This build guide is how we recommend upgrading the Ibanez JS140 electric guitar, which is an economy version of Joe Satriani's much more expensive signature model. Out of the box this guitar is decent, but a few simple upgrades can give it a lot more power and a far more professional sound that better-matches its sleek aesthetics.
In total, we're looking to do four basic modifications and add a gig bag.
These mods address a few glaring problems with the JS140 as it comes out of the box, which would include the following:
- Stock neck and bridge pickups
- Stock strings
- Doesn't ship with a case or gig bag
We can address all of these issues making the JS140 a much better guitar for around $1000 dollars and a little bit of soldering.
Approximate Base Total: $1020
The JS140 has a basswood body with a 24-fret maple neck and an Edge Zero II tremolo system. We like the tremolo system and the neck, though you could upgrade to a real Floyd Rose system if you wanted the prestige of the original designer. We recommend keeping the Edge Zero because it's quite comparable to the original in a quality sense, even if it's not as prestigious.
Elements we recommend replacing out of the box are both the neck and bridge pickups along with the strings. You'll also note that it does not include any kind of case or gig bag, so we've added one of those to the list as well.
The Neck Pickup
The Seymour Duncan SHR-1n Hot Rails Strat pickup's neck variation is a bit more subtle than the bridge version, though it still has a high output level and lots of sustain, ideal Satriani's heavier style. Notice there are also two blades each with their own coil winding that'll give some added punch to your tone.
This one fits right into the neck slot on the JS140.
Notice that you won't need a mounting ring since this particular Seymour Duncan rail comes with one built into the pickup itself.
The Bridge Pickup
For the bridge we've swapped out the stock humbucker with a bridge version of the Seymour Duncan SH-8 Invader. It's a little brighter than the Hot Rails strip and uses ceramic magnets, which gives you a smoothness to your tone even on the higher and more chime-like notes.
Install the pickup and replace the existing mounting ring with the metal Kmise ring suggested.
Stock Ibanez strings should always be changed out right away. Satriani uses the D'Addario set we've recommended, though you can certainly shop around for different sizes depending on your own playing style and preferences. Most anything from Ernie Ball or Elixir is fair game, just so long as you don't need to rely on what you get out of the box.
We've added an Ibanez Powerpad gig bag that is extremely sturdy, saving you the headache of a hard-shell case expense. It'll fit any of the traditional Ibanez electric guitar shapes.
Your Questions and Ideas
Have a mod or part that you know would work particularly well with the Ibanez JS140?
Maybe you disagree with the choices we've listed?
Let us know in the comments section below. If you have an idea that holds water, we'll add it to the list so others can benefit as well.
Likewise, if you have an idea for a guitar (electric or acoustic) build, you can drop it there as well and we'll take a look.
Flickr Commons Image courtesy of Claudio Poblete