Carlson Skunk Works

August 12th, 2010

Epiphone EA-250 Repairs

Posted by ben in Guitars

Prior to moving down to Dallas, TX this spring, I started building a couple of guitars… an archtop in the Benedetto-style, and an acoustic, which is my take on the Martin OM. While we wait for our house in Minnesota to sell, we’re living in an apartment, and my tools are in storage… this doesn’t allow me to continue on my guitar projects, so in the meantime, I thought I’d do some repair work on a couple of guitars that I’ve owned for some time.

First up is an Epiphone EA-250, which I bought in 1994 or 1995 from a classmate in the same Audio Recording and Live Sound Reinforcement degree track I took at the Hutchinson (MN) Technical College right out of high school.

I bought the guitar for a small sum, as the body and sides had separated near the neck joint. It needs to have that repair done, along with a refret (all of the frets are flat for nearly their full width, and there is not enough height left to round them). At the same time, I’m going to probably put on a new nut, and re-fit the bridge to the body.

Here’s a photo (taken from the web) of a complete EA-250:

Epiphone EA-250

The primary issue with my EA-250, is that near the neck joint (note, this is an early 1970’s model, with a bolt-on neck), the top has separated from the sides. It looks like string tension has also sort-of “rotated” or pulled the neck block, where the neck bolts on, back towards the bridge, thus giving it ridiculously high action.

This must have been the case for quite a while, as even after removing the neck for many months, it has not returned to it’s normal location. I’m going to try to remedy this slowly with some heat, humidity, clamps, and (GENTLE!) reverse stress over the next days/weeks. I’m still coming up with a plan of action, and need to procure some new clamps (my good ones are all in storage) to use.

Here are some detailed photos of the problems:

As you can see, I’ve already removed the frets, and although I don’t have a photo yet, Emmett (my two-year old son) and I have carefully adjusted the truss-rod to flatten the neck, and sanded it down smooth (the Mother-of-Pearl inlays had been protruding, as the rosewood fretboard shrunk with lack of humidity and age, along with divots from hard playing for many years).

Here you can clearly see the separation between the top of the body, and the sides, near the neck joint. In reality (although it doesn’t show well in these photos) the sides (where they meet the top) have been pulled back towards the bridge about 1/8-3/16 of an inch!

A top view of the same, here you can see the crack in the top, between the neck and the first pickup opening, also, the mis-shaped pickup opening is not an illusion, the top wood has been curved back into the opening over time, so the pickup no longer mounts properly!

So, I have my work cut out for me, but it should be a fun project, and from what I’ve read, this is a really good playing, good sounding guitar, if it’s set up properly.