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G&L Tribute Series Legacy

Repair log: G&L Tribute Series Legacy by Cort Guitars

Copyright retained, Terry Relph-Knight 28/11/19

Value – Purchased for £200. The current version of this model is £479 new, might get £400 for it as left handed guitars are rare.

Weight – 3.75Kg 8.27lbs

 

Supplied with a Thomann gig bag, a set of D’Addario 10 to 46 strings and a black Tusq nut.

Hex keys required for adjustment – 4mm truss rod, 3mm bridge fulcrum posts, 1.5mm saddle height grub screws

Problems – In for a set-up and installation of a Tusq nut. Needs cleaning. The neck alignment places the high E very close to the edge of the fret board. 

There is no wiggle room in the neck pocket so it needs to be re-shaped. The position of the four neck screws is offset to the long side of the neck pocket and the screw holes through the body are not perpendicular. The neck, body and bridge geometry does not duplicate the geometry of the U.S.A made guitars. The factory nut allows a lot of offset for the low E and has a slightly narrower overall string spacing than a Fender Strat. The three rotary controls fitted have track laws for a right handed guitar. The output jack is a low cost single leaf spring contact type. Analysis of the pickup measurements indicates the neck and bridge pickups have been fitted in reverse.

G&L Tribute Series Legacy

G&L Tribute Series Legacy

The treble bridge pivot is screwed down and locked tight in the brass body insert. The insert itself is  loose in the body. The three screws that hold the bridge plate to the top of the inertia block are on the point of being loose.

A full analysis (see below) shows that the Cort factory made a complete botch of assembling this guitar.

Description – This guitar is a left handed Stratocaster style guitar with the essential components in good condition. While it was built according roughly to the pattern of the G&L Legacy USA instruments, certainly a lot less care and attention was applied to its assembly and a number of errors have been made.

The G&L company (George and Leo) was founded by George Fullerton, Leo Fender and Dale Hyatt in 1979, allowing Leo Fender to continue to develop electric guitars up until his death. Note that the symbol in the logo that is between the G and the L is in fact a treble clef, not an ampersand. Leo Fender had sold Fender Musical Instrument Corp. to the Canadian broadcasting service CBS in 1965 due to ill health. He was restricted by a ten year non compete agreement with CBS. Once that had lapsed and his health had improved, he started CLF Research and worked on designs for Music Man before starting G&L. Music Man was founded in 1971 by Forrest White and Tom Walker with Leo Fender as a silent partner. CLF made guitars and basses for Music Man while Music Man was primarily an amplifier manufacturer. Music Man did not pay CLF for its product until it passed Music Man quality control. Problems in the quality of the paint finish led to friction between CLF and Music Man and the two companies parted ways. Eventually in financial difficulty, Music Man was sold to Ernie Ball in 1984. Since then the Ernie Ball/Music Man brand has dropped the amplifier line and concentrated on making high quality, innovative guitars and basses.

Originally all G&L instruments were US made, using some of the old Fender tooling in factory buildings owned by Leo Fender on Fender Avenue, Fullerton, California. In 2003 G&L introduced the Tribute line, a lower cost range made in Korea and later Indonesia, by Cort Guitars. This instrument is one of the Indonesian Cort guitars. 

Various features signal this instrument is from the budget line; the three piece body, no internal screening apart from the usual aluminium foil under the controls, a single swimming pool pickup route in the body to accommodate a range of pickup options, a simple flat sawn maple neck (not split along the centre and then glued back together like the original US necks) and the odd low cost component, such as the in-line PCB based pickup switch and the single leaf contact output jack. While it was built roughly according to the blueprint of the G&L Legacy USA instruments, certainly rather less care and attention was applied to its assembly. 

Body –  A three piece Stratocaster shaped ash body with forearm and belly contours, finished in a classic three colour sunburst (current US Legacy models appear to have two piece bodies) with a gloss poly clear coat. There is a rectangular ‘swimming pool’ route for the pickups, extending from just below the neck pocket to just above the bridge. No electrical screening in the cavities, although there is a completely non-functional screen connection lead with its solder tag screwed to the bottom of the swimming pool. No markings or shims were present in the neck pocket and no markings in the other body cavities.

Neck – One piece maple neck with a 12 inch radius, 22 big jumbo fret, slab rosewood fretboard, generic ‘C’profile. Thin matte sealer finish. White plastic dot fret markers. G&L necks have no overhang for the 22 fret, the neck is full thickness to the end of the neck pocket. Because of this they also have a longer neck pocket than a Fender Stratocaster.

Truss rod access is at the headstock, a 4mm hex key, single action rod. A single folded metal ‘butterfly’ string tree is fitted, with a spacer. Moulded white plastic nut. The headstock carries the G&L logo in white with a black outline, Tribute series and LEGACY in black. The neck is attached with a four bolt plate. 

Hardware –  Six on a side, chrome plated sealed case, metal button, unbranded tuners (HC mould mark, made by Hanchang in Korea) with hidden pin alignment (no rear screws). These have ‘normal’ posts with a waist and through hole and are all the same height. Three ply red brown ripple tortoiseshell pick guard. Three CLF-100 Alnico 5 rod magnet single coil pickups, flat stagger, no magnet bevels, in G&L branded black plastic covers. The orange / red pickup coil wire is almost certainly 42 awg heavy Formvar insulated (as the vast majority of the Fender pickups were up until 1965). The pickups don’t appear to be wax potted. They are fitted with cloth push-back wire, black (grounded) and white for the neck and bridge and red (red is grounded) and yellow for the middle pickup. Mounted with springs (not surgical rubber tubing). 5 way lever pickup switch, Volume, Treble and Bass rotary controls. The three controls, all branded MIGHTYMITE, look like very high quality, moulded track, sealed, pots. Mighty Mite brand pots like this are still available today from a few US suppliers.

The volume is stamped A250K (measured as 20% log curve) the treble is stamped A500K (measured as a 20% log curve) and the bass C1M (measured as 80% anti-log curve). A indicating a log curve and C an anti-log. This would be correct for a right handed guitar, not for a left handed. On a left handed G&L the Volume, Treble and Bass controls should be C250K Anti-Log, C500K Anti-Log and an A1Meg Log. 

The treble cap for the PTB circuit should be 0.022uF and the bass cap 0.0022uF. The two original capacitors are both green resin dipped plastic film – a 223J100V (measured 0.02393 uF) on the treble and a 222J100V (measured 0.002313uF) on the bass. The volume control has a B201 (200pF measured 213.3pF) ceramic, treble bleed capacitor between the wiper and the anti-clockwise terminal.

The 5 way switch is a low cost PCB type with eight riveted tags in a line across the back edge of the PCB. Three black UFO knobs with white legends (numbered the wrong way around for a left handed guitar, 1 is maximum). G&L ‘Dual Fulcrum’ 2 5/32 inch string spacing, two point vibrato bridge with three, parallel, tension springs (the spring claw only has 3 spring hooks).  The two height adjustment posts take a 3mm hex key. The bridge saddle height grub screws take a 1.5mm hex key. As noted on the G&L web site, over time the company has changed the diameter and material of its vibrato arms. This guitar has a stainless steel 0.239 inch diameter vibrato arm. My green G&L has a older 0.248 diameter arm. Recent G&L’s, according to the web site, have aluminium arms.

Note 1 – This Indonesian made Tribute guitar has 11.2mm wide nickel plated Zinc alloy saddles. The older USA guitars are supposed to have nickel plated brass saddles, although both version ship with zinc alloy inertia blocks (raw finish in the case of the USA models, nickel plate on the Indonesian). Much of the sound of this Indonesian made guitar may be coloured by these zinc saddles.

My 1996 USA made Legacy also had nickel plated die-cast zinc saddles, not brass as originally specified.

According to the G&L web site the most recent (2018) design for the DFL bridge uses a CNC machined cold rolled steel inertia block with shallow ball end recesses and saddles CNC machined from 303 non-magnetic stainless steel billet. 

G&L sell a set of their brass saddles for $39.95, plus shipping and import tax (this online shop listing may be out of date – possibly the saddles are now stainless steel). Any vintage Strat 2 7/32 spacing saddle would fit the Dual Fulcrum bridge. Wudtone vintage steel £39.99, or Highwood HG-11,20 mm / 0.441 inch Contoured Vintage Saddles 39.95 Euro, Graph Tech or even Fender.

Single ply narrow white vibrato cover. The four countersunk cross head neck attachment screws are chrome plated steel, 44mm long with 15mm of smooth shaft below the head. The 4 bolt neck plate is of plain chrome plated steel, no markings.  

