A while ago I picked up a nice 1970s tobacco-burst Suzuki Les Paul copy from a pawnbroker – back in the days when I knew nothing about guitars, basically. The hardware is pretty worn out, the binding has yellowed – I’d say the guitar has seen a lot of use in sweaty, smoky clubs! I pulled her apart, intending to replace the hardware & make her more playable again. Unfortunately, she then languished in a disembowelled state for a year or two. I found the enormous sustainer thread on the Project Guitar forums, and knew what I wanted to do with her… but first, I had to salvage what I could from the original components.

Looks pretty normal. The pickups look normal, if a little worn. The guitar had always been noisy, and my guitarist had commented that the bridge was particularly bright sounding. Not really in keeping with the general theme of humbuckers, eh?

Measures pretty low.When I got my first digital multimeter, I dug up the Zuki’s components & measured the pickup impedances. 3.69K on the bridge, and similiar for the neck. Not what I was suspecting at all, so out with the $2 jeweller’s screwdrivers…

What the?… to find that there was a strange U-shape bladed single coil and a kind of dummy blade in the empty space. The screws are just for show – they’re only 5mm long, and non-magnetic. A single magnet is slotted into the gap in the open end of the U.

Maybe if I combine the two...The neck pickup was the same, so the next step was to combine the two to make something a little more beefy. All that needed to be done was to remove the magnet from the neck coil & turn it over to reverse the polarity of one of the coils.

We can rebuild it...The final step was to give the pickups some fresh hookup wire – in this case I used white & green, black & red. I wanted to give myself some options later on, otherwise I would have just wired the two in series & been done with it.

To test the finished ‘bucker, I wired it in direct to the output jack; she works no worries! As an aside, I’ve gotten pretty good at using a soldering iron on heat-shrink tape by now 🙂 Took all the hardware off again so I can do a shielding job – the next step is to figure out what I want in my tone network. With 4 pots, one 3-way and only 1 pickup there’s plenty of room for experimentation.

c-

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I see some cool projects attempted before and looking to see how you go with the DIY sustainer as featured on projectguitar.com forum.

While I have been working on this project for years and the thread has taken on a life of it’s own (over 200 pages) progress is largely made by doing and contributing and when it works, people show how it was done and the little variations and modifications required for each individual guitar.

I am sure you will find a way to make this project work for you and am here to help if you get a little stuck along the way. Keep up the good work…

pete


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