Want to Better Understand Modifications

AZGiant

New Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2019
Messages
176
I read the threads a lot here, post now and then, and I see a lot of us talking about changing pots, nuts, volume control, wirings, etc. My question is what do each of these changes do to the tone of the guitar? I keep my PRS pretty much stock, but am interested in maybe doing some mods, but am unclear what each mod could do for the tone of the guitar.

Love to hear your thoughts and insights

Thanks
Axe
 

Broseph

PRS Fren
Joined
Feb 18, 2021
Messages
841
Location
'Merica
Some changes are cosmetic. Others are functional.

Pickup upgrades are obvious. Change the way the guitar sounds. This is the biggest way to change a guitars tone. The import pickups may lack clarity that the USA handmade ones have.

The old PRS SE nuts were cheap and had a tendency to bind. They have since been updated.

Locking tuners are a luxury, but some SE tuners are cheap and allow strings to slip, especially if the tremolo Is used.

Pots are a preference. The core tapers are better than alpha pots, which I feel go from 10 to zero sound way fast.

Upgrading wiring is only necessary if crappy soldering happened or you have a grounding issue, otherwise you will hear no difference by upgrading. But for some people that are gutting a guitar they will redo this to get it done once and forget about it.

I think the biggest thing gained in upgrading a budget guitar is to approximate the more expensive cousins. Sure the woods will never been the same, but the bang for buck is there, especially if you have a drawer of spare parts and can avoid buying everything new. Some of us here love to tinker with things. Modding can be cool. For others it’s a solid no and if the guitar isn’t right they would rather resell. To each their own!
 
Last edited:

AZGiant

New Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2019
Messages
176
Some changes are cosmetic. Others are functional.

Pickup upgrades are obvious. Change the way the guitar sounds. This is the biggest way to change a guitars tone. The import pickups may lack clarity that the USA handmade ones have.

The old PRS SE nuts were cheap and had a tendency to bind. They have since been updated.

Locking tuners are a luxury, but some SE tuners are cheap and allow strings to slip, especially if the tremolo Is used.

Pots are a preference. The core tapers are better than alpha pots, which I feel go from 10 to zero sound way fast.

Upgrading wiring is only necessary if crappy soldering happened or you have a grounding issue, otherwise you will hear no difference by upgrading. But for some people that are gutting a guitar they will redo this to get it done once and forget about it.

I think the biggest thing gained in upgrading a budget guitar to approximate the more expensive cousins. Sure the woods will never been the same, but the bang for buck is there, especially if you have a drawer of spare parts and can avoid buying everything new. Some of us here love to tinker with things. Modding can be cool. For others it’s a solid no and if the guitar isn’t right they would rather resell. To each their own!
Thanks man. I am curious to learn more about pots and trust the feedback from this group over just searching the web. I am assuming the ohms (resistance) make the difference?
 

Broseph

PRS Fren
Joined
Feb 18, 2021
Messages
841
Location
'Merica
In general most keep the ohms the same as factory (500k for humbuckers). Most changes here are done based on feel of the knob/friction and taper type (linear vs audio) But it’s not necessary. You could go up or down depending on how bright you want the guitar to be. Small changes (like 30 ohms) are very hard for the human ear to pickup and usually within the tolerance of the pots. TCI tuned has a very narrow tolerance from my understanding. Going from a 500k pot to a 1 Meg will make a big difference.
Here’s a quick rundown on pots. https://sixstringsupplies.co.uk/pages/audio-or-linear-pots
 

RickP

Established 1960, Still Not Dead
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
4,561
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
A lot of people these days do mods simply because some guy on YouTube says it’s the new best thing. I’ve never thought that was worth the effort, time, or money. My PRS guitars are stock because I like them as is. I’ve considered a few changes for my own purposes, but have never made any.

My suggestion to anyone about mods is to not try fixing a non-existent problem. You can modify yourself right out of a good guitar. If something about the guitar is bothering you or holding you back, then yeah, research solutions to that issue and make it right by a well considered mod.

