Yo yo yo,

So I'm currently using an Ibanez SA360QM and I have had it for just over a year now, been playing for maybe 4 years in total though, and I recently decided that I wanted to mod the guitar and personalise it to better suit me. I thought a sensible first step would be to install some new pickups, and after some browsing I decided that as set of Fernandes FSK-401 sustainers would be ideal for me.

The SA pickup configuration is SSH, but the sustainer kit comes with a single coil sized sustainer driver, and an optional high output humbucker. I have a few questions from this point before I decided whether or not to invest in this kit.

Firstly, is the humbucker part of the sustaining quality of the kit? The fact that it is 'optional' maybe implies to me that it is not required and may be left out.
Secondly, would I be able to install this onto my guitar which as I mentioned has an SSH configuration? Would I be ok to leave the central single coil pickup installed?
And finally, just out of curiosity, has anyone got any experience with this kit, and would you recommend it?

Thanks a bunch in advance for any help!
I haven't seen the sustainer in a while so if you got any diagrams or whatever to go by let me know as I can help you out.
It's not a very common setup, so you may have better luck emailing Fernandes directly.

From what I've read, you can use it in a SSH guitar, but the sustainer will only work properly with the bridge pickup. The neck driver isn't actually a guitar pickup in the traditional sense. Somehow or other it works in conjunction with the bridge pickup to create a feedback loop. That's where the infinite sustain comes from. According to the site, this only works properly when the driver and the pickup are at least 2" apart.

So when it says that the Fernandes bridge pickup is optional, it means that you can use the driver(Fernandes neck pickup) with any other pickup, as long as they have some space between them. You can still have a middle pickup to switch to, but you'll probably want to wire it so that the sustainer only works on the bridge setting.
Ahh, I see. That makes sense and is also very good to hear! I have just used that info to do a bit of further reading and it seems that with the sustainer driver turned off, the pickup still functions normally as a neck pickup and it is the only one that needs replacing so that should be achievable.

Thanks for the help!
I have several sustainers on my guitars.

You have two choices of sustainer driver in the 401 kit. One looks like a full-bore humbucker, the other looks like a single coil. Either will work.

In your case, you'll likely use the single coil in the neck position (and not in the middle position). That driver will function as a neck pickup when the sustainer is off, but it acts as an electromagnetic driver when the sustainer is on. You need to use the neck position and not the middle position because you'll get nasty squealing if the driver is too close to the bridge pickup.

The Fernandes has a hard PC board with two switches, and the best way to use it is by routing the guitar from behind. You can, of course, tack it onto a strat-type guitar's pickguard, but I find it gets a bit busy and in the way. The Sustainiac sustainer has a PC board designed to fit into the control cavity of a standard guitar. Again, the issue is that you may want to cram a 9V battery in that control cavity with it, and that's going to be messy.

On two of my LPs, I had the back routed and the sustainer PC board mounted so that the switches are behind the Floyds:

Note that there's also a battery box back there. I've already got a Chandler Tone-X on this guitar, and that requires a 9V and it's in the control cavity. The sustainer will go through batteries more quickly than the Tone-X, so I want to have that easier to get to. The miniswitches on the front are easy to get to and isolated, so that I'm not hitting them by accident.

There's also this: If you read the information on the PC board, you'll find that there are three trim pots. One of these is extended out to one of the pots that was originally used for a tone pot. It's the Sustainer Intensity pot, and it's surprisingly useful to have it out where you can get to it *while* the sustainer is engaged. Major difference in how you use the sustainer.

I've also got the single coil sustainer driver sharing the neck pickup ring with a DiMarzio Fast Track II (very high output single coil size humbucker). In my case, when I switch to the neck pickup, the guitar is NOT using the sustainer driver, but is using the DiMarzio. The install is tricky (it was all done by San Francisco tech Gary Brawer, who did Neal Schon's sustainer installs, which are identical), and if done badly can leave you with a squealing mess.

In the finished guitar, you can see the two miniswitches behind the Floyd to the right. Directly above those two switches is a momentary Buckethead-style kill switch (since modified slightly, since this switch "popped" a bit). The two pots closest to the trem (since swapped for a schaller-based OFR with a big brass sustain block) are now the master volume and master tone. Note that the master volume is in a different position from the usual LP quad. That, too, required a separate rout. At this point, it can be grabbed for pinky swells, etc. The two other pots along the outside of the guitar are the Sustainer Intensity (to the right on top) and the Chandler Tone-X (on a push-pull). The latter is an active mids boost (16 dB) and the actual mids frequency boosted is variable (rotate the knob). Great for getting your solos to cut through the mix.

Other things modified *since* this photo -- there's a dark ambered pickup switch knob replacement now, and there's a black "poker chip" that says, "Bitch/Moan".

The guitar itself is a neck-through LP with a solid figured maple top (I asked for "tight flame"), ebony fretboard, abalone inlays, triple binding, the Floyd, an Axcess-style neck heel, etc. It's *heavy* and solid body (no cheesing or chambering) and the mahogany neck is actually laid into a channel in the one-piece mahogany back. Fretboard has a 1 3/4" nut width, jumbo frets, 16" radius on a wide/thin neck profile (depth of the neck at the 1st fret is about 17mm, at the 12th fret about 20mm).
Thankyou so much, this has been an incredible amount of help. Great insight into the workings and the installation process. Really appreciate it!!
dspellman I just saw the photos and thought it looked familiar !!! Hope your well Gary