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  1. #1

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    I recently got my first ES 125 from the classifieds in this forum. The 56 has it all, functioning original pickguard, original p90/knobs/wiring, great internals, good looking externally and it makes the magic tone wise.
    I will never alter that guitar BUT...
    After I got the 56 I wanted another ES with a cutaway and in the thin body. I wanted a rock and roll brother to my classy 56. I found one that is the exactly opposite of the 56.

    The 1960 ES 125 TC has a pretty horrifically broken headstock fix, the original P90/knobs and wiring are all gone (Lindy Fralin P90 now), it looks like someone reamed out the tuner holes, the original tuners are gone, strap buttons have been added. I think that's it. I got it for a third of of the price (It had 41 watchers on Reverb).
    It showed up today in a nice old hard case. I tuned it up and went to town. It sounds great and plays even lower than my 56. I am going to get my luthier to approve of the headstock issue and then I have some plans. This post is to see what all of you think.
    I want to;
    Add a second Lindy P90 and that means routing out the top
    Add a 3 way switch (I may run the two pickups via one vol and one tone)
    Add a Bigsby
    Change out the terrible tuners
    Change the bridge (it's not original either)

    Sacrilege or an awesome ES project guitar?
    To Cut or Not to Cut - 1960 ES-125 TC-gqrwp372mg2cgftwx9mg-jpgTo Cut or Not to Cut - 1960 ES-125 TC-fxj62jdiimqlyaivc4dk-jpgTo Cut or Not to Cut - 1960 ES-125 TC-60es1-jpgTo Cut or Not to Cut - 1960 ES-125 TC-60es-jpg

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  3. #2

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    In a case like this, I without hesitation say go for it. Any collectible value that it ever had is completely gone and it is already a laminate with holes in the top anyway. Make it what you want. I picked up a Gibson Barney Kessel that had a horrible refinish, so now it’s going to have that stripped and get a new vintage natural (clear amber) finish. Since it had already been refinished badly, I don’t feel bad about giving it a finish that it didn’t originally have and I’m not sure if any even had done as a factory finish.

  4. #3

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    This sounds like a resurrection and restoration project! Go for it!

  5. #4

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    Totally. But I think if you’re going to have 2 pickups I would recommend at least individual volume knobs.


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  6. #5

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    Well, I have another point of view. It so happens that I have a 1960s ES-125 that I like a lot. All original. It also so happens that I have just bought a 125-TC, also from the 1960s. After the minor adjustments and setup, I will play it. Then compare the two. Maybe keep both, maybe sell one, who knows? The point is, why embark on any big changes before playing, comparing, pondering for a while?
    Last edited by Phil59; 10-07-2020 at 11:40 PM.

  7. #6

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    That is a great guitar for that project. I'd even re-finish the neck. The only thing is, many on this forum don't even use the neck pickup. Who has any idea what that will sound like with one?

    I'd replace the tuners, set it up with your favorite strings, dress frets and play for a while. If you would regret adding the pickup in a year, then play it like this for a year then decide.

    Maybe experiment with a floater before making a permanent change?

    To Cut or Not to Cut - 1960 ES-125 TC-img_1210-jpg

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by icr
    The only thing is, many on this forum don't even use the neck pickup. Who has any idea what that will sound like with one?
    You might mean that they don't use the bridge pickup. Most don't. So why add a bridge pickup now until the OP is sure he wants one?

  9. #8

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    In my opinion, if it’s going to be the “rock n roll brother”, it needs a bridge pickup.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatRhythmMan
    In my opinion, if it’s going to be the “rock n roll brother”, it needs a bridge pickup.
    Good point. But for a “rock n roll brother," wouldn't it be better to get a step brother, such as a Les Paul Jr. or an SG?

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59
    Good point. But for a “rock n roll brother," wouldn't it be better to get a step brother, such as a Les Paul Jr. or an SG?
    Think Epiphone Casino or ES-330. The Beatles and Chuck Berry are just a couple who took those a long way. An ES-125TDC is very much like a singlecut version of one of those.

  12. #11

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    I use a bridge floater on my ES125 which is my Swiss Army guitar. It is a good reversible solution, just make sure it is hot enough to run with the P90 neck.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatRhythmMan
    Think Epiphone Casino or ES-330. The Beatles and Chuck Berry are just a couple who took those a long way. An ES-125TDC is very much like a singlecut version of one of those.
    Maybe you're right, who knows? I'm thinking of the 125tc I just got as a more rock-oriented guitar too. But it's almost all original. I suspect that round wound strings instead of flats, putting more treble on the amp and using some light overdrive would be enough for me.

