My ESP LTD EC-100QM

Guitar In Case

Introduction

    I bought this guitar in 2005.  It's a ESP LTD EC-100QM.  I paid around $300 with case.  I was impressed (and others are too) with the action and feel, and it sounded ok.  However, I wanted it to be better, so I'll go over what I did to modify it.

Strings And Intonation

    When I bought this, it was the last guitar of its kind in the store, and it was the display model.  They had restrung it with Super Slinky 9's.  The guitar shop that sold it to me was nice enough to reset the action and such for these strings. However, I didn't like the intonation job they did on it, so I re-did it myself.  I prefer to follow the ESP owner's manual's proceedures for intonation.

Modifications

    I'm a perfectionist, and I wanted things to be more logically laid out.  As it came from the factory, the 3 way toggle switch was set to toggle up and down (from the view of the one playing the guitar) rather than left and right, which would logically correspond to the pickups being selected.  My first modification was to open up the panel behind this switch.

3 way switch
          cover

3 way switch
          cavity

From there, you gently loosen the ring on the front of the switch, then rotate the switch to where you want it, then gently tighten the ring once again, holding the switch from behind.
    Note: you should never tighten things on a wooden instrument too much: be very gentle and only tighten things enough to stay where you put them.  In case you have a torque wrench, don't use it: torque wrenches that indicate less than 20 inch pounds are rare.  The last thing you want to do is hurt the wood.
    I used to play my guitar with the volume and tone all the way up, but recently I have learned how important they are.  I prefer one master volume to the farthest left, then one master tone knob to the right of it.  At first I didn't want to go modifying the guitar, so I merely moved the knobs around:

control bay

control bay open

From there I also got an allen wrench to loosen the knobs themselves.

knobs side
          view

Be sure you do NOT loosen these set screws too much: they are very tiny, and if one should fall out, it's going to be very difficult to find.  Anyways, from there, inside the back panel, you should see the switches.
    On the front of the guitar there's a sleeve nut keeping the knobs in.  On the front there is this nut and a washer per knob, and on the back of the guitar in the electronics bay there is a washer and a special anti-slip washer under that.  Do not lose the washers, and be sure to use them in the proper order when putting these knobs back on.  These washers help prevent damage to the wood (and the special one prevents the volume knob assembly itself from turning once it's back in).
    In this cavity, around the wires, you may see a couple small zip ties that are holding the wires together.  These will need to be removed to get enough slack wire to move the knobs.  Warning: BE VERY CAREFUL!  If you accidentally cut any wires while trying to remove the zip ties, or in any way harm the electronics in this bay, you will probably break the guitar and have to take it in to get repaired.  Anyways, cut the zip ties carefully, move the knobs, then put things back together.
    The zip ties are important if you plan to ship the guitar, so make sure you replace them.  They help prevent the wires from bouncing around and other things from jiggling due to shocks during transit.  This is important because too much shock over time, due to playing and moving, can cause wires to come loose over time.  If you don't have zip ties, you can use dental floss (waxed), since this is sort of similar to the string tie used on military aircraft to keep wire bundles together.

Installation of Seymour Duncan Pickups

    Here are some pictures of the work me and a friend of mine did with my guitar.  After extensive research, I bought a Seymour Duncan Hot Rodded combination of pickups: Jazz (for neck) and JB (for bridge).  I also bought a DPDT on/off/on switch for splitting the coils, but I ended up not installing it.  I'll install some "push-pull" pots later for splitting the humbuckers.

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Pickup Height without a ruler

    If you don't have a ruler but need to get the height of the pickups right, look here.

How It Sounds Now:

    After installation, my guitar sounded totally different and totally better.  I now had much better sound: my guitar sounded much more clear.  The Jazz neck pickup sounded so clear and beautiful.  It sounds so wonderful through blues distortion, chorus, and delay.  The JB bridge pickup sounds wonderful clean as well, and through all kinds of distortions.  Switching between the two pickups is like going from rhythm to lead (Jazz to JB, respectively).  Overall, these Seymour Duncan pickups sound totally awesome, and I would get this combination again.  It is very versatile and is exactly what I need.  As for what other artists use the Jazz/JB combination, Dave Mustain from Megadeth used them for a very long time, until he got a signature set of pickups that sound the same as these, but are active rather than passive.

21 July 2006

    I left for TDY but left my guitar with Leitz music.  I had them swap the pots with push-pull pots, allowing me to separately split the neck and/or bridge humbuckers into single coil pickups.  This will give me a lot more flexibility and help me blend better with people who are playing on single coils.  This will give me a total of 8 sounds rather than just the normal three (i.e. instead of just neck/both/bridge I can have neck/neck-split/both/both-neck-split/both-bridge-split/both-both-split/bridge/bridge-split).  I haven't gotten home yet to try it out, but soon I will get the chance.  I brought my Ibanez RX240 with me, and was playing around with the electronics with the JB when I realized how this could really help me out.

21 March 2007

    For sale!  Please bid! :) 

28 Marck 2007

    I sold it for $225.  Nothing like what I first bought it for, and certainly for less than the upgrades to the guitar.  Life lesson: if you modify an instrument, plan to keep it for life.  Selling a modified instrument results in a loss due to resale value.  Besides, not all instruments keep their value.

Links

Credits

ESP, LTD, Seymour Duncan, Basslines, and the stylized "S" logo are all registered trademarks of Seymour Duncan Pickups, with which I am not affiliated.

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