Do You Upgrade/Mod Your Guitars?

Do you upgrade/mod your guitars?

  • No I leave my guitars stock.

    Votes: 18 15.3%
  • Yes I upgrade all my guitars.

    Votes: 28 23.7%
  • I do with some guitars, others I leave stock.

    Votes: 72 61.0%

  • Total voters
    118

Dave Makowski

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I used to mod my guitars a lot back in the 1980's. I had a 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom "Vintage White" which had a twisted neck but not enough that the guitar couldn't be played. The original owner changed the Kluson Waffle Back Tuning Machines for Grovers. Believe it or not I had my Luthier "shave" the back of the neck down to the bare wood and treat it with a hand rubbed oil to prevent rotting. I did that out of necessity. The paint on the back of the neck would get kind of sticky playing for like 3 hours straight. I kept a bottle of Gibson guitar polish and polish cloth next to my amp so I could wipe it down between songs. The shaved neck made playing so much easier. BTW, I have noticed over the last 20 years or so that a lot of professional guitarists do this exact same mod to the back of the neck. I replaced the ABR-1 Bridge and the Aluminum Tail piece with "brand new" 'genuine" Gibson ABR-1 Bridge and a "genuine" Gibson "Zinc" Tailpiece which I thought would give the guitar more sustain. I swapped out the "T-Top's" for an EMG 81 in the bridge position and an EMG 85 in the neck position. Back in those days I found the EMG 81 at my local music store but I had to search all the other music stores in my area to find the EMG 85. This was due to being a very young guitar player in an all original heavy metal band. The EMG's really made that guitar smoking hot. The other guitarist and I played through Marshall Full Stacks to give you some idea of my rig at that time. I only used an "Arion" Stage Tuner Pedal and a Jim Dunlop GCB-95 Cry Baby Wah Wah Pedal straight into the front of my Marshall. That was how simple my rig was. Maturely, I did have the sense to bag and tag all the original parts. The only damage was to the Neck Pickup's Tone Control or Potentiometer. When I removed the "Witch Hat Tone Knob" the post came out with it. I was kind of heart broken over that. Sometime in the 1990's I started being much more selective about adding mods. Now I only "UPGRADE" if I deem a part or pickup inferior. I also like to keep my axes 100% factory if everything works and sounds great. Instead of swapping pickup's I have been sending them to Lindy for a re-wind. I mean the pickup's may not have the tone I'm hoping for but the ingredient's are already there. A good re-wind and wax potting is something I am willing to do. The one thing I like to do with my Gibson Les Paul's and SG's is swap out the Nashville "Tune-O-Mattic" Bridge for a "genuine" Gibson ABR-1 Bridge using conversion posts I buy from Philadelphia Luthier Tool & Supply, Co.. I just like the ABR-1 Bridge much better. I can't say that in a "blind" playing test I would notice the difference in tone however I just believe the ABR-1's are a better bridge. I have my eye on two Gibson SG's right now. The first is a 2018 Gibson SG Standard T Ebony with the 61N & 61T Humbuckers which sound pretty good. The other is a 2018 Gibson "Gary Clark Jr." SG Standard with an ABR-1 Bridge, Aluminum Tailpiece, and (3) Gibson P90's. These Gibson's are "On Clearance" at my local guitar shop. The Black SG is listed at $1,099.00 with HSC. The "Gary Clark Jr." SG is listed at $1,199.00 with HSC. I'm trying to decide which one I want? I bring this up because which ever one I choose will be left 100% factory stock.
 

GitFiddle

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I play at pretty low volumes at home and a fully stock LP sounds just fine. When I start gigging with a full band at stage volumes, then differences will show up. The biggest improvment I have found is changing to 50s wiring. For me, that makes all the difference when riding the volume (and tone) with a full band.

What surprises me the most is the number of people that immediately replace the tuners on most any guitar they get. Most of the time it's to solve a tuning issue which is usually the nut slot and not the tuner. The only time I have ever replaced a tuner is when one or more were actually broken or not reliable. I have a 65 Silvertone 1446 with the original tuners. The thing still stays in perfect tune and is a very giggable guitar. One of the tuner knobs is actually slightly bent (from my teenage years) but still works just fine.
 

guitaroholic

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I just finished crowning and polishing frets on my new SG Special. To me, Gibson's PLEK is a little extreme. Frets that flat bother me. I also see it has the PCB so that will be getting replaced. Otherwise I'm happy with that one.

