I can't believe I waited this long to upgrade a guitar

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ThomasTheWankEngine
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I can't believe I waited this long to upgrade a guitar

Post by ThomasTheWankEngine » Sun Mar 24, 2019 6:50 am

Well, not me, per se. I paid a local tech to do it because I'm about as facile with a soldering iron as Helen Keller.

For years I've had a MIM Fender Jaguar Blacktop that I obtained for a very good price but never fell in love with, largely because the twin-humbucker setup always sounded fairly dark and murky to me. Some of that could be cured with EQ, but that approach always felt like cheating. Then it developed it a nasty bit of fret sprout as it went through several seasonal humidity changes, so I played it even less.

Finally this month I bit the bullet: found a reputable local tech, bought a pair of replacement Seymour Duncan pickups (Jazz for the neck, JB for the bridge) and asked him to install those while doing the fretwork.

But wait, there's more: Duncan's website is a great resource for more esoteric wiring schematics, one of which shows how to add a pair of push-pull pots (one for the tone, one for the volume) that function respectively as coil splitters and a phase switch for the neck. What a night and day difference. I can lean out the sound, select a bit of quack, or go with a meatier humbucker tone.

I don't know why I waited this long. :doh:

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Astrolabe23
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Post by Astrolabe23 » Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:40 pm

Guitar upgrades and mods are just as huge of a rabbit hole as modular synths!

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Post by ThomasTheWankEngine » Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:50 pm

Yeah, I'm sort of realizing that now. There is a backlog of other guitars (a Gretsch semi-hollow, a Godin, and a Jag Professional) all of which need some TLC. They have me wondering where else I can go in terms of pickup changes.

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Post by sduck » Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:55 pm

I love love love that Jazz and JB combo - I've used it in many guitars, you can't go wrong with it.
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Post by cretaceousear » Sun Mar 24, 2019 7:00 pm

Salute to your username.. :hihi:

Not had the urge to mod a guitar apart from thinking of removing a high gain Bill Lawrence humbucker, but I just play another guitar instead.
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ThomasTheWankEngine
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Post by ThomasTheWankEngine » Sun Mar 24, 2019 7:34 pm

Thanks. :hihi:

I recall years ago seeing a design that had the Fender-style "swimming pool" rout, but it carried through all the way to the back, leaving a cutout in the guitar that allowed for mounting all manner of pickups from the back (retainer rings were offered as a way of accommodating the various sizes and configurations).

I guess it never caught on, which is a shame, because I'd love to treat a guitar like a modular and drop in new pickups via a plug'n'play system. Plus the cutout would remove a not insignificant amount of mass from the body.

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Post by commodorejohn » Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:11 pm

I started with this pretty much as soon as I started dabbling with stringed instruments because I started on the lower end of the price spectrum, picking up a Korean Jazz Bass clone with really solid build quality on pretty much everything but the electronics and swapping out the pickups for a set of Seymour Duncans. After that, when I started to dabble with guitar, I picked up a similarly inexpensive Tele clone from the same manufacturer and did it again, before swapping out the neck pickup for an old Harmony gold-foil that a fellow in my neighborhood had already mounted into an appropriate pickguard. Next up on the list is probably swapping out the blade switch in the Tele for a four-position series-wired version, since the cheapass stock switch is already starting to go...
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Post by sduck » Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:15 pm

The old Dan Armstrong original lucite guitars had a unique way of doing this - you could slide different pickups into the pickup slot, and they attached with some kind of bayonet jacks. When I was in high school one of my neighbors had one of these, and all the pickups - it was really impressive! Years later I ended up buying one of these guitars, but by then the extra pickups were no where to be found. The original ones were actually really nice guitars - played really well, and mostly sounded ok.
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Astrolabe23
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Post by Astrolabe23 » Mon Mar 25, 2019 2:21 am

I think there are several companies making modular pickup options like this now.

http://www.kaminstruments.com/plug%26play%20pickups.htm

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Post by ThomasTheWankEngine » Tue Mar 26, 2019 4:55 am

Oh that's fantastic. Thanks for the link. I never thought to actually research if it was a commercial product.

Funch

Post by Funch » Tue Mar 26, 2019 12:27 pm

I have 2 Roland gk3 internal kits (hex pickup,and preamp to 13 pin cable jack) waiting for an install. The hard part is deciding whether or not to cut into the two 1980s guitars.

