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China Doll #1 - Drak

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Just bought two Chinese-made 335's last week, with the full intentions of doing a complete gut and rebuild on both.

I went into this full-well knowing that I was really just buying a 'Bones' guitar only.

China Doll #1, Price paid -

$150.00 to my door.

The Brand Name is Yunzhi

So for anyone interested, lets have a look at the pro's and con's of the Chinese Imports,

and what's typically needed to turn them into something nice.

This thread will deal specifically with China Doll #1 only.

The other will be addressed in another thread, as #2 is an upgraded version and it's issues are not identical.

Initial Con's:

1) Tuners - Total crap (expected)

2) Truss Rod - Not working (at the moment, we'll see how this develops))

3) 3-way toggle broke the day after delivery

4) The angle of the neck (glued in) is such that the TOM bridge needs to be set almost all the way down.

It'll work, but with glued-in necks that don't have a huge tongue, archtops in particular,

they tend to walk 'up' over the years, making you set the bridge lower as time goes on,

and there's not much room for future movement here.

5) Input jack was totally loose, but was expected, no big deal

6) Nut is plastic, was not adhered well, and cut badly, needs replacing

7) Bridge and tailpiece gold plating is really cheap plating

8) Buffing compound (lots) left in pkp cavities and neck ream holes

9) The centerblock (335) is (from what I can see) total crap wood. Not 100% on this just yet.

10) Both the bridge studs and tailpiece studs are leaning forward already (soft centerblock wood)

11) The inside of the body needed a good blowout with compressed air

Initial Pros:

1) FANTASTIC picture-perfect finish job, very well executed, and my favorite color.

2) Body front and back, neck, and headstock all bound, and a very nice job of it.

3) Headstock has real Abalone Pearl inlay, position markers real MOP inlay.

4) Fretboard is real Rosewood, not junk like the Epi Dots.

5) Neck is straight and sound and plays well

6) Neck wood is solid 3-piece Maple, with the two outer portions highly flamed and matched with each other,

someone took some time to do this, quality shows here.

7) The overall appearance of the guitar is very jazzy and classy, it doesn't look 'cheap' at all.

8) Scale - 24 1/2"

9) Nut - 1 11/16"

10) Fretboard radius - 12"

11) Frets are medium jumbos.

12) The neck profile is a hefty, but not overly-chunky U shape, it's a good choice for neck stability over the long run, especially coupled with a 3-piece Maple construction.

12) Cats-Eye soundholes. Cool!

13) The pots, actually, are 500K Volume and 250K tone, and work rather well,

I was pleasantly surprised by this, and may very well use them again

after I check their values on an ohmmeter to make sure they are up to tolerances.

Overall, as a Basic Bones-Up Build-Up, I think this was a Super Fantastic Deal

I Love it.

OK, Initial Pics First:





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Sorry, I was re-configuring the Photobucket file, all fixed now. :D

A few more before we proceed to rip her guts out. :D





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Here is a chance to see the two together, I was playing around with hardware choices, trying to decide which was best, true high quality gold hardware appointments, or black (I'm always threatening myself to do a black hardware job, haven't yet pulled the trigger)

I have a new Gotoh gold TOM bridge, and a new TP6 fine tuner tailpiece on it here. Maybe not the best pic.

This is what I decided to go with, the black will have to wait yet again...



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First off, since the centerblock wood seems a bit weak and the studs were all leaning forward a bit, I used thin bodied CYA glue to 'solidify' all 4 stud holes. I added the glue, and rolled the guitar around so the glue would seep into the wood pores all the way around the stud holes and 'tighten her up'.

Later on (not shown in pics), I cut some Maple veneer and used it as 'wedges' to keep the studs tight and firm and take up the slack from the now-slightly oversized stud holes.



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Next, on to cleaning up the fretboard.

I use Naptha and an old toothbrush to scrubify the whole board clean.

Then I use fretboard conditioner to bring her back to life and all sparkly-like.

