Electric guitar showing pickups

Mods – yes or no?

Mods – what’s that all about then?

This is something I have never done – apart from adding a strap button to an acoustic and fitting a strap button jack plug to another acoustic (so I guess I have done it!) – and not really thought about as I can’t/don’t solder. But do you need much skill to do it?

Reading the Guitarist mag every month it seems you can do a lot but the old soldering is the key to changing pups and pots.

But if you do fancy upgrading your guitar there is quite a lot you can do to it, particularly an electric, that involves a few screws here and there, maybe a bit of soldering but no other luthier level woodworking skills – so it would seem.

Now, I am not a bad diy’er and I can also wield a mean saw and chisel, having made furniture in the past and achieved Grade B in O Level Woodwork back in the day, so there are quite a few things I might have a go at.

I guess the issue is on what guitar would I have a go at? A cheapish one, where you have nothing to lose and much to gain or a £3000 PRS? Hmmm…no contest really!

So what can you ‘mod’?


I am not sure putting in a cutaway counts at this level so we can stick at changing a few things and adding others:

  • strap buttons
  • higher quality wood or bone bridge pins
  • a bone nut and/or bridge (if you know what you are doing – You Tube is a marvellous thing)
  • installing a pick up and jack socket (an end socket involves widening the hole only, so easy to do)
  • changing the tuners
  • new strings – does this count?

A couple of these add convenience, many will enhance tone and the pickup will make it sound good on stage!


This is where mods come into their own. If you take that ‘cheap’ electric strat-alike or tele-alike you have then you can change and add a lot:

  • pickups
  • pots, wiring and switches
  • scratchplate
  • jack socket
  • bridge – saddles – tailpiece – tremolo
  • nut
  • tuners
  • colour/finish
  • neck if it is bolted on!

The internet is a great place to find what parts will fit your guitar – and how to fit them – and what other modders have done that you can learn from.

There are loads of aftermarket pickup makers, quite a few being here in the UK, including Bare Knuckle, Frailin, The Creamery, TV Jones, EMG, DiMarzio, Mojotone, Seymour Duncan, EMG and Cream T to name a few. You can also go to the Fender Custom shop and now PRS to get pups direct from them as well.

Which to choose? That depends on the sound you want and your style – metal, rock, blues etc

Have fun!   

Links to other pages

Choosing an Acoustic pickup
Signature Guitars
Electric Guitars