We bet your guitar could sound better!
This article covers the five best things you can do with your electric guitar to improve the tone, clarity & voice. There are endless things you can do beyond your output jack to change your sound. Read below to learn about specific upgrades and mods you can do to the instrument itself.
1. NEW STRINGS
Electric guitars will come back to life with a new set of strings. Your amp and pedals will respond poorly with a dead set of strings. If you've been thinking that you aren't getting what you once had from your settings, try a fresh set of strings. We also recommend trying different tensions and types of strings to see which brand and material sounds best on your guitar. Old strings don't intonate properly. They get caked full of finger oils and dead skin which weighs the strings down causing them to buzz out on frets more and play out of tune, and quite frankly sound crappy overall.
2. CHANGE YOUR PICKUPS
Let's get the obvious one out of the way. You may love your pickups. Maybe you've already changed your pickups once before. But changing pickups is the primary thing you can do to improve and alter the sound of your axe. If you've changed pickups before and weren't fully impressed, try another set. We can probably trade you out. Some companies will allow us to exchange pickups for free if you aren't completely happy with the first choice. The pickups and how they are adjusted make a huge difference in the voice of any electric guitar. Schedule a private consultation and let us guide you on your search for the perfect set of coils to suit your ear and your guitar. We are dealers for Seymour Duncan, Lindy Fralin, and TV Jones pickups.
3. UPGRADE YOUR SADDLES & NUT
Your saddles play a big role in how each string imparts it's vibrational energy into the guitar body. The saddle is the piece that the string sits on down at the bridge. The material that it's made from will have a huge effect on your tone. By far, we've found the best material to upgrade your saddles with is titanium. KTS makes accurate replacement saddles for nearly all standard types of bridges out there. The added clarity you will hear is surprising and impressive.
The nut is the piece up at the headstock, slotted to guide and space the strings before they span the fingerboard. It also plays a big roll in the tone of your guitar. Upgrading the nut material will not only improve the sound of open strings, but changing out a plastic nut for bone or Graphtech® can improve the overall response of the entire guitar via the neck. This is due to material dampening. Different materials absorb and reflect vibrations in different ways, and to varying degrees. The nut cradles each string, and a soft non-responsive material can deaden the vibrational energy of the entire system.
4. PROPER SETUP & PLAYING ACTION
Guitars sound best when their geometry is correct. This means getting all setup points adjusted properly and in balance. On electric guitars this includes the pickup balance. With bolt-on neck guitars, adjusting the neck angle can be crucial. Worn and uneven frets will cause buzz, bad intonation and bad string contact, which equals poor note definition. Get your guitar professionally setup roughly once a year and learn how to make your own adjustments.
5. UPGRADE SHIELDING & COMPONENTS
Some guitars can really benefit from a proper re-wire and a full shielding job. This means installing copper shielding tape in all the control cavities and the pickup cavities, and re-grounding the circuit properly while eliminating ground loops. If you have cheap components, upgrading the pots, switch and also the jack can make a noticeable difference.