Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Epiphone FT-145 Restoration Begins

It's back to the workbench with another guitar project.  This one has been in the works for a few years actually, but I hadn't been motivated to get it done.  But now I'm motivated!

I have this old Epiphone acoustic guitar that needs some attention.  This was actually my first decent guitar - I bought it new.

I even have a nicely naturally 'reliced' case that I also got many years ago.  The case will need a little cleaning up, but I'm digging the fact that it's beat up.

So here's the guitar.  It's an Epiphone FT-145 'Texan.'  Made in Japan by Matsumoku - who also made Aria and other guitars.  In fact, this model is identical (except for the name) to an Aria model.

This was marketed by Gibson as part of their budget Epiphone line when Gibson was owned by Norlin.  Yes, the dark 70s era.  My particular guitar was made in the late 1970s, and as it turns out, is part of the second generation FT-145s - with an improved neck-to-body joint.  The neck blocks on the first models were apparently prone to cracking.

I played this guitar for years, and spent many, many, many hours playing things like scales over and over.  The proof is in the fingerboard wear - check it out.

It's a decent, reasonably good sounding guitar.  I haven't touched it in at least 15 years, maybe longer.  I wanted to put it back together to possibly use it for busking.  And as it turns out, one of my nieces has expressed some interest in learning to play, so she may wind up with it.

Here's the interior label, complete with the infamous Norlin name.  They re-used the 'Texan' name also.  There was a Gibson-made Epiphone known as the Texan (aka the FT-79) in the early 1960s - solid woods, made in Kalamazoo -good quality.  Paul McCartney famously played his on the recording of 'Yesterday.'

This guitar is not the same animal.  It's all laminates, although I think the top may be solid spruce, from what I can tell.

Here's the biggest item that needs to be repaired.  In the 1960s to the 1970s, Gibson, in its infinite wisdom, plopped these horrible adjustable bridges on a number of its acoustic guitars.  The thinking is clear - an easy way to adjust saddle height.  The saddle (mmmm....plastic) is carried in a U-shaped metal channel which can be raised and lowered with adjustment screws at the ends.

This is a terrible design, because the mass of the channel absorbs all of the string vibration that should be transferred to the bridge and drive the top.  In addition, the threads are prone to stripping, or just breaking, as mine did.

There are also screw holes in the top to make all this mess work.  Yikes.

The only thing going for this bridge is it does have a lot of cool play wear. 

So the game plan is to remove the bridge, fill the mounting holes, and replace it with a proper acoustic guitar bridge.  I'm also going to replace the bridge plate, which is inside the box under the bridge, with a new one.  I'm doing that as a warmup practice for a bridge plate I also need to replace on a 'real' guitar (can you say Nazareth, PA?) that's one of the projects after this one.

As Dan Erlewine says "practice on junkers and yard-sale specials."  So here I go.


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