I agree about that sinking money into modifying guitars can be endless cash spent. There's even a guitar pickup that has a vacuum tube in it, but unfortunately you have to buy their guitar to get their pickup.

https://ruokangas.com/specifications/valvebucker/

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:27 am

Funch wrote:I have 2 Roland gk3 internal kits (hex pickup,and preamp to 13 pin cable jack) waiting for an install. The hard part is deciding whether or not to cut into the two 1980s guitars.

I agree about that sinking money into modifying guitars can be endless cash spent. There's even a guitar pickup that has a vacuum tube in it, but unfortunately you have to buy their guitar to get their pickup.

https://ruokangas.com/specifications/valvebucker/
There are some guitar players (especially those within the ~worship players~ crew) that have more money invested in pedalboards than many modular synth systems.

In the end, it's all just "modular" ..... no matter it be synth modules or "guitar modules" (stomp boxes) ... it's all about modular systems.
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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:41 am

Funch wrote:I have 2 Roland gk3 internal kits (hex pickup,and preamp to 13 pin cable jack) waiting for an install. The hard part is deciding whether or not to cut into the two 1980s guitars.
In the end it's all just wood. A guitar is a tool, and the tool should serve it's master ... not the other way around.

This began life as a Tele. Today it's a heavily chopped alder unfinished/oiled body with padouk unfinished/oiled neck and macassar ebony fretboard. It now suits it's master.

Introducing The Shredbilly ....



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I cut/chopped this one to deal with a permanent neck injury (my neck, not the guitar's neck). Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounders on both ends as well as having coils taps on each pickup. All stainless hardware/screws/etc.., stainless frets and string trees as well as ferruls. Gotoh bridge, Planet Waves locking/self trimming tuners.

The coil taps on each pickup are engaged using "pop-up" volume/tone pots. "Pop-up" pots require only a little downward pressure on the top of the knob for it to pop-up to the opposing throw. No upward pull is needed to change the switch's state from normally open to normally closed, all that is needed is to push downward on the top of the knob and the switch "pops up" into the next sequential state (open or closed). This type of switch is very useful during live performances since all that needs to happen to change from full coil to half coil is to give the knob a good boink on the top and the desired change is produced.

It gets a solid oiling about two or three times per year since there is no finish on any of the wooden surfaces. I just use standard lemon scented furniture oil that I rub in by hand. The body is bare unfinished alder, the neck is a Tele neck in bare unfinished padouk with Strat headstock.

The wooden body of the electric guitar is nothing past an "interface", much the same manner that a controller/control panel of a synthesizer is a user interface with the musician and the electronics. There's nothing "magic" in either the shape or species of the wooden body of an electric guitar. There's no "mojo" going on with the shape or species of the electric guitar's body happening there. That said, make it work for you as the interface between the neck/fretboard and the musician. The body on the electric guitar should be shaped to provide the right amount of weight the player wants, the proper angle of the neck, how far away from the player's body should the neck be from the player's body, the angle up-ward of the neck, as well as how low the scale hangs on the player's body. As I said, the body becomes this ~interface~ that positions the guitar's neck properly. It also allows for making adjustments on the wrist angle and many other minor tweekies.

The wooden electric guitar body is the space-frame (that "framework in space") that attaches the guitar neck to the human.

:tu:
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Funch

Post by Funch » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:28 am

Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Funch wrote:I have 2 Roland gk3 internal kits (hex pickup,and preamp to 13 pin cable jack) waiting for an install. The hard part is deciding whether or not to cut into the two 1980s guitars.

I agree about that sinking money into modifying guitars can be endless cash spent. There's even a guitar pickup that has a vacuum tube in it, but unfortunately you have to buy their guitar to get their pickup.

https://ruokangas.com/specifications/valvebucker/
There are some guitar players (especially those within the ~worship players~ crew) that have more money invested in pedalboards than many modular synth systems.

In the end, it's all just "modular" ..... no matter it be synth modules or "guitar modules" (stomp boxes) ... it's all about modular systems.
agree, guitar pedals are modular with the guitar string being the oscillator.

Also agree that guitars are tools however some have resale value that is diminished with alterations such as drilling top holes to route
the hex pickup wiring and additional switchs. That's why I'm on the fence.

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joeTron
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Post by joeTron » Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:45 pm

I have a Japanese strat I bought back in the nineties. I loved the neck and the feel of it. I put hotter pups, stripped the black paint and made it natural.
I probably couldn’t get more than 3-4 hundred bucks for it but who cares, it’s worth a whole more to me.

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:14 pm

joeTron wrote: it’s worth a whole more to me.
A whole more! Well I'll be damned!

I've seen many half mores, and quarter mores ... but in all my life I've never known of anyone that had a whole more! Let alone anyone that was willing to spend a whole more for something someone wanted a whole more for!

