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The Gibson EBO, or “SG” bass as some call it, is one of my favorite vintage basses. I love old shots of Jack Bruce from Cream or Jim Lea from Slade (below) playing the bass.
But getting one to play right can be a big hassle. Especially the old, two post bridge. These bridges can tilt forward to the point where the bass is virtually unplayable. I’ve seen different ways of trying to remedy this; like a stack of quarters under the front side of the bridge, or a screw mounted underneath to push the front up. But these methods never seem to work.
The best way I have found to stabilize the bridge is to add pressure to the back of the bridge.
I do this by adding two 1 1/2″ sheet rock screws to the back of the bridge. My method does involves some alteration to the original parts but the holes that you need to drill are almost totally hidden. The first thing I do is to disassemble the bridge and remove the saddles. Then I drill two holes underneath the “G” and the “E” intonation adjustment screws at the back end of the bridge. Next thing to do is to put the bridge in place and drill holes into the body directly under the two new bridge holes for the 1 1/2″ sheet rock screws. Now I insert the screws through the bridge and into the new holes in the body.
The new screws can be used to level and stablize the bridge. Then, I string up the bass with just the “A” and the “D” strings. I set the action with these two string only because I need to get to the new stabilizing screws to set the action, and the “G” and “E” strings get in the way. Once I have it set nicely, I add the “E” and the “G” strings. The new screws work like a charm, however they do make it very hard to adjust the action. You may have to remove the “E” and the “G” and couple of time before you get it. The extra set-up time is worth it becuase the bass will play like a dream and the bridge will never tilt again!!
It’s a question I never EVER hear. Never. Ever. I can’t remember the last time someone asked that. It’s been years.
I thought for sure the Galaxie 2 would be the model that took off, it was cheaper than the Galaxie 4, and didn’t have that four pickup weirdness going on that the guitar world still has a hard time wrapping it’s head around.
And yet here it is, 15 years later, and the Los Straitjacket Galaxie is far and away our best selling instrument, while the Galaxie 2 has not been available for over 8 years.
There is a very specific asethetic going on with four pickup guitars. If you thing I’m overstating things, have a look for yourself:
The thing that really stands out, I think, is that these guitars really stand out. They are all made to grab whatever attention they can get. They are not plain, they are not guitars for standing on the sidelines with.
And then there is the time frame that these guitars represent. All of these guitars were made in the 60’s or early 70’s. Except the Galaxie. I searched high and low for another a four pickup guitar currently on the market, or something from the recent past. (if you know of any, let us know!) Even though retro style guitars are making a comeback these days, four pickups still seems too way out there, and no other company has produced one.
When we first exhibited the Galaxie 4 at NAMM there was a lot of eye rolling, a lot of pointing and laughing, but then we started working with Los Straitjackets, and they were drawn to the model like moths to flame.
And the Galaxie 2? It’s redesigned and ready for a comeback. Look for it this summer!
Snowflakes…no two are alike. No two fingerprints, no two people. We’re all special snowflakes, right? And no two guitars are exactly alike either. Isn’t that what makes your favorite guitar(s) great?
OK, so maybe what makes it great is the bridge pickup, or that it’s lightweight, or it stays in tune and the action is perfect. But you could transfer all those features to another guitar, the exact same model, the exact same year, and it would not be the same.
When you think about it like that, it’s not suprising that these snowflake-like items stubbornly resist assimilation into a Walmart-like big-box driven retail environment. Guitar Center is having a tough time. Making commodities of musical instruments has not been as clear-cut as they had hoped, and it hasn’t been very profitable for Guitar Center and their Bain Capital overlords. The company has seen shrinking profits and a downgraded credit rating since the venture capital company took it over. This article spells it out pretty clearly:
I guess it all comes down to money. (doesn’t it always?) The big box model is concerned only with the bottom line, and they make the assumption that the customer is as well. But I don’t think that’s true. Most players pour their heart and soul into their guitars. Why would you buy an item like that from a place that has no heart and soul?
Old classic arch-tops are always coming into the shop here needing repair. Many of them have high action. Their bridges have been filed all the way down and yet they still have high action. This is a sure sign that the neck of the guitar is tilting and the guitar is in need of a neck-reset. But once in a while I get an old archtop that has super LOW action and the bridge is jacked all the way UP; the exact opposite situation. I find myself thinking “wow, no neck reset needed and we got tons of room to lower the action just in case the neck does decide to tilt!”
However, I’ve learned to look again when I see that happening. What that usually
means is a brace is either cracking or coming loose from the top. This is a very hard fix since the braces are almost impossible to get to. Most repair people would opt to take the back off the guitar, exposing the entire interior of the guitar. I don’t like this option very much. It tends to be a gruesome and expensive job which always ends in a major re-fin. I try to think outside the box and since I’ve never really had any formal guitar repair training, I’ve been able to create lots of new ways of getting at old problems.
The latest patient I just worked on was an old 50’s Gibson ES-125 with low, low action and a bridge set as high as it could go. With my dental mirror I found what looked to be a crack in the brace on the bass side near the bridge. I decided I might be able to reach the crack with one of my U-clamps that I use for acoustic bridge resets. Even though these clamps are super long, it still wasn’t long enough to reach the crack through the F-hole. I was able to extend the clamp by taping an open ended wrench to the underside of the clamp and this work perfectly to put the pressure exactly where I need it.
My next problem was getting a better view of the crack and what my clamp was actually doing. The dental mirror is a useful tool but was not giving the optimal view needed to give me the confidence to start gluing. I decided to slip the edge of my super-slim iPhone 5 into the F-hole. The iPhone 5 has the camera lens and flash mounted right on the upper left hand corner so I didn’t have to drop it in too deep into the F-hole. I was able to get a perfect shots of the crack (see pic 1).
In this picture you can see a long dark line running perpendicular across the brace. This is a “perforation” line that Gibson cut into the brace to help it bend and fit to the top. This
perforation point probably made installation easier but it proved to be a weak point for the brace. The crack extends past on either side of the perforation. I set the clamp in place with no glue to be sure the crack was closing up and the iPhone got another great shot (pic 2). The pictures are so detailed, its almost like being inside the guitar! At this point I was confident I could glue this brace back together…I just need to get the glue into the crack!
I decided that the tool for the job was a glue syringe with a tube mounted to the end…something I did not possess, however. I ended up buying something on eBay that shipped direct from China for a relatively low price. When it showed up it had the words “FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY” written on it. I guess it was some sort of medical device!
Whatever it was made for, it did the trick getting the glue into the crack. I cut the tube down to about 12″ and taped it to a piece of fret wire so I could direct the end of the tube to the area where the crack was. At this point, I just loaded the whole area up with wood glue and let it drip down into the crack. I took another pic to be sure I was hitting the right area (pic 3). Since there was no way of knowing if the glue was actually going into the crack I had to take a leap of faith. I waited a few minutes and then tightened the clamp. I cleaned of the excess glue with the end of the tube.
All I could do at this point was wait 24hrs and hope I did it right. I came in the next day, took off the clamp and took another pic (pic 4). The crack was almost invisible. I strung it up and it played like a dream. The customer was very pleased since the repair cost a fraction of what it would have cost if the back had to come off. Thank you little iPhone!