Today I have in my shop a 1961 Gibson ES-335 Dot in excellent condition. The customer wants a setup/restoration and inspection of the originality.
Looking at the machine heads and the headstock everything checks out to be original. The frets are original too and still in good shape!
Here’s that period correct orange label. Pretty rare serial number 16989. The pots, caps, switch, jack,and wiring all checkout to be original too. No tampered solder joints.
The wired ABR-1 tune-o-matic bridge and aluminum stop bar tail piece are original.
The bridge posts are loose and need to be fixed. I used a pipette filled with thin CA glue to repair the damaged holes and build up the threads again so the posts will go in tight and secure.
After the glue has cured, I can tap the holes and re-install the posts. I double up the thumbwheels tightened against each other and use a 6-32 hex nut on top. This way I can use a standard socket screw driver to drive the post straight into the guitar with about 1/2” of the post sticking out.
Now I can install the tune-o-matic bridge and it is as good as new. No more rocking back and forth which will certainly improve tuning stability.
Now I am going to check out the PAF pickups. I remove the pickup mounting ring screws and turn each pickup over to see what is under the hood. At first glance, it is clear that the humbucker covers were removed and the solder joints looked really bad. The good news is that the brass mounting screws look untouched and the Patent Applied For sticker was still partially intact.
Next I will carefully remove the pickups from the pickup mounting rings so I can take the covers off. Once I removed them, I noticed the covers were loose and the solder joints were not intact. I was able to remove the covers without any trouble. Now I can look for a rewind or repair. The coil tape is right and hasn’t been tampered with. The bridge pickup was missing the outer half wrap of tape which covers the leads which could mean that the lead solder joints were possibly repaired. Considering it was played without covers makes me believe that the tape was just removed or fell off because the pickup leads look perfect and the tape around the coils is completely untouched. The polarity and phase are right too. They are both without a doubt legit PAF’s. That said someone probably just removed the covers to reduce feedback and half way put them back on to make the guitar original again. Very common.
Now I am re-installing the covers so that they are seating tight against the bobbins and the screws are lined up properly with the holes. I use small quick clamps with wood stand-offs on opposite corners of the pickup to hold the cover snug while I flow the old solder joints with some new solder.
After the solder joints are done, I need to clean all of the rosin mess left behind from the previous work. I use a q-tip with acetone to clean off the residue.
Looks much better now. Good clean solder joints and well seated covers that won’t create a ground hum, which by the way those solder joints looked before, I’m sure they hummed when you touched the covers. Time to re-assemble everything and setup the guitar.
Man this guitar sounds as good as it looks. I gave it a quick run on my Mojotone 5E3 tweed Deluxe amplifier kit that I built recently. It’s a match made in heaven. Time to send this beauty back home where it can be enjoyed for many more years to come. Thanks for visiting and check back again soon for more cool posts!
David Shepherd (Guitars parts manager and Mojotone pickups division manager)