Once in a while, I’ll get on a kick where I just want to find a Tele-style guitar that’s different from the ones I own.

Once in a while, I’ll get on a kick where I just want to find a Tele-style guitar that’s different from the ones I own. I found this guitar some time ago during one of my daily eBay searches. It’s a 1996 Korean-built Epiphone solidbody that definitely strayed into Fender territory.

I liked the blonde color and maple fretboard—an unusual twist for Epiphone. This particular guitar also came with GFS pickups, which I had heard great things about. The auction also included the original Epi pickups, as well as a hardshell case. I figured this would be a great time to audition some GFS pickups and get an unusual T-style at the same time. So I lay waiting in the bushes for the auction’s final seconds and pulled the trigger, snatching victory from all other bidders. Actually, it turns out I was the only bidder, and I snagged the guitar for $175, plus $40 shipping. When I paid the seller with PayPal, I reminded him to also include the original pickups, which was fortuitous.

When the guitar arrived, it looked really cool but had very heavy strings on it. I immediately changed them, but as I did, part of the nut broke off under the low E. Bummer! It was a clean break though, and luckily I was able to Super Glue it back on. I used a clamp and let it sit overnight. In the meantime, I emailed the seller, explained the nut problem, and asked for a $25 partial refund to replace the nut. However, it turned out the seller was having hard times and sounded destitute, so I dropped the issue.

The next day, when I removed the clamp and finished restringing the guitar, I was treated to a really sweet-playing instrument. However, when I plugged it in I was a bit underwhelmed with the sound. The tone was good, but it didn’t have quite enough balls. I decided to revert to the original Epiphone pickups, and when I reinstalled them, I liked the sound much better. The Epi pickups were hotter and they gave the guitar a nice, spanky tone.

Bottom Feeder tip #2872: When buying a modified guitar, always ask for the original parts if they’re available.

I ended up selling the GFS pickups for $40 and the hardshell case for $50 (I’m a gig-bag guy), bringing the total cost of the guitar with shipping down from $215 to $125. All right, that’s more in my comfort zone.

Bottom Feeder Tip #678: Don’t be afraid to sell off extra parts you don’t need. They can pay the way for more cheap guitars down the road.

So is it a keeper? Sure—for now anyway. It’s an unusual Epiphone, it plays great, sounds pretty good, and has a cool vibe. Plus this purchase allowed me to check out some new pickups I had heard about. Yeah, I’m happy.

Will Ray is a founding member of the Hellecasters guitar-twang trio. He also does guitar clinics promoting his namesake G&L signature model 6-string, and produces artists and bands at his studio in Asheville, North Carolina. You can contact Will on Facebook and at willray.biz.

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We’re almost finished with the aging process on our project guitar. Let’s work on the fretboard, nut, and truss rod cover, and prepare the headstock for the last hurrah.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. This month we’ll continue with our relic’ing project, taking a closer look at the front side of the neck and treating the fretboard and the headstock. We’ll work on the front side of the headstock in the next part, but first we must prepare it.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.



• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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