The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1
    Hello,

    This is the first time I have ever posted on the forum, so I would like to start right off by apologizing if I do anything wrong while posting this, or if I am not in the right category of the forum. Other than that, let's get started!

    So earlier in March, I had purchased a used Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II with a natural finish off of Kijiji. The owner who I had retrieved it from also purchased it used, and other than minor scratches that are unnoticeable, and major oxidization on the tuning pegs, pickups, pickguard bracket, and tailpiece, there was a dent in the back of the headstock, or so I belived. I then realized it was no dent, but someone hand stamped the word "used" for some reason. Any who, this isn't what my post is about.

    I was prepared to buy a newer and more expensive guitar, but due to the fact that I bought a cheap used guitar, I decided to upgrade it. I was hoping that if anyone reads this post, if they can provide any suggestions pertaining to my upgrade choices as to what may be better or where may I find them cheaper. I haven't taken any of them into action just yet, but very soon. Here they are:

    Grover Guitar Machine Heads - Gold = $100 (+ $20 Installation)
    Gold Strap Locks - Schaller Style = $10 (These Are Already Ordered Off Amazon)
    Gibson - '57 Classic Humbucker - Gold = $150 (+ $25 Installation)
    Deluxe Trapeze Tailpiece - Gold = Around $20->$60 (I have No Clue Where To Buy One)
    Tune-O-Matic Floating Bridge = $60 -> $100 (I have No Clue Where To Buy One)

    I live in Canada, so it costs around $20+ to ship from the United States, so if I am to order from the states, I would hope to order everything from one dealer.

    Thank You
    Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II Upgrades-dsc_7593-jpgEpiphone Joe Pass Emperor II Upgrades-dsc_76322-jpgEpiphone Joe Pass Emperor II Upgrades-dsc_7583-jpg

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  3. #2

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    IMHO the only thing you need to upgrade are the pickups. But I only care about the sound, not concerned with aesthetics. I had that same guitar and installed the same pickups, Giiby 57's and the improvement was substantial.

    However, there are many really good pick up choices that you should consider other than Gibson.

  4. #3

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    I have a Joe Pass that I customized a bit...you can see some picks in my profile.

    You don't need to spend necessarily much:

    The bridge was swapped for something like this from Ebay (was a different seller I guess however) but as cheap
    ZH2A NEW Trapeze 6 String Jazz Bass Guitar Tailpiece Bridge Parts Gold Plated | eBay
    That was last year and it still holds very well and that with 14-56 gauge...

    That is the TOM floating bridge I got from StewMac:
    Tune-o-matic Bridge For Archtop Guitar | stewmac.com
    Last edited by vinlander; 03-17-2015 at 06:39 PM.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Playerizor
    IMHO the only thing you need to upgrade are the pickups. But I only care about the sound, not concerned with aesthetics. I had that same guitar and installed the same pickups, Giiby 57's and the improvement was substantial.
    This. Unless the tuners are bad, there is no reason to swap them.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinlander
    I have a Joe Pass that I customized a bit...you can see some picks in my profile.

    You don't need to spend necessarily much:

    ZH2A NEW Trapeze 6 String Jazz Bass Guitar Tailpiece Bridge Parts Gold Plated | eBay
    That was last year and it still holds very well and that with 14-56 gauge..
    Just out of curiosity Vin, did you have to source installation screws to secure the tailpiece ?, ( I notice the sellers of these tailpieces state they don't include them with the t/piece). Are they easy to obtain ?

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by pubylakeg
    Just out of curiosity Vin, did you have to source installation screws to secure the tailpiece ?, ( I notice the sellers of these tailpieces state they don't include them with the t/piece). Are they easy to obtain ?
    That is a fact screws are a bit of a problem with these TP as they are not included.
    In the case of the Joe Pass, I used the 3 screws from the original TP.
    In the case of the Regent, I had a couple screws left from something else close enough to do the job.

