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Thread: Sterling AX40 Tremolo & Pickup Selector Switch Modification

  1. #1
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    Sterling AX40 Tremolo & Pickup Selector Switch Modification

    I recently modified my AX40 and posted some photos in the Sterling Owners thread and Brian Martin VP at Praxis Musical suggested I start a thread detailing the modifications I've made for other owners who may want to try the same with their guitars. So here we go!

    First off I want to say that I was really trying to do this on the cheap so most of the parts came from sellers on Ebay. I've tried my best to provide part numbers and web sites where I purchased my parts.

    Parts
    1. Gotoh like Saddles- from doner tremolo, (I purchased mine from a private seller on ebay for $20. It caught my eye because it looks similar to the Peavey licensed Floyd Rose but it's not exactly like the Peavey. I had to search high and low to find this tremolo online but it is more expensive. $76.95) NEW!! Heavy Duty Dual Locking Floyd Rose Trem- BRASS&STEEL! Please note that before you buy this tremolo it will not fit on the Sterling without changing the sustain block . The block mine had on it was too short. It also did not pivot as smoothly on the Sterling pivot studs. This led me to rebuild the Sterling using the saddles off this tremolo. I would not have paid that much just for the saddles. As I stated earlier I found my tremolo on ebay for $20. It's up to you how much you want to spend for parts.
    2. Brass Sustain block $18 -ebay
    3. Floyd Rose Fine Tuner Tension Plate $10 (optional, the Sterling plate is practically identical to the Floyd)-ebay
    4. Floyd Rose Tremolo Arm Assembly $15 - ebay
    5. EVH D-Tuna $39.95 EVH Eddie Van Halen D-Tuna Drop D Tuning System at AMS


    DISCLAIMER: Do not attempt if you are not comfortable or experienced in guitar repair/modification! I am not responsible if you damage your equipment due to lack of experience. Consult a qualified guitar tech if you are not comfortable with performing guitar repair/modification yourself.

    Ok so I didn't want to take my guitar apart again to document what I did to change it so I'm using my doner tremolo in place of the Sterling tremolo to demonstrate what parts I replaced and the assembly.

    First I removed the tremolo from the guitar and then removed all the hardware of the tremolo down to just the base plate.


    Next I began to reassemble the tremolo with the replacement parts starting with the fine tuner tension plate and spacer






    I then fastened the sustain block with the three screws from the original block. (Note the Sterling screws are allen head not Phillips head as shown on the doner block.


    I then positioned the saddles and put the string lock screws back in place then secured the saddles.


    Next I installed the Tremolo assembly by placing the tremolo arm barrel on the top side then securing it from the bottom side with the spacer, washer and allen screw.








    And Voila! You're ready to reinstall the tremolo bridge back into you guitar!


    Finished product! (after set-up and intonation adjustment)




    My apologies for the long thread. I hope it was helpful. I'll cover the pickup switch in the next part of this thread.

    Ben
    Last edited by BenB5150; 03-15-2013 at 05:32 AM. Reason: Fixed missing photo

  2. #2
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    I didn't find it long at all. Thanks for documenting the work!

  3. #3
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    Nice. Did you have any issues installing the d tuna before the Floyd upgrade?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mystixboi1 View Post
    Nice. Did you have any issues installing the d tuna before the Floyd upgrade?
    Yes, I did have an issue installing the D-tuna before the upgrade. It would go on fine and tune to D and when I would push it in it would be a little flat so, I would try to adjust the fine tuning screw on the D-tuna and it would make the D-tuna tilt down toward the body. I'm talking it would only need to be tuned a hair to be in tune too. The fine tuning screw was not touching the string locking screw either before I made the adjustment to tune to E. I tried several times using both of the supplied screws and it did the same thing with both of them. I even tried the D-tuna on My EBMM EVH guitar and it worked fine so, I returned the first D-tuna and just figured I wouldn't bother with a D-tuna on my AX40. But I really loved playing my AX40 so I began looking for a replacement tremolo. I was looking to replace my tremolo with a Gotoh and had placed several orders with different companies only to have them canceled because they were on back order and if I found one it was way overpriced. I had ordered a new D-tuna to install on the Gotoh tremolo I had ordered and when they were cancelled I figured I would just hold on to it for when I got a new tremolo. I stumbled across the doner tremolo while searching through ebay trying to find a Gotoh or a Gotoh like tremolo. I was hoping it would just drop in and solve all my problems but as I stated above it had issues. I really liked the saddles on the bridged I got off ebay and decided I would just upgrade the sterling bridge with a block and the saddles etc. After I finished installing the bridge I decided to try the D-tuna again and it worked! I'm not sure if it was the saddles or the fine tuner plate that made the difference but it works so I'm a Happy Camper! On a side note after doing some research on the D-tuna I've read on other forums how the D-tuna can have manufacturing issues that can be fixed by filing or sanding down the U channel that rests on the bolt. I don't know if my first D-tuna had this issue or not, I don't think it did since it worked fine on my EBMM EVH.

    Ben

  5. #5
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    Part 2: Pickup Selector Switch, Volume Pot, Etc.

