PRS NF 53 (left) & Myles Kennedy Signature (right) guitars

The Maryland outfit throw their hat into the T-style ring.

Read MoreShow less
Photo 1 — The Hipshot string-bender is our columnist’s mod, but otherwise this offbeat blend of body and build styles arrived as is, with a P-90 in the neck slot and a single-coil slung T-style in the bridge position.

Three offers and a partial refund—the beginning of a beautiful 6-string friendship.

I was surfing on eBay a while ago and checked out some of the auctions that a favorite seller of mine had going on. My seller is a Cozart dealer and specializes in China-made instruments. This month’s guitar caught my eye. It’s kind of a cross between a Tele, a Mustang, and a Les Paul Special. It has a mahogany body and neck, a T-style headstock, and an ashtray bridge with a 3-way adjustment. The bridge is top-loading and has a T-style single-coil pickup, and the controls are mounted on a T-style chrome control plate. The neck pickup is a P-90 (Oh yeah, mama! My favorite flavor!), and the guitar has a Mustang-like body shape. The headstock says “King.” I’ve bought a few King-labeled guitars before, with good luck, so I bookmarked it and kept an eye on it.

Usually 5 to 10 percent lower than asking price is still in the ballpark. What do you have to lose?

After a few days, I started thinking more and more about this guitar. You know how it is. A guitar starts speaking to you in your dreams or something. There was a buy-it-now price of $189.99 with free shipping, but the listing also said, “or best offer,” so, being the bottom feeder I am, I made an offer of $165. The bid was automatically declined, so I inched my way up to $170. Declined again. So, finally, having only one bid left, I said $175. That seemed to be the magic number. The offer at that point was sent to the seller, who accepted it within a few hours, and the deal was made.

Photo 2 — Note the Will Ray signature Helle-Bender, the standard T-style control dial plate, and the ashtray bridge with 3-way adjustment. Despite the latter, fret-filing was required to knock out this guitar’s buzzing upon arrival.

Bottom Feeder Tip #377: Since eBay allows you to make a total of only three offers during the auction cycle of an item, I try not to offend the seller with an offer that is too lowball. Usually 5 to 10 percent lower than asking price is still in the ballpark. What do you have to lose?

Photo 3 — This instrument’s exact origins are a bit unclear, but it’s ostensibly made in China and it’s not the first King in the Bottom Feeder collection.

I received the guitar about four days later. I was excited to unpack it. It had a cool look. I did a quick setup. The King T-Stang played very well, but there were a few high frets that bugged me. I kept adjusting the bridge and truss rod to minimize the problem, but the buzzing still continued to bother me.

Photo 4 — With its bolt-on neck, mahogany body, and poly finish, this instrument appears to have gotten some genuine love on the production floor.

I finally made the decision to email the seller and explain the problem. I made a suggestion: How about a $25 partial refund so I could get the problem addressed by a good guitar tech? To his credit, the seller immediately PayPal’d me the $25 and we were both happy campers. I decided to work on the buzz problem myself by filing down the high frets in a couple of areas, and then I slapped a Hipshot bender on the guitar—a sure sign that an instrument is a keeper. I can’t explain it, but this King is just a fun little guitar to play. Listen to my MP3 online and hear it sing!

Read MoreShow less

Adjusting pickup height sounds simple, but pickups that aren’t adjusted properly can cause problems.

Guitars with two or three pickups offer lots of sonic variety, but they also introduce a particular problem that single-pickup instruments—such as Fender Esquires and some Les Paul Juniors—don't have. When you switch pickups on a multi-pickup guitar, you can experience volume differences between one position and another. This can be rather annoying when you're in the studio or playing a gig. Just as frustrating is when your treble strings sound weak, but the bass strings are ridiculously loud. In both cases, the fix can be as simple as adjusting your pickups.

Read MoreShow less