SE Mods

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by slev, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. rdb121775

    rdb121775 PRS Addict

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    Mod done; MannMade brass in place...

    So i went ahead and purchased the brass SE trem block from MannMadeUSA, as well as the USA Amber speed knobs. Previously, I had the guitar set up with a Tusq nut and cobalt 11's when I purchased from sweetwater.com. (String size is something I will always change as neither 10's nor especially 9's sound good to me.) I also installed previously the schaller strap locks as I do on all my guitars. I installed the Tremonti usa pups last Christmas after I rec'd them as a gift. Now, onto today's mod. Although I had learned how to setup the prs trem by watching videos and reading, I never liked that when I got the guitar from sweetwater, the trem height was about correct on the bass side, but nearly touching the body on the treble, with screws not in line. I had been able to set it up to stay in tune, so long as didn't constantly dive all the way down, so I shyed away from the dreaded "knife-edge". Trust me folks, watch John Mann's video on installing his one piece NOS2000 in an SE, and it really is THAT easy. I'll most likely buy one of those at a later date, but the video showed me what I needed to know about installing a prs trem of any kind. For the first time since October 2013, I have a perfectly level bridge and bridge mount screws. I can honestly say, after setup, I tried to make it go out of tune with the bar, and was barely able to make the strobe move. Installing the block was cake (if u have the right tools). I had to quickly run out for a 3 mm Allen key to remove the SE block, but that was it. I first removed the strings and springs just as John does in the video (then made my appropriate knife edge adjs). Then, I measured the distance on all of my saddles to be able to get close before fine touching upon re-assembly. Next, remove the saddles (keep in same order, and if you were set up properly to start, won't need much adjustment for radius curve nor string height in the end). Here's where the 3mm key comes into play. U need it to remove the three screws mounting the block to the bridge. Once removed, push the MannMade arm sleeve into the bridge and align your three holes. I found it helped to go ahead and put the arm in to control the bridge. Install the furthest screw from the arm first, as the sleeve and that screw will work to align the other two holes properly. Then install the final two screws. Go back and firmly tighten all three. That's it. From here, it's simply a matter of performing a quality set up (and if u can't already do that, DO NOT attempt this). I'll post pictures and my opinion of the sound change tomorrow when I can plug her up. Initial impressions acoustically are that I'm very very happy.
     
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  2. dogrocketp

    dogrocketp I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!

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    Can't wait to hear what you think. I've been contemplating this block change since John said he was making them.
     
  3. rdb121775

    rdb121775 PRS Addict

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    Here's the short of it--I love the upgrade! Even unplugged, the guitar now sounds more "alive" is the best way I can describe it. I could feel the vibrations thru the guitar much stronger with the brass block, as opposed to the stock block. I've read some ppl say that it makes the guitar brighter, however, I wouldn't categorize it that way. Tone is subjective, of course, and hard to describe. There's a clear improvement in sustain, both unplugged and plugged-in. But the overall sound quality of the guitar is much improved. IMHO, other than changing pickups (don't get me wrong, the SE245's sound great in the Tremonti SE Custom) the brass block provides the best improvement to the guitar. I could not be more happy with this inexpensive upgrade. Feel free to post or message me if you have any specific questions on the tone improvement or installation, and go call John Mann!!
     
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  4. Duffy

    Duffy New Member

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    What did you decide to do about this? This is one reason I'm skeptical of buying used guitars, especially amps. I have two really nice used SE's though, lucky I guess.

    Anyway PRS has that shop you can send your guitar to for mods. I'm sure they would be able to handle the situation. Also emailing them might get an answer as to what you might be able to do. It definitely sounds like something is out of spec here, but since you bought it used I don't suppose PRS will replace it or anything like that.