You really adore that thing! I mean, it's worth a whole more to ya! Good for you!









:mrgreen:
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Post by joeTron » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:34 pm

Such incredible energy and inspiration generated just by leaving out a tiny 3 letter word by accident. Glad I could help.

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:05 pm

joeTron wrote:Such incredible energy and inspiration generated just by leaving out a tiny 3 letter word by accident. Glad I could help.
Oh come on ... get over yourself .... I was just kidding around.

Jimminy Christmas ... :roll:

#senseofhumor .. not.

:lol: :lol:
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Post by BailyDread » Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:07 pm

i have a highway one telecaster, oriignally with the matte black nitrocellulose lacquer (that I had forgotten about)...


i stripped and tried to repaint it because I wanted a guitar with a nice lacquer finish. total botched job and now it looks like it was dragged behind a tractor trailer. still plays great tho :cloud:

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Post by cretaceousear » Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:29 pm

BailyDread wrote:now it looks like it was dragged behind a tractor trailer
People pay good money for that - rural relicing!
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Post by 1986Bowler » Sat Nov 30, 2019 12:51 am

I've been upgrading for a loooong time.
First guitar was a 3/4 acoustic that somebody bought my sister, she abandoned it and I used it for my first band. It had no pickup, so I made one out of one side of a pair of headphones, and ran a cable to a mixer. It actually worked- I still have recordings of it.

When I finally got a MIK Epiphone LP, I wondered why the sound sucked. I thought I'd remove the covers to open up the sound. I couldn't, because they'd embedded the pickup in wax- so much wax that I wasn't sure there was a pickup in there. I ended up replacing it with a Seymour Duncan and an old Dirty Fingers pickup I got from a guy at Steve's Music.

And now with Guitar Fetish selling pickups at amazing prices, it's hard not to want to try all sorts of things.

Rabbit hole indeed.

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Re: I can't believe I waited this long to upgrade a guitar

Post by shaft9000 » Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:41 pm

The pickup(s) make a huge difference in the resultant sound, and can determine more than anything else how the amp input reacts.

Other aspects of the guitar that can make quite a noticeable difference:

1) Setup of the bridge height, saddle scale per-string and saddle-radius in relation to neck-bow. This is not just about low or high action, but also intonation, and getting it to play lovelier while reducing fatigue :)
2) Freedom from nut and bridge saddle friction. Movement of the strings on/through these two nodes are critical for staying in tune.
3) overall Pickup height and pole-height adjustment - many people go through pup after pup - many not even realizing that you can change the response and balance of the pups you already own. Apart from the cheapies, a manufacturer will usually install certain pups for a good reason - so give them half a chance first before throwing them under the bus. I've had about 15 guitars and have only been so tempted to changed a pickup in two of them.
4) Strings: the gauge, AND the material (nickel vs steel vs coated etc), AND the wind. Roundwound = brighter and will 'squeak', Flatwound = mellow highs and little-to-no squeak - which can be critical in some recording situations.
5) Electronics Cavity - the capacitors and potentiometers (i.e. variable resistor) are filters....it's good to know that pots can vary 250K vs 500K and linear vs log. taper etc. Capacitors...ask an EE. Some say that the ferad&voltage values are all that matters, other nerds swear by 'tantalum' or 'oil in paper'(not kidding) elements inside the cap. I can say that my two Les Pauls sound 'different' but I am not sure how much the ceramic cap in the Studio makes it 'sound worse' than the Standard's orange-drop caps. The Standard's tone roll-off is a lot smoother due to the pot's taper, but I don't know what (if any) difference the cap makes.
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Re:

Post by deke » Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:40 pm

Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:27 am
Funch wrote:I have 2 Roland gk3 internal kits (hex pickup,and preamp to 13 pin cable jack) waiting for an install. The hard part is deciding whether or not to cut into the two 1980s guitars.

I agree about that sinking money into modifying guitars can be endless cash spent. There's even a guitar pickup that has a vacuum tube in it, but unfortunately you have to buy their guitar to get their pickup.

https://ruokangas.com/specifications/valvebucker/
There are some guitar players (especially those within the ~worship players~ crew) that have more money invested in pedalboards than many modular synth systems.

In the end, it's all just "modular" ..... no matter it be synth modules or "guitar modules" (stomp boxes) ... it's all about modular systems.
Uh oh, what if you have both?

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Re: I can't believe I waited this long to upgrade a guitar

Post by p.j. » Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:10 am

My black Parker Nitefly has had a wonky pickup switch for years now. Someday I will replace it. Until then, I just fiddle with it until it works.

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