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Thread: NGD- Bernie Marden and lots of mods

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  1. #1

    NGD- Bernie Marden and lots of mods

    I just picked up a PRS Bernie Marsden SE off of Ebay. I had an idea of what I wanted from this guitar before it arrived so I ordered a bunch of parts at the same time I bought the guitar.
    I want it to be closer to a USA PRS in looks, sound, and playability. This guitar is temporarily taking the spot in my lineup that was filled by an '03 Singlecut. I know it isn't quite the guitar that the Singlecut was but I know I can get close.

    The guitar came with a Tone Pros adjustable bridge and a hardshell case so that was two things I didn't have to buy.
    The parts I did buy for it are:
    1. Dimarzio 36th anniversary PAFS with nickel covers (DP103 & DP223)
    2. CTS 500K premium pot from Mojotone
    3. Two 500K push/pull pots from Mojotone (they have the USA size shafts and knurl pattern for USA knobs)
    4. Orange Drop .22 cap ( I like the sound of these)
    5. PRS ivory pup rings (the newer style)
    6. PRS hardware kit (screws and USA jack plate)
    7. Graph Tech Tusq nut
    8. Gold speed knobs (for USA shaft)
    9. Planet Waves locking tuners ( I like the factory Kluson type but went with these for faster string changing)

    I'll also be refinishing the headstock black with a gold PRS script logo. It's not to convince anyone that this is not an SE but I like the looks better and (no offense to Bernie) I don't really care for an endorser's name on the headstock.

    Let the modding begin!


    I started with stripping off all the parts and wiring from the guitar.
    I wired up the electronics outside of the body with the pots mounted on a piece of cardboard. I used a variation of the DGT wiring diagram with 1.1K and 2.2K resistors on the pup splits. Doing most of the work outside of the guitar was a big help since the control cavity on the Bernie is very small.




    The holes on the body need to be enlarged slightly for the new pots to fit. The controls are, bridge volume, neck volume/neck coil split, tone/bridge coil split. I forgot to order a Switchcraft toggle but I will get one and put it in later on. The stocker is a decent switch but I have had great luck with the Switchcrafts. They last forever.




    More in next post...

  2. #2
    I scuffed the pickup covers with a maroon Scotchbrite pad. It only takes a couple minutes and they look the same as what PRS does nowadays. PRS's brushstrokes go side to side so be sure to only rub the pad in that direction. The new rings look better to me also as the stockers are a little too 'yellowy' in color. I used the black mounting screws that came with the PRS hardware kit. The covered Dimarzios are a tight fit in the pup rings though.

    Stock pups & rings:


    New pups & rings:



    Next up is the nut. The old one came off without much fuss and I cleaned up the slot and sanded down the height of the Tusq nut. Before installing the new nut, I sanded and painted the headstock in black and opened up the holes so the new tuners will fit. The new logo was then applied.
    The nut is installed with a small bit of wood glue. I used the stock SE truss cover but removed the PRS logo from it with the Scotchbrite pad also. If you just use vertical strokes it ends up looking much like the standard USA truss covers.
    They must install the tuners at the factory when the finish is still soft. The Klusons left some pretty good dents in the finish. I thought about finishing the back of the headstock in black with a stinger but decided against it because I want to keep the serial # and the MIK designation. I can live with the dents.





    Continued...

  3. #3
    The new jack plate. It doesn't quite cover the holes left from the football shaped plate (I hate those, they look really cheap) but I will fill them later.




    That's pretty much it. All the mods are really very simple and took the guitar to a new level IMO.
    It plays great and really sounds amazing. The Dimarzios are just excellent. The stock SE pickups are actually very good but the Dimarzios have a nice 3D quality in their tone. I really like these pickups!

    I'm not 100% sold on the TonePros bridge. It's not that easy to string up and the posts have some slop in them. The seller did not send the wrench to adjust the bridge height either so I may just use the stock SE posts with the new bridge.


    I still want to buy a nice SC245 or SC58 but this one should be a good substitute for a while. The SE's are a superb platform for a killer guitar and it doesn't take much to mold them into just what you want.

    Here's some pics of the finished project. My lousy photo skills make the guitar redder than it is.
    It will be a nice gigging companion for my CE24.







  4. #4
    Nice work.
    One Life

  5. #5
    Senior Member swede71's Avatar
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    Cool!
    I de-modded my CU22 soapbar and made a factory spec setup.Im in love again.I very much believe now PRS guitars are perfect as they are.

  6. #6
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Bangin'

  7. #7
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Nice work!

    Done a lot of modding on mine... The Bernie just looks right with covered pups!

