This is my kind of project. I often have customers ask me what upgrades are the best bang for their buck to make a guitar they’re owned for years, new and exciting. Can you guess what my two recommendations are?
Bone, is a much more dense material than any stock plastic nut and yields a brighter sound, longer sustain and overall, nicer feel when picking strings.
Similar to the stock nut, stock pickups are anything but glamorous. They tend to sound… mass-produced, converter-belt manufactured and slightly dull. But this isn’t the kind of thing you notice until you’ve seen and listened to a higher quality pickup. Depending on what sound you’re after out of your guitar, several factors play into what voicing you need in a pickup. This ranges from the amount of copper winding inside the pickup to the type of magnet utilized. (Alnico II, Alnico V and Ceramic are the choices).
It was decided to install a set of Gibson ’57 Classic Humbuckers. After that, a piece of Canadian moose bone was carved and filed down and placed on the headstock. Lastly, a set of D’Addario XL’s were slapped on and this Epiphone Les Paul was transformed from good, to great.
I don’t usually blog about setups… they’re… well… there’s nothing all that interesting about them. It’s very important aspect of guitar maintenance, but there’s not a whole lot of magic that goes into the process. This guitar, however, made the cut. It was almost like something out of a movie. It was too bad to be true and yet, there it was.
The customer said she bought this from a pawn shop in her hometown of Burnet, Texas. It was purchased “as-is” and from the looks of it, whoever sold it to the pawn shop, had no idea what they were doing, and like the patron trying to make a quick buck, neither did the manager of the pawn shop.
The strings were fed through the bridge, some of them rested on the saddles, others were not so fortunate. The strings were string up backwards into each tuner. The pickups lost their soldering on their underside and were falling apart, the saddles of the tune-o-matic saddles were all screwed as far forward as possible (not measured and offset for actual intionation purposes)… Aye yey yey.
Well, with a set of new DR Pure Blues and a few turns of the screwdriver, this guitar cleaned up nicely and was back to the customer within the hour. So remember, even if it’s a good deal to you, pawn store guitars usually need a check up after purchasing.