sound of the Dot pickups, so I doubt I'll want to consider that anyway. I don't gig, but I do record at home sometimes and it's nice to have volume controls you can turn down without them shutting down around 5 like some guitars I've had in the past.

 

I'm considering whether to install a Varitone switch in it. Does anyone have experience with this and can tell me whether the pickups in the Dot Deluxe react well to the effect?

 

Unfortunately, I have HUGE hands and the idea of working through an f-hole doesn't really appeal to me, so there would be a cost applied to whatever I decided to do. I think the called them f-holes, not for the shape, but for the language used to express how people felt working in them. [cursing]

 

The one thing I might do sooner than later is put on a graphite nut. I bend strings with my fingers and hate a nut that holds the strings out of tune after a whole note bend. So what's the story folks?

 

Your avatar Dot looks exactly like mine -- love that look! Let me know what that Gotoh replacement bridge does for it.

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Your avatar Dot looks exactly like mine -- love that look! Let me know what that Gotoh replacement bridge does for it.

It ships today and should arrive next week, so it'll be a few days before I can tell you anything about it. I guess the usual bridge is steel, so I would imagine the lighter aluminum bridge transfers vibration better. What that means to an electric guitar, I don't honestly know.

 

A lot of people criticize the quality of metal hardware on guitars not made in America. Honestly, I've never understood what was wrong. I have some Chinese and Indonesian electrics and the hardware on all of them seems as heavy and is formed and shaped as well as anything I have on my American guitars. Other than the smaller thickness and weight of the trem block on some Fender guitars, things like the "Tuna-Matic" bridges on the Epi guitars seems the same to me as the Gibson counterparts.

 

What's the story?

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I am curious about the bridge swapout -- why does the Gotoh or Babicz bridge improve tone? Is it the material used or the design? Seems hard to believe just swapping out the bridge piece improves tone by that much. And the last question, is swapping out a bridge something anyone can do or is it best left to a guitar tech?

 

The Babicz bridge sits right on top of the body, increasing tone transfer from the strings to the body. After using one myself, and installing the second on the customers Dot, I think this is the best aftermarket bridge out there. Have a look at the site using the link below. If the post distance, center to center of your bridge is 74 mm, you can straight up swap the bridge.

This bridge gives you the ultimate in adjustability also.

 

It sells for about 120, so it is in your budget.

 

Full Contact Hardware

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The Babicz bridge sits right on top of the body, increasing tone transfer from the strings to the body. After using one myself, and installing the second on the customers Dot, I think this is the best aftermarket bridge out there. Have a look at the site using the link below. If the post distance, center to center of your bridge is 74 mm, you can straight up swap the bridge.

This bridge gives you the ultimate in adjustability also.

 

It sells for about 120, so it is in your budget.

 

Full Contact Hardware

 

Very nice -- thanks.

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The Japanese made Gotoh bridge is a big improvement because:

 

1. It is precision cast out of a better quality alloy.

2. There is more travel room of the saddles for a wider range of intonation adjustments.

3. The saddles are held in place by locking nuts instead of the Epi's retaining wire that usually ends up buzzing later on.

4. All of the saddles face the same way instead of the Epi's 3 slants one way and 3 the other.

5. The plating (especially the chrome) is of a better quality.

 

The Babicz is very nice except it is highly expensive and the saddle height adjustment feature is not really needed on this model Epi as the Gotoh already has the Epi's 12" radius set.

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Regardless of the size of your hands, nobody really works "through the F holes" in a semi-hollow guitar. The trick is to tie strings or wire or rubberbands (I use the latter) to the pots/switch/jack before removing their retaining nuts. You can then pull them up through the f holes or the pickup holes to do your work (remove the pickups first and then just pull the wires back to the hole - the pots will follow). The string or rubberband you tied on (it's still running back up through the control hole) is then used to guide the control back to it's corresponding hole. It's really pretty straight forward and not too difficult, albeit a little intimidating at first thought. Good Luck

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I've heard of filtering things through with a unbent coat hanger and using string to pull up a pot shaft. One story I heard was about a guy who used super glue to glue the tip of the string to the top of the shaft and pulled it right through the hole. I guess that would work if you had too much trouble getting the top of the shaft to go through the hole. I don't know how true that story is since I wonder if the string would stick to the metal in the first place.