Note – 2 It may be that the original vintage style Fender neck screws were, and sometimes are, referred to as ‘bolts’ because one definition of ‘bolt’ is that a bolt is not threaded along its entire length, but has a smooth section of shaft below the head. This is intended to act as a locating pin in a tight clearance hole, drilled through the upper component that the bolt is intended to hold in place. In contrast a screw has a thread that runs all the way up to the head. On the other hand, while a bolt is clamped in place by an external nut, tightened on to the threaded section, a screw often threads in to a hole in the second of the two components fastened together by the screw. However a screw may be, and often is, used like a bolt, with clearance holes through the two pieces to be joined with a nut on the outside. Screws designed for fastening together two pieces of wood are usually tapered and have a section of smooth shaft or shank below the head. This type of wood screw was originally used on Fender ‘bolt’ neck guitars and the plain shaft led to the ‘bolt’ description, although it is properly described as a wood screw.

Comparison to my green U.S.A. made Legend

While not as carefully made as the U.S.A. guitar there are a lot of similarities; maple neck (although with a rosewood finger board), ash body, American made CLF-100 pickups and a G&L vibrato bridge. However the two guitars do sound distinctly different. The U.S.A guitar is clear with a wide frequency range and the characteristic glassy Strat top end. The Cort made guitar does not have that clear top end and has a thicker middle.

I had always thought that, as it says in the original specifications, the saddles on the U.S.A guitar were nickel plated brass. As it turns out my guitar was fitted with an identical bridge to the Cort made guitar; nickel plated zinc alloy saddles and a zinc alloy inertia block. Some time ago I changed the saddles on the U.S.A. guitar for Graph Tech black String Saver saddles and a brass inertia block from Killer Guitar Components. See – Note 1 above.

Work done – Measured and recorded the set up as delivered. Disassembled the guitar. Tapped down the two high frets. Cleaned and polished the frets and fretboard. Removed the truss rod nut, greased and replaced it, tightened it to get the neck close to flat while off the guitar (as received the neck was quite heavily forward bowed). Constructed a custom made sanding stick and sanded back the long cheek of the neck pocket to improve the opportunity for neck alignment. Also removed the paint from the short side of the pocket. Kept tweaking both sides until both E strings were equally spaced from the edge of the fret board. Placed a shim at the end of the neck pocket on the short side so that the neck naturally tends to pull to the long side of the neck pocket under string tension, even if there is any slip in the neck screws. Fitted the supplied Graph Tech saddle, shimming the over wide nut slot with a sliver of plastic sheet behind the nut. Filed the nut slots to match the fretboard radius.

Removed the vibrato bridge to clean it. Pulled the loose brass insert from the treble side out of the body and broke loose the stuck pivot post from the insert. Re-inserted the insert in the body with some epoxy to glue it in place. Also ran some water clear Superglue down the outside of the bass side brass insert to help lock it into the body. Checked the screws that hold the bridge plate onto the inertia block for tightness. They were barely snug, right on the point of being loose. Ground the top of the inertia block flat in an attempt to reduce the visible air gaps between the bridge plate and the block. Re-fitted the plate to the inertia block, tightened the three screws and re-installed the bridge.

Removed any remaining traces of the protective plastic film from the pick guard. Plugged and re-threaded the stripped out bottom screw hole for the output jack plate. Polished the heads of all the pick guard screws.

Replaced all three control pots with controls that have the correct laws for a left handed guitar and re-wired all the electronics. Replaced the single leaf spring output jack with a re-curved jack.

Adjusted the truss rod, action height, intonation and pickup heights. Lacquered over a chip below the vibrato arm under the bridge plate and placed a dab of lacquer on the output jack nut to help lock it in place. 

Analysis

All the controls seem in full working order (later examinations shows they are all the wrong track law for a left handed guitar), except the treble control is oddly spongy against the end stops – turns out the attachment nut is loose and the pot is held against rotation by the wiring. The bass roll off pot nut is also a little loose. The strings are really dead sounding. The neck alignment is way off and towards the body the high E almost runs off the edge of the fret board. With the four neck screws loosened, the neck angle does not auto correct, nor is there any significant movement in the neck pocket. The neck itself is not warped sideways so it would seem that this guitar has always had this poor alignment problem from the factory. The four screw holes rather than being centred in the neck, are offset quite a way towards the long side of the neck pocket. Also, they are not drilled perfectly straight and true through the body. With the neck screws removed, it is evident that the neck is a tight fit in the neck pocket and that the neck movement is not restricted by the pick guard overlapping the edge of the pocket. The pocket does have quite a thick coat of lacquer so sanding this back should help the fit. There is even a lip of finish at the end of the back edge of the pocket which may be the entire cause of the alignment problem.

There is some forward neck bow, in fact with the neck removed from the guitar there is a quite a large forward bow end to end, indicating that perhaps the truss rod has been too slack for quite some time. A fret rocker test shows fret 15 slightly high in the centre, 17 slightly high centre and treble.

As delivered the stainless steel vibrato arm (0.239 inch diameter, my green G&L has a older 0.248 diameter arm) is a very loose fit in the G&L dual fulcrum bridge (easily corrected by tightening the grub screw). The string radius / saddle heights at the bridge are off by quite a bit. With a 12 inch gauge resting on the two E strings none of the other four strings touches the gauge and they are all at varying distances below it.

The bridge plate is made of chrome plated hardened steel. The saddles and the inertia block are die cast zinc alloy, nickel plated. The inertia block is punch marked with the numbers 41.5. This is the depth of the block in millimetres, which probably indicates that G&L use different depth blocks for guitars with different body thicknesses. The block is 12 wide by 64 mm long. The spring claw is unusual as it only has attachment hooks for three springs although the inertia block has the more usual 5 holes for the springs.

Of the two nickel plated steel bridge pivot posts, the bass post turns easily and was set raised a little higher than the treble post, which has been screwed down to the point where it is locked tight in the threaded insert. So tight that any attempt to unscrew it just results in the knurled brass insert, which has become a loose fit, spinning in the hole in the body. The threaded brass insert are cross or diamond knurled rather than being straight knurled. A straight or linear knurl as used on most modern bridge inserts would be more secure as the diamond knurl tends to remove wood as it is pressed in, rather that cutting and compressing the wood fibres as straight knurl does. 

Each post has two black felt vibration damping washers fitted underneath the bridge plate.

The three screws holding the inertia block to the bridge plate were only barely screwed home and all three unscrewed easily with no initial resistance. The block plus the three screws weighs 227gms. There are visible air gaps between the top of the block and the bottom of the bridge plate. 

Bridge saddles assembled as delivered 

All saddle screws are M3, all intonation screws are 17mm long and all grub screws are 6mm long

Spring in mm

E 9

A 12

D 12

G 11 an oddity, it’s probably just a short 12

B 12

E 9

One of the 9mm springs appears to be in the wrong place, the spring pattern it should be 9, 12, 12, 9, 12, 12. A short spring on the low E and on the G.

The guitar does not have screening paint applied to the cavities, but there is a completely useless ground wire and tag screening connection screwed to the bottom of the pickup route. 

Action heights open string at the 17th fret as delivered are – low E 2.1mm, high E 2mm

After set up – low E 2.25mm, high E 1.75mm. Fender specs – 1.6 and 1.6 for 12 inch radius neck.

After a further ¼ turn on the truss rod 1.6 and 2.

The G&L set up instructions are for setting the MFD pickups only, so I’m using the Fender pickup heights as a guide since the CFL-100 pickups are very similar to Fender standard single coils. String to top of pole, string depressed at the last fret – 2mm bass, 1.6mm treble. The G&L pickups are flat pole ‘stagger’ I set them for 2mm on both sides.  

The replacement Graph Tech nut is manufactured for a 7.25 inch fret board radius and is 0.126 thick by 1.686 inches wide (note – Graph Tech do make a 12 inch radius flat bottom Strat nut the PT-5430-00, BUT only for right handed guitars). The G&L neck flat bottomed nut slot is 0.134 by 1.657 inches.

The G&L fretboard is supposed to have a 12 inch radius. While it does have a 12 inch radius at the 22nd fret, up by the nut it is closer to 14 inches.

So the Graph Tech PT-5000-LO nut is not a great fit for this guitar; it will need to be trimmed to length, the nut slots need to be re-cut to match the neck radius and for a tight fit in the nut slot a thin plastic shim will need to be added to fill the width of the slot. On the other hand the Graph Tech is better shaped than the existing nut, it is lower friction and has a very slightly wider string spacing of 34.62mm compared to 34.5mm for the old nut.

The white and yellow push back wires on the back of the pickup switch were crossed over and look as though they may have been shorting together.

Intonation as delivered

Error in centsBack of bridge to saddle front in mm New set of 10s

Set for 0 error

E +10 26.04 26.68

A +4 27.97 27.44

D +9 29.56 28.12

G +5 27.41 27.10

B +2 28.01 28.94

E +4 29.94 29.87

It looks like the saddle intonation setting may have been close to correct and measured error was due to old strings.

