Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

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Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Roger Rosenberger » Wed May 29, 2019 9:56 pm

This thing has had a hard life. Not only did somebody try to electrify it and strip the finish, it was also played a lot. The fret board and frets have significant wear. It belongs to my son-in-law and it was his uncle's guitar so I'll try to do something with it.
First I need to take it apart with out breaking anything else but I've never removed a neck like this. Any advice?
The neck appears to straight and in decent shape except for the fret and finger board wear. I'll probably re-fret but reuse the fingerboard. The original tuners are in the case and are not stuck, if they'll stay in tune.
I'm missing the bridge and parts of the "Frequensator" tail piece.
I'm not sure if it originally had a pickguard.
Most of the binding is missing.
Definitely a project.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Brian Evans » Thu May 30, 2019 7:31 am

Neck joint is a very normal tapered dovetail. There is a truss rod that is adjusted from under the fretboard extension, so don't drill through the middle of the fretboard to inject steam. Tuners are very hard to get, and unique to Epiphone, E logo sealed tuners, very important to have them. If you know the serial number, you can register it here: http://wiedler.ch/nyepireg/

Many details listed here: http://wiedler.ch/nyepireg/models.html There are sections that deal with things like bridges, tuners, in extreme detail. Good luck with your project. I might be tempted to re-top it rather than try to deal with repairing the holes. As an acoustic guitar, inserts are going to be quite detrimental to the acoustic tone, the one by the bridge is very large and right in the heart of the tone...

there is a picture of a 1940 Triumph headstock with the correct tuners in this: http://wiedler.ch/nyepireg/closeup45.html#table1
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Roger Rosenberger » Thu May 30, 2019 10:41 am

Thanks for the reply Brian. The tuners I have are the enclosed back sealed tuners with the logo.
I do have the serial number, 17508. Serial number 17506 is listed on the Wiedler site with a pic. If this turns out good I will register this one.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu May 30, 2019 10:55 am

Wow, I like challenging restorations but that one is huge. Since the binding is nearly gone, it will be no problem to remove the back and/or the top which will help on body repairs.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby David King » Thu May 30, 2019 2:57 pm

I wonder if you could plane off the dome of the top leaving a flat surface that you could glue a matching bookmatched block of spruce to and carve. Dumping the top may depend on how much wood thickness came off when the finish was removed.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Brian Evans » Thu May 30, 2019 3:42 pm

What parts of the tail piece do you have? The part that is almost impossible to find is the bit that screws to the tail-block and the bails hook on to. That bit, with the correct engraving, is very hard to find. Modern reproductions are incorrect. But - the modern bails - the staggered length bits that hook on to the tail-piece bracket and the strings attach to - are available and are quite good. All nickle-plate on a Triumph.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Roger Rosenberger » Thu May 30, 2019 4:23 pm

David King wrote:I wonder if you could plane off the dome of the top leaving a flat surface that you could glue a matching bookmatched block of spruce to and carve. Dumping the top may depend on how much wood thickness came off when the finish was removed.

I kind of like that idea. But I wonder how much it might affect the tone? You would end up with a wider tapered glue joint all around the patch compared to an edge to edge joint. My first thought was to rout out both patches to clean up the edges then add new pieces like an inlay. Both ends of the patches would be on the bracing. IF it doesn’t get a new top.
We haven’t yet talk about how far he wants to go with this. I think there’s a difference between a serviceable repair and a restoration. I think I can make the patches blend with the finish but is that the right thing to do?
There doesn’t seem to be any material loss from stripping off the old finish. It looks like they used a chemical stripper and didn’t really get to the sanding. That could also be why the binding fell off and the top is loose on one side.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Roger Rosenberger » Thu May 30, 2019 4:25 pm

Brian Evans wrote:What parts of the tail piece do you have? The part that is almost impossible to find is the bit that screws to the tail-block and the bails hook on to. That bit, with the correct engraving, is very hard to find. Modern reproductions are incorrect. But - the modern bails - the staggered length bits that hook on to the tail-piece bracket and the strings attach to - are available and are quite good. All nickle-plate on a Triumph.

I have the piece that screws to the tail block but not the bails.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Fri May 31, 2019 2:16 pm

Ooooo! Please post a picture of the tailpiece anchor-part! I want to see this rare piece of hardware.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Brian Evans » Fri May 31, 2019 2:26 pm

The tops on a typical archtop of the era were quite thick and over-built compared to today's ideals. The top might range from 1/8" at the thinnest in the recurve to 1/4" along the center of the top. Lots of room to sand for new finish, and if you take the top off for the repair easy to measure and perfect the top graduation. You might be able to let in pieces for the holes by squaring up the holes, tapering the edge at 45 degrees and letting in new pieces with a matching taper for snugness, then refining the arch inside and out. But try to stay away from big reinforcing blocks, etc. If you can get is stable, you might consider adding a third longitudinal brace directly under the center seam, that will stablize it very well. But you have to remember that it's an acoustic guitar, you need to make the top very lively, it should ring like a drum when tapped.

