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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Harley Benton S-580 WR Mod - Part 1: Fixing the low neck angle



Like I mentioned in my original review (check out parts 1, 2 and 3) the low neck angle was pretty much making this guitar unplayable. I tried adjusting the truss rod and it helped to some extent, but not enough. Settings that made the string action somewhat decent caused some nasty string buzz on the first five frets and that is not acceptable. It was time to do some serious modding!

Solving the problem

I noticed that even at the lowest possible setting there is still some room under the Tune-O-Matic bridge, but the bridge post bushings and the lower portion of the bridge posts limit the range of motion and don't allow the bridge to be adjusted any lower.





I started to think that maybe I could countersink the brige bushings and get more range of adjustment this way. By countersinking the bushings I could easily setup the bridge flush to the guitar body and that should be way enough to compensate the high action.

Here's my 3-step ghetto style solution:

Step 1: Remove the bridge bushings

First I removed the bridge bushings. I did some google searches and found a clever way for removing them.. all I needed was one small screw, one bridge- or stop bar tailpiece post, a screwdriver and some force. Here's a quick video showing how to get the bushings out easily and fast:


Direct link to Youtube: http://youtu.be/ykWHdRypMUM

Step 2: Countersink the bushings

First I made the holes for the bushings a bit deeper with a regular drill bit and then used a step drill bit for the countersink. A step drill bit worked out just fine but you can also use a proper countersink cutter if you have one.






Step 3: Admire your handiwork

Damn.. it really worked out! :) Now I can lower the bridge to be flush with the body and that gives me whole lotta room to make adjustments. My initial idea was to ditch the cheap chinese hardware and install some Wilkinson parts. But sadly the Wilkinson bridge saddle grooves are shallow and that didn't work out with the new lower bridge setup: strings kept on popping out of the saddle grooves during string bends. Obviously lowering the bridge also lowered the string angle between the stop bar tailpiece and the bridge. Oh well, I just swapped the old chinese hardware back and the problem disappeared!



After the adjustments: fastest neck in the world?

Well.. not the fastest neck in the world, but close enough! Now I can setup the neck properly (with just a hint of relief) and the string action is still excellent. This guitar is a totally different beast now and it plays nicely without any string buzz! I still have to let the neck settle for few days and then make some minor adjustments. But I can already say that this guitar has risen from the dead!

BTW. I have some new ideas for this guitar, so stay tuned for more HB S-580 mods! Maybe some humbucker-sized P-90 pickups? :)

2 comments:

  1. Thanks been looking for ages if someone had drilled them a little wider so they could sink.. I need to lower my bridge slightly further, but on my new metric bridge, there are some edges on the stuts. Preventing it from being deep enough for my likings.. Gonna drill them slightly wider for 2/3 mm so I can lower my action a bit more to my likings. With my old rattling bridge it was at least 0.25/0.3 mm lower.. I needed that, thank you.

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    1. You're welcome! I'm glad that I could help! :)

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