Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mirage #1 - crapola Steinberger clone

In the mid 90s I had a Hohner G3T, which was a very acceptable clone of the classic Steinberger L-series, only made in traditional materials. I ostensibly had this, along with a Zoom 9000 to practice at work in my lunch hour.

In reality I spent lunchtime in the pub and never liked the sounds I got from the Zoom. So both got sold on, the Zoom at quite scary a loss but there you go.

With an eye to resurrecting this idea I've been keeping a look out for a travel guitar. However the Hohners go for very good money, as do pretty much any decent travel guitars. You get the odd no-name one come up but they're always far too pricey to take a risk on.

Somebody put this up on eBay with a £75 'buy it now' and it hit my threshold for taking a risk on an unknown quantity. How bad could it be I thought.

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. This is by far the nastiest guitar I have ever touched. It looks OK at first glance but it's nasty.

The actual neck is OK. It came with quite a bow in it and having adjusted the truss rod it's now much better. The frets were grotty, like they're corroded and I've cleaned it off but I bet it comes back. The rosewood is obviously the nastiest driest stuff they could find and not very well finished.

It has a zero fret, like the original Steinbergers but the locking nut isn't fitted very well and doesn't hold the strings down against it hard enough. So the top E/B strings don't really sound properly.

The bridge is made by the improbable sounding 'Overlord of Music' out of mystery monkey metal. This includes the saddles, so I can see them wearing pretty quickly. The whole thing is shonky in the extreme. Locked in place it's not very stable, I dread to think what it would be like if I found a tremolo arm that fitted and tried to use that.

Even with the worst of the bow taken out of the neck, the action is excessively high and there's simply no adjustment available to lower it. Each saddle can be adjusted but they all came at the lowest position without any effort to match the fretboard radius. I may do this but it's only going to raise the action. I think I'd need to route out the body a bit and lower the whole bridge assembly a little to fix it. The neck is set so there's no real opportunity to change the angle.

Amazingly it sounds kind of OK once stuck through my JamVox, the pickups are sort of acceptable and all the controls work. Setting the stupid action aside it actually plays OK, but feels nasty while doing so.

I could spend lots of time sorting this out but you know I'm not sure I can be arsed. I may fix the worst bits (the nut really) and punt it back to eBay. If I do I'm tempted to steal the leg rest for my Jackson Rhoads so I can play it sitting down.


The joys of mystery monkey metal

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