1977 Ibanez 59'er
This little gem walked into my shop a couple of weeks ago after being booked in for some work and man, I do love these things. The combination of the hollow top and bolt on thin neck make it a great guitar. Not a Les Paul, but something very unique and great none the less.
The idea behind the hollow top was to bend a ply top and glue it to a two piece body joined down the middle laterally, like some early/mid 70's Gibson Les Pauls. This isn't like two pieces of timber joined like a "normal" guitar body, these are "sandwiched" together through the middle of the body like two thin bodies glued together. The bent ply top, which was done for cost measures makes the area under the "carve" hollow and makes a type of "tone chamber" that gives there guitars a much more acoustic tone. They're great.
Some people compare them to Guild or Gretsch semi hollows, but this is completely different. It's a "hollow top" under the ply not tone chambers like these manufacturers used where they routed pieces of the solid body out in certain areas.
This really does add a "lively" and "hollow" tone to a solid body that hasn't really been explored by other manufacturers. All the LP style guitars from this period up to a certain price point out of this factory in Japan were made this way and can be bought with names like Ibanez, Greco, Kasuga etc on the headstock.
So, this needed a refret and a little bit of other work. It had been very well played and with good reason. They play SO WELL there guitars. They have a great "feel" and those pickups .......... I'm not a huge humbucker fan, but humbuckers from this period Ibanez/Greco guitars are just great. The Super 70's are probably my favorite.
Being a bound neck without nub end binding as discussed in previous blogs, this one needed to have the fret tangs trimmed for each individual fret. This entails cutting each fret for each slot and then trimming the fret tang to fit perfectly between the binding on each side of the neck. It's not a big deal but takes a little more time to get right.
The fretboard is leveled which can be a little trickier with inlays like these. Some of these inlays are VERY thin or have just a thin veneer of pearl on top a white plastic so if you sand too far, you'll break through into white plastic or wood.
With the frets in it's time to trim the overhang and start leveling and shaping the frets. The ends must be angled and rounded slightly so they don't feel "new" with any sharp little edges. With the ends finished and the tops leveled and crowned, it's time to put the neck back on the body and start polishing the frets and doing a new nut.
A nice bone nut with good contact makes a huge difference to the tone of a guitar. I prefer bone myself (actually I prefer zero frets) as I think plastic is too "dull" and I don't like the tone of the Graphteck/Tusk nuts. But that's all personal.
The spacing is marked out and guide slots cut. With the fret OVER the binding on this style of neck, we have a little extra room for string spacing as they can go all the way to the edge of the neck.
I usually cut the slots and then shape and polish the nut. The nut is then glued in and I finish the slot heights in the final set up.
With the truss rod adjusted and the action set,the nut is finished and then a final set up done.
Well,this one was no different to most I've played. What a cracker of a guitar. Back home to make some noise.