Going to nutso mod my SG... brainstorm please.

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Polyester, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. Polyester

    Polyester Member

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    In a few short weeks (or less!) I will have a new #1 guitar, which means I can take my current #1 - the trusty Epi SG Special - apart and not regret it.

    I'm a tinkerer at heart and want to do something unique with this thing. Currently it's relatively mildly upgraded: new wiring and pots, Kent Armstrong P90 in the neck, nice Seymour Duncan in the bridge, push-pull volume knob which coil taps the humbucker, and pickup covers on both. Started out as a cheap guitar but it sounds and feels way nicer than it did originally. Have played (and owned) "nicer" guitars but never felt the need to upgrade from this one, until now at least.

    But now I can do whatever I want to it and not worry about it being out of commission for a few weeks while I experiment. :) My current thought is to route out a third pickup hole, mount the P90 in the middle, and get a pair of nice humbuckers to surround it. The wiring shouldn't be that difficult since I never intend to use the buckers together with the P90 - worst case I'll add a mini switch to toggle between humbuckers and P90, and keep the three-way in the standard setup (bridge, neck or both).

    Probably going to add at least two pots to bring it up to four-knob SG standard config, or possibly three volumes and a master tone. Maybe coil tap the HBs for maximum flexibility.

    Question 1: does this all make sense? It's basically two separate pickup systems inside one guitar, but if something else makes more sense I'd love to hear it. Any suggestions to make it even nicer are welcome.

    Question 2: If you had a blank slate like this, what would you do? Ideas are good... I am by no means completely decided on what to do, and a forum full of folks are way better than one guy for thinking out something like this.

    If it matters I'm trying to go at this from an aesthetic point of view too; i.e. it's gotta look nice. :) As entry-level as the SG Specials are, the clean lines of an SG without a pickguard really appeal to me. Not worried about cluttering it up with a few extra knobs, but something like a diagonal Strat pickup would mess up the whole look. Trust me, it'll come out OK. Pics will be taken. Sort of a clean art-deco meets Darth Vader look is my goal, if that makes any sense.

    By the way, long-term this is intended to be sort of a showcase of what I can do, since I've done rewiring and electrical work for friends and family (and myself) but would like to maybe make some money at some point. Being able to show a really clean, full-custom guitar that's obviously my own work would definitely help down the road. So that's just as much of a goal here as wanting to get some solid tones. :)

    What do you think? Lemme have it.
     
  2. Whiskeyrebel

    Whiskeyrebel Member

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    Waylon's leather Tele.
     
  3. Prerequisite

    Prerequisite Member

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    You could keep the 3-position toggle as a neck, both, and bridge, and then add an on-off toggle for the middle P90. That way you can have basically any combination of your 3 pickups at your disposal.
     
  4. Dopey Trout

    Dopey Trout Member

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    If you're going the 3 pickup route, my Yamaha has 3 P90s, 3V 1T and two 3 way toggles.

    Each pickup has an independent volume, one pickup is standard N, N+B and B, the other is middle off, middle on, middle only (position 3 overrides the first switch).

    Works really well I think. You could put coil taps on two of the volumes, no need for a mini toggle
     
  5. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    Three P-Rails with a PMT Guitar Max switching system. Basically the Guitar Max allows you to choose any coil and wire it in/out of phase, in parallel or series with any other coil, and in any combination of coils you want.

    That said, I currently have a two-P-Rail guit with Triple Shot rings in it, phase reverse, and a Super Switch for both parallel and series operation when both pups are selected. (Two different hi-pass filters provide a dark-series-both selection and a bright-series-both selection.)

    Adding a third pup boggles the mind...the topology of it all...

    --Ray
     
  6. Baxtercat

    Baxtercat Member

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    Too many wires, p/ups, circuits so far.
    Keep it simple [it'll sound better w/ more wood and less buttons].
    Maybe a more solid bridge for tone. Or a crazy paint job.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. tsar nicholas

    tsar nicholas Member

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    ^ A leather-covered SG would be ill!
     
