Customers come in to the shop all the time asking me, “What Guitar mods can I get to make my guitar sound better?” Many people don’t realize that modern guitars are all about interchangeable parts. Don’t like the tone? Change the pickups. Want more complex settings to choose from? Look into modifying your wiring. Want it to stay in tune better and tune more accurately? Look into some new tuning machines. Interested in trying a fresh new look? A new pickguard, knobs, pickup covers, or other options might be right for you. Here is a quick guide to finding exciting new parts to make your guitar sing.
One of the most profound changes to your tone that can be made is dropping in a new set up pickups. No matter what tone you are looking for you’ll find it if you search. To start your search, check out Seymour Duncan. Seymour Duncan is the guitar player’s household name for pickups, and for good reason. Seymour Duncan manufactures anything from silky vintage Stratocaster tones to hot active pickups for the heavy metal player. Another great choice for classic Fender tones would be going straight to the source. Many players don’t realize that Fender sells after-market parts and pickups. Any manufacturer will have sound samples posted on their website, so go take a listen, choose your favorites, and check out their website to find a local authorized dealer. Another option would be heading down to your local authorized dealer, and ask what they think would be a great pickup for you.
Murphy’s Guitars carries Fender, Seymour Duncan, Dimarzio, and others.
If you’re looking to make your instrument more versatile, possibly you have a guitar with space for two humbucking pickups, and would like to get some single coil tones. Buying a new guitar with single coil pickups is one option, but for the player looking to save some dough, you may want to drop in some new pickups, electronic parts, and have them modified so that you can split the humbuckers using a push/pull pot. There is nearly no limit to what can be done to change your tones via modifying the wiring, you can wire pickups in series or parallel, you can play with phasing, you could even add a kill switch that cuts signal to the amplifier. For some ideas on modifying your electronics check with Murphy’s Guitars or your local guitar repair shop.
One of the easiest mods that nearly any player can do is switching out cosmetic pieces to give the guitar a fresh new look. Maybe you want to try some new chrome knobs with abalone inlay on the top to make the guitar more unique. Maybe you want to make your axe stand out in a crowd by adding a new celluloid pickguard, maybe you want to try a fresh new look with some chrome, black, or even wood grain looking pickup covers. Go to your local shop and see what they have in stock. If you don’t like what is in stock, have them show you a catalogue from their supplier. The parts that they likely keep in stock are just a drop in a vast ocean of parts available to them. Most shops will be happy to order parts in for you, and if you don’t feel comfortable changing the parts out, most shops would be happy to do the work.
Some mods may contribute to the look of your guitar, but are actually serving a vital purpose. If your guitar is constantly falling out of the holes in your strap it may be time to consider getting a set of strap locks. If your guitar is constantly falling out of tune, or your tuning isn’t as accurate as you would like it to be, try looking into a set of locking tuners, or tuning machines with a better gear ratio. Some guitars would function better with a new bridge, some could use some new string trees, and some guitars might even benefit from a new neck or body. Contact Murphy’s Guitars or your local shop if you believe your guitar isn’t performing as well as it could.
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