this brand is probably most famous for the TransTrem (aka the T-trem),
a tremolo that allows you to lock it in place at several intervals (i.e.,
you re-pitch the strings to different keys), the basic S-trem on higher-end
models and even the R-trem on the Spirit series (which are no longer available
as of this writing) and the GR4 are equally amazing. I mean, they
literally will not go out of tune no matter how much dive-bombing you put
the guitar through. They are simply incredible.
As you can see on this page, I have owned several lower-end Spirit models before, but I wanted to upgrade to the "true" Steinberger, and I wasn't disappointed. Mainly I switched to this model because I prefer a single coil (equivalent; this being EMG) in the neck position instead of a humbucker. However, I also always wanted the famous graphite neck rather than the rosewood of the original, which I hate. (I'd buy a maple model in a second though, especially if they tried birdseye... Hint, hint, Gibson!).
My only complaint about this model is that I hate the way the trem bar locks in (i.e., with a collar nut, though of a different design than modern Floyd Rose trems). The R-trem of the lower-end models were much simpler, but more effective. You didn't even need to screw the bar in; you just dropped an non-threaded rod into the shaft, and it was held in place by friction. The friction could be adjusted via a nut with an Allen wrench. This allowed you to go from the dangly, swinging bar to having it rigidly locked at the ready, parallel with the strings. Personally, I prefer the bar to be somewhere inbetween so that I can swing it and have it move to position and stay where I put it.
All that being said, it's still a fantastic instrument, one that is even more playable than the original model(s) I've owned. You reach for a note, and you get what you're shooting for. If you can't play something on this guitar, the problem is most definitely you and not the instrument.
All that being said, I still couldn't resist
making a few modifications to it...
Function: One of the shortcomings here is that the basic Steinberger sound is a bit thin, sometimes described as "sterile." This is likely due (at least in part) to the poor resonance of the graphite neck. These are made by Moses Graphite these days (not Gibson who actually makes/assembles the guitar since they bought the company from Ned), and they have some chambering in them to compensate for this, but it isn't a complete fix. To make up for the rest, I installed EMG's SPC (aka Strat Presence Control) to boost the midrange and achieve a tone similar to the red Strat that I have the same preamp in as well.
Modification: SPC bypass
Function: The SPC comes mounted to a single pot that controls its gain. The problem with this approach in a guitar with only two stock controls is that it demands that one replace either the volume or tone knob... or drill a hole through the face of a guitar that, in this case, has a finish to die for. So, um... no.
|As you can see in the image, the SPC is
freely floating in the control cavity (middle bottom of pic). With
all the wires in here already, I didn't need to do anything special to
mount it. However, before I sealed it all up, I wrapped the SPC itself
in a piece of paper just to ensure that it wouldn't ground itself out against
the copper foil lining the cavity (which I believe came standard; I bought
this guitar second-hand, although in absolutely perfect condition).
This model (and most American-made ones) have a battery box installed separate from the control cavity, hence its absence from the picture. The pickups are active already, but only one battery is required for additional circuitry in circuits featuring EMG products exclusively (i.e., very low current draw).
|Coming soon(er or later).|
New knobs - The originals had been replaced by high-end black barrel knobs when I bought it. However, these were worn down to the brass (yes, brass). I replaced those with a pair of plastic ones I'd had lying around for years that looked a lot like the stock pair.
Throughout this site, I recommend Steinbergers, but the best recommendation I can give these guitars is why I played mine for my partner at our wedding.