  8. straightblues

    straightblues Member

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    Before you route out your guitar for a third pickup, make a fake pickup and tape it to the top where the real pickup would go and see if you can play. I can't play guitars with a middle humbucker like that. The seems to be right where I pick and my pick just grinds on it.


    Sounds like you are gonna put a lot of mods into a new cheap guitar. You might want to consider just spending the cash to get a better guitar up front. Do the math. Make sure you are doing the right thing from a financial perspective. The mods you are talking about aren't going to come very cheap. Maybe you could get into a used middle of the road Gibson SG for the same price.
     
  9. Whiskeyrebel

    Whiskeyrebel Member

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    Or even wilder yet - cover it with Tolex, add a gold plexi pickguard and gold-capped control knobs...and wrap grillecloth on the pickup covers.
     
  10. jp1977

    jp1977 Member

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    If its a guitar u will always keep then go to town but if not , just remember that u won't get your money back if u put a lot into it. I always thought it would be cool to have an sg with 3 hums but once I actually had One I found that it gets in the way of my strumming.
     
  11. choucas09

    choucas09 Member

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    The configuration you have is so versatile, ie tapped HB with P90 neck, it would be a shame to cram in another pickup. I'd say just go with the four pot thing and do something nice cosmetically and perhaps a Bigsby.
     
  12. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    I understand the simple-is-good viewpoints and actually agree on many counts...but you want an electronic FrankenAxe here if I'm reading you right. So I'll go a bit further down that road...wonder-circuits are cool for their own sake even if practicality isn't on the forefront.

    A personal favorite is adding high-pass filters to the connection between pups wired in series...powerful way to focus the tone while giving the signal an extra kick. Breadboard this one with a selection of caps and a trimpot, tune 'er up by ear and see what you think.

    Three pups, two vastly different coils each, infinite switching, how much farther can you go? Elsewhere on PMT's website are other unique electronic notions, like items that can actually blend the coils within the pup, pots that can re-curve themselves, and other cool stuff.

    For one of my favorite takes on guitar tone controls, check out StellarTone's ToneStyler pots...tone pots pre-wired with a whole slew of tone caps, such that not only the resistance but the capacitance changes throughout the sweep of the pot. Too subtle a change for lots of people, but personally I think it's great.

    Rothstein makes a really cool tone pot...it's a variable band-pass system, controlling for mids as opposed to being a variable high-pass. Turned one way it mid-scoops your guitar, turned the other way it cuts the highs and lows leaving only the mids. (Mid-"boost" doesn't work real well with HB's, however.) I don't find it particularly useful, personally, and IMHO the knob sweep is way too touchy to be useful onstage, but I must also admit I've not fully explored all it can do, so for about $20 it might be worth a trip to the perfboard. (You are going to perfboard the proto aren't you? Highly recommended. :))

    Things like ground lifts on your guitar controls can be remarkably effective...you can change the way the circuit loads your pups, essentially creating an onboard Radial Dragster...or you could just bury a Dragster in the body I suppose.

    Another thing...have you experimented with swapping magnets in your pups? I hear it's pretty effective as a mod. Adding steel slugs beneath, or extra magnets, can be amusing. But I'm a fan of lower-output pups, so caveat emptor that one. Hm...what if you made the slugs slide-able so you could move 'em in and out?

    Oh, heavens...plz tell me you've looked into simply altering your pickup heights to tune your pups. Way too much sonic/dynamic turf to leave such a cool thing to the calipers.

    I trust you are going to shield this. Noise-defeat...hm...theory is that if you run two coils, one RWRP, you get hum canceling. But the rub is the fatter tone from the extra coil. What happens if you just stick a random coil someplace on the guitar away from the strings? I suppose it would hum-cancel without much impact on tone? Golly...gotta think about that one.

