I'm betting your guitar can sound better!
This article discusses five things you can do to improve the tone of your electric guitar for better clarity & voice. Read below for specific upgrades and mods.
1. NEW STRINGS
Electric guitar pickups 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 heard from your settings, try a fresh set of strings. Old strings don't intonate properly. They get caked with finger oils and dead skin which weighs the strings down, causing fret buzz, tuning problems, and overall crappy sound.
2. CHANGE YOUR PICKUPS
This is an obvious one. You may love your pickups. And maybe you've already changed your pickups once before, but changing pickups is the primary thing that will 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. Your pickups and how they're adjusted make a huge difference in their voice and response. Schedule a private consultation and let us guide you on your search for the perfect set of coils for you and your guitar.
3. UPGRADE YOUR SADDLES & NUT
Your saddles play a big role in how each string imparts vibrational energy into the guitar body. The saddle is the part that the string rests on at the bridge. The material that it's made from has a huge effect on your tone. 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 slotted piece up at the headstock that guides the strings over 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 it can also improve the overall response of the entire guitar via the neck. This is from what we call material dampening. Different materials will absorb and reflect vibrations in different ways, and to varying degrees. The nut cradles each string, and a non-responsive soft material can deaden the vibrational energy of the entire system.
4. PROPER SETUP & PLAYING ACTION
Guitars always 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 buzzing and poor intonation. Bad string contact equals poor note definition. Get a professional setup done about once a year and learn how to make your own adjustments.
5. UPGRADE SHIELDING & COMPONENTS
Some guitars benefit a lot from a proper re-wire and a full shielding job. This means installing copper shielding in all control cavities and the pickup cavities, and also re-grounding the circuit properly while eliminating ground loops. If you have cheap components, upgrading the pots, the switch, and the jack can make a noticeable difference.