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Thread: SE Standard Upgrade

  1. #1
    Professional Kid Ben Stevens's Avatar
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    SE Standard Upgrade

    I have a SE Standard i need to upgrade, i need to replace the stock pickups and the tuners.

    I need locking tuners, this guitar's tuning sucks. I have sperzels but they really do nothing. I'm leaning towards the Phase III's but what do you guys think? Do you think they'll keep tune?

    Also, pickups. My Torero has EMGs and i'd like to be on the same field as it but dont want actives. Those 59/09's look cool but idk, what do think?


    Last edited by Ben Stevens; 05-01-2013 at 12:30 PM.

  2. #2
    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Stevens View Post
    I need locking tuners, this guitar's intonation sucks.
    This doesn't compute. The tuners and the intonation are not really related.

    59/09s are cool pickups, but they cost about what that guitar would cost. Is that worth it? Only you can decide.

    I have a 2nd gen Santana which is just like that one, only with some binding on the fretboard and a gloss finish, stoptail instead of trem, but otherwise identical. The stock tuners are fine, the action is great, intonation is close enough for rock and roll (spot on as far as I can tell), tuning is stable. It's a great guitar. I rather like the stock neck pickup. The bridge pickup gets swapped out just for grins from time to time, I have a DiMarzio Air Zone in it now but have run the stock pickup with a $3 Unoriented Alnico 5 magnet swapped into it a lot too.

    Last edited by John Beef; 04-30-2013 at 06:19 PM.
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    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Stevens View Post
    I have a SE Standard i need to upgrade, i need to replace the stock pickups and the tuners.

    I need locking tuners, this guitar's intonation sucks. I have sperzels but they really do nothing. I'm leaning towards the Phase III's but what do you guys think? Do you think they'll keep tune?

    Also, pickups. My Torero has EMGs and i'd like to be on the same field as it but dont want actives. Those 59/09's look cool but idk, what do think?

    lol not really

    Do you mean it doesn't hold tuning very well?

    Before installing any new tuners i'd look at the nut first. Slots may need widening or the nut replacing. Tuning issues usually start here rather than the tuners themselves.

    Not sure what to recommend pup wise. High output passives or something more traditionally voiced?
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  4. #4
    Professional Kid Ben Stevens's Avatar
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    Yeah, i meant it doesn't stay in tune

    The nut huh, maybe i'll have to look at it.

    High output, PRS pickups preferred.

  5. #5
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    It looks like you got the strings wrapped the wrong way around the tuner posts from the picture... but I have been inhaling contact cement and paint the past couple of days.

    Check out a set of HFS/VB they were the pups that got me over EMGs.

  6. #6
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    It looks like you got the strings wrapped the wrong way around the tuner posts from the picture... but I have been inhaling contact cement and paint the past couple of days.

    Check out a set of HFS/VB they were the pups that got me over EMGs.
    Well spotted!

    OP, you've increased the angle at which the strings leave the nut. This won't do you any favours tuning wise. Wrap the strings the other way around so the strings are on the inside of the peg. You want about two to three turns max. Tune strings and give them a stretch. If you bend a string and hear a 'ping' coming from the nut then the string is catching in the nut and the slots will need widening.
    Modified SE Bernie Marsden, Fender Strat
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    Professional Kid Ben Stevens's Avatar
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    Yeah i just noticed that. Regardless of what angle or direction they are strung they have never held tune well. Looks like i need to adjust or replace the nut. The Sperzels havent helped much either, phase III's anyone? Those HFS's look pretty promising also. I'll have to check em out. Also do the pickups come as a package or do you order them seperatley?
    Last edited by Ben Stevens; 04-30-2013 at 10:34 PM.

  8. #8
    The string pull needs to be as straight as possible over the nut. The string slots in the nut needs to be properly cut for the string gauge so it doesn't pinch them.
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    Professional Kid Ben Stevens's Avatar
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    I'm putting .12 gauges on, what needs to be done for that regarding the nut?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Stevens View Post
    I'm putting .12 gauges on, what needs to be done for that regarding the nut?
    If you have .12's on it now, there's a huge part of your tuning stability problem - in addition to the strings being wrapped the wrong direction around the tuners.

    The string slots on your guitar are probably set for .09's or .10's. You need to have a qualified luthier widen the nut slots. If it were me, I'd send the guitar to the PTC and get one of their new nuts put on it and have them set it up for .12's.
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  11. #11
    Plank Spanker justmund's Avatar
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    Yup Hans is spot on, sounds like you have some simple setup issues. A properly setup (or stock) SE shouldn't have any tuning issues unless you go crazy with the trem.

    If you're after high output PRS pickups then Tremonti's might be a good start, but you can't go wrong with 59/09s. Check out crgtr's video review of just about every PRS pickup (shoot out) for audio samples.

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    you could block the tremolo, just to eliminate it from the equation temporarily, then diagnose the problem from there. lots of times the tuning won't stay is because the tremolo is moving as you tune the strings.

    PRS SE nuts are known to be cut badly, and it's probably the reason why lots of us who uses the tremolo will want to swap out the stock nut for TUSQ or similar nuts. It wouldn't matter to stoptail-equipped SEs as the string movement while you play isn't as drastic if you stretch the strings properly.

    for the intonation part i think it could possibly be the nut. i've tried some other SEs, both stoptail and trem models, and they don't have intonation problems at all but my SE Custom 24 won't intonate well enough at the low E and G string. there's not enough travel for the saddle to move backwards anymore. That's why i've been hunting for TUSQs.