If you find yourself wanting to mod a guitar because you hear a lot of folks talking about it, I’d let that pass. A lot of thought, experience, and testing went into that instrument‘s design, so don’t be surprised to find it’s a pretty highly evolved guitar as is. My PRS guitars seem like hot-rodded versions of normal guitars already!
 

AZGiant

New Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2019
Messages
176
A lot of people these days do mods simply because some guy on YouTube says it’s the new best thing. I’ve never thought that was worth the effort, time, or money. My PRS guitars are stock because I like them as is. I’ve considered a few changes for my own purposes, but have never made any.

My suggestion to anyone about mods is to not try fixing a non-existent problem. You can modify yourself right out of a good guitar. If something about the guitar is bothering you or holding you back, then yeah, research solutions to that issue and make it right by a well considered mod.

If you find yourself wanting to mod a guitar because you hear a lot of folks talking about it, I’d let that pass. A lot of thought, experience, and testing went into that instrument‘s design, so don’t be surprised to find it’s a pretty highly evolved guitar as is. My PRS guitars seem like hot-rodded versions of normal guitars already!
Cant argue there Rick. Every PRS I own seems pretty darn perfect. I have changed some SE into locking tuners, left the nuts alone, swapped a pup here and there in SEs, but for the most part kept them stock. I have just heard so much about pots and other mods, and am glad to get all this feedback from this group, where the member's opinions I respect.
 

JasonE

New Member
Joined
May 1, 2012
Messages
318
Location
South Florida
For what it’s worth, the higher in the PRS lines you go, the less likely I am to touch a thing. I’ve never changed a core guitar. At that level they are exactly what Paul wanted with no compromise. I won’t mess with that.
I have changed pickups in a few of my core models. However, I changed them to other PRS pickups that I like better. Other than pickups, I can't think of any reason to change anything else on the core models unless you are adding a tap and need to change the pot to a push pull for that.
 

Bill SAS 513

Just another old guy in a T-shirt
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
3,477
Location
Manchester, Maryland
Great topic...and commonly discussed...
Per Paul himself, every little thing changes Tone. Of course, you need to have PRS or Eric Johnson's ears to hear some of the differences.
They say Eric J. can tell the difference between a new 9V battery and one that's been used for a few hours, in his TS9...?????
New (different) Pickups would definitely be a noticeable difference,...however, better potentiometers, wiring harness, nut material, well, not so much...to me, anyway. Others may hear a big difference.

I can and do love the feeling of better potentiometers when turning them...
which would be the main reason I'd replaced the older/cheaper version.
I've found cheaper made pots get crackly much quicker when turning them.

My 2 cents.
 

LSchefman

Historical Entity
Joined
Apr 26, 2012
Messages
29,397
Location
Michigan
A lot of people these days do mods simply because some guy on YouTube says it’s the new best thing. I’ve never thought that was worth the effort, time, or money. My PRS guitars are stock because I like them as is. I’ve considered a few changes for my own purposes, but have never made any.

My suggestion to anyone about mods is to not try fixing a non-existent problem. You can modify yourself right out of a good guitar. If something about the guitar is bothering you or holding you back, then yeah, research solutions to that issue and make it right by a well considered mod.

If you find yourself wanting to mod a guitar because you hear a lot of folks talking about it, I’d let that pass. A lot of thought, experience, and testing went into that instrument‘s design, so don’t be surprised to find it’s a pretty highly evolved guitar as is. My PRS guitars seem like hot-rodded versions of normal guitars already!
Excellent insight, and as usual, I agree.

However, I did experiment with the pickups in my Artist II. I wanted a more vintage tone, and had a set of Gibson PAFs installed for a little while. Then, of course, I missed the original pickups, so I put 'em back in.

I had my '65 SG special modded with a Tune-o-Matic bridge in 1971, and that changed its tone for the better, bringing out a woody sound. Still have the guitar, though it's now living with my son.

