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Bill Asher is a bad, bad man . . .

100% Zulu Boy

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
324
Hey,

Just shout out to Bill and Jessica Asher for bringing the mojo . . .

I recently picked up one of those lifeless PRS that you read about here on TGP from time to time -- in my case it's a now-discontinued NF3. While my ears and fingers told me that it's a really cool guitar between what I read here and and what seemed like acres of black plastic pick guard material that just screamed "this is a budget PRS" and a truss rod cover that shouted out "NF3" I came to the conclusion that my guitar just didn't have any of whatever that intangible thing is that makes cool guitars cool -- call it soul, mojo, liveliness, funk, whatever, it just wasn't there.

I mean, I've gigged the guitar several times and musicians always want to know what it is cause it sounds so good and it's a joy to play, but it just didn't feel right -- I mean, I'm an old-school guitar player who likes old school guitars, and a modern, lifeless, plastic pick guard PRS just wasn't anything I'd want to be seen playing. It felt ok, but you know how that goes . . .

So I was thinking about what to do; I've been playing in a joint with lousy wiring and my old tele buzzes like a banshee and my old Epi Riviera doesn't fit the gig, needed something that would cover the half-country, half funky blues stuff I've been playing, and then it hit me -- what this guitar suffers from is a lack of organic material.

Think about an old-school tele -- it's made up of wood, wire, and steel, but more than that, it's got organic material in the pickup flatwork and importantly, the bakelite pick guard material. And I realized that is what my NF3 was suffering from -- it just didn't have enough organic material. Yeah, it's all high-tech with a V12 finish and ultra-precise Narrowfield pickups but where was the mojo?

And before any of y'all tell me that tone is in the fingers and it's my job to bring the mojo I agree, but I'm looking for any advantage -- I got my own mojo, but if I can buy more, well, that's all good with me.

So I floated an email into one of the most soulful guitar makers I know, Bill Asher, and asked for his help. I don't own an Asher guitar, although I hope to one day, but back in the day I used to live a mile or two away from his old shop in Santa Monica and Bill and his krewe did plenty to make my guitars sound great.
Anyway, I sent an note to Bill asking if he'd consider making a new pick guard, truss rod cover and trem backplate for my NF3 out of the gorgeous celluloid material he uses for his own brilliant guitars. He replied quickly, a deal was made, I sent off the old parts and a box arrived yesterday with the new parts . . .

As you'd expect from Bill the craftsmanship is most excellent, and and when I installed the parts the guitar was transformed. Oh, yeah, I figured that the stock PRS knobs and trem and switch tips were probably made for lawyers and were sucking mojo, too, so I replaced them with ivoroid parts sourced from Warmoth and CrazyParts -- wanted to match the ivoroid tuning machine knobs that came stock on the guitar.

It went from being a cool but decidedly un-funky box to being a soulful guitar that just drips Memphis soul and can go from a Telecaster bark and whistle on the bridge pickup to a lush, fat & smooth jazzbox moan on the neck, and the 2 & 4 position get close enough to classic strat tone without being hyper-cliche'd sounding. It's a really useful guitar that sounds great, plays great and won't go out of tune, and now that I've added in the correct amount of organic material it's soulful and lively, too . . .

So, thanks again, Bill, for taking on this project, and thanks, Jessica, for your most excellent follow-up along the way.

~j









 

dmkz

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,178
Nice upgrades!

I still have trouble grasping the "PRS is lifeless cause they lack imperfections" argument, but you're take on organic materials over plastic is interesting. At the very least, your guitar looks badass now. Would love to hear comparison clips if you have them.
 

100% Zulu Boy

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
324
Nice upgrades!

I still have trouble grasping the "PRS is lifeless cause they lack imperfections" argument, but you're take on organic materials over plastic is interesting. At the very least, your guitar looks badass now. Would love to hear comparison clips if you have them.
I wrote this with tongue planted firmly in cheek . . . it was always a really good guitar. I just like it mo' betta' this way. :)
 

dmkz

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,178
I wrote this with tongue planted firmly in cheek . . . it was always a really good guitar. I just like it mo' betta' this way. :)
I definitely like what you've done here! I have a PRS Brent Mason with the white wash body and black pickguard. I liked it just fine until I saw your pics this morning....and now you've got my wheels spinning.
 

BobK

Member
Messages
2,254
Did you look inside the control cavity? There might be some nasty mojo-sucking plastic covered wires in there that could be replaced with real tone-enhancing cloth-covered wire.
 

100% Zulu Boy

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
324
Did you look inside the control cavity? There might be some nasty mojo-sucking plastic covered wires in there that could be replaced with real tone-enhancing cloth-covered wire.
I did, and I was torn up about what I found.

Other than the leads from the pickups which are proper cloth covered wire with braided shielding the guitar is wired exclusively with plastic covered wire. In the end I'm thinking about balance -- I measured out the total length of the wires and found that there was significantly more cloth wire than plastic wire, so I decided to leave it alone for now.

But who knows what tomorrow may bring -- I'm looking suspiciously at the cheap plastic wire that grounds the trem claw to the pots and wonder how much more sonic goodness would be available if I were to replace it with a length of cloth-covered wire from my stash that survived the Katrina flood . . . :)

~j
 
Messages
2,068
I had an Asher T style at one point and stupidly sold it....it was a really cool build and I hope to explore another at some point..

Cheers
 

Crash-VR

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,068
I just received my first Asher. A custom lap steel. Man it's sweet. Not one of the Chinese made ones either. Flamed maple top and Loller pickups. Now if I could just play the thing.
 

Jazzandmore

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
11,531
I did, and I was torn up about what I found.

Other than the leads from the pickups which are proper cloth covered wire with braided shielding the guitar is wired exclusively with plastic covered wire. In the end I'm thinking about balance -- I measured out the total length of the wires and found that there was significantly more cloth wire than plastic wire, so I decided to leave it alone for now.

But who knows what tomorrow may bring -- I'm looking suspiciously at the cheap plastic wire that grounds the trem claw to the pots and wonder how much more sonic goodness would be available if I were to replace it with a length of cloth-covered wire from my stash that survived the Katrina flood . . . :)

~j
I hear that! Man I got this NOS cloth wire off the original spool from 1957 from the company that made the wire for Gibson. I rewired my Tele with it...as you can imagine, it released major sonic goodness :)
 

jerrycampbell

Senior Member
Messages
5,968
Haha! I enjoyed your mojo-soaked post.
That's an amazing material in the guard and truss rod cover.
Good choices in knobs and switch tip.
 

100% Zulu Boy

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
324
Haha! I enjoyed your mojo-soaked post.
That's an amazing material in the guard and truss rod cover.
Good choices in knobs and switch tip.
Think so, too . . . Bill Asher has some really nice stuff, happy he did this for me.

And thanks on the knob and switch-tip, like 'em better more than stock, too.
 

100% Zulu Boy

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
324
You need to turn your post into a book. Chapter 1, the pickguard. I was gripped through the end. Excellent writing.
What would Chapter 2 be?

Been playing it all weekend and I'm trying to figure out how to engineer a tele pickup to fit in the bridge position without being too invasive, lots of deep thoughts around what that would mean. :)
 

100% Zulu Boy

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
324
Nice transformation! The best part is that you used "krewe", being a good New Orleanian :)
Aw, thanks.

I actually moved to the northeast recently for reasons that aren't entirely clear to me, now, but the notion of krewe stuck with me, it's a really useful concept.
 




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