1. Replace the tone cap (most commonly a .022uf or .047uf) with a .1uf cap. Preferably a Paper-In-Oil (PIO) capacitor. This single modification will take some of the brightness out and warm