5 Simple Lockdown Guitar Mods


Danny Yacomini

Day 53 of Lockdown:
If you’re reading this, then it's likely I have finally gone mad. It's been seven weeks since I last saw the sky, and I fear the worst. My significant other’s usual bouts of affection have turned into cold resentment, and I suspect she can now hear my thoughts. The only glimmer of hope in my day is ripping some classic riffs at obscene volumes. Well, that and watching The Chase (if you take the minus offer you are a coward!). If this is the last you ever hear from me please alert the authorities, my wife has a murderous look in her eyes.

Anyway... With us all spending more time than ever playing our guitars, it's only natural to notice a few little "issues" with your go-to instrument. In this article we are going to address these issues by talking about a few easy mods that you can apply to your guitar from the comfort of your own home.

Try New Strings!
This is by far the easiest and cheapest mod to any guitar. You will be shocked by how huge a difference even changing the brand of strings can make to the sound of a guitar.

Is your guitar not feeling quite right? Why not try a different gauge of string? This can totally change the way your guitar feels to play. Want more tension? Simply go up a gauge! Want less tension? You guessed it, go down a gauge.

Why not experiment, it's not like you have anything better to do now that you’ve finished the latest episode of The Last Dance.

Incidentally, we have recently re-enabled the Royal Mail shipping option on our store so you can pick up your replacement strings and pay less for delivery!

New Machine Heads
One thing that always lets down more affordable guitars is the hardware, most notably the machine heads, which can often feel unresponsive and flimsy. My go-to for an upgrade is always Grover or Schaller - a fresh and shiny set of tuners can really make a big difference to your guitar. Not only will the gear ratio be vastly improved giving you a smoother tuning experience, it can also help with tuning stability. It’s also a pretty straightforward mod to do, even if you’re not particularly handy.

Make sure you get like for like replacements (unless you want to start drilling holes in your pride and joy), but as long as you do this all you’ll need is a trusty philips screwdriver and something to undo a bolt; spanner, socket set, monkey wrench, pliers… I managed it with a pair of butter knives once, not advisable but it did work. If you want to make restringing a breeze, why not try a set of locking machine heads?

Change Your Pick-Ups
This is the most dramatic mod on this list and will have the biggest impact on your tone, but before you commit to a new set of pick-ups do your research! What do the guitarists you love use? What’s missing from your current tone, and how would you compensate for it? Are your current pick-ups lacking punch? Look for a set with a higher output. This will give you a more aggressive sound with more attack. Need more definition? Look for a set with more upper mids and clarity in the high frequencies. This will result in a brighter, more articulate sound.

Obviously, if you are looking to do this mod at home* you will need some basic soldering skills. There are plenty of great youtube tutorials out there, just make sure you take your time... and don't touch the burny end.

*On a serious note though, do this somewhere well ventilated. Solder is fairly nasty stuff and you don’t want to be breathing it in.

While you have the pick-ups out of the guitar, you might as well try and get rid of some of that unwanted hum. Shielding the pick-up cavities and the underside of your pickguard with either copper foil, shielding tape (be careful with this, it can be a bit 'finger slicey') or specialized shielding paint can really help you rid your tone of that pesky buzz. It's easy enough to do, and pretty inexpensive. Why not give it a go?

Changed Your Bridge Saddles
The last mod on this list can help with reducing string breakages, enhanced sustain, and even improve your overall tone. All you need to do is upgrade your bridge saddles. The most common upgrade is to go for a set of graphtech "string-saver" saddles. As the name suggests, these self-lubricating saddles will drastically reduce your string breakages, and can also positively affect the guitar’s tone.

If breaking strings isn't an issue for you, then maybe take a trip back to the '70s and go for a set of brass saddles. This will result in a much more pronounced mid-range punch and increased sustain.

This can be a fiddly, as you will be trying to hold springs, bolts and saddles in place while operating a screwdriver, but once again there are thousands of how-to videos on the web and all you need is a screwdriver and teenie tiny allen key (or hex key if you’re that way inclined).

So there are five relatively simple guitar mods you can try while you are stuck in the house with nothing better to do! Take your time, do your homework and try not to injure yourself… or your guitar.

Anyway, better get back to that wall I was staring at.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes J...
Posted in News Features By

Danny Yacomini


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