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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:52 pm 
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Hey, just got in my new electra phoenix S. I agree with most of what was said earlier so I won't repeat a lot of it as far as general impressions and features. :up:

I am favorably impressed with the improved neck joint, the quality hardware (good keys, bridge). The block looked like a big chunk of steel - NICE. It is a very well-made vintage style bridge. I like the neck, a nice medium size and not too small (I don't like small necks). I like the fact it has a satin feel to it and is not all "plasticy" or sticky like a lot of fender and other necks can feel. It has prompted me to take steel wool to my fender necks on some models in the past, don't have to do that here. It has a nice semi chunky feel to it - maybe a bit wider or the "shoulders". The fingerboard feels flatter than most strat types. I might like a rounder feel, but it is something I have to give some time to get used to - it is a little different feel that is all. It could be a difference in the neck shape that makes me think this - and not the actual radius. I don't have any gauges. I can see it is curved. The body is a reasonable light weight too - that is delightful. Finish is nice - nice to have something a little different because I have several sunburst guitars. The reverse angle bridge pickup does what it is supposed to do too - makes me play just like Jimi. Well, no, I still can't play like Hendrix (only in my dreams). But it reduces some of the ice pick quality of a strat bridge pickup. That is a plus.

The bridge setup was cranked down to the body. This makes a lot of sense as a default setup, a lot of people NEVER use it. That is just about always the case on a guitar that is not a floating vibrato bridge. I decreased the tension springs quite a bit to make it easier to use the bar. I will say though, when I did it stays in tune quite well. One plus it could have used - it is a small detail, but a good one - these bridges are designed to use a small tension spring inside the vibrato arm threaded hole. Fender includes them on their US strats (or used to). That is why you see a sticker covering the hole when you buy a new strat. As you tighten the bar, the spring compresses and tensions the bar. That way the bar stays put better, does not wobble, and is still easy to move. It is a little detail but easily taken care of. I had one because 90% of the guys lose them when they take their bar out and leave it out. That can be remedied by a dab of silicone on the bottom of the spring before inserting in the threaded hole. I bought a package of these a long time ago (fender package with like a dozen of them a long time ago) and one worked perfectly in the guitar or any one with a threaded hole for the trem arm (including most vintage electras). This is all tweaking it out. It is a less than $1 detail (prob just pennies in quantity), but the little details count. It now has the bridge tension low enough you can use the tremolo now but is still pretty flat to the body. The nut must already be cut right or it wouldn't stay in tune as well as it is (a big plus). I put a little lubricant in the nut slots, under the string tree, and on the saddles. There isn't a lot of tension over the nut with this guitar as it is setup but it has not presented any issue that I have noticed. I like this trem system overall. I will put my slightly heavier strings on it and do the Carl Verheyen/floating strat setup. Now if I could only play like Carl - or Jimi - or Eric Johnson, or :bawl:

The pickups sound good, but they are not as bright as I expected. They are very high output, so the top end is dark and rolled off. This can be good to a lot of folks that think "strats" are too bright. The analog tone blend works - It would be good to explain in a diagram what it does and include it with the guitar. I know we have a basic explanation. Some instruments have a sticker or a plastic "hanger" that hangs on the knob to state the advanced features - or an instruction piece of paper. Specifically can you get a standard strat 1-5 operation without also moving the blend control? Looks like you can. That is nice to add in a pickup when you want it. I can figure it out electronically easily enough though or by trial and error, just have to look at it and play the guitar. I will have to play with this feature more to understand it and get used to it to see how I really like it. Right now it seems the pickups don't "quack" in the "in between" positions very much. It is because of the high output. I need time with this to understand it and play with it to see how I can best use it.

Here it is! In all its glory. A very well-made strat-like guitar with some added features. Much of it feels very familiar with a few twists and most of those I really like. I think the build quality is as good as the original electras it took it's design cues, and some of the hardware is definitely better. I came setup pretty well and includes a nice gig bag. With a little tweaking I setup the vibrato bridge so that it easily bends and stays in tune. Now I need to play it some more and personalize the setup and break it in a bit to make it "mine." Come see it at Electrafest 2014 here in Evansville, IN a week from Saturday! :D

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 4:34 pm 
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Updates and more Updates!

I made some changes, because you all that know me know I can never leave well enough alone...

