An Evertune too fat for you

I recently had a Schecter KM-7 mkII on the bench for an Evertune and Fishman Fluence install. These are deceptively thin bodied, thin necked shred machines that still have some heft being mostly swamp ash. I’ve worked on one of these before and had the sense when asked recently about installing an Evertune bridge it would be no problem.

 

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Schecter KM-7 MKII (fixes the issue the MkI had with spontaneous combustion)

Problem; turns out the KM7 mkII is only 1.575 inches thick. Adding in string height gets us to 1.9 inches. Evertune requires those two measurements to add to at least 2.1 inches. Seemed odd since I vaguely remember seeing Keith Merrow play one of these with an Evertune. I don’t drink and do drugs so much to dismiss it as a hazy mental YouTube mix up so I started digging around the google. I found that Evertune has installed (or had Fren Asken install) a bridge for Keith Merrow (he gets pissed if you don’t refer to him by his full name). So it’s possible, it just means the bridge will stick out the back.

To accommodate this protruding problem a plastic piece must stand properly proud. 1/4 inch will do it.

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You ball ends might show through

 

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Annealed chewing gum comes out clear

With the bridge problem solved however the new bridge pickup was getting pushed up into the strings by the saddle modules, so shaving the leading edge of the housing was necessary.

 

 

All in all it came together, plays great, but if Mr. Merrow wants an Evertune maybe he should go on the Dr. Nick Riviera diet to weight gain and fatten up his gear.

 

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Important PSA regarding pickup replacements!

Guitar owners looking to swap pickups should know a number of things before buying replacements. There are important specs like string spacing, magnet type, amount of conductor wires, and on and on and on. I’ll be focusing on one aspect here, mounting method as it pertains to humbuckers for modern metal guitars, mostly those Ibanez models that are direct mount.
It’s important to know the difference between pickups that are designed for Direct/Surface mounting and Ring/Pickguard mounting and know which type your guitar uses. Easiest way to think about this is wood screw for direct mount, machine screw for ring mount*. What’s being used to attach your existing pickups? What type does your potential replacement come with?
Should be simple but there is a lot of garbage marketing jargon out there, missing information, and misinformation.
Seymour Duncan

Seymour Duncan uses the terms “Passive Mount” and “Active Mount” but not universally across all models, needlessly confusing matters but it’s Seymour’s company, he do what he want. These terms are applied to certain seven and eight string models, refer to the shape of the route the pickups are intended for, and have nothing to do with whether the pickup itself is active or passive.

“Active Mount” Seymour pickups are in a rectangular soap-bar shape and need a larger route than most standard pickups. They take wood screws and are therefore direct mount. Why soap-bar? Because there was a time when guitar builders looking to install active seven string pickups as standard equipment only had one choice, a soap-bar shaped EMG. So there are a number of ugly guitars floating around with huge holes in them ready to get stuffed with after market replacements.

“Passive Mount” Seymour pickups are like any other Seymours that use machine screws (unless they are the active “Passive Mount” models**) for ring or guard mount but are labeled as such simply because they have an “Active Mount” variant.

So Passive “passive mount” are ring mount with machine screws, active “passive mount” are direct mount with wood screws, “active mount” are direct mount no matter passive or active and everything else may or may not be direct or ring mounted***.

Got it? You better cause Seymour doesn’t give a shit.
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Seymour Pup on DiMarzio Plate

DiMarzio

6 string humbuckers are ring mount, 7 strings are direct mount, 8 are whatever? You just have to look at the pictures. It’s a pain in the ass but at least they don’t intentionally spread confusing bullshit Although they, along with Ibanez, caused a lot of this initial confusion (leaving EVH out of this for now****) by producing OEM models for Ibanez to direct mount before most other large manufacturers were doing such things. So much like our gaping EMG hole problem discussed earlier, we have a bunch of guitars floating around that look pretty without rings that need aftermarket direct mount options.

Bare Knuckle
They don’t do direct mount. Guess your screwed, maybe.

EMG

6 strings are all direct mount, 7 and 8 strings have options for direct or ring but with direct you’re gonna get an ugly soap-bar. Sorry.

So what can be done when the pickup you want doesn’t have a direct mount variant for your direct mount guitar? 

Provided it fits (it may not) easiest thing to do is modify the screws. I first sharpen the provided machine screws to a point, then chuck them into my drill press and file a smooth shank just below the head. Since machine screw thread is finer than a wood screws I’ll often plug existing holes without pre-drilling new ones so the thread has something to grip, the sharp point aides in threading the screw into the wood. The flat shank is so the screw can thread all the way through the pickup base hole and “bottom out” at the head, allowing the screw to turn freely without stripping anything.

If the pickup doesn’t fit, rather than grind the mounting plates or routing the guitar I’ll try to retrofit the new bobbins on the existing plate. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t.

Last resort is some routing, maybe a pickup ring, maybe some other custom solution like cutting or grinding your nice new pickup, which we can discuss. Call me so we can talk.
Or call me so you can listen to me breathe.

