Upgrading my SE 245 - looking for advice !

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by LovemySE, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. LovemySE

    LovemySE New Member

    Dec 28, 2014
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    Hi Guys,
    I am completely new to the forum and wanted to join to get some upgrading advice. I bought my first "real" guitar a few months ago; a PRS Bernie Marsden. I've been so impressed by the build quality that when I came across a used 245 SE (two volume and two tone knobs) in GC one day I decided to buy it and upgrade it (my left hand loved the fretboard even more than the Marsden). I'd really love a set of 57/08s to go in this puppy but I've settled on a set of custom PAFs from a guy by the name of Chris Daugherty who I came across on Ebay. I have a number of other upgrades that need doing and some that might not and that's why I am hoping the good people and enthusiasts on this forum might be able to help...so here we go.

    BTW: I'm looking to get a classic blues/rock sound - think of a 59 Les Paul through a Marshall OR an SC245 with 57/08s as played by Lucas Fowler on Youtube OR a Bernie Marsden with the 53/10s (that were only available in the UK !)

    a) The nut - its black in color and I've no opinion on whether or not it needs upgrading....any ideas/opinions...if I was to upgrade it what and where would I buy it ?

    b) Stoptail Bridge -the guitar has the standard SE 245 stoptail bridge and I definitely want to upgrade it to one that is intonatable. I think that $200 for the PRS product is just way too much. I've found a Tonepros and Graphtech equivalent for about $100 on Ebay and have even come across one for $35 (no idea of quality). What have you guys used and how good are these competing products ? Are there any technical, fit or size considerations I have to watch out for ?

    c) Stock pickups - its hard to judge the stock pickups because the signal/sound starts to break up when you turn the guitars volume above 8 so I am going to assume that its either bad quality wiring or a loose wire of some kind. [BTW - the stock pickups on the Bernie Marsden were terrific]. I've made the decision to upgrade the pickups but what about the wiring, pots capacitors etc.?? My gut instinct says that if I'm upgrading the pickups that I should quite literally upgrade every other piece of electrical wiring and parts in the guitar...is there a good quality kit I can use?

    d) Tuners - I have no opinion about the stock ones. I may need to tighten them a bit but otherwise I'm neutral. If they are worth upgrading is there a good brand I can use that won't leave holes in the neck if I get rid of the old ones ?

    Thanks in advance for any help or opinions you can render.
    San Francisco
  2. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

    Apr 26, 2012
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    Hey buddy, welcome aboard!

    a) The stock nut is fine as long as it's properly cut for your preferred string gauge.

    b) The Tonepros is a piece of junk in my opinion. I had problems with the strings sliding out of the saddle grooves during bends as the wrap design doesn't exert enough pressure to keep 'em snug... I ended up replacing it with a USA compensated bridge and have had zero problems and spot-on intonation with .10's. I've left the original SE stoptail on a different SE and don't have any complaints with that one. I could see needing one you could intonate if you're using heavier strings like .12's or above otherwise there is no need.

    c) Pickups are pretty subjective, but I'm sure you'll be pleased with an upgrade along with upgrading the pots and wiring.

    d) The tuners are fine for a stoptail guitar, I would only recommend swapping them for trem equipped models.
  3. AP515

    AP515 Mostly Normal

    Apr 26, 2012
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    Usually the fist mod on SE's (all models seem to get the same % changed out) is the nut. Bone and Tusq are popular. I have one with a new nut and two with stock nuts. They all work fine for me.
  4. pac90

    pac90 In Helix Land, the waters warm

    Jun 15, 2014
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    Good luck on the wiring, hope its an obvious bad connection.

    Here's my suggestions

    1. USA lampshade knobs (more tactile and look cool)
    2. USA nut (drop in replacement). If you keep the original nut you may need to ream the high E string slot a little with a guitar string as they are cut for 9's. At least that was my experience.
    3. Locking tuners if you like them, there are threads here and on the other forums about the variants for holes for particular models. There are very cheap wilkinsons from china which I put on another guitar and work great. I put klusons on my bernie as the holes and style matched.
  5. 11top

    11top Cousin Eddie's cousin

    Apr 26, 2012
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    Hanso O'matic to the courtesy phone.
    #5 11top, Dec 29, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2014
  6. gball

    gball New Member

    Jan 6, 2014
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    Welcome. The SE-245 is a great all around guitar that really comes to life with a few mods. I have an SE-245 that I have done the following to:
    -USA Nut
    -Locking Bridge Posts
    -Lampshade Knobs
    -USA Strap Buttons
    -USA Tremonti Treble Pickup
    -USA Vintage Bass Neck Pickup
    These mods have made it into one of the best sounding and most versatile guitars that I own.

