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I recently picked up a pair of El Degas Les Pauls. One I’m just going to reassemble and see if I can make it work/play and turn it out for a couple bucks or trade for something.

The other (black custom) will be the basis of this thread. I’m going to fix it up the best I can and give it to my son. I’m not too experienced in guitar tinkering, more like kamikaze lutherie and I hope some of you good folks could offer some advice. The first thing I’m going to do is take the guitar to my tech and get his opinion on whether this is worth my efforts. Not in terms of value, but whether the bones of it are solid enough. Aesthetically it’s rough but the body and neck are mahogany and the paint and binding are all good and intact. The frets have very minimal wear, but I don’t trust my eye on the neck.

In the meantime, I’m going to start researching this thing. Does anyone know what years El Degas produced les Paul’s with the pre lawsuit, open book headstock? I’m thinking early 70’s.

Also, I have an old Duncan Distortion bridge pickup I’d like to use. Does anyone know if I can buy gold covers for it?

I’d also like to keep the original bridge and tailpiece if there’s a way of replating them at reasonable cost. Does anyone know of any such services? If not, replacement it will have to be.

Thanks in advance
 

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Also, I have an old Duncan Distortion bridge pickup I’d like to use. Does anyone know if I can buy gold covers for it?
Congrats on getting these guitars!

The covers for (some of ) the Seymour Duncan pickups were proprietary in the past. Just a warning. Yes, I did learn that the hard way....LOL

I'd be happy to do any of the electronics for you, my friend.

Good Luck on getting these guitars "restomodded".
 

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Awesome!
So, the “keeper” is on the left or right? (Please say left, good locker there!)


Sent from my other brain.
 
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Discussion Starter #4
Congrats on getting these guitars!

The covers for (some of ) the Seymour Duncan pickups were proprietary in the past. Just a warning. Yes, I did learn that the hard way....LOL

I'd be happy to do any of the electronics for you, my friend.

Good Luck on getting these guitars "restomodded".
Awesome Dave, I certainly appreciate your offer. You are going to have to set up a drive thru lane soon!

My first impression on this thing is that it is one of the early era MIJ instruments where quality was mediocre at best and I’m assuming all electronics are automatically junk and pickups are likely un-waxed, microphonic junk. Perhaps I should actually try them first.
 

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Discussion Starter #5

Awesome!
So, the “keeper” is on the left or right? (Please say left, good locker there!)


Sent from my other brain.
Yes, left. Appearance wise, everything looks decent or has enough potential. Once finished the only detractor will be the custom headstock inlay. It’s poorly executed. The quality of the abalone is nicer than my elitist though. Very bright, clear and colourful.
 

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Until recently, I had two that were bone stock.

They were awesome tone wise with a fuzz and a analog type of delay pedal, through a loud and proud clean amp, like my Sunn Solarus.

Cleans were pretty good as well.

I always wanted to tinker with pots and pickups out of curiosity, but I am glad that I didn’t.

Why make it a Gibson clone when most likely already own a Gibson?

I have looked at the pickups that came with those guitars, as supplied by the factory and questioned how they could sound that good for what they are, by design. I am not even certain that they are humbucker in reality.

Hey, it’s your guitar and your choice. Have fun with them. I played them less and less as the years passed and only kept one example from this era.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Until recently, I had two that were bone stock.

They were awesome tone wise with a fuzz and a analog type of delay pedal, through a loud and proud clean amp, like my Sunn Solarus.

Cleans were pretty good as well.

I always wanted to tinker with pots and pickups out of curiosity, but I am glad that I didn’t.

Why make it a Gibson clone when most likely already own a Gibson?

I have looked at the pickups that came with those guitars, as supplied by the factory and questioned how they could sound that good for what they are, by design. I am not even certain that they are humbucker in reality.