I put in a set of duncan pickups, the "twangbanger" in the bridge and the two APS-2s in the neck and middle (middle RWRP). They are brighter, are less output but not weak, and it twangs and quacks like a good single coil strat-like guitar should do. These work well with the same wiring - I kept the electronics the same. They could get very similar results by removing 2.5-3K or so of the windings on the pickups that they shipped with it - as they seem to be very well made pickups - just too hot. I don't know enough about the wire type used on them to know how that is different or the same as "vintage" or how that would affect things. I was tempted to do just that but chickened out. I have "fixed" a few pickups that way, and accidentally ruined some too. So I used the duncans instead.

I also replaced the metal pickup rings. They look cool, but anyone that has played a guitar with a metal or mirrored pickguard knows it can make it sound different - and I didn't care for that. It is certainly a personal preference. The plastic ones I found and bought online fit so well that I am certain someone bought the metal ones and used them as a template to make these. The chrome ones look better, but I think these look good and sounds great. The original ones were plastic. These changes would probably cost the same or even LESS to manufacture. The only thing they'd have to add is a tele style baseplate on the bridge pickup to be like I setup mine. It does sound more like a strat, or a strat/tele kinda mix. That is what I was going for though.

I setup the bridge for floating as I stated earlier. The only thing I have not done, not sure that I will, I might put locking keys on it. I don't really need them, as these keys are really high quality. I wish they were locking though. And related to that a roller string retainer stays in tune a little better. I like true floating bridges better, but this one is a good one for a vintage strat style. Some people don't like them, especially those that don't use the whammy bar. A vintage strat style bridge is a good compromise as it can be setup flat or floating. But Electras later evolved to this setup in the Electra/Westone era (except locking keys were not invented yet).

I am adding a little detail on the bridge - the bridge seems to be American spaced (a good thing) and a nice but overlooked detail is the holes in the vintage style saddles are elongated - this is good because true vintage ones have smaller holes that can cause the string to break where it goes through the saddle - these won't do that (like Callaham saddles). That is an old school trick to elongate vintage saddles. A thoughtful detail. You probably won't get a better vintage style bridge unless you go with a callaham, but they are a $160 vintage bridge. This is actually better than the original in my book, and probably close to the callaham. That is high praise! Those callahams are as good as a vintage style bridge gets - I owned a Grosh with one and it sounded amazing and performed as well as a locking system but with the light "strat" touch. That was a $3000 instrument though!

I like the look and feel. The neck is comfortable (not all maple ones are, so this is really good). The only other thing I have not figured out totally is it seems the gap between the first key and the nut is rather long - longer than nearly any strat like guitar I played. It reminds me of a bass headstock. I was not sure this was for a reason or just the way it turned out. That will mess with the string break over the nut. Just need to play it a while to see if it really means anything. Hopefully wont have to add in string rollers or anything. So far does not seem so.

Now it is my "better strat than a strat".

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:11 pm 
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Location: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Looks great with those black rings.

The tone blend adds either the bridge or neck pickup depending on where you are. So you can have the bridge and neck at the same time or all three at once. So on on bridge position it adds the neck pup, on the bridge and middle it adds the neck pup, on middle it does nothing, on middle and neck it adds bridge, and on neck it adds bridge.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 11:40 am 
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Of course, right after I got the black rings on - I find out they have tortoise-shell colored ones! The black ones aren't bad, but tortoise-shell would look even better on this guitar! It is a fantastic guitar.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 2:59 pm 
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Photo with the new tortoise rings on it. A few tweaks of my own (pickups, change over plastic rings, setup the way I like it) and this guitar ROCKS.

Do you like the chrome, black, or tortoise rings? I think I like it the way I have it now the best. I am picky and don't like the way a metal pickgard affects tone on these, so really the original chrome isn't an option for me. I like the tortoise and the black, but I think the tortoise will stay. The sound is killer, the bridge is floating. Lots of strat-style twang (with a little bit of tele thrown in).

What do you all think? Good? or Meh?

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 4:55 am 
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Gee, they look like a nice piece of kit, John! :up:

Personally, I liked the black rings; I think the tortoiseshell detract a little from the grain and colour of the body but, hey; I have a gold and blue metal flake Raider - by choice!! - , so what do I know!!

Nice guitar, bro!!

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:18 am 
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Gives it personality, think it looks good. :up:

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:20 am 
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8) I like the rings in the tort. They set off the pickups and look nice. These are nice guitars for ceretain. :up:

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