the X390 and a fret masher...

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the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by gittarasaurus on Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:38 pm

the time has come to fix up this one...

i picked up this X390 a few years ago knowing it needed some repairs before it would be playable.
the pickups are original mmk75's, but the covers were missing. i have acquired some originals to replace the missing ones.
it is missing parts for the kahler string lock and the nut is in need of replacement. there was a nut in place when i received it, but it was itself a replacement and it was not glued in properly.
the bigger issue has always been the condition of the frets, mostly 1,2 & 3, but 4 & 5 have some damage too.
in addition to the frets, even the ebony has been dented and scratched

frets 1 & 2 have some huge dents

this is 1,2,3,4

4 & 5

6 & 7

and here at 11 & 12 almost no wear


i took the guitar to SFGuitarworks where they have a computerized machine (Plek) to do the fret level, dress and polish. it can work to 0.001" accuracy.

they will install a new handmade bone nut and repair/replace the string lock. then a full set-up. it should take a couple weeks to get it back since the shop is pretty busy all the time.

more pics when it returns home... Cool
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Barry on Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:52 pm

Good Gawd! Who was playing that thing, Godzilla?!
Hard to believe that the treble strings would gouge such bit divots. Was this perchance played lefty?

If not, the previous owner was one very dedicated cowboy with a vise for a hand.

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Westbone on Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:33 pm

Body looks fine.

From experience pulling frets from a ebony fingerboard can cause bits to chip out(as can any board) but ebony particular due to the grain.

Looks like you should get away with a level, have done worse looking frets.

Had an X350 with no covers MMK 75's  but cream bobbins/flat poles as per your black 'ens. Covers are held on with double sided tape, why not it works.
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by corsair on Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:19 pm

So how do you stop the ebony chipping when you remove the frets, Damian? Is there a technique, or is just being very careful "the go"? Would heating them up to defeat the glue have any affect? Or carefully sliding the tip of a very sharp blade down the frets length on both sides underneath?

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by gittarasaurus on Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:12 pm

the plan is to work with the existing frets. they are quite large and so should allow plenty of room to level and dress.
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by corsair on Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:49 pm

Yes, I realise that your frets are well good enough for a level and dress, eh; I was wondering about the tearing out that Damian was referring to! I had no trouble pulling the frets on my maple necked Avengers, i.e. no chipping and was just wondering!

God, that's a  pretty guitar - I do believe I like these more than the 350s; I think the pointy headstock does it for me on balance and that is a glorious shade of blue! You know, I gave one of those Kahler stringlocks away some years ago; it came on a guitar I'd bought and I replaced it with an OEM piece and then someone - perhaps on David Blairs' forum, so a very long time ago now - had need of one and I sent it on!
Are you going to have a play with repairing the finish on the headstock point?

I think the frets on my Vantage VA900 have had 4 dressings since I've owned it, and the last one will be the last on the OEM frets, eh; they are as low as whale-poo, but gee - what a delight to play that guitar is!

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Westbone on Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:01 am

corsair wrote:So how do you stop the ebony chipping when you remove the frets, Damian? Is there a technique, or is just being very careful "the go"? Would heating them up to defeat the glue have any affect? Or carefully sliding the tip of a very sharp blade down the frets length on both sides underneath?

Fret pliers, fret/fingerboard protector, heat and great care
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by The Chad on Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:51 am

I'd have the worn frets replaced, rather than dress them all and therefore shorten all of your pickups.  If they make frets that large anymore?!
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Westbone on Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:01 am

The Chad wrote: shorten all of your pickups. 
What do you mean Chad?

