Steinberger GM-4S
I think most people who read this site realize I'm pretty much a Steinberger nut.  I mean, I love my guitars and most guitars in general, but Ned Steinberger made something really special that, unfortunately, not a lot of people know about.



Although 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...


Modification: SPC
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.

Control: See below.


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.

Control: I replaced the original volume pot with a push-pull pot.  I tend to want the SPC either all the way up or not at all, so I use the push-pull as an On/Off bypass.  The default (i.e., "down") position includes the SPC in the circuit, and the "pulled" or "up" position bypasses the preamp and gives the thinner stock sound.


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).


The schematic
Coming soon(er or later).


Non-Electronic Modification
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.

On a personal note...
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.

See, October in Texas is hotter than summer in most other parts of the country, and we all know what fun things changes in temperature can do to a guitar's tuning.  This is especially difficult to deal with when you're trying to surprise the bride with a song at the reception.

I took the guitar from my house the afternoon before the wedding, put it in a hot car... which then had to stay hidden while we found a way to sneak the guitar inside, then it sat in the case for several more hours cooling back down again before being pulled out at the appropriate time.  When that time came, I whipped it out the case, strapped it on, plugged in, and we were rolling.  There was no retuning or anything.  The combination of the graphite neck and the headless tuning system makes this the one guitar I could trust to come out of the case in tune. 

With an arsenal of guitars to chose from, many with sentimental significance and with different tones to draw from, the Steinberger stood out above the rest for its reliability.  And it matched my tie.



Copyright Alexplorer.
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