It just depends on what I think they each need.
^^^ THIS on EVERY GibsonUSA. Can't deal with school bus frets. So my 3 USA models have this and 2 have pup, hardware, and electronic mods. The only reason my '92 Studio is stock is cuz it had a 25 year sleeping beauty case time and now I'd rather keep it stock, despite the crappy wiring/pots/caps and super hot pups.
And the R9 is stock. No complaints there.
 

howlermonkey

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I never modify the appearance unless my preferred pickups look different but everything not visible is on the menu.
 

zigzag

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Leaving my Gibsons stock. Fenders are made to mod. Just ordered some Fralin Steel Pole 42s for my 2008 American Standard Tele to replace the stock neck pickup and a Dimarzio Tone Zone T bridge pickup. That Dimarzio absolutely sucks, but it came with that guitar in a trade.
 

no jimmy p

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have changed everything on my MIJ '62 RI Strat , pick guard , pickups , pots , cap , switch , tremolo ... on my USA Strat I changed the pick guard , tremolo and capacitor .. the G&L is stock except for the pick guard .. my L/P has only the carcass been left alone ,with new pickups , pots , wiring , switch , caps , tuning keys , bridge , tailpiece , studs , knobs , and switch tip . my martin has had new tuning keys and bridge pins .. the 339 has a new nut , bridge , tailpiece and studs .. I just try to make them as good as they can be .
 

C_Becker

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Absolutely, I've chiseled holes into guitars, stripped the paint off necks, swapped pickups, made my own pickguards, swapped tuner and bridges, filed or completely swapped nuts and touched up fret ends - I just can't leave things alone I guess.

That and I usually have a vision of what I want a guitar to be like when I buy it and most stock guitars don't fit that idea.
 

efstop

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I'm already contemplating taking off the black covers on my new SG's P-90s and putting on the nickel ones.
 

Steven

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I keep my guitars stock, I buy them because I am satisfied with them. I'm not technical enough to modify anything. Only things that need adjusting to get my guitars sounding better are my fingers.
 

Bobby Burrows

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I have someone do it for me.

Sorry if that makes me less of a man lol, these videos look great but I haven't the tools, the work bench / spray station or skills or experience to.

Most of the mods I've had done, were done by this luthier who I trust with all my guitars at their repair and custom shop where they build their own electric guitars.
When I bought my Gibson R7, I purchased the pickups at the same time (from another business) and had them installed as part of the warranty one year's free service on it, so when I took it home and plugged it in, it was always on the pickups that I had put in, and I've never heard the stock pickups on this guitar, but, I still love what I got and was able to find that day.
 

lpfan1980

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I used to be mod crazy. I had a Gibson SG a few years back that I modded every single aspect of that guitar. The only thing left stock was the wood. I believed that it would sound better if i upgraded everything. In reality it just sounded different, not really better.

Today for the most part, I dont mod/upgrade my gear. Im not against it because modding/upgrading can be a lot of fun, and in a lot of cases the instrument will sound better. Take my MIM telecaster for example. The stock pickups were ok, I had James at Rewind wind me a set of custom pickups for it, it sounds much better.

My new SG 61 RI is currently all stock. Am I tempted to upgrade? Kinda, but not really. I really like the stock 61T and 61R pickups. They sound great, so Im gonna enjoy them for what they are.

My USA Fender American Professional Stratocaster has Tim Shaw pickups in it, and honestly they are some of the best strat pickups Ive ever heard.

I notice my trend of modding is that if its a foreign guitar ill usually upgrade the pickups. I find that USA models already sound great from the factory. The put some research and design into them, so I enjoy my USA guitars for what they are.

Will I never mod another high end guitar? I honestly dont know. But for now im enjoying them for what they are.
Ive only been a guitar player collector for a year and a half but i like my guitars as they came to me. If I find some cool pickups I might mod but other than fresh strings and a scrub every few months I like em stock.
 

Assault Bacon

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Mostly my goldtop... it started life as a 2013 Les Paul Traditional Pro II. I gutted the electronics (boost, split pots, etc,) replaced them with CTS pots and 50's wiring. Pickups went bye-bye... it now has double cream Bare Knuckle VHII's in it.

Bridge, stoptail, tuners... all replaced with nickel upgrades. The only think stock is the pickguard and pickup rings.

In my defense, the tuners were loose when I got it and the bridge was corroded and chrome.
 

guitaroholic

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Mostly my goldtop... it started life as a 2013 Les Paul Traditional Pro II. I gutted the electronics (boost, split pots, etc,) replaced them with CTS pots and 50's wiring. Pickups went bye-bye... it now has double cream Bare Knuckle VHII's in it.

Bridge, stoptail, tuners... all replaced with nickel upgrades. The only think stock is the pickguard and pickup rings.

In my defense, the tuners were loose when I got it and the bridge was corroded and chrome.
yea, not a fan of chrome either. looks cheap
 

Bud Stoner

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Most of my stuff is modded.

The one guitar I have that is 100% stock is my Charvel San Dimas (2018). I dig everything about it as is.

Other stuff I've had done were as simple as a fret level/nut replacement to slowly over time changing everything out like my 1995 AS Strat, but I've had it since new and played the crap out of it.

I don't mod much as of late. I've just been enjoying them.

I do have a personal rule. If I buy a guitar on a payment plan (Sweetwater 0%, or zZounds 12 mo no interest, ect) I won't consider any mods at all other than a setup and after it's paid off, then I really see if anything is needing a mod.

Most times I don't need anything else, lol. That way, I can really bond with the guitar and see what it can do and how I like it just plain stock.
 




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