Can you make any guitar sound good?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by auraelux, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. auraelux

    auraelux Member

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    I know a big portion of it is in your playing, but I'm talking about upgrades. I mean, I see cheap "crappy" guitars get bad reviews all the time and the biggest complaints (pickups, bad action/intonation, electronics, tuners, etc) seem like they can all be fixed...easily.

    Reason I ask is because I've been looking at those $100 Squier Bullet strats, the new reissues with the basswood bodies for my 13 year old sister starting out. And I figured they're a pretty good deal, but hey why not try to make it into a good tone machine if you can?

    Have any of you tried upgrading cheap guitars with the best parts you could find only to find yourselves feeling completely unsatisfied? If you take this little bullet strat and drop in new electronics, custom shop pickups, the works, wouldn't it sound as good as any modded MIM strat? Can well thought out upgrades really make any guitar sound good? What do you guys think?

    MichaelThomas
     
  2. Long2Play

    Long2Play Member

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    Great Guitar tone starts with a great sounding guitar acoustically first. Putting a bunch of money upgrading a Bullet makes no sense to me, if TONE is the desired result. Save that money and get a better guitar. Those "Crappy" guitars are just not built from a solid foundation for great tone. The "Easy" mods are mainly a turd polishing exercise with "guitars" like that......

    Get that guitar for your sister and make sure the basic set up is solid, so it will not be a hinderance to her learning. However, do not throw any money at "Upgrades".
     
  3. auraelux

    auraelux Member

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    haha turd polishing, I like that, thanks for the advice :) A good set up is definately first ofcourse
     
  4. Long2Play

    Long2Play Member

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    You are quite welcome!
     
  5. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    In my experience with Strats:
    1)Gems & dogs can turn up at any price point...so each individual guitar needs to be judged on its own merits.
    2)You can't polish a turd...if the wood doesn't have "it" you won't be able to fix it with the other stuff.

    One of my favorite Strats is my MIJ 80's Foto Flame. I replaced its stock pot metal tremblock with a steel one and it's better than most Strats I've played in 45 years...and it's maybe worth about $400.

    I've played/owned a few $3000+ Fender Custom Shop Strats that were dead as a doornail and nothing I did would bring them around.

    Tone is very subjective though ;).
     
  6. Long2Play

    Long2Play Member

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    As someone smarter than me pointed out, "You can if you freeze it......."

    :rotflmao
     
  7. aeronius

    aeronius Member

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    I used to work at a small-town guitar shop (about 2 years ago), and when the Squire Bullet's came out we sold tons of them, especially around Christmas time. Initially I thought they were awesome little guitars for the money; the fretwork was reasonably good, they played well enough, and they didn't sound half bad.

    Weeks later we had a majority of them returned to the shop due to extremely warped necks. Fender was not backing up the warranty on these, and ultimately we had to issue complete refunds to our customers.

    I don't know if it was just a bad batch or what, but we stopped selling them after that.

    That being said, today I set up a Bullet that didn't seem to have any neck issues. The truss rod didn't quite have the range of adjustment I would have preferred, but in this case it wasn't an issue.

    Certainly, dropping in quality hardware/electronics will improve the tone of the guitar, but after all is said and done you could've picked up an upper-end MIM Strat that more-than-likely wouldn't exhibit any of the issues I experienced with the Bullets.

    The MIMs are made of real ash and alder, which I feel is much better than basswood. You also have a much wider variety of models/colors to choose from. You probably won't have to replace the hardware and electronics on a good MIM Strat (some even come w/Custom Shop pickups, I believe).

    Anyhow, as has been noted, tone is a very subjective thing, and Custom Shop pickups and aftermarket hardware are probably not at the top of the list of beginner-guitar concerns for your sister. A solidly-built guitar that already has good woods, electronics, etc. that is easy to set-up and maintain will provide your sis with much more enjoyment (and less modding headaches for you!)