*There are pickups that use self tapping screws, which look like wood screws, to attach to rings and guards. Not much functional difference between them in this use case. If it fits it fits and if he dies he dies.
**The 7 and 8 string blackouts and Jeff Loomis and Mick Thompson signatures don’t have machine screw inserts while the 6 string versions do because fuck you I guess.
***Don’t count on the spec sheets to tell you if the plate is tapped for machine screws on every model that needs a ring. Seymour is too rich to care.
**** Eddie Van Halen invented guitar in the 70s. It’s just fact. Everything that’s ever been done, he did it first. He direct mounted a pickup in his famous Frankenstein. So blame him.

The problem with the RG8

I have many problems. I wake up in strange clothes, I yell at children on the light rail, and my 401k won’t provide me a retirement in even the cheapest RV park. But this is the most common one I deal with…the Ibanez RG8. An affordable 8 string that was just born bad. Being a cool dude in the metal scene means I get to handle lots of new, cutting edge gear that goes chugga chugga. I do enjoy fondling other peoples property but anytime one of these lands in my sinkhole I put on my counselor gloves and probe why the player thought this purchase was a good idea. Let’s start with the original sin.

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It’s too fucking short! 27 god damn inches is not long enough. I mean yea, it’s longer than any low energy old man 6 string but Ibanez knows everyone wants to be Tosin or Ihsahn or Thordendal. That means the F# just aint low enough! Everyone drops their panties and their string for that low E. At 27″ a standard 0.074 isn’t just a sloppy floppy wet noodle, it’s a signal of ones lack of virility and prowess. If them chugs aren’t tight no ones gonna get on your groove. The audience doesn’t want to swim through your muddy brown sound morass of flubba flubba. So how can we get that chugga chugga? Well, the thicker the better to ram that djent home. So let’s install an 0.080

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Oh wait, it don’t fit and I’m out of lube. So the player just got suckered into this and they’re not leaving without that low E so let’s make it fit. First I ream out the ferrule

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Then the tuner

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Gotta file that nut slot

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File the saddle…

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Compensate for an intonation screw that’s too long and pinches the string before it’s intonated

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And finally after all that it fits

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So was that it? Is that all it takes? Don’t get your hopes up. The 0.080 is better but your really only draining the swamp of doody and replacing it with mud. Consider that a standard bass is 34 inches and uses a .105 gauge string for that E1. So not only is the Ibanez RG8 lacking in length but pumping it up to give it that extra girth can bust it apart at the seams. 27 and 0.080 aint enough change to ride the E1 line. Go buy a 30 incher.

Super sick strat series pickup wire options 

I recently had a customer slip into the Gutter with his American Strat (I greese the sidewalk to “attract” customers). At some point he had a push pull pot installed giving him three series modes. You can see the mod detailed here.

While in series mode these are the pickup switch combinations.

Position

  1. Bridge and neck in series
  2. Neck and mid in series and neck and bridge in series as parallel pair
  3. Neck and mid in series
  4. Neck
  5. Neck

As you can see position 4 is boring and redundant. The customer is an adventerous go getter and wanted another option for that switch position. The circuit doesn’t lend itself easily to other options.

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Fortunately the customer, we’ll call him Cus for short, also wants a master treble and a master bass cut. This frees up one half of the 5 way pickup selector…. Interesting. Thinking, head scratching. I could just google a solution but I prefer a novel approach.

Let’s look at that middle bastard and figure out why he’s too subborn to TURN THE FUCK ON when pup switch is at 4. So a litle about electricity. Like water (and myself at times) it has little will of its own so will follow the path of least resistance. Pickup coils are essentially just a long, winding, miserable, grueling path of resistance. When a pickup circuit is connected correctly from ground through the coil to positive the electrons have no choice but to rejoice when the strings excite the magnet mist. (Stay with me). Looking at the PP switch (it’s a technical term, look it up) we see that the middle negative can either be connected to the ground lead or the wire going to the 5th lug of the pickup switch which also happens to be connected to the positive lead of the neck pickup. Same with the bridge but we don’t care about that right now. When PP switch is down electricy can flow from ground through neck coil to postive out to the negative entry of the middle,through its coil and to the 4th switch lug creating the series connection. But you can see all that. (Nevermind that pickups induce an AC current, it’s just eaiser to think about it this way).

So now that we are all electrical engineers we can clearly see what the problem is. No? Since water, er, electricity is kinda lazy it doesn’t want to go through the middle even when it has a path because while in the 4th position there are two paths and one is much easier than the other, through the neck and out the jack.

Cutting to the chase since Cus needs his guitar back I decided to use the now free half of the pickup switch to change the middle pickups ground path while in the 4th. But there is a snag. For reasons I’m too tired to explain the 3rd and 2nd terminals cannot be connected on this half of the switch to work correctly. My hack solution was to cut the wiper in the switch that connects them. Only it’s a fender switch and they are a pain to disassmble. So I used an asian enclosed five way and opened it up. See below, go ahead, you can look, it’s asleep and won’t mind a peak at its insides.

 

open switch surgery

 

 

cut wiper

Long story short I wired it up so the neck and mid are in parallel in the 4th position. Cus already has that option when the series switch is disengaged and the strat functions as usual but fuck it, he’s happy with it.

 

modified switch

Next post we will discuss the treble bass cut portion of this.