This is my 1974 Maestro Echoplex, given to me by my good friend Maynard. It was in pretty shabby condition when I took possession, it wasn't even working. However, I'm a fool for vintage gear so I went to work.
My EP-3 has a serial number in the nineteens, which places it in the middle of the run of the EP-3.
Like I said, it was in pretty bad shape. It had been sitting in a damp basement for 15 years, was covered in mold, and it had a lot of rust. Fortunately, none of the strategic parts were damaged. The tape cartridge jammed when I fired it up. The first thing I did was buy a new tape cartridge from Mike Battle, who has a webpage selling parts for the Plex. I then proceeded to clean the damn thing, inside and out. The heads and tape path were covered with tape crud, and there were cobwebs, rust and other kinds of grime inside. I used a whole pack of Q-tips getting it clean.
The cleanup finished, I proceeded with the rebuild. I sent the pinch roller off to Terry's Rubber Rollers & Wheels to be rebuilt, ordered a new drive belt, reloaded the old tape cartridge with new tape to keep as a spare, replaced the filter caps in the power supply, ordered new motor mounts, and bought a service manual off Ebay. Finally, I took it to an amp guru friend of mine, Jeff Andrews, who aligned the heads and set the bias for the new tape. While it was there I had him replace all the quarter inch jacks as they were quite worn.
As far as cleaning the and restoring the case, there were several pieces of Tolex that had come loose and the whole case was filthy dirty. To clean and restore I reglued all the loose tolex, then used a dish detergent solution. I scrubbed a portion of the tolex with a dish brush, then wiped clean with a damp then dry rag. Repeat until done. I found a product called Gel Gloss that puts the final touch on restoring the Tolex, it's a great product and worked beautifully.
The list of fixes:
New drive belt.
New pinch roller.
New 1/4 inch jacks.
New motor mounts.
New tape cartridge.
Replaced electrolytics in the power supply.
After all the upgrades, this EP-3 sounds like a million bucks!! I mean, it's as close to a new one as possible. As much as I hate these terms, it adds a warmth and smoothness to my guitar tone like no other. Echoplex's can be notorious for noise, but careful use of the Sustain and Volume knobs will keep it to a minimum. I use this Plex in my rig all the time and have never had a problem with it.
1974 EP-3 Echoplex
Out of the case, front view.
Exterior of the case, before cleanup.
Exterior of the case, after cleanup. Big difference, huh?
Out of the case, bottom view. The orange electrolytic caps have been replaced.