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d-bolan
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I need serious guitar advice

Post by d-bolan » Thu Sep 27, 2007 9:24 am

This is a post that I left on a Gibson forum and nobody responded. It's really long so beware, and I'm sorry if I sound a little crazy. Any advice or encouragement would be greatly appreciated...

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This is the story of my Gibson SG Jr:

I bought an early 60's SG Jr about 7 years ago for $600. Yup, $600- Mint. What was beautiful about this was that I bought it from a guitar shop that was notorious for ripping off kids, which is what I was at the time, only 17. But some idiot at the store didn't know what he was doing and perhaps forgot to add a 1 or a 2 in front of that 600. Anyways I regret to say that I later went on to switch out the P-90 with an Angus Young Signature pickup, and I changed the tuners to vintage looking keystones (not even sure if they're Grover or Kluson).

I know some of this info might be like nails on a chalkboard to some of you but in my defense I was 17 and the Luthier who did the work didn't even try to talk me out of it. Not to blame him, he's a Saint, but still coulda gave me the old ?listen son?. But what's done is done and I know it was dumb. But at the end of the day, I'm never selling the thing as long as I live, so I don't care what it's worth.

Anyways before and after replacing the tuners I always had tuning troubles with this guitar. Mostly the G would pop out consistently. I eventually got it setup with 12 gauge strings and this seemed to help a bit, but it still didn't stay in tune as good as my Mexican Strat that had 10's on it, which was troubling.

(read this next section like the guy from VH1's "Behind the Music")
Then one day I'm on the road with my band, cruising along to a show, and the van decides to light on fire and explode for no reason. I kid you not. As we watched our van and equipment go up in flames all I could think about was "I lost my babies, what guitar would I get next?? The fire trucks came and doused the whole scene and we unloaded everything. My Strat's SKB flat case was melted so bad that you could see the shape of the strat perfect. I opened the case dreading what I'd see. Not a scratch, no burns, no water. MINT. Unreal!!! Then on to the SG. It's original case was no SKB in terms of protection, but it was good enough to save the SG. It had burn marks on it, but otherwise was ok. At this point in my life I deemed these guitars to be my soul mates. This was obviously meant to be.

(band aid rip coming up)...About a year later while playing the SG I was really really drunk at a show and I fell into the drumset and my headstock broke in half...NASTY. When people speak of "clean" breaks and there's picture's of fixable headstock breaks and "your screwed" breaks this break was definitely the latter. This was the nastiest break I'll ever see for the rest of my life. The same guy that switched out the pickup and tuners was able to fix it, rendering him a saint. He really did an amazing job. It took him weeks because he really wanted to help me fix it right. Like when the guy makes the sword in Kill Bill, but totally different cause it?s a guitar repair. I don't know much about breaks and the implications of what it means for your guitar once it's fixed, but It seems like he came as close as humanly possible to restoring the break flawlessly. He looked me in the eyes as if to say "dig me up from my grave in 17 years if I'm wrong, but that break is healed and it's stronger than ever."

Anyways I was so happy and I loved my guitar more than ever. It stayed my main axe for the next 6 months or so. One day I realized that the 12 gauge strings were just ridiculous for my playing. I'm not SRV, nor do I want to be. I should be playing 11's at the most if not 10's. At the same time I started noticing that the tuners were starting to come loose on the front of the headstock, rising up making the rivets visible (if that makes sense). I was also about to move to a different state and I got caught up in that. Once I moved I put the SG under my bed and started playing my strat exclusively. I love the way it plays and feels, it stays in tune, and I wasn't playing live or recording much, so the fact that it falls short tonally didn't bother me. I nearly forgot that my SG even existed. There was at least one full year where it stayed under my bed, in its case.

