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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Inexpensive Guitars revisited

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Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Oct 19th, 2018 07:35 AM   Edit   Profile  

So I like to learn about set ups and changing stuff so I really messed up a good guitar one time and decided to start buying less expensive guitars to practice on before I tried it on something of higher cost. When they are my guitars it usually goes in stages and sometimes takes a couple years before I "finish" a guitar or project. O bought an SX Tele a few years ago and changed the pups and bought an upgraded Tele wiring set up from Guitarfetish. I had a set of bridge saddles I had bought for another guitar and never installed them. The saddles from Rondo were just pot metal, new ones are aluminum with roller string saddles. I liked the new pups for the most part but always had to roll off the highs just a bit. They are lil Killers from Guitarfetish. Well yesterday I had some time on my hands and decided to revist this guitar. I have never really liked the neck on this guitar and had bought another Tele neck that didn't fit so I kept the original. Well I found a graphite nut that fit for the most part, it was a litle too wide and I had to sand it down a little. I was totally shocked how the nut changed the tone. Well then I started on the neck. I adjusted the truss rod and set the intonation. But the nut needed the slots cut a little deeper. So after a little while fixing nut slot depths and doing the minor adjustments on the intonation I now have a guitar that I had a real hard time putting down. I am going to now replace the tone and volume pots. Even with the upgraded stuff from Guitarfetish they don't function well. Everything is at one end of the pot. Anybody else start on a guitar and then finish it a couple years later to find out they have a great instrument just setting around?

Leftee
Contributing Member
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VA

Oct 19th, 2018 07:49 AM   Edit   Profile  

Yes! I’ve done that. Maybe over a year’s time, though.

I learned a lot working on cheapies.

Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Oct 19th, 2018 08:23 AM   Edit   Profile  

The nut slot depth really makes a huge difference in intonation especially when playing the cowboy chords. I was surprised how much the graphite nut "fixed" the tone. It took the harshness out of the higher notes and just changed the overall tone to smoother, if that makes sense. It was a cheap plastic nut previously. I'm still tweaking the the nut, some of the strings are out just a touch. Low E and G and B strings are just out enough to make me give it an extra listen when playing the open chords.

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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They warned you

about me in Bible school
Oct 19th, 2018 10:22 AM   Edit   Profile  

I've done the same. Sometimes it's good to tweak a bit, then play it for a few weeks to see how the tweak settles into the guitar.

The danger with guitar tweakery is similar to the artist that cannot decide what the last brush stroke will be on a canvas: it's stupid easy to take it too far and mess up something that was really good. The old naval phrase "polishing the cannonball" when developing a firing solution applies in spades.

This is especially common with nut work. One extra stroke with the file can change a nut slot from perfection to string buzz on the 1st fret.

Cheap guitars are how I learned most of what I know about guitar building and repair. I'd see a beater or a broken guitar at a garage sale for $5 and buy it. Take it home, pull the frets, and install new ones. Reset necks. Repair broken braces and peeling binding. Fix the tuners. Make new nuts. Re-glue bridges and make new saddles. Rewind pickups. Fix the electronics. Remove and repair truss rods. Try different finish repair techniques. The list goes on.

Most of these "back from the dead" guitars I gave away to kids learning to play. A few went to adults.

And I'm *still* learning more about this stuff because no two repairs are ever identical. I've learned some really cool stuff from you folks here over the years.

Instrument repair used to be the province of a shadowy guild of technicians who jealously guarded their secrets. But since the advent of the Internet, plenty of good information (and some bad info too) is really easy to find. Anyone who can operate a screwdriver and work carefully and methodically can be a great tech.

Knowledge is a lot more important than having a collection of specialty tools. The more you do a specific repair technique, the better you get at it. Experience is everything, and that is why instrument repairs seem costly to most people. You are paying for not only parts and labor, but knowledge and experience as well.

Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Oct 19th, 2018 10:31 AM   Edit   Profile  

Well said Peegoo! I was thinking something similar because I have ruined a couple things, not just guitars by over tweaking. I stopped working on it and have just been playing it for a little while. I am really amazed at the transformation of the neck from last night to this morning. I've learned with these cheap guitars and even on some more expensive guitars when you adjust a truss rod you need to let i settle for a little while. Last night I thought I might have to back it off just a little but this morning the neck settled and it's as close to perfect as I think I can get it.

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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Satan gave me

a taco
Oct 19th, 2018 10:43 AM   Edit   Profile  

Good observation, Gawkdawg. You tweak the rod and then let it "simmer" overnight because in most cases, the neck will continue to move a bit.

Wood is a flexible material that is affected by many things--chiefly tension, compression, humidity, and temperature. Alter any of these and chances are good the wood's dimensions and/or shape will change ever so slightly.

Mick Reid
Contributing Member
*****

Australia

American-made in Oz!!
Oct 19th, 2018 08:48 PM   Edit   Profile  

Like the song Born Under A Bad Sign "...if it wasn't for bad, I wouldn't have no luck at all"

If it wasn't for cheap guitars, I wouldn't have no guitars at all...

I now have only one guitar that says "Fender" on it. A 2014 MIM Lone Star Strat.
Everything else in my herd is either something I've built or a cheap guitar that I have heavily modded or customised.

IMHO, they all play and sound great. Which I owe foremost to the guys in the forum sharing their knowledge and giving me the encouragement to do it. (one dude in particular ;^)

A good or great instrument is not wholly based on its price, however, one day I would like to acquire something really special (I don't yet know what that looks like) that would be considered an extravagance and didn't tempt me to "tweak" it.

