Shocking. Absolutely shocking. I cannot believe the quality and value of this thing.

For years, I had been seeing online these one-off Chinese headless guitars and all the reviews said they were killer. Most of the ones I saw were a take on the Strandberg guitar - not a Steinberger, like my Hohner G3T. So after finding the best price (less than $300 on Amazon), I pulled the trigger on an Eart Headless W2 with a hard tail bridge and a burl maple veneer top. I got it in about two days and when I opened the box - WOW!!

According to the manufacturer, the body is African redwood (hagenia - I looked it up & it's a real wood), which has an ash-like, open grain, and a beautiful reddish-mahogany color. For the top, they glue on an impressive burl maple veneer, which details the amazing grain. You can actually feel the burl knots in the relief. For the 24-fret, bolt-on neck, it's a five-piece base neck (maple-African redwood-maple-African redwood-maple) with a nice rosewood fretboard. The back of the neck seems to be stained a nice caramel color and if I didn't know better (no smell), I would say it's roasted. I also like the offset arrangement of the fret position dots. The heel is smooth and the neck sits nice and tight in the pocket. I also love the truss-rod spoke at the base - I wish all guitar necks had that.

For the hardware, the bridge is a black KD-licensed hard tail, with fine tuners. It comes with a little magnetic worm wrench that sits in the bridge when not in use. This is used to wind the strings and tune it. Strange system, but it works. And the bonus is that it accepts regular strings (ball end goes up at the nut). Being a headless guitar, the nut system is Steinberger-like with slots for the strings ball end, but there are also three Floyd Rose-style clamps and a zero nut - nice touch. Seems more than sturdy enough. And the black aluminum knobs (with set screws) are top quality.

As for the electronics, they weren't too bad. It came with two off-brand, Chinese 500K pots, and cheap capacitor, and a mostly plastic, 3-way blade switch (before). So I replaced the pots with solid-shaft Carvin 500K minis, added a super-sturdy, low-profile import switch (no room for a CRL or Oak Grigsby switch), and a .022 uf Sprague Orange Drop tone cap (after). The barrel jack seems sturdy, so I let it go, as there really isn't any room for a 7/8" hole for either an Electrosocket or any kind of a jack plate.

I thought going into this that I would probably have to replace the two stock humbuckers. I was planning on installing a pair of G.M. 360 ceramic hot pickups, but I wanted to give the stock pickups a shot. And they didn't sound too bad! So when swapping out the pots and switch, I took a closer look at the stock humbuckers and measured the DC Resistance - 7.34K for the neck, and 16.24K for the bridge. What's really confusing is the info on the underside of each pickup. First off, there's no Gibson identification, but a decal that states "Wound by PS - 57 + Classic" with a date in 2013. There's also a "Patent Applied For" sticker. Hmmm. The baseplates are nickel-silver (short legs), and they have nice chrome covers and 4-conductor wiring. I didn't take the cover off, so I'm not sure if the magnets are ceramic or Alnico, but I decided to leave well enough alone and stick with the pair. There's no way these humbuckers are real Gibsons. NOTE: The Gibson '57 Classic Plus retails for $176, comes in nickel (not chrome) with 2-conductor wiring and long legs, and has a DCR of 8.3K. The '57 Classic has the same specs as the Plus, but a lower DCR of 7.5K. So the bottom line is that these must be just Chinese knockoffs as used in the Epiphone or similar models. No idea who made them, but they sound good. Lastly, another nice touch from Eart was having the pickups directly mount to the body - no rings.

Besides the guts, the only other part replacements on this axe were the three hex screws for the Floyd-style locking nut, and the standard black Schaller strap locking buttons. Overall this guitar is a tremendous value and I would recommend it to anyone. Who knows, maybe I'll grab another one!

December 2020

Another 22.7"-scale guitar. Also, my Mini Strat is my only guitar that has a solid plywood body. Oh well, it plays great! This guitar is also an example of spending A LOT more on the modifications than the guitar itself.