Replacement controls – Volume 250K Anti-log (measured 238.2K), Treble 500K Anti-log (measured 527K), Bass 1M Log (measured 1.017Meg). These old capacitors were re-used.

G&L Setup Notes

The G&L Dual Fulcrum vibrato bridge is a little unusual for a two pivot bridge because the pivot bevel is present on both the top and the bottom. The bridge plate is designed to float 3/16 of an inch above and parallel to the top of the guitar. This is intended to allow a wide range of bends both up and down. Many two pivot bridge plates only have the bevel on the bottom of the plate. Two black felt damping washers are fitted under the plate on both sides to minimise any higher frequency bounce from the bridge. Bounce or gargle is a characteristic of other vibrato bridges that some players use to make gargling noises by quickly releasing the bar.

So according to G&L the two pivot posts should be adjusted, along with string and spring tension, to parallel float the bridge plate at 3/16 (this does place the top of the saddles and therefore the string plane quite a long way from the top of the guitar). Adjusting the action on the U.S.A. guitars with the micro-tilt neck is relatively easy, but on the Tribute series it would be necessary to resort to shimming at the bottom of the neck pocket. 

Open string spacing at the first fret should be 0.018 of an inch.

The U.S.A. guitars have both a micro-tilt neck so the action height can be easily adjusted and at least on my 1996 Legacy the neck is set relatively high in the neck pocket to match the elevation of the bridge. The pocket depth on my U.S.A. guitar is 1 5/32 inch from the back of the guitar to the bottom of the pocket and 15/16th of an inch from the back of the neck heel to the edge of the fretboard. However setting even the U.S.A guitar up with a 3/16 inch body to neck plate gap and 1/8th gap on the low E saddle does place the strings and pickups high above the body.

The pocket depth on the Indonesian guitar is 1 inch from the back of the guitar to the bottom of the pocket and 31/32 of an inch from the back of the neck heel to the edge of the fretboard. 

So the on the U.S.A guitar, roughly speaking, the neck is set 5/32 of an inch higher in the pocket than on the Indonesian guitar. The only way for the Indonesian guitar to meet the same setup specifications as the U.S.A. made guitar for the bridge and saddle heights, is for the neck pocket to be slightly angled or to shim the bottom of the neck pocket. Checking with a straight edge set on the frets doesn’t show any appreciable angle on the Indonesian neck pocket. 

Totalling up the measurement from the G&L set up notes with the dimensions of the bridge plate and saddles we get – 3/16 of float plus the 3/32 thickness (roughly) of the bridge plate plus a 1/8 gap between the top of the bridge plate and the underside of the saddle plus the 3/16 of saddle thickness, putting the plane of the strings at 19/32 inches above the body. The G&L specs out at 1/8 higher than the typical 15/32 inches for the string plane of a Fender Strat. This also means the pickups need to be set quite high above the pick guard and just doesn’t seem very comfortable to me. So I plan to float the bridge a little lower and set the saddles a little lower to arrive at something closer to a ‘normal’ Strat set up. Bridge float of 9/64 and 3/64 on the low E saddle plus 3/32 for the plate and 3/16 for the saddle equals 15/32 to the plane of the strings.

For reference for the nut slot depth the fret height is between 0.05 and 0.053 inches.

Pickup measurements –

Flat stagger, unbevelled, Alnico 5 rod magnets, level with the tops of the G&L branded black plastic pickup covers. Black Forbon vulcanised fibre flatware bobbins, no wax potting. Cloth ‘push back’ pickup wire coded white/black for the neck and bridge, yellow/red for the middle.

Apart from the different wire colours used on the middle pickup, the three pickups are not marked or identified in any way. From the measurements it looks as though the Cort factory has made yet another mistake. Normally if the pickups in a pickup set show any significant difference in inductance they would be arranged with the highest value at the bridge position. The neck and middle pickups would either be around the same value, or the middle pickup would be perhaps slightly higher than the neck. The pickups do seem to have been wound so that one of them was higher inductance than the other two, as the measured difference is greater than would occur by chance and manufacturing variation. The G&L on-line shop confirms this, as the CLF-100 Alnico Single Coil pickups listing for this model of guitar notes that the bridge pickup has more turns on the coil than the neck pickup.

The third pickup is RWRP and obviously intended for hum cancellation in the middle position because of its differently colour coded wires and the pole magnets being South up, while the other two pickups poles are North up.

Therefore I think it not unreasonable of me to reverse the positions of the pickups originally fitted at the ‘neck’ and ‘bridge’ position so that the highest inductance pickup is in the bridge position.

This puts the neck and middle roughly equal at approximately 3.3H and the bridge at roughly 3.5H. 

Even with this more sensible positioning of the pickups this pickup set is on slightly high side of inductance values for Strat pickups and along with the flat magnet stagger I would expect this pickup set to produce a darker, higher output than the classic glassy Strat sound.

Neck – measured without strings white/black connections

Note – this pickup now exchanged with the pickup at the bridge position. 

Capacitance =  144.4pF

L in HenrysQESR in Kohm

100Hz 3.459 0.298 7.49

120Hz 3.455 0.35 7.43

1000Hz3.5252.748.08

Parallel Rp

1000Hz 3.983 2.8 70K

Magnet orientation – North up    Magnet size = 0.186 by 0.658 inches

Low E = 1070, 960, 1090, 840, 980, High E = 1150 Gauss measured at the top of each pole, without strings

Middle – measured without strings yellow/red connections

Capacitance = 199.11pF

L in HenrysQESR in Kohm

100Hz 3.241 0.278 7.32

120Hz 3.242 0.334 7.31

1000Hz3.3012.617.94

Parallel Rp

1000Hz 3.787 2.61 62.1K

Magnet orientation – South up

Low E = 990, 910, 920, 890, 880, High E = 1120 Gauss measured at top of pole, without strings

Bridge – measured without strings white/black connections

Capacitance = 103.5pF

L in HenrysQESR in Kohm

100Hz3.2320.2787.29

120Hz3.2320.3327.33

1000Hz3.2742.617.85

Parallel Rp

1000Hz 3.753 2.61 61.7K

Magnet orientation – North up

Low E = 940, 930, 690, 740, 820, High E = 920 Gauss measured at top of pole, without strings

What makes a great guitar teacher?

Find the right guitar teacher

Are you planning to take guitar lessons? Great idea! Now, the first thing you have to do is to find the right teacher!

A great teacher is important for you to learn how to play guitar properly and to acquire self-confidence with this musical instrument. Here at Guitar Lessons London tutors are fully trained and willing to inspire you.

How a good guitar teacher should be?

What makes a great guitar teacher

What makes a great guitar teacher

5 characteristics every great guitar teacher has…

1) Flexibility A great guitar teacher cares about you and can adapt lessons to your level, age, needs, and personality.

2) Patience Learning guitar can be difficult sometimes, but a great teacher is there to help you to practise. That chord that doesn’t get to you won’t be a problem anymore!

3) Good Organisation A good guitar teacher is dedicated and provides lessons easy to follow.

4) Positive Nature Your guitar teacher should encourage you to improve your music skills and overcome your difficulties. You need to be inspired to always go further and become the great musician you’re dreaming of.

5) Belief Your guitar teacher will be first of all a friend for you, so you must choose someone to trust and who can guide you for a long time. Just think that some aspiring guitarists have been studying with the same teacher since they were children!

…and 10 things you have to look for

Now it’s up to you! What kind of teacher are you looking for? We give you some advice to help you with your choice. The first six ones are more general, while the last four are practical.

1)Teaching Method Do you prefer a rigorous teacher or a more casual one? Discipline it’s important (you wouldn’t learn anything without it!), but playing guitar it’s fun too. Seek for a mix of both aspects.

2) Goal-setter A little bit of discipline doesn’t hurt, anyway.  Choose a teacher who understands your abilities and set simple goals to motivate you.

3) Education A guitar teacher can have a college background or be self-taught. Anyway, search for good references, they will be useful for you to choose the right person.

4) Experience teaching Direct consequence of the previous point, having some years of experience is a plus.

5) Personality Since you want to be inspired, your teacher should be nice, friendly and… ready to cheer you up every time your fingers hurt because of those strings!

6) Dedication Acquiring new skills takes time: choose a teacher who wants to spend his time for you. It’s so amazing to grow up (literally and musically speaking) with the same teacher!

7) Love for children If you’re a parent you surely want your child to learn guitar in a playful atmosphere, don’t you? A lot of guitar courses are trained by tutors experienced with kids, seek for them.

