If you've looked at my gear
page, you'll notice that I'm a fan of Gibson and Fender guitars. My
mods pages are broken out into 3 categories: Fender, Gibson, and
Miscellaneous. On this page are the Miscellaneous mods, a vendor list of
sites I buy from and some basic
Misc Mods (below)
Know that many of these mods
will void the warranty on a new guitar, assuming that you're not an
authorized service technician for your particular brand of guitar.
That being said, let's say that you've got a new guitar and you're
thinking of modding it. Look up the details of their warranty
agreement to see if what you want to do would be covered anyway. In
my experience, the electronics are only warranted for a certain amount of
time anyway. After reading the agreement from both major guitar
brands, I've never felt that I was giving up something particularly
valuable by modding, especially related to electronics.
Learn some basics about
electronics, wiring, and soldering before you try to do any of this stuff.
You don't have to be an electrical engineer or anything to do these mods,
but you should know a little bit about the basics like what resistors do
and what "series" vs. "parallel" means.
Some other basic information:
Electrical current always looks to flow to ground and a "short" or a
"short circuit" means that the current found a way to ground before it was
supposed to. So whatever was supposed to have the current flow
through it on the way to ground now doesn't get any. Conversely, an
"open" means that the current's path to ground has been broken.
Current will not flow if there's no way for it to get to ground.
A couple of great sources for
information on this kind of stuff are:
Get a multi-meter. I
got a fairly cheap one from Sears for around $20 or so. Once you
understand electrical basics, it'll be one of the handiest tools in your
guitar modding toolbox. Also, once you've got your multi going, get
some wire and and alligator clips make yourself some alligator cables.
These are handy for trying different components in a solderless manner to
figure out what you want to use, i.e. cap or resistor values, different
Make your own "no load" tone pot:
folks (like Fender) will tell you that a tone pot can still "darken" your
tone a bit even when it's on 10. Basically the resistance isn't
exactly zero so some of the current still wants to sneak out to ground
through here. In order to stop this "leak", you need to interrupt the
current's path to ground by creating an "open". You're going to open
the pot scrape away some of the resistance track that the wiper travels on.
On a typical pot (like a CTS) there will
be tabs on the top that you can bend open with a pocket knife and/or a pair
of needle nose pliers. Take the pot apart and you'll find the black
carbon track that provides the pot its resistance and characteristics.
Once you've looked at the inside and seen
how it works, just stack the parts back together in your hands so that you
can see which side of the track the wiper's on when the pot is on 10.
Once you've figured that out, take it back
apart and lay the track down with the element up. Take your pocket
knife and scrape away the black carbon stuff where the wiper touches on 10.
Some folks have also just coated the area with nail polish to keep the wiper
off the track.
Once you've done this, put it all back
together and bend your tabs back in place to hold it all together.
Vox True Bypass Mod: I
found a mod way back when so that a guy can mod his Vox V847 wah pedal to
use a new switch and wire for true bypass. For those who don't know
what this means, it means that when the pedal is off, the tone goes "around"
the circuit rather than through it. The idea is that is preserves your
true tone when your not using it and is transparent. Thus "true bypass".....
Here is Fulltone's drawing
on how to do this. They recommend using a Carling 316PP switch.
This was one of my first mods and it's no too difficult.
Phase Reversal with a DPDT Switch: There are two ways to
get "out of phase" tone out of your guitar. Basically, the phase is
determined by the relationship between the polarity of the magnet with
respect to the direction of the current running through the pickup's coil.
Note that switching one of these factors on a pickup by itself won't change
the tone. But if you've got two pickups on at the same time and their
phase is opposite of each other, the infamous "out of phase" tone results.
So back to business. To
do this, you can reverse the magnet's polarity by taking the pickup apart
like in the Peter Green Mod
for a Les Paul. Or you can use a DPDT switch to reverse the current.
Here's a drawing on how to do that to one pickup. The "hot" output on
the lower left should go wherever it would normally, and the same is true
for the ground wire. Also note that the layout of this switch wiring
is so that with the pot shaft down, the polarity would be normal, and out of
phase with the pot shaft up.
Here are some forum posts that I popped up during and after I did my first
I got all this stuff yesterday.
I just got a stainless steel canister for the outside pot from W-M's
housewares section. I got a blue "enamal" coffee mug from the camping
section. I got the small one. A HB fits down in there, but not totally flat
against the bottom b/c the tabs are too wide. Oh well, it'll submerge OK. I
cut the handle off the mug with a dremel and made a little holding rig
around the outside of the mug with a bent-up wire lawn flag (ya know the
safety orange ones?) to hang over the canister ledge.
And I bought a hot plate for $8 since our stove is gas. No wax at this W-M
so I went to another grocery store for paraffin and to Micheal's craft world
for beeswax from the candle making section. Oh yeah and a candy thermometer
from the grocery store. I've got everything now, probably going to do it
Wed. night. Wish me luck! Thanks for your help guys.
So I did the potting and I've
got my HB's back in my Lester. I did 4 HB's and it took about 4-5 hours
including the time to build my double boiler and remove and reinstall my
pickups. This was probably also long because the Lester is setup for Jimmy
Page pots. It takes a while.
Anyway, here are my observations:
When you fill the outside
canister, make sure you account for the displacement of the wax cup. Don't
fill too full.
I had a hard time finding wax
and the exact items that were mentioned. I improvised and I bought a
canister and enamel coffee cup that were too small for the pickup to sit
flat in. Didn't matter, it worked like a charm even at an angle, but just a
Like most mods, don't be in a
hurry. It probably took me an hour to get the wax melted and the temperature
dialed in. I shot for about 150 degrees F the whole time. This is what
Stew-Mac's article and the guitarnuts article both said.
When you start, cut your wax
into small pieces. They'll melt faster than putting a brick in. I had to
turn my hot plate (since I've got a gas stove) on high to get the wax to
melt relatively fast and then had to cut it back below half to maintain the
Everyone talks about removing
the bubbles. The only time I really saw bubbles was when I immersed the
I soaked each pickup that I did
about 15 minutes moving the pup every 5 or so.
When I pulled the pup's out, I
used an old bath towel to wipe them off and kept the visible side of the pup
down while they cooled so the wax wouldn't run out the back. Keep wiping
them down every couple minutes because it's obviously easier to do it when
the wax is liquid.
I used paraffin from a grocery
store and white beeswax pellets from the candle making section of a
Micheal's Craft store. It's a guess but I was probably about 80/20 paraffin
It wasn't a fast mod, but it
worked. No microphonics now. I guess it's just one of those things. I've
done it now and it was work, but now that I've got the "equipment" and the
know-how, I could do it again and it probably wouldn't be a big deal.
These instructions helped me a
GuitarNuts.com Potting Instructions