Other changes I've made (especially to PRSes) generally weren't worth the trouble. Even the cosmetic changes weren't as nice looking as the original stuff. I dunno why, I fall in love with a guitar, and decide it isn't worth tarting up.

To the OP, tone pots can change the tone of the guitar a little; the tolerances on pots aren't all that tight (even good ones), and you may get improvement, may get nothing, may make things less good. It's a crapshoot. At this point, I only change a pot if it goes bad.
 

garrett

...
Joined
Jul 27, 2012
Messages
6,118
Location
The southern tip of Tampa Bay
I read the threads a lot here, post now and then, and I see a lot of us talking about changing pots, nuts, volume control, wirings, etc. My question is what do each of these changes do to the tone of the guitar? I keep my PRS pretty much stock, but am interested in maybe doing some mods, but am unclear what each mod could do for the tone of the guitar.

Love to hear your thoughts and insights

Thanks
Axe

Firstly, if you like what you got, whatever model it is, don't go modding it just for the sake of it. Unless you want to experiment, I guess, but it's a rabbit hole that runs deeeeeep.

I've modded everything imaginable and they all impact tone in some small way, or possibly in a really big way especially with pickups. For me personally that's important, but it's more about improving functionality to make the guitar work better for me.

I think of it from the aspect of what I find lacking in the instrument and then I see what the options are to improve it. And of course it's all very subjective...
 

Alnus Rubra

Loving nature’s wonders
Joined
Oct 17, 2017
Messages
18,238
Location
Scotland
I kept my SE245 stock for about a year before I made any mods.

I swapped out the nut for a core one, the bridge studs for un-plated brass and the tuners for SE locking.

I have a set of pickups to try in the guitar also.

Obviously the greatest tonal difference was when I changed to Amber lampshades!;)

Did I need to make any of these changes? Probably not, but to me they made a good instrument even better.
 

Ovibos

Naughty Wood Librarian
Joined
Jan 9, 2015
Messages
2,780
Location
Wilmette, IL
Last mod I did was take a Scotchbrite pad to the neck of my new Vela to satin-ize the glossy neck.

I haven’t done it to any of my current PRS, but I really like the cocked wah tone mod where you use a low value capacitor to get that sound. I have it on my ‘tinker with everything during the pandemic’ Squier Jazzmaster as a push-push that lets me switch to a regular tone cap. At some point, I’ll throw it on a guitar as a mini toggle circuit.
 

FDHog

New Member
Joined
May 18, 2022
Messages
128
Location
Jersey Shore
2 of my 3 Core guitars, I changed absolutely nothing, and never will. The other, just the pickup rings. My 2 S2's, the pots, 3 way switch, pickups, and on one, the tuners. I also cleaned up all the wiring.
 

AZGiant

New Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2019
Messages
176
2 of my 3 Core guitars, I changed absolutely nothing, and never will. The other, just the pickup rings. My 2 S2's, the pots, 3 way switch, pickups, and on one, the tuners. I also cleaned up all the wiring.
FD are the pup rings strictly cosmetic?
 

xxxadixxx

New Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2022
Messages
125
On my 3 cores I installed Schaler strap locks. I also swapped out the vintage tuners for PRS locking vintage tuners on my SC594. Not the most aggressive mods I know. Everything else about the guitars are perfect for me. Even the stock 594 pickups cover my full playing range that only a boost is needed to get me what I need. Then there is the Tremonti…. No need to touch a thing.
 

Corwin1968

New Member
Joined
May 4, 2022
Messages
9
I love my SE 245 Standard and already had a set of SE locking tuners when I bought it. I viewed the tuners as something to simply make string changes easier, but then realized they have brass posts, while the stock tuners don't. Maybe that's a slight upgrade to tone? Hope so. Now I can't decide on whether to wait until it needs a string change or to just go ahead and change them so I can install the lockers now.

I also have it in my mind to upgrade the pickups and electronics, but honestly, it may never happen and I'm sure I'll be just as happy with the guitar.
 
Top