8) Price Consider your budget but always look for quality. If you want to learn guitar more seriously, maybe spending a bit more could be an option.

9) Location It’s more convenient for you to find a music studio near to where you live or a teacher who takes at-home lessons.

10) Active musically Last but not least, some guitar teachers are performers too. This can give you an idea of what you can learn from them.

 

Are you curious to know our guitar teachers? Contact us and book your first lesson

Spirit by Steinberger

Repair log – 2019 Spirit by Steinberger GT-PRO Deluxe – 2019 Spirit by Steinberger GT-PRO Deluxe in frost blue. Made in China. 

14/02/20 Copyright reserved by Terry Relph-Knight

Weight = 2.5Kg 5.51lbs

Delivered with a lightweight black custom soft gig bag, a vibrato arm, a user manual and a set of non-calibrated Steinberger DoubleBall strings 10 to 46. No tools (hex keys).

Hex keys required – 4mm for the truss rod and 1.5mm for the vibrato arm tension, bridge saddle heights and saddle side lock.

In 1976 Ned Steinberger set out to completely redesign the electric bass. In 1979 he set up bass production in Newburgh, New York working essentially on his own. The original Steinberger basses and the guitars which followed, were a minimalist design, with the bodies reduced to a minimum and a headless neck. The tuners were relocated at the end of the body as part of the bridge design. The Steinberger instruments were manufactured using labour intensive techniques, the body and neck being hand moulded in one piece out of carbon fibre.

Spirit by Steinberger

Spirit by Steinberger

The original Steinberger guitar company went out of business because the business model could not sustain the amount of specialist hand work required to build enough basses and guitars to meet demand. Ned Steinberger sold the business to Gibson in 1987 and this Spirit range is currently manufactured out of wood by a Chinese sub-contractor for Gibson Guitars. 

In the past several other companies, Hofner and Cort for example, have licensed the headless technology to build similar guitars. The original carbon fibre Steinbergers are quite sought after and fetch quite high prices. The current small body Chinese made instruments, still plentifully available and in current production new, depreciate like any general mid priced guitar.

For a while a line of Steinberger headless guitars with larger more conventional bodies was on the market.    

This guitar is the Spirit by ‘Steinberger GT-PRO Deluxe’ model with a Steinberger branded passive humbucker/single size humbucker/humbucker pickup configuration. A budget version of the original, much more expensive, carbon fibre models. At 30.25 inches in total length with a very compact body this is an all wood, highly portable, 7lb (this one weighs 5.5lbs) electric guitar that still retains a 25.5 scale length and a 2 octave 24 fret neck. 

Note 1 – This guitar requires special double ball ended strings manufactured for the Steinberger and other similar designs. There are some headless guitars which have grub screw clamps at the end of the neck that will accept standard guitar strings. This guitar is not one of them. An adapter (Steinberger Single Ball string adapter – STADG06) is available to convert the neck clamp for ordinary strings.

https://www.thomann.de/gb/steinberger_guitars_stadg06_adapter_guitar_bk.htm

OR The J Customs replacement cap, which screws on to the end of the neck, in place of the current cap.

Note 2 – The Steinberger R-Trem bridge on this guitar is a made under license unit. It is die-cast, probably out of some variety of specialised alloy. Considerable pressure is placed on the bridge components by the string tension and balancing spring compression. Over the years there have been many reports of licensed versions of these bridge cast out of soft zinc alloy gradually bending under these stresses, causing problems with the vibrato function and with the guitar staying in tune. I have a cheap headless guitar kit myself that was supplied with a non-licensed copy of the Steinberger R-Trem bridge and that started to bend very quickly. However, providing the various parts of this guitar don’t move and have been adjusted correctly, the design should deliver very stable tuning once the strings have settled. This does seem to be the case, tuning on this guitar is now very stable.

 

Problems – Extreme difficulty trying to get the guitar in tune. The set up from the factory is very poor, as purchased it would have been impossible to tune (because of loose parts), or to play this guitar with any comfort. All the intonation is very sharp and the action is high, with the strings not following the fretboard radius. The saddles are loose because the saddle lock grub screw hasn’t been tightened. The bridge humbucker is tilted down on the treble side. None of the moving parts of the vibrato/tuner bridge have been lubricated. The vibrato tension knob is loose on the tension screw. Some fretwork is required.

Work done – Measured and recorded the set-up of the guitar as delivered. Disassembled the vibrato bridge and applied superglue to the vibrato spring tension knob, which was loose and just spinning up and down the tension screw, to lock it into place on the end of the screw. Applied PTFE grease to all the moving screw parts in the bridge and to the two pivots. Ground down the end of the vibrato tension spring for a better fit in the spring cup in the upper part of the bridge. Reassembled the bridge. Added a felt pad to the end of the leg support. Checked the frets for level with a fret rocker and tapped down four high frets with a brass fret punch. Polished the frets and the fret board. Set the action and intonation.

Body – A small, wedge shaped body of basswood, joined to the neck by a tenon terminating half way under the neck pickup. The finish is a polyurethane clear coat over metallic blue base that covers the body and the back of the neck.  

Neck – The three piece, chunky D profile, glued in neck, is of hard rock maple with a 24 jumbo frets on a 14 inch radius, engineered hardwood fretboard. White plastic dot fret markers are fitted at the 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 17, 19 and 21st frets. Matching white side dots. The neck has a zero fret fitted just below the string ball socket/clamp.

The truss rod adjustment (4mm hex) is at the top of the neck, accessed through a hole in that clamp.

The ‘engineered’ fretboard is probably a softwood such as New Zealand pine (Pinus Radiata) that has been injected with resin, compressed and baked. Commercially known as Blackwood Tek.

Hardware – The double ball end strings are attached to the end of the neck with a black Steinberger headless string ball socket/clamp. The clamp has an integral rubber band to help keep the neck end of the string in place in the clamp while the other end is guided into the string claw at the bridge. 

The three pickups are two Steinberger branded black humbuckers type HB-1 in the bridge and HB-2 in the neck mounted in black pickup rings, with a single coil size Steinberger SC-1 humbucker pickup, body mounted in between them. 

The bridge is a Black Steinberger System R-Trem vibrato bridge with built in 40:1 ratio linear screw tuners. The R-Trem is unusual in that it has a socket for the vibrato arm on either side. Although a right handed arm can be fitted to the top socket instead of the bottom, the bridge will suit a left handed guitar just as well as a right handed, in which case a left handed arm would be used. 

The 500K log rotary controls for Volume and Treble are fitted with knurled black knobs. Pickups are selected via a five way lever switch. The output is through a side mounted barrel jack. A black fold out leg support is fitted to the bottom edge of the body. There are three black strap locks, one under the neck heel and one on each corner of the body. 

Analysis – The screw that tensions the single vibrato spring has a large knurled aluminium knob on the end which is supposed to be fixed firmly to the screw. This knob is loose and instead of turning the screw it just spins up and down the lenght of the screw.

The vibrato tension spring is wound of rectangular high carbon steel wire – 15mm in diameter and 51mm long. The screw itself is a standard off-the-shelf machine screw. The knob is a separate piece of turned aluminium with a central thread that threads onto the screw. The knob should be threaded onto the screw all the way until it locks against the head of the screw (there is a rather ineffective spring washer under the head of the screw). Tightening against the screw head (loaded by the washer) is supposed to hold the knob in place. On this guitar the knob isn’t locked tightly against the screw head, so the vibrato spring tension cannot be adjusted. Apart from the remote possibility of needing to replace the screw if it were to become damaged, there is no need to ever remove the knob. So it can be more firmly attached with a few drops of superglue on the thread.

Reassembly of the vibrato bridge proved difficult. The compression spring diameter is too large to fit into the cup in the lever that extends down from the upper section of the bridge.

The guitar hasn’t been properly set up, just the bare minimum has been done for it to play at all. The rough saddle heights are very typical of Gibson with the strings set high over the bass saddles, gradually reducing in height towards the high E. 

The intonation is all chronically sharp. All the saddles need to slide back by several millimetres.

The low E appeared to be line up on the centre of the locking grub screw with  the other five saddles roughly staggered in a slope in front of the low E saddle. The high E is lined up with the front edge of the saddle tray.  

Once the strings were removed it turned out that the side lock grub screw wasn’t tightened at all, so all the saddles were only held in place by string tension and were actually free to slide around. With the saddles loose tuning could never be stable.

All six saddles are identical (not graduated for height or string diameter) and interchangeable die cast rectangular blocks with, according to the specifications, central round steel grooved inserts to support the strings. Either these are non-magnetic stainless steel or they may actually be nickel plated brass. Grub screws threaded into diagonally opposed corners of the blocks allow for height setting.

None of the moving threaded parts of the bridge appear to have been lubricated.