  14. #13

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    I currently own an SG (my favorite electric guitar), a 1972 Ovation 335 clone, and a ton of other electrics. I am open to playing it for a while before making a move. I am also looking at a floating bridge pickup. It's all about the tonal palette but maybe I do need to play this one for while before cutting holes. BUT my 56 has one pickup so maybe the 60 really needs two P90s.
    Last edited by BillyHell; 10-08-2020 at 01:10 AM.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eck
    Totally. But I think if you’re going to have 2 pickups I would recommend at least individual volume knobs.


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    This may take getting used to but I use stack knobs on my 125 for getting around adding more holes. Keeping the hardware off the plate is important as I use the top for acoustic sounds with transducers too. Of course this means I run stereo to use them but such is the price of the Swiss Army approach....

  16. #15

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    Totally appreciate not adding more holes. And there is something to say for a previous comment why to change a guitar into something else if it’s good. But then again I’m thinking of routing out my lp double cutaway on the back, closing it with ply and adding good paint and banding.


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  17. #16

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    I'd go for it. Between the mods and the headstock damage I'd consider it fair game.

    In addition, if the neck break repair gets the thumbs up, I'd use a dark wood stain to try to hide it a bit more. It looks nasty.

  18. #17

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    Idea: have one tone knob and one mix knob, the latter going from only neck through 50/50 on to only bridge.
    Edited I realise that will still require a double pot to adjust volume.

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  19. #18

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    The luthier likes it. So now I buying the gear. Trying to figure out the polarity of my neck pickup.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eck
    Idea: have one tone knob and one mix knob, the latter going from only neck through 50/50 on to only bridge.
    Edited I realise that will still require a double pot to adjust volume.

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    I have a mix knob on my pickguard that blends between the magnetic pickups and transducers. I use a mini 3 way switch on the pickguard for switching the between magnetics.

  21. #20

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    Next is the Bigsby. I'm looking for photos of the 125 with a Bigsby. I'm noting the B6 is longer than the B60 (I'm seeing that via specs on the Bigsby site)? I'm out on Google looking for photos of different Bigsbys on an ES 125 but not really finding anything specific yet. Any suggestions would be great.

  22. #21

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    Billyhell, if you are thinking about getting rid of the tailpiece please let me know how much you want for it. PM me, please.

  23. #22

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    Alright, I figured out I have a Seymour Duncan Antiquity P90 in the neck so I bought one for the bridge. I bought 250 CTS pots and .022 orange drops. I also bought knobs that look like the stock knobs. The SD is already aged. I Scotch padded the knobs to mimic the ones on my 56 ES. I have a B6 Bigsby that I have knocked the shine off of and have Nevr Dull coming to help wear away some of the black paint. I also have a Compton bridge that I'm going to try. While I have done all the work on all of my guitars I am handing this over to my luthier (who is 3 minutes up the road). I'll let him rout out the P90 and drill holes in the top. I should have it all ready to rock on Wed. and then we will see how long my luthier takes.

  24. #23

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    Well if you are routing and drilling..... What do you think of Vibrolas? I love the one on my old SG and they add less mass. If you have a Bigsby you like I can see why you want to go that way, I haven't actually played with them much so don't have a recent comparison. Both don't add the Fender spring tremelo chorus effect which is a plus for certain tones.

  25. #24

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    I like 500k pots better with P90s, just gives you a little more treble. For a rock’n’roll guitar I would like that.

    One set of controls for both pickups is actually easier to opetate than the double set. But it demands a better balanced set of pickups with the bridge pickup hotter than the neck. Works fine in the two Framus guitars I have, but I have to carefully adjust the height of the bridge pu to match the neck. Easy enough with height adjustable pickups, but in your case you most certainly need to shim the bridge pu. But that’s doable.

    The tuners are Klusons Deluxe? What’s horrible about them? Those are standard for an ES-125....

    Are you putting a Bigsby? A sound post under the bridge might be a welcome addition for a Rock’n’roll guitar?

    *edit: ah you are putting a Bigsby and double set of controls, good. Still might need to shim the bridge PU to balance the outputs. You are turning it into an ES-225 TDC which is a great rock’n’roll guitar imho. Nice project!

