Altering a vintage guitar: Should I?

kludge

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I have a late 1970s Bambu, a Japanese guitar strongly inspired by Alembic. Laminated bamboo/walnut neck-thru with ash wings and active electronics. It's similar to the Ibanez Musicians of the same era, but I think it looks and plays better.

But I've come to realize I don't like the electronics.

They're not bad-sounding. Far from it. Bridge humbucker, neck single-coil in the same body size, and active bass/treble controls. It has a lot of range. Unfortunately, most of that range really isn't useful. Sometimes, I'll land on something perfect for the moment, but most of the time, I'm wiggling the knobs, trying to get it right. And the neck pickup hums, and I hate hum.

So I'm thinking of ripping out the pickups and active electronics, and replacing with regular PAF-sized humbuckers. But the original pickup rings are set up for three-screw mount rather than the usual PAF two-screw mount, and they're not standard size. So I'd have to drill the existing rings (marring them forever), or get replacement rings made ($$).

But this means modding a rare, vintage guitar. Not a highly valuable one (it's probably worth $500 - an equivalent Ibanez would be more like $800-1000), but still. So I feel guilty. But I also feel guilty for only rarely playing a really cool guitar that feels good in my hands.

Should I or shouldn't I?
 

Luke

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Old doesn't always mean valuable, sometimes, like in this case, it just means old. I'd use generic plastic rings to begin and see how it all turns out before getting custom rings made. I have no problem botching up a $3 set of plastic rings.

BEFORE you do it, take photos and label everything so it can more easily be returned to stock if desired.
 

silentbob

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Old doesn't always mean valuable, sometimes, like in this case, it just means old. I'd use generic plastic rings to begin and see how it all turns out before getting custom rings made. I have no problem botching up a $3 set of plastic rings.

BEFORE you do it, take photos and label everything so it can more easily be returned to stock if desired.
Great advice, exactly what I was thinking.
 

kludge

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Old doesn't always mean valuable, sometimes, like in this case, it just means old. I'd use generic plastic rings to begin and see how it all turns out before getting custom rings made. I have no problem botching up a $3 set of plastic rings.

BEFORE you do it, take photos and label everything so it can more easily be returned to stock if desired.
Alas, the generic plastic rings I have lying around in parts don't seem to fit... they're too small. And because it's a very rare guitar, I doubt I'll find replacements that would work.
 

kludge

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Carve a monkey grip in it and drop in a Floyd rose
May as well. I actually paid a tech to unseize the corroded saddles on the 1970s style heavy brass bridge.

I suppose I could paint it purple sparkle too! But probably the one shred guitar I own wouldn't tolerate other shred guitars.
 

Dale

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Alas, the generic plastic rings I have lying around in parts don't seem to fit... they're too small. And because it's a very rare guitar, I doubt I'll find replacements that would work.
Use 1/8" laminate or ply to make the rings.
 

Whiskeyrebel

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How clean are the routes? You could always direct mount the pups in the routes. Take the pickup and mount it with springs under the ears or foam rubber blocks under the baseplates, or both, and pass the screws through the ears into the wood.

It would save you needing to get or make rings.
 

Space Hammer

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How about direct mounting the pickups onto the body like a musicman guitar? You'll need to drill 2 small holes into the body but they'll be under the pickups so no one will ever see them

Edit: Ha, seems Whiskeyrebel beat me by 2 minutes, great minds think alike right? :)
 
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serial

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Mod it. It's not up to your standards now and it will never be particularly valuable, so yes-mod it w/o hesitation. Foolish to not make it sound or play better. This isn't a 50's Les Paul.
 

Tone Loco

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Mod it. It's not up to your standards now and it will never be particularly valuable, so yes-mod it w/o hesitation. Foolish to not make it sound or play better. This isn't a 50's Les Paul.
:agree

There are thousands of weird looking not very good sounding and/or not very good playing guitars out there from the 60s on. One less probably won't deprive the world of much. And turning it into a useful instrument is better than just tossing it or fobbing it off on somebody else who won't play it either.

Edit; if you're really not that into the guitar as is, as in it's not going to get played, the only other viable option afaic is to just sell it and move on. There may indeed be someone out there who needs it to start or complete his collection.
 




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