Back to the Future Gibson 345 Replica Guitar

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MitasTouch

Sr Member
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This thread is to have all necessary information to make a decent Back to the Future Gibson 345 replica. For decades it has been that the only way to have this guitar is to have the real thing for thousands of dollars. This information will get you a supurbly adequate replica for under $500.
back-future.jpg


First things first is the guitar. Right now a vendor on Aliexpress sells a decent guitar for $308 shipped to the US.
http://m.aliexpress.com/item/2004586413.html?tracelog=storedetail2mobilesitedetail
Hot-sell-New-ES-335-hollow-red-color-Electric-Guitar-with-bigsby-bridge-Free-shipping.jpg_250x250.jpg

The white varitone switch you see is in an inaccurate spot, but you can custom request for it to be moved in the right place like I did. You cand also request that the silver pickups be changed to gold. The vendor was very helpful with the modifications.

Now the things you will have to change yourself are, change the tone and volume knobs to black and gold top hat knobs. These can be purchased on ebay or probably any guitar store. Next would be the black three position switch. To be screen accurate this would need to be changed to an amber color. Also on ebay or a guitar store.
article-1326832-0BE7CAE9000005DC-477_468x701.jpg

Ok so the next piece is going to be difficult to find. The gold varitone switch plate. This stock guitar comes with a white one. I was lucky to find a reproduction plate for a decent price of $36.
10495329_10203875888205662_8628057763575041758_o.jpg

The Bigsby on this guitar is a cheap Chinese one. The movie Bigsby was all gold. You can probably request that the Bigsby not be included to install a real one, but that would jack the overall price for this project up about $200 more. So for me I am just going to paint over the black to get at least a little more accuracy.

As for the bolts underneath the bridge above the Bigsby, these are tunomatic bolts. Again, ebay or guitar store.

Next is that the silver guitar cable jack should be gold. I recommend that you get this professionally done if you don't know what you're doing.

The last thing is the pickguard and bracket. Also available on ebay. The god brack is called 2004 Gibson USA Custom Shop Pickguard Bracket for es 335 330 345 355 347 225 EB on ebay. Andone seller in particular is willing to custom make an accurate pickguard for me for $64. I just have to give him the measurements of the stock guard and he can create it. This seller has a pickguard under the name Gibson ES-335 LONG 1959 Pickguard 5-Ply Black 60 Deg Vintage Guitar Project NEW. It's the first result. The stock pickguard is just a generic black one with a white border. The screen used one was a 5 ply pickguard with a 60 degree bevel. The gold screws on the guard should also be changed to black. On the pickups they should be grey on the two corners and silver in the middle. For the pickguard, if anyone decides to do this project I could inform him that more people will want the custom one I will order.

For the 12th fret inlay since it needs to be one solid slanted rectangle, I just ordered a cheap set of decals for $11.50 ond ebay. Block (White Pearl) Fretboard Markers Inlay Sticker Decal Guitar. I will have to just use one of the decals and cut the corners off myself.

I have not yet received my guitar to replace all the necessary components, but I have them on order and I have pictures of what my guitar looks like before it shipped.
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With everything combined for this project you're looking at around $450. If you have any questions just ask. I'm happy to help.
 
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MitasTouch

Sr Member
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They're Stoptail studs, actually. From where the tailpiece was removed to fit the Bigsby. They screw into a set of bushings pressed into the body.

Gibsons back in the day used both so my take on it is that we can't determine which one was used. The bolts are pretty much identicle. Unless you have a source that supports your idea.
 

Grey

Sr Member
Tune-O-Matic is the name of the bridge, not the tailpiece. I'm not sure what you mean when you say they "used both". The ES 345 was available without a factory Bigsby and had a standard Gibson stoptail, leaving the studs exposed when fitted for for the tremolo.

You can cleary see the slotted heads in the photos you posted. This is an example of an original gold stoptail along with an original ES 345.

original.jpg bbhoxoajnnnwnri8cp3d.jpg
 

Moviefreak

Master Member
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Tune-O-Matic is the name of the bridge, not the tailpiece. I'm not sure what you mean when you say they "used both". The ES 345 was available without a factory Bigsby and had a standard Gibson stoptail, leaving the studs exposed when fitted for for the tremolo.