    Hokay, that's the brainstorm for passive systems...all the above are. On to actives...

    I'm sure you've considered burying Variax guts in the guitar and keeping your passive system intact?

    In addition, you could do active pups, if such things are to your taste. Personally I just use an EQ pedal, but most times I prefer passives straight to an amp. However, once you go active, the sky opens up tone-wise.

    Then there's some guys who've stuffed acoustic-guitar-type transducers in little body cavities and on the neck and stuff to amplify body resonance and such. I've not heard that such systems are particularly useful or effective, but that just means nobody's really nailed the technology yet.

    Lessee...since you're going to rout the body for that third pup already, what about other goodies? A Callaham steel TOM is a remarkable mod, for starters. But beyond a Bigsby (love the idea), if you're going to rout, have you thought about a Floyd or even Vai's riff on it...the Ibanez JEM system? (Pulls up an entire fifth.) OTOH, a B-Bender would be much more in keeping with the vintage-y vibe of the guit. Or maybe the drop-D thingie. There are all sorts of visually interesting trems as well, the Firebird's being one of my favorites, style-wise.

    Finally...onboard FX. Personally, I've never been a fan of the idea, IMHO a conventional pedalboard does the job a hundred times more effectively, plus you get to swap out all those custom-made pedals. This is also why I'm not a fan of actives, btw. But...stuff something like a Korg Pandora in there and your guit will give Guitar-Cable-Amp a whole new meaning. (The Pandora PX5D comes out of the case nicely, lending itself to blending into the guitar body. Dunno if the Mini would be even better.)

    Or how 'bout stuffing an iDock in there and running a guitar app from your phone? Touch-screen on a guitar deck...shoot, you could just about bury an iPad or a Nook below the tailpiece! You could have it scroll your sheet music and spend the entire night staring at your guitar. Tomo would have a fit! :)

    Hokay, a little crazy maybe, but that's what we're here for. Back to notions much more reasonable. You are going to put a cup holder on it aren't you?

    :beer

    --Ray
     
  13. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

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    John Deere Green :)

    Also, I'm really loving my partstele with 2 Naylor RailHammer pups, splittable.

    jon
     
  14. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    With flywheel and compression release I trust? Who needs a drum machine? :)
     
  15. CowTipton

    CowTipton Silver Supporting Member

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    Built-in wah sweep-controlled by a pot.
     
  16. Whiskeyrebel

    Whiskeyrebel Member

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    Better yet, use the Zach Vex circuit that controls a wah using a theremin-like antenna plate! Mr Vex, I know you're a member here, what pedal was that? Have you ever built one to be mounted onboard?
     
  17. ExpldingAstros

    ExpldingAstros Member

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    Wah Probe, no?
     
  18. Polyester

    Polyester Member

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    I've jammed out on friends' and guitar shops' 3-pickup SGs before and it hasn't been a problem. That's definitely a consideration though.

    You'd be surprised. I have a bunch of parts from previous projects already; to put together my original idea I actually wouldn't need anything besides what's in the parts bin.

    Some of the crazy ideas in this thread, though... Stuffing a Variax into it? Theremin? Circuits and breadboards? :nuts :)

    And even if it ends up costing me some cash, I'm not expecting to get my money back on it. Not doing it for the resale value at all. The fact that it's a cheap guitar is sort of the point - I can mod to my heart's content and not have to worry about stuff like that. This is primarily to practice my skills, put together something unique, and experiment without the risk of screwing up something expensive. Knowing myself I'll be constantly tinkering and upgrading things on it even after I'm "finished".

    The suggestion to mount an iPod and push the signal through that is just incredibly cool though. I may have to give some thought to that.:eek:
     
  19. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    And you called me crazy. :)
     
  20. cowboytim

    cowboytim Member

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    WOW.....not exactly my taste BUT I can see a Cowboy version on one of my Teles......OH YES.....Very Cool!!! Good Job My Friend Good Job!!!
     

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