Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Les Paul Junior Double Cut

Lesley West, Johnny Thunders, Keith Richards, Billie Joe Armstrong ... just a few of the players who are associated with the Les Paul Junior, with the double cutaway body. I've even seen pictures of a young Pete Townsend thrashing one of these.

To me, this is the best-looking body Gibson ever came up with. Not quite symmetrical, but close, the cutaways allow better access to the upper frets than the single cutaway of the traditional Les Paul. A solid mahogany slab of wood makes up the body, with no extraneous decorations or frippery added. It was, originally, the entry-level model of the Les Paul line, so the austere look allowed for a lower price.

A few years ago, I bought one of these (a model from the early 2000's which was a Guitar Center Exclusive) from a guy on eBay. I rarely buy a guitar which I haven't held in my hands prior to purchase, but I was wanting the guitar, badly, and there were none to be had on the local scene.

The guitar arrived, in perfect shape, just as described, but I really wanted to send it back. The paint (the famous shiny Gibson lacquer) did not suit, especially on the neck where it stuck to my skin and made it a chore to move up and down the fret board, and the P-100 pickups (a humbucking version of the P-90) just sounded awful.

But, I really wanted this guitar, so I stripped the finish off of the neck (along with the resale value), and swapped the neck pickup for an actual P-90. It was playable, and I used it for slide, but it still didn't suit.

As it arrived...

I found myself still looking at Jr. DC's on eBay, and other sites, lusting after the examples with either nitrocellulose paint jobs, or the transparent cherry finish. I even entertained the notion of buying a less expensive import model, just to get the look and sound I wanted. But, I had an actual American Gibson hanging on the wall, so that seemed a little stupid...
So, this past Friday evening, I decided to fix that problem, once and for all. I pulled the guitar off of the wall, and started removing the paint ( a tedious, 10-hour process over the course of 2 nights). Then, once the paint was off, I started sanding.

Yesterday, as I worked on bikes in the driveway, I alternated my time with finish sanding and, eventually, applying a cherry Swedish Oil finish.

The light spot at the end of the neck is a maple strip which covers the truss rod. Why Gibson put maple there, I have no idea. The other two light spots are filler, where the wood chipped out as I removed the mounting post inserts for the bridge.

The back looks pretty nice. You can see the seams of the 3-piece body, if you look, but the grains are pretty well matched, and it the seams are not obvious in real life.

Once the finish had dried enough to be handled, I reassembled the guitar so that I could play it at practice, last night. As I did so, I discarded the original P-100 which was still in the bridge position, and replaced it with a Mighty Mite P90 I had purchased last year, for another project. The other project can wait, in order to get this one complete!

So, here is the final assembly. The new bridge pickup is a huge improvement, and the tone of the guitar is more pleasing to me on both pickups, now that the wood is no longer buried under a sixteenth of an inch of lacquer.

The Les Paul Corner of the living room is much more pleasing to me, now!

I suspect that the Junior is going to get a lot more playing time, in the future, than it has in the past.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Clutch Lever Repair On The Scrambler

Back in 2012, I broke the clutch lever on the Scrambler, while riding on a trail which really was beyond the abilities of either the bike or myself. (On that same ride, also broke the two front pegs, the shift lever and my foot, in the midst of 7 separate crashes!)

Rather than buy the rather expensive factory replacement for the lever, I ordered some CNC machined levers for the bike, from an eBay seller. I noticed, as I installed the levers, that the pivot hole on the clutch lever was larger in diameter than the bolt which ran through it. After installation, it worked fine, so I forgot about it.

Five years and 20,000 miles later, I noticed that the play in the lever seemed to be increasing. Today, I removed the lever and checked the pivot. Sure enough, the steel bolt was wearing into the softer aluminum of the lever.

So, I looked through the shop building and found an old Suntour cantilever brake arm with a steel bushing in the pivot arm. I pressed it out, and test-fitted it to the lever. It was slightly oversize, so I cut a slot in it with my Dremel, compressed it with a pair of pliers, and got it started into the pivot hole of the lever. Once started, it installed easily with a couple of gentle taps with a hammer.

You can see the gap between the steel and aluminum, where the wear was occurring. The bushing should prevent any further wear.

It's the small victories that make life worth living.