    It would probably cost quite a bit to get that fixed if what you describe is going on. I suppose it would irritate me, but I don't suppose that the strings being off center from the pole pieces would make any discernable difference in sound. I will say though, that I returned a Gibson LP because of that exact problem with the strings not crossing the polepieces. It was a nice gold top Tribute. I bought a Fender '72 Custom Telecaster instead and it was right straight out of the gate.

    So what happened? Have you found a solution?
     
  5. dogrocketp

    dogrocketp I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!

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    Thanks, rdb, I'm saving my pennies.
     
  6. Duffy

    Duffy New Member

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    Glad it worked out good.

    The increased mass of the brass block in the string path might be responsible for the increased vibration that you feel. I can see where this would produce a different sound.

    I might try this on one of mine.
     
  7. Tedder

    Tedder New Member

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    What mods do you guys consider "necessary"? I have a Tremonti SE Custom and I've replaced the nut and the tuners already and I want to do a PUP replacement. To me those are all necessary. Should I also change out the pots, wires, the switch and the jack? How much of an improvement do those upgrades make by themselves in your opinions?
     
  8. dogrocketp

    dogrocketp I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!

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    I have the same guitar, with too many mods. The big thing I would say is, how do you feel about how it sounds, and will it be a keeper? I went new wiring with RS Guitar works 550K volume pots and coil tap tone controls, new brass jackplate and CTS jack, and switch. The pickups are old USA PRS Mira. This is a keeper, so the money will be well spent. Helps that it's cherry sunburst and looks great. The tuners and nut were the first 2 things to go.
     
  9. henryr

    henryr New Member

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    Problem solved. As mentioned in my original post, with the guitar tuned up, the back edge of the bridge was resting on the top, the front edge was over 1/8" above the top and the bridge was out of parallel with the pups. I finally removed the six screws and they had various sizes of built up burrs in the undercuts for the knife edge holes and the knife edge bridge holes also had irregular burrs and damaged chamfers. I machined the screw undercuts, reamed out the bridge holes and machined the chamfers so the knife edge contacts are now perfect. I am surprised the damage was so bad since the guitar shows no signs of being played. Not a single sign of string rubbing on the frets and everything else looks new. I am disappointed with the nut because all the strings were quite tight fits in the slots and slot depths are much deeper than any acoustic guitar or other acoustic stringed instrument I've seen or worked on. I plan to make a bone bridge with appropriate string depth grooves. I'm also disappointed that the prs tech team never responded to my post.
     
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  10. Tedder

    Tedder New Member

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    I like the tone now but I'm more of a classic mid-output humbucker kind of guy so I'll be even happier once I make that change. That said I love the feel of this guitar, how it looks and even how heavy the body is which is not my normal thing. I suppose the answer is to swap pickups and see how I like the sound but honestly if the pickups didn't change I would still keep it. I just wasn't sure if there was a huge difference in getting high end internals vs. what's already in there. Thanks! :)
     
  11. garrett

    garrett knows just enough to be dangerous

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    I don't think anything is particularly necessary, but that's a matter of opinion of course. The nuts are hit or miss. I replaced the one on my Soapbar II, but it wasn't needed at all. My SE One wasn't cut very well, so the swap made sense.

    Changing out the pots is a minor improvement. I generally prefer the taper of the CTS pots vs Alpha, but if they work fine for you now there's no reason to replace them. The toggle switches are actually pretty good. The jack is a cheapie, but it works, so no reason to bother with it.

    I think the tuners are pretty decent, so again not really needed to replace, but I like to swap them out for the Grover 406 because I prefer locking, they're inexpensive, and they work great.

    Pickups are probably the most subjective part of any guitar, but the SE offerings seem pretty good. I'd say replacing them is more personal preference than a necessity.
     
