Luke Crowther from The Rifles dropped by the workshop a few days back. He was collecting his Gibson Melody Maker.
This lovely old guitar was made in 1968 and has been cherished by Luke for many years until it was worked on by an over enthusiastic guitar tech and was never the same again. After that it didn’t play very well and the intonation was hopelessly wrong.
A possible reason was identified immediately
The wraparound tail-piece was never a great idea in the first instance and this one was also tipping forward quite acutely. This type of bridge/tailpiece relies on a raised pattern to fix its intonation. Quite a crude idea which only allows for fine adjustment via two small grub screws hidden in the back end of the wraparound. This allows adjustment forwards or backwards (♯ or ♭ ) and typically never gives enough movement to permit accurate intonation.
This has been modified at some point as it still shows the remnants of the old tremolo system. And removing the scratchplate reveals some crude routing out for the humbuckers. Certainly not factory spec!
It’s hard to say definitively but it appears that this guitar had a fixed bridge and fixed tremolo as well as single coil pickups. And at some point a previous owner has carried out all these mods.
Time to put it right
First thing is to remove the wraparound assembly and trem remnants.
A modern wraparound is bought in to be fitted. This system has separate saddles similar to the Tune O Matic bridges. This will allow the intonation to be set accurately.
The threaded inserts that are buried into the guitar body are slightly smaller than the originals. Therefore the holes are plugged and re-drilled. To achieve this two Mahogany plugs a turn down on the lathe, inserted and drilled out.
With the scratchplate removed a few of the scratchplate screw holes are repaired.
With the new wraparound bridge installed and the scratchplate secured correctly the guitar is ready to be set-up.
There is some fret wear which is honed out and the frets re-profiled. The fingerboard is cleaned and oiled and the guitar is re-strung with 10-46 gauge strings.
Luke checks out the guitars new set-up
Yes he likes it, one very happy Rifleman.
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