OK, here are a few before and after pics of my Kramer 450G, and some info/backstory.
I'm the second owner. I bought the guitar as a high school student back in '78 or '79. This was how the guitar looked before I did my Garcia-inspired mods:
Originally it came with the stock Kramer surface mounted tail-piece, which is different than the stud mounted, tune-o-matic tail piece on the DMZ2000 you posted. I added the Kahler locking tremelo and nut sometime in the late 80's. I did this in part because I wanted a tremelo, but mostly because I was completely frustrated with the stock aluminum nut, which was very "grabby" and made it very hard to keep the guitar in tune. The Kahler locking nut and tailpiece-mounted micro tuners were huge improvements over the stock setup. In retrospect I think it's likely a good luthier could have fixed the nut issues with a file and some graphite, but I don't regret changing tailpieces, and I certainly don't regret adding the locking nut; the aluminum nut was very aggravating, as every time you bent a string it went out of tune. Grrrrrrr.
The original owner had replaced the original Kramer pickups with Dimarzio SuperDistortions before I bought it, so I never heard it with the OEM pickups. It sounded great with the SuperDisortions, though. There were some funky things going on with the wiring setup -- the previous owner had installed some Bill Lawrence Q Filters,
and while it had good tone it wasn't ideal, and the neck pup was always dark and not entirely useful. But overall it played well, with good action and great sustain. It's worth mentioning that it's a very
heavy guitar - probably ~10 lbs. Heavy enough that you appreciate having a padded strap.
Fast forward to 2011, when I finally became so tired of the guitar's funky electronics that I was inspired to make some major changes. I wanted to do the full ration of Tiger mods: triple pups, new pup ring, UGB, OBEL, Strat-style 5 way switch, and coil splitting toggles for the HBs. Without a doubt, finding this forum and seeing so many other people go down a similar road gave me the confidence I needed to modify my baby.This was my build thread for that project.
Looking back on it now, I wish I had taken more pictures of these mods when we were doing them. But lack of work-in-progress pictures is my only regret; I'm absolutely ecstatic with the end results.
Here are a few pics after the buildup, with the triple pup ring, the three pups (neck: SDS-1; middle: Super II; and bridge: DualSound), and the new selector switch installed:
One of the downsides of hanging out on TGP is that pedalboard has changed a lot since this photo was taken, lol...
Not pictured: Just last night I added a second 25k volume pot to control volume to the OBEL loop. To do this I moved the OBEL jack from the top (where it was using one of the old tone control pot holes) to the bottom edge. I love
this new OBEL volume control, as it instantly improved the tone of my fuzz pedal
Bottom line: this is a fantastic sounding and playing guitar! I think these old aluminum necked Kramers are excellent guitars for Garcia-inspired playing. It's tone is very clear and musical, but I can also get some great, gritty sounds from it with the right amp or pedals. Due to the relative size of the fretboard, which is a little wider than a Strat's, it probably isn't a good choice for Strat-style shredding, but it plays well and it has a great, authentic tone. It's just a great sounding and great playing guitar.
Electronics aside, I think it's weight, feel, and playability are pretty typical of the early aluminum necked Kramers. If you are in the SF Bay Area, drop me a line; I'd be happy to get together and give you a chance to play it and see if you like the feel of it. And if you haven't found the Kramer guitar forums yet, be sure to check them out, too:http://www.kramerforum.com/forum/forum.php
Lots of people there with more knowledge, experience, and skill than me