A small bit of history, in the late 60s early 70s, at the height of the “lawsuit era” Aria (Matsumoku) made many different Gibson copies. This and the Aria EA-250 were a mixture of both the Epiphone Casino and the Gibson ES339. This is a fully hollow archtop semi acoustic with a floating bridge.
This Christmas my brother decided that as a present he would give me his, I’ll call it fixer upper, 1971 Epiphone 5102T.
This was what I was given. You can probably see its a little sparse. It was bought off eBay with a case quite cheap and lets say not very honestly.
When I stripped it down I found that it had strange pots and the bridge pickup was changed to a P90 that didn’t work.
At the time we stripped it down and put a price together for rebuilding it. That way it stayed until I decided at the end of last year that I wanted to find a hollow body and well the rest is obvious.
As you can see in the pictures of the original, the 5102t has an odd sized humbucker, something that was quite common on the lawsuits, but upon some closer inspection I found that someone had already had a go at trying to get something fitted. This is evident by the cut out for the dog ear p90 and the extra screw holes for the pickup rings.
After some searching I decided that getting this sorted will be a bit of a lost cause so I sat down with some measurements and sketched out a few ideas.
After finding a company in Germany who make custom pickup rings I send them some details and they said they can make metal rings that will fill the pickups and decided this would be the best bet. You can also see me test fitting a standard humbucker pickup mounting ring. (see left)
The next decision was the bridge. It had a cheap bigsby trem copy originally that I didn’t like and really don’t trust on an old hollow body like this so made the decision to use a trapeze tailpiece . Got that ordered and the floating bridge and decided to test fit it.
One of the unique features of this model is the bolt on neck or “Steel adjustable neck” and after test fitting it the action was really high so at which point I thought it might be an idea to shim the neck. This was where I discovered the next bodge. Someone had tried to glue the neck down.
After unscrewing the neck bolts and trying to pull I was having no luck. So a quick trip to the local pound shop a got some of these filling blades (see left) One of the sizes fitted the neck pocket perfectly. After some shimmying This happened. A small shim at the neck end of the pocket later and the alignment of the neck was better. It still required a bit more of a