  8. #7

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    The nice thing about the Epi JP is that not only is it a good starter archtop, if you find the right one, but it's a great platform for modding.

    I have an early-90's Korean model and have replaced the tailpiece with a more solid metallic black one (that doesn't go "sproinggg!" when you hit a not on the bottom two strings), Kent Armstrong HB-sized P90's and wooden pickguard and truss-rod covers; and replaced the control knobs. Still left to do is black tuner buttons. I'll get round to it sometime. I'm very pleased with the results and that P90 bark is a totally different sound from my other guitar, which makes it completely usable for certain gigs where the other would be less suitable. Perfect!

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Parker Schaefer
    ....someone hand stamped the word "used" for some reason....
    It was probably put there by the manufacturer. Often it is used when they are selling a guitar that doesn't make it past final inspection, usually just a minor finish flaw, nothing wrong with playability.
    Brad

  10. #9

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    Changing tuning machines on a guitar is not always done out of necessity.
    Sometime we do for esthetic reason or simply because we like to swap stuff and tinker (I need to work on that...).
    If ever you plan to get some Grovers like you said, be aware some of them like Rotomatics for instance, might add some weight to the headstock; in some cases change the tone a bit according to some.
    I had for instance swapped the original ones for some Grover Rotomatics, but used ebony wood buttons I had.
    The weight change was not so dramatic, but when I actually put the gold buttons on it, I did not like the feel anymore...
    In the end I got myself a set of Kluson style like this:

    https://www.long-mcquade.com/product...3_3_Nickel.htm
    Last edited by vinlander; 03-18-2015 at 06:14 PM. Reason: precision + typo

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Parker Schaefer
    Hello,

    This is the first time I have ever posted on the forum, so I would like to start right off by apologizing if I do anything wrong while posting this, or if I am not in the right category of the forum. Other than that, let's get started!

    So earlier in March, I had purchased a used Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II with a natural finish off of Kijiji. The owner who I had retrieved it from also purchased it used, and other than minor scratches that are unnoticeable, and major oxidization on the tuning pegs, pickups, pickguard bracket, and tailpiece, there was a dent in the back of the headstock, or so I belived. I then realized it was no dent, but someone hand stamped the word "used" for some reason. Any who, this isn't what my post is about.

    I was prepared to buy a newer and more expensive guitar, but due to the fact that I bought a cheap used guitar, I decided to upgrade it. I was hoping that if anyone reads this post, if they can provide any suggestions pertaining to my upgrade choices as to what may be better or where may I find them cheaper. I haven't taken any of them into action just yet, but very soon. Here they are:

    Grover Guitar Machine Heads - Gold = $100 (+ $20 Installation)
    Gold Strap Locks - Schaller Style = $10 (These Are Already Ordered Off Amazon)
    Gibson - '57 Classic Humbucker - Gold = $150 (+ $25 Installation)
    Deluxe Trapeze Tailpiece - Gold = Around $20->$60 (I have No Clue Where To Buy One)
    Tune-O-Matic Floating Bridge = $60 -> $100 (I have No Clue Where To Buy One)
    My understanding is that when a guitar is stamped "Used" that generally means that it was a new instrument returned to the factory or the distributor with some sort of damage or blemish, and then sold to a "reconditioner" (a company called MIRC seems to be the main one). The reconditioner repairs and then sells it to a dealer. Sometimes it's something minor that might make it the the equivalent of a factory 2nd; sometimes it's more significant damage, e.g., in transit, or from being a floor/sample model that hung around too long and got a little beat up. There seem to be a lot of Epiphones on Ebay via this path. (I've read about some other brands selling (otherwise new) discontinued models stamped as used so they can be sold without a warranty, but that seems unlikely with an Epi JP).

