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My Jolana

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This is my"Jolana - Tornado" after reconstruction
(serial No.: E4628)

please find below pictures of original condition at purchase


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Why do I have it?

Let me start by admitting: I'm not a guitar-player! Well, I did torture an old western guitar when I was a teen (light-years ago). You might check it out at the "That's me" page. But I never really passed the beginners level. So why do I have this thing?
I guess it's a mild case of midlifecrisis ;o) Some suddenly buy a Harley, so I got my guitar. I found it at a second hand. It was in terrible condition then. The guy asked for 100,-€. I got it down to 85,-€ and it was mine.

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Soon I remembered, that I had seen that type of guitar in music shops during the 70th. They were Czechian made by "Jolana". This one is a Jolana Tornado.


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History

The Russian webpage "cheesy guitars" tells the history: "In 1963 Jolana produced its' first semihollow guitar, called Tornado. The guitars were made at the new Neoton plant in Hradec Kralove. The guitar had an immediate success and was followed by numerous modifications. The first was Graziela. Tornado and Graziela had both nearly the same body with four-bolt-on necks with rosewood or ebony fingerboards. Tornado had three single coils and Graziela had one or two. Tornado usualy had a bigsby-like tremolo system. It has a string damping device between the bridge and bridge pickup. All Jolanas with the same bridge had the damper, which was a short living trend in the 60's - influenced by surf and country picking techniques. Even the early Fender Jaguars had it. It consists of a curved steel plate with a piece of resin glued to it. When you raise the plate it touches the strings and partly mutes them."


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Types

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1
2
3
4
5

Nearly all Tornados seem to have come in red color like claret but it looks like there were black ones too. No 2 is my own with two replaced PUs, showing the situation when I got it.

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The PUs have a chrome-plated cover. The inlay is either black plastic or it is some type of glitter - mother of perl imitation, that really looks great.
The damping devise is sometimes missing. It's possible it was never there, or it got removed because it's useless.
All Tornados seem to have received the same characteristic flat vibrato-lever.

At this point, I'd like to say something about the terms tremolo and vibrato. Tremolo describes the change of tone in volume, vibrato is changing it in frequency. By operating the guitars lever, we are changing the frequenzy of a note, not it's volume. So technicaly speaking, guitars have a vibrato, no tremolo. No matter what Leo Fender might say about it ;o)
I read somewhere that "electric guitars sometimes have a tremolo-lever that is producing a vibrato sound". Now that is what I call a technical miracle.


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Function

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This is a close-up of my Tornado right after purchase, before reconstruction

What makes the guitar looking so cool are the many switches and knobs. It's a little confusing at first. Older Tornados have very often faulty switches. If that's the case, as it was with mine, it's very difficult to figure out, how the whole thing should actually work. My guitar was a total wreck. Nothing worked. I finally got advice from other Tornado owners and when I opened the guitar and looked at the wiring, I figured out how the elements should work together:

There are more details regarding function included in the schematics description.


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Electrical schematic diagram

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As hard as I tried, I couldn't find a circuit diagram for a Tornado. So after removing strings and taking out the pickguard, I had to draw the schematic after the wiring myself. So here it is. It's a little more complicated than others but still easy to understand.

S1 is the main element. Switched up, it connects output to middle PU. P1 together with C1 serves as simple sound control. P2 adjusts volume. All other elements are inactive.

If S1 is switched down, it deactivates the middle PU with P1 & P2, but activates bridge- and neck PU. Now is the big time for the 4x rocker-switch S2-S5. S2 and S3 are switching neck- and bridge PU on/off. S4 activates a low-pass filter for both. S5 activates a high-pass filter. As for switching PUs, there are five possibilities:

  1. No PU active (S1 down, S2 down, S3 down)
  2. Middle-PU active (S1 up, S2-3 have no effect)
  3. Neck-PU active (S1 down, S2 up, S3 down)
  4. Bridge-PU active (S1 down, S2 down, S3 up)
  5. Neck- & Bridge-PU active (S1 unten, S2 oben, S3 oben)

Each PU can be played allone. Neck and bridge can be played together. But it's impossible to play all three together.


