It happens more than once that we own a solidly made good-sounding and comfortable instrument, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a guitar from the lower, medium, or high price range, the important thing is that this particular one suits us and we know that it will serve us for many more years and we want it to sound even better.
We’ll devote this post to a topic related to guitar upgrades mainly for electric guitars, but some improvements can also be applied to acoustic and classical guitars.
So what is subject to modification in a guitar, what can be modified and upgraded in a guitar, and is it worth it to modify? In this post, we will answer such questions.
Already at the outset, we will write a concrete answer YES as much as possible it is worth modifying any guitar, especially an electric guitar.
We always recommend to every guitarist, the one starting his adventure with the guitar as well as to the more advanced one, all kinds of modifications and improvements to his instrument.
Why modify the guitar
Almost always when choosing and buying an instrument, we pay attention to the brand and manufacturer, the wood from which it is made, what kind of neck it has, and whether it is comfortable for us is a good approach to the subject and I have nothing to reproach them.
We are also guided by tonal and visual issues, after all, we don’t want to play a guitar whose very shape we don’t like or won’t match the style of playing we want to play – let’s say that a Fender Stratocaster for metal is like, for example, a Jackson V for Jazz.
And while it’s true that a skilled musician will play any musical genre on any guitar, I guess playing Jazz on a V guitar doesn’t go together very well…
We often forget, however, that a guitar is built from many different smaller and larger components that can be successfully replaced and improved over time, and even influence or correct the sound of the guitar itself according to your preferences.
We recommend modifying almost any guitar and I think it is worth doing, if only for the sake of learning, sound testing, and satisfaction. There are many nice guitars in the price range up to, say, $1,000, which, after modifying a few elements, are capable of sounding strong and professional.
Modifications are made primarily in instruments that we want to stay with for a long time, so it’s worth investing in better quality components to make the paddle sound even better and make it more comfortable for us to play.
What is subject to modification in guitars
The following parts of the guitar are subject to replacement and all kinds of modifications:
If you bought a guitar in which there are poor quality keys and the tuning does not hold well, then without any worries, you can always buy better quality keys and replace them, and the ones you have dismantled can be sold, even though it would only pay back 1/4 of the money spent on the new ones, but it’s always something.
When choosing new keys it is worth paying attention to locking keys, I wrote about this type of keys in this article – locking keys.
Remember that a set of keys should fit your guitar – the type of keys and the diameter of the holes on the headstock of the guitar, often the diameter of the hole is 10 mm but not always, so it is worth measuring this before buying new keys.
Here the fun is a little more due to the multitude of possibilities and types of pickups. If, for example, you don’t like the bridge pickup because it’s too weak, or its sound characteristics don’t suit you, it’s worth looking for a stronger one with a different resistance and a different magnet.
With pickups, to find the right one for a particular guitar, you need to test a lot of them, but still, it is worth doing it just to gain valuable knowledge about their sound, and maybe you will find the one that suits you perfectly.
With pickups, you have to go by “ear” because each pickup will sound completely different on each guitar.
If you have a pickup in mind, it is worth checking on the Internet whether someone has already used such a pickup in the guitar you want to put it in.
As for the pickups, the frames themselves, which are located around them, can also be modified and replaced, there are different types of frames, personally, I recommend steel or aluminum frames because they are durable and do not break like those made of plastic.
If you bought a guitar with a plastic saddle it is worth replacing it with a saddle made of graphite or ivory, for example, or even brass.
Replacing the saddle always has a positive effect on the sound, and the cost is small, so it is worth thinking about.
You can also make the saddle yourself from a suitable material, but it requires a bit of skill and work, it’s worth trying because it’s a nice satisfying job.
This applies mostly to guitars with Floyd Rose-type bridges, it often happens that the screws pressing the lock to the strings get worked out or the thread simply breaks.
The locks themselves, as well as the entire saddle, can be successfully replaced, and although such a lock is not cheap it is worth buying such a good quality one, the expense of one and the problem disappears for many years.
Cheaper locks, unfortunately, are made of poor-quality steel and the problem recurs, the thread is often worn out and grooves form in the steel under the strings, which can cause problems with the menzura.
This applies to Tremolo and Floyd Rose bridges, good quality springs with these types of bridges are a must. Over time, springs stretch and lose their characteristics, which translates into the guitar becoming out of tune and not holding the tuning.
Here I also recommend quality, there are springs flooded gently with rubber that eliminate the sound to make the guitar play more out of tune. There are springs covered with a special coating – usually red or black, so it is worth replacing them with such springs, which also eliminate feedback.
If they start to crackle, it is a sign that they need to be replaced, here I also recommend looking around for good brand potentiometers, they can be logarithmic because their life is much longer, and the comfort of “turning” smoother and more pleasant.
Here it is also worth mentioning that the potentiometer caps themselves (knobs or caps) are also subject to replacement.
It often happens that guitarists replace this part for convenience as well as appearance. The variety of this gadget knows no bounds, everyone will find something for themselves.
- Switch – with the switch is sometimes different, if someone uses a playing technique that requires frequent switching of pickups, then after some time such a switch will grow out, so here you can also think about good quality and thus the convenience of quick switching.
- Socket – a faulty or non-contacting and interrupting socket is the bane of many guitarists, so it is worth investing once and for all in a good quality socket and having the problem solved for many years.
- Strap attachment, here you can just bet on the convenience of attaching a strap and invest in so-called strap locks. But it is not so necessary. Straplocks can be made yourself at home.
- Masking plate (picguard) This part is also interchangeable and willingly modified by guitarists, this applies mainly to guitars like Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster.
The multitude of types, colors, and shapes is very large, everyone will fit something into his instrument.
After such a modification, our guitar will not only be refreshed but also with a new sound. Sometimes it’s worth buying a guitar for good wood and a comfortable neck and later investing in modification to have a good and original instrument in the end.
It’s also worth doing such modifications to gain valuable knowledge because until we put a pickup into our guitar we won’t know how it will sound in that guitar.
Remember also that modification is fun and the search for that original sound of yours.