Tiffany - SX Ash Tele upgrade project

PhredE

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Suburban PDX, OR
My opinion on solid body guitars is that once you take away the bridge, pickups, electronics, tuners, shielding and nut (all of which can be upgraded, and people upgrade these on more expensive guitars too) all you are left with is a neck/fretboard/frets and a slab of wood. So all you have to do is find a cheap guitar with a neck and fingerboard that suits you.
Even frets can be worked on or replaced.
If I spend $400aud on the Ash SX, then $300aud in parts to replace the saddles, shield it, replace pickups, electronics and etc. for a total of $700aud and some elbow grease. Cheapest mim Tele in Australia is about $1,000 and I would probably still need to do some fret work, replace pickups and etc. I would replace these things with the same things I would put in the SX.
So what am I really paying for? Quality control, a bit more time and effort on the fretboard and marketing. If I am willing to do the quality control and time and effort on the fretboard myself on a cheaper guitar, then all I would be paying at least $1000 for would be a name on a headstock. I don’t really care about the status of owning a Fender/G&L/whatever you poison, I just want a guitar that sounds good and I like to play.
I generally view things the same way.

On the topic of 'budget guitars', you may wish to keep an eye out for some of the Grote models. They also get a pretty favorable reception by the owners here. They are distributed primarily by Amazon here in the US, but I think you folks in Oz can order directly from the factory website (maybe Amazon too?)
 

BigBobbyBoy

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77-E0-DE7-C-160-F-45-DD-9-A2-E-25-E568-B647-C1.jpg
Today I ordered some single ply tortoise shell pickguard blank to make my own pickguard. I also ordered the Gotoh brass saddles and some shielding tape.
 

oyobass

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My opinion on the SX guitars is this, if you are just looking for some specialty model that they have and they are not intended to be your main "go to", then I say "maybe". When I bought stuff from Rondo back in the day, you could get a Tele for $89.00 and a Strat for $99.00 (plus shipping of course). They were a good bargain then. However, they are probably double that now if you can find them. At that price, they are not that good of a deal. If you upgrade just the pickups, tuners, and wiring, expect to drop another $200.00 or more depending on the quality of the upgrade parts. You would then be into it for $400.00, maybe? At that point I would be looking at something else. The only real value is if you can play it "as is". If so, then perhaps it is still a bargain. With guitars, you get what you pay for and that's a fact.
I got on the SX train when the deluxe models were about $150 USD, give or take a few bucks either way. A strat with P90s and a tunomatic bridge/stoptail, a SSH strat with a Floyd Rose, and a 6-string jazz bass. All at least good instruments, the bass is a great instrument.

These days they definitely don't offer the same value-per-dollar.

I have been buying Indio brand guitars from Monoprice.com lately. Huge value for your money. base models are $100 and are $20 less when the sales hit. Nice finishes, decently set up out of the box by a luthier in California. Free shipping in the US. I have 2 so far, both strat-ish things. The blueburst in the picture is stock. The black one I got for $80 on sale as a mod project, still a work in progress. The intent is to see how cheaply I can build a replica of David Gilmour's black Strat, (the one that sold for almost $4 million at auction). So far, I'm around $140 with cheap Amazon replacement neck and tuners. I particularly like the Musiclily locking vintage tuners. The inset shows Gilmour's guitar as auctioned. With the black one, I felt guilty pulling apart The smaller picture shows the guitar as stock.
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DG Homebrew + DG Original.jpg

Indio Cali Black Strat.jpg
 

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oyobass

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I did a reshape 10 years ago on mine. Different starting headstock shape, though. https://www.tdpri.com/threads/yet-another-sx-headstock-reshape-furrian-photo-content.277875/
I have been thinking of doing a quarter-mod to my headstock. The idea is to place a US quarter over the "beak" of the thing and trace the curve with a pencil. Cut and sand along the line. You now have a more traditional looking headstock that still has it's own thing going on.

If a coin as a template doesn't give you the curve you're after, there a lot of lids for various products around...
 

