Simple guitar mods – Part 2

Tips & tricksThe first part of this two-part series was about how to get closer to the sound you long for on the one hand and grant the right of abode to the pickups of your guitar on the other.
This part is dedicated to the possibilities, alterations of the pots and capacitors do present.

Changing the pots

Changing the pots is a cheap and easy modification.
They are mostly overlooked because many guitarists only use them to quiet their instrument during the breaks.
Guitars with humbucker pickups mostly use 500 kOhm pots, while guitars with singlecoils use pots with 250 kOhm.
Temporarily, Les Pauls with humbuckers were equipped with 300 kOhm pots.

Actually, pots always have a certain tolerance of up to 20%.
Pots with higher values allow more treble to pass by.
If your humbucker-guitar sounds too dull, you could try out pots with 550 or even 600 kOhm.
Another interesting fact concerning the mostly clearer sound of old guitars is, that the pots values change with time: the wear and tear causes an increase of the resistors and thereby an alteration of the sound.

Pot bypass

Pots are always part of the signal path – even if they are turned into full clockwise direction.
If you never use the pots but are looking for a louder and stronger signal, it makes sense to connect the pickups directly to the output.
By this, the signal will be muffled less.
Neil Young uses this direct connection of the pickups to the output to drive his Tweed Deluxe into saturation. Still today, this sound is legendary.

This kind of modification is almost for free and it is done pretty easily.
Besides of getting more volume, the signal will also get more treble.

A perfect way to improve the sound of previously dull pickups with less output.
If applicable, you could also form the tone and the volume by adding other capacitors. This might sound as if the pot is turned into counterclockwise direction.

Alteration of capacitors

The tone pot has got a capacitor that controls the frequency range.
Even if the tone pot is turned into full clockwise direction, this capacitor affects the sound.
Capacitors can be altered quick and easy.
It is worth it to try out different values and also varying materials.

Tipp: To find the right values you can use test cords and alligator clips to connect the different capacitors temporarily.
After you made up your mind about the right value, you can fix the corresponding capacitor permanently.

Have fun while experimenting and good luck!