NGD: Italia Modena Classic

Discussion of newer designs, copies and reissue offset-waist instruments.
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Sid Nitzerglobin
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NGD: Italia Modena Classic

Post by Sid Nitzerglobin » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:34 pm

Ran into this one last week while I was guitar shopping for my Xmas gift from my dad. Boredom led me back to it today, and impressive 1st and 2nd impressions all around, a pretty great used price, and a surplus in the gear fund had me bring it back w/ me:
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It's an Italia Modena Classic.

Apparently it's made in Korea w/ a korina body and rock maple 2 piece neck. It's got a fairly generous neck profile compared to most of my JMs or Jags w/ nicely finished frets that are sort of a slightly wider vintage height. Attention to detail seems pretty great across the board and I can't find anything that I felt was phoned in about its assembly or finish so far. It's got a really nice action right off the wall and contrary to expectation it's a fairly deep, round, full bodied sounding guitar in any of the positions of the 5 way selector. It still has some nice bite on the attack, but it almost seemed to be doing an extended scale kind of thing tonally through a black face DRRI and Rocker 32. I think I might want to try the Antiquity II bridge Firebird I've got on hand in there for dirtier pursuits (if for no other reason than I've had it for a few months and have yet to give it a go in a guitar :fp: ) but I'll have to give it some time through my own stuff first. It was sounding really nice and semi jazz-y to me clean w/ the stock pups as is. I like the single volume w/ PTB tone stack set up they went w/ too.

Anyway, thought I'd share this one here since I really hadn't had any awareness of Italia Guitars prior to running into this one and it's striking me as a pretty cool guitar to snag for ~$450 w/ the case. So far I wouldn't have any problems paying what seems like the going rates around $550-ish for a nice condition used one. Seems easily on par quality wise w/ my other favorite Korean mades, the Reverends and nicer Gretsch Electromatics.
Last edited by Sid Nitzerglobin on Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: NGD: Italia Modena Classic

Post by jakeisjake » Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:16 pm

i've owned a Italia Rimini 12 string and a Mondial (with 2 hbs and a piezo in the bridge).

both were well made and nice looking guitars.

i hope you enjoy this one!
I'm sitting by the Arthur Kill...

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Re: NGD: Italia Modena Classic

Post by DeathJag » Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:32 pm

For $450 I’da bought it the first timeI saw it! Awesome score.

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Re: NGD: Italia Modena Classic

Post by Sid Nitzerglobin » Fri Jan 04, 2019 7:44 pm

Thanks guys! I'm going to give it a bit of setup tweaking and new strings tomorrow but it's a fun one so far :)

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Re: NGD: Italia Modena Classic

Post by BrendanP » Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:13 pm

Nice score! I had one of those. Left handed, blue sparkle and even the back of the neck was completely covered in perloid. The only visible wood was the fretboard. I miss that guitar. I bet that one is going to be a keeper.

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Re: NGD: Italia Modena Classic

Post by Sid Nitzerglobin » Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:50 pm

LOL, well after a bit more searching for info on these, I think I figured out why it has sounded so beefy and warm. It's actually wired w/ master volume, a master low pass tone, and a neck pickup blend I was mistaking for a high pass :-[ :derp: ;D
BrendanP wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:13 pm
Nice score! I had one of those. Left handed, blue sparkle and even the back of the neck was completely covered in perloid. The only visible wood was the fretboard. I miss that guitar. I bet that one is going to be a keeper.

Yours sounds awesome to me visually. So far I think chances are pretty good this one will hang around for a while at least. Seems like it's got a kinda unique feel and sound that I'm grooving on and it's got a nice premium kitsch kind of appeal to me.

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Re: NGD: Italia Modena Classic

Post by Sid Nitzerglobin » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:45 pm

I wound up dropping ~1/16" of mahogany shim into the back of the neck pocket, dropped the Antiquity II Firebird bridge pickup in, restrung it w/ Paradigm .010-.046s, reset the bridge height and relief and handed it over to my luthier friend for a quick 15 minutes of guitar whispering session on this one today.
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The action is probably what I'd classify as medium tension, but seems very smooth for just about any kind playing I can muster and nicely low w/ zero fret buzz unplugged. The vibrato action is feeling pretty darn similar to my B3s w/ the Reverend spring w/ just a slight intitial ramp in effort and tuning seems very stable so far. I'm going to look for some abrasive washers for the bottom side of the vibrato arm and keep an allen wrench in the case for periodic retightening, but it seems to make it several hours worth of play before the arm starts going floppy and is a pretty comfortable one to use for me. I'm thinking the G could either stand some more break angle at the bridge and/or nut or the somewhat rattly tolerance of the saddle screws and roller assemblies are giving some bad vibrations and deadening it when picking in very close proximity to the bridge. I'm somewhat hesitant to go for more break angle/neck angle/bridge height:
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I could probably improve the saddle situation on this bridge w/ some loctite or nail polish, but I think it'll be worth just going to a nicer bridge on this guitar. It doesn't seem like a really bad problem plugged in (or acoustically either in the grand scheme of things) but more the principle of it that might bug me ;)

