I’ll start off.
I considered myself a novice in realm of guitars until the last few weeks due to this and several other experiences. I think I handled this situation in the proper order but I would love some feedback if not. I purchased a guitar last week. I did this blindly through mail order based on specifications and photographs. That wasn’t so smart, but luckily it worked out. This specific model boasted grover tuners, graphite nut, abalone bird inlays on the 24 fret rosewood fingerboard, the tailpiece is a two point fulcrum vibrato type and the hardware is Gold. It has 2 humbuckers, 3 way switch and a volume and tone knob. It has a mahogany back and set neck, and a flame maple top with a light tan stain and nitro clear. Sounds nice, eh?
Turns out this guitar is nice. I got it for $215US shipped. In the spirit of the forums I will not mention where. When I played it at first I was bummed out. It was difficult to tune and the intonation and string height were completely wack. So I took it to my local guy and he had a look. Turns out the nut is graphite, the tuners are grovers, and it’s real good wood. This guitar sounds amazing plugged into everything it’s been plugged into so far. After Dave the Luthier filed the nut slots, changed the .009’s out for .010’s, straightened out the neck, and straightened out the intonation and string height, it’s like holding a hot stick of butter. There remains only one problem. When I use the tremolo it falls out of tune easily. The same thing is being said about the name brand yet possibly built in the same factory’s counterpart (with the owner who looks to me like Dr. Drew from LoveLine’s twin brother).
So now I have $45 more into her which brings the total to $260. Everything points to locking tuners. Forum posts are filled with this same advice as pertains to the name brand one. Do I drop another $70 or so into this guitar or set the bridge to be a hard tail? Would oiling the bridge help? I think I’ll try that too.
When do you decide that a guitar becomes a money pit? Most players usually go after the pickups first. Then the wiring and some times even the frets. What is that perfect ratio? I hear guys talking about buying $4k Gibson’s and changing out the tuners. I’m thinking that maybe I’ll get the tuners. What do you guys/gals think?
Hmmm, not sure really. I rarely use the tremolo arm on my guitar, but when I do the strings stay in tune pretty much- unless I’m doing some major divebombing! It might be worth oiling the bridge, also, you might find the strings will settle down after a while and after being retuned several times. I don’t like the locking tuners, ther are string snappers in my experience, whenever I’ve had them on a guitar I’ve loosened them off! I think that if you are going to use the tremelo a lot and this tuning problem is going to be an issue, then the locking tuners will be a sensible addition, but if you are happy to live without the tremelo you could put an extra spring inside the trem mechanism so it can’t move/ take the trem arm off?