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Thread: To mod or not to mod!

  1. #1
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    To mod or not to mod!

    I'm a horribly indecisive person, help me make a decision, PRS community!

    I few months back I got a PRS SE Custom 24 which I do absolutely love. However, I'd be down to make a few changes like upgrade the pickups and tuners. I imagine I'd be putting ~$200 in it.

    On the other hand I am also saving up for an American PRS which I hope to get in 2 years (saving up slowly as well as leaving myself the time to become a better player to deserve such a nice guitar)

    So which is it. Upgrade or put that $200 in the piggy bank! What would you do?

    Thanks,
    Rav.

  2. #2
    Goatee Practitioner Danerada's Avatar
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    Are you having tuning issues? Are the pickups not to your liking? If the answer is no, I would sock it away.
    - Dane

    “He had a voice that could make a wolverine purr and suits so fine they made Sinatra look like a hobo.”

  3. #3
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    The tuning is kind-of annoying but I'm no where near professional (or good for that matter) so re-tuning every few days isn't a must. Pickups are in the same category, can't say I like them nor hate them. Kind-of wish the bridge pick-up could to heavier genres of music better but it's not like I'm playing for anyone....

    Hmm, maybe I just answered my own question, I'll probably just make a few cosmetic changes and then leave the rest of the guitar stock...

  4. #4
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    I have never changed anything out on a guitar except strings.
    Plank Owner

  5. #5
    Senior Member garrett's Avatar
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    I wouldn't upgrade just for the sake of it. Some of the things might not bring much value to you. Get to know the instrument well and discover what you feel are its deficiencies. Then you can upgrade those things to make it more suitable to you.
    --Garrett--

  6. #6
    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    IMHO, SE tuners are fine. Mine hold tune fine. This has been discussed here quite a bit, namely if you think you're having tuning stability issues, the nut is likely the culprit unless you have really old strings. Also, I've said it a bunch of times before, but if you're comfortable doing your own pickup swaps, you should also be comfortable doing magnet swaps which are easier and take less time. An unoriented alnico 5 magnet will reduce the nasal congestion in the bridge pickup quite a bit and costs around $3 (I like the neck pickup as-is).
    The Bovine Fury <-- stream and download our album "Eleven by Twelve" for free.
    05 Custom 22 with DGT pickups ~ 07 Mira with old birds ~ 08 SE Baritone Fralin/Suhr pickups ~ 03 SE Santana

  7. #7
    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Beef View Post
    IMHO, SE tuners are fine. Mine hold tune fine. This has been discussed here quite a bit, namely if you think you're having tuning stability issues, the nut is likely the culprit unless you have really old strings.
    Major +1.

    I was using the Rene Martinez GraphitAll lube on the nut of my SECU24, and it worked ok but not ideally. Then, just for kicks the other day, I grabbed the lubricating oil for my handpiece (aka dental drill, get your mind out of the gutter) and tried it, and it really worked nicely. Tuning stayed in an acceptable range even with heavy trem use. I don't know what a commercially available equivalent to dental handpiece oil would be, but I'm sure there's something. It's a thin clear oil, maybe silicone based.
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

    SE Custom 24 25th Anniversary - SE Akesson+57/08's - SE 30 Head/Cab

  8. #8
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    My SE tuners are not very good from day one when i got it, the D-string tuner feels scratchy and flimsy, but it works! The worst part of it was, all the guitar shops in my place never stocked on tuners that doesn't come from China. Pretty hard to get replacements. So I left them on. I suggest just upgrade the pickups according to your taste, then it'd be the only guitar you ever hoped in your life.
    Last edited by maxtuna26; 03-21-2013 at 10:25 AM.

  9. #9
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    As others have said, don't upgrade purely for the sake of it.

    Worthwhile upgrading the nut. I've upgraded to Graphtech Tusq nuts on my SE's and Strat and i've not felt the need to upgrade the tuners. I may... May put locking tuners on my SE C24 but i'm going to hold off on that for a bit.

    Changing pups can be hit and miss. Until they're in the guitar you're never really going to know if they work out. I had that issue when I swapped out the stock SE245 pups in my Bernie. i got the neck right with a BKP Mule but the bridge wasn't what I wanted (Neither was the stock pup). I got closer with a Suhr pup but it's still not quite what i'm after. That's worked out as quite expensive experimentation.