    That's my advice! Stay away from the Bulletsand spend the upgrade money on something that's good to begin with.
     
  8. auraelux

    auraelux Member

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    Cool aeronius, thanks for your input, I dig the MIM classic series 50s strats from Fender, but dang that's better than the guitar I started on! Well, actually the V neck might be kinda weird for my sis, but I see your point.

    Maybe MIM should be the way to go. What do you think about the new Classic Vibe Series from Squier? Some guys have said they were right up there with some MIJ Fenders.
     
  9. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    I agree with the guy that said great strats and dogs turn up at every price point. Somewhere out there is a $99 bullet that will blow the doors off of most CS strats. Somewhere. ;)

    If you find that one, then yes it's worth putting good pickups and hardware in.
     
  10. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Even better: I can make any guitar sound loud
     
  11. auraelux

    auraelux Member

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  12. neastguy

    neastguy Supporting Member

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    i dunno, I just bought a cheapo lp copy for $120 and dropped in a rs kit for $60 and I like it.. its play nice, stays in tune , doesnt buzz... sounds good... I'll be gigging with it in a week.. looking forward to it... I also have an lp worth probably around 2k ... is it $1800 better... hell no... I think its up to a player.. a good player will make any guitar sound good IMO... I think if you have the chops... a squire will sound dam good
     
  13. FrankieSixxxgun

    FrankieSixxxgun Member

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    Good is all relative. Some shredder could take a cheap-o guitar, slap an EMG in the back, and run through 10 gain stages. It'd suit his needs. Guys like me who prefer the sound of the wood and note clarity would probably hate it, even with upgraded pickups. It might not sound bad, but you always wanna start on a good base guitar when doing a **** ton of upgrades. At least that's my look on it.
     
  14. Alvis

    Alvis Member

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    Bring it on

    2x6

    [​IMG]

    GFS

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  15. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

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    I think maybe the more moving parts = the harder its gonna be to make a cheap guitar great. I wouldn't upgrade a cheapo Strat copy with 3 pups and a trem but a cheap tele/esquire with a good 50's style bridge, good tuners, and a kickass pickup would work.

    This is for me personally, I need all the help I can get...I know there's people that can make a broomstick, gut strings, and a pickup made out of a beer can and toothpicks sounds great, but I'm not one of those.
     
  16. Red Suede

    Red Suede Member

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    I wouldn't change anything for a 13 year old starting out. Any of those is going to play better and sound better than the Teisco Del Ray (or cheaper) guitars most of us started out with. My first guitar was so bad I had to place my middle finger over my index finger to have enough pressure to form a barre chord. Imagine what I thought when I was asked to play a major chord instead of a dominant seventh! Took a year to completely use my middle finger on a barre chord.
     
  17. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    Address the weakest parts only.
    Assuming you get a guitar that has a stable neck and can be set up nicely 3/4 of the battle is over if it fits the player OK.

    Now, if you have a tonal problem and can identify the problem as poor pickups vs say poor note articulation or sustain loss caused by bad wood then just change the pups.

    The rest of the hardware will probably be not worth the cost and effort to change. The bang for buck diminishes rapidly. The guitar may never reach greatness but should make it well into the decent category. Squiers are highly playable, for the most part.
     
  18. BIGGERSTAFF

    BIGGERSTAFF Member

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    I don't know about any guitar, but you can do a lot to make them sound/play better.
     
  19. fazendeiro

    fazendeiro Member

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    Yes.

    Lots of people can't play worth beans, but spend big bucks on "tone". Kind of like the tail wagging the dog, if you ask me.

    Put a good setup on it, the guitar should be fine. Does she need a "tone machine" to learn on? Let her learn and enjoy the guitar without worrying about the stuff that won't matter anyway.
     
  20. tone4days

    tone4days Member

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    can i make any guitar sound good? ... umm, no ... but i sure can make em all sound equally bad :D
     

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