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Wiringplan

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When removing the pickguard and looking at it upside down, it looks a bit like the above drawing. Comparing reality with the drawing, it's easy to see the system behind it.
As for all electric guitars, grounding is very important. You can easily test it with a continuity tester. Just connect one probe to the ground at signal-out. Now connect the other probe to all metallic pieces of your guitar. Continuity should be indicated for all, including strings. Only the two belt-knobs are not connected. Take care of the ground wire that runs from signal out through the guitar body to a thin hole near one of the screw holes for holding those big metal hooks that fix the vibrato in position. Here the cable comes out the hole and its blank, 2 cm long wires go right into the screw hole. Now when the hook-screw goes into that hole, it connects ground of the whole electric setup to the strings of your guitar. If strings are not grounded any more, check this connection. The wire is hanging loose in the body between signal-out connector and belt knob! Usually problems with grounding result in unwanted sounds ;o)

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This picture shows the bottom belt-knob. It can usually be taken out by turning like a screw and then turns out, to be a little screwdriver itself. Its purpose is to help with the string settings at the bridge. Well that is what I've read anyway. As for my Tornado, I can't get the knob out. So I guess, there is no screwdriver in there, just a simple screw. The two holes right and left are for fixing the vibrato-hooks. The hole above the right is where the ground cable comes out of the body. Its blank wires go into the hole below, before the hook is fixed.


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Reconstruction

Unfortunately my guitar was, when I got it, in a very bad condition. It looked like, it had been used by a real player for a long time without getting too much care. In detail I found following faults:

Well, I'm sure the best would be reconstruction by a specialist. In my case it's no option. It would be just too expensive for the use of it. I do not need a collectors piece that is 100% original. But I want a guitar that works and looks as close to the original as I can afford.
Now what comes here are my trials to revive my guitar wreck.


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Rocker-switches

The condition of all rocker-switches was real bad. Not only did they not have sufficient electrical function any longer, some did also not snap into end-positions. I learned from other sources that this is very common with Jolana guitars who carry that type of rocker-switch. The reason for that typical malfunction is clear if one has a look at the inside of a switch. It seems the manufacturer had competence on building guitars but not on what makes a good and reliable switch.
There are two kind of switches. One single On/On switch (S1) and four kombined On/Off switches (S2-5).

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The picture shows the inside of the On/On switch S1. It is the most complicated, as it uses three contact springs and a dual snap-spring. The principle is the same for all five rocker switches. If you understand the system here, you'll anderstand all. Just picture the drawing symbol of an On/On switch. It's a middle contact that is alternatively pushed against a left or righ contact. Now here it's the other way. The middle contact is passive, while the right or left are being pushed against it.
Let's start at the top of the picture. As this is an On/On switch, there are three solder-contacts. The left one carries the passive L-shaped contact-spring that acts as electrical "middle" contact. It just sits and waits for things to happen. Middle and right contact carry the two other contact-springs. They run from the solder-contact to a place a few mm under the down-part of the L-spring. Normally there would be no connection. But both contact springs (middle & right) have a kink downwards. Both kinks are off-center, one more to the bottom of picture , one more to the top.
There is a plastic piece that is fixed to the rocker. It moves up and downwards, when the rocker is moving. As it tries to pass the kinks in both springs, it pushes them upwards against the L-shaped contact. Contact is made!
The snap-spring holds the Rocker in it's respective end position. It is actually a double spring. It runs from the bottom plate (left hole between the screws), across the rectangular hole, trough the plastic contact plate, back through the same plate, again across the rectangular hole and through the right hole between both screws. Both parts of spring have a kink downwards, in the middle of the rectangular hole. That kink makes the plastic plate of the rocker snap to one or the other side and stay there.
If your switch doesn't snap any more, you got problems with that spring.

Switches S2-5 use the same principle but have two contact springs only. Two switches share one double snap-spring. Each uses one leg. So if that spring breaks, two switches loose the snap.

