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Thread: NGD :: Sterling Cutlass Short Scale (Mint Green)

  1. #1

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    NGD :: Sterling Cutlass Short Scale (Mint Green)

    Hello everyone. I received a new Sterling Cutlass Short Scale on Friday, and though there were some initial issues (mostly with me, not the guitar) it's a definite keeper.

    Out of the box it wasn't very good at all, though that's to be expected with a budget guitar. However, once I swapped the tuners for locking versions taken off an old Sterling Silo, properly cut the nut, adjusted the string height and gave it the best intonation I could, it's now enjoyable to play. Intonation isn't finished though, it was very flat out of the box. I have to get longer saddle screws before I can get it dialed in like I want. A couple of the saddles are at the extreme end of their travel without coming off the screws.

    As for actual size, it's about the same size overall as the Silo even though the scale is 1.5 inches shorter. Fit and finish were actually quite good for a budget guitar, I didn't see any finish problems to worry about but there were a few areas on the neck that will need a little finish sanding. The trem seems pretty good. I swapped the tuners when I put new strings on it so I can't say anything about those. It has a 3-way switch, not a 5-way as described on the Sterling site. As expected, the pickups aren't good. The bridge pickup is quite muddy and dark. The neck pickup isn't great either, but it's better than the bridge. Volume, tone and the switch worked ok. It has a barrel-style output jack on a jack plate. It has the usual Sterling/EBMM style 5-screw neck plate. The neck seems to be more of a D than a C. The frets weren't sharp or anything, they were honestly not bad at all. That's not to say it couldn't use a fret fress, but it is certainly playable as is.

    All in all, I'd give it a 7 out of 10 based on the price. There are good and bad points, but the biggest "good" part is it's a great foundation on which to mod!

    As far as that goes, here are my plans - which is pretty standard for me with all my guitars:

    1. Locking tuners already done. I always use them, even with Floyd locking nuts. It just makes string changes easier.

    2. Replace the nut with either graphite or bone and add a little sauce.

    3. Set the tremolo to float.

    4. Replace the pickups (SD JB and 'Lil 59).

    5. Add Graph Tech Ghost piezo saddles for acoustic sounds.

    6. Install a self-designed, self-built preamp for piezo and magnetic pickups. (I can provide more detail on that if anybody cares.)

    That's about it, unless I decide to change out the pickguard or something. Once finished I think it will end up being my go-to guitar. It's very comfortable on my small hands.

    Would I recommend it? Yes, I would, but be prepared to cut the nut, lower the strings and intonate if for best playability. Don't even think about using the trem until the nut is taken care of, it will go wildly out of tune.

    I've added some eye candy below. Cheers!

    NGD :: Sterling Cutlass Short Scale (Mint Green)-body-front-jpg NGD :: Sterling Cutlass Short Scale (Mint Green)-jpg NGD :: Sterling Cutlass Short Scale (Mint Green)-bridge-jpg NGD :: Sterling Cutlass Short Scale (Mint Green)-edge-jpg
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails NGD :: Sterling Cutlass Short Scale (Mint Green)-headstock-front-jpg  
    Last edited by swipesy; 04-03-2020 at 10:43 PM.

  2. #2

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    A few more pics ...

    NGD :: Sterling Cutlass Short Scale (Mint Green)-headstock-rear-jpg NGD :: Sterling Cutlass Short Scale (Mint Green)-neckplate-jpg NGD :: Sterling Cutlass Short Scale (Mint Green)-tuners-jpg

  3. #3

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    Congratulations, enjoy!!

    JPXI Cardinal Red G57082
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  4. #4

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    You made some nice mods. I really like it.

    2019 Albert Lee - BFR - Electric Shimmer
    2019 Axis SS semi hollow - DuBaldo Blue - rosewood neck
    2019 StingRay fretless - BFR - Sierra Vintage Burst
    2018 Axis SS - BFR - Buckeye Burl
    2017 StingRay 5 - 30th Ann
    2013 Luke III - PDN - emerald green sparkle
    - rosewood neck
    2012 Morse - BFR - Dark Lord
    2010 Axis SS - red flame - rosewood neck
    2009 Axis - pink quilt
    2006 StingRay fretless - 30th Ann
    2000 Axis SS - Lavender Pearl
    1996 StingRay - 20th Ann
    1995 Albert Lee - Natural

  5. #5

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    Nice man, looks great!!!! Hope you enjoy it.

    Glenn |B)
    Silhouette Special SSS in Fuschia Sparkle (Hardtail) [1/01/2002] [1 of a kind from CLB]
    Silhouette Special HSS in Gold Sparkle (Hardtail) [7/12/2002] [Made for Matchbox 20]
    Albert Lee 3 MM90's in White Sparkle (Hardtail) [8/14/2001] [Just pure awesomeness]
    Albert Lee HH in Black Sugar (Hartail) [1/06/2011] [BFR]


    Like BP said in the Chapman video "You've got a room full of guitars, and no money!! @ 6:00"

  6. #6

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    Cool; thanks for the review. Nice mods to as well. Enjoy!

