Artist gets whammied and other gems of the week

No, this isn’t a post about my high school art teacher on Press Your Luck in 1987. This is about a beautiful Ibanez Artist from the early 80’s that came in for a trem installation.  The only request the owner had was that no permanent modification be done to the guitar.  Well, that limited our offerings to our new favorite piece of hardware, the Stetsbar.

This ingenious trem bar secures to the top of any Gibson-style guitar via your existing stop tail posts. It requires no routing and moves laterally instead of up and down. The bridge glides over bearings that are recessed into the base plate. This particular guitar required a custom plate due to the non-standard distance between the tune-o-matic and the stop tail. The folks at Stetsbar were amazing and even answered a call at 7:30am (thought I’d get an answering machine, instead I got a quick solution to our issue). Now, please don’t call these poor guys at midnight just to see if you’ll get an answer, but it was impressive service.

Here’s a side view of the operation. You can’t really see it well, but there are two screws that can be adjusted to stop the trem from going up, stabilizing tuning and limiting the bar to downward movement.  The feel of the bar was very Kahler-ish and allowed more range than a Bigsby. Very useable and stayed in tune like a dream. There are also models available for hard-tail strats and teles.

This job also featured the installation of an Earvana compensated nut…

This nut features individual steps for each string to sweeten up open chords, solving age-old intonation issues. It’s also graphite, so it’s the perfect mate with the Stetsbar for tuning stability.

We also installed a fresh set of pickups. His choice was a Seymour Duncan ’59 4-conductor and a JB bridge with push/pull coil taps on the tone pots (shown in the “up” position)…

The frets were leveled and crowned, and we removed some deep dents in the rosewood in the open position , bringing it back to showroom new condition. This is an awwwwesome guitar.  Thanks to Mike for letting us work on it for him.

What else, what else…

We don’t have any pics of this in progress, but here’s a cool old Banjo Mandolin, or banjolin, or manjo depending on your preference. This one got a complete overhaul, including a new tailpiece. While we go to great lengths to keep original parts in place, this one just couldn’t hold up to the tension.

A modern replacement was brought in after we tried unsuccessfully to reinforce the thin bent metal.  We also replaced the torn original head, shimmed the neck angle and repaired the bridge.

Here’s a follow-up to our last post, Mike M’s green lefty with strings and post-setup…

Here’s a shot of the headstock with a graphite string tree.

Here’s another common request, illustrated just so I can keep typing. This is a Squier Vista Venus 12 string, a way-cool Japanese made Squier sereies from the late 90’s designed with Courtney Love. We’re going to take out the existing lower-end components and put in good ‘ol USA-made pots, switch and jack.

In case you’re checking the details, you’ll notice that our customer requested to rewire for (2) volumes instead of a tone control.  His logic, and I can’t help but agree, was “who uses a tone control on a 12 string anyway?”. Now he can blend his two split-coil singles at whim and achieve true Byrds nirvana.

And now more shameless promotion…


We just got a big shipment of G&L’s and are proud to boast the area’s largest selection of G&L Tributes. Wanna compare an ASAT Special to a Bluesboy Semi-Hollow? It’s here. Wanna see how cool the Commanche is with it’s killer Z-coils and Gun Oil tint neck? Cantrell Rampage with Kahler? You get the idea.  Over 30 models in stock with more on the way.

But what about G&L’s wonderful USA custom models? They’re coming too. About 15 just ordered and on the way, but not for a little while. Most models are a 8-10 week build, so they’ll start arriving late June.

Thanks again to whoever keeps reading this.

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One Response to “Artist gets whammied and other gems of the week”

  1. I read ’em. Being a weekend luthier wanna-be, I love blogs like this.
    Eventually I’ll make it to your shop since I’m only down in Abington.

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