This product is similar to Tru-Oil in a way in that is it a real finish type of product, not a lemon oil or mineral spirits product which just looks good for a few days, then dries up and dissappears. This is a REAL finish/protectant. Me likey.





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Now, since all the hardware is out of the way, it's an excellent opportunity to buff out the finish one last time before it gets put back together.





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Yes, I agree, for $150.00, it was a no-brainer.

I'm lovin' this thing, thanks!

A few headstock clean-up & buff-out pics...





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In this day when relicing seems all the rage, we see the opposite end of the spectrum. This makes sooo much more sense to me. It looks like the finish was pretty well done to begin with, but damn did you ever bring it to life. Well done. I'm betting you're having a great time with this project. Looking forward to seeing the final result.


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Fun project! That finish looked great initially, but now it looks really super.

It sounds like the fretwork is OK? My experience with Chinese imports has been otherwise. If this turns out well I just might have to get one myself! What eBay seller did you buy from?

Also, what are you thinking for pickups, or are you planning on keeping the stock ones?

Anyway, looking forward to seeing your progress with this thing.

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What type of pad are you using for polishing?

Looks like he used a sock :D

I can still see some fine scratches on the headstock, and the right lighting does do wonders for shots like this. But there's no denying that someone put some time into that finish! That carve looks very comfy!

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Good eye, Pilgrim. :D

I didn't need to get the buffer out, I did just use a sock and the Perfect-It, which is my final buff-out product/swirl remover.

I actually did do a wipe-down with water first.

Then a Naptha wipe-down.

Then the Perfect-It buff-out.

Both were sold as 'Demo' units, meaning floor room use only, which it quite looks like, I'd believe that.

They both came with Flat-wounds, which kept the frets like new.

Yes, there are a few issues with the frets, but nothing a quick leveling and polish won't fix.

Let me explain briefly the difference between the two:

This one is a 'standard' issue model.

Pressed plywood top and bottom, no lining, just like thousands of old Gibsons from the '50's that people pay $2000.00 for now.

The other one is a carved top (Spruce) and bottom (Flamed maple).

Kerfed lining, Ebony fretboard, and much fancier inlays all over the place,

...we'll get to that one later.

Yes, the pickups are being replaced, not 100% with what just yet, but one of the parameters for these are a very quick turnaround to fully functional again, they're not going to sit around in pieces very long.

The guy I bought them from was here in the US, he seemed like a music instructor who worked for a shop that had some stock and was closing down...maybe a story, I don't know, he didn't have any more.

The carved top model, there is another actual dealer on eBay asking $1600.00 for the identical model.

I got mine for $500.00, and it is worth it, but not worth $1600.00.

So it was still a good deal, my guy was originally asking $1000.00 for his (Demo),

I just made him an offer of $500.00 and he accepted it,

I think he just wanted them sold and out of his hair.

So there ya have it, I'm installing new Schaller tuners in it right now, and the story progresses. :D

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Looks great.

Any news on the truss rod? It would be a shame to have to pull it all apart to fix it.

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I'm not too worried about the rod just yet, it played well with low action and it had just about the amount of relief I already prefer, so even if there's a problem...there's no problem...yet. :D

So although it is an issue, it's not a hot button issue.

I tried both a 5mm metric and a 5/32" allen key, I'm wondering if I need a 5.5mm allen key.

That's why I'm not forcing the issue yet, I tried both gently and they both seemed to fit yet slip, but if it's a matter of having the wrong key, I don't want to make a situation where there may be no problem except I don't have the right key into a real bona-fide problem by me creating a problem that was never really there...

I read somewhere, because I have a few old '60's Japanese guitars, that they sometimes do take an odd key, and you can create a problem where there never was one by trying to force the wrong key...

So I'm quite relaxed about it at the moment, there's no emergency here and I don't want to create one until I find a 5.5mm to try out, or consult with my luthier and see what he says about it.

He's a professional, I'm a backyard BBQ guy. :D

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