Is it really worth it to upgrade your guitar hardware, nut, etc?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by megatrav, Jun 11, 2019.

  1. megatrav

    megatrav Member

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    I'm asking genuinely.
    I have a guitar that is made overseas (Indonesia) that I got for a lot less than what they sell for in stores.
    Brand New, Warranty, etc.

    The warranty is good too. I had to use it t get some work done (very small, fret filing)

    The guitar has a plastic nut, cheaper bridge and tuners.

    I ordered a Tusq nut because its a $10 upgrade.

    ..but is it worth it to upgrade the bridge and tuners (not sure if the tuners need to be)

    I know I am leaving out details about the guitar, but if it matters, its a Yamaha.

    I'm not really concerned with the resale, since I'm sure I can get what I paid for it.

    I'm just wondering what everyone thinks about upgrading guitars.
     
  2. cap10kirk

    cap10kirk Member

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    Depends on the guitar and what parts are on it. As well as what parts aren't working right and/or what you're hoping to accomplish by swapping parts.

    If it's working properly and you're happy with it, leave it alone imo. Nothing you change is guaranteed to be better, just different...and what is "better" to one person could be worse to someone else.
     
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  3. wox

    wox Supporting Member

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    Your hardware is probably fine.

    Just installing a new pre-cut nut may make your guitar worse.

    Get a custom nut made (and a fret level and setup, while you're at it). That'll be the best improvement you can make to your guitar.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
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  4. jlectka

    jlectka Supporting Member

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    This. Playability is key. Also, you can run down a lot of “upgrade” rabbits and it will amount to what you would have spent on a legit great guitar, and your resale will still suck.
    Save a get something good imo.
     
  5. Machew

    Machew Member

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    Bought a Squire on CL for $80. Tuners, Nut, pups and electronics and now my kids have a great guitar to beat up.
     
  6. BrokenRomeo

    BrokenRomeo Supporting Member

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    I would say no, unless it's something you really want. Yamaha's are good guitars, if it's a lower end model, most likely parts to go wrong are the electronics. If the tuners feel good and hold tuning, then there isn't any real reason to change them out, unless you want locking tuners.
     
  7. doc

    doc Member

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    I frequently mod my guitars, but usually I have something specific I'm going for. The best reason to mod a guitar is to fix something that isn't working - if your works fine and you like how it plays and sounds I'd probably leave it alone for now, especially if still in warranty. Some reasons I upgrade - tuners are cheap crap that don't work well, or I want lighter ones to help with neck dive. Bridge - lack of clarity due to zinc bridge and posts or lack of functionality. Pickups - voicing, balance, or complexity isn't what I want. Pots, switches - not working well, taper isn't right, scratchy, etc. Sometimes I'm surprised by how well a mod works - for example I've replaced a switch and noticed a tonal improvement I didn't expect. Sometimes the mod doesn't seem to do much or causes an unexpected issue.
     
  8. PartoftheDark

    PartoftheDark Member

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    Play it a bit until you find something wrong with it first. This will help you bond with the instrument overall. Often times you can "upgrade" yourself into a worse guitar with more expensive parts.
     
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  9. megatrav

    megatrav Member

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    Hey thanks for the replies. For clarification, the guitar is a Yamaha RS502. I got it for about quite a bit under what they sell for online, so it was a bargain to me.

    First, I am simply trying to improve the quality of the guitar and the play-ability.

    The warranty work I got done was a level, crown, and polish. Also, I do know how to set guitars up, but I'm thinking the cheap plastic nut is still contributing to both the way it feels and the tuning stability.

    I checked the fret work when I got the guitar back and they are level (gotta love the fret rocker).

    I don't think the tuners need to be upgraded for sure, so I was going to start with the nut.

    I agree that a custom nut is a nice investment, but I've had good luck with the Tusq nuts and for $10, I thought it might be good.

    I haven't even really thought about changing pickups or electronics because they seem fine.

    But I have thought about upgrading the bridge for a few reasons.
    1) Its cheap and made in China (Alchemy brand)
    2) Its a wrap around with adjustable individual saddles and I would rather have a bridge that was set height for each saddle (like a Tonepros or Schaller)
    3) The bolts are fragile.
    4) Better sustain (?) and/or feel (?)

    Anyway, I am mostly just wondering if these things will actually improve the guitar or if I am wasting my time/money.
     