    Regarding the tuner "upgrade" -- if the only issue is that gold plating has worn off, that doesn't seem like something worth replacing. The plating will probably wear off the replacements, too, in a few years (the pickup covers, too). If the issue is that there's some other kind of die- cast tuner on there, and you want Grovers because you prefer the way they look, fine, but the Grover's are unlikely to actually work any better. I've had Schallers, Grovers, and no-name MIK diecast tuners, and, honestly, the no names were the smoothest, but any of 'em work fine.

    John

  12. #11

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    I had a Samick-made JP for several years and really enjoyed it. I modded it as you see:



    The tuners were crap and needed replacement for broken posts. I got some really striking amber Ping tuners from a local guitar shop, nice quality, seem equivalent to Gotoh (maybe made in the same factory?). I replaced the knobs and pickguard with rosewood pieces bought off Ebay.

    Finally, I replaced the pickups with Stew Mac Parsons Street Alnico 2 Humbuckers. Not too expensive an upgrade.

    I agree the JP is a great guitar for the money, particularly the older Korean models, and a nice platform for modding. In retrospect I don't think the Epi 57 Classic pickups are bad, in fact my current main guitar, a Peerless, has them. With a little attention to setup (height, etc.) and some equalization on the amp I think they have a nice sound for jazz.

  13. #12
    Thank you to everyone who joined this thread, I found every post very useful. I am glad to have a greater knowledge to the "used" stamp. I will only upgrade the neck pickup for now, I had already purchased the Grovers, but I will not open them up because I will see if the nut was the issue and not the tuning machines. I realized that the bridge may play a part in the tuning as well, with the intonation and all, so I am looking for a floating bridge replacement. I am debating between a rosewood bridge with adjustments for each string, or a rosewood bridge with a bone bridge. I'm trying to keep that nice "acoustic" jazz sound.

    Here are the two I am debating on:

    Archtop Bridge with Bone Saddle | stewmac.com

    Archtop Guitar Bridge | stewmac.com

  14. #13
    Okay thank you very much for the links. I watched your video of you routing your pickup into your Emperor Regent, you did a phenomenal job. I am debating whether to get the tune-o-matic or not because I don't want to lose the acoustic sound. How does it sound on your Joe Pass?

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Parker Schaefer
    Okay thank you very much for the links. I watched your video of you routing your pickup into your Emperor Regent, you did a phenomenal job. I am debating whether to get the tune-o-matic or not because I don't want to lose the acoustic sound. How does it sound on your Joe Pass?
    Thank you, well I was not satisfied with the tone I was getting; nothing was bad with the original tone for someone into that kind; I wanted the guitar to be something it is not and to an extent was successful lol.
    Regarding your hesitation with bone bridge, I have not much experience with them; could lead to a brighter tone based on what I read but then again until tried it is difficult to be sure.
    Good thing with bridge experimentation is in these price range expendable; if you end up not liking the new tone it is not like you are stuck really, could be used for a future guitar where it will sound better.
    On my JP specifically with the TOM I get a very articulated tone and I don`t think I lost any woodiness to the tone.
    Thing is the Joe Pass is meant to be played plugged in and in that context bridge effect except maybe on the sustain can be very subtle.
    My latest experiment on the Emperor Regent told me not to take anything for granted and make broad claims.
    I put back the TOM because the tone with the Ebony bridge became to my ears less defined and thin; not woodier like I hoped it would. It was the case both unplugged and plugged in. The funny thing with the Regent in its current state is that I get a very similar tone plugged in than unplugged which doesn't make much sense the pickup being just electro-magnetic and not microphonic but still.
    Even unplugged the tone I was getting was less punchy and clear; I was even losing on that "doink" I dig so much.
    I don't know if the swapped Tailpiece is also a part of the equation but I don't get any sympathetic overtone with both TOM like some people are experimenting with them.
    So to answer your question more precisely I would say you will need to experiment to be sure and decide if you like or not the tone with the TOM.
    My overall opinion is tone depends on a chain of many elements in a guitar and with some of them a TOM can be a good thing and on some not. Gibson still use TOM on Tal Farlow and some other high end Archtops so they can't be as bad and metallic sounding to everyone.

