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FARG - it's the First Act (is a) Real Guitar Club!

Discussion in 'Guitar Owners Clubs' started by FastMattTX, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. FastMattTX

    FastMattTX Tele-Meister

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    I'll admit it - I have a penchant for bad acronyms and restoring or hot-rodding things many would take to the junkyard. I LIKE my cheapie First Acts, even if they weren't perfect out of the box.

    One was effectively a "kit", the others would be decent with heavier strings and a setup.

    If you've got one, show it proudly! Here are mine:

    [​IMG]
    My ME501... the WORST example of Chinese quality-control failure I've ever seen but great luthiery practice.
    After leveling and crowning the frets, reworking the neck pocket, and replacing poorly-chosen bridge mounting screws it's tough to put down and was actually my #1 until I "found" my Tele.

    [​IMG]
    ME562 - same body and neck as the 501 but with rounded edges and dual P90's. Love the look but took it apart to refinish the headstock because the logo looked cheesy to me.

    [​IMG]
    Love the neck and look of this Sheena bolt-neck, but don't like the textured black plastic pickup ring and outer cover... would like to replace them with chrome, preferably matching parts like those used on the ME501.
    I think this one will be a LOT of fun once I give it a serious setup and tweaking.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2010
  2. Thighbanez

    Thighbanez Tele-Afflicted

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    (I would include a picture but even google doesn't acknowledge this horrible guitar...lol.)


    I have an ME440 (WalMart) and i think I played it for about the first 3 months of my electric guitar life. I knew pretty early on that I wouldn't be able to do the things in the accompanying video-dvd with that guitar.

    I promptly picked up a used Yamaha Pacifica which I quickly gave away and bought a Agile Silverburst LP replica which I struggled to carry for about a year before I sold it and bought my telestrat which I've had for the past 1.5 years and will for the foreseeable future.

    I still have the First Act ME440 though...It was my first electric guitar. It sits in the closet and will be there for my son to play on when he is old enough.
     
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  3. lucalm

    lucalm Tele-Meister

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    sorry for the heretic comment but, is it my imagination or do those First Act guitar models are kinda like wanna-be-teles??? i find them with some resemblance since last week... I've got this thing in my head of finding one for 40 putting a classic tele Bridge and esquire-ize it... perhaps I'm just a crazy Mo-Fo...
     
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  4. Thighbanez

    Thighbanez Tele-Afflicted

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    Well, anyone can make something work.
    With the money you will save on buying one for 40 dollars...you can invest in getting it up and running with good electronics and a good fret/nut/hardware job.
     
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  5. middy

    middy Friend of Leo's

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    I like cheap, crappy guitars too. Maybe I'll join your club soon, depending on what's on the pawn shop wall.
     
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  6. FastMattTX

    FastMattTX Tele-Meister

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    I had similar thoughts about the body shape - the ones I own fall short of "wanna-be Tele", but certainly have Tele elements.

    The overall shapes of mine are Tele-esque in the lower bout and non-cutaway upper bout, but the horn shape is decidedly different and the bust/waist/hips ratios are changed.
    The horn looks cool and is reasonably comfortable, but allows less positioning freedom when seated than a Tele.
    Dimensionally, the Kei shape (ME501, etc) has Tele hips with a pronounced waist and narrower bust, while the Sheena has Tele-sized bust and waist with larger hips.

    The Paul Westerberg sig PW580 seems pretty close to your idea in concept if not appearance - single hum-sized P90 with a string-thru six-saddle bridge... you could probably replace the pot-metal saddles with Mexican Fender stamped-steel ones and run with it. I passed up the Westerberg because I could get that single-pickup guitar for $80, or his ME501 (2 humbuckers = more versatile) plus the ME562 (two P90's, hopefully similar spec to the PW580) for only $20 more. Still GAS after one anyway - go figure!:lol:
     
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  7. lucalm

    lucalm Tele-Meister

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    this is what I have in mind if I get my paws on one.

    cut an esquire type of Pickguard and later on drop in a classic 3-barrel bridge on it

    I saw the sheena model too but that one's a little hard to find!
     

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  8. allen st. john

    allen st. john Friend of Leo's

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    Paul Westerberg is in the club.

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. FastMattTX

    FastMattTX Tele-Meister

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So he is... :) Just scored the Westerberg signature guitar I wanted off fleabay, and it seems to be every bit the raucous garage rocker it was advertised as... grunts and growls very nicely through my Valve Jr.

    Could stand a little more setup and fret crowning but does the job - I'll probably play it as-is for a while, then give it a once-over.