    I expected to gut it when I changed the pickups but when I opened it up I found that there was no need: the stock Alpha pots and other hardware are as good as anything available, so there I think you can save your money.

    I gave some thought to changing out the bridge to an adjustable or a USA stoptail. Here also I felt there just wasn't any reason...the stock bridge intonates perfectly with any standard gauge strings, and is a single piece which I believe helps with the transfer of the string vibration. I even tried the USA bridge from my Mira on it just for comparison and could not tell the difference in the tone, so no need to drop the cash there.

    Pickups are of course completely subjective. I find the setup that I have to be extremely versatile and cover all of the rock/blues/metal ground that I need. The stock ones are "OK' but I believe this to be an almost essential upgrade on these guitars to get the most out of them, even if you don't touch anything else.
    grausch likes this.
  7. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

    May 4, 2012
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    Welcome Dan! Sounds like you've got a good plan going there - the SE's are great mod machines! I gush about my SE Akesson here frequently - it's basically a 245 with a few tweaks, some that came stock, and some that I added later. Very similar to your idea - Tonepros adjustable bridge and locking studs, 57/08's, treble bleed caps, and Schaller strap locks.
    I LOVE this guitar. It definitely has the sound you're after, a thick, sweet blues and rock tone. I had a thread going recently about this Joe Bonamassa video. I used my Akesson through a Wampler Plexi Drive (highly recommended btw), and was getting great sounds all over the place. Granted, he says no pedals, but I used the Wampler as an "always-on" effect to simulate a cranked Marshall.

    For the nut, there are many ways to go. You can have the slots filed for bigger strings, or switch to a USA PRS nut, or a TUSQ XL for SE pre-cut nut. I've done it all and they all work fine - just make sure you know what you're doing, or take it to someone that does! A bad nut makes for a crappy playing guitar.

    For the bridge, I'm a big fan of the Tonepros (sorry Serg), I guess it's just a different strokes thing. I have found that a string will be out of the shallow groove at times, but they always stay on the saddle and don't jump around, at least for me. Sergio's bends... well, he's always on a bender ;) just kidding buddy! Anyways, along with the locking studs, it gives my guitar a lot of thickness lacking in the stock SE 245's I've tried. Just one of those things you'll have to try and decide for yourself I guess.

    I would really recommend the 57/08's if you can get them, they're a lot of fun. Best I've ever used for sure. Try the Gear Page and Vintage Rocker classified ads, they come up fairly regularly. Otherwise, I'm sure the boutique pickups you mentioned will be nice too. As for the rest of the electronics, I wouldn't say that anything else has to be replaced, except for whatever is causing that static in your signal. See if you can isolate it to one pot, otherwise maybe it's a problem somewhere else in your wiring or outside signal chain. I would HIGHLY recommend adding treble bleed caps to your volume pots - they keep the high end in your signal when the volume pot is rolled down, so the tone doesn't get muddy. It's a simple capacitor across two lugs of the pot, an easy job if you can solder. Makes it a lot easier to do the Joe B thing!

    The stock tuners are fine. 99.9% of the time tweaking the nut fixes any tuning instability.

    Good luck with your project, can't wait to hear more!
    #7 andy474x, Dec 29, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 22, 2015
    grausch likes this.
  8. Inkaholic85

    Inkaholic85 New Member

    Aug 30, 2015
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    Also look into the gotoh 510 bridge i have one on my se single cut and its awesome locking studs individual intonation and i think it just looks cool i also switched to locking tuners just to make string changes easier good luck man make that se ur own
  9. DarkPenguin

    DarkPenguin New Member

    Aug 20, 2014
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    I put gibson burstbuckers in mine. Wiring is fine. Sounds great.

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