Does Guitar Modding Work and Is It Worth It? 

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Electric guitars are known in the music industry for the endless versatility, but not many people know that these same guitars are also well-known for their endless customization options.

A lot of guitar players will just take their guitar model as it comes out of manufacturing and performs minor modding to improve the overall performance or the overall appearance of the guitar.

There are really no limits when it comes to how far you can take modding; there are minor things that you can change in a couple of minutes, but there are also more substantial changes that you can make to your guitar that takes a lot more time, work, and money.

If you have taken your chances and asked an online guitar community about guitar modding, you may have happened to see that the responses are divided by those who are pro-modding and those who are against it.

People who are for modding have valid explanations on why guitar modding is worth the effort, just as people who are against modding have valid explanations on why modding isn’t worth the effort. The big question here today is: is guitar modding worth it?

This is one of the most commonly asked questioned amongst guitar players who are interested in changing up their guitars. In this article, we will talk about several important things that you, as a  guitarist, need to consider before you start working on doing any modding to change your instrument, as well as the pros and the cons of guitar modifications.

Is it worth it?

Guitar players most commonly switch out their pickups almost as often as they change out their strings. With the rise of the internet, you pick from a myriad of bridges, saddles, tailpieces, tuners, nuts, knobs, or strap button options, in any material, in any style, at any price point that you could imagine. But, is it worth it?

There really isn’t a right or a wrong answer here, as guitar modding all comes down to the user. You can buy yourself a medium price range guitar and spend $1500 on upgrades to customize the instrument to what appeals to you.

Or, you can purchase yourself an expensive guitar and not make any changes to the instrument, leaving the sound and appearance original to what you got when you purchased the guitar.

When you’re modifying a guitar for its sound, you’re not looking to improve the sound quality of the guitar, but to make it more personal to your taste.

Pros of Modifying Your Guitar Cons of Modifying Your Guitar
Ability to personalize guitar Lessens resale value
Tweak imperfections of instrument Difficult to make a profit on
Give yourself amazing results with little money Can be time-consuming
Increases the quality of sound Can be costly
Makes your guitar visually appealing Can take a lot of work

Upgrading your electronics

If you walk into any guitar store, you will most likely see a whole variety of aftermarket pickups that guitarists use to swamp out their electronics with to either get a different sounding tone or to upgrade low-quality pickups with some active alternatives.

In order to understand how your guitar is going to benefit from upgrading your electronics, you need to understand that the tone of your guitar depends on much more than just the electronics alone.

Your sound is also affected by the tonewood that was used to build your guitar, the neck of the guitar and the bridge of your guitar.

When you’re looking to change the sound of your pick up, you should only really consider changing your electronic system if you have a quality tonewood to your instrument. A lot of pickups modifications are completed on cheaply made guitars, which many people find that their results are underwhelming most of the time.

The reasoning behind this is because the rest of your guitar can’t keep up with the new pickups, no matter how high of quality your pickups are. Active pickups tend to be less affected by tonewoods due to their higher output, but this is still an important factor in your decision.

No matter if you’re upgrading the electronics or the hardware of your guitar, you shouldn’t do so if your guitar isn’t in great condition. If your instrument isn’t right, to begin with, you are going to have an extremely difficult time getting it perfect or up to your personal standards.

Upgrading your hardware

Changing the hardware on your electric guitar can really important the overall performance of your guitar, for not a lot of coin. Changing the tuning pegs on your guitar will do a whole list of wonders to your instrument if you’re working on a moderately priced model.

If you’re looking to change out the bridge of your guitar, this will be a bit harder to complete, but it will also make a sever improvement on your sustain and the overall feel of your instrument.

Switching out the TSR jack for one of higher quality can really help to improve the overall tone of your instrument, but if you’re upgrading the entire electronics of your guitar, you’re probably going to have to do this anyway.

The only issue that can come along with making all of these changes Is that you may end up spending more money than you would have planned if you were just to go and purchase yourself a new guitar. It’s a very rare occasion to see a guitar that has been heavily modified to perform better than a high-quality factory model that’s plugged into a high-quality amp.

While many playability upgrades will have a big effect on your sound, there will be nothing that changes your sound more than switching out a pickup. This is the case for both electric and electric acoustic guitars. Changing the pick up is easy to do (in most cases) and reversible, but the cost and installation of a pick up can be expensive.

Typically, the cost of a quality pick up is around $75, so make sure you’re not spending this money on a guitar that you’re not planning on being with for a good while. You can change the pickups yourself, which is extremely easy to do by yourself, but you can always keep the pickups that you purchase for upgrading your next guitar.

Finding the right pick up for your personal taste isn’t easy though, as every guitar is unique and every pick up can vary, so you may end up not liking the combination when you have the pick up installed in your guitar.

Upgrading for playability purposes

If you have an instrument that has a great sound, but playing on could work better, getting yourself into the world of upgrading is a great choice to make. Simple modifications like a roller string tees, high mass sustain blocks, roller bridge, and strap locks are do-it-yourself projects that are incredibly inexpensive and are easily reversible (if you make a huge mistake).

Upgrading for playability can be as simple as changing a knob to one that is easier to grab on to or has a set screw, in order to create a smoother playing experience for yourself.

You can also make more complex modifications, such as replacing a saddle or nut replacement, putting in new tuners, adding a Bigsby without a Vibramate, adding more complex switching- these things are best left to the professionals to complete, but can really change your sound in ways that you wouldn’t expect.

These modifications can really take a toll on your budget, so be careful and take the time to make sure that you’re ready for these non-reversible upgrades.

Upgrading to flip for profit

If you’ve found an instrument that you bought for a low price tag and you’re dreaming about creating this into a smooth playing guitar that produces amazing sound, all to sell it to flip the guitar for the price. Sadly, this is only just a dream and many people won’t buy your flip.

Other than the standard line models from the major Japanese or U.S. manufacturers, re-selling a guitar can be extremely difficult.

Any non-reversible modifications may limit the next buyer’s needs/personal taste as well, so it’s best that you just keep your money and invest it in an instrument that you’d be happy with or to upgrade you’re your guitar to your own personal tastes.

Conclusion

Before making any final decision of purchases guitar modding is something that you really need to think about. Some poor quality or damaged guitars aren’t worth modifying, so completing any modifications in these instruments will not only be a complete waste of time, but it will also be a complete waste of money.

However, if you have a moderately priced guitar that’s in good condition, your guitar could really benefit from a few modifications.

At the end of the day, if you are just looking to make your guitar more personal for your experience with it, do what you please with it. If these changes allow your guitar to sound better, to play better, and feel better, all modifications you do to the instrument are worth it.

If you are interested in a short-term improvement while you’re on the hunt for a better quality instrument, make a budget upgrade to your instrument and stick to it, but don’t put in a whole lot of money or effort.

If you are interested in flipping guitars, you need to remember that not everyone will share your taste for the sound quality of the instruments you flip, as well as the cosmetic appearance of the instruments your flip.

Customizing your guitar scan ruin their resale values, as no one really wants to purchase someone else’s because they can’t really tell just by looks how well the job was done or if the person who did the modifications knew what they were doing.

If your mods are going to end up more expensive than the cost of a new guitar, you may want to reconsider your choices and consider purchasing yourself a new guitar.

About the Author Danny Trent

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