    Without properly cut nuts, guitars with the best locking tuners won't stay in tune. But on the other hand, guitars with nicely cut nuts can stay in tune even with average non-locking tuners.

  13. #13
    I've got an SE Custom 24 that had tuning issues as well (and still does but not nearly as bad). I had a luthier file out the nut to accept 10's because it was setup for 9's and the spaces were too small for 10's. Now it stays in tune fairly well but if I use the tremolo it goes out of tune slightly.

    I'd have to say 100% your nut is not setup for 12's unless you (or someone else) has had the nut replaced or filed. So yeah the nut very likely has to be addressed.

    Some of the guys on here have said get locking tuners and use nut sauce to get me to 100% tuning stability ...I haven't gotten that into it yet. This is just a practice guitar I keep at my girlfriends so I don't have to bring a guitar back and forth every night, but if I ever start using it to gig, I'd probably make those adjustments.

  14. #14
    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    Locking tuners are nice for the convenience of quick string changes and stuff, and I used to be a die-hard fan of them and put them on all my guitars. Now I only have them on 3 of 5 guitars, and no longer consider them to be a necessary upgrade, because I learned how to properly string a guitar in Dan Erlewine's book How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great. If Sperzels aren't working for you, the problem is not the tuners.

    I don't think anyone else has mentioned this, another issue you might be having would be the bridge screws all have to be precisely set in order for the knife edge to work properly on a PRS trem.

    Along with the other issues the have already mentioned, I will say definitely take it to a tech, make the investment into a thorough setup. It'll be worth it! Obviously sending it to PRS might be best but it will also be the most expensive option. Most localities have secret guitar setup wizards hidden in crummy strip malls and office parks.
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by John Beef View Post
    Locking tuners are nice for the convenience of quick string changes and stuff, and I used to be a die-hard fan of them and put them on all my guitars. Now I only have them on 3 of 5 guitars, and no longer consider them to be a necessary upgrade, because I learned how to properly string a guitar in Dan Erlewine's book How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great. If Sperzels aren't working for you, the problem is not the tuners.

    I don't think anyone else has mentioned this, another issue you might be having would be the bridge screws all have to be precisely set in order for the knife edge to work properly on a PRS trem.

    Along with the other issues the have already mentioned, I will say definitely take it to a tech, make the investment into a thorough setup. It'll be worth it! Obviously sending it to PRS might be best but it will also be the most expensive option. Most localities have secret guitar setup wizards hidden in crummy strip malls and office parks.
    I first started playing guitar when I was 12 and nobody every taught me how to change strings properly. In 2004 I bought a Gibson Les Paul and the first thing I did was put a new set of strings on it and it just didn't sound right. I brought it back and the luthier at the GC was like, "Who taught you how to do this?" I told him nobody, so he had me watch him do the complete setup on the guitar. I took notes and also watched a few videos on YouTube, too, so I would say I'm pretty well schooled in how to change strings on a guitar. And when compared to my other guitars (which I do all the string changes, neck and bridge adjustments) my SE just does not stay in tune that well. But thanks for the tip on the bridge screws. I'll make sure everything is synched down well on the bridge and see if that helps any.

  16. #16
    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    Norseman, my tuner comments were directed at the original poster who mentioned Sperzels aren't working for him to keep his guitar in tune, but in his pic the strings are wrapped the wrong way around the tuning posts. It sucks you've been having issues too. Do you use your trem? If not have you tried blocking it and seeing if the tuning issues go away?
    The Bovine Fury <-- stream and download our album "Eleven by Twelve" for free.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Sage's Avatar
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    +1 on the HFS/VB pickups.
    If you want PRS tuners I'd recommend the phase II over the phase III.

  18. #18
    Professional Kid Ben Stevens's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the advice peeps, I'm gonna take it in to the local shop to get the nut fixed and a setup.

    Willies American Guitars in St. Paul, off da wall

    I'll worry about Pickups later, leaning towards Dimarzio's cause PRS pickups are kinda spendy i just realized :P

    Dunno if i'll need to replace the Sperzels yet since the nut seems to be the main issue

  19. #19
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    I just got a HFS/ Vintage set of PRS pickups for my boys SE Singlecut for under two bills from a PRS dealer.
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  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by John Beef View Post
    Norseman, my tuner comments were directed at the original poster who mentioned Sperzels aren't working for him to keep his guitar in tune, but in his pic the strings are wrapped the wrong way around the tuning posts. It sucks you've been having issues too. Do you use your trem? If not have you tried blocking it and seeing if the tuning issues go away?
    I do use my trem. I'm a big fan of Floyd Rose trems, but I admit they take a bit extra work to restring and get in tune (though once in tune, I ride the heck out of mine and they stay in tune perfectly). Getting this PRS for me (granted it's an SE) was an experiment to see if I could get away from the FR a little lol. I think if I do the locking tuners and nut sauce like you guys say, I'll be pretty close to this issue being resolved 100%. I like everything about the guitar except for the tuning instability. But that being said, at the price range these SEs are in (new) I really wish this issue would get resolved. I think it's something I read over and over about them, and I just feel like they're sooooo close to being labeled (at least by me and probably some others) the best guitars in this price range, but that common problem just does them in (to me).

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