    I've got the Tonepros locking studs but i'm not sold on them. I'm probably going to get the Schroeder bridge and studs at some point or go back to the stock studs and bridge unit.
    Modified SE Bernie Marsden, SE Custom 24 2012, Fender Strat
    Laney Lionheart L5T-112, Fender Mustang 1
    Wishing for a Blue Bernie!
    Click here for SE Bernie Marsden demo!
    Lessons, covers, backing tracks, etc...www.youtube.com/mikegarveyblues

  8. #8
    Plank Spanker justmund's Avatar
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    Great job! How did you enlargen the holes for the pot shafts? The pencil and sandpaper trick or a reamer?

  9. #9
    Nice work! Those bernies to look nice with covered pickups. Now I just need to get comfortable doing my own mods like your. Maybe get a cheap used guitar and try and get all my screw ups out of the way on that. I know the mods are easy just have to bite the bullet and give it a try.

  10. #10
    PRS Faithful Solocaller's Avatar
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    PM me. I think that I have a Switchcraft switch that I will just give you.

  11. #11
    Member IRG's Avatar
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    Great work. Those DiMarzios might be something I do to my 245, but the stock pickups are pretty good. I'll wait awhile before deciding. I do think that the stock pickup rings look better though. Just personal preference, but the new ones are too white and don't match either the binding. But it's not my guitar! Otherwise, I really like everything you've done. I thought about getting that bridge, but I admit I like the stock one, and the intonation is perfect. The nut does need to go soon though.

  12. #12
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IRG View Post
    Great work. Those DiMarzios might be something I do to my 245, but the stock pickups are pretty good. I'll wait awhile before deciding. I do think that the stock pickup rings look better though. Just personal preference, but the new ones are too white and don't match either the binding. But it's not my guitar! Otherwise, I really like everything you've done. I thought about getting that bridge, but I admit I like the stock one, and the intonation is perfect. The nut does need to go soon though.
    Just be wary what nut you get if you do it yourself as the Bernie has a (slightly) wider neck so you may be left with some space at the edges. I had my tech cut from a blank so it sat flush at the back and sides.

    I like the pup rings in the OP but they do seem a little too white. I'm just ging to stick with the ones i've got until I chance on some creme ones.
    Modified SE Bernie Marsden, SE Custom 24 2012, Fender Strat
    Laney Lionheart L5T-112, Fender Mustang 1
    Wishing for a Blue Bernie!
    Click here for SE Bernie Marsden demo!
    Lessons, covers, backing tracks, etc...www.youtube.com/mikegarveyblues

  13. #13
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    awesome project. where did you get the gold script logo from?

  14. #14
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    i have a bernie and a 245...i changed the nut with a usa prs nut it fit the bernie perfect...but was not wide enough for my se245..

  15. #15
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howard52 View Post
    i have a bernie and a 245...i changed the nut with a usa prs nut it fit the bernie perfect...but was not wide enough for my se245..
    That's interesting... On paper the Bernie - or at least mine - is wider. Having said that, the Tusq nut I got for my SE C24 isn't quite wide enough - despite this being the nut for the SE's (Supposedly) so i'm sending it to the tech afterall.

    Just had the lastest issue of Guitarist mag delivered and they've done a review of the Bernie Marsden 53/10 limited. Again (As with the stock Bernie review) they compare it with a Gibson Les Paul. This time it's an LP 70's tribute. Again, the Bernie comes out on top!

    Although the stock SE 245 pups are good, swapping them for some covered PRS pups or othe brands (In my case Bare Knuckle and Suhr) and swapping out the nut (If needed) takes the guitar up a notch. But I honestly feel once that's done you've got a guitar that's competing with 'the big boys' and in some cases knocking them out of the ball park!

    It's a shame you're only viewing this guitar as temporary though _pete_...
    Modified SE Bernie Marsden, SE Custom 24 2012, Fender Strat
    Laney Lionheart L5T-112, Fender Mustang 1
    Wishing for a Blue Bernie!
    Click here for SE Bernie Marsden demo!
    Lessons, covers, backing tracks, etc...www.youtube.com/mikegarveyblues

  16. #16
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    Beautiful guitar. Great work!

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Solocaller View Post
    PM me. I think that I have a Switchcraft switch that I will just give you.
    I appreciate the offer but that's ok. I'll be ordering up some other parts soon and I'll pick one up then. It's no big deal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikegarveyblues View Post
    Just be wary what nut you get if you do it yourself as the Bernie has a (slightly) wider neck so you may be left with some space at the edges.
    The Graph Tech Tusq nut I got for this one was perfect width. It was too tall but they always are. It was part # PQ-6643-00

    Quote Originally Posted by carpincowboy View Post
    awesome project. where did you get the gold script logo from?
    Actually, I was sworn to secrecy. They don't want to be named on any guitar forums.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikegarveyblues View Post
    It's a shame you're only viewing this guitar as temporary though _pete_...
    Originally I was but after playing it I'm changing my mind. It sounds so damn good and it's also pretty light (about 7.5 to 8 lbs).
    The neck carve is thicker than the wide/thin on my CE but smaller than the wide/fat my Singlecut had. It feels very good.


    Thanks to everyone else who commented!

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