Modding a budget guitar... - Jemsite
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post #1 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 10:59 AM Thread Starter
 
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Modding a budget guitar...

Available as a separate thread - perhaps it will get more attention than that HUGE "show off your guitar". I also thought it should be separate because it's a question thread, rather than showing off my yet-unmodded guitar... for the piece of crap that I sometimes feel it is.

Anyways: I've read a bunch of reviews of various Ibanez guitars yesterday. It's lead to a dispute about whether the wood or the electronics influence the tone (at all, or more). A dispute I'm having with myself. I haven't played enough guitar (or guitarS, plural) to be able to tell WHICH of the two influence the tone more (and certainly different tonewoods sound differently, but this isn't about that).

I am merely wondering if I could upgrade the electronics (for starters) to make it sound better. It doesn't look terribly complex (certainly, it's a guitar, not a microprocessor) but alas, I've seen discussions about grounding your pickups longer than my anatomy textbooks.

You know, like pickups, the knobs for tone and volume, the 5-way switch (which is noisy as ALL HELLS), the wiring and so forth. I imagine everything is sub-par in a GRG model.

Could anyone suggest some reading material? Or smack me over the head and THEN suggest some reading material? I have a GRG-170M, and it's not really a bad guitar, wood-wise. I love the neck, the body feels nice, it's really vibrant, but the pickups are ridiculously noisy. And the switch is just... a failure.
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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 11:34 AM
 
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

All you really need is reasonable skill with a soldering iron and some wiring diagrams, which can easily be found on the Seymour Duncan website. Most of the rest is common sense and tiny bits of inside knowledge. I think you'd be as well off just to have a go and see what happens, then ask questions as problems arise.
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post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 12:58 PM
 
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

I agree with skins. Just practice some soldering on scrap metal and you shouuld be good to go. With a good diagram its relatively easy, and very easy to fix if you mess up. Just come back here with any questions and I am sure you will find some guidance
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post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 04:00 PM
 
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

If the neck and body feel and sound ok acoustically to you then go down the modding route.

If the switches are noisy then go replace the switch, and probably the volume and tone pots with higher quality items. They won't be too expensive to replace ($10-25 maybe).

Also maybe shield all electronics cavities, and cover the back side of the pickguard with sheilding tape. That will also help with any noise issues.

If you want to replace pickups then go for it! Just remember to keep the originals so if you end up wanting to trade the guitar in for a better one you can put the originals back in. Resale won't be any better with aftermarket pickups.
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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 05:48 PM
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

I usually catch hell for this, but I'm against spending any money to mod a beginners guitar. Generally the person with the guitar doesn't have enough experience to really understand what they like or don't like about the guitar, and dropping $300 on a $200 guitar seems like a waste of money to me. All that does is put your farther away from a nicer guitar. Granted you get immediate satisfaction from new pickups, but in the long run to me it isn't worth it.

Then again, the first thing I do when I buy a new Les Paul is drop $300+ on some WCRs for it. I guess people would say I'm stupid for that.

I know a lot of people who are happier with 5 mediocre guitars than they would be with one really good one. I guess it's what makes you happy that matters.
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post #6 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 06:02 PM
 
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

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Originally Posted by elcid View Post
Then again I know a lot of people who are happier with 5 mediocre guitars than they would be with one really good one.
That'll be me, then :

RG350M-YE with DiMarzio Evolutions (329 + 215 = 544)
RGT42 tuned to Eb (250 used)
RGT42 tuned to drop Db (for the first 3 tracks of "The Extremist") (200 used)
Epiphone Zakk Wylde LP with EMG 81/85 and killswitch (549 + 155 = 704)
BC Rich Gunslinger Retro (429)

Total : 2127

For reference, a JEM7VWH costs 2000 over here. So the 5 guitars above cost me the price of a pukka JEM, a distortion pedal and a tuner. No contest, IMHO.
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post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-14-2010, 04:07 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

Just for the sake of reference, a JEM7V-WH is 2086 here. After dropping more than 200 in price, in the past year or so. But the fact is I need a hobby to occupy my time. And it kills me to have found a decent guitar that I feel is ruined by the cruddy electronics.

