So you want to upgrade your favorite guitar with some new pickups, a new bridge, pick guard or even change the color. Here are some things to consider before you pick up a router and add a humbucker to your prized Stratocaster. Tone Tailors owner John LeClair has performed successful surgeries on multiple guitars for the last 20 years. This is his humble-yet informed position on optimizing your upgrades and keeping value on a stock guitar.
What is the Best Way to Approach Guitar Upgrades?
One word, RETROFIT, retrofitting means that you are buying parts that don't require any structural changes to your guitars. When you buy retrofit parts you are getting parts that already fit your guitar or bass without picking up a drill or router. If you want new guitar tuners, find the same screw pattern. In perfect correlation with buying retrofit parts, you should keep the stock parts that came with your guitar. If you want to resell be ready to include the new parts or reinstall them. This will ensure in the event that you sell that guitar or want to watch the value inflate with time, be able to get that guitar back to its original condition. The guitars that yield the highest resale value are the ones that are closest to their original condition. Just like John LeClair's teenage mutant ninja turtle collection, the ones that are most valuable are the ones that are still in the box. If you want to make major changes, get them professionally done and be prepared not to get the same value for that guitar.
What Are Some Good Upgrades to Make a Beginner Guitar Play Better?
John, "The first thing you should do is get the frets leveled and set it up, then putting on a nice set of tuners is a great start." If you don't like the way the guitar plays to begin with putting on a nice set of tuners won't do much. Make the guitar play the way you want it to first then worry about upgrades. Upgrading the pickups to something that's more conducive to your playing style isn't going to do much. If you start making all these upgrades to a guitar you don't like that much and end up selling you could have just bought the guitar you really wanted in the first place. Hindsight is 20/20 but we want every player to get a guitar they absolutely love.
Pre-Wired Pickguards and Pickups.
When you are looking at replacing your pickups there are many things to consider. For the purpose of generality of this blog, I am not going to scrutinize every detail of pickups. (That will be a for a detailed blog about pickup styles for a later date.) What I will say is that we can cater and design any prewired customizable pick guard for you. There are companies out there promoting pre-wired pick guards but the problem is that you are getting the exact same thing as everyone else who ordered that. If you have us do it, John can TAILOR (no pun intended) your pick guard to you. You can pick exactly which capacitor you want, how you want your pickups wired, if you want a 4-way tele switch, which brand of switch that you want. We will typically use push back vintage style wire. You can choose what pots you want if you don't want CTS pots and want Alpha instead. We can customize you pick guard in ways that you don't get from other suppliers.
How to Sell Upgraded Parts
This will be a simple and short paragraph. If you put together a "parts guitar" and decide to sell, or have upgrades in your guitar we would suggest sell those parts individually. You will get more money for your parts, bottom line.
If you want to upgrade anything in your guitar, we would love for you to bring it in first, have the basics assessed if you need a fret dress or set up first. Then after that we can help you decide the best parts for the style and sound that you are looking for.
Written By: Mike D'Arc