Re: Dillob Guitars
Man, am I the right guy to answer this question! I bought a Dillion DR1500QT (QT = Quilt top with tremelo) about 5 months ago with the same intentions as you -- just a fun PRS-style project to replace pickups and hardware for a workhorse guitar.
I did a fair amount of research on all the various PRS knockoffs that are around. I checked out 8-10 different companies, and eventually decided on either a Dillion or a Tokai. The Agiles and a few others get a lot of bad to mediocre reviews and seem to have some quality control issues. There's lots of speculation on the web that a number of these brands are all built in the same factories, and I wouldn't doubt it. The DR1500 is a step up from the DR500 and rumor has it that the quality is considerably better. BUT -- part of the upgrade is for the better hardware and pickups, so if you're swapping them all out, maybe it's not worth the extra loot.
Anyway, I have been very pleased with the guitar overall. It's very solidly built and the neck feels great. There were some minor finish flaws, particularly some paint ripples in one spot on the lower horn. Nothing drastic. I also had chronic tuning problems despite lots of string stretching, setup work, and use of Big Bend Nut Sauce (magic stuff) on the nut and trem. I actually wasn't too concerned about that, because, like you, the plan all along was to swap out the trem and tuners. Ah, but there's the rub -- what to swap it with? Unfortunately, the stud spacing is very non-standard. After a lot of research, the only trem I came up with that would swap is a Mighty Mite "Full Action II" trem (MM1116). Who knows if that's actually an "upgrade" -- I have no prior experience with Mighty Mite parts. When I removed the stock trem, I discovered the probable source of the tuning problem: one of the knife edges had a big gouge -- not something that could be easily filed out. It seems to just be cheap metal. The MM trem is now on the guitar, but I'm waiting on a set of Planet Waves tuners to string it all up. I also checked all the locking tuner specs to determine what would fit (Grover, Sperzel, or PW) and concluded the PW would be closest. By the way, if you go with the DR500, be aware that some (or all) of the trems on those were routed into the top of the guitar which could make a swap even trickier.
I'm also putting in a Tone Zone and PAF Pro. I'll post again after I finish up this work -- should be in a week or so. But in summary, I'm glad I got this Dillion -- it fills a niche in my guitar lineup (24 fret, mahogany PRS style), and it's been a fun project so far.