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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. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    First Act update, I'm keeping these on the ME302 model for now seeing as this is the Tele web site. I e mailed First Act for some info on my ME302. This what they told me,

    -Plywood Body
    -Semi Translucent glossy color, butterscoch (what else would it be)
    -Non gloss maple slim taper neck, maple fretboard with 12" radius, 21 frets
    -2 single coil pickups
    -1 volume 1 tone, 3 way selector
    -Hardtail chrome bridge, 6 individual saddles
    -Smooth nickel alloy frets
    -Chrome covered machines

    Most of this is good but mine does not have a plywood body, I have had the neck out and the pickguard and switch cover off and what I see is solid wood. I don't know what kind but its solid blocks, not thin plywood laminates.
    The neck radius on mine measures closer to 15" than 12" using some plastic radius gauges from Stew Mac.
    And less important, the paint is not at all translucent, its thick and shiny, but no grain will ever show thru it.

    They also stated that the model ME302 was made until 2010. So hurry out and grab one if you can find one before everyone realizes what a great bargain they are.

    Thanks for looking,
    -Michael

    I was told by another member here who also has a ME302, that the pickups are as follows:
    Neck--- 8.0K
    Bridge--7.3K

    One more bit of info. The stock pots are 500k and the tone cap is a .047 . I'm no expert here but from what I have learned in the past few days this is not the ideal setup for single coil pickups.

    So there you have it, a good base for modifying.
    -
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011
  2. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    [​IMG]
    My ME302 with the neck pickup removed and a tele style bridge installed. I guess its now an Esquire knockoff. : )
     
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  3. FastMattTX

    FastMattTX Tele-Meister

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  4. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    I searched First Act and found nothing, hmm. I will try again and join the real FA owners group. Thanks, I was feeling kind of lonely. lol
     
  5. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    OK, here is my FA Tele (now Esquire) I did not see this forum so I tried to start my own. Good to see there are more of us who don't dismiss the First Act just because of its name. This my ME302 that I changed the bridge on and removed the neck pup. I also have an ME301 (looks like a strat with an odd pickguard) That one I left alone and it is actually a decent playing guitar. I'm sure a pickup change could make it better, but it works. I got the Tele style one fro $36 at a TJ maxx, imagine that.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. FastMattTX

    FastMattTX Tele-Meister

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    Welcome, MSquier! Hope you enjoy it here!

    I don't have much urge to go to Vegas, so cheap guitars are my form of gambling... pull the lever and see what you get!

    That said, I took a couple of my First Acts apart this weekend to balance and blueprint them and here's what I found. It's always a carpshoot so your results may vary drastically.

    CE220 Sheena bolt-neck (the black one): Disassembled to do a fret level and crown, also took the cover off the pickup.
    I was amazed - the fretwork on this one was really pretty good. Not fully crowned, but almost perfectly level; a few passes of the file was all it took. Level and crown didn't take much more than an hour, and I'm not fast by any means.
    The pickup cover is attached to the base by four screws and the pickup is potted with a flexible compound inside and a pretty big bobbin - this is NOT just a strat pickup or half a humbucker, and it has real Alnico poles in place of the flat magnet stuck to the bottom seen on so many low-end guitars including MIM's.
    THE CATCH: I swear it looks like the fretboard wasn't finished at all; sucks up ugly dark sanding dust like mad and the grain is recessed rather than filled. I think they used the same manufacturing process as the rosewood-board guitars, because the neck itself is nice and slick, with filled grain and that satin finish that I love. This one will be out-of-service for a while longer as I learn how to finish a maple fretboard.

    Since you actually got a response from First Act, I think I'll email them to see if I can obtain a chromed steel pickup surround and mounting plate like the ones on the ME501; I think it would look a lot classier with chrome than black-and-white plastic.

    PW-580 - Paul Westerberg's axe: The neck pocket routing was a pleasant surprise - the neck fit so tightly I had to pry it out.
    However, there was masking tape on the bottom of the neck near the body, and masking tape plus paint along the outer edge of the pocket. None of this was on the sides - just the bottom - so I gently cleaned up the pocket with a chisel (to lift the tape and remove the lip of paint on the body) and alcohol to remove tape residue on body and neck.
    There was also a "bonus" extra mounting hole in the neck, but it doesn't appear to hurt anything.
    Fret leveling was so-so; it was playable as-is but required a fair amount of filing to level, leaving decent-sized flat spots to crown. The ME501 I set up a ways back required a similar level of attention.

    Will post some pics when done - didn't bother with "before" images of tape and paint. I know the PW sounds great and the Sheena neck felt good, so both should be great players when done.
     
  7. Stuco

    Stuco Poster Extraordinaire

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    I like the vw model they did.
     
  8. el scoho

    el scoho Tele-Meister

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    Louisville, Colorado
    First Act for Heavy Metal

    Here I am rocking my First Act ME536 "Heavy Metal." I bought it new for $25.00. It's a blast to play, and it fulfills my humbucker needs.

    I looked up the (hilarious) product description:

    First Act's Black Single Cutaway Heavy Metal Electric Guitar with an eye-catching solid black finish that was made for metal has a single cutaway solid body for rich and warm sound. Designed in First Act's Studio For Artists, a single bridge-position, patent pending high output humbucking pickups with great rock distortion.​

    The pickup actually measures 8.32K--not exactly high output.

    Oh yeah, that's a '78 Tele being played by my friend.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. FastMattTX

    FastMattTX Tele-Meister

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    The neck pocket of the PW-580 was just shy of 1/32" higher at the front than the back, requiring shimming of the neck. Makes me wonder if the issue is with the tooling and process for that body as my ME-501 had the same issue.