    It's up to you but personally i'd swap the nut and then live with the guitar for a while and get a feel of what's lacking and what can be improved.
    Last edited by Mikegarveyblues; 03-21-2013 at 02:51 PM. Reason: cwap the nut? WTF!?!?
    Modified SE Bernie Marsden, 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

  10. #10
    Goatee Practitioner Danerada's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikegarveyblues View Post
    Changing pups can be hit and miss. Until they're in the guitar you're never really going to know if they work out. I had that issue when I swapped out the stock SE245 pups in my Bernie. i got the neck right with a BKP Mule but the bridge wasn't what I wanted (Neither was the stock pup). I got closer with a Suhr pup but it's still not quite what i'm after. That's worked out as quite expensive experimentation.

    .
    Mike - if you can find a 53/10 for your bridge in the Bernie you will NOT be disappointed!!!!!
    - Dane

    “He had a voice that could make a wolverine purr and suits so fine they made Sinatra look like a hobo.”

  11. #11
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    Wait for the proto pickups and stick some of them in.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikegarveyblues View Post
    As others have said, don't upgrade purely for the sake of it.

    Worthwhile upgrading the nut. I've upgraded to Graphtech Tusq nuts on my SE's and Strat and i've not felt the need to upgrade the tuners. I may... May put locking tuners on my SE C24 but i'm going to hold off on that for a bit.

    Changing pups can be hit and miss. Until they're in the guitar you're never really going to know if they work out. I had that issue when I swapped out the stock SE245 pups in my Bernie. i got the neck right with a BKP Mule but the bridge wasn't what I wanted (Neither was the stock pup). I got closer with a Suhr pup but it's still not quite what i'm after. That's worked out as quite expensive experimentation.

    It's up to you but personally i'd swap the nut and then live with the guitar for a while and get a feel of what's lacking and what can be improved.
    i, too, definitely needed a nut swap. I've been spending hours trying to cure the G-string binding in the slot. I've tried graphite lubing, sanding it, but still couldn't get it done. I'm considering TUSQ nuts, but the jungle that i live in, doesn't stock on them (not even bone or corian nuts) at all. I did change out the pickups, and was quite satisfied with the results though, after hearing various soundclips. The cheapest way to change your tone would be magnet swap, i've heard many other people suggest doing this.

  13. #13
    Junior Member Victek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Beef View Post
    Also, I've said it a bunch of times before, but if you're comfortable doing your own pickup swaps, you should also be comfortable doing magnet swaps which are easier and take less time. An unoriented alnico 5 magnet will reduce the nasal congestion in the bridge pickup quite a bit and costs around $3 (I like the neck pickup as-is).
    Is there a tutorial describing how to swap out a pickup magnet? Can you link to a source for un-oriented alnico 5 magnets? And while I understand nasal congestion really well what exactly does it mean when applied to pickups?
    Last edited by Victek; 03-23-2013 at 08:46 AM.
    So many guitars So little money

  14. #14
    Junior Member Victek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikegarveyblues View Post
    Worthwhile upgrading the nut. I've upgraded to Graphtech Tusq nuts on my SE's and Strat and i've not felt the need to upgrade the tuners. I may... May put locking tuners on my SE C24 but i'm going to hold off on that for a bit.
    Is upgrading the nut a DIY or do you need it done by a tech? And is this the right part?

    GRAPH TECH BLACK TUSQ XL SLOTTED NUT PRS® SE GUITAR 43X6mm PT-6643-00

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/GRAPH-TECH-B...item4d0aa1ce83

    Regarding locking tuners, it looks like these are a "drop in" for the SE - is that correct and are there any other models recommended?

    http://www.amazon.com/Grover-406C-Ro.../dp/B0007Y3XGW
    Last edited by Victek; 03-23-2013 at 10:02 AM. Reason: more info
    So many guitars So little money

  15. #15
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danerada View Post
    Mike - if you can find a 53/10 for your bridge in the Bernie you will NOT be disappointed!!!!!
    Cheers Dane, i'll keep an eye out. Have a feeling they're like gold dust though!
    Modified SE Bernie Marsden, 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
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victek View Post
    Is upgrading the nut a DIY or do you need it done by a tech? And is this the right part?

