Surprising things that got your guitar to "open up"

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Jupiter Tarts, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. Jupiter Tarts

    Jupiter Tarts Member

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    Anyone ever have that guitar you just couldn't bond with the sound? Then one day you decide to try something, a pickup swap, changing the nut, sanding all the finish off and praying to the guitar gods, and suddenly it breaths a second life into your guitar?

    Had two instances of this happening. One was an old MIM telecaster that my sister gifted to me with the condition that I never sell it and just give it back if I was ever tired of it. What she didn't say was that I couldn't upgrade it into oblivion which she happily allowed. I upgraded everything but the neck and body: wilkinsons vintage style bridge, lollar neck pickup, fralin bridge pickup, locking tuners, tone-guard brushed aluminum pickguard, the works. Once the project was complete, fired up the amp, played first glorious chord and it was . . . . . .just ok. Tried to fool myself into thinking I liked the sound for a few weeks but just found that I played the guitar less and less hiding my disappointment that for whatever reason, it might've sounded better stock.

    Anyway, two years goes by and I pull it out of my basement and get it set up to give it another chance. On a whim, decide to switch back to the original bland 3 ply pickguard and lo and behold, that cheapo piece of plastic brought back some of the zing and resonance I was missing. Maybe the aluminum pickguard was taking out some of the highs? Maybe the plastic just got better transfer of vibration? Whatever the case, happily playing the old MIM is my grab and go quick jam guitar. I understand that pickguard situations like this are a very YMMV situation.

    tl:dr: Aluminum pickguard killed my tone and the plastic pickguard sounded better.

    Got one more story but may drop add it later after enjoying reading some of yours.
     
    jnovac1 likes this.
  2. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Member

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    Aluminum isn't ferrous, but it will collect eddy currents.

    Mine was cleaning out the neck pocket of a vintage Fender bass. They'd shimmed it for use with a BadAss II bridge, but it was unnecessary.
     
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  3. eigentone

    eigentone Supporting Member

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    I had a bass which sucked after a pickup swap. The problem was not the tone, but the magnetic pull. The pickups just halved the sustain. I measured with a stopwatch.

    Maybe not "surprising" but removing fret buzz (setup) and lowering pickups can also really open up a guitar.

    Pot swaps and 50s wiring is another one. This can give you a more usable range of volumes and tones, as well as a more useful taper.
     
  4. monty

    monty Member

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    Just grabbed a Peterson HDClip.
    Tuned it up and sounds like a new instrument. Weird but true. Did it to 3 of my guitars so far.
     
  5. Gevalt

    Gevalt Member

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    Stainless strap button screws on an offset vibrato tailpiece of a Squier VI. Longer and harder, so I changed one screw at a time and played in between, hearing and feeling the improvement.
    I figured since mapleflame and callaham were called crazy once, I can risk it, too. It was a desired outcome, but it was real.
     
  6. Steve Perry

    Steve Perry Member

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    I’ve got a MIM Classic series 50’s Tele. It was getting static when rubbing the pick guard. We were out of dryer sheets so I just took the pickguard off and I swear the guitar was more resonant without it. Finally got some dryer sheets, rubbed the guard, and put it back on and the resonance was back as before. Took the guard off and again it was more resonant. I don’t have any idea why it does this, but it does.
     
    Gig Young likes this.
  7. trower

    trower Silver Supporting Member

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    I had a high-end Les Paul that sounded lifeless, like it had a blanket over it with low sustain. Changed some hardware, tried a slew of pickup's, checked pot values etc and it was better but still somewhat flat.
    Finally I found the threaded ABR posts going into the wood were short and barely into the maple cap. I had a longer set of threaded ABR post's and sunk em' deep enough to penetrate the Mahogany. It was as if I turned a light switch on. That Paul just came alive.
     
  8. Jupiter Tarts

    Jupiter Tarts Member

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    I wish I understood more of the science behind magnet fields and static interference and what not but if it sounds good, it sounds good right?
     
  9. jalmer

    jalmer Member

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    Tightening up the truss rod.
     
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  10. CapnRex

    CapnRex Member

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    My 2016 LP Studio. The setup was spot on, but the electronics were both muddy and noisy. Replaced with 50s wiring and 500k pots, a .022 orange cap, a Duncan Custom and PG neck, and copper shielded it. It's the perfect rockin LP now and has no noise.
     
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  11. Darby Crash

    Darby Crash Member

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    I took the blanket off my guitar.
     
  12. somedude

    somedude Member

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    I stopped trying to convince myself that I liked PAFs and started using hotter pickups.
     
  13. ChipOnly

    ChipOnly Supporting Member

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  14. rickboot

    rickboot Supporting Member

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  15. Windup 43

    Windup 43 Supporting Member

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    I have an older Jazzmaster that always sounded a bit lifeless to me, until one day when it fell off the stand and collided with my ProCo Rat which was on the ground...put a gash in the guitar, but suddenly it came to life with improved resonance and just more alive sounding. Like all the collective molecules were jolted to life somehow :D
     
  16. KiwiRocker

    KiwiRocker Member

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    Turning the bass down on my amp.
     
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  17. ant_riv

    ant_riv Supporting Member

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    Fret level and crown followed by a ‘proper’ setup seems to make most guitars ‘come alive.’
     
    bdm, Tidbit, Gig Young and 3 others like this.
  18. JPH118

    JPH118 Member

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    Ive had the static issue in a Les Paul before, audible thru the pickups. Touched everything with a dryer sheet and it went away, but the d@mn lavender scent lingered a while...
     
  19. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    I've had substantial improvements by taking the chrome-plated brass covers off pickups, most notably with an old set of of SD Jazz in my OLP bari.

    Getting the right amp is a good fix. :)
     
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  20. Magnets And Melodies

    Magnets And Melodies Member

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    I just did the Faber conversion with the iNsert posts replacing the stock Nashville bridge with studs..... It was like night and day. A big improvement to my ears. Who would've thought metal to wood would bring it so much tone.... You'd think Gibson might catch on by now (considering they used to make em that way!!!!)

    I really hope they do away with the whole Nashville bridge/studs on the USA line one day.
     
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