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View Full Version : Upgrading PRS SE to Phase II Locking Tuners - Installation Piicture Story



Artist
12-21-2012, 12:50 AM
As part of my project to upgrade my new SE Tremonti Custom I took the plunge on drilling one of my guitars for the first time.
I do most of my guitar work, but never installed tuners before. As with everything I try for the first time, I do a lot of research on the best way to do all steps and then adapt to a homemade version.

Installation of PRS Phase II locking tuners on an SE requires re-drilling pilot holes for the alignment pin screws and covering the old ones for aesthetics. No modification required on the big holes.

Wanted to share the pictures and steps on how I did it. I didn’t call this a “guide” or How-to as I am not a repair tech and don’t want to be responsible if you damage your guitar doing this.
In my case it worked perfectly :) This should help you decide if you are not confortable with doing a procedure like this and better leave it to the trusted PTC (http://www.prsguitars.com/ptc/) guys.
Feel free to add your own tips…

We start with the before pictures. Stock SE Tuners, good but not enough for me on a Trem guitar. Note the screw location is at an angle at the corner.
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00033_zpscb501c84.jpg
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00032_zps485b945c.jpg

Here are the Phase II babies ready to go in. Note that the screw location runs straight down.
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00034_zpscc29ff2c.jpg
You can see the little bars on the back of the tuner wall that look like Roman numerals (IIII, III, II). Some people have the incorrect notion of those indicating their placement on the headstock. They are just casting mold marks and can be ignored. All of the tuners are the same.

REMOVAL

You will need a 10mm metric wrench to remove the top nut. Strongly recommend using a box/ring side from a “combination” wrench like pictured. Don’t go cheap and use those open ones that can lead to scratches on the guitar or thread damage
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00038_zps78f5edd0.jpg

Remove the back screws and they are out. Love those Tremonti big letters.
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00039_zps61af3dea.jpg

Bye, bye :hello:
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00040_zps8bc31e05.jpg

They will leave these ugly holes that won’t be covered by the Phase IIs… Time to get creative.
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00041_zpse0e19336.jpg

Continues..

Artist
12-21-2012, 12:50 AM
Part 2
COVERING OLD HOLES

Some people use molding to do this. I didn’t want to get messy as I am not refinishing the paint.
I used toothpicks and measured the depth needed to cover the hole. These toothpicks are fatter than usual so don’t go all the way in.
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00044_zps262297ed.jpg

Cut the pieces with a razor
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00042_zps6286117c.jpg

Used pliers to hold the small pieces, applied super glue and then inserted. Made sure to mask all the area, once that glue touches the wrong area it is there forever. Carefully sanded a little to level.
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00045_zps08e7998f.jpg

Had a little bottle of car touch-up paint from an auto parts store. My car is also black, so perfect fit.
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00046_zpsb3c97095.jpg

A little touch is enough. I went a little overboard here, but they are very hard to see with the tuners on. :flute:
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00049_zpsfab7b666.jpg

Gave time for it to dry.

Continues…

Artist
12-21-2012, 12:51 AM
Part 3...
DRILLING PILOT HOLES

First key point is to ensure the angled headstock is leveled with the table you are using. In my case I had to use a stool/towel to put the body higher than the coffee table I was using work on.
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00058_zpse045667c.jpg

The most important thing for me was to ensure that the screws are placed in the perfect location so the tuners end up horizontally aligned.

I masked the area, put the two lowest tuners and tied the nut enough for them to not move too easily. Used a straight edge to align the top of the tuners, then used a wood drill bit of the same width of the hole to ensure I marked the center point of the screw hole. With my hand did some turns and pressed to ensure the point was marked on the wood.
Added the next two and repeated.
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00060_zpsfdf3eb51.jpg

After that it was all piece of cake. Removed tuners and had the exact guides for the pilot holes.
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00062_zps8b263194.jpg

It is very important to drill a pilot hole first and not try to insert the screw directly on the headstock or you may splint the wood. The maple on this neck is a very hard wood. The width of the drill bit must be the same as the middle solid area of the screw NOT including the threads. Put the screw on the tuner and measure how deep you need to drill. Mask the drill bit so you don’t go over to the other side of the headstock!!
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00063_zps876caa17.jpg
It is not common, but as you can see, the screws on this Schaller made Phase IIs have a short smooth shank section at the top. A larger diameter drill bit had to be used to make space for it. More info here: http://www.home-dzine.co.za/diy/diy-pilot-holes.htm

Then the tough part!!! :box: Drilling the holes. Used a small regular drill that is sensitive to how hard you press the "trigger". Just went veery slowly and worked my way in. I was able to get them vertical enough by hand. Some people use a drill guide like this http://www.v-drillguide.com/ to get them perfectly vertical but I think that is overkill for such a short screw.

