Hurrrah! MikeScream with Sprinkles!
Updated: Sep 14, 2018
Now that I have the Studio setup and have been working in it, I've been playing a lot of guitar. While playing I rediscovered an old passion that was tucked away and of course that means I need a new axe to grind. I had my heart set on a PRS Baritone but for my purposes I couldn't use that as a multi-purpose tool. Instead I looked into getting a Les Paul Studio and in true Zack fashion I did a ton of research, discovery and some dreaded bank account Math. After purchasing the Kemper Profiling amp I did not want to spend another $1800 on yet another piece of gear. So I went to the stack of axe in the studio and started assessing what I actually already had and of course I already own a shit load of guitars, basses, Violas, Acoustics, and etc etc. Uhg, now what....damnitt. Ok, here is what we can do! I remember upgrading the Jackson with EMG's a couple years back and the LTD with Bill Lawrence pups. Hmmmm. Maybe I could do that again. So more research, math and full web carts. Deep breathe, and.........purchase. 17 deliveries later, I have a stack of custom guitar parts and idle hands, not so much the best of friends.
It's Saturday and as usual we have our weekly Skype call with our friend Brian Russe and of course what does Brian want to talk about, He wants to talk about Ice Cream Mike. Until now I had only thought of Ice Cream Mike as a person that Dorothy knew years prior in a distant land that I had never met. Ice Cream Mike was a guitar player in one of Dorothy's bands from way back and he played this old 1980's Japanese Fender Strat with Dual Humbuckers. I just so happened to have pulled this guitar down from the stack of axe and had it sitting in the ready pile to be......worked on. So Brian asks what happened to Ice Cream Mike - we have officially dubbed the fender strat "Ice Cream Mikes Guitar". Well Brian, it just so happens that we were thinking of fixing Ice Cream Mikes Guitar. "What!, I love that guitar you don't have to fix it up just for me!" So upon some reminiscing we remember that this is the same guitar Brian Recorded on during the Harbor Pointe recordings and just loved. So this guitar may have been the reason those recordings ended up having the sound they did. I now have a different view of ICM (Ice Cream Mike). what to do, what to do.........Screw it, takin' it apart!
I lay Ice Cream Mike up on the operating table for a complete overhaul, complete with all new electronics, Pups - Bill Lawrence XL, Bourns 500K push pull tone and a volume pot, Graph Tech NUT, Hipshot 20:1 locking tuners, and replacement parts for the System 1 bridge that can't be replaced due to it's unique size. The internet did have a lot of good things to say about it so I decided instead of re-drilling and modifying the body I would just refurbish instead.
I start by pulling bridge apart, fixing all the wonky bits and giving everything a good once over. The best part though were the rollers, they were all fucked up, tarnished and gnarly. Once I got to looking at them I discovered they were brass! Whoa, brass...so I polished them up and put them back in. The bridge now having all clean parts, new screws, polished rollers and clean edges I moved to the tuners. Modifying the head-stock to fit the new Hipshots was as always a task but well worth it, those things are really nice, smooth and solid. The hardest part was undoubtedly replacing the NUT. Apparently the Japanese had basically put in the factory nut as to never be replaced. So replacing it was quite the task. I basically had to drill it out with a tiny bit. It was not easy. Once the old NUT was out the Graph Tech could go in, a little sanding and modifying and it went in like a charm, a dab of glue and some persistence was all it took. Now the electronics. I wanted to make this axe more versatile than previous so, I decided to take the fact that I only had one tone pot and didn't want to cut more holes into the pick guard, I would make the dual hum-buckers work for me. I added a push pull pot, that way I would have 2 hum-buckers or 2 single coils. Just tap and play. Both Bourns go in, one volume and one push pull tone, wired to the Bill Lawrence pups and with new clean wiring. So far I am feeling good about this project, put it all back together and now......shit. I have to rework the entire setup. Reset the height, bridge position and intonation. ok, I got this.......Shit...ok, I got this. Long story short, er....shorter.....I pull out the claw in the back because it was buried, I raise the height of the bridge so that the bridge is actually floating as intended. String this guit-box and start the intonation. Hours later.............
I finally get to a good place with it, not sure if it's perfect but I am at least happy with were it's at. I plug this hell-beast into the Kemper and I think....I THINK....DImebag Darrell himself came up from Heavy Metal Hell and gripped this axe and inspired all the Un-Holy demons of tone and thrash to bless this thing because all of my hopes for this axe had come to life! Oh man I was completely inspired by the new versatility I had acquired. The push pull pot was definitely the right thing to add to this project, I have a screaming rock guitar and a HOT twangy strat all in ONE! I was so inspired by this that I decided to start playing with the rest of my guitars. I decided to re-work the LTD and my Peavy Strat! The LTD already had BL in it and the Peavey just needed new wiring. Added push pull, new tones and new Volume pots. If I could describe just how much these guitars were improved by adding just new wiring and Push Pull pots, YOU would be on eBay ordering new electronics right now. Suffice it to say, I went from having mediocre interest in re-acquainting myself with my hands and frets to not being able to stop thinking about how all I want to do is work with my new guitars. I am so pleased, as if you couldn't tell, and in the interest of having new guitars that are completely mine, they deservedly needed new names. I present to you.....ICM into MikeScream, LTD into UN-Limited, and Peavey into my Pet-Peavey. MikeScream a completely new axe and the other 2 with just some gentle sprinkling of new parts and work. So much fun to play and very inspiring, each with it's own unique sound and style. I did make a time lapse of MikeScream's revamp but did not do ones for Pet-Peavey or Un-Limited. Maybe I'll do a tone video or something I'm not sure but just for fun I have posted some pics of MikeScreams process. Now I will leave you with the pics and timelapse - now it's time I get back to treating myself to some MikeScream with Sprinkles!
MikeScream Video - https://youtu.be/5nYgmTwdlOs