Sax-son

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The intent is to see how cheaply I can build a replica of David Gilmour's black Strat, (the one that sold for almost $4 million at auction).
These rock stars can retire off just what they sell their instruments for. Just another Strat in my opinion.
 

oyobass

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These rock stars can retire off just what they sell their instruments for. Just another Strat in my opinion.
Gilmour auctioned off over 120 guitars for charity, including the Black Strat. God bless him. He didn't get anything but a warm feeling (and possibly a tax write-off. I don't know how those things work in the UK.)
 

oyobass

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I love the shape of yours! Great job.
I didn't mod the headstock on the black guitar, I replaced the neck with a new one. I'm looking for a body for the original Indio neck. It wasn't just fantastic for an $80 guitar, it was really good. Perhaps I'll bolt it onto a pine plank and play it that way.
 

TX_Slinger

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The Sticks, TX
Looks like some SX models are still up on Rondo's site (Furrian [Tele copy], Callisto [LP copy], Hawk [Strat copy], etc.:


I have taken a liking to P90s lately and was eyeing one of those "Liquid" models.
I don't NEED another guitar, but..?!?!? (GAS)
I just sold my SX Liquid (alder, 3-P90). It was a great cheap guitar. I did swap my pickups out and I got lucky to get one with decent neck and frets though. I still had one string that would die out when bending at the 17th fret. The tuning machines were complete garbage and were replaced with a $20 set of Wilkinson EZ Loks.
 

BigBobbyBoy

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Gold Coast, Australia
Brass saddles arrived today.
s4.jpg


Pulled off the pop metal ones and out of interest weighed them.
s3.jpg

So about 5 grams per saddle (about .17oz)

The new brass ones were weighed too
s2.jpg

With is about 7.8 grams per saddle (roughly .27oz)

Here is the bridge all back together
s1.jpg


Unfortunately, I haven't been able to string it up and play it due to the neck needing to be finished. Hopefully soon!

In other thoughts about the project, I am thinking about pickups. Original plan was to get some wound for me by a local Australian pick up dude. But, the last few days I've been thinking about trying the EMG T System set up. Cost will be about the same, as the T System includes all the electronics, which i was planning to upgrade anyway. I shall ponder it further. One thing I will check before making the plunge is to see if a 9v battery will fit in the control cavity with little to no modifications.
 

BigBobbyBoy

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Stripped the body down. Control cavity is a bit small for proper sized pots or 9v battery if I got the EMG route. I’ve marked up where the control plate covers to and will open the cavity up in the right spots when I know more about what I am doing with electronics.
D60-C0-F71-CE81-440-F-8-C46-BB5-DFB3-C8-A06.jpg
 

TX_Slinger

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I've used those on 2 guitars and think pretty favorably of them. +1
The EZ Loks are really stable but they are a little difficult to remove strings from and I've had to use pliers on the unwound strings if you are winding them according to the directions I found online. Share if you've found a workaround.
 

BigBobbyBoy

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I went on a quick trip with my family to go visit my parents who live on a property a few hours drive away. While there my dad offered me some Silky Oak timber (Australian tone wood that is getting used more and more for guitars) that has been drying in his shed for the last 12 years or so. the slabs would not quite be thick enough for a guitar, but I guess I could find a bit with a nice grain and use it as a cap. Silky oak often has a really nice grain, see picture:
Front-finished.jpg


Sooo, as I have promised my wife no more guitars in the near future 🤥 I am wondering if I should use the current guitar as a template and build a silky oak body for it.
 

bgmacaw

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Near Athens GA USA
If you upgrade just the pickups, tuners, and wiring, expect to drop another $200.00 or more depending on the quality of the upgrade parts.

The tuners work perfectly fine on the 3 SX guitars I bought. There's no need to upgrade them.

The pickups, while cheaper ceramics, aren't too bad. I have replaced them 2 of mine but I didn't buy expensive pickups to do it. I just bought or reused inexpensive ones with a voice I liked better.

The wiring is functional but on the cheap side. I did swap out wiring on 2 I swapped pickups on since I was in there anyway and wanted to do something different with them.

I spent about $100-$125 on parts total for the SX guitars I modded, plus my own labor time.
 

BigBobbyBoy

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Pickguard mostly done:
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Just have to countersink the holes. This is my first time making a pickgaurd, and I’m pretty sure I did everything the hard way. I made a few mistakes, but am still very happy with how it turned out.

Next thing it to do the fret work. After that the EMG pickups and wiring should’ve arrive and I can put it all back together.
 




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