New member -- and just got my first Westone!

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New member -- and just got my first Westone!

Post by bsman on Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:53 pm

I made a trade (perhaps not a great one, but I don't care!) of an Epi explorer for this (forgive the crappy cellphone pics -- I'm at work and did the exchange here!):







After perusing this website, I THINK it's a Spectrum III (it has a Bendmaster deluxe trem and 22 frets), but the color and reverse headstock have me a bit confused. The back of the headstock(gotoh tuners) has a sticker with five digits, so I'm guessing it's an SLM Korean model, but I was hoping someone here could help identify this.

I have to say the guitar is a bit of a stretch to me: I sort of missed out on the 80s (starting a career and family will do that to you!), so this is my first "superstrat", most of my other electrics being of the somewhat more staid telecaster, Godin LG, and regular strat variety. Can't wait to get this bad boy home and plug 'er in! BTW -- it's clean as anything -- no dings, cracks or dirt, the only defects are some rust on the pickup poles and a small chip in the HB bobbin.

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Re: New member -- and just got my first Westone!

Post by Iceman on Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:43 pm

Ehhhhhhhhx-cellent (fingers tenting as he replies). Most strats dream of being that super. Welcome.

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http://www.glowingtubes.com/p/Kahler_Instructions.htm

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Re: New member -- and just got my first Westone!

Post by corsair on Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:56 am

Probably one of these...

http://www.westone.info/cats/88ltded/04.html

... an XA1330; this model did come with a reversed headstock...

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Re: New member -- and just got my first Westone!

Post by beavis on Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:43 am

Sweet! Love the out-of-fashion blue! So, how does it play?

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Re: New member -- and just got my first Westone!

Post by The Chad on Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:43 am

Looks to be in great shape, and welcome to the forums! That color rocks, by the way. Cool You'll like the way that Westie plays tons better than the Epi Explorer, should be easier and have better tone.

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Re: New member -- and just got my first Westone!

Post by bsman on Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:03 pm

Thanks Corsair -- I believe you are right -- that it is an XA-1330, because when I was putting it through its paces last night, I noticed that the tone knobs are rather weird and interactive (must be the "mid-shape control" -- I'll need to figure out just how it works!) Anyway, I was impressed with the tones I was getting: The neck single coil was rather warmer than the one on my other 'strat clone' -- a Route 101 Solimar custom with Duncan Designed S-101 pickups) and the the bridge pickup is very useful -- I found that it sounds great either clean or with some dirt, and through a wah pedal was pretty funky and fun! In fact, my wife made an unsolicited comment that she thought it sounded really good, and that's unusual for her. I think tonight I'm going to do the lie detector test: Put it through my Fender Pro Jr. with no pedals, just the guitar and the EL-84s. I'll get back after I've done that, because to me, that's the ne plus ultra of judging tone on a guitar!

In terms of playability, I am a bit surprised that it's as heavy as it is (seems heavier to me than most strats I've picked up, but that's not necessarily a bad thing), and I like the neck shape -- just need to get used to the fingerboard. I'm mainly a rhythm player anyway (although I do like to add a lot of fills and runs, where appropriate and tasteful Wink) and this is going to be a lot of fun. BTW -- perhaps owing to age, the finish is actually rather wonderful: I think it's halfway between Daphne Blue and Surf Green -- if your familiar with Fender's color scheme -- two of my favorite colors, and I couldn't be happier! I'll get my wife to take some decent pics and post them later this week.

OTOH, I'm sort of dreading when I have to change strings. I've not had a guitar with a locking trem before, and I'm not looking forward to that -- looks complicated! affraid

Anyway -- I couldn't be happier. I think this will stay in heavy rotation (along with my LPB Std Tele and Godin LG-SP90 for a long time! Cool

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Re: New member -- and just got my first Westone!

Post by colt933 on Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:41 pm

bsman wrote:
OTOH, I'm sort of dreading when I have to change strings. I've not had a guitar with a locking trem before, and I'm not looking forward to that -- looks complicated! affraid

You don't have a locking tremolo. The strings are not locked to the bridge. Only Floyd Rose does this. But semantics aside, the process of changing strings on a floating bridge (which you have if it is not blocked in the tremolo spring cavity - or if the back of the bridge plate or tuner bars does not come into contact with the body) is the same across all brands. Can you pull up on the tremolo bar and thus raise the pitch of the strings? If yes, then you have a floating bridge.