    GRAPH TECH BLACK TUSQ XL SLOTTED NUT PRS® SE GUITAR 43X6mm PT-6643-00

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/GRAPH-TECH-B...item4d0aa1ce83

    Regarding locking tuners, it looks like these are a "drop in" for the SE - is that correct and are there any other models recommended?

    http://www.amazon.com/Grover-406C-Ro.../dp/B0007Y3XGW
    That's the nut that most people use for a PRS. According to the specs it's the correct size for a PRS but I wasn't quite convinced. This is how it looked once I installed it in my SE C24:



    As you can see there's a hairline gap at the back and sides. Because th nut and the headstock / neck is jet black the lighter coloured naked wood peeks through a touch. I could also feel it. Also strings weren't sitting in the whole slot which suggested the nut slot angle didn't quite match to the headstock angle. The nut did it's job fine and I had no tuning issues but those minor issues were enough for me to take it to a tech.



    My tech used a precut nut designed for another guitar. Not sure which one but this one was a touch wider and deeper so he was able to sand the back and sides down for a perfectly flush fit. It looks like he went from the top and re-cut the slots correctly for this guitar.

    As it turns out it's pretty easy to install your own nut (Providing it's pre-cut).

    Use an exacto knife or similar to carefully score around the edges of the nut where it contacts the guitar. This will prevent chipping of the finish,

    Place a block against the nut at the fretboard end and tap the nut towards the headstock. The nut (In theory) should just pop off. It may take a tiny sliver of wood with it but that's not a problem.

    Use a blade or small file to remove any glue residue but be careful not to remove wood.

    I recommend keeping the old strings on the guitar but loosely by the sides out of the way.

    Get some feeler guages, various grades of sandpaper but not too rough.

    Placing even pressure on the new nut, carefully sand the bottom down. I recommend placing the sandpaper on a perfectly flat surface.

    Don't sand too much. Periodically place the nut on the guitar and string up some of the strings and tune to pitch. Use the feeler guages to measure the the gap between bottom of string and top of first fret. I can't remember the exact recommendations but once done you should be able to press the string down at the third fret and have a tiny gap above the first and bottom of string.

    If the strings touch the first whilst pressing down at the third you've gone to far and will need to start again. if the strings are too high you'll wind up with intonation issues.

    It's certainly worth giving it a shot on your own. I did two guitars. An old cheapie as a test which worked perfectly and the PRS SE which would have been fine if it had a bit more width and depth.

    By all accounts the Tusq nuts are supposed to e a little deeper/wider/taller so you can sand down for a perfect fit. My experience with that part number was that wasn't the case except in terms of height.

    Others have used that exact part and been perfectly happy so...
    Last edited by Mikegarveyblues; 03-23-2013 at 12:29 PM.
    Modified SE Bernie Marsden, 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

  17. #17
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    I should add...

    Once you're convinced the nut / strings are at the right height then dab a couple of small beads of superglue onto the bottom of the nut. Put into place and press down firmly. Once set string her back up and you're good to go.
    Modified SE Bernie Marsden, 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

  18. #18
    Junior Member Victek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikegarveyblues View Post
    I should add... Once you're convinced the nut / strings are at the right height then dab a couple of small beads of superglue onto the bottom of the nut. Put into place and press down firmly. Once set string her back up and you're good to go.
    Thanks for all that info and great screenshots - much appreciated!
    So many guitars So little money

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victek View Post
    Is there a tutorial describing how to swap out a pickup magnet? Can you link to a source for un-oriented alnico 5 magnets? And while I understand nasal congestion really well what exactly does it mean when applied to pickups?
    it's pretty easy actually, just take out your pickup, (for the stock pickups) unwrap the cloth tape, just the first layer, don't pull out the rubber tape. Then unscrew the baseplate just a few turns, no need to take it off. from the side which you can see the wires that connect the coils in series, the magnet will be visible from there probably. just use your screwdriver (preferably "negative" head one) to push the magnet out. watch for the wire and make sure you dont cut it or else it'll be pretty troublesome. first attempt to push the magnet out may require some force if your pickup is potted, the magnet's probably kept in place by wax. once you get the magnet out you're free to swap in any mags that are of the similar width. make sure you put it in the right way in, either you want it to be in-phase or out-of-phase.

  20. #20
    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victek View Post
    Is there a tutorial describing how to swap out a pickup magnet? Can you link to a source for un-oriented alnico 5 magnets? And while I understand nasal congestion really well what exactly does it mean when applied to pickups?
    I got mine from this guy on ebay.

    Maxtuna described a method that also works. But this is how I do it. Either way will be fine.
    The Bovine Fury <-- stream and download our album "Eleven by Twelve" for free.
    05 Custom 22 with DGT pickups ~ 07 Mira with old birds ~ 08 SE Baritone Fralin/Suhr pickups ~ 03 SE Santana

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