The fold down leg rest has two indentations on the inside end for very small, self adhesive, rubber bumpers to stop it making a loud clacking noise when it is folded back to the body. However these bumpers are so small that there isn’t enough surface area for the adhesive to hold them and they have fallen off.

The wiring is a little sloppy with some possibility of the pickup wires on the back of the switch shorting out. The control pots are the larger 23mm diameter type made in Korea by Jin Sung.

The HB-1, SC-1 and HB-2 Steinberger branded pickups are black epoxy sealed into black plastic cases with no visible pole pieces. Magnetic viewing film reveals that all three pickups use bar magnets and blade poles and that, inside the the plastic case, the magnet and coil structure of the bridge pickup is actually slanted towards the bridge on the treble side. These pickups are likely to be very low cost ceramic magnet designs, however they really don’t sound that bad.

There are self adhesive labels for BHC on the base of the pickups. BHC (China) and BHK (Korea) appears to be a brand name for a company that sells very low cost pickups, often sold on EBAY re-branded as Belcat or Kmise, for as little as £10 per pickup.

A fret rocker test reveals four high frets – 2 a little high in the middle, 8 high on middle and treble, 11 high on middle and 20 high on the bass.

Intonation as delivered

Distance from back of saddle to inside edge of tray after adjustment in mm.

E +7 12.82

A +8 14.03

D +4 15.39

G +20 13.05

B +14 14.26

E +13 15.41

Saddle positions adjusted to as close as 0 error octave at the fretted 12 fret as possible. Adjustment is made by first slackening off the string to be adjusted. The saddle locking grub screw is then loosened and the saddle being adjusted is very carefully slid backward or forward as appropriate to flatten or sharpen the octave. Hopefully the other five saddles are held in position by pressure from the strings and don’t move. With the saddle moved the grub screw should be tightened and the intonation checked. Repeat until all six strings produce an accurate fretted octave at the twelfth fret. 

Action as delivered

Open string heights at the 17th fret – Low E 2.5mm, High E 1.5mm, relief around 10thou.

Action adjusted – Low E 1.5mm, high E 1.25mm.

Tuning method –

Lock the bridge. If the lock does not engage, waggle the bridge up and down until it does.

Adjust the tuning barrels at the bridge to bring each string up to tune. Make sure the lock does not slip off.

Check the tuning of all six strings. If you only want to play with a locked bridge you are done. Otherwise disengage the lock.

Adjust the spring tension knob to bring at least one string back to correct tuning. The G string is often the most sensitive to tension change.

Check the tuning of all the other strings. They should be in tune but if they are out, repeat all of the above.

The bridge should also be locked for intonation and saddle height adjustments. 

Tuning in more detail

In theory, once new strings have settled in, the tuning of this guitar should remain fairly stable – as good as, or better, than a guitar with full string locking (and providing the saddles have been locked in place AND that the alloy used to manufacture the bridge is strong enough not to bend). The R-Trem bridge can be locked and the guitar played as a fixed bridge (any retuning is then done with the tuning barrels on the back of the bridge). Or with the vibrato bridge unlocked, once all the strings have settled they will all tend to drift flat or sharp together and the large vibrato spring knob can be used as a global tuner.

Tuning a headless guitar with a vibrato bridge, from the bridge, is a different experience to tuning a guitar with tuners mounted on a headstock. It takes some getting used to, as a vibrato bridge is designed to move and change the pitch of the strings. However as the tuner barrels are mounted on the back of the bridge it can be difficult to adjust them without moving the bridge and therefore affecting the tuning.

The tuners use a threaded screw principle. The strings are special double ball ended strings manufactured for use with Steinberger guitars. The ball at one end engages with a notch in a metal clamp at the end of the neck and the ball at the other end with a claw on the bridge. The claw is cut into the end of a threaded metal block. Each tuning barrel rotates a screw thread that runs through each claw block. Turning the tuning barrels clockwise tightens the screw through the claw block pulling the claw gradually away from the guitar neck, increasing tension on the string and raising its pitch. Changing strings requires turning each tuner barrel anti clockwise until the string claw extends far enough outside the front edge of the claw cover for the ball end to be lifted out of the claw. 

Note that the tuning barrels are like the vibrato spring tension adjustment screw. The threaded  section is an off-the-shelf screw and the knurled barrels are separately machined parts threaded onto them. So the barrels can become loose.

The first thing to do is to engage the bridge locking lever to STOP the bridge from moving. If the vibrato tension screw is set correctly the locking lever should slip into place easily without changing the tuning. The locking lever is located under the tuner barrel for the A string. With the tension set correctly the bridge should appear to be floating parallel to the body. If that is not the case use the vibrato arm to move the bridge so it is parallel to the body and the locking lever should slip into place. When locked the bridge should be rigid – it should not be possible to move it up and down.

Throughout the tuning process it is necessary to make sure that the locking lever has not slipped out place. With the bridge rigidly locked and parallel to the body each string can be adjusted for tuning by turning the associated barrel. When all the strings are in tune, if the player desires to use the vibrato bridge the locking lever can be disengaged. It is likely that the bridge will then settle to a new position up or down. Adjust the vibrato tension using the large knurled knob under the middle of the bridge until the G string is back to tune. The bridge should then be floating parallel to the body and the lock lever should slip in or out of engagement without any change in tuning.

Pickup measurements 

Neck Capacitance = 215.9pF

LQESR

100Hz 5.173 0.353 9.2

120Hz 5.169 0.421 9.23

1000Hz 5.046 2.23 14.17

Field polarity = South towards neck

Field strength = 236 Gauss

Middle Capacitance = 319.3pF

LQESR

100Hz 3.146 0.339 5.81

120Hz 3.149 0.406 5.84

1000Hz 3.069 2.02 9.52

Field polarity = North towards neck

Field strength = 270 Gauss

Bridge Capacitance = 198.79pF

LQESR

100Hz 5.618 0.381 9.26

120Hz5.6030.4549.3

1000Hz 5.439 2.28 14.94

Field polarity = South towards neck

Field strength = 280 Gauss

The inductance of the two full size humbuckers on this guitar at 5 to 5.5 Henrys is a little on the high side and self capacitance is quite high at around 200pF, so I would expect them to sound full and a little on the dark side. In practice they do provide quite useable warm tones. The middle pickup sounds a little weak, either on its own, or mixed with one of the other pickups.  

Labour – £ 55.00

Learning Guitar

Learning Guitar has never been easier

Learning Guitar

Learning Guitar

It’s safe to say times are tough. Social distancing has muddled our schedules and left us with time on our hands and not a lot do, and that can feel frustrating.

We customise lessons to fit the learning style of each individual student

We’re here to help. People all over the country are already taken advantage of online guitar lessons, and seeing huge results in return. 

Our Academy offers a range of online courses, spanning across multiple instruments taught by a team of specialised tutors. You can start your musical journey from the comfort of your home.

Skype, Zoom, Facetime, Whatsapp, Facebook messenger. It’s never been easier to interact with hundreds of qualified tutors who can help you develop a new skill. 

Studies have shown that online guitar lessons are actually a more effective style of teaching. The student spends less time socializing and more time playing and showing off their moves. So you’ll see results quicker!

We offer lessons for all age ranges, and our tutors still provide worksheets for their students. Our tutors can even record the lessons, and add them to the weekly email so you can watch back in your own time! 

Start your journey here: 

 

 

The Art of Practicing

The Art of Practicing Guitar

Set the same time aside everyday. Learn things the right way, in the right order and you will optimise every practice session to the full. Try and capture the feeling of the joy you will get when you can play to your optimum every time you perform. You need to give time to your playing ensuring you feel comfortable on your instrument at all times. Most of all never give up. Practicing slowly is the key to success!

Bolster your practice skills by practicing new material that will enhance your skills.

Always keep the spirit of a beginner.  Choose to play a few things really well, and you will become an expert in your chosen style. Know, express yourself so that you you can tap into your emotions. Be sincere and authentic, and play from your heart. The image of you playing that song you really love will really help you focus on the skills you are trying to develop. Believe in yourself, believe in your music, and always give your absolute best at all times.

The Art of Practicing

The Art of Practicing

Create Additional Effective Lines with Scale to Chord Vision

Learn contrasting ways of viewing scales, chords, modes and arpeggios this will open up new horizons for musical exploration and bolster your fretboard vision. Once you have a grasp on the basic technique keep working till it becomes second nature and you can do it in your sleep. A good guitar practice routine involves reinforcing known skills, pushing yourself to the limit of your concentration.

Build Incredible Fretboard Co-ordination

Developing Coordination, Dexterity and Speed on the guitar is the name of the game and with every structured practice session you are one step closer to reaching “perfection”. Use the exercise to warm up and make it a regular part of your guitar practice routine. Start slow and accurately and  bursting fast shredding speed will happen naturally.

