Monte Stevens' Spalted Maple with Tortoise Shell Binding (see reviews below)
With Butternut back and wenge wood center strip
Monte Stevens' Buckeye Burl version (nicknamed Bucky)
This baby features a graphite reinforced maple neck with ebony finger board.
The back is Butternut, maple and wenge wood center, & wenge wood control cover
The head stock uses Steinberger locking gearless tuners and an LSR roller Nut -- stays in tune -- and allows for tuning at either end!
Bill asked me to do another review of the second MSS custom guitar body that he built for my Steinberger GS guitar. This time around I had Bill do a spalted maple top with tortoise binding. The look of this guitar is unique and also beautiful. The spalted maple top with the binding gives a double binding effect which I have never seen on another guitar and is VERY COOL!! Once again the sustain on this axe is unbelievable and the overall craftsmanship is top notch. Bill is really a stickler when it comes to details and it shows when you play your instrument. I don't really want to repeat alot of what I said in the first review so I will keep this one short. This guitar body is the exact same as the zebrawood MSS except it used Seymour Duncan pickups and different woods. The coolest thing about working with Bill is that he keeps you informed about what is going on with your axe and once again I have pictures of my axe in every phase of its birth. It is also great to be able to have your own "signature" guitar and I have really fallen in love with the design that Bill and I came up with. Also I have really come to love the Danish Oil finish and if you have never tried one I highly recommend it. Overall this is a very unique guitar and Bill has done another great job and been very professional and fun to work with. I still have another guitar on order from Bill and this one will be with a custom Wilkat neck. I can't wait to try out one of Bill's necks and if they are anything like his guitar bodies I know I won't be dissapointed. Thanks again Bill for another fine instrument!!
Bill's Reply:Thanks Monte! I'm really pleased that you're happy and enjoying the guitars!
Unsolicited e-mail after shipping/delivery of "Bucky":
I came home today and there was a BIG SURPRISE waiting for me. Yep, Bucky was there. I was shocked!!! I know you said it might only take a day but I wasn't expecting her until next week. I can't believe how gorgeous the Buckeye Burl is!! My wife didn't believe that it was wood. You did a great job on the finish. The neck definitely feels bigger than I am used to but I think it is going to grow on me. I have one question for you though. The action was a little bit high for my taste so I lowered it and I am getting buzzing around the 7th-9th fret region. I went to adjust the truss rod for some upbow to get rid of the buzzing and the nut seems really tight. I was afraid to twist it too hard because I didn't want to strip it. Did you adjust the truss rod at all before sending her to me or am I just not twisting the nut hard enough?
Thanks again for your hard work on Bucky. She is Beautiful!
Just got done playing Bucky again and I think I am going to leave the action right where she is. What a shredding machine!!! I love, love, love the feel of the neck and the tone and sustain are great. If you could advise still on the truss rod I would appreciate it. Thanks again for the great axe. She is definitely one of a kind!
Bill's Reply: The two graphite reinforcing bars glued into the neck make it extremely stiff! The truss rod requires more effort to adjust than in a regular wood neck, but it had been adjusted for a slightly higher action which I prefer for string bending, and to eliminate as much string buzzing as possible. Monte likes his action set very low, and that will result in some minor string buzzing as the arc of the strings oscillates up and down. In fact, it's the reason that a neck that is too flat is difficult to set up, and many guitar players think the neck is warped when they see up bow, but it's not. Ideally a little bit of up bow yields the best results with the cleanest tones and the least possible buzzing.
The neck was shaped to suit a wider nut and a wider base at the neck joint, and I profiled it give the guitar a more classical feel but with a 12" finger board radius. In my opinion, this neck is quite flat and thin (basically "C" profiled), and easy to play, but some initial adjustment is always required when we take on something new, and I'm glad that Monte adjusted so quickly. One of the joys of having different guitars is that each one takes on its' own character and feel, and affects the way we play -- sometimes we become more moody, some times we become more aggressive. Having variety is definitely the spice of life.