Your talking fractions here with the frets.
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by The Chad on Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:13 am

If its done well, right.  But even then it's still taking it down past the deepest divot, which could cause a feel difference.
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Westbone on Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:40 am

As per always it's all about the nut... Smile
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by The Chad on Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:43 pm

Laughing   I'm now expecting Barry to comment on that one...
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by gittarasaurus on Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:11 pm

the guitar will be getting a new nut also.

i am not a fan of the giant sized frets, so reducing the size of all the frets in relation to the dented ones is not going to be a problem for me. there is also the issue damage to the finish on the sides of the neck if frets have to be replaced. that would probably raise the cost much more than necessary.

this is the only guitar i have given this high level of service. it is costly, but i couldn't do any of this work myself. it needed it. up to now, the guitar has been unplayable, it will probably become the best player in my collection.

to read about the Plek machine look ->here<-

the guy at the store asked a few questions in order to design the repair and setup;
-string gauge
-left hand style
-right hand style
-pick style
-string bender
-whammy bar pickle tickler
probably a few more i don't remember
the guy appeared to be very knowledgeable and competent

at the store;
i walk into a small front room, maybe 15'x15'. window to the street. counter at the back, workshop thru the doorway behind. there are at least 6 guitars sitting by the counter ready for pickup. there is already a customer with his guitar on the counter, discussing his repair job. they are almost finished. just after i enter, another guy comes in with an acoustic guitar over his shoulder. he looks like he lives on the street. he pulls out his guitar and starts telling the guy behind the counter about his problem with the bridge being too low. he just starts talking like nobody else was already there. the counter-guy says, "oh hi jeff," like this happens all the time. he picks up the guy's guitar and looks it over(a nice Alvarez) and says, let me go in the back and get you a shim. sets up the street guy and out the door he goes.

and without missing a beat, right back to the first guy like nothing happened. another minute with him and done.

had me out the door in about 10minutes. he had already found a whammy bar (changed the tip to black too) before i left.

the guitar should play like new when i get it back. Smile
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by The Chad on Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:25 pm

Sounds like a great place, Mike.  Most shops don't think to ask those questions.  Makes a big difference.  Dana Sutcliffe is this way, also.  He is a Master Luthier so this is not surprising.
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Barry on Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:21 pm

Westbone wrote:
corsair wrote:So how do you stop the ebony chipping when you remove the frets, Damian?...
Fret pliers, fret/fingerboard protector, heat and great care
My Parker PM20 has SS frets in its Ebony fret board.
I'm rather happy about that, even though the chances of my wearing through them is approximately the same as finding poo under my rocking horsey. What a Face

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by gittarasaurus on Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:33 am

i have retrieved my guitar from the shop and it plays like a dream. Thumb Up

the frets are nice and round and shiny and everything is silky!

they fixed me up with a new nut
originally they suggested a bone nut, cow bone bleached white, good hard solid reliable, would last a long time.
but i wanted the nut to be black. so i chose buffalo horn
they said it is not quite as hard as cow bone but should be good and quite durable, still superior to plastic. may have slightly different tone than cow bone (not like i could tell since i've never had a chance to play this guitar).

the kahler string lock was missing some pieces and getting replacement pieces would cost nearly as much as a new one, so, got a new string lock installed too.

guitar plays like new drunken
the setup is perfect
loads of delightful tones available, with coil splits and phase reverse
MMK75's!
the kahler tremolo is so smooth
it is like having a new guitar
never had a chance to play this guitar until now

the X390 clearly deserves the reputation for superior design and construction
it is so comfortable to play. it feels like the guitar hugs you.


So Happy
only need to install the pickup covers and it will be ready for photos
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by corsair on Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:37 am

Good one, Mike!! Looking forward to seeing this one!

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Westbone on Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:25 am

They are a comfy guitar fit my belly perfectly... Wink...like a glove
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by The Chad on Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:20 am

PICS or we don't believe you.   

Laughing

And congrats!!!
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Adey on Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:23 pm

I'm going to have to get my X390CB out if its case now! It's exactly the same as yours, with the Kahler trem. It has been a bit forgotten about, what with recent GASing (into and out of of the collection).

I do like the 75's on it, and have forgotten how good they sound, so it will be out again this evening.