    Seems most First Acts are serviceable but need the following:

    1) Drill out the neck-mounting holes in the body to provide a clearance fit for a tighter clamp at the neck joint. (my MIM Strat needed this just as badly)

    2) Level and crown frets - they appear to have been leveled but not quite fully crowned, with small but consistent flat spots on top of all frets. Saw similar but smaller flats on my MIM Strat before polishing the frets.

    3) (optional and not always needed) Add thin, flat wood shim (3/32 or so?) between neck and body to allow lower action with a normal saddle height.

    4) If a "Kei" body, replace the pan-head screws attaching the bridge to the body with #6 x 3/4" stainless-steel flathead screws; the pan-head screws interfere with intonation adjustment, especially if you like heavy-bottom sets like 10-52's.

    5) Make sure the tuner knob screws are tight.

    6) Adjust the nut slot depth slightly.

    7) Replace the cheap output jack with a Switchcraft one

    8) Play it - a LOT - without every having to worry about what you paid for it! :D
     
  10. voided3

    voided3 Tele-Afflicted

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    I've done a fair number of modifications to it since this was recorded, but here is my Paul Westerberg signature shortly after getting it:

     
  11. udimet720

    udimet720 Tele-Holic

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    Can any of you describe the neck on your FA's? I saw a ME3210091 "poker suit" model recently and thought it might make a nice platform for a project. But, curious to know some approximate neck dimensions. Thanks.
     
  12. voided3

    voided3 Tele-Afflicted

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    My PW sig. has a pretty chunky neck, fairly similar in dimensions to my Squier '51 neck (though with a 12" radius). It's a 25.5" scale, as well.
     
  13. udimet720

    udimet720 Tele-Holic

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    Ok. Cool that's actually pretty appealing to me. Any idea of the nut width?
     
  14. udimet720

    udimet720 Tele-Holic

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    Well, went and took a look at it this morning. Neck seemed a bit narrow. Hard to tell though since I didn't get it fully out of the box. I would probably need to compare it side by side with other necks I have to really get a sense. The "hand-dressed frets" still seemed a bit sharp. Not sure it's worth the $70 they were asking. It was an ME321.
     
  15. FastMattTX

    FastMattTX Tele-Meister

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    The nuts on my Keis (ME501 and PW) measure a bit shy of 1-11/16" wide, with about 1-3/8" centerline-to-centerline between the E strings. They do feel noticeably narrower than a MIM or USA Fender. The First Act necks feel slightly thicker but not by much - may just seem that way because of the narrower string spacing. The neck is comfortable - not too fast, not too chunky... similar to an Epi Explorer or SX Tele or Strat clone.

    Necks do vary between models - my Sheena measures the same but feels wider and has a scale around 25". Neck heels do also - the Kei style has a contoured heel, while the bolt-neck Sheena has a square one. Don't know which the 321 has; saw it at Tuesday Morning a few months back but didn't try one out.

    Voided, that video sounds good; you've definitely got some slide-playing skills!
     
  16. udimet720

    udimet720 Tele-Holic

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    Thanks FM. Maybe I will go back and buy it anyway. There is an extended return period. I feel like it's hard to judge the neck unless I'm actually playing something.
     
  17. millarso

    millarso NEW MEMBER!

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    I saw this forum and signed up just to say that the ME-321 is a good buy, though I wouldn't expect it to be set up well if I were you. I can't tell you the measurements for sure because they don't really release specs on these cheapies. I need to do some major adjustment to the truss rod because some of the upper frets don't play because they are actually touching the strings already and the frets are pretty sharp like you say, but I love it other than that.
    It's a beautiful guitar, and it actually has an active gain switch built into it also which gives it some kick if you've got a 9 volt lying around. I bought it for 30 and was very impressed.
     
  18. FastMattTX

    FastMattTX Tele-Meister

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    30 bucks?????

    I would've jumped on it at that price - had been hoping Tuesday morning would have them on clearance so I could rock the "half off all clearance items" deal last weekend.

    Oh well, it's not like I need another guitar. Congrats on a bona fide steal, Millarso... and welcome!
     
  19. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    First Act owners group

    Someone had to start a group for this misunderstood brand. I currently have a model 301 (strat copy) and a 302 (tele copy). What have you got and how do you like them?
     
  20. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    Am I the only one who will come out of the closet and admit to liking their First Act guitar? I was just at my local music shop and he had one of the VW models on the rack. Neat guitar, the quality looked decent, but I did not bother playing it. Also had a single pickup single cutaway, not like a tele guitar. It was not bad, a little cheesy in the quality, the pots felt crappy to me.
    Now come on, fess up I know you are out there!
     
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