  10. Smacky the Frog

    Smacky the Frog Gold Supporting Member

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    I tend not to mod my guitars but there are exceptions:

    1. My Vantage Flying V pickups went to crap so they were replaced.
    2. The Gretsch 5120 filtertronbuckerwhatevers were "tempermental" and they were replaced with TV Jones classics, an expensive but well-worth the upgrade. The cheap Bigsby was replaced with a G-tailpiece. The most important upgrade was the nut was replaced with Bone. Huge difference.
     
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  11. willyboy

    willyboy Member

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    On my lesser expensive instruments I only change what isn't working for my needs, then you're not turning your inexpensive guitar into an expensive money pit which I have done before and will never do again.

    For me, addressing nut issues is a given, and for my tastes I will always replace the pickups and oftentimes the electronics, sometimes upgrade the bridge, and rarely replace tuners. If I have an instrument I'm going to need to replace everything other than the neck and body, that's when I question my investment and look at those costs vs getting what I'd really like to buy.
     
  12. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Supporting Member

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    I think people seriously underestimate the importance of GOOD quality tuners and a high quality bridge. Both impart changes in tone and playability / reliability.
    Buy a decent Tele like a Baja and add hipshot locking tuners and a Rutter's bridge and gig your ass off.
    EDIT: I also think people look to replace electronics and stock pickups way to early in the game.
     
  13. megatrav

    megatrav Member

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    I agree with that you’re saying, especially about pickups.

    I would replace the electronics before the pickups if I thought they were an issue. It’s a lot cheaper and often times I think it brings out more of the pickups. Especially changing tolerances (using 300k and 500k vs 250k, etc)
     
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  14. Hugh_s

    Hugh_s Member

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    I have had to replace electronics in my Les Paul due to failure, the only other electronics I’ve replaced have been pickups to get different sounds.

    I’ve only had to “upgrade” one nut and that was on my Strat plus, replacing the Wilkinson roller nut with the much improved LSR. The Wilkinson gave me all sorts of headaches.

    So with that, I wouldn’t recommend replacing bits unless the original has failed or won’t adjust to where you need it, pickups and pots excepted as those get replaced for tone shaping for an application, generally.

    As I think someone else noted upthread, you’d se the best improvement from a fret dress and level and pro setup. Way more noticeable than little bits like saddles or nuts.
     
  15. eigentone

    eigentone Supporting Member

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    It's generally better to start with something closer to what you actually want. Getting a cheap guitar for a relatively good price does not warrant significant upgrading time and expense. So I say No, Not Worth It. Sure, there will be exceptions. If something's worth doing, it's worth doing right.

    Calculate what things really cost. Guitar + upgraded parts + labor = N. Would you be happier with a guitar that was much closer to what you actually wanted with that larger budget? I would. And resale would be better. But tinkering on guitars can be a fun (and expensive) learning experience.
     
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  16. megatrav

    megatrav Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I mentioned I did get a fret dressing recently.
    I checked the work.
    I’ve also worked as a guitar tech and have tools. I could have done the fret work, but I took it to a tech for warranty, which was a fret dress (level, crown, and polish) as well as a set up.

    I checked his work. Frets are level. Set up is to spec. Please don’t ask me to list measurements of everything. I promise you the set up is not an issue.

    I appreciate the input though
     
  17. doc

    doc Member

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    I just played one of those for the first time recently and was very impressed. Yamaha did a great job on those. I really like the "dry switch" feature. I probably wouldn't do too much to it, and I'd probably keep the pickups and electronics stock. If it was mine and I wanted to upgrade some, I'd probably keep the stock bridge but get some steel studs to mount them on (cheap and easily reversible), and maybe upgrade the nut like you're considering and tuners (maybe some locking Sperzels). If you really want to upgrade the bridge, maybe the compensated MojoAxe one.
     
  18. Benniator

    Benniator Member

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    I dropped hundreds of dollars into my Epiphone Les Paul replacing the nut, tuners, bridge, tailpiece, pickups, adding strap locks, and getting the frets leveled. Was it worth it? I guess. The guitar plays and sounds way better than it did stock.
     
  19. Hawkmoon269

    Hawkmoon269 Member

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    Plastic nuts should be illegal.
     
  20. FiestaRed869

    FiestaRed869 Member

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    I’ve had cheap guitars the played amazing, made ungrades and it never felt right again. Only fix something that needs fixing. If it won’t stay in tune, pickups sound bd to you etc then maybe think about it
     
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