I also like the really high frets it has. I GASed a 1970's Fresher Telecaster recently and that has really low frets. I'm contemplating replacing them, but I might get used to them.
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Barry on Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:10 pm

Congrats Mike, another beauty in your collection!
I too am in love with that shade of blue, it's rich and deep, and feels alive. cheers

An old girl friend in high school once told me, "it's all about the nut" (there Chad, better late than never). clown

Curious about the choice of buffalo horn for the nut. Never heard of that before. My personal preference I think would have been black Tusq. Did you consider it at all?

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by The Chad on Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:27 pm

Barry, you never disappoint!   lol!

Chomping at the bit to see this thing, Mike!!!
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by gittarasaurus on Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:11 pm

Naughty
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by gittarasaurus on Mon Mar 05, 2018 4:07 pm


here is a close look at the buffalo horn nut

and here are the recrowned frets
1, 2, 3

5,6, 7,8

9, 10, 11, 12

quite amazing job on the frets. they still seem like jumbo frets to me. the defects in the first few frets made repair seem unlikely, but there they are looking like new.
there are a few places on the fretboard that have been scratched and otherwise damaged, but nothing as egregious as the damage to the frets.
the rest of the guitar is in great shape with only minor surface scratches in a few places. there is one ding on the back by the cavity cover where the finish is busted off. it is smaller than the size of a dime. one ding to the finish on the tip of the headstock too. one dent in the back of the neck behind the 2nd fret. mostly great condition.


i decided to wait on installing the pickup covers until i need to change the strings. it is all set up so nicely i just want to play it for now.
the humbuckers sound so creamy, and then go to coil split and it turns all glassy and crisp sounding
the neck sounds nice and throaty, the bridge even gets a bit twangy
roll back the tone on the bridge pup and turn the volume wide open and you have a great tone for playing in the lower registers.
both pickups on, in single coil or humbucker, sound great together. a little subtle blending can be achieved using the separate tone controls to give the neck or bridge pickup more prominence in the tone.
push the signal with some gain and the harmonics jump out.
WEEHAAA! having some fun now! Drink Beer
this guitar has been unplayable and sitting in the closet for nearly 5 years waiting for this Yay!
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Barry on Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:58 pm

A blue jewel. Dance 1

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by corsair on Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:15 am

That, my friend, would put a horn on a jellyfish!

Most excellent!

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by The Chad on Tue Mar 06, 2018 8:23 am

Absolutely stunning, Mike!    Shocked   So glad you got her playable again, bet you're elated!  

What did the shop say about it, did they comment upon the guitar at all?!  It's a rare bird, that's why I ask!
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Barry on Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:39 pm

Mike, did you notice my question in post#21 about Buffalo Horn nut vs Tusq? That pic of it looks real good.

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by gittarasaurus on Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:54 pm

i've never looked into the benefits of tusq actually Don\'t Know
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Barry on Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:28 pm

(Canadian, eh)
I'm sure the bone is just fine, and maybe cheaper??

Being man made, Tusq appeals to the more environmentally conscious I suppose. That, plus it ensures a consistency of density, etc which you won't get in an organic material.

In the end, unless you're really anal about it, there's likely not pinch o' poo noticeable difference between these two in practical terms. Beats the crap outa plastic though!

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Westbone on Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:42 pm

Frets came out fine... Metal Head

Seems a little high at the nut? or is it the photo.
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Westbone on Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:22 am

Also frets/fingerboard on a X390, while we're on the subject.

Someone pulled the frets on this one and took lumps out of the fingerboard. Also has a bad fret job. Frets are filed all over the place and needs to be repaired plus new frets. A lot of time here!!

Think you got of lightly Mike.... Smile



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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Barry on Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:05 am

Ouch!

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by gittarasaurus on Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:59 am

that is pretty much exactly what i wanted to avoid
and why i waited so long to get it done right
it needed work that is clearly beyond my ability
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