Now present day (few years later). My strat has been my main guitar up until now. I've been playing out and recording a lot in the last 6 months and I recently realized that the tone of my strat is AWFUL. Just dreadful. I started coming up with a game plan to soup it up all nice. I had already switched out the tuners with nice one's years ago, and it was already routed for a humbucker. So I did extensive research, came up with budgets, had dreams about it, etc., and then it hit me. I was basically trying to turn my Strat into my SG. I wanted to get a new humbucker and pickguard and get rid of the single coils, and hardtail the bridge. So last night I dug out the SG. I made my band suffer through an entire practice of the G popping out and me not being able to bend my strings. But it was really clear that in terms of tone, I was home. Now here's my award winning nerd dilemma:

-GIBSON SG JR: Amazing tone, won't stay in tune, slight intonation troubles, broken headstock (fixed), slipping tuners (not just slipping out of tune, slipping out of headstock!!). Also when I bought it it had a Maestro Tremolo setup. When my guy fixed the headstock he took it out since I did not use it. So it's a wrap around bridge setup now, but I noticed last night that there are grooves on tailpiece?s saddle that some strings don?t sit in (including the G). Definitely some wonky stuff happening there. I never noticed this before, and I'm assuming this must have something to do with the tuning/intonation issues.

-MEXICAN STRAT: You could drop it off a cliff and it'd stay in tune, plays and feels great, needs bridge work and/or replacement, needs new bridge pickup (and pickguard) and electronics, and a good setup.

I'm not opposed to getting a new guitar, but I'd rather put $400 bucks into one of my babies than buy some mediocre $700 guitar. I'm all about the SG right now. I want to bring it back to life and reclaim its ability and value with the music I make with it.

Now that you've read my book, any thoughts?



Thanks,
Danny
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Jeff White
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Post by Jeff White » Thu Sep 27, 2007 9:44 am

rabbit fighter,

I have two Epiphones with the same scale length as your immortal SG. I used some graphite at the nut after widening the grooves up there and the G and B strings no longer constantly slip. I use 11s on my Epiphones and my Fender Jaguar. I love my Fender guitars as they always stay in tune (modded Fender Mexi strat, Highway 1 Tele, Japanese Jaguar... oh and American P-Bass) and my Epis (Korean Sheraton II and Japanese Elitist Les Paul) always had tuning issues until I did the nut-widening & graphite trick. I say take this thing to your repair guy and tell him exactly what the problems are and let him get it up and running for you.

Jeff
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inverseroom
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Post by inverseroom » Thu Sep 27, 2007 9:52 am

Yeah, worst case scenario is a new nut and some saddles. That's cheap--I think every old guitar has had these things worked on at some point. It's a very basic repair, and you'll be golden.

d-bolan
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Post by d-bolan » Thu Sep 27, 2007 10:52 am

Well look at that, responses, from humans that give a shit. THANK YOU

ipressrecord,
when you say widening the grooves, do you mean spacing the actual grooves further apart from one another, or widening each individual groove itself? It looks like the original bone nut so it could just be worn and in need of replacement like you say.

As for the saddles, I definitely think I need a new tailpiece. It seems like it needs to be a specific one that's made for this guitar. There are set saddle ridges and it clearly affects the intonation. I think I saw some at WD music online. I have no problem replacing it.

So I obviously need to find a repair guy but I guess that's where some of my fears and concerns lay. I'm in LA and there's a trillion repair guys who all seemed to have fixed the guitars of every famous guitarist who has ever existed. Anyone know any guys in LA that won't rip me off and/or put a floyd rose and 7 gauge strings on it?

Thanks again
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Jeff White
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Post by Jeff White » Thu Sep 27, 2007 11:37 am

Yes, widen the already existing string grooves in the nut. Have a professional do it. I also got in the habit of seriously stretching the crap out of my strings when I put them on, and when I'm not 100% lazy I have been known to solder the ends of my strings. Ya know that donut (ball) end of the sting that is in the bridge? Solder it to the winding and the main part of the string down there. Just a little bit of solder is needed. It prevents the string from stretching once it's installed. I also stretch the string so that the windings on the machine head posts are tight and don't move much. Combined with the nut and a properly set up bridge and you should be good to go.

