I promised a forum member I’d post about this project, so here we go … I helped a lefty friend replace the neck pickup in his Greg Bennett AV3 and the guitar stayed with me for a week or two, so I played it of course. I liked how it felt and played, and the shorter Gibson scale was a nice change after years playing mostly Teles and Strats. I quite liked the new neck pickup but the stock bridge pickup was on the dull side and overwound for my tastes. A couple of months later he bought a Strat and offered the AV3 to me at a price that was hard to resist, and … well resistance is futile ;-) The guitar is nicely made, with good “bones”. I felt it could be made to sound better. The work I’ve done on Fender types has taught me how pickups and bridges can shape the sound, but I knew very little about humbuckers and tuneomatic bridges. This seemed like a good project to learn about these things. It’s not finished yet, but here’s where it’s up to ... Pickups I started by removing the plated brass covers from the pickups. This opened up the high end and even the stock bridge pickup was quite useable. Then I tried a few pickups and settled on a cheap as chips Donlis humbucker in the neck. (NZ$30.) It’s the uncovered DH22 alnico 2 and measured 7.3k. Great humbucker. Clear but plenty of body and really nice with overdrive. I had an A5 pickup with about the same DCR in there before and liked it, but the A2 is much nicer. The bridge position isn’t settled yet. It will probably get the matching Donlis A2 8.3k. I also have nickel silver covers to put on both pickups once I know which ones I’ll use. Bridge and tailpiece The stock hardware is decent quality zinc alloy stuff. No different to the vast majority of LP type guitars and actually pretty good considering the guitar retails for less than a Squier Affinity. But me being me, I wanted to know if it could be improved. This was the big learning curve. Took me quite a while to get my head around the various options for Gibson style bridges. Metric and imperial, different bridge anchoring, different metals, etc. I started with an aluminium tailpiece and metric steel studs from Amplified Parts. Less than US$30 all up. I also ordered a metric ABM type bridge with brass saddles from Faber Germany, along with steel studs and 8mm steel anchors. The tailpiece arrived first so I tried that out. The new TP weighs 34g, and the old one is 77g. That’s quite a difference. Big audible difference too. There was much more clarity in the bass strings, more sparkle, and overall just a real lively feel when playing. Success! Then the Faber stuff arrived a few days later, so I spent yesterday installing that. It looks and feels like solid, quality stuff. Installation was pretty straightforward. Replacing the alloy anchors for the bridge and tailpiece was relatively easy, but you do need an 8mm bolt on hand to use as a tool. (Basically you screw the bolt down until it comes up against the wood beneath the anchor, then the anchor gently eases out as you continue to turn the bolt.) Once it was all together and adjusted, I was disappointed. It didn’t ring out at all well. Then I remembered the saddles only had small starter slots cut in them. Duh-oh! I needed to deepen them using nut files and get the strings seated properly. Once that was done I was very happy. I still had the clarity and sparkle gained from the aluminium TP, but with a little more body and punch. Overall, both the TP and the bridge made a difference, but the TP was the big one for me. Next on the list: Adjust intonation on the new bridge (it comes roughly set, but for right handed use of course) Replace pots with left-handed 500k pots (reverse taper). I do this on all my guitars so the taper works better for lefty use. Rewire with 50s wiring Replace bridge pickup. Did somebody say pics? This is the guitar as of this morning. The pickguard looks white in the pic but it’s actually a nice cream colour. I’m not so fond of the gaudy tiger stripes and crimson burst, but I’m getting used to it.