  • Learn the music slow and then gradually speed up

  • Play the chromatic warmups emphasising each fretted note

  • Learn how to manage your practice time

  • Practice things you struggle with

  • Use a metronome marking the tempo’s for consistency

  • Play everyday. Make time for yourself to play

  • Only speed up when you got it right

  • Use a medium-to-heavy pick, and play just on its tip for accuracy and speed

Contact Guitar Lessons London today to work out your custom practice schedule!

 

 

7 Ways To Stay Motivated While Playing Guitar

7 Ways To Stay Motivated While Playing Guitar

 

Stuck in a rut, bored of your boredom, got guitarist’s block? Why can’t the guitar pick itself up you say, where is the love, curiosity and motivation I felt at the beginning. Don’t worry my fellow Guitar friend here are 7 ways to stay motivated while playing guitar. 

 

 

  • Inspiration-Driving-Motivation

 

 

Why did you pick-up the guitar, can you remember? Perhaps it was a new hobby – a chance to let yourself relax, to find musicians to play with (more on that later) or to impress dinner guests. Whatever the reason, never forget the inspiration that got you to this place to start with. Refresh that inspiration by revisiting the music that got you to buy that guitar – the musicians, the live concert experience. Let the inspiration drive your motivation and remind you of the beauty of it. 

 

 

  • Easy Like A Sunday Morning

 

 

Congratulations, you purchased your guitar and got yourself started with playing but what happened? 

 

Somehow taking it out of its case and going into the other room and practicing has now become a chore rather than the curious affair that you first felt. Make playing the guitar an easy task to reinstate that curiosity. How about leaving your guitar out next to the sofa or creating a little practice space where you can just play whenever you pass by for a few minutes. Allow playing the guitar to be as easy as picking it up on a lazy Sunday morning. 

 

 

  • Patience To See Small Steps Become Big Steps 

 

 

Each small step makes up the mile. Are you considering a weekly goal such as learning a certain number of chords or finishing a song or piece? 

 

Setting these achievable goals for your guitar playing will make a big difference. You want to create small achievements that will let you know you are moving forwards and allow you to feel good about your progress. Nobody needs the added pressure, so focus on the small tasks to help ease that pressure and make it easier to facilitate the big achievements.  

 

 

  • Rewards: You Deserve It

 

 

Focusing your aims and goals is important but don’t forget about giving yourself credit where credit is due. YOU got yourself to this seat and are trying to find motivation. YOU managed to practice this week. Reward yourself on those achievements – you are doing great. 

 

 

  • Active Engagement

 

 

You’re seeing the practice provide progress but what do you do now with this new set of skills? What does a guitarist do practically while they learn? 

 

Keeping active engagement with music is a really important way to stay motivated; examples of this could mean any of the following, listening to music, going to see live gigs, discussing music with friends or finding other instrumentalists to play with. Playing the guitar is about more than just sitting there and practicing all day long. Enjoy being a part of the music world and community, enjoy being a guitarist. 

 

 

  • The Musician Becomes The Musician

 

 

Everyone finds advice and inspiration for learning guitar through a number of different ways but watching videos of your favourite musicians or tutorials of other musicians is a great way to start. Musicians have learnt from musicians since the beginning of music itself and that isn’t going to stop anytime soon. There are a number of ways to watch these videos including live streams of your favourite bands, watching artists on their own pages, scrolling through YouTube or Ultimate Guitar Tabs tutorials to find what suits you. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJunCsrhJjg

 

 

  • Build A Community 

 

 

Everyone needs their motivation lifted up once in a while and there’s no better place to find that then through a community. 

 

The music community spreads far and wide across genres and finding your own community can come through different forms including fan forums, a local gig venue and music centre or even looking at ads for bands looking for musicians. Build your own community by asking your friends to come to events with you or by meeting and socialising with people at gigs/music venues who share similar interests to you. Music builds community and this drives motivation to keep engaged with it.

 

Fender Classic Vibe 60’s sunburst Stratocaster

Repair log: a 2013 left handed Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 60’s sunburst Stratocaster. Crafted in China by AXL.

Copyright retained, Terry Relph-Knight 04/02/20 

Value – £ 422 new £ 250 resale, purchased via EBAY auction – £120

? Fender web site RRP = £369

Weight – 3.4 Kgm, 7.495 lbs

Note – Owner says the truss rod required a ¼ turn tightening after he got the guitar home, so it seems the neck moved even after normalising in my workshop for several days.

A Squier Classic Vibe 60’s Left Handed Stratocaster delivered in a Fender tweed finish gig bag. Missing the left handed vibrato arm. Strung with Rotosound 9 to 42 as delivered. Re-strung with the included set of Ernie Ball orange pack RPS Hybrid Slinkies 9, 11, 16, 26, 36, 46.

 

Hex keys required for adjustment – 4mm or 3/16 inch for the truss rod and 1.5mm for the bridge height grub screws.

The Squier Classic Vibe 60’s Stratocasters are very well regarded, although this opinion is based on the earlier Chinese made instruments. In 2019 manufacture of this model switched from China to Indonesia with some changes in specification. There is some speculation that these Indonesian instruments are inferior to the earlier Chinese guitars. Most recent web site listings show the body as pine for the 50s CVs and nato for the 60s and 70s, rather than the alder of the earlier instruments.

The CV 60’s Strat has a classic appearance, with a tinted finish neck, Kluson style tuners, a vintage trem and a three colour sunburst body (other colours may include Candy Apple Red and Lake Placid Blue). It has a three ply pick guard while the 50s models have single ply. But this CV 60s Strat model does nod towards modernity with a 9.5 inch radius neck, fairly substantial frets, a 5 way pickup switch and a ‘calibrated’ or graduated set of pickups with RWRP middle pickup. 

The curved “veneer” rosewood fretboards, like the board on this guitar, are apparently made by sanding a concave curve into a slab of rosewood, not by bending a thinner board. Fender supposedly introduced them either a) because they had trouble with the slab rosewood boards overpowering the maple neck, causing warping, or b) because they wanted to retain the signature Fender sound, but with the cosmetics of a rosewood board. Although slab rosewood fretboards are the most common construction used today.

Problems – In for a general setup and rewiring and possible fret work. When the pickup selector is in position 4, only the neck pickup is in the circuit. Neck and middle pickups are hooked up when the selector is part way between positions 3 and 4. Loose output jack. Rewire to a PTB and a 6 way pickup selector for a neck plus bridge pickup option. Buzz on the G string. Wonky grub screw on the low E saddle. Poorly installed vibrato.

Body –  A two piece alder body with an almost invisible join, slightly off centre towards the treble side. Finished in a three colour sunburst with a high gloss poly clear coat. There are two noticeable dents in the front of the guitar and one on the back. Routed for a single coil neck, P90 middle and a humbucker at the bridge. A61996 is punch stamped in the bottom of the middle route. The body cavities are screened with black conductive paint. The neck pocket has 41114L written in ball point pen. There were no shims in the pocket, but it does have some odd chisel marks in the bottom. The neck is secured with a four bolt neck plate. The four screw holes seem symmetrically drilled and perpendicular through the body, but they are very tight. 

Neck – A 21 fret, 9.5 inch radius maple neck with some nice quilt figuring, finished in a vintage tint gloss poly. The thin curved ‘veneer’ fretboard is probably Indian laurel (maybe rosewood). Fret markers are white plastic dots with quite small white side dots and, of necessity given the thin fret board, half in the board and half in the maple neck. Neck profile is a generic C shape. The nut is ‘synthetic bone’ with an orange tint. Truss rod (3/16 hex key) adjustment is from the headstock. The hole for the key is trimmed with a walnut fillet. An ink stamp on the end of the neck shows the date 2013-05-14. The Squier logo in gold with a black outline, preceded by STRATOCASTER in black, appears on the front of the headstock with a small black Fender below it. In black on the back of the headstock – “Designed and backed by Fender, Crafted in China, s/n CGS1314190”.

Hardware –  The vintage style left handed vibrato has a thin, low mass, zinc alloy inertia block and is missing the vibrato arm. The vibrato has six folded steel saddles with a string spacing at a ‘modern’ 2 1/16 inches or 52.5mm (the six pivot screws are at the same spacing). It is fitted with three springs with the outer two set in a V. Although this is, for some reason, a ‘fashionable’ way to fit three springs, in this case it may be to help one of the outer springs not rubbing on the cavity wall because the vibrato spring tension screws have been very poorly installed. The route for the vibrato through the body is at a slight angle. The vibrato cavity cover is thin, single ply, gloss black plastic with six individual string access holes.