Jeff
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Post by kayagum » Thu Sep 27, 2007 11:56 am

On the new guitar end of things:

Get a G&L ASAT Special. Even the Tribute version (Korean made, American designed and setup) is amazing. Under $500, sounds like the perfect blend between a Strat/Tele and a P90 SG/LP Jr.

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/ ... sku=511114
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/ ... sku=511115

d-bolan
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Post by d-bolan » Thu Sep 27, 2007 12:11 pm

those g&l's actually look pretty awesome. I'll have to consider that. Do you have one? Are they solid?
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Post by kayagum » Thu Sep 27, 2007 1:52 pm

I bought mine (Tribute series ASAT Special) earlier this year. The black/tortoise shell pickguard basswood version. I love it! I think it can be road worthy (as long as you stay sober and don't fall off the stage :D ).

Feature-wise, the only difference between the Tribute series and the main series is that the neck has a gun-oil stain on it.

The genius is those ASAT pickups- honestly, the perfect hybrid of a good Fender single coil and a P90. I forget how they're wound- something like twice the output per wind- but the tone is great. Two underrated features: the tone knob is very useful (you can do more P90 or more tele bite), and the middle position is hum-cancelling.

I should have gotten one of these years ago.

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Post by ledogboy » Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:03 pm

Another nice thing on the G&L's that I've experienced (and I presume the ASAT is the same), is the dual truss rod design. Those G&L's are solid as hell. I've been meaning to get one, but amps keep getting in the way. Cheers,
Ryan

d-bolan
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Post by d-bolan » Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:13 pm

so these Korean G&L's, are they comparable to say, Mexican Fenders? in terms of wood quality, build, etc? What I'd love to here is that they're as nice as American Fenders haha. I gotta find a place around here that sells them. I wish they made one with just one bridge pickup. And the headstock will always bother me but I should ignore cosmetic issues at the moment.
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Post by Jeff White » Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:16 pm

I'll also add that the Highway 1 Fenders are American-made a play and sound quite nice.
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Post by kayagum » Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:53 pm

d-bolan wrote:so these Korean G&L's, are they comparable to say, Mexican Fenders? in terms of wood quality, build, etc? What I'd love to here is that they're as nice as American Fenders haha. I gotta find a place around here that sells them. I wish they made one with just one bridge pickup. And the headstock will always bother me but I should ignore cosmetic issues at the moment.
They're BETTER than most American Fenders. The guitars are shop-checked in the states before going to retailers.

And if you're really that damn picky, go to http://warmoth.com or http://stewmac.com and build your own!

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Post by JASIII » Thu Sep 27, 2007 3:36 pm

I can second the G&L ASAT, I have the Tribute ASAT Special . Rosewood fretboard, natural finish, tortoise and I dig it a lot. The Tributes use the same pickups as the US G&L's too.

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Post by calaverasgrandes » Thu Sep 27, 2007 3:38 pm

you simply are not going to get teh same kind of feel from a bolt on guitar that you do from a setneck. If I were in your shoes i'd keep looking for a decent SG or Les Paul jr DC. I saw a LP jr DC at a music store a few months ago for about $700. It was either one of Gibsons relic series (or whatever they call it) or it was from teh 60's. Checked finish. yellow as hell inlays, very nice neck. It's long gone now though.
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Post by kayagum » Thu Sep 27, 2007 3:50 pm

calaverasgrandes wrote:you simply are not going to get teh same kind of feel from a bolt on guitar that you do from a setneck. If I were in your shoes i'd keep looking for a decent SG or Les Paul jr DC. I saw a LP jr DC at a music store a few months ago for about $700. It was either one of Gibsons relic series (or whatever they call it) or it was from teh 60's. Checked finish. yellow as hell inlays, very nice neck. It's long gone now though.
This is the guitar equivalent of Mac vs PC. :roll:

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