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Epiphone IBG Es 335 mod to Es 345 Frost blue - Questions about Binding, Inlay, Fretwork, Headstock

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So I may be insane, but my dream guitar is a Gibson Es-345 in frost blue (as seen here: https://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/187868/fs-ft-2016-gibson-es-345-64-historic-in-frost-blue-withdrawn) which I will never be able to justify purchasing! However I do have an IBG 335 I bought last year and the motivation and drive to try to push it as far as I can to look/feel like the beautiful example I linked.

I have built a couple of solid body guitars before, but nothing that required the kind of work involved in doing some of the tasks required to get the result I’m after on this, so I’d love to get peoples thoughts/feedback before I start the process.


The ES 345 has 3 ply cream binding on the front - something I think is integral to the look of the final guitar. My main question is here, would it be best to treat the internal cream and black strips as 2 ply purfling and cut it to a shallower depth? Or should there be a full 6mm deep channel for all 3 layers? I haven’t done any binding before so any recommendations on how to approach the task would be appreciated. My thought after doing some research would be to use a gramil to cut a shallow purfling channel then use the stew Mac dremel router guide to remove the waste? The whole binding router jig seemed a little bit expensive and scary to attempt on a body with the neck attached.

Neck - Frets and binding

So I really want stainless steel frets, so I planned on removing the frets anyway - if so, would it make sense to remove the binding and put the binding on after adding the frets like the Gibson? I also wonder if I replace the binding there may be a colour discrepancy between the neck/body so perhaps I will need to replace it anyway.

Fret inlay

So I really want the parallelograms from the 345 - however since it currently has dots, I’m worried it would be hard to fill the holes in a convincing way. I see you can buy rosewood inlay dots - but the epiphone is Indian laurel, would the difference be noticeable? I intend to finish the fretboard with some montys vintage relic wax. Perhaps this would be more convincing? If not I will have to opt for block inlays - which aren’t what I was hoping for.


I intend to shape the headstock to resemble the Gibson counterpart - however it appears that the “Epiphone” inlay would be very close the the very top of the bookend after comparing it to a Gibson template. I’d really like to keep the original inlays on the headstock - I can’t decide if it’d be better to cut out a portion of the headstock and move the inlay down and then add an extension to the top, or to extend the top and modify the traditional Gibson shape to be longer. Any suggestions would be appreciated, I don’t want to pretend it’s a Gibson - I like how unique an epiphone like this would be - I just much prefer the gibson headstock shape/design.

Back plate?

I’m not a fan of fishing things through bodies - So I was considering doing something like BB kings Lucille and having a control plate on the back. Can you buy these anywhere? 

Colour - Frost blue alternative?

This is more of an opinion than anything, do you think Sonic Blue or Daphne Blue would be a better colour match? Or if there’s any other colours people think would be suitable, I’d love to know!

I may be insane, but I think it’d be a really fun project, plus I think I’d love this guitar like no other. Let me know if you’ve ever considered something like this and how the results turned out, I’d like to hear any cautionary tales, or inspiring builds :)

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Hi and welcome to the addiction!

I'm by no means an expert in any of the tasks involved but here's some thoughts:

  • Binding - StewMac even has a jig for gluing several strips to one, so a full 6 mm channel is a valid option. At least that would keep all the layers in one piece without gaps. Another option is to make a shallower channel for the inner strips and a full height one for the outermost one. There'll also be some delicate chiseling involved in the neck joint areas.
  • Neck - looking at the linked photo it shows that the binding is below the frets instead of being shaped to match the fret ends. Thus you don't need to remove the binding.
  • Fret inlay - filling the dots is easy, finding a matching wood is also relatively easy. But as both the round hole and a round wooden dot are partially end grain, the glue will get sucked into the pores which often shows as a dark ring which may show even better after applying some oil. Here's an example, a hole plugged with a piece of the very same wood and grain matched:
  • image.png.f53158d8304fca2b2efa303ddc73a980.png


  • Headstock - moving the inlay down a bit sounds like an easy task but hiding the seams can be difficult. As the headstock will be painted on both sides I'd rather just add some material for the sharper corners of the bookend. Instead of wood I might even be tempted to use epoxy putty for such a small area, especially since it would be an end grain joint which aren't as solid as side grain ones.
  • Backplate - fishing things through f-holes isn't nice, then again how often do you have to do that? Anyhow, they're available: https://reverb.com/item/40819919-1980-s-gibson-b-b-king-lucille-backplate-black-new-old-stock
  • Colour - had to google for the names 😅. I'd recommend you go to a paint shop where they have sample sheets of the available shades of a certain type of paint. View the samples in various lights to find which one pleases you the most and let them mix it for you.
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Thanks for the great responses, I really appreciate the advice and suggestions. I have a lot to think about!

Yeah the 64 horn shape is much nicer, but I’ve made my peace with the fact the epiphone has the rounder horns :)

I considered laminating my own 3 ply binding - the tool from stew Mac looks like a no brainer, I just worried about how deep the Chanel will be if I did true 3 ply binding - perhaps it would be better to use a router instead?

I really value the explanation about filling the fretboard, I’m hoping that since it will be in between the inlays it won’t be too noticeable. I may choose to standard block inlays out of simplicity.

Headstock - I take your point about seams - again out of simplicity it may be easier to just add a little extra material at the top, I’ve never used epoxy putty but I’ll look into it

Backplate - Yeah on second thoughts the effort required to make the hole may not be needed since I really only plan to do the wiring once

Colour - I hadn’t even thought about getting something made up - I will definitely look into that, I was only thinking what standard fender colours were easily available!

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1 hour ago, Skiwan said:

if I did true 3 ply binding - perhaps it would be better to use a router instead?

Most likely yes but take into account that you'd need something special to keep the channel aligned with the sides. There's dedicated accessories both for handheld routers and Dremel type tools. The former can be a simple stand with a rail that allows the router go up and down, also the base plate needs to be small to fit between the edge and the bumps and humps of the body. Plus a means to keep the body level. The latter is a small handheld Binding Router Guide by Stewmac.

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