• Rob Parry

The Mod Job

This is an Ambler Hound Dog guitar that I was tasked with making some fairly serious modifications to. These are lovely, well made instruments, with great finishes, but the owner wanted to make some changes. First of all this is what it looked like originally:

A Les Paul Junior style guitar with a single P90, and the jack located on the front. I was asked to add a 2nd pickup in the neck, and a three way toggle switch. This also meant moving the jack to the lower bout.

Then there's the pickguard, obviously it would either need to be modified or replaced entirely. The current owner didn't like the way the grain was on an off-angle to the rest of the top, it's about 5° away from square. This brings up a problem that I run into fairly frequently, particularly with finish repairs and the like, that is if you're trying to match something you should either get it close to 100% or try something else. A contrasting option often ends up looking better. I went with a laminate of aluminium and macassar ebony.

Anyway, first things first, the pickup. The bridge is a McNelly P90 Soapbar, and I sourced the matching neck version from James at James' Home of Tone . That was the easy part. This guitar has a long tenon set neck, and is covered in pristine clear coat; so the neck can't be removed, and and routing needs to be clean. So with some fixes to my P90 template, I went at it:

No turning back now.

Delighted with how it turned out, there isn't a hint of chipping/white finish damage, and it fits like a glove. After this the rest was easy, routing holes on an already finished guitar is far from ideal (I might have lost sleep the night before).

I also made a new bone nut for this, the old brass nut had a seriously wide spacing, so much so that the E strings were right at the fret edges leading to much falling-off-the-side. The newly made one was only 2mm narrower (36mm total) from E to E but it makes all the difference.

All done. McNellys are great sounding pickups too, really well balanced, I highly recommend them. These ones are finished with raw nickel covers.


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