The tuning machines are vintage style Kluson reproductions, with the fixed oval metal buttons and slotted posts with a central hole. A single bent metal string tree is fitted under the E and B strings on a 4mm spacer.

The four bolt neck plate is nickel plated steel with the Squier logo by Fender etched into it. The neck is attached with four large head nickel plated steel wood screws with 8mm of plain shank below the head.

The three controls, fitted with cream plastic non-genuine Fender UFO knobs, are wired as for a classic Strat with a global volume, the first tone for the neck pickup and the second for the middle pickup. They don’t feel like they are the correct law for a lefty (turns out they are labelled anti-log -C250K). Pickup selection is via a 5 way switch (economy PCB type) that isn’t switching the neck and middle combination – only the neck is connected. If this is a switch fault it doesn’t matter because the plan is to replace the switch with a 6 way.

The three, spring mounted pickups have lightly bevelled Alnico rod magnets in a modern stagger. Some online sources say that the pickups in a 2013 CV use Alnico 3 magnets. The Fender web site says only ‘Fender® Designed Alnico Single-Coil’. Measurements show this guitar has Alnico 5 magnets and the centre pickup is RWRP for hum cancellation in the in between switch positions.

The pick guard is a three ply tortoiseshell guard (dark brown with yellow streaking running top to bottom) secured by 11 ‘large’ headed screws. The jack plate is secured with two ‘small’ screws (usually the jack plate and the pick guard screws are all the same).

Work done – The guitar was examined for obvious external faults and measurements taken of the set up as delivered. Used steam to reduce the depth of the body dents.

Replaced the control pots and wiring with a 6 way pickup selector switch, adding the combined neck and bridge pickup selection and a Passive Treble Bass control layout. Replaced the low cost single leaf output jack with a recurved tip contact Switchcraft jack.

Stripped the bridge and soaked all the small parts in WD40. Fitted M5 brass washers under the outside two bridge pivot screws to minimise friction. Replaced the six rather small vibrato pivot screws with larger chrome plated hardened steel screws. Bolted three steel plates to the inertia block to increase mass, reducing string vibration cross talk. Replaced the two vibrato spring tension screws with more suitable screws and re-drilled the two screw holes with an ‘aircraft’ bit, so the spring claw sits in the centre of the spring cavity and the tension screws have a good range of adjustment. Used a Dremel tool to sand back the rear corners of the vibrato route to clear the corners of the inertia block.

Adjusted the truss rod to get the neck dead straight and then re-levelled, re-crowned and polished all the frets. Sanded the gloss off the bottom of the neck heel to improve friction against the neck pocket. Tightened all the loose tuner screws to stop tuner waggle affecting tuning stability.

Adjusted the truss rod, neck and bridge for action and intonation. All parts cleaned and polished. 

Analysis

With the strings off, the neck unbolted from the body and the frets polished it is possible to see fret wear divots under the plain strings extending all the way down to the fifteenth fret. The last six frets after the 15th look factory fresh.

This guitar has been played and played hard, there are even the beginning of some fingernail grooves under the G string from the third fret to the sixth. The first five frets look relatively normal apart from the wear under the plain strings, the next ten frets show signs of levelling (flat tops) mostly across the middle of the frets and then the last six frets look factory fresh. So there are three sections of frets each in different condition. Perhaps a previous owner removed the strings and the neck from the body and tried to level the frets without adjusting the truss rod for a flat neck. Correct levelling would have removed material all the way across the tops of all frets, until all wear disappeared, followed by re-crowning and polishing of all the frets. It will require some careful truss rod tweaks and a re-level and re-crown to restore the frets, if they have it in them.

As delivered the vibrato was flat to the body. Effectively it was locked in place by the six (rather small) pivot screws, which were all screwed down to the top of the bridge plate. Checking the saddle heights at the bridge, the G and the B string were sitting below a 9.5 inch radius gauge. 

Apart from the vibrato/tremolo bridge being the cheapest version of the Fender design, with a skinny zinc alloy inertia block and the obligatory sloppy, screw in vibrato arm, it has also been very poorly installed. The six screw holes in the body for the vintage vibrato bridge are not drilled in a straight line, which is always a bad thing as far as stability is concerned for this type of bridge. The two outside screws are drilled a little forward of the other four so this might be an attempt by the factory to have the bridge pivot mainly on the the two outer screws. These wood screws are unusually small; 2.7mm diameter on the smooth shaft below the head by 25mm in length. 3.5mm diameter is a more common size for bridge pivot screws. The two spring tension screws go the other  extreme and are fat and short, 3.6mm by 30mm, countersunk headed screws. They are drilled low in the spring cavity, at quite an angle and are offset to the treble side, so the claw tends to foul the wall of the cavity. The range of vibrato spring tension is restricted by the shortness of these screws. I removed these screws, redrilled the holes so the spring claw sits central in the cavity and fitted longer screws with smaller heads. The routing in the body for the bridge is not quite true.

 

Drilled fresh holes and fitted new screws to centre the claw and springs in the vibrato cavity

 

The saddle intonation screws are all nickel plated steel M3 by 15mm, all the springs are 12mm except for one 6mm (for the low E). Height grub screws are either M3 by 10mm, or 8mm on the two E strings. All of the intonation screws had started to rust. The six folded steel saddles are plain, with no branding stamp. The die-cast zinc alloy inertia block is the economy lightweight (128gms) skinny version. The addition of three custom made steel weights to the block increased its total weight to 226gms. In comparison an original Fender machined steel block weighs 283gms.

 

Steel weights bolted to the skinny zinc alloy inertia block 

The electronics are three small (16mm case diam) C250K (anti-log) Alpha pots, measured as – vol 255.4K, tone 1 245.9K, tone 2 244.3K, a low cost PCB based selector switch and a 2A333J brown resin dipped plastic film (marked value 0.033uF) tone capacitor.

 

Squier electronics re-wired

Set-up notes

Once reassembled with the modified bridge it’s apparent that a neck shim will be needed.

Added a 1 inch long by 0.029 inch thick shim.

But nothing is simple – the screw holes in the body are so tight that they won’t allow the neck to tilt  to the angle dictated by the shim! So I need to drill the body holes for  a looser fit on the screws. The screw thread diameter is 0.195 inches or 4.95mm. Redrilling to 5mm was just enough.

Action height

As delivered the open string action height at the 17th fret is 2.25mm for the low E and 2.0mm for the high E. After set-up the action is 1.50 and 1.25mm.

Intonation 

Saddle position measurements are between the front of the saddle and the back of the bridge plate.

CentsmmAfter re-string and adjustment

E +16 27.06 27.61

A +7 29.92 29.89

D +11 30.89 30.94

G +10 29.60 28.89

B 0 30.33 30.83

E 0 37.24 32.35

Pickups –

The three single coil pickups use vintage construction with the six rod magnets push fitted into black Forbon fibre end plates (a.k.a. flatwork).

The neck pickup is labelled STA3N-L(fender)-VC, the middle pickup STA3M-L(fender)-VC and the bridge pickup STA3B-L(fender)-VC, white lettering on transparent labels. The silicon rubber insulated output wires are colour coded red and black for the neck, yellow and black for the middle pickup and blue and black for the bridge. The pickups show little sign of wax potting and the windings are wrapped in a protective layer of black fabric self adhesive tape.

As far as this coding is concerned, ST probably means Stratocaster, A3 might be taken to mean Alnico 3, which is how some descriptions of this guitar refer to the pickups, although my measurements show the magnets are Alnico 5, N B and L stand for neck middle and bridge, L for left handed, fender in brackets indicating the pickups were made for Fender (Fender is unlikely to refer to its own pickups in this way) and of course VC stands for vibe classic (yes it really says VC on the labels).

Roswell Pickups uses the codes STA-N (5.6K Alnico 5) STA-M (5.8K Alnico 5) and STA-B (6.4K Alnico 5) for one of the sets in its range of Strat pickups. So it seems possible that the pickups in this guitar are either that Roswell set, or a customised version of that set, made by Roswell for Fender. The listing on the Fender web site for the Squier Classic Vibe 60’s only says ‘Fender Designed Alnico Single-Coil’ for the pickup description.

