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Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #125426  by shadowboxer
 Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:46 pm
Hello to all,

This is my first post on the forum. Leo did the work on the guitar for me. I'm happy that it's getting some good response. This is a guitar that I bought a while ago on ebay with an eye towards doing a Jerry mod on it. It's an Aria Pro II, made in the Matsumoku factory in Japan around about 1980. It's a maple/walnut neck-through body with ash wings, ebony fingerboard, 25 1/2 inch scale, and a hard tail with strings through the body. It came with some unusual wiring (coil taps and a varitone switch in a 2 humbucker setup, along with a distortion knob).

Leo gutted the wiring and routed the space for the middle humbucker. He routed out the electronics cavity a little bit too, and made a new backplate for it. Since the guitar had chrome plated tuners as well as a chrome bridge, I went with his stainless steel pickup ring to try and keep the look consistent. He fabricated the Wolf-style knobs and the cover for the 5 way switch that was needed to cover the hole where the varitone was. He plugged the one extra hole where the 3 way pickup switch used to be between the volume and tone knobs. It has 3 Super II's with a buffer. It has the 2 coil split switches and a switch for the effects loop. As for the 4th mini switch near the tone knob, it's an idea that I had to give myself a couple of extra pickup options. It's a "Gilmour switch", which adds the neck pickup in either the bridge or bridge/middle combo on the 5 way. Idea stolen from David Gilmour's black Strat. It wasn't as easy to do as I had hoped, but Leo stuck with it and figured it out. Contact him for details. I think it's a useful addition to the Tiger/Rosebud wiring.

Leo gets credit for fixing a number of body dings. He also had to do some extra work to modify the bridge. We replaced a saddle set that didn't work very well with a new replacement stainless steel set from Callaham. That necessitated some mods to the bridge plate in order to raise it slightly. He basically shimmed it up with some ebony and installed a thin extra plate of stainless under the saddles. I thought it was a creative solution.

So in the end, I'm happy and it's sounding good. It's definitely a brighter sound than I'm used to in the split coil mode, but I can hear the hints of Garcia. I've played with pickup heights and amp settings a lot trying to dial it in. I'm finding the Super II's to be a really good, even in the neck position, where I thought they might be a little overbearing.

Thanks again to Leo. He does really seem to care about doing a good job. Not trying to do an ad for him, but look him up if you're in the market to hot rod your old guitar.
 #125447  by barefootdave
 Mon Mar 11, 2013 4:55 pm
That is a very handsome ax. Really like the IDea OD the Gilmour switch. He was my hero long before I ever heard of Jerry. Been revisiting his genius lately...

Congrats to both of you on a great result.