Debatable! Of course… probably the most debatable subject on guitars, us musicians are weird people, we love one thing today and hate the same thing tomorrow and we start tweaking things until we go “oh man.. I loved how this thing sounded yesterday “ we are almost never happy with what we have for more than a week.
Well… sort of, we get used to a sound and this will sometimes stop causing an impression on us… when something blows your mind out it’s because it’s new… fresh… different. But we often just get bored and our brain sort of fills in the blanks and the sound just becomes “standard”.
I’ve experienced this many many times. Now… I’m in a different mind set… I have enough guitars and amps that I can just switch stuff around when it’s just not working… this made me understand that sometimes one thing sounds better than the other, it could be us… could be placebo… could be voltage, humidity.. who knows! But… I try not to tweak things (apart from volume, treble, mids, etc) I’ll just swap guitars… and try again.
I stopped modding guitars (as much as I can) the guitar has to feel right… if it doesn’t… there is no mod that will make it “better” or more suitable for you, and once you break that “mod seal” there is no going back… and there is no end on the amount of mods you can do!
One of my Custom Shops sounded just slightly darker than others and there was something about the volume pot that I didn’t like… but I love the guitar… it feels like home… but that volume pot…just.. was weird. So I changed it with a vintage spec 550k ohms, and boom! There it was… missing piece.. feels perfect.. never touched it again and I play it a lot!
I had another custom shop.. that came with 57 plus humbuckers.. which I hated.. too nasal and bright.. I went ahead and purchased some custom buckers and installed them… got rid of the 57s. It sounded better… but I still wasn’t getting along with the guitar… it felt “stiff”. I ended up selling it because when I kept “rotating” guitars… that one never ended up pleasing me.
I’m a true believer of “magic dust” inside the guitar… the good ol’ mojo… if it has it… then maybe some minor tweaks will be acceptable.. if it doesn’t have any “magic” or mojo… then I think no mod will make it much better.
I even try not to open the control cavity if I feel that the guitar is perfect… because you know what? “Ignorance is bliss” if you open that up and you notice something that you don’t visually like… you’ll want to change that.
Just today.. I bought an SG Special that I just love how it sounds! But the pots where a bit stiff because the guitar was filthy!! I did a whole clean up… but pots were still stiff… I opened the control cavity to put some contact cleaner… and guess what… there’s a PCB controlling the pots… I just put the contact cleaner to loose them up and close it quickly before I convinced myself of “upgrading” to one of those fancy wiring kits.
To mod or not to mod… that’s the question… go for the small upgrades… maybe a pot… maybe a bit of a clean… but you know what the best upgrade is? a new set of strings :). And a guitar that feels just right. If it doesn’t feel right.. it is not for you… sell it and buy another one
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