  26. #25

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    It’s easier to find pictures online of the 225 with Bigsby:






  27. #26

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    I do have shims for the bridge P90. I love that Gretsch Bigsby but I thought it would look wierd to have the Gretsch logo on Gibby. I like the B6 because it i longer. I have never heard anything good about the Vibrola and just about every guitar I have has a Bigsby on it, so I'm at home with a Bigsby. I also have a Chet arm I like on it. Since this guitar has been changed in so many ways I doubt those are stock tuners. The buttons look like super cheap plastic and tuning the guitar really shows how bad these are. I go a vintage set from Stew Mac that should be nice.

  28. #27

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    I think Kluson nowadays also has a cheaper Asian production line? The 3-on-plate Klusons on my 125 are perfect but more recently bought Klusons for ES-330 kit are not as nice... (but do the job).

    *edit: ah, I see that there is Kluson made in Germany (Kluson by Gotoh) and made in Korea, at least that is what the different boxes say of the Klusons I bought:


  29. #28

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    Video to come!


  30. #29

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    Looks good. The bridge volume knob is a little closer to the edge of the f-hole than it ‘should’ be.

    It’s probably a very versatile guitar, suitable for many music styles like this.

    Looking forward to sounds!

  31. #30

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    So I let my luthier do this. Usually I do my own work but I might not have been able to cut into the ES out of fear of jacking up an old instrument. The knob placement is the only thing I'm not happy with. I could move it and fill the hole if it really drives me crazy but for now I'm going to leave it. Native american rug makers always put a flaw in their rugs to signify that only the creator is perfect. That off set knob could be looked at that way and also make sure no one the future pawns this off as a real TDC.

    I'm going to do some minor tweaks today. I'm going to pull a spacer ring out of the bridge pickup and get the action down lower and balance out the pickups. I can tell you that the additional P90 did add the tonal range the way I had hoped. I played it for 3 hours yesterday and it stayed in tune better than before, so kudos to the Bigsby and Compton bridge (I'm running flat wound 10s on there). I will say it is much louder now with more sustain. The tone is just amazing.

  32. #31

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    Here is the video...


  33. #32

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    I wanted to add an update after playing it for a while. My big question was if the additional bridge pickup would hurt the sound. I was also unsure about the effect the Compton bridge and Bigsby would have. I'm excited to report that it really opened up the sound and possibilities of this ES. It was immediately obvious that the guitar had more sustain and was louder unplugged. The real improvement was the sound into an amp. That second pickup gives you the dark neck tone, the bright bridge tone, and ultimately the two pickups running together give you both and a very balanced way. The Kluson style tuners I bought from Stew Mac looked great but went out of tune frequently and would take a 1/2 turn to get a reaction from the string in some instances. I pulled those out (they are for sale) and ordered the Hipshot locking tuners. While waiting for those to arrive I went back to my standard 56 ES 125. The difference between the TCD and standard ES was immediately noticeable. I felt like I working to play the bigger bodied ES. Also the single pickup was super noticeable compared to the TCD. It was then I realized that the TCD was the winner for me and how I enjoy playing. The Hipshot tuners came in and I got them installed. They don't look as stock as my reliced Golden Age tuners but are leaps and bounds better for tuning and holding a tune. I sat down and played for two hours without issue. After all of this I realized that the TCD is the ultimate guitar for me. I can get convincing acoustic tones out of it and then get nice and raunchy blues tones. The feedback is so controllable that I would call it a feature. The end of this story is that I am in love with the TCD. It is now my number one (and I have a lot of nice guitars that got knocked out of that place). I hope some of this info might help someone in the future - THE END!
    Last edited by BillyHell; 11-06-2020 at 10:24 AM.

  34. #33

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    Seems like you have found your guitar! Enjoy it!

  35. #34

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    That is awesome! I can’t get my head around a louder acoustic sound because- I presume- an extra hole in the top. Congrats


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  36. #35

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    I think it was the Compton bridge that made it louder.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyHell
    I think it was the Compton bridge that made it louder.
    I’d not heard of them before. I take it you have no intonation issues. Intonation keeps bugging me from time to time, especially since i change string size from 9.5 (only D’Adario) to 11 (only trying). Could you tell me how it is?


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  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by darkwaters View Post
    I'd go for it. Between the mods and the headstock damage I'd consider it fair game.

    In addition, if the neck break repair gets the thumbs up, I'd use a dark wood stain to try to hide it a bit more. It looks nasty.
    I's paint a black stinger to hide that break.

  39. #38

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    When I added a Bigsby to my Gibson, I replaced the original bridge with a Wayne Compton bridge. I've even put these bridges on all of my Gibson's and Archtops now! Wow what an improvement in tone and sustain!

    Can't recommend Wayne Compton bridges enough!