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Tickled...MIJ FT-120


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Been looking for a decent small bodied beater for some time...chomping at the bit, getting quite desperate, I walked into the local pawn shop and I spot this old sweetheart Epi. Extreme workout fretting because the action was so dang high. Clearly a neck reset was in order, but I saw the bolt-on. Decided to sleep on it and research resetting bolt-on necks.


Next morning (today)....off to the pawn shop and negotiated it down to $60 from $120. You all would have been proud...beat them to hell and making them feel guilty about about trying to sell broken guitars etc. Supposedly taking a loss, they went as far as they could then I dropped my Discover on them. They were like, that's the most expensive card for us to take and the only thing as bad is AMEX. I told them I had one of those ready to go if they preferred, while holding my wallet full of cash. They took the Discover.


So I brought it home and took measurements. 7/32" off the low E. Yeah 32nd not 64th. 0.025" of neck relief. Quick turn of the truss rod brought the relief back to normal at 0.010" and remeasured. 6/32" not bad. Keep in mind that is 2/64" which is a lot, but I had a lot more to go.


Couldn't wait, was too excited and started to pull the neck off. Bolts were extremely loose! LOL. Kept going and after the neck completely off, found nothing broken or cracked whatsoever! I shimmed it...ghetto style with some washers I found in the junk drawer. I don't have spruce or mahogany shims laying around :) Bolted it back on and strung the low E back on (yeah I saved the strings). Buzz galore...good news! Raised the saddle and you know, the stupid $10 box of plastic vintage saddles I bought last year finally paid off! Got a perfect fit! Restrung...still a little of buzzing and then I remembered. Holy cow adjustable bridge! Like a les paul Tune-o-matic. Quick 1/2 turn on the high E side and walah, buzz free. Restrung the rest of the strings...because I fixed the angle, lost about 1/2" of strings on each...didn't care, kept going and on some strings didn't have have a full wrap. Kept going, tuned to pitch (standard) and it plays beautifully! a bit of string buzz on the low E because I was banging it so damn hard with a thick *** pick! Measured. 8/64"! LOL! And 5/64 on the high E! I got some fine tuning to do obviously and I'm sure all I need to do is lower the bass side of the Tune-o-matic a bit and I'm good! Oh and stop banging on the damn thing. Strummed it moderately with a pick and fingers...no buzz. Sounds great.


A very worn, dusty beater resurrected. Sounds a bit boxy, but it resonates well. 20 mins, 2 washers, some gauges, a couple of screwdrivers and $60. A very happy man.


I could use some help from you expert forum members tho...help me date this baby? Sorry for the poor quality cell phone pics...serial is 11780125.






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Oh...and would anyone know if this thing is braced for mediums? It sounds great with the old worn out Elixirs (I think), but I'm sure it'll open up even more with some D'Addario Phospher Bronze and mediums are my choice.


I like the chrome tulips, but after bring turning it up, the actual tuners are lifting out of the headstock! A spare set of Grovers won't fit in the holes...any suggestions?? Just any replacement Gotohs? I assume these old MIJs use Gotohs...

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That is an odd occurence. The capstans, the part that the strings wrap around shouldn't be able to move up???? .


Are these 3 on a plate tuners or covered? Can we see the back of the head stock?

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The neck was pulled forward so when I straightened it by pulling it back, the strings lengthened if you know what I mean...as for the tuners, they are closed back and the mounting screws are offset or diagonal. Can't get pics up now because of the 500k limit. I'll setup in Photobucket tomorrow. From what I can tell, this guitar was made sometime between 1977-1979...was just curious. Medium strings anyone? Thanks!!!



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I have a couple Epis from the same era - FT-135 & an FT-160. You might need the neck block reset. Read this post by TommyK:




Is the label blue or tan? I can't tell from the photos. Yours would be a '70s era Norlin guitar - '72 to '78ish. AFAIK there is no definative guide to the 70's Epi serial numbers.


I'd treat her with a new set of strings - go with lights for now. Consider replacing the tuners.


Also, these guitars have a high rate of failure with the neck blocks. Take it to a luthier and have it inspected & repaired if needed!



Good luck!

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