I ordered this Fender Squier Mini Strat during the summer of 2001 from Musician's Friend for about $80. I bought a "real" Fender Stratocaster decal off of eBay for about $10 and then I was set! This guitar features some pretty hot DiMarzio pickups. There's a Cruiser (bridge model) in the neck position, a Chopper in the middle, and a blazing Fast Track 2 in the bridge. The pickups alone were over $200! The Fast Track 2 is DiMarzio's version of Seymour Duncan's Hot Rails - it's loud! I have a Fast Track 1 in the neck position on my Hohner G3T.

But that's not it. You can probably imagine that the bridge on an $80 guitar is cheesy, too. I replaced it with a Carvin hard tail bridge with steel saddles. I had to drill through the plywood body, as this bridge requires the strings through the body, and I had to pop in those lovely string ferrules. That mod went well - looks halfway professional.

I put on two chrome Carvin mini knobs, and the volume and tone pots are courtesy of Carvin, too. The 5-way switch is Fender USA. I used a real Fender neck plate, but the pickguard is stock. Schaller straplocks and chrome locking Sperzel tuners, of course, although I had to re-drill the tuning post holes for the Sperzels and that did not go well at all.

The guitar is set up very well and has a variety of tones - classic Strat to full-blown humbucker. The short-scale neck creates a wide string reach, which opens up a world of chord possibilities. This was the main guitar used on Mile Marker Unknown off of bikini.

February 2002

UPDATE: April 2020

I just had to replace this neck with the super-wide, 12th-fret dots and the two-tone headstock where I added wood filler after I completely messed up trying to widen the tuner holes. I found an '08 used Squier mini neck with the more-narrow, 12th-fret spacing and added vintage split-post tuners and a black Fender Stratocaster waterslide - it looks great! And it's still rockin' the three DiMarzios!

I wish I would have found this guitar years ago. An amazing little axe for $70! Okay, $70 plus the cost of some, um, minor modifications.

I found this little number on eBay in August 2007 for $70 (including shipping and gig bag) and pulled the trigger. Of course, I did do some modifications to it. Some were required - others because, well, that's what I do no matter what.

First, I fine-sanded the back of the maple neck and cleaned the rosewood fretboard. I replaced the standard chrome tuners with black locking Planet Waves. That's it for the neck.

For body hardware, I swapped the stock strap buttons for black Schaller straplocks. No big deal there. And then came the bridge. I wanted to go with an intonation-adjustable bridge (Gotoh wrap-around model) to replace the stock non-adjustable bridge. Easy swap, right? Not exactly. The new Gotoh bridge sits higher so the string height was affected by about 1/8". I didn't feel like padding the neck pocket that much to raise the fretboard, so I replaced the standard mounting screws with some big, beefy, black allen screws I picked up from Home Depot. These newer screws don't have the built-in rest flange that the stock screws had, so it sits about 1/8" lower. Whew - it worked.

I had an extra Dragonfire Alnico Chrome 'Bucker bridge humbucker model laying around from a set I broke up in 2006 (the neck pickup is in my Tora Tele), so without even listening to the stock humbucker, I removed it and wired in the Dragonfire. Then I noticed that this used beast had a bad output jack, so I replaced that, too. Am I handy with a soldering gun, or what?

It's a good-sounding guitar, although it's not as comfortable - or versatile - as my Hohner G3T, but it's quickly turning into a couch classic.

September 2007

I purchased my Hohner G3T in January of 1998, right after I got hired for a job that required 100% travel. I had owned a Hohner Steinberger-copy back in the 1980s, so I knew that it was the guitar that I wanted for the road. A great guitar not only for the size, but very cool since it looked so similar to the Van Halen Steinberger from the mid- to late-1980s. The local Music Mart (San Diego) was a Hohner dealer, so I had them order one for me.

Not much to modify on the Hohner. I couldn't mess with the bridge or tuners, but I sure could upgrade the pickups and the electronics! (So I did!) I didn't see the need for having a middle pickup, so I went out and bought a DiMarzio Norton for the bridge and a Carvin stack for the neck. I took it down to Moze Guitars to have them install it, and they said the Carvin didn't work. I trusted these guys (Moze installed my first Floyd Rose in 1984), so I bought a DiMarzio Fast Track 1 for the neck. Both pickups are hot!