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Those are the three contact springs of S1. You see the different position of the kink. The hooks to the left are needed to solder the springs in place. The four On/Off switches S2-S5 do not have the third spring, just the two on top.

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These are detail pictures of the inside of S2-S5.

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I have tried to show the switch process in action. For better understanding I have coloured the springs. Blue is the snap-spring without any electrical function. Red is the L-shaped contact spring that just waits for the green contact spring to come.
You see (hopefully) how the plastic piece pushes green upwards till it touches the L-spring. That's the whole priciple.

You see here the reasons for the many switch-related problems with Jolana guitars. A lot of dirt collected over years. Springs broken or disarranged. Broken snap springs leed to uncontrolable springs. Missing spring tension leads to too litle contact presure. Dirt in connection with too little contact pressure leads to unwanted noise at the output.

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snap-springs are 0.3mm thick
 
contact-springs are 0.4mm thick

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Snap-springs are double springs. Here we have a broken one. S1 is using both parts, so if one breaks, there is still some little snap remaining. S2 till S5 are using one part of the spring. If it breaks, one switch is loosing all, the other most of the snap.

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This is the switch S2-S5 with all contact springs removed. You can see, how two rockers share one double snap-spring.

That much for theory how it should work (if it would). Question is, how to make it work again and maybe even avoid future failure?

Solution for snap-springs:
I used the same old principle as before, I didn't find any better.

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My switch was so bad, I had to start from scatch. So all springs were removed and the body cleaned.

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measuring unit mm!

This is about the dimension of a double snap-spring. The wire diameter should actually be 0.3mm. If there is no spring wire to be found, you can use guitar strings for making springs! From the diameter I thought a H-string would be best, but I found it too hard. So I went for an e-string.
Note: The drawing shows the kinks sidewards. That is wrong! It was only done because it's easier to draw. They must go downwards from the spring as is shown at the picture below.

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This shows the bending. Don't use tools with too sharp edges. If the wire gets cut ,even just a little, it WILL break later!

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In total the spring shall bend a little downwards. It provides permanent preasure on the plastic piece.

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The spring goes into the body from the left. Put a little piece of cardboard between the left side of spring and body. After you bend the right ends and cut them, you remove the cardboard and have a little slack in the length. This is very important. If this slack is missing, the spring will break soon again. I believe the reason for many springs to break is the lack of slack for the spring. If the spring is too tight and is being pushed upwards, it can gain the necessary extra length only from bending the little kink. This MUST make it break sooner or later.

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Both double-springs are mounted. All four rockers "snap" again ;o)


Solution for contact-springs:
Well, the solution is: there won't be springs any more! Instead I'm using reed-contacts.

Reed-contacts are melted air-tight into a little glas tube. The contact is closed/opened by magnet that moves close or away. This is an absolutely clean and safe way to operate electrical contacts. The magnet does not need to touch the tube.

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The best position of magnet is sometimes a bit off center. It's best to do some trials.

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This is a simple on/off. The tube is about 2.0mm x 20.0mm.
I bought contacts and magnets at "Conrad electronic".

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This is an on/on contact.

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I used pieces of plastic plugs for holders of the magnets.

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The plags have a gap wich is useful to fix them onto the plastic plates. The magnets are pressed into the plag-pieces. I used 2-component glue to fix the magnets in the tubes and the tubes onto the plastic plates.

Attention! Connection wires of reed contacts are made off steel, so they are VERY stiff. If you just bend them too close to the glas, they WILL destroy it. Use tiny pliers between the glas and bending point to avoid destruction. Do not shorten the wires to much. It possibly effects the magnetic switching.

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Bend the wires to about the right shape. The solder-points are hollow. Put both wires through the holes and hold the tube in about the right position to its magnet. Solder the first wire. Now you adjust the position. Connect a simple continuity tester to see the function. Make sure the magnet does never touch the tube but switches correctly. Then solder the second wire. Cut the surplus wire at the end.

Here are three pictures of the rebuild on/on switch.

