Will Ray's Bottom Feeder: Bending the Rules with a Gretsch G2655
Acquired for just $350 with a hardshell case, this Gretsch was purchased specifically for a B-bender experiment. It features a V-shaped stop tailpiece, Broad’Tron BT-2S humbuckers, and controls for master volume, individual pickup volumes, master tone, and a 3-way switch.

A Hipshot B-bender on a bargain semi-hollowbody? Why not!

A while back, I wrote about a fat-bodied Gretsch Streamliner jazz guitar I acquired pretty cheap. That purchase started me on a Gretsch odyssey. One thing I’d never done with a Gretsch was to install a Hipshot bender. Most Gretsch models have either a Bigsby or trapeze-type tailpiece, which would prevent using a bender. But a few models have a kind of V-shaped stop tailpiece, a few inches from the bridge, and that got me thinking. I wasn’t sure how well it would work, but I was committed to at least trying to mount a Hipshot on a Gretsch.

The first step was to find a guitar cheap enough to experiment on. So I scoured eBay and found this red G2655 for $350, including a hardshell case. I’m a gig-bag guy, so I figured I could sell the case for $50 on Craigslist and that would drop my price to only $300, which seemed like a good deal. So I pulled the trigger.

Hipshot units include a Teflon tube that routes the B string through the tailpiece to the B-bender.

I received the guitar a few days later, unpacked it, and was immediately struck by how light it felt. The first thing I did was raise the V-shaped stop tailpiece to create a less severe angle for the strings going over the bridge, so the bender string would not get hung up and go out of tune. Then I took off the rear strap button, slapped the Hipshot on, and threaded the B string through a small Teflon tube going through the stop tailpiece. After playing a few moments, I discovered that the B string would not stay in tune because the bender shifted around too much at the strap button.

The beauty of the Hipshot is that you don’t have to rout out large sections of the body to install it.

Even a minuscule tilt of the Hipshot will cause tuning problems, but luckily the Hipshot comes with two pre-drilled holes that straddle the strap button, just for such an occurrence. So, with the top of the Hipshot pressed as tight against the guitar body as I could hold it, I drilled two small holes into the body using the Hipshot holes as a guide. Then I anchored the Hipshot tightly against the guitar body at the strap-button end using two small flat-head screws. Voilà! I was in business and it only took about 15 minutes.

And here’s the bending mechanism: The piece that extends past the guitar body holds a rod, which you press against your hip when you want to raise the B string. A knurled screw at the front of the unit’s “telegraph-key” lever lets you adjust the fine-tuning.

Now the Hipshot stays perfectly in tune because it no longer moves around. The beauty of the Hipshot is that you don’t have to rout out large sections of the body to install it. Also, if you sell the guitar down the road, you can simply unscrew the Hipshot and take it with you. And most people won’t be bothered by any small holes that the strap hides, anyway.

By the way, I ended up selling the hardshell case on Craigslist for $65, reducing my cost of the guitar to $285. Not bad! Man, this guitar is so much more fun to play with the Hipshot. And, believe me, you won’t find too many Gretsches out there with benders.

It’s not difficult to replace the wiring in your pickups, but it takes some finesse. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. After numerous requests, this month we’ll have a closer look at changing wires on a single-coil pickup. As our guinea pig for this, I chose a standard Stratocaster single-coil, but it’s basically the same on all single-coil pickups and easy to transfer. It’s not complicated but it is a delicate task to not destroy your pickup during this process, and there are some things you should keep in mind.

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The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

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