I pretty impressed w/ both the stock Wilkinson pickups and the Antiquity I swapped over to at the bridge. The Antiquity has significantly more bark to it and does more for me for aggressive sounds for sure, but the bit of time I spent w/ the stock bridge pickup by itself after figuring out it was wired w/ a neck blend pot and tone rather than a PTB setup it was really impressing me on its own merits. By itself, the Antiquity on full volume is into saturated, hairy edge of break up straight into either the GVT-15 or VibroRic (both pretty clean amps) but it seems to blend really well w/ the neck for progressively cleaning up some bark and adding some body and glassy bite. I think I'll really like the stock wiring design w/ this pup setup although I can't rule out experimenting w/ some options for the middle pickup position. I've got a Starwood Tele neck pickup that hasn't been wired into a functional guitar in months that I think might be a prime candidate there... I might have to grab a chrome cover for the Antiquity (or raw nickel replacements for the stock pup covers) too.

I keep liking this one more and more the more I play it :)
Last edited by Sid Nitzerglobin on Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: NGD: Italia Modena Classic

Post by Sid Nitzerglobin » Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:16 pm

I swung by the shop this morning to give another look for the set of 8mm to 4mm conversion posts that I must have either used somewhere already, sold to someone, or lost so I could try some other bridges on here, specifically thinking about the Wilkinson "roller" I've got on hand since it's seemed like a solid machined piece elsewhere and it would match up w/ all the other Wilkinson stuff on the guitar and the rest of the chrome hardware.
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When the final search turned up unsuccessful I cannibalized the TonePros roller w/ 6mm post holes off of my Wilshire and slapped it on the Modena w/ sort of surprisingly good results. The guitar wound up w/ a significantly more resonant feel and acoustic sound and the attack and decay of each note seems noticeably more focused. The semi-sitar/dead fish effect on the G seems pretty much entirely resolved too. Intonation is spot on within the capacity of my PolyTunes to measure but I did wind up having to run the A and D to minimum stops to get there.

That being said, I ordered a set of Faber's conversion post just so I've got the option to try out some of my other bridges on there w/o having to pull, plug and redrill for bushings.

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Re: NGD: Italia Modena Classic

Post by Debaser » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:01 pm

:? :?
50,000 watts out of Mexico...

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Re: NGD: Italia Modena Classic

Post by BrendanP » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:15 pm

Interesting. My Modena came with that Wilky roller bridge. Glad to hear the Tone Pros was an improvement.
I think there were a few tremolo variants over the years too.

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Re: NGD: Italia Modena Classic

Post by Sid Nitzerglobin » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:08 am

BrendanP wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:15 pm
Interesting. My Modena came with that Wilky roller bridge. Glad to hear the Tone Pros was an improvement.
I think there were a few tremolo variants over the years too.
That's good to know, I can kinda feel like I'm restoring rather than modding now ;)

Mine came to me w/ a roller ToM, but a kinda cheap Chinese, rattly, cast one. Seemed to work great from a tuning stability perspective, but definitely seems to have been a tone sucker...

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Re: NGD: Italia Modena Classic

Post by Sid Nitzerglobin » Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:09 pm

Had some of bits come in from Philadelphia Luthier Wednesdayday for this one and got it pretty much all put back together at the shop last night.

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I started off pulling one of the pieces of veneer I had shimming the neck pocket. Next was installing the 8mm to 4mm conversion posts (these seemed good quality w/ a nice weight and tight but smooth tolerances so I'll hang on to the ones coming from Faber for another day) and the Wilkinson roller bridge. Last and most time consuming, I removed the aged nickel cover on the bridge Antiquity and installed a chrome nickel silver cover for a better match aesthetically.

I wound up running out of time last night and didn't get around to intonating it yet, but I think splitting the difference on the neck angle w/ this bridge is an improvement w/ a bit slinkier feel, no reintroduction of dead/buzzy unwound strings so far, and a nice lively resonant feel up the neck.

The pickup cover was more of a pain than I was expecting but everything eventually fit securely and no harm was done in the process aside from melting the foot of a mini clamp w/ the soldering iron. This cover has a bit more square corners than the stock Wilkinson ones, but I think it looks a whole lot better than the vintage correct sized, aged one on this guitar.

I'm planning to rewire w/ good stuff when the knobs and switch tip get here from Rockinger, but otherwise I think my tinkering is complete and this is going to be a super fun guitar ;)

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