All Done. Screw in the tuners, and place the nut tightly. Follow the PRS guide to install strings: http://www.prsguitars.com/csc/tuners.html It is so easy with locking tuners.

http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00066_zpsa7cb3f39.jpg
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00071_zps1834d2d8.jpg
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00070_zps963a8911.jpg
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00080_zpsd7cb847b.jpg

Love the look of these tuners. I am still getting used to the smaller knob buttons on the Phase IIs but that can be replaced later.

Artist
12-21-2012, 01:07 AM
Part 4
This was an already amazing SE stock, but now along with the upgraded US Tremonti pickups and tremolo this SE is the one I can’t stop playing it!
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00074_zps5da55533.jpg
http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb354/AeroPR/PRSForum/Tremonti%20SE%20Custom%202012/Tuner%20Install/DSC00079_zps074a7943.jpg

New nut and pots are next! :rock:

WEDGE
12-21-2012, 01:14 AM
Your braver than I am! Nice work!

Michael B
12-21-2012, 05:45 AM
NICE!!! How easily did a USA trem go in??

CoreyT
12-21-2012, 08:02 AM
Looking great!
I leave the drilling for my tuners to my dealer.
To afraid I would fubar it up.

tdiers
12-22-2012, 05:07 AM
Wow, thanks for the post. I was just thinking about doing the same to my Tremonti Custom. Incidentally my ser# is 21088, only 2 past yours.

PeterC
12-22-2012, 08:13 AM
I did the same on my sons Tremonti SE, changed the tuners and put an sc250 hb in the bridge.

Rango
12-22-2012, 09:49 AM
NICE! :beer:

(..and I thought I was brave doing truss rods and bridge adjustments! ;) )

tdiers
01-10-2013, 09:55 PM
Wow, thanks for the post. I was just thinking about doing the same to my Tremonti Custom. Incidentally my ser# is 21088, only 2 past yours.
And here it is with the Tremonti pickups installed. Holding off on the locking tuners, for now.
https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/227777_478324742225118_1436398954_n.jpg

bretwomack
01-11-2013, 12:26 AM
How do you get the US tremolo arm to go in?

dbonanno
01-11-2013, 06:43 AM
How do you get the US tremolo arm to go in?

I'm thinking he just added a tip to the stock trem arm. ;)

tdiers
01-11-2013, 07:22 AM
I'm thinking he just added a tip to the stock trem arm. ;)

He installed a US tremelo.


Part 4
This was an already amazing SE stock, but now along with the upgraded US Tremonti pickups and tremolo this SE is the one I can’t stop playing it!

dbonanno
01-11-2013, 07:49 AM
He installed a US tremelo.

Ahh ... I missed that. ;)

Artist
01-11-2013, 09:09 AM
He installed a US tremelo.

Exactly! Sorry for the delayed response. That is an US Tremolo and strap knobs. US Arm is wider than the import one and won't fit into that tremolo.

clcwarlock
01-11-2013, 09:56 AM
Nice work, I like how you covered up the holes it looks great.

dbonanno
01-11-2013, 10:09 AM
Exactly! Sorry for the delayed response. That is an US Tremolo and strap knobs. US Arm is wider than the import one and won't fit into that tremolo.

So the (6 screw) hole spacing on the Korean trem and the USA trem are exactly the same?

John Beef
01-11-2013, 10:50 AM
Wow, this looks great!

Are the Tremoni Custom's bodies thicker than the regular Tremonti? It looks as thick as a SE 245 I played.

tdiers
01-11-2013, 09:45 PM
Wow, this looks great!

Are the Tremoni Custom's bodies thicker than the regular Tremonti? It looks as thick as a SE 245 I played.

Yes, they have a full thickness body like the higher ends.

dbonanno
01-12-2013, 12:50 PM
I just received my Tremonti SE Custom yesterday ... AWESOME guitar!
I'll be adding phase II locking tuners, new pickups, and maybe a US trem and other odds and ends.
Not that the guitar really "needs" all of these upgrades, but I'm sure they will be benificial.
Besides ... I like to tinker. :wink:

tdiers
01-19-2013, 06:39 AM
And here it is with the Tremonti pickups installed. Holding off on the locking tuners, for now.
https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/227777_478324742225118_1436398954_n.jpg

And here are the Schaller Locking Tuners installed. Straight drop-ins with no modifications.
https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/603056_482137061843886_1089222135_n.jpghttps://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc1/554561_482137051843887_2048073660_n.jpg