    Meanwhile, here's how I "fixed" the bridge on the ME-501 to allow proper intonation with 10-52 strings. About to do the same to the PW.

    [​IMG]
    Stock bridge on the ME562 - note the #4 pan head screws blocking adjustment

    [​IMG]
    Mounting screws replaced with stainless #6 x 3/4" flat heads, which sit flush with the bridge.
    Cost: about 55 cents.

    [​IMG]
    Re-assembled and fully set up with 10-52 strings
     
  10. FastMattTX

    FastMattTX Tele-Meister

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    el scoho, that's pretty cool in a rat-rod sort of way and you got it for a crazy price.
    The "blade" headstock is interesting - I've never seen a 2 + 4 done that way before!
     
  11. FastMattTX

    FastMattTX Tele-Meister

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    PW580 saddle change

    Finished going over my PW yesterday; now it plays great and I'm liking the sound through my Valve Jr. a lot. Nice grit and growl while staying clean at volumes where the ME501's humbucker pushes the amp into overdrive.

    Changed to GFS stainless saddles "borrowed" off another guitar to eliminate a very annoying buzz on the low E string that killed tone no matter where it was fretted. Finally localized it to the point where the string exited the saddle toward the nut and was forced to bend sideways too sharply. Since the stock saddles were also slightly cocked/wedged, I elected to replace rather than file them. The poplar body already sounded ballsier acoustically than the basswood ME501, and the new saddles gave it an extra shot of adrenaline.

    [​IMG]
    Intonation settled into the classic double-sawtooth; before the saddle change the low E was farther forward like my ME501. Maybe the stock saddles don't play well with .052 strings.

    [​IMG]
    Looks like Paul's prototype guitar has Fender-style saddles with a long slot, similar to the ones I installed... and a bent-steel hardtail bridge to go with it!
     
  12. tvvoodoo

    tvvoodoo Tele-Afflicted

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    I've been dying to try a fabric refin on another tele I have, but I'm using my FA ME502 for a practice round, but not fabric... I'm gonna try wedding gift wrap. My wife sent me out to get some, and as usual my mind was on other things...

    [​IMG]

    Right now I'm in the testing stage, for the "Glaminator" trying to clear a piece to cut back on the modge podge bleed through.

    [​IMG]

    I figure the edge levelling process will be MUCH quicker than with fabric.
    If it don't work, I'll probably sand it down and go with this...

    [​IMG]

    if the gluing test works out, first order of business will be to disassemble the $49 new in box guitar, and carve comfort bevels into the bod.
     
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  13. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    I finally got back to tinkering with the ME302. I ordered some 250K pots and some string ferrules. I drilled and mounted the ferrules so I can put the strings thru the body like they should be with this bridge. Still have to solder in the new pots.
     
  14. JeradP

    JeradP Former Member

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    I want one!
    I love people who play guitars and not headstocks.

    I played one of the cheap 3/4 sized acoustics and it didn't sound like a good guitar, but it sounded a lot like the Kink's "Lola"
     
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  15. LeftyAl

    LeftyAl Friend of Leo's

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    Those Wal Mart guitars, how can you go wrong.They sold an acoustic at one time ,The kid down the street said that he would take $20 for it ,but is now not returning my E-mails.It was hardy ever played.
     
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  16. FastMattTX

    FastMattTX Tele-Meister

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    tvvoodoo, that's gonna be one wild-looking guitar! Will be interesting to watch, and definitely needs a matching headstock.

    I'm kind of disappointed that First Act's largely eliminated their "mid-range" - the SFA series is gone (the links on the FA site redirect to the $1800+ special editions) and the only electrics left at major retailers are "packs" like the 222 that seem like a step down from classics like the ME501, PW580, and bolt-neck Sheenas and Lolas. Will we soon be talking about the "good old days" of First Act? :p

    Someone on Ebay has Paul Westerberg guitars new in box for $65 with free shipping - I'd be VERY tempted if I didn't already have one!
     
  17. MSquier

    MSquier TDPRI Member

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    I was checking out ebay and am amazed at the variety FA has made over the years. There is a cool Les Paul clone that looks like it was well made. I wouldn't mind one of those.
    Just think how far ahead of out time we are collecting FA guitars, if we live long enough they may be collectors items : )

    Update on my 302, finally strung it up thru the back, tele style, and changed the pots to 250k's. Sounds good, I'm not sure there is much difference from before but I like it. I did do a side to side comparison with my 301 (strat clone) and at the same settings on my amp the 301 is much louder than the 302. They definatly have different pickups.
     
  18. RiverDog

    RiverDog Tele-Afflicted

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    I won two of them on eBay a couple of months ago and the seller lives about 30 minutes away. One was brand spankin' new in the still sealed box for $35 and the other had been played maybe 3 times and put back in the box. I got that one for around over $43 a week after the first one.

    I set one up for slide and the other I'm giving to my daughter as soon as I adjust it a bit.
     
  19. tvvoodoo

    tvvoodoo Tele-Afflicted

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    Cut an arm bevel into mine today, and along with what I saw in the neck pocket - I have to say I was shocked and amazed. couple pics to whet your appetite.

    Hmmmm - I don't think this is plywood...

    [​IMG]

    Can you id this wood?

    [​IMG]
     
  20. FastMattTX

    FastMattTX Tele-Meister

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    ^ That's not mahoganny, is it?
     
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