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The switches are ready for assembling. As for electrical function, they should last forever (hopefully).


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Pickups

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When I got my Tornado it carried only one original PU in black. The other were removed for reasons, I don't know. I wanted to get original PUs again but found it nearly impossible to find them. I got one that was complete and some pieces of an other. Unfortunately for both the coil was faulty. So at first I thought of rewinding the coils myself.

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Here are some pictures of how the original PUs are constructed. It's fairly simple.

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I measured the wire diameter to be 0.05mm. That type of thin wire is nor easy to handle without propper winding equipment.

I asked a professional for the price for rewinding and it was somewhere between 50.- and 80.- EUR per piece. I decided to try to fit the inside of low-cost PUs into the available covers as temporary solution until I get the real ones.

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I polished the covers and re-soldered the broken ground wire. After that, I glued the plastic-glitter cover from the inside.

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PU902, ALNICO, Single, Epoxy

After some search I found the above Type of PU offered on the Internet.

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I removed as much material of the bobin as possible.

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The coil is glued into place with silicon-glue.

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Unfortunately the magnet sticks out of the body. This solution is therefore no good for replacing a faulty neck PU.

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For bridge and middle position it is suitable, if some material is cut off from the bars that hold the PUs.

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The body is ready for the modified PUs.

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This is how it looks for now. The only original PU moved from bridge to neck (due to space problems at neck position). All in all it looks much better than before but still I'm looking for three original glitter PU's!


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Knobs

There are four knobs at a Tornado. Two work as thumb wheels the other two as turning knobs.

Thumb wheels :

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The two thumb wheels are sitting above the strings. They control volume and sound of the middle PU.

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The thumb wheels are made from aluminium and are knurled. Over time the knurling collects dirt and it even corrodes. I just used a week rotary steel brush to clean and polish. The result looks quite good.

The turning knobs:
The two knobs below strings control volume of bridge and neck PU. I don't know what happened to mine (lost?), but when I got the guitar, It carried these "nice" looking plastic replacements.

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I wanted to get the originals but didn't even know, what they were looking like. So I started to ask for info over the web.

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A guitar friend from Czechia has finally send me the above pictures. Many thanks David!

Original Knobs were impossible to find. So I was looking for replacements that come as close as possible to the look and dimension of the original.

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This is what I finally found. It fits quite good. I bought the knobs at music-toolbox for a price of 4.50 EUR plus shipping. The hight is 3.5mm lower than the original. It needs a little cutting of the axis.

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This is, how they look mounted at the guitar. I'm quite happy with it.


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Labels & markings

I know of three labels for tornados. The most common is the "Tornado" at the head plate. Very often it is damaged or completely gone.

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Left is the original from my guitar. The right one was made by use of Photoshop. I used it to make a replacement. There are different ways to self-print water-decals. Depending on the system one needs a normal or a mirrored image.

Image normal   Image mirrored

Clicking the respective link opens a seperate window with the image needed. When printing, make sure the width is set to 6.2cm. If you follow the instruction at your decal paper, you should get a suitable replacement for the damaged label.

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Some Tornados (not mine) carry a "Jolana" label at their body as shown at the picture above.

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There was a special gig bag made for Tornados. It consists of two covers, one for the body and one for the neck. The body part carries the Jolana label as shown above.

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All Tornados (to my knowledge) were numbered. Unfortunately I didn't find the numbering system as yet. However mine has the number "E4628".


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Varnish

Below pictures show how bad the condition of varnish was.

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The best solution would be, to get it redone by a professional. That's not an option for me. So I decided to repair it as good as possible.

I got help at a carpainting shop. They are able to get nearly each color right. I took the guitar to the shop. The guy used his huge catalog. It has hundreds of pages with colored squares. Each square got a hole in the middle. He just put the closest page onto the body and sees through the hole which square is the best fit. In my case it was a color code 405E3. He mixed a small can of 100ml and the whole thing cost about 12.- EUR.

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Here is a test before and after. It should still be grinded with very fine water sandpaper. But the color looks OK already.

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