    edit : I use quite heavy gauge on both Archtops : 14-56 and 15-56 respectively, that could also affect the overall influence of the TOM, or maybe not...just an idea
    Last edited by vinlander; 03-20-2015 at 10:46 AM. Reason: precision addon

  16. #15
    Thank you very much, you have always provided a very insightful and knowledgeable response, which is amazing. I greatly appreciate all of your help. I am probably going to go with a tune-o-matic or a bone floating bridge. I have a lot of time to research since all my upgrades are being done in due time. Thank you once again!

  17. #16

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    Great thread,
    I've been looking for one like it for a while.
    I've got a '99 Samick Joe Pass and she's reached
    The point where maintenance is due. Pots and switch
    are scratchy and I think that there are better options over
    the stock pickups.
    Thanks again for the info.
    Paully

  18. #17

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    I've only added a rosewood bridge to my JPs / Emperor guitars.

    The tuners are fine (Grover marked) the switch is either a switchcraft or very good copy and a bit of tuner cleaner will fix anything that may pop up on it just like a Gibson switch, the pots on all three of mine (86, 87, 05) after all these years still aren't scratchy, but if they were I'd spray them too.

    The pups are good enough for me, but Gibson pups are good enough for me too but LOTS of people swap them out too. The biggest thing I see on older guitars that I may do is the jack. They can get poor contact over time and then I replace them with a stereo type (TRS) which adds a firm ground to the plug.

  19. #18

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    Parker
    I have one of the early '90's Emperor II before it became the 'Joe Pass' model, it has the pickup selector switch on the lower bout like an L5. I read somewhere that before Joe Pass agreed to endorse it, he wanted the selector switch moved to the upper bout like an ES-175.

    Over the years I've replaced the neck pickup with a Gibson Classic 57, left the bridge pickup alone as I never use it, also had CTS volume & tone pots with new wiring harness, switchcraft jack and selector switch put in after they got scratchy. The old plastic pickguard dried out and warped so replaced that with a rosewood guard, most recently replaced the tailpiece with a rosewood that came off an Ibanez Artcore archtop. Tuning machines still work good, will probably go with Grovers when they need replacement. Have always preferred the look of the original wood bridge over a TOM. It's been a good guitar, I've really enjoyed playing it

  20. #19

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    I would reconsider gold-tone everything. I know that is what is on there now, but I'm not a fan of gold tone parts. The finish wears off or oxidizes, and just looks crummy more quickly than nickel plating. You'll also spend more for everything in a gold tone finish, without any benefit in terms of performance, or even IMO, appearance.

    Before you spring for a new bridge, is there any way you could try out a tune-o-matic?! Maybe there is a local guitar shop where you walk in, loosen the strings and try one from one of their other models, before buying there.

    I had a tune-o-matic on my L4-CES. That, together with the tailpiece (an L5 type) had bad sympathetic vibration issues. I replaced the tune-o-matic with an ebony bridge and platform from StewMac which was a definite improvement. I also tried the ebony bridge on my Aria Pro II 175---not good---dulled up the tone. Surprisingly, I switched the tune-o-matic to a carved top Benedetto type archtop--and I like it better than the ebony bridge that used to be on there. None of this is what I would have predicted, ahead of time.

    Also, putting gold tone parts on an import is not going to fool anyone who is really knowledgeable about these things. (I have a bunch of inexpensive guitars---a partcaster Strat which I love, 2 partcaster teles which I love, and a $79 Washburn tele that I also love (I did upgrade the pu's to Bill Lawrence pu's, which helped a lot.) I also have my Aria 175 which I really like. I really should A/B someday against a real 175--but to me it is very playable and sounds great. My main amp at the moment is my $75 orange cube, and you know what for home practice it sounds great, so I'm not a snob on gear. Also, if you really want to replace the tuners, just remove a string, loosen the tuners, and remove one, and measure the holes. Most of the time replacement tuners are "drop ins" which don't require "installation"--unless the holes are mismatched, and have to be enlarged (reamed out with a reamer tool) or made smaller--by plugging the headstock and re-drilling holes. 95% of the time neither of these is required. Check out the spec's on the Stew Mac website, and if you have a decent ruler sized in mm, you can probably figure out, what if anything, needs to be done.