Good on ya for your latest accomplishment. It's always a bonus when you finish and feel inspired to keep playing it.


Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Oct 22nd, 2018 08:55 AM   Edit   Profile  

I didn't play it all weekend and let it set to see if the changes in the neck had finished settling. Well as soon as I get the pots changed I think this guitar will graduate from the practice space to the rehearsal space. If it works good there, it might actually make it to a gig. We have a birthday party we are playing in a couple weeks and it is a little informal. So if I have to make a guitar change it won't be as big an impact. We generally move quickly from one song to the next and I have to hurry to get the settings on my Mustang amp adjusted. But this guitar is probably one of my best set ups right now and sounds really good through my SCXD. It's lite and balanced and while it doesn't have a classic Tele sound it can do everything I need it to do. It night even deserve a newer fancy strap

hushnel
Contributing Member
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North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
Oct 22nd, 2018 09:33 AM   Edit   Profile  

“Most of these "back from the dead" guitars I gave away to kids learning to play. A few went to adults. ”

I’ve been doing that for at least 35 years. And as recently as a month or so ago with one my neighbor was going to toss. When I first started doing this I was donating them to the Sheriff’s Boy Ranch. I have three guitars right now that are finished and waiting for their new owner.

My cheapest bass, the Squire Affinity Bronco, is the one I play the most at home, it sits next ot me in the living room and I noodle around on it a few hours every day. It may be the cheapest bass I ever purchased but I went a little goofy putting parts into it, the pickup alone is worth nearly twice what I paid for it, a Guild Bisonic pup. This bass along with the Guild Starfire I were the two I used the week up at Victor Wooten”s Basss and Nature Camp last May. I had the home made Green fretless short scale ‘51 P-bass with me too, but I mostly had it for autographs of the staff and students.

Students on the back 51 P-bass interpritation

(This message was last edited by hushnel at 11:37 AM, Oct 22nd, 2018)

daniellee

Canada

Nov 27th, 2018 12:27 AM   Edit   Profile  

Here is the list of inexpensive guitars you can buy Yamaha Pacifica 112V. ...
Gretsch G2622 Streamliner. ...
PRS SE Standard 24. ...
Epiphone ES-335 Dot. ...
Schecter Demon-6 2018. ...
Squier Vintage Modified '72 Telecaster Thinline. ...
Chapman ML2 Modern Standard. ...
Squier Bullet Mustang HH.

Doctor Who Clara Oswald Coat

mr.gibson

Hamilton, Canada

Music is your only friend....
Jan 4th, 2019 05:34 PM   Edit   Profile  

These days I get stuff done for $$$. I sort of gave up on soldering because it usually ends up looking like bad arc welding.

vomer
Contributing Member
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Two layers bar tape

And a triple chainset
Jan 5th, 2019 06:03 AM   Edit   Profile  

spam from daniellee

Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Jan 15th, 2019 10:19 AM   Edit   Profile  

UPDATE: Though it still needs a new tone pot and there are still a couple frets that needs the ends sanded, the neck is very stable and the action and intonation are as good as I can get them. I took it to rehearsal last night. It sounded great. It's got Lil' Punchers in it from GFS and they sound very good. This sounds more like a Tele with my Traynor Blue. So if it works well at rehearsal I'll replace the tone pot and finish the fret ends and try it out at a gig.


Leftee
Contributing Member
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VA

Jan 15th, 2019 10:54 AM   Edit   Profile  

I’ve got a set of those pickups. They currently aren’t in a guitar. They will be, again, some day.

wrnchbndr
Contributing Member
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New Jersey

I'm back with the otters again
Jan 15th, 2019 11:20 AM   Edit   Profile  

...Been doing this professionally for nearly 20 years and you never stop learning and improving your skills. You make a lot of friends. You also learn your limits, injure yourself occasionally, and can become a cranky weird guy with a twisted perception of the universe where the guitar gods whisper dumb stuff in your ear.

LeftyMeister
Contributing Member
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Buckeye Country, USA

Tone is in the lingers
Jan 15th, 2019 07:49 PM   Edit   Profile  

Most of my seven electrics are inexpensive with personal mods. The only guitar that I have more than $500 in is the new build. I learned quickly that building a guitar from scratch is far more expensive than buying one. :^O

Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Jan 26th, 2019 09:04 AM   Edit   Profile  

I used it for a couple rehearsals and setting in a different environment, the neck moved a little bit. The tone pot is almost unusable. It takes a little time to find the sweet spot. It goes from extreme treble and tinny to sounding dead. I've got a little fret buzz now too since the neck moved. I keep my house cooler than most people and my heating in the house is baseboard heat from a boiler. No forced air. So it came ack home and is getting put on the shelf for a little bit. My PRS SE Singlecut has been getting my attention lately.

Chris889

United States

Mar 6th, 2019 11:15 PM   Edit   Profile  

In my case, I also started with a cheaper one before buying the expensive and I actually learned t appreciate the journey of learning. When I saw myself grow, I rewarded it with a guitar that I really wanted. Good choice, man!

concrete contractors st louis

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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Just beyond Mars

there's a world of fools
Mar 7th, 2019 07:05 AM   Edit   Profile  

Chris, it's bad form to advertise here.

Just a friendly reminder.

Leftee
Contributing Member
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VA

Toxic Humility
Mar 7th, 2019 07:06 AM   Edit   Profile  

I thought that was a band name. (-:

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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Inexpensive Guitars revisited




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