 

The coat hanger seems like it would be an easy way to get the jack out and back in after soldering something like the Varitone switch to it.

 

The part where I've heard people talk about using their fingers had to do with putting pressure on the bottom of a pot to hold it securely while they screwed it tight from the top. Otherwise, if the pot twists, it's possible to break the solder points.

 

The Dot I bought from a friend arrives Monday, but I'm having second thoughts about whether to drill such a beautiful guitar for a Varitone switch since I have Strats, a Tele, a Wildkat and a Les Paul with coil splitting, not to mention 4 guitar and bass amps with different personalities. What other tone could I possibly create or need? I'd say I'm 70/30 in the direction of not putting in the switch.

 

Knowing how happy I've always been with Dots pickups, plus knowing from a thread in another forum that what my friend did by replacing the bridge is the most helpful and popular mod, (in the opinion of everyone there and here), I honestly don't see much I will do to this guitar. String experiments might be about it. If the nut doesn't bind when I bend strings, it won't get replaced. If the neck is a gloss finish and my big hands feel sticky, it might get reduced to satin with some 000 steel wool. If my friend and I have differences about tone, maybe the pickups will get raised or lowered, but all that will be known by Tuesday morning and even if I did everything just mentioned, it would be done by Tuesday night.

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Just throwing in my 2 cents. To give a little background I'm a total mod-aholic. I do it for a hobby and I enjoy it. I get most of my guitars used because I feel silly to pay top dollar for new gear just to turn around and mod the heck out of them. Also I'm not a gigging player, I just play for fun at home.

 

I have 3 epiphones and 2 of them are heavily modded - pickups, coil-splitting blah-blah-blah . I agree with all of the previous posters that say a good setup is #1. For setups I do most of the adjustments myself, (neck relief, bridge height, intonation, pickup height).

 

With all that being said, my Epi Dot is BONE STOCK. I love the tone of it so much and the feel. I never changed a thing except strings (and the hideous looking amber knobs). I also agree it is one of the best bang-for-the-buck guitars on the market.

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I'm a total mod-aholic. I do it for a hobby and I enjoy it. I get most of my guitars used because I feel silly to pay top dollar for new gear just to turn around and mod the heck out of them. Also I'm not a gigging player, I just play for fun at home.

That would have described me to a tee up until a couple years ago. I guess it was because I played primarily Fender guitars, or bolt on neck at least. Being able to pop off a pickguard, shim a neck and just in general. take apart a guitar and put it back together like Tinker Toys was something I felt comfortable with and actually relaxing.

 

Fast forward to more recent times, I've seemingly acquired more set neck guitars with humbuckers, some of which are 4 wire with more complicated wiring patterns. I've gotten into hollow bodies with the Dot and a Wildkat. In the first place, there's not as much I can do to them and it just seems easier in retirement to pay a few bucks to have a pro do the work instead of possibly messing up the guts of a nice guitar.

 

I also only play at home for fun and I record a little bit when my ego gets the best of me. [crying]

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I've had an epi dot for few years.I replaced the pickups to GFS vintage 59's from guitarfetish.com shortly after getting the dot. Thts made s huge improvement in my opinion. I should have and still should go little farther and replace the volume and tone electrics and the pickup selector switch. Probably not the easist job on a semi hollow though.But I am pretty content with where its at. It would be better yet if I did like I mentioned but its not anything to look down on the way it is now. I have some before and after tone sample s ,if interested in hearing I can send it to you.

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Lots of good suggestions here. Of my two Epi semihollow bodies - a Dot Studio and an ES355, both are very good stock. Could use some minor nut slot work, but what made a big difference in tone was simply ficking the bright switch to on, on the amp, and then controlling the tone from the guitar. As a long time Tele player, I never got near that evil pain switch. Now I love it - depends on the amp tonality and build as well.

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Because all my amps have different personalities, I tend to control the tone more from the amp than the guitar. I have buttons on a couple of them for a gain control channel, but I don't have a bright switch, at least not called that. What kind of amp is that you have?

 

Hopefully tomorrow, a little Vox DA5 I bought via Ebay will arrive. It's scheduled for Tuesday, but early today it reached Hialeah, about 15 miles north of me. It only took 3 days to travel 1000 miles, so I hope it doesn't take 2 more to travel 15. I'll be looking forward to that being the little amp I keep near the living room sofa so I'm not limited to taking an acoustic in there with me.