1. Only replace one string at a time.

2. Unlock only the locking plate that holds the one string you are going to replace.

3. If you have space behind/underneath the back of the bridge (on top) (and I think you do) then you dive down on the bar thus raising the back of the tremolo making the strings sag and put a 9-volt battery back there to prop the tremolo up and thus take the tension off the strings. I wrap my battery in tape to keep it from marring the finish on the body. When you release the tremolo bar, the battery keeps the tremolo from returning to it's normal state and keeping the strings sagging.

4. Then it is a simple matter to remove one string and replace it with a new one while the strings are sagging.

5. When you get the new string installed, carefully remove the battery to let the strings come up to tension, then tune and stretch your new string until it stays in tune and doesn't stretch anymore.

6. Lock the plate down that you unlocked in #2 unless the next string you are going to change is on the same plate.

Then repeat for all of the strings.

When tuning, I suggest you go from outside to inside (low E, high E, A, B, D, G) if you have a floating bridge. This will keep you from having to re-visit previously tuned strings. If you just go from low to high or vice versa, you will have to do it several times before you are in tune.

If your tremolo floats now (pulls up and dives down) you will find that it will not stay in tune particularly well unless it is perfectly level (bridge plate is parallel with the strings going toward the nut). The bridge is leveled by achieving equilibrium between string tension on the front and spring tension in the back. You may find yourself wanting to 'un-float' the bridge so that you can dive but not pull up. This can be accomplished in a number of ways with various blocking schemes like a piece of wood, a stack of coins superglued to the tremolo block, a mechanical locking device like the Tremol-No, etc. Once you block or un-float the bridge, you will find you tuning to be much more stable.

If you wish to retain the pull up function and thus keep the tremolo floating then I suggest the Tremsetter from Hip-Shot. Back when I had guitars with Floyd Rose tremolos (all sold now) I used the Tremsetter in several of them. It's not very expensive and it is easy to install. The setup is a bit fiddly but once done you won't have to do it again unless you change string gauge and/or spring tension.

Another thing about this kind of tremolo is that it will most likely sag flat when you do bends. This is particularly pronounced on double-stop bends as the non-bent string goes flat as you bend - the more you bend sharp, the more the un-bent string goes flat. The cure for this is more tremolo tension (more springs and/or tighter spring claw adjustment) or just don't play double stops on this guitar. The Tremsetter can help with this problem as well.

Regardless of your choices in setup, I highly recommend that you do not use less than 3 springs on the back of the tremolo. Many people get away with only 2 springs, but it is not ideal and I would certainly not recommend 2 springs on a floating bridge.

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Re: New member -- and just got my first Westone!

Post by colt933 on Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:44 pm

After you are sure that you will keep this guitar, I suggest you upgrade to a Floyd Rose tremolo with a D-Tuna. This makes re-tuning to drop-D very easy.

However, be forewarned that it is not a simple direct replacement of a Floyd in the place of a Bendmaster. The neck will have to be moved back about 3/8" to make the Floyd intonate properly. This can be accomplished by extending the neck pocket rout back 3/8"

This is a fairly advanced project but will reap great rewards if you really like this guitar, want to keep it, and play in drop-D tuning much.

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Re: New member -- and just got my first Westone!

Post by anaerobe on Sat Mar 05, 2011 2:08 pm

Welcome, that's a nice westy. +3 on the colour. cheers

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Re: New member -- and just got my first Westone!

Post by corsair on Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:40 am

As Colt said , re-stringing is not a major job; just a bit fiddly!! One string at a time - unless you want to thoroughly clean and oil the fingerboard - is the best approach and you remove the lock washer - putting in a safe place; they get lost really easily! - wind the string tension off and once there's no tension left, cut the bugger! Take off the trem backplate, and the ball end will fall out of the sustain block. Whack the new string up through the hole, under the little wee steel tag and down to the machines. It takes a while - even with stretching the strings manually - for the strings to settle down and not go flat when on the bar, but they will eventually settle down, and as Colt and I've said, a trem setter is a great piece of kit!!

If you're replacing with the same gauge, then string/spring tension shouldn't be an issue, but as Colt intimated, without a level bridge, tuning won't be stable, so you've got to play around a little with spring tension.v.string tension.

Intonating these Bendmaster Deluxes is quite time consuming as well, as you have to slacken the string right off to get at the Allen head bolt on the saddles to adjust it, and then re-tune to pitch, so having a good ear helps!!

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Re: New member -- and just got my first Westone!

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