Simple guitar mods – Part 1

Tips & tricksThe first part of this two-part series is about how little adjustments of the pickups can cause an improvement of the sound.
The second part will focus on the pots.

If you are not totally satisfied with the sound of your guitar, and you want to modify your instrument, you mostly change the pickups first.
Technically, this is pretty simple but, depending on the pickup, also might become quite expensive.

Before you make up your mind about changing the pickups, you ought to take other options into consideration.

Previous considerations

Generally, it is pretty important, that you are pleased with the rest of your setup.
The sound of your amplifier and your pedals should correspond to your very own expectations before you start modifying your guitar.
Even the most extensive guitar mods will only change small nuances and are not able to work wonders at all.

Frequently, guitarists change the pickups to get closer to the sound of a famous guitarist.
Some might think “If Slash uses Seymour Duncan pickups, I will sound like him, if I also get these pickups.”
In this case, it is important to make up your mind about the frequencies you want to change or emphasize.
Only if the goal is pretty clear, you will reach the sound you long for with a minimum of effort.

Pickup adjustment

By adjusting the distance between the pickups and the strings, the sound can be altered in a decisive way.
A short distance between pickups and strings will cause a louder sound that is more vivid and emphasizes the mids.
If you are looking for a soft but clear sound, it makes sense to extend the distance between the pickups and the strings.
A few inches can make a big difference.
Specifications of certain distances you can find on the internet are mostly only capable as a rough guide. In fact, the right distance depends on the output of the pickup, the strength of its magnet, the way you play your guitar, the string gauge and, of course, your very own idea of the perfect sound.
It is worth it, to experiment.

Pickup cover removal

The removal of the pickup cover is also a simple way to change the sound.
Humbuckers mostly have pickup covers made of metal.
By removing them, the treble will become more prominent.
Nickle covers only muffle the treble very softly, while the influence of covers made of brass on the treble is pretty intensive.
The same applies to the neck pickup of Telecaster guitars.