  7. #7

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    I completely missed the announcement of this one during Namm 2020. Thanks for the head up. Nice mods indeed. would like to know more about the preamp and graph tech saddles. Are you going to drill the trem for the cables or you leave them go underneath from the from of the trem?
    EVH Hardtail Red 1995
    Axis Sport SSS Trem Transparent Purple 1998
    Axis Sport MM90 Trem Transparent Orange 1999
    Axis SS Hardtail Piezo Honeyburst 2007
    Albert Lee MM90 Hardtail Dargie Delight 2007
    Bongo 4HH Stealth 2007
    BFR 25th Anniversary Venetian Red burst 2009

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by threeminutesboy View Post
    I completely missed the announcement of this one during Namm 2020. Thanks for the head up. Nice mods indeed. would like to know more about the preamp and graph tech saddles. Are you going to drill the trem for the cables or you leave them go underneath from the from of the trem?
    I'll be drilling the trem plate for the wires as I always do. It's more work and costs a bit in drill bits, but it's worth it to me in the end for appearance purposes. For drilling I use several 1/8" glass and tile bits. They're the only thing I found so far to cut through the hardened steel though they do wear quite quickly even with lubricant and a slow speed.

    I prefer the following control set on my piezo-equipped guitars: Magnetic volume control, magnetic pickup blend control, acoustic volume control with push-pull, standard 3-way pickup selector, 3-way on-off-on mini-switch for acoustic tones, and two on-on mini switches to select series/parallel for magnetic pickups. No tone control, I never use it anyway.

    Re the preamp:

    I've had people tell me in the past that on on-board preamps hurt the dynamics of pickups, or explained different reasons why they are bad. I've never heard any difference myself with an FET-based preamp, and an op-amp-based preamp doesn't sound any different to me either. Plus, a lot of those same people then told me they use pedals in between the guitar and amp which is the same difference really. I simply prefer having a preamp as it provides me with a particular feature I like: The active blend control. A passive blend control which normally uses a dual-gang pot works ok, but the middle setting puts both pickups in parallel which slightly cancels out the sound of each pickup because it's being done with high impedance. It's the same principle with wiring pickups in either series or parallel. Wiring parallel at high impedance is mostly what causes the difference in tone. Plus, if you use a passive blend control with a 3-way switch properly there is a very slight increase in volume when one pickup is turned off. It's not very noticeable but I can hear it. A properly-designed active blend control eliminates both of those issues. Not only that, but using buffers means a pickup's high impedance is converted to low impedance so low-value pots can be used and it also lowers the noise floor. Granted, humbucking pickups don't produce a lot of noise, but anything you can do to lower noise from high-impedance pickups is a good thing. Single-coil pickups are much worse, but there's a solution for that as well if one doesn't mind using op-amps.

    Anyway, attached is a signal flow chart for one of my preamps. Normally I use Seymour Duncan JB/Jazz pickups which are pretty well balanced. With this guitar I'll be using the JB and a 'Lil 59 and don't know if that combination is balanced or not. I'll be testing that. If not, and assuming the 'Lil 59 isn't as hot as the JB, I'll change that pickup's FET configuration to allow a proper amount of gain so both pickups are matched.

    Let me know if any questions.

    NGD :: Sterling Cutlass Short Scale (Mint Green)-preamp-png
    Last edited by swipesy; 04-05-2020 at 09:29 AM.

  9. #9

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    Very nice. Keep us posted when done.

    One more question where do you get the 4x2 locking tuner?
    EVH Hardtail Red 1995
    Axis Sport SSS Trem Transparent Purple 1998
    Axis Sport MM90 Trem Transparent Orange 1999
    Axis SS Hardtail Piezo Honeyburst 2007
    Albert Lee MM90 Hardtail Dargie Delight 2007
    Bongo 4HH Stealth 2007
    BFR 25th Anniversary Venetian Red burst 2009

  10. #10

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    I had those on a parts guitar, they're already installed on the Sterling. I got them from Carvin back in the day. They also used tuners with two pin locating pins instead of screws. Kiesel has them now, they're $10 each.
    Last edited by swipesy; 04-05-2020 at 06:05 PM.

  11. #11

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    I just ordered the Graph Tech Ghost Piezo saddles and will work on drilling the bridge plate holes in the next few days.

  12. #12

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    Just in case it’s helpful to anyone you can order 4 over 2 sets from Schaller, but also Gotoh and Graphtech. The ya re special order but you can get them and they don’t charge you more for it. Just replaced all mine with Gotoh
    I’ll actually have a Schaller set up for sale post quarantine
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  13. #13

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    Nice I wish you health to annoy the neighbours with it.

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