I am somewhat familiar with soldering (growing up, I soldered tons of stuff, because it was so much fun and TV had repetitive Cartoon Network crap running 24/7) so it shouldn't be a problem... I most likely just need to take the thing apart. Read up a lot beforehand.

How does everyone feel about EVOs in a crappy guitar? :P (way I figure it: why not? I'm probably not selling my first electric, anyway.)

@elcid: I understand and respect your point of view, good sir, but as it happens, I won't learn all that much about guitars in general if I don't take mine apart. And if I had a JEM, I'd cut myself for taking THAT apart.

Later edit query: Given I have an HSH, with a 5-way switch, and a volume and tone pot, I assume http://www.seymourduncan.com/support...c=HSH_1v_1t_5w is what I'm looking for?

Last edited by DanteGuitar; 02-14-2010 at 05:21 AM. Reason: Added some things
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post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-14-2010, 06:42 AM
 
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

That is indeed the correct diagram. Have fun!

Oh and don't forget that different pickup manufactureres use different wire colour codes, so look those up on the SD site as well before you start any work.
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post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-14-2010, 09:56 AM
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanteGuitar View Post

@elcid: I understand and respect your point of view, good sir, but as it happens, I won't learn all that much about guitars in general if I don't take mine apart. And if I had a JEM, I'd cut myself for taking THAT apart.
I think you got me wrong, what I'm saying is I think as beginners we haven't developed enough to know what were are missing in our guitar. Replacing pickups and bridges are done more so because of advertising or what people on the internet say than knowing what we want. Throwing Dimarzios into a $150 guitar won't matter at all if you are still playing through a Fender Frontman.
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post #10 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-14-2010, 11:42 AM
 
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

You need at least a solid foundation to modd, everything else is wasted money and will only serve as practice
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post #11 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-14-2010, 12:37 PM
 
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

The only "cheap" Ibby I have is a RGT42DXFM....but i replaced all the parts. It's an amazing guitar, only a slightly thicker neck than my '89 Wizard 1 axes...but it is mahogany so its nice to have a real heavy beast to turn to some times. I replaced everything though, bridge, tuners, pickups, wiring, hardware. etc. I might even refret it someday.
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post #12 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-14-2010, 01:16 PM
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

It's such an amazing guitar you replaced everything but the paint, and after spending all that money you still have an RGT42DXFM
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post #13 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-14-2010, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

Quote:
Originally Posted by elcid View Post
I think you got me wrong, what I'm saying is I think as beginners we haven't developed enough to know what were are missing in our guitar. Replacing pickups and bridges are done more so because of advertising or what people on the internet say than knowing what we want. Throwing Dimarzios into a $150 guitar won't matter at all if you are still playing through a Fender Frontman.
I'm actually using an Amplug right now. The distortion on my amp is disgusting. The DA5 is honestly only good for clean stuff, with some effects. Some.

And while the amplug isn't exactly tube distortion, short of getting a decent amp in the future, it's my best option for practicing ATM.
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post #14 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-14-2010, 02:28 PM
 
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

Quote:
Originally Posted by elcid View Post
It's such an amazing guitar you replaced everything but the paint, and after spending all that money you still have an RGT42DXFM
I dont see your point, its clear I know what I wanted an accomplished it?
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post #15 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-14-2010, 03:01 PM
 
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Re: Modding a budget guitar...

I'm actually guilty of modding guitars,I just got into Ibanez's. I had traded some gear and had a little more than 4 hundred left so i picked up an Rg370DX thinking I would give it to my son who plays bass(and who has one of my strats at school) but after playing it I was impressed enough to join this forum and have already changed out the edge 3 for an original edge,just a quick hit with a dremel and it fits nice. I've always changed out pickups and will do it to this guitar along with the switch and pots. The guitar plays nice for what it is but could and will sound better. He can have the strat
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