If you happen to be a keen guitar player and treasure your particular axe of choice, you’ll no doubt at some stage have contemplated the most effective way to offer your guitar a performance upgrade. So what possibilities may be out there that won’t involve butchering the guitar and are comparatively straightforward to undertake? Needless to say, if your guitar is a costly model there is every probability that it sported top of the range components, but let us assume for the sake of this particular article, that it is a mid-price to budget model.
The most clear and audible improvement can be had in the pickup area. The materials and the production process of some stock pickups may be less than great, which is reflected by the sound. Some really great replacement humbucking pickups and single coil pickups are available from the big-name companies and additionally some smaller boutique pickup makers. Replacement pickups are generally produced with a more hands-on approach and bespoke versions are offered by several of them.
In my opinion, another early port of call are the original machine heads or tuners. Often the stock tuners are not that great and are maufactured with less good materials. If your guitar is struggling to keep in tune then this is a must (check that your pickups are not too close to the strings as the magnets can occasionally cause tuning issues). You might also just fancy the quality feel and functionality of a top of the range set of tuners. Schaller are an organization who make superb examples for the many various kinds of guitar around.
In case your guitar arrived with a plastic nut then this could also benefit massively from an upgrade. You can buy a new ready-made nut in many different materials such as brass or graphite, or if you are handy with a file you may be confident enough to cut and file a new nut out of bone. This is not the most simple upgrade and the procedure is beyond the scope of this article. Search on line for additional information on this upgrade.
The bridge and tailpiece is another area worthy of consideration. Quite often guitars come with cheaply manufactured versions from China or Korea and impressive gains can be had by utilising versions made from lightweight aluminium and other fancy materials. Again the Schaller range is worth looking at.
There are some other simple upgrades for example changing the standard strap buttons with strap locks to keep your guitar secure if standing and playing, those talked about above are the most essential.
If you really want to go all out there are companies out there who will give your guitar a complete refinish in whatever colour you would like. Not everyone’s cup of tea but if that normal sunburst finish is no longer cutting it for you, this may well be just what you need.
Best of luck!