Lastly, I replaced the pots and knobs with Carvin and added black Schaller straplocks. I rarely use the trem arm for the Steinberger-licensed tremolo. I thought I'd only use this guitar for traveling (I took it on a lot of trips), but I have ended up using this one on A LOT of recordings. A good example is Chunky Monkey off of man makes plans and God laughs.

April 2002

UPDATE: February 2004

I monkeyed with the guitar in early 2004, when I took the DiMarzio Norton pickup out and replaced it with DiMarzio's new D Sonic (originally called DropSonic) humbucker. The DropSonic intrigued me, and I thought the Norton would sound killer in the EBMM EVH Sport I was putting together (since moved to my Ernie Ball Music Man EVH Silhouette '78 Tribute). I did manage to record an instrumental entitled Stop World Peace entirely with my Norton-loaded Hohner right before the switch.

UPDATE: March 2018

I had some second thoughts after I took out the Norton, and the DropSonic (now called D Sonic) is a nice pickup and everything... But the Norton sounds so great in my EBMM EVH Sport and I wanted to get that amazing tone back to the Hohner Steinberger. Hmmm. I found an F-spaced Norton with black pole pieces, and sold the DropSonic on eBay. And while I was wiring in the new pickup, I replaced the stock ceramic .047 uf tone capacitor with a Sprague Orange Drop .033 cap. Also while the guitar was in pieces, I cleaned up the neck and replaced the rubber band at the nut that holds the double-ball strings tight (and here's the
cleaned back). Still a great playing and sounding guitar. Back to it's original (but not stock) glory!

UPDATE: July 2023

My goodness. Why can't I leave my Hohner guitar alone? Looks new again! Here's what I did:

--added DiMarzio Fast Track 2 to the middle position, to go along with the Fast Track 1 (neck) and Norton (bridge)
--installed three new mini on/off switches and new "Marshall" knobs
--gutted and re-wired everything with new components - new Bourns mini 500k pots, on/off pickup switches and Tesi barrel jack
--disassembled and cleaned the licensed Steinberger R-Trem

The G3T looks complete again with three pickups!

Under construction...

Wow! What a build!
EVH's iconic 5150 Steinberger after getting a tune-up, circa 2015 1 2
Van Halen's other striped Steinberger - the OU812 model and a never-used 1984 faceplate
fan's take on an EVH Steinberger Spirit
Steinberger Spirit had to have the narrow 12th-fret spacing
my Steinberger Spirit GT-PRO Quilt Top before a total takedown
filled in center single-coil pickup with basswood block/Bondo Glass. I glued in a 1/2" round maple dowel down the center to close up the stock "channel" they drilled - I thought this would add some strength, too. Just an unnecessary route. Also used the Bondo Glass to fill in the blade switch route and volume hole.
sanded down and topped off with regular Bondo to smooth it out. Re-drilled the volume hole.
sprayed with gray primer/filler
sprayed gloss white. Drilled hole for 3-way mini toggle switch.
taped striped and sprayed gloss apple red
taped off stripes and sprayed gloss black
routed for 9-volt battery - needed this plastic battery holder for the set of Seymour Duncan Blackouts (active humbuckers)
painted the body back and sides matte black and left the back of the neck transparent red
went with Bourns 25k pots and re-wired everything; used Tesi stereo barrel jack
added Steinberger waterslide and real Headless USA Steinberger knobs
Love the stock R-Trem and the "kick stand" foldout leg
Steinberger Spirit came with a Headless USA hard case and this was an important factor in purchasing this guitar, as these cases are not cheap
amazing VH tribute guitar. It was A LOT of work and I'm not sure I would want to tackle this again. I did appreciate working with Bondo and JB Weld, though. I purposely didn't replcate the exact striping pattern as the EVH 5150 Steinberger, as I thought making this project exactly like his would be impossible. I was going to place a small 5150 vinyl decal on the lower right corner in this pic, but haven't done it yet as I think it looks great how it is now.

Other Smithtone guitars small enough to be a Travel guitar:

Yamaha APXT-1N

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