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I just got my new DOT 2 days ago. I ain't changin' a thing. I LOVE IT just like it is :) at most a new nut maybe down the road someday. also I had a VOX da10 and really had a lot of fun with it - great lil' amp. I traded it for another amp a bud had but I wish I still had it... I do own a VOX Jamvox and also a KORG Toneworks ME pedal (KORG & VOX are partners in their modeling amps) and love em both. They have a lot of the same sounds the da10 had. You'll like the da5.

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The Vox amp came a day early! I would never have believed it if you told me all this thing can do and how well it does it. Let's face it... a 6.5" speaker? Solid state? The specs just don't add up to all the goodness coming out of this little Vox box.

 

I'm so impressed with it that I'm seriously thinking about selling a couple of my amps, recovering that space in my music room and, as my wife commented, "Then you'll fill the space with a couple more guitars!" I have to admit, she knows me... [rolleyes]

 

Using the Dot through the different blues settings on the DA5, I tend to hear a lot of B.B. King tone. I've been playing stuff like How Blue Can You Get and when I plug in a Strat set on Clean 1, I have to turn it up, but you can get a tone that is almost acoustic sounding.

 

Fantastic fun!

 

And tomorrow I pick up a used Gibson Les Paul 60s Tribute. It's been on police hold until now. I'm really anxious to hear those creamy P90s through the Vox.

 

It just dawned on me, my avatar is of the Dot I sold to my friend Ken Hodges, a luthier up in Tennessee. I wonder if I took a picture of the new Dot Deluxe, whether I'd even be able to see the difference with a picture reduced to such a small size. Maybe I'll just wait for the LP to get home tomorrow.

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As far as bright settings, I use a variety of amps; the one with the bright switch is an Egnater Rebel 30 head atop 2 x 12 cabs. Three other amps I have contain bright settings, but no separate switch are a Vox Night Train ("bright"setting for HBs and "thick" setting for single coils); my beloved Mesa TansAtlantic-15 head - with five amps in one lunchbox. The two vox setting are plenty bright. And the third is a 1980 Mesa Mark2b with all manner of bright switch settings. A lot of Fender amps have this feature too - but my two modded BJrs do not have the bright switch. In that case, just turn the bass and mids down a bit from where they are set for a Tele. Way down more than you think if you have done the Billm mods.

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I just got my new DOT 2 days ago. I ain't changin' a thing. I LOVE IT just like it is :) at most a new nut maybe down the road someday. also I had a VOX da10 and really had a lot of fun with it - great lil' amp.

 

Is yours new, with the improved PU's? If so, there's no need to upgrade them (unlike older Dots). To me, the new Dots are great as-is, same with any of the new set-neck Epis. They've really stepped up their game.

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I don't know if my Dot Deluxe has new or old pickups, but I love it the way it is too. I have another 335 looking guitar, an inexpensive DX model from Rondo. This thread has been pretty helpful in deciding what to upgrade on that guitar too.

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I have a couple Dot Deluxes; they came with the old PU's. Aren't Dot Deluxes out-of-production now? They might not have gotten the improved PU's. The old Epi's sounded okay, but the current-production ones sound much better; more clarity and depth, a more open sound. Big improvement. Years ago, before I knew better, I used to be content with the old Epi PU's, until I tried some Duncans, DiMarzios, and Gibsons; then I realized what I was missing. When you put a high-quality set of PAF's in an older Dot, it just blows away those Epi '57's and whatever else they used back then. Those were never intended to compete with the big boys for tone. They produced a sound, and that's about it. Since 2010, Epiphone has gotten serious about PU's and has been putting some really good ones in their guitars. After years of blurry/muddy Epi PU's, I was pretty skeptical about the new Probuckers and Alnico Classics; but then I got a recent-production ebony LP Royale and couldn't beleive the tone quality. Like no other Epi I've ever played. Much more clear and articulate. I thought someone put Seymour Duncans in it and forgot to mention it (that happened to me with an Epi '58 Flying V; the seller forget to mention it had a pair of DiMarzios in it, and I was amazed at how clear and defined it sounded, until I changed strings and flipped the PU's over). Now Epi's leveled the playing field. The stock PU's are staying in the Royale.

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