Whenever I buy a new guitar I give it a really good clean, inspection and setup even if it's clean and plays OK. So tonight I tackled the Goldtop.
First thing was that I noticed some of the controls were loose so I had the cover off, added a couple of washer that were missing and tightened them up. While I was there I noticed that Vintage had been too tight to shield the cavity covers despite it looking like they'd painted the control cavity with graphite shielding paint. So it was out with the trusty self-adhesive aluminium tape to sort this.
As it's got P90s it'll always be electrically noisy but that's no reason not to try and help the problem.
I noticed that the shaping of the top is a bit nasty in a couple of places near the neck. This has been covered up with gold paint then lots of lacquer but you can still see what looks like router marks close up. Also the lacquer along the neck binding by the body is very thick and in places coming away. Again this looks fine from 2-3 feet but it's there.
While cleaning the neck I noticed the trapezoid inlays have been plopped into holes much bigger than they are and then filled. Another bit of sloppy finishing that I just don't see on my Indies and has reminded me why I've previously been underwhelmed by Vintage guitars.
The previous owner has also fitted a Gibson style bell cover, which is a bit cheeky but looks OK. If I need access to the truss rod I'll have to remove the bit of plastic bodged in there to hold the bottom screw.
While playing it I've noticed that the pickups, particularly the bridge seemed quite loose and were prone to getting pushed into the body and sticking. I pulled them out and they were just supported by some light foam. Even though this is a rubbish way to mount things in my opinion, it seems common practice. The Vintage Zip was like this, as was my KC90V but at least they had very dense hard foam.
To solve this I put some pickup mount springs on the screws and tied them to the screws with bits of guitar string. This is just to stop them falling off when you go to mount the pickups. I've no idea if springs are the 'proper' way to support P90s but it's got to be better than the foam that was in there.
Anyway after a couple of hours of messing around with it I've restrung it, checked the intonation and had a play. I'm still a bit non-committal about the fancy pickups and it's definitely not made as nicely as my Indies but it's OK.
I may have to revisit the mounting for the neck pickup as the screw and springs are only just under tension with the height set how I'd like. Longer screws and springs are the obvious option but actually probably harder to do source than it is to fix a small piece of wood in the bottom of the cavity to raise it up.
So, Goldtop, tick. What next in the great extravaganza of cheap guitar collecting? I reckon it's time to go back and revisit my Explorer project.