Pickup measurements

Neck – STA3N-L(fender)-VC measured without strings Capacitance – 92.18pF

L in HenrysQESR in Kohm

100Hz 2.459 0.253 6.10

120Hz 2.455 0.302 6.11

1000Hz 2.48 2.43 6.40

Lp at 1000Hz = 2.902H

Magnet orientation – South up

Low E = 1190 gauss, 1110, 1050, 920, 880 High E = 1120 gauss (the high E magnet is the shortest)

Middle – STA3M-L(fender)-VC measured without strings Capacitance – 92.13pF

L in HenrysQESR in Kohm

100Hz 2.765 0.259 6.70

120Hz 2.761 0.309 6.72

1000Hz 2.789 2.48 7.04

Lp at 1000Hz = 3.242H

Magnet orientation – North up

Low E = 1120 gauss, 1000, 1120, 960, 810 High E = 920 gauss (the high E magnet is the shortest)

Bridge – STA3B-L(fender)-VC measured without strings Capacitance = 93.95pF

L in HenrysQESR in Kohm

100Hz 3.059 0.278 6.89

120Hz 3.053 0.333 6.9

1000Hz 3.089 2.64 7.34

Lp at 1000Hz = 3.534H

Magnet orientation – South up

Low E = 1150  gauss, 1090, 1190, 930, 900 high E = 910 gauss (the high E magnet is the shortest)

The measurements show this is a ‘calibrated’ set, with the inductance increasing from the neck to the bridge. An Alnico 5 set, slightly hotter than vintage pickups, but with quite a low self capacitance. The Gauss readings only roughly follow the magnet lengths. The tallest magnet is under the D string so this should be the strongest magnet, and the shortest is under the B string. The neck pickup appears to have a weirdly strong high E magnet. This pickup set should provide a snappy standard modern Strat sound. Hum cancelling in selector positions 2 and 4 due to the RWRP middle pickup. With an inductance of slightly over 3H, the bridge pickup should avoid ‘ice pick’ trebles. 

Billie Joe Armstrong

Billie Joe Armstrong & Green Day

What Makes Them so Special?

Are you a fan of Green Day? Well, you’re in good company! 

This band formed in Berkeley (California), sold more than 85 million records all over the world and is considered, together with Offspring, the band who brought back punk rock to the mainstream.

There are many reasons why Green Day are so special, for example:

1) They are one of the few bands who received a Diamond record

Their third album Dookie sold over 10 million copies in the US only and is one of the milestones of contemporary punk rock.

2) They were robbed of a record but created a new one

In 2003 Green Day was about to release a new album called Cigarettes and Valentines, but someone stole the mastery recordings from their studio. Instead of recording it again, they did a completely new album, American Idiot. And we all know how successful it was.

3) One of their albums inspired a Broadway musical

Always speaking about American Idiot: this concept album was adapted to become a successful stage musical that features all the tracks from the album.

Billie Joe Armstrong, the frontman

Naturally, the huge success of Green Day is also due to their frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. In addition to being a good singer, Billie is also a great guitarist, who needs only an acoustic guitar to make an incredible performance. 

Simplicity is what makes his style remarkable. Most of Green Days songs are composed of only a few chords joined with an energetic, aggressive strumming style. This is what led an entire generation of young musicians to dream of being a rockstar.

Also, Billie Joe Armstrong usually doesn’t use any particular sound effect, and that makes his music accessible to those who want to learn guitar. Billie plays both acoustic and electric guitar, and his favorite brands are Gibson and Fender. 

By the way, Gibson released a special limited edition of their J-180 model, which is the same one Billie uses during his live performances. It has the Everly Brothers bridge and a double pickguard on it.

Green Day beautiful songs

Green Day released so many amazing singles that it is hard to choose the greatest ones. Here is a short list of three titles you definitely should know:

1) Basket Case

This is probably the song that led Green Day to be known to the great public. Its melody is unmistakable and makes you want to turn up the music and go wild.

2) Wake Me Up When September Ends

Billie Joe Armstrong wrote this song for his father’s death The video clip is instead aligned with the political issues of the American Idiot album, which the song is taken from. It shows, in fact, a young couple in love divided by the Iraq War. 

This ballad is one of the masterpieces of the band and reached the top ten singles chart in a lot of countries.

3) Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

Despite being part of Nimrod, a less fortunate album in terms of sales, this a song, with a capital “S”, especially if you’re learning guitar. 

It has a simple melody, easy to play, which immediately builds a magical atmosphere every time you listen to it. This is the perfect song to remember good things.

Do you like Green Day? Contact Guitar Lessons London to learn to play their beautiful songs!

Becoming A Guitarist

Become A Guitarist 

Music, practice, time, resources – learning to play the guitar might be difficult done overnight, but it certainly can be done from the comfort of your own home. You may be finding yourself with a lot more spare time that you’re using for playing with the cats or watching Tiger documentaries. If you haven’t yet, seize this as an opportunity to dust off those guitar strings and knuckling down to some learning. 

Becoming A Guitarist

Becoming A Guitarist

What does learning the guitar at home require? Well.. firstly an instrument, some structure and decision-making. You may already be tapping your pick against the table thinking when will I play the solo at the end of Bohemian Rhapsody, but you need a guitar above anything else. 

Depending on your budget, an acoustic guitar from any online retailer like Andertons or Dawsons will do the trick and I would advise for your first, something cheap and cheerful before going into your local specialist music shop to try and play a few when you want to upgrade. 

With a trusted sword on our belts, it’s time to head to battle and depending on the kind of person you are, there are a host of books, apps or teacher options allowing you to find whatever suits your style of learning; no excuses! 

Online you can find countless videos on YouTube, with tutorials on every guitar topic from tuning to strumming to playing scales and improvising. However if you’re like me and you prefer a good book then I’d recommend Guitar Method by Hal Leonard. There are lots of options out there, just check the reviews! The Fender Tune App is great for a standard guitar tuner or if you know a bit about the guitar already then maybe try the Guitar Tool Kit app on which you can see all the scales and keys on the fretboard for a very affordable price. 

Every guitarist wants to be Jimi Hendrix, but it’s just a phase so don’t get agitated if it’s taking you longer than you thought, enjoy that journey and keep a notebook to relate back to and acknowledge those small achievements. Keep that drive going, designate some time each day or week to progress and write up your aims and achievements. Don’t be put off by the strain of your fingers, because tomorrow they won’t be hurting like they did today. 

Finally remember never to put added pressure on yourself. The London Guitar Academy is home to a whole selection of professional and engaging teachers, so if you find yourself stuck get in touch and we’d be happy to help. We do online lessons among our own studio and home visits, so no need to leave the house. You can just pop that cat documentary on pause. 

Guitar Lessons for Adults Beginner

Beginner Guitar Lessons for Adults

Have you always dreamt of learning to play guitar but never tried? No problem! It’s never too late and you can still learn as an adult. Here at London Guitar Academy, the most experienced, dedicated and enthusiastic tutors are happy to teach you all the techniques to become a confident guitarist.

Are you ready to start? Let’s go!

Obstacles to overcome

Learning guitar as an adult is not the same thing as doing this as a child. There will be certainly some difficulties you will have to face, but with a few tips, they won’t be a problem.

Guitar Lessons for Adults

Guitar Lessons for Adults

First of all, you have to find the time. Job, family, and daily chores indeed bring the majority of our time, but if you’re motivated, the guitar can, however, be a priority. 

That doesn’t mean you have to set impossible goals: practising every day for only five minutes is more useful to improve your music skills than constantly skipping your a-hour-an-half training because you have to go grocery shopping / take your children at school.

Then, be realistic: as an adult, you will never become an international rockstar, so lower your expectations. Anyway, you can become a good guitarist, and perform in front of your friends or (why not?) on a local stage.

Essential techniques and beautiful songs to play

The first rule to learn fast to play guitar is the same for all ages, that is, PRACTISING. However, while children have less difficult to apply this rule – because they like better playing than studying theory – adults tend to be more… rational, so they often ask too many questions and want to find a logic.

But the point is that music is an art, not a matter of logic.

So, stop asking why that finger must pick that precise string and let yourself be carried away by the magic of melodies. Of course, you will have to train your fingers numb by typing on your computer keyboard.

Talking about something else, adult guitar students have a big quality, they generally know a lot about the different music genres, because they listened to a lot of music when they were young.

As a consequence, they have a wider music background than kids, so it is less boring for them to learn classic songs from the past decades. A good idea is to start from a song that you like and that suits your level.

Some good titles for beginners are:

  • One of Us by Joan Osborne
  • Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day
  • Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan
  • Twist and Shout by The Beatles

Social benefits of playing guitar

Playing guitar has social benefits for an adult too because it allows you to know people of your same age to share the passion for music and improve music and rhythmic skills.

Look for guitar ensemble in your area or Facebook groups. Maybe you will find other beginning adult guitarist as you to spend spare time and have fun together. You can, for example, go to concerts, play at village fairs, pubs…

Are you still convinced that you’re too old to learn guitar? Contact us for your first lesson!

Gift Certificate Guitar Lesson

London Guitar Academy

The London Guitar Academy is London’s only dedicated Rock Pop and Blues guitar school specialising in one to one guitar tuition in either electric or acoustic guitar.

Each lesson is tailored to suit each students individual taste and ability; offering a fresh and innovative approach to learning the guitar.

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