NGD :: Sterling Cutlass Short Scale (Mint Green)
Out of the box it wasn’t very good at all, though that’s to be expected with a budget guitar. However, once I swapped the tuners for locking versions taken off an old Sterling Silo, properly cut the nut, adjusted the string height and gave it the best intonation I could, it’s now enjoyable to play. Intonation isn’t finished though, it was very flat out of the box. I have to get longer saddle screws before I can get it dialed in like I want. A couple of the saddles are at the extreme end of their travel without coming off the screws.
As for actual size, it’s about the same size overall as the Silo even though the scale is 1.5 inches shorter. Fit and finish were actually quite good for a budget guitar, I didn’t see any finish problems to worry about but there were a few areas on the neck that will need a little finish sanding. The trem seems pretty good. I swapped the tuners when I put new strings on it so I can’t say anything about those. It has a 3-way switch, not a 5-way as described on the Sterling site. As expected, the pickups aren’t good. The bridge pickup is quite muddy and dark. The neck pickup isn’t great either, but it’s better than the bridge. Volume, tone and the switch worked ok. It has a barrel-style output jack on a jack plate. It has the usual Sterling/EBMM style 5-screw neck plate. The neck seems to be more of a D than a C. The frets weren’t sharp or anything, they were honestly not bad at all. That’s not to say it couldn’t use a fret fress, but it is certainly playable as is.
All in all, I’d give it a 7 out of 10 based on the price. There are good and bad points, but the biggest “good” part is it’s a great foundation on which to mod!
As far as that goes, here are my plans – which is pretty standard for me with all my guitars:
1. Locking tuners already done. I always use them, even with Floyd locking nuts. It just makes string changes easier.
2. Replace the nut with either graphite or bone and add a little sauce.
3. Set the tremolo to float.
4. Replace the pickups (SD JB and ‘Lil 59).
5. Add Graph Tech Ghost piezo saddles for acoustic sounds.
6. Install a self-designed, self-built preamp for piezo and magnetic pickups. (I can provide more detail on that if anybody cares.)
That’s about it, unless I decide to change out the pickguard or something. Once finished I think it will end up being my go-to guitar. It’s very comfortable on my small hands.
Would I recommend it? Yes, I would, but be prepared to cut the nut, lower the strings and intonate if for best playability. Don’t even think about using the trem until the nut is taken care of, it will go wildly out of tune.
I’ve added some eye candy below. Cheers!