Modding a 7-string Ibanez Guitar - Part 2
August 01, 2020
Previously, I wrote about wanting to mod an Ibanez GRG7221M by replacing the bridge, tuners, and electronics. Recently, I took the plunge and completed the first part of my modding plan by replacing the bridge and tuners of the guitar in an effort to improve its tuning stability and sustain.
This made a huge difference! Even more than I expected, the new, heavier bridge and tuners significantly improved the tuning stability to the point where it’s comparable to a top end guitar and also seriously improved the acoustic sound of the guitar. Even without plugging it in, it has a better tone and longer sustain now.
The modifications weren’t hard, but they weren’t entirely just drop in changes either. The new bridge was heavier, thicker, and slightly wider than the factory version. The string spacing was close enough to the original, though, so it wasn’t a difficult mod. I just needed to drill four new holes in the body to accept the new bridge screws.
The tuners posed a similar slight problem. The factory tuners had screws through them on the back of the headstock to keep them from spinning, but the new tuners were not only heavier and prettier, they also didn’t use screw mounts. Instead, they had a small stud offset on the inside of them which is supposed to sit inside a small hole on the bottom of the headstock. Once the tuner is installed, this hole is invisible. In theory this makes for a more aesthically pleasing install, but unfortunately, the studs didn’t line up with the existing screw holes, so I had to make new holes for them. Once the new tuners were installed, the old screw holes remained exposed. I could have filled the holes, but they’re on the back of the headstock and they don’t bother me, so I just left them.
While I was at it, I slightly filed down the slots of the nut in order to lower the action on the guitar. With this small change, the guitar’s action is now where I like it to be and it fits my use of the guitar much better.
All in all, for just a small investment of time and a little bit of cash, I was able to fix most of the things I didn’t like about the guitar, and now I’m much happier with it. All that’s left now is to replace the electronics.
I wanted to make all of these changes at once, but things being the way they are right now, no one has the pickups I want in stock right now. I have them on back order, and once they arrive, I hope that my guitar’s plugged in sound will improve as much as its acoustic sound has. I’ll write all about that in a future post–just as soon as I can get the new pickups in hand.