    As noted, contact cleaner sprayed into pots typically clears up scratchiness, at least for a while.

  21. #20

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    I bought one last summer and the previous owner had put on a nice faux rosewood pick guard to replace the ugly JOE PASS guard. It really was a small thing that adds class.

  22. #21
    I bought an old used JP Emperor (Korean made, no serial number, with PU switch on lower cutaway (like the Epi Broadway) which was probably an error that resulted in this guitar being sold with a ‘defect’.

    I replaced the pickups with chrome Gibson 57’s, replace the harness with a Toneman harness with period correct pots and sound.

    I replaced the tailpiece with a Casino tailpiece in chrome and black metal pickup rings.

    I tested many bridges and saddles and finally settled on a Graphtech low profile base married to a GOTOH Tuneomatic bridge in chrome and a new set of Grover locking tuners.

    I use D’addario nickel wound stings 52-11.

    This Guitar sounds fantastic, all for a fraction of the US made Gibsons.
    Attached Images Attached Images Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II Upgrades-607762e2-9ed4-47c3-8c2d-29e5d050da7f-jpg 

  23. #22

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    Hello everyone,

    This is my first post on this forum (amazing BTW) and I'm very glad I found a thread like this one. I own A left-handed version of the Joe Pass Emperor II, bought more than 20 years ago (sunburst, not that it's important). Although my guitar hasn't been played in a decade, mainly because I play in a rock band, I recently plugged it in and as you may have guessed, it didn't go well...tone and volume knobs produce a horrific oxidized sound, the pickup switch is almost dead (only neck pickup position produces sound) and the overall condition isn't that great.

    I've contacted a guitar tech I know well and he told me that it would cost almost the residual value of the guitar (400-500€ according to him) to repair it and didn't want to, I quote, 'steal money from me'.

    I really want to revive this guitar and I think I can do it myself, or at least try. My main problem is I really don't know which parts (obviously not the Epiphone original ones, because they were crap since the beginning) to change and what brand and product would fit.

    Let's say I just want to change the pickup selector for starters: where do I begin? Are there replacement parts for this guitar still available (again, NOT Ephiphone original)? I'm kind of a newbie regarding electronics, but I have a friend who can help me.

    Thank you very much!

  24. #23

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    Alwallace:

    See my post of 2015-04-05

    I don't agree that everything in the older Epi JP's are crap. If yours is Samick you may need the output jack and cleaning of the switch and pots.

    If they're unrecoverable there are youtube vids on pulling out and replacing the parts.

  25. #24

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    if it was me i think I would change the whole wiring loom in one go ….

    ie Pots , all wiring , jack and switch in one go

    you can get a new loom pre made like these

    ZUOMU 1 Set Fits For Epi For Les Paul Electric Guitar Pickup Wiring Harness Kits Guitar Wiring Kit
    https://amzn.eu/d/7fYFE7l

  26. #25

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    As this thread has been rekindled I would like to share some details of my '92 (I think!) EEJP which I've had for about 3 years but have yet to modify.
    Here is a pic of the underside of one of the pickups. I'm assuming it's original. It doesn't give the impression of quality!
    Also the front of the headstock which uses the Gibson font. I see the pic in Dr.J's post #11 with a more vintage looking font. When did it change?Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II Upgrades-eejp-fr-head-jpg Thirdly, the serial number which suggests '92 but it has one fewer digit than others. Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II Upgrades-eejp-b-o-head-jpg Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II Upgrades-eejp-front-jpg
    Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II Upgrades-eejp-us-pup-jpg