Here is what the original tailpiece would have looked like. Note that it goes all the way to the back of the guitar, which is a little over 3" thick, is triangular in shape, the pin is a wooden press-fit tapered pin, and the engraving is Frequensator Pat. Pending. This one is on my 1946 Zephyr, seems a factory fitment even though it would have normally had a trapeze tailpiece stock.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Roger Rosenberger » Fri May 31, 2019 10:56 pm

Brian- That’s it. That’s exactly what the tail piece looks like.

I will take it apart to repair the top and back as there are several small cracks plus the big split in the top.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:28 am

that's cool! thanks for sharing guys.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:27 pm

To repair the holes in the top (if that is what is desired) you might consider patching in a piece in the center section of the top from the top edge of the body to a point under the bridge. I would make it just wide enough to eliminate the pickup cutouts in the top. I would scarf join the repair piece into the original top at the area between the last pickup cut out to the centerline of the bridge. The bridge footprint could then hide the line of the scarf. That would eliminate (or hide) any cross grain glue lines, and allow you to recarve only a small area of the top while keeping most of it original. If you can find a color matched piece of spruce you could make an inconspicuous repair.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Roger Rosenberger » Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:40 pm

Clay Schaeffer wrote:To repair the holes in the top (if that is what is desired) you might consider patching in a piece in the center section of the top from the top edge of the body to a point under the bridge. I would make it just wide enough to eliminate the pickup cutouts in the top. I would scarf join the repair piece into the original top at the area between the last pickup cut out to the centerline of the bridge. The bridge footprint could then hide the line of the scarf. That would eliminate (or hide) any cross grain glue lines, and allow you to recarve only a small area of the top while keeping most of it original. If you can find a color matched piece of spruce you could make an inconspicuous repair.


I like that idea of ending the patch under the bridge. I think it only has asymmetrical parallel braces so I could add a thin ladder brace under the bridge to help secure the patch. If that doesn’t dull the response too much.
I think this will be a really interesting project and I'm itching to get started but I have a bathroom remodel (last room to do) and a couple of furniture pieces to build first, says the boss.:) Maybe I can sneak in a little time on this now and then.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:08 am

Hi Roger,
If you scarf in your patch from the last pickup cutout to a point under the bridge it should give you plenty of strength and tie in the new wood to the old better in this critical area. You could do the ladder brace if you felt the old top wasn't strong enough to resist the down pressure of the bridge/strings, but it likely wouldn't be necessary with the relatively long scarf joint.
It looks like a project worthy of the effort.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:29 am

Frank Ford did a photo essay on a good method for repairing fretboard divots:

http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier ... divot.html
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Barry Daniels » Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:28 am

Frank also did a top restoration with a ramped spruce patch that is similar to what you might need. The relevant phots are about half way down the page.

http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier/Technique/Guitar/Structural/1887Restore/1887restore01.html
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Thu Jun 06, 2019 10:34 pm

Hi Roger,
Barry linked a photo essay Frank Ford did that includes scarfing in a patch and might explain better what I was trying to convey (a picture is worth a thousand words).
The difference between what Frank did and what you would want to do, is he cut the ramps in from the underside of the top, where you would want to cut the ramp in from the topside of the top. I would also make it longer, just because it could be, but what he did was long enough.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Mark Wybierala » Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:27 am

I don't understand the need to repair fretboard divots. For the most part they're harmless and only illustrate that the guitar was played. It takes a lot of playin to make these and usually only guitars that play well get them. If I'm handed a 25yr+ guitar with pristine frets, chances are that its got something really wrong with it. Hell, I see more guitars now with fake divots than real ones.

I had the pleasure of repairing one of those Epis some years ago. Very rewarding end result.

I have the two trapeze pieces that would fit your tailpiece but they are new and they are plated gold. Check in your area to see if there's a place that can nickle plate these and age them. If you are successful in your repairs send me an email cuz I'll never use them.
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Re: Can this live again? 1941 Epiphone Triumph

Postby Roger Rosenberger » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:06 pm

Mark Wybierala wrote:I don't understand the need to repair fretboard divots. For the most part they're harmless and only illustrate that the guitar was played. It takes a lot of playin to make these and usually only guitars that play well get them. If I'm handed a 25yr+ guitar with pristine frets, chances are that its got something really wrong with it. Hell, I see more guitars now with fake divots than real ones.

I had the pleasure of repairing one of those Epis some years ago. Very rewarding end result.

I have the two trapeze pieces that would fit your tailpiece but they are new and they are plated gold. Check in your area to see if there's a place that can nickle plate these and age them. If you are successful in your repairs send me an email cuz I'll never use them.


I wasn't going to do anything with the fret board divots just new frets. I suppose I could go ahead and scallop the fret board since it's part way there already. :)
Thanks for the offer on the trapeze parts. I'll keep that in mind
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