Hey, it’s your guitar and your choice. Have fun with them. I played them less and less as the years passed and only kept one example from this era.
I actually don't own a Gibson. The closest I have is an elitist LP. I know what you're saying, I'll probably have 300+ dollars invested into this. A smarter person might throw another 2-300 hundred bucks on top and buy a used Gibby studio or an elitist and have a much better guitar in the end. But the purpose of this is to resurrect an old, cool looking guitar and learn some skills along the way. I'm going to give this to my son when it's done. If it doesn't turn out to be a decent player, I'll gut it, put the original guts in it and throw it on the jij or keep it as a wall hanger. I'll use the parts on some other projects I'm sure. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and nothing learned. It's not about the value of the guitar for me. It's about recycling, learning new skills, and doing something nice for my Son.
 

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Scotty, it’s all cool and I don’t want to sway your opinion one way or another. I understand you have a good grasp of guitar economics.

Just trying to reinforce how good these guitars can be if set up well.

Every time one came out of the case, it was an a absolute pleasure to noodle on. In this case, absence did make the heart fonder. One had a nice fat neck, that I have never experienced since, and the other had the more common slim neck, very detailed, and quite the looker.

It is hard to keep everything, but it is good to experience everything. Learning is good
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Scotty, it’s all cool and I don’t want to sway your opinion one way or another. I understand you have a good grasp of guitar economics.

Just trying to reinforce how good these guitars can be if set up well.

Every time one came out of the case, it was an a absolute pleasure to noodle on. In this case, absence did make the heart fonder. One had a nice fat neck, that I have never experienced since, and the other had the more common slim neck, very detailed, and quite the looker.

It is hard to keep everything, but it is good to experience everything. Learning is good
I certainly didn't look at your post as negative and enjoyed your contributions
 
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I heard somewhere that early El D's came with Maxon pups.
I'm not sure, but IIRC, they're rebranded Ibanez super 58's and 70's.
 

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I got my white El Degas Custom clone in 1975 when I turned 15, still have that guitar.....as noted in above thread the fretboard wood is amazing as are the inlays.....the white has yellowed much as it should have ironically.......sounded pretty good with stock electrics but has been upgraded over the years a few times.....can't bear to get rid of it even though its sharing the house with real ones now.......better made than most of the newer clones in my opinion
 

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... But the purpose of this is to resurrect an old, cool looking guitar and learn some skills along the way. I'm going to give this to my son when it's done. If it doesn't turn out to be a decent player, I'll gut it, put the original guts in it and throw it on the jij or keep it as a wall hanger. I'll use the parts on some other projects I'm sure. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and nothing learned. It's not about the value of the guitar for me. It's about recycling, learning new skills, and doing something nice for my Son.
I love this attitude! "I'm going to spend a few bucks learning stuff. If it doesn't work, I'll still have learned stuff."
 

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I’m definitely following along!

I don’t there’s any reasonably priced way to get the bridge & tailpiece replated.

Your options are use them as is (maybe a light polishing) or replace them.

A close up photo would help. ;)
I’d love to see the headstock too
Nathan
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I dug into these a little bit tonight.

The good;
Plain Jane has a straight neck and good frets. Pretty sure I can make a play decently. ( electronics aside)

The bad;
The custom's neck has issues. Lots of issues (oh Surprise, surprise)

1) Neck appears to have a back bow, unloaded without strings, even with zero tension on the truss rod.

2) it has high frets all over the board.
24 inch straight edge rocks, roughly centre of the front board. Giving appearances of having a back bow. Machine square rocks over three frets here and there. Not sure if the frets are loose and high, or what the story is.

3) frets are already very low. Average of anywhere from 0.025 to .035. I have not looked it up but I suspect this is too low for levelling already.

One more test before I make this thing a wall hanger Will be to laser cut a straight edge. One side will be 24.750" scale and the other side will be 25.500 and scale. If the fingerboard appears straight, I may consider learning how to do a re-fret.

I had an inkling that the custom needed an awful lot of work. But, again this is about learning experience.

In the end it might be about firewood LOL
 
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