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Masterbilt AJ-45 pickguard question

#1 User is offline   LuckyDan 

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 02:15 AM

I just ordered an open box AJ-45 from MF. I have owned and enjoyed my EF-500RAVS for many years now and am looking forward to adding another Masterbilt to the stable.

One thing I just noticed tonight, though, as I scour the net reading reviews and chit chat about the AJ, is that the pick guard on most photos I'm finding covers the rosette on the lower portion. I saw one photo on Sweetwater though that shows the entire rosette. Looks much smarter that way. I'm hoping mine will look like that.

Did Epi change the size and shape of the guard at some point?

Another question. I would actually prefer to have no pickguard at all on either the EF or the AJ. Has anyone any experience in removing them? If I could be sure the result would be an even finish with no tan-lines apparent, I'd like to pull them off.
'77 Ovation Balladeer, '78 Peavey T-60, '81 Dauphin model 40, '05 Epi Masterbilt EF-500ravs, '10 Epi LP Tribute 2010, '11 Squier Deluxe Strat, '14 Squier CV Tele, '15 Epi ES-339 P90 PRO, '16 Epi Masterbilt AJ-45, '79 Lab Series L5, '11 Roland Cube40X, '15 Line 6 Spider Jam
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#2 User is offline   Cougar 

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 07:51 AM

View PostLuckyDan, on 23 February 2019 - 02:15 AM, said:

...I have owned and enjoyed my EF-500RAVS for many years....

I can't help with your questions, but you are indeed a lucky man to have that RAVS! They're pretty rare these days. I've had several EF500 Masterbilts, and the RAVS was the last to go.... to fund other guitars, of course. Great little guitar!
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#3 User is offline   LuckyDan 

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 12:26 PM

View PostCougar, on 23 February 2019 - 07:51 AM, said:

I can't help with your questions, but you are indeed a lucky man to have that RAVS! They're pretty rare these days. I've had several EF500 Masterbilts, and the RAVS was the last to go.... to fund other guitars, of course. Great little guitar!


Hi, Cougar and thanks for the kind words on my favorite guitar. I remember posting about it on the old Epiphone boards the day it arrived. It came with a hefty price tag - the most expensive of all the Masterbilts I believe. I said, "In a few years I probably won't mind that I paid a little extra, but right now I'm feeling like a went a little nuts." Time has proven me correct. It's a prize, and it's tone has aged beautifully.

I like it for fingerstyle, or strumming without a pick - it just sings best without a plectrum. I have been wanting to add the AJ for a while so that I can have a nice strummer to go with it. I've played enough of them at GC to know I won't be disappointed.

Of course, the AJ will be an open box so I will be looking for any signs of abuse or poor assembly when it arrives. Assuming none, and no matter the pickguard/rosette appearance, it will be a keeper.
'77 Ovation Balladeer, '78 Peavey T-60, '81 Dauphin model 40, '05 Epi Masterbilt EF-500ravs, '10 Epi LP Tribute 2010, '11 Squier Deluxe Strat, '14 Squier CV Tele, '15 Epi ES-339 P90 PRO, '16 Epi Masterbilt AJ-45, '79 Lab Series L5, '11 Roland Cube40X, '15 Line 6 Spider Jam
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#4 User is offline   LuckyDan 

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 11:08 PM

After further research, I can answer my own question. I can use a hair dryer to heat the top of the pickguard sufficiently, and gently scrape from beneath with a painter's palette knife. And yes I can expect some tan lines. Will probably just leave it all alone. I bought these babies to play not to look at, right?

This post has been edited by LuckyDan: 23 February 2019 - 11:09 PM

'77 Ovation Balladeer, '78 Peavey T-60, '81 Dauphin model 40, '05 Epi Masterbilt EF-500ravs, '10 Epi LP Tribute 2010, '11 Squier Deluxe Strat, '14 Squier CV Tele, '15 Epi ES-339 P90 PRO, '16 Epi Masterbilt AJ-45, '79 Lab Series L5, '11 Roland Cube40X, '15 Line 6 Spider Jam
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#5 User is offline   LuckyDan 

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 07:37 PM

My open box AJ has arrove. The pickguard covers only the thin outer rings of the rosette, and leaves the thicker center ring entirely visible. I see no scratches, no signs of any play wear at all, in fact. Serial number indicates it was made in July 2016.

My guess is previous buyers returned it because of the very obviously mismatched top woods. I've snapped a couple of photos with my tablet camera, but the mismatch isn't as obvious in photos as it is to the eye looking straight-on. I can certainly live with it.

Action is too low for me, and I believe that accounts for a thinner tone than I want. I know this instrument is capable of a fuller tone.

I'm not good at guessing string gauge but I suspect the set on it now is way light. I will replace with a set of Martin MA550 (13-56) and see if that doesn't solve both the low action issue and the girly-man voicing. I'm looking for a full-throated, bassy sound, like on "My Sweet Lord." It's in there, I'm sure.

This will probably be my last guitar, unless I come into a pile of money. I'm happy.

This post has been edited by LuckyDan: 27 February 2019 - 07:42 PM

'77 Ovation Balladeer, '78 Peavey T-60, '81 Dauphin model 40, '05 Epi Masterbilt EF-500ravs, '10 Epi LP Tribute 2010, '11 Squier Deluxe Strat, '14 Squier CV Tele, '15 Epi ES-339 P90 PRO, '16 Epi Masterbilt AJ-45, '79 Lab Series L5, '11 Roland Cube40X, '15 Line 6 Spider Jam
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#6 User is offline   Seagull 

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 06:38 AM

I have had my AJ-45 ME a little over a year now, it really improves with playing.

It really opened up by the first string change. But continues to improve almost weekly.

The looks of the guitar has grown on me including the pick guard.

I would like to hear what you think of it in a month or two.
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#7 User is offline   JustStrummin 

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Posted 21 March 2019 - 03:59 PM

I've had my AJ-45 for a few months now, and it also arrived with the action set very low. It was about half the height of factory recommended settings. Great for fingerstyle, but sounded "jangly" when strummed even lightly. Replaced the saddle with a Tusq saddle (GraphTech PQ-9272-CO - requires some sanding) and set the action to the factory recommended specs. Sounds much better now. More volume, bass and generally cleaner. As for the pickguard, I read that they changed it beginning in 2016 so that it would not cover up so much of the rosette.
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