Why mod a perfectly good instrument?
July 02, 2020
So you just bought a perfectly good guitar. Why would you want to mess with it? Well, several reasons. Maybe you just want to personalize it so it doesn’t have that “off-the-shelf” look. Maybe you want to change the way it sounds. Or maybe you just want to express yourself a little. In my case, I’m embarking into the world of modding in order to get as close to my “dream guitar” as I can on a limited budget.
Specifically, I wanted a new guitar because, while I love my Fender Stratocaster, I’ve recently been trying to learn a lot of songs by guitarists that play on 24-fret guitars, and that can be very challenging to do on my 21-fret Strat. So, I set a budget of $500 and started researching to see if I could find a guitar with a shape and finish I liked, with a maple neck, and with some specific Seymour Duncan pickups that I like. And that was going well until I threw a monkey wrench into the process. I thought, if I’m going to buy a new guitar, I shouldn’t just get more frets on a guitar like the one I already have. I should really do something new and get a 7-string guitar!
That seemed like a good plan, but–probably because there are a lot less of them produced–I had a lot more trouble finding a 7-string guitar that had all of the features I wanted that was also within my budget. In the end, I decided to buy a guitar with good body and neck and then just replace all of the components with the things I really wanted instead of what came with it from the factory.
So over the next few weeks, I’m going to modify my new Ibanez GRG7221M by replacing the pickups, wiring, tuners, and bridge. I want to replace the pickups and wiring because I’m not satisfied with the stock pickups as they don’t really match my playing style. I’m planning on replacing the stock pickups with Seymour Duncan models and replacing the stock 5-way switch with a more versatile 3-way switch and a push-pull pot for coil split. As for the bridge and tuners, I want to replace them with heavier, more stable parts. Heavier hardware should help the guitar’s tuning stability and should also give me longer sustain.
Of course, when replacing hardware, you might also end up changing the balance of your guitar, so that’s something to keep in mind. I won’t know until I’m done if I like the results or not, but that’s also what’s exciting about it.
In short, the purpose of modding is to create something that’s uniquely yours in function or in aesthetic. Whether it’s a less-visible mod like replacing the stock pickups with similarly sized new ones or a big and highly visible mod like painting birds and flowers on the body, it all boils down to getting something that is as close as possible to perfect for you.
I probably won’t attempt any amazing, eye-popping work like the Yvette Young painted guitar pictured above. (Not only is she an incredible guitarist, but as you can see, she also paints amazing imagery as well.) I will, however, work on improving my guitar’s sound and feel, and I’ll update this blog with my progress, so check back in to see how it comes out.