Wirelessdreamers Projects

Tag: Guitar Repair

Repairing a 1992 Ibanez 540S LTD

by on Mar.18, 2010, under Electric, Guitar Repair

I started doing amateur guitar repair in mid 2009. These are some of the reference material I would recommend to others:

  • Project Guitar – http://www.projectguitar.com/menu/tutorial.htm
  • liutaia mottola – http://www.liutaiomottola.com/
  • Guitar Player Repair Guide by Dan Erlewine

I started playing acoustic and electric guitar in 1997, bass in 2001.

I’ve been doing my own setup, intonation and basic maintenance for 3 years.

So far i’ve done some basic repairs:

  • Replaced a tuning peg on my ESP C-305 LTD bass.
  • Replaced a tuning peg on an acoustic bass guitar for a friend,  which happened to break a peg in the exact same way a my C-305.
  • Repaired a cracked neck on an unknown model Ibanez bass guitar with hot hide glue (didn’t clean the old adhesive from it and it re-cracked).
  • Fixed the wiring in an harmony electric guitar.
  • Created and replaced nuts on a few electric guitars.
  • Fret dressing on multiple guitar
  • Tune-o-matic bridge adjustment (the low E string kept popping out, ran thin file through it for a few passes and it was fine)

Here is one of the broken tuning pegs:

broken tuning peg

broken tuning peg

First neck repair

About 2 months ago I did my first non entry level repair. fixing a cracked neck. It wasn’t that hard of a job, because the fret board wasn’t damaged. There was a clean break up to the fret board about 2 inches from the nut. I heated some 215 gram hide glue up in a double boiler made from a stove pot pan, baby food jar, and metal cloths hanger. I fully loosened the truss rod to remove strain on the neck, and applied some light force to open the crack for better glue penetration. Then applied it inside the crack with parts of the small e string from an electric guitar. I clamped the neck with some soft tipped clamps, and used a hair dryer to re-heat the hide glue to make sure there was no excess glue to weaken the bond. I also turned the truss rod a quater turn back and forth a few times while the glue was setting, to make sure any glue that seeped inside wouldn’t dry close to the truss rod.

This is one of the better hot hide glue references I found: http://www.violins.on.ca/luthier/glue.html
Mirror: http://wirelessdreamer.com/hide_glue_preparation.pdf

Ibanez 540s LTD Initial assessment:

I got help Identifying the Model and year at the Ibanez fourms: http://forum.ibanez.com/Default.aspx?g=posts&t=79661
Thanks mathew@ibanez and steelrobin for helping me identify it.

I saw a posting for the guitar on craigslist, and and been looking for a midrange project guitar with a floyd rose bridge. Everything worked out and I picked the guitar up a few hours after I saw the initial posting. It was advertised as having a cracked neck. While I was picking it up my daughter threw up in the car so I was a bit rushed and didn’t get to look at it that close, I paid $115 for it, so even if I the neck was a lost cause, the floyd and emg-81 pickup in the body should make it worth while. My main reason for getting the guitar was to get some practice with what i’ve been reading about, and I’d rather do that on a midrange guitar that if done right will play really nice, then a $100 beater that at best would only be playable.

cracked neck other side

cracked neck other side

The crack was the whole way through the neck, and it seperated the fingerboard from the neck. If I had been smart I would of taken the truss rod bolt off and the head would of come clean off.

Sorry to say I don’t have a picture of this part. When I pulled the panel off the back covering the electronics I was a little shocked. The original pickups sill in the guitar body weren’t connected to anything. Everything had been cut off the pickup toggle switch, With the emg-81 pickup always connected as the only pickup.

The neck on this guitar will need a lot more work then the bass I worked on. The fretboard is separated for a few inches from the neck, and there are multiple cracks on the neck by the nut. I’d recommend to anyone that hasn’t looked at it yet to check out project guitars tutorials section: http://www.projectguitar.com/menu/tutorial.htm

dirty floyd rose

dirty floyd rose

The floyd was really beat up as well.

I’m about 70% of the way done sanding the body down, I’ve found a few dings i’ll need to sand out, but I should be able to finish it in tung oil. I’ve got a piece of test mahogany ordered so I can see what a tung oil finish will look like on it, and still have finish sanding to do on the body, then clean it with naphtha.

sanded front

sanded back

floyd parts

floyd parts

The floyd needs some serious work, all the saddle screws are stripped, some of the saddle blocks are warped from being tightened too much, and one of the arms on a saddle snapped off. I found the saddle screws and blocks at: http://www.gpdusa.com/Tremolo_Parts-Saddle_Parts.html but still am trying to find a replacement saddle for an original lo-pro trem, all i’ve found so far is  lo-proII saddles. I also need to replace the screws that hold the saddles in place, which I haven’t found a source for yet.

Plans changed partway though. I’m now having a custom mahogany/ebony neck built with inlay work, along with a graphtech piezo floyd rose bridge, i’ll be putting in the hexpander and acoustiphonic modules for it, and putting in emg pickups, I got a good price on an emg 58/81 combo, so i’m going to start with them, I may trade out the 58 for a 60 or 85 later, depending on the sound, and how much I use them, as I’ll mainly be using the hex piezo pickup for guitar synth, and blending in the other pickups.

Here is a shot I was emailed of the neck:

Full Neck


I decided to French polish the body with shellac for the finish, The grain filling is finished, and this is what it looks like:

grain filling done

grain filling done









I used epoxy on the original neck where the break was, and just clamped up the figerboard with tight bond II word working glue.

I got the original neck clamped up to reattach the fingerboard. It will make a nice neck for another project.

I have evo frets on the way to do a refret on it, and evo frets on the way for the new neck I’m prepping for it.

Once I got the new neck on and strung up, I noticed just how bad the fret job was, the g and b strings were sitting on the first fret, and most of the frets had enough space under them to put my fingernail. I pulled on the frets, and have evo frets on the way for it.



the new neck

I’m Most of the way done with the Refret now. The tang size of the old frets was much larger then a standard .020, I measured the frets I pulled and they came to 0.34. I picked up a fret fitter from Stewmac to make the frets I ordered a little larger. http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Fretting_supplies/Pullers,_nippers,_sizing/Fret_Fitter.html. Some were still loose in the slots, so I decided to glue all the frets in as well. Once I finish the touchup work on the edges I’ll be putting it back on the body for some play testing, and i’m on to finishing up the electronics work. I’ll be routing a cavity for a 9v battery compartment and hooking up the mag’s and acoustic module from the ghost kit.




Over the weekend I got the neck and body finished, and put together. I still have to build a neck jig, adjust pickup height, set intonation, level the frets, build a back plate to cover the electronics cavity, and hook up the mag and piezo pickups. I played with the builting synth pickups this morning. It was great to play it after working on it for so long.

a little electronics work and setup, and i’ll finally be done with the one 🙂

I leveled the frets, got the electronics hooked up, and did the initial setup on it. Project is done for now. At some point I want to lower the action on it, but it plays and looks great.

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