  12. Tedder

    Tedder New Member

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    Thanks Garrett. I don't have any particular problem with the taper on the pots. I do have one pot/knob that is slightly crooked when you spin it but honestly that makes no difference to how the guitar plays. The SE 245 pickups that are in it sound decent but I don't care much for the way the bridge position sounds. Then again I am more of a neck pickup kinda guy anyway. I changed out the tuners because I wanted locking tuners on it to make string changes easier plus it does have a trem. I did the nut because I know how to and I was changing string gauges anyway. Sounds like i should just figure out what pickups I want in there and call it good. Sure do love this guitar. :)
     
  13. djd35de

    djd35de New Member

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    I bought a Santana Se for Christmas too me lol.

    I've changed out the nut- USA-PRS better then stock plastic. But I still may opt for Bone later.

    Next I installed the 6 bridge screws and saddles from Mann made USA- helped a bit

    Then I changed out the pots, two 525k CTS plus rewire along with Pickups.

    I kind of liked the stock neck but the bridge really sounded thin/schrill a bit.

    I went with Manlius a T-top 7.4k in neck and a 59 Hot rod bridge but only at 8.1K

    (Manlius) Mick makes Great pickups for a fair price!!! All hand wound by him.
    Worth a look for sure. Thats all I use now in three guitars.


    Sounds really good, I think this guitar needs pickups with A5 mags as its really mid heavy and kind of dark, or like a blanket is covering the sound.

    These pickups really helped open up the sound.

    Now Iam going to replace tuners with Grover 406c direct drop in.

    And a Mann made USA brass block for tremelo.

    The only other thing a may do is a bone nut.

    (I installed a bone nut on Bernie Marsden really helped open up sound)

    So I'll report back once I do these two mods let ya know how it sounds.

    Note: Iam getting a Callaham stoptail bridge tomorrow for my Bernie. I'll just start a new thread to report my findings with that.

    David
     
    #553 djd35de, Feb 24, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
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  14. bricel24

    bricel24 New Member

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  15. bricel24

    bricel24 New Member

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    I emailed PRS's customer service and they replied back, quickly within the hour(!), that while the black cap is not a direct replacement, the slot is bigger than the switch shaft tip to where I can just wrap the end with some tape and make a snug fit :). So yes it is do-able.
     
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  16. bricel24

    bricel24 New Member

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    The first half of mods I've done to the SE CU24.

    Nickel pup covers
    PRS lampshade knobs
    Planet Waves locking tuners

    [​IMG]
     
    #556 bricel24, Mar 3, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2015
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  17. henryr

    henryr New Member

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    Hi all,
    This is related to the various posts I've read about the affects of nuts on electric guitars. I hope this is the right forum.

    I read a few posts on this site saying, and this is not verbatim, that nuts only affect the sound when playing open strings because once you fret a string the nut is basically out of the picture. I have a gut feeling that is not true because when you fret a string you rarely keep it fretted until the the strings's vibrations have completely stopped. My feeling is that the nut plays an important part in the sound because it continues to transfer a string’s vibration, throughout the guitar, after the finger is lifted from the fret. Hope to get responses. Maybe I’m totally wrong.
     
  18. jimistephen

    jimistephen New Member

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    Most of the time you're not pulling off from a fretted to open, some times you do, but not a lot. Usually when you stop fretting one note you move to another fret or string and mute that one. Because of this the effect of the nut on the string is minute when not pulling off to a open string or just playing an open string.
     
  19. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A Soldier 25, DFZ
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    When fretting a string, you are actually stretching it a little. When you do a bend you stretch it even more. So, even on a stop tail guitar, the nut needs to let the string move freely and not bind.

    But, I think you are overthinking the effect of further vibrations when you un-fret a string. Presumably, you are letting it go because the duration of the note you wanted to hold it for has elapsed and you want the note to stop, yes?

    A pull-off to an open note is quite a different thing than what you describe above and frequently involves a subtle plucking as you un-fret anyway.
     
    #559 rugerpc, Mar 5, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015
  20. ElrytNamrogo

    ElrytNamrogo My name be scrambled

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    When I replaced the nut on my SE, I noticed a difference in tone that was consistent whether I fretted the strings or not.
     

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