It was difficult for Nick Andrew to come to the conclusion that his beloved Ibanez electric guitar, the one he has owned and played constantly for nearly 20 years, needed some work. And boy! that guitar needed attention. But I know players very well by now and it can a bit difficult to let go, to realize that servicing is good and that nothing will be lost. It will be the same but better in the end!
When Nick’s yellow Ibanez (nicknamed it the “electric banana”) landed on my bench it was crying “help me please!”, even unplugged. The frets were worn off nearly to the fingerboard causing all sorts of problems in the playing (general feel of the fretboard and action, bad intonation) and the sound of each notes has lost its ring and clarity. The jack was faulty. Nick wanted to change the set of Seymour Duncan humbuckers for a set of Lace Alumitone “Deathbuker” but without loosing his custom sounds (Nick has his own combination sounds and it was not straight forward…. I ll come back to it later.) The guitar electric signal was “noisy” (parasite noise, the ones we don’t want) and something needed to be done on that front too. And finally, Nick wanted to strip the lacquer on the back of the neck to give it smoother and softer feel.
The old frets were removed, leaving the fingerboard bare. The fingerboard was then straightened and sanded to a smooth and clean finish before the new frets were installed. On Nick’s request, I have used a similar type of fret wire than the originals (super jumbo). The new frets were then lightly sanded and their alignment was checked using an engineered straight edge (the fretting process, even carefully done, always leave the frets uneven in relation to each others). To finish, the frets were crowned and polished.
On the back of the neck, the lacquer was sanded off. The wood was finished to a soft feel and oiled.
The first job was to shield all the body’s cavities using shielding paint. The shielding paint create a conducting layer all around the inside of the cavities that create a “screen cage” which is then connected to the earth to bleed unwanted parasite sounds and interferences off the signal. To apply the paint, the body need to be stripped of all the parts and all the outside surface masked.
The new Lace Alumitone pickups were installed and wired how Nick had requested. I had to figure out the wiring (which goes in order of selection: 1- middle single coil pickup, 2- full on neck humbucker and middle pickup together, 3-neck humbucker full on; 4- one coil of the neck humbucker with full on bridge humbucker; 5-full on bridge humbucker). After a few trial which involve putting the guitar back together, tuning it to play it and taking it apart again to alter the wiring, we finally nailed the right sounds. To make things easier and because of way the Lace humbuckers needs to be wired when coil-taping, I had to replace the conventional 5 ways switch to a so called “super switch” (5 poles, double wafer for the geeks).
The old barrel jacket socket was changed for a more sturdy and durable switchcraft socket mounted on a jack plate. The guitar was put back together, then set-up.
Et voila! So Nick, happy?
“I asked Godefroy to fit my Alumitone pickups and sort out my guitar, which had suffered 19 years of abuse on the road. He listened very carefully to my unusual tone requests, then performed a miraculous feat of refretting, rewiring and fitting my new pickups. He solved all of my sound issues and my guitar, “the Electric Banana!” has been reborn as the monstrous tone machine I’ve always wanted. He even discovered some new sounds within the instruments humble wire and wood. The man’s a genius!”
For more info about Nick Andrew, please visit:
For more info about Lace Alumitone pickups, please visit: