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Thread: Sterling AX4 project guitar and first time playing around with a MM style guitar

  1. #1

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    Sterling AX4 project guitar and first time playing around with a MM style guitar

    Hi everyone. Title says all. I didn't see a welcome thread here or I'd have posted a new guy intro so this will be my combo thread. Also was searching for a Sterling forum or a sub section on Sterlings specifically but didn't find any so I'm posting here in the Music Man section. Hope that its ok.

    Been playing off and on for a number of years now. I like to hit up pawn shops and find fixer upper deals. I recently found this guy.

    Sterling AX4 project guitar and first time playing around with a MM style guitar-wp_20180212_22_48_53_pro-2-jpg

    It's a Sterling Ax4. As it hung on the pawn shop wall it had no strings on it, the bridge was literally saran wrapped to the body since the trem claw springs were rattling around in the cavity and curiously one of the five neck joint screws had a snapped off head. Apparently someone was trying to do something with this instrument, gave up and dumped it at the pawn shop. They had it tagged 100 bucks "As Is" but being the cheap skate that I am and pointing out the few flaws I found I got it for a paltry 80 dollars. I saw the potential and it just felt wrong to leave it in an unplayable state there. Plus I've never owned any Music Man style guitars before so why not. I've fixed up many beater guitars before and then sold them off rather cheap to another budding guitarist so this one will be no different. All though this time my nephew is now old enough and has expressed interest in learning so this might wind up being his. So in addition to the neck joint screw I already mentioned here was the other obvious flaw I saw.

    Sterling AX4 project guitar and first time playing around with a MM style guitar-wp_20180212_22_52_47_pro-jpg

    The low E fine tuner head has been snapped off. Since the bridge wasn't attached by strings or the trem claw springs I'm assuming it fell at some point and landed at just the right angle to break it off. Nothing else seems bent or off with the rest of the bridge but I already placed an order for a Gotoh Floyd replacement. I've swapped out several "licensed" Floyds in the past with the Gotoh unit and this will be no exception. Even if the fine tuner knob wasn't missing I would have probably done this swap anyway. The brass block, better material and finally a better trem arm attachement than most Floyds makes the Gotoh a no brainer. The only thing I'm riding the fence on is if I'm going to utilize the locking studs that come with the Gotoh. I think for now I'll just use the existing posts and then later I might drill for the slightly larger Gotoh ones. Also speaking of drilling, for now I'll just get another neck screw but I might consider doing threaded inserts and machine screws for neck attachment at some point down the road.

    In the mean time I've thrown strings on it, tuned it up and tweaked it a bit to get it playable while I'm waiting on the Gotoh to arrive. All the electronics work, the pickups are actually not too bad sounding but knowing me I'll eventually pull out that soldering iron at some point lol.

    All in all I'm quite impressed with with over quality of the instrument being made in Indonesia. There are some great guitars coming out of that part of the world from several companies these days. It's been a while since I took on a project guitar but I'm really happy with this one so far. Other than having to setup the new bridge everything else seems good to go so I'll have a decent new toy to play with for a while. Forgot to mention there's virtually any fret wear on the board, no major dents of dings, just minor stuff. It's in great condition other than the issues I've mentioned. I'm looking forward to hot rodding this thing later on with some different pickups.

    Thanks for reading and letting me share with you guys. This might be the start of a bad trend of looking out for other great deals Music Man guitars in the future lol. Finally, I'll be just under 200 dollars into this thing and have a great playing instrument. Even swapping pickups later on I'll still be in the ball park of what one of these probably went for new and have a much better instrument. Can't argue with that.

    Take care all.
    Jeremy in Texas

  2. #2

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    Hello and welcome

    Repairing guitars is a nice hobby ! (but after that you have less time for playing ...)

  3. #3

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    Hi Jeremy and welcome! You have probably the best bang for the buck guitar on the planet!!!! I've had two and they are amazing for the $$$!!! The first one I put the DiMarzio Air Norton in the neck and the Tone Zone in the bridge. That along with one of these - Stone Tone Rock Blocks Guitars Nuts Internal Mods Custom shop – Stone Tone Products and that guitar ROCKED! The clarity, sustain, overtones, etc, were off the charts! I ended up selling it to fund something else. I now have another one (same color as yours) which came with Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge and a Jazz in the neck. I put the stone tone block in that one as well and it too has clarity, sustain, overtones and harmonics which are off the charts! You have a great guitar there! Enjoy!!
    EBMM BFR Morse Dark Lord Tahitian Blue w/SD Pearly Gates pups S/N G79179 DOB 2/7/17
    EBMM AL HT Trans Walnut Rosewood Neck S/N G77991 DOB 9/16/16
    SBMM AX30-D Natural Quilt
    SBMM SUB AX4 Trans Red Quilt DiMarzio AXIS pups SD pots GOTOH GE1996T Trem
    EBMM - a guitar like no other.
    Even we mancave noodlers can appreciate the perfection that is an EBMM guitar.
    "one likes to believe in the freedom of music..."

  4. #4

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    @fbecir It is a nice hobby. Sometimes I enjoy it more than actually playing them as I just like to tinker with stuff. Same with cars and guns. For me its satisfying. Also I learned early on you save yourself alot of money when you know how to work on your own stuff. Its not for everyone though. I do as much as I can before I have to hand it off to a professional.

    @edhalen Agreed, Love the Air Norton and Tone Zone combo. Done that before. Maybe this time I'll try something completely different, who knows. Interesting on the stone block. I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for the suggestion.
    Last edited by JGWILLS; 02-14-2018 at 03:54 PM.

  5. #5

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    Silly me wasn't paying attention when I ordered the Gotoh bridge and wound up with a 33mm sustain block instead of the 40mm. Totally my fault and was willing to just purchase another block. edhalens suggestion to try a Stone Tone almost happened lol. To their credit Philadelphia Luthier tools and supplies was quick to email me right back and said and exchange was no problem. So I pulled the block and dropped it in the mail today back to them. By the time I got home I had an email with another tracking number and the longer replacement block is already in the mail to me. I am impressed so far with that business and will look to them for further parts purchases in the future.

    So I'm sitting here with a brand new bridge plate and seriously thinking of pulling the old Sterling block and using it over the weekend so I can continue noodling on this thing. I'm used to the super thin Ibanez necks so this new neck profiles a bit weird for me but I'm warming up to it. Right now frustrated with myself because I thought I'd be good to go and could really dial this new to me instrument in this weekend.

  6. #6

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    Got the correct length sustain block in this afternoon. Just finished putting the new Gotoh back together and restrung her up. Now the fun begins of dialing it in. Don't you all just love setting up a Floyd system lol?

    Sterling AX4 project guitar and first time playing around with a MM style guitar-wp_20180220_20_14_41_pro-jpg

    After setting this up I'll just play it for a while as is. I still think eventually opening up the holes for the locking studs will be worth the effort. I only wish this thing had a recessed route so you could work the trem both directions. Maybe one day I might get adventurous and make that happen. Also I'm kinda tempted to throw some of those EMG retro actives into this thing. Looks like there's enough room in the control cavity to avoid having to carve a 9v battery spot out somewhere else.

    Thanks again for following the thread. I need to get back to finishing this setup.

    Cheers all.
    Jeremy in Texas

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