I purchased my Ibanez AG75 about 2 years ago. It’s not an expensive instrument by any means, but it’s pretty well put together. I use it strictly for when I want that jazzy, hollow-body sound that you can’t get out of anything besides a real hollow-body guitar.
The components are fairly cheap, so I’ve been slowly upgrading pieces to bring it up to the level that I’m looking for. The first thing on the list was replacing the pots. The factory pots were terrible and within the first year, the tone knob on the neck pickup was scratchy. I replaced those with some CTS pots. The holes in the guitar needed to be enlarged for the larger pot shaft. While I was doing the dirty work of replacing electronics in a hollow-body, I swapped out the caps as well for Orange Drops.
The next piece I decided to replace was the nut. The factory nut was just a cheap plastic piece. I replaced the nut with a TUSQ nut which I’m using on all my other guitars. I picked up the pre-slotted PQ-6114-00 directly from Graphtech. It only took a little bit of sanding and get it in the existing nut slot. I feel like the sustain is a little better and the tuning seems a lot more stable.
Finally I wanted to change out the neck pickup. Because this is my jazz box, I really only live in neck pickup land. The factory pickups are pretty cheap ceramic pieces, so a definite sound upgrade would be a pickup with Alnico 2 magnets for that classic voice. To save some money and try them out, I picked up a GFS Professional Alnico II Neck from GuitarFetish.com (PRO_KMZIINI_NK). This is their take on classic PAF trying to match the components and construction of the Gibson PAFs. The difference isn’t huge, but it does sound more open with a little more high end. The original pickup had a muddy sound and this doesn’t. Of course I always roll the tone back…
And for the final jazz upgrade, swapping out strings to D’Addario flat wounds.
So to add up all the costs to upgrade this beginner guitar to something more appropriate for an intermediate jazz player:
- $7 for two Orange Drop caps
- $30 for CTS pots (with shipping)
- $20 TUSQ nut (with shipping)
- $40 for GFS Alnico II Pro pickup (with shipping)
So for just under $100, I’ve made some huge tone and sustain upgrades to my jazz box. That means I’m only $500 all in on this guitar and it sounds pretty damn good!
The only upgrade I still have on the list is to build a custom pau ferro (Brazilian rosewood) pickguard to replace the plastic one that came with the guitar.