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5150 build.

Andy Eagle

Power User
So After EVH died I decided to build a version of 5150 in its heyday, it was something I always was going to do at some point but never got around to it. Ed was a HUGE influence on me . I spent months as a teenager transcribing and learning the guitar on VH1 with an old record player that had 16RPM on it. This dropped it down about an octave and made it easy to hear all the notes. This is another story though so back to now.
I was browsing Musikraft's site when I saw that they were selling rough CNC only Pacer bodies so that clinched it. I ordered one and a neck as I haven't the time to scratch build one. I did consider converting an ESP 22 fret strat neck (this is what the original is) but time said get the Muskraft at the same time.
So I put the order together with a couple of changes over the original for my taste and practicality. The change to the neck was only radius and frets to my taste. Jim (owner of Musikraft) I'm pretty sure has seen 5150 in person and there parts are excellent, very good attention to detail.
 
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Andy Eagle

Power User
Time went by and I gathered the hardware while waiting for the parts. I once held (and even played) the real 5150 for about a minute in the mid 90's so I knew the approximate weight and I spoke to his tech and asked about the pickup it had at the time. I also got a really good look at the wood in the wear spots and the grain. I also spoke to Paul many years ago (the guy that actually built it) but he was not very sure about a few things because of the time elapsed. There is a bit of contention on the web about the wood but I believe I can make a strong case for what I believe it is. The guitar was put together quite quickly entirely from parts in the repair shop at the Kramer HQ ( not a factory) The body was a stock but unfinished Pacer and at this time they where ALL poplar.
 
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goodwill559

Inspired
that would have been fun, but my record player didn't have a 16rpm setting. Instead, i'd play lp records at 45rpm and play along on guitar a perfect forth up :grinning:
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
The gain looks like it was ash and everyone knew Frankie is ash. 5150 is pretty light though and a lot of people though that because Ed chose basswood for his later signature models that 5150 was basswood too. I have disassembled an Ed back up guitar from slightly later and it is indeed basswood but it is entirely constructed from ESP parts (focus 1000 body.)
 
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Andy Eagle

Power User
5150 is made with a Sports body. So I ordered what I thought to be correct poplar.
I was sent a very light (as requested) poplar rough CNC only body 3lb 7oz (pretty much exactly what I thought the original would be on the basis of holding it.
IMG_1661.jpg
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
One issue was they had sent me a neck that was drilled Fender pattern and a body that was Kramer pattern so one would need to be doweled and redrilled ( they where very good about it and gave me some money back to sort it out as these are sold out with no plans to make any more.) That was going to be the body. I wanted to use fender pattern because getting an old Kramer neck plate is either very hard or very expensive and the available repros are terrible. So finish sanding and redoing the neck plate holes was the first job.
IMG_1672.jpg
 
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Andy Eagle

Power User
IMG_1673.jpg
Now the remaining hardware:
I have an original 1984 Schaller built Floyd and nut but this is not the unit on 5150. It has an AMP USA built early version with a steel block and no spring plate. These are very rare and because of the EVH connection incredibly expensive so I will use the one I have. I will however make a steel block and raw steel string blocks to ape the original.
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
Pickup?
I have it on good authority that it was a custom wound (MJ) custom custom. That's a lot of custom!
An original would have a CCJ sticker on the bottom. There is another reliable score that says it had a JB ( MJ version) this would have had an JBJ sticker on it. The backup guitar that I disassembled had a JBJ. however the original 5150 sounded different to a JB ( I heard it in to a plexi with no FX when I met Ed.) Also the Frankie hand wound signed pickup is basically identical to a CCJ. So I'm going with a CCJ. I have got one from 1984 already. Tuners are unbranded Gotoh on the original with a single Schaller after the head break. So Gotoh on mine. I have both new and a set from 1983.
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
Paint?
Chevy orange/red and Wimbledon white.
I am going to use nitro because it sounds better drys harder and relics well. But then I'm stuck with the pallet that I can get in nitro and that is limited.
Wimbledon White is slightly off white cream and I will test some olympic white. This varies quite a bit on fender from pretty white almost vintage white.
Orange red sounds like it may be close to fiesta red ,once again test test test.
 

JoKeR III

Power User
I was particularly delighted with the rough body's grain as it is the same proportions as in the original on the form contour.View attachment 85669

Looking forward to seeing your progress and techniques. I was going to say that Poplar grain, rift or shallow angle cut, can have that very grain appearance (Photo of painted top relief). You confirmed it with the photo of your guitar body. This could easily become more prominent on a guitar that may have likely had some corners cut, like grain filler and sealer, in the finishing process in order to get it put together quickly.
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
Steel block and string clamp blocks made. And I threw the pickup in the picture for anyone who hasn't seen an MJ pickup sticker.
IMG_1677.jpg
I may remove the spring plate but I haven't decided. The decision will be in the set up when I see how much space I have to play with due to the small neck angle.
Here is the Floyd from the top so you can see the steel string blocks. On 5150 two of the saddles had been swapped from the original APM ones to Schaller presumably because the originals are impossible to get even for Ed.
IMG_1678.jpg
This vintage Floyd has the new arm retro fitted but I do have an original that I may put on it. The conflict between accurate and what I prefer will be tough in this one. I've personally owned this one since 1984 and it is as good as ever. It's amazing how well they last if you look after them. It has been on about 20 guitars over the years and been played for thousands of hours.
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
Here is the Floyd from Ed's personal backup guitar from 1984/5150 tour.
IMG_1279.jpg
IMG_1276.jpg
Note stock chromed brass 42mm block and no spring plate so it can sit flat. The APM version never had one .
The bridge sitting dead flat on the body has issues though because it hasn't got a bevel on the leading edge of the bridge plate and it just hits the wood as soon as you drop the bar more than a small amount .
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
Ed had the bar very loose so you could pick it up and even pick holding it and it not engage the plate to move. This feels terrible to me but that's how he liked it , I presume he just got used to working with old fender trems and stuck with it.
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
Here are some good pictures of the old APM Floyd and look at the price and note it has sold.
https://reverb.com/item/420969-prot...oyd-rose-unit-holy-grail-evh-van-halen-kramer
In truth the only thing better about this unit was the T shaped string lock blocks that couldn't fall out unless you removed the bridge saddle.
They only made about 200 of these and then production was finalised with Schaller which in truth is a far better built unit.
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
Back to the problem of the bridge scraping the wood if you set it flat.
If you look at Ed's Musicman prototype it was designed for the OFR not the Gotoh and it has a small channel routed under the front edge of the Floyd to allow it to sit flat at the back and not fowl the wood in use.
This became unnecessary as the Floyd was swapped for a Gotoh on Ed's main guitar (still mounted on the OFR wood screw studs) The Gotoh got around this by believing the entire front edge of the underside of the bridge plate much like a vintage strat trem allowing full range of motion with the bridge plate flat on the top with the spring plate removed.
 
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