You can cleary see the slotted heads in the photos you posted. This is an example of an original gold stoptail along with an original ES 345.

View attachment 435606 View attachment 435607
we can assume it was a standard Gibson tailpiece, but tune-O-matic made tailpieces as well.
 
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LTsmash1200

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Tune-O-Matic is the name of the bridge, not the tailpiece. I'm not sure what you mean when you say they "used both". The ES 345 was available without a factory Bigsby and had a standard Gibson stoptail, leaving the studs exposed when fitted for for the tremolo.

You can cleary see the slotted heads in the photos you posted. This is an example of an original gold stoptail along with an original ES 345.

View attachment 435606 View attachment 435607



^^This is correct. Those are definitely stop tail studs. Tune-O-Matic isn't a brand, it's a type of bridge (originally) manufactured by Gibson. Since the Bigsby was aftermarket, they removed the tailpiece but left the studs.

Allparts and Stewmac are good places for most of the parts too.

Also, you may want to take a little brown shoe polish to the tuning keys to age them a bit. Those old Klusons are really brown on the one Marty is playing.
 

MitasTouch

Sr Member
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Also, you may want to take a little brown shoe polish to the tuning keys to age them a bit. Those old Klusons are really brown on the one Marty is playing.
I'm not going to age my guitar. I'm going to keep it as if it were new.

On another note. Has anyone else started this project?
 
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MitasTouch

Sr Member
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I originally thought that the Bigsby was all gold and that the middle just looked black because of the lighting causing a shadow, but stopping the scene in places clearly show that it was black. This is what it looks like in a normal setting.
$_3.JPG
 

EmmaInCandyland

Master Member
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I have a great picture that shows all of the features:
gibson-es345-td-1960-cherry-dt-cons-full-front-1.jpg

attachment.php


The only things to change would be the bigsby, the stoptail bolts and the plate near the bone that has to be completely black.
 

MitasTouch

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MitasTouch

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So far I have recieved the pickguard bracket, varitone switch plate, and the tone and volume knobs. When I get the guitar and measure the stock pickguard I will be able to give those measurements to a guy who will make me a custom pickguard. I will get the amber switch tip from a guitar store and I ordered some fret inlay decals to make the 12th fret a single slanted rectangle. I couldn't buy just one fret so I had to buy a whole set lol oh well.
 

MitasTouch

Sr Member
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I am an idiot and misplaced my varitone switch plate and pickguard bracket. The bracket is easy to replace, but the plate is a different story. I am currently looking at alternatives. Anyway I now have the fret inlay. Its a shame that I will only use one decal to make the 12th fret solid. lol I am currently searching for some bolts to install under the bridge.
 

MitasTouch

Sr Member
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I spoke to the man who sold me the plate last time and thankfully he agreed to make me another one. He makes them in sets of 12 so anyone wanting to buy one can get one when he tells me they're ready.
 
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MitasTouch

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I ordered a replacement for the bracket. I have my eye on some stoptail bolts, but I' not sure if the movie ones were faded gold or plain silver.
 

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MitasTouch

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I realized this a while ago, but I need to paint the inside edges of the cutout shapes red as they are cream white on my guitar. A red paint marker or maybe just a sharpie would do.
 

MitasTouch

Sr Member
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UPDATE: I ended up finding the pickguard bracket and varitone plate. They were in a spot I swear I checked 1000 times. I already ordered a new bracket so I spent another $24. Oh well.
I should get my guitar soon. It just made it to New York and I'm in North Carolina. I have the amber switch tip and stoptail studs ordered. Once I have the guitar I will give the necessary measurements to the guy who will make a custom pickguard for me and will order that. I will post pictures of all the compenents installed before the new pickguard. I will probably make a video once it's all finished. Stay tuned.
 
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Spyhunter2k

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The Chinese replicas also come with white binding around the guitar body and neck, as opposed to the more-accurate cream binding. They have the cream binding and use it on some of their replicas, you just have to ask them to use it beforehand.
 

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