Around half a year ago I decided to “do something” with my old Defil Jazz guitar. It’s a nice semi-hollow “jazz” guitar that originally was purely accoustic. Mine was “electrified” many moons ago but, to be perfectly honest, the luthier didn’t do quite a good job…

I wrote about that guitar in January here. Meanwhile, I didn’t have much time to write more but I just came across some photos that I took back then, so I think it’s a good opportunity to add some more details.

First thing to start with is that the original neck of this guitar was of a size of a baseball bat. Well, kind of. It wasn’t particularly playable, had very “rough” frets and totally unacceptable action. So, I took the guitar to the luthier nearby and ordered a new, custom made, neck. I also decided that I want her to be “electrified”.

The neck came out very nice and, unlike with electronics, the guy did really good job with it. The whole thing happened around 20 years ago and I still never had to do any adjustments to the neck whatsoever. He also replaced the bridge with a custom made floating one. The only thing that could be better was actually…. an action again. The point is that the neck angle for that guitar is slightly too shallow and the bridge was a bit too high. You can see it on the photo below (please note: all these photos are from before/during the work so there’s plenty of dust; the guitar is now “bright and shiny” as it was heavily cleaned during the makeover and is now taken a good care of).

Vintage Defil Jazz Guitar Makeover

My first move therefore was to try to improve action the simplest possible way, by lowering the bridge. It wasn’t enough so I sanded the bottom of the bridge a bit and that helped. While still a bit high, the action is now acceptable with no rattling at all. The tunning also improved a lot (before I had some issues with this). For now, it’s fine. I suppose that in future I’ll dissassemble the neck and improve the angle too but for now it’s fine.

Vintage Defil Jazz Guitar Makeover

The next step was to take care of electronics. The pickups that were mounted so far were some custom made humbuckers. While they are neither good nor bad (and I’m gonna reuse them in one of future projects) the rest of the wiring was a disaster. But I decided to swap pickups anyway and as I purchased Epiphone’s HOTCH(G) and 57CH(G) some time ago for a very good price (the guy was replacing them with Seymour Duncan’s so they came in SD box, lol), I put them there. That however meant I had to enlarge pickup holes a bit. A bit of work with a dremel and small, fine-grained files and pickups fit perfectly

Vintage Defil Jazz Guitar Makeover

I had to swap the frames around because the old ones were too small too but all in all, that looks quite good

Vintage Defil Jazz Guitar Makeover

Of course, I also had to do a new wiring…

Vintage Defil Jazz Guitar Makeover

Unlike with most guitars of that type I do have an access from the back of the body, not only through the f-holes. So I simply took a piece of cardboard cut off to mimic the shape of a backplate (so my pots were fitting existing holes in the body) and did all the soldering there. It’s a classic 50’s Les Paul wiring type with 500k pots (two volumes, two tones) and 22nF Orange Drop caps. There’s also a 3 way switch (though it’s not an LP-style switch and it’s mounted in the… f-hole) but it’s not visible on these photos.

Vintage Defil Jazz Guitar Makeover

All in all, it came out very nicely. Everything works perfectly, there’s no “brums” and noises whatsoever even though there’s no shielding! The guitar was tested with my VOX Pathfinder amp, a Blackstart tube combo and a nice Fender combo (though I don’t remember exact model). All played really nice and my friend who tested it (he’s a very good blues guitarists) was actually surprised that such a crappy guitar can be so playable and sound so good!

Vintage Defil Jazz Guitar Makeover

The bottom line is, I’m pretty pleased with it. I’m gonna do at least one more post about this with more photos and, hopefully, some sound samples so stay tuned, folks 🙂

 

photos: own work, copyrights reserved;

 

Side project: Vintage Guitar Restoration #2

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