Many guitars can be dramatically improved by swapping out a few components. You will be amazed how big of a difference in terms of sound bone nuts and graphite saddles make.
Here at GUITAR GARAGE LONDON we are always excited about new challenging wiring mods pushing the experimental boundaries. In the last several years we have built special wiring for our GGL Custom guitars as well as modded over 400 instruments.
Small things can make a huge difference.
To get a quote on any service, please drop us a line with a description of the project to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are the most popular mods we do:
Majority of Squier guitars as well as some Fender Japan and some Fender Mexico come with bland-sounding ceramic pickups. Swapping these with a handwound models can vastly improve the tonal response and the overall sound of your guitar. The choice of brands and styles is huge - so lets get exploring!
Many guitars use cheap plastic nuts that kill the tone and resonance. Bone nut increases the vibration transmission and opens up the low end. These need to be cut very precisely to avoid any rattling in the string slot. Intonation on the first 3 frets is greatly affected by the height of the nut.
Compensated nut for perfect intonation
These unique nuts by Earvana in USA are not only made of graphite so they don't need any lubrication, but they also have compensation for every string. This means that with a good quality installation process you can strive to achieve perfect intonation across the whole fretboard, which is otherwise simply impossible. We've been using these nuts on all our personal touring guitars - and we are addicted. All the chords suddenly ring out nicely, because of all the frequencies are aligned. That 3rd string on the first 3 frets is not sharp anymore! Word of caution though - when you get to experience the full effect of an Earvana nut you would want those nuts on every single guitar you own. Have a look at www.earvana.com for all the math and science. P.S. We are not affiliated with Earvana, we just have plenty of positive experience with these.
Saddles can make a big difference when it comes to tone and high end response. Usually made from cheap alloy, the ones used on low end models tend to sound dead. If your vintage-style Telecaster with 3 barrel saddles is too nasal and shrill, try to get brass ones, these tend to provide a fuller mellower sound, some of them also have compensation, which allows for better intonation.
We have a lot of personal experience with these, as they are used extensively on our touring guitars. These saddles (Graphtech Stringsavers) manage to solve two main problems, that occur with any guitar. Being made of graphite they eliminate friction and dramatically reduce string breakage - we haven't broken a string in years! Seriously! Second main feature is the very even frequency response, that brings out the best of your guitar wood, eliminating harsh mid-spikes, cause by steel alloy saddles. Usually available for Stratocasters, Telecasters, Jazzmaster/Mustang/Jaguar, Gibson Les Paul/335 and certain PRS models. P.S. We are not affiliated with Graphtech, we just love the products. P.S.S Graphtech also produces frictionless string trees to further improve tuning stability. Have a look at www.graphtech.com
Tremolo block swap
Stainless steel or brass tremolo block for Stratocasters and similar guitars make a huge difference when it comes to sustain and body resonance. Make sure you know all the string spacing measurements and mounting layout.
Old vintage-style tuners tend to become lose over the years and cannot hold the tuning anymore. Thankfully, in most cases it is an easy task. We tend to use Kluson tuners for vintage-style guitars and Schaller or Gotoh for any other guitars. Thanks to previous experience we know what brands and styles to avoid. Locking tuners can be a nice upgrade, increasing the rigidity of the string contact and reducing friction at the tuner.
This procedure creates a so called "Faraday Cage" inside your guitar, shielding all the electronics from outer interference, caused by dimmers, neon and led lights and any kind of transformers, LCD screens and etc. Most of guitars don't have their cavities shielded from the factory. We use highest quality copper foil and make sure there is no chance of any pots shorting out on it. Result - the guitar is dead quiet, reliable and ready for both studio work and touring.
Pots and switches wear out on a daily basis. But according to Murphy's Law they will most probably fail during your best solo at this incredible sold out event. We have a lot of experience with different components and manufacturers and can source the best quality materials for this job. We usually use CTS USA pots, Switchcraft USA output jacks, CRL switches and vintage-style 0.42 AWG cloth wiring. No-Load pots make a nice difference with higher quality pickups - at 10 these pots are eliminated from the circuit, allowing the pickup to work the magic.
Capacitor swap and Treble Bleed kit
Only useful if you use your Tone knob. Capacitors affect the treble roll-off sound and can give you a new dimension of tonal variation. We are big fans of the mellow silky sounds of Vitamin Q caps, as well as vintage Mullard Tropical Fish and Mustard caps. We have several contacts in USA for some really rare vintage new-old-stock capacitors. Treble Bleed kit is useful for those of you, who use Volume knob to clean up the sound. Capacitor with a resistor is wired to the Volume pot and keeps the tone unchanged when you roll down the volume.
The most common Telecaster mod we do. If you have two single-coil pickups in any guitar, when activated together they are most probably wired in parallel. This provides a slight volume drop as well as a mid-frequency scoop - clean a crispy sound of the Tele in position 2 and Strat in position 2 and 4. Adding a 4-way switch instead of a 3-way to a Telecaster and rewiring the circuit can provide you with a new sound - neck+bridge pickups in series - basically like one big humbucker. More output, thicker gnarlier sound! This can be done to any single-coil guitar. We would usually use a push-pull knob if this mod was done on a Strat.
The most common Stratocaster mod we do. Requires swapping the Tone2 for a special Blender pot, which will gradually add bridge pickup to the neck or neck+middle in positons 1 and 2 and neck pickup to the bridge or bridge+middle in positions 4 and 5. Broadens up the palette, allowing just a small dose of sparkly bridge pickup with the darker neck (Telecaster sound on a Stratocaster).
The echo of the internal springs on a Stratocaster is something we are all so used to. But have you ever heard a Strat with silent springs? Who needs all that ringing, right?
Have you ever tried a Stratocaster with an S1 switch? Instead of 5 usual sounds you suddenly have 10! Out-of-phase, series/parallel, neck+bridge, killswitch and etc - anything is possible. Let us know what do you have in mind.