    Parts
    1. Salecom 3 Way Toggle Switch On-On-On DP3T 125VAC Part # T80T $10.80 -ebay seller ess_7stores
    2. Bourns 500K Knurled Split Shaft $2.60 - amazon.com
    3. Volume/Tone Knob (KN001 or KN002) Your choice $2.00 Volume Knobs - Knobs - Best Guitar Parts or Tone Knobs - Knobs - Best Guitar Parts
    4. Bar String Retainer (MH0047) $4.00 Bar String Retainer - Misc Hardware - Best Guitar Parts


    DISCLAIMER: Do not attempt if you are not comfortable or experienced in guitar repair/modification! I am not responsible if you damage your equipment due to lack of experience. Consult a qualified guitar tech if you are not comfortable with performing guitar repair/modification yourself.

    I'm not a fan of the Les Paul style switch on Music Man style guitar. It just doesn't look right and it doesn't feel right to me. I guess if the real EVH/Axis had this switch it would seem more normal but since it doesn't I just had to change it. I'm also used to an up down motion, like the EVH vs the side to side motion of the Axis so when I first got the AX40 I turned the selector switch to up/down. My personal preference since I'm used to it on my EBMM EVH guitar.

    Again I hit up ebay looking for the EBMM style switch to replace my stock switch and I found one with the ebay seller ess_7stores. It is identical to the EBMM switch minus the circuit board that my EVH has. I don't own an Axis so I'm not familiar with that switch set up.






    Before I removed any wires or the switch I made note of how it was wired in case I ran into trouble and had to go back to the stock switch.


    Once the switch was removed I applied solder to each terminal to make it easy since I knew I would have to experiment with the wiring to make it work. I've since found this diagram and color coded it with the Sterling pickup wires to illustrate how I wired up my switch. For some reason, I'm guessing it's a difference in how each switch throws, I had to reverse the red & blue wires from their position on the stock switch so that down/back would be the bridge pickup and up/forward would be the neck pickup. You will also need to have a jumper across the middle terminals where the white wire connects.


    Once the switch was operating correctly I removed the volume pot and noted the wiring position and just removed and resoldered them to the new pot and reinstalled the pot and the switch. I chose to replace the cream and gold volume knob with a cream and black tone knob like my EVH. I also got a cream and black Volume knob to match the EBMM Axis in case I change my mind.


    To finish off the look of an Axis guitar I also changed out the string retainer bar with one that matches the Axis.


    I hope this is helpful to anyone who wants to swap out the stock switch for a more Music Man appropriate one.

    Ben

  6. #6
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    I almost forgot the most important upgrade I've made to my Sterling AX40. Ernie Ball strap locks and Ernie Ball strap!

    Ben




  7. #7
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    Thanks for the 411. I'm buying a d tuna today so I wanted to know what I might be in for...

  8. #8
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    Ben! Thanks for taking my advice on posting this thread.

    Like I told you and I will mention here:
    We at SBMM don't do any mods in house, so it's very difficult for me to comment on mods/upgrades/etc. It's threads like this that help to make the musical world go 'round, and as long as we are able to make a decent, affordable platform for those who prefer to add their own touches and upgrades, we've done our job at SBMM.

    Thanks again for sharing Ben. PM me your address and we'll get you off an SBMM T-shirt and Hat for your time and trouble for posting this.
    Brian Martin
    Vice President
    Product Specialist
    Praxis Musical Instruments
    Home of Sterling By Music Man

    888-989-7266
    Brian@PraxisMusical.com

  9. #9
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    Thanks for sharing Ben. This was awesome. Some great ideas here.
    Black Cherry Burst Axis DOB: Sept 4, 2009
    Trans Orange Axis Sport DOB: July 2, 1997
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    Playing through Marshalls and EVH amps/cabs

  10. #10
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    Lovin this thread. Thanx for sharing.

    J
    www.myspace.com/gordonsalive
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  11. #11
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    Awesome thread!
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  12. #12
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    No I know what to do when you come out with a green one!
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  13. #13
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    awesome thread !!! i'm looking foward to get mine and do this mods... i got a question thou... does the gotoh tremolo is a quick change up without modification?
    thanks

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironjose View Post
    awesome thread !!! i'm looking foward to get mine and do this mods... i got a question thou... does the gotoh tremolo is a quick change up without modification?
    thanks
    I'm not quite sure if it is mod free or not. I don't have one on hand to be 100% sure. I can only go by the measurements I've taken from my EBMM EVH compared to My SBMM AX40 and the Specs from Gotoh found here GE1996T. When I measured the studs on my EVH and compared them to the AX40 the spacing was identical. The tremolo cavity was close but not exact. If I remember correctly I believe my AX40 was a hair deeper than my EVH. My EVH has a 40mm block which is what the Gotoh comes with. So with all that I'm going on the assumption that the Gotoh will drop right in without modifications. Now I know the studs from Gotoh are larger than what the AX40 has so if you want to use the Gotoh studs you will have to have them put in by a professional if you don't have the equipment or knowledge to do that. Hopefully someone will attempt this soon and answer all our questions on this. I'm happy with my modifications so I'll be holding off on a Gotoh for the time being. If I change my mind I'll definitely update that here!

    Ben

  15. #15
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    Thanks again Ben for posting this!

    I posted a link to this from our Facebook page and have been getting a lot of 'thanks' for it. Passing that thanks onto you!
    Brian Martin
    Vice President
    Product Specialist
    Praxis Musical Instruments
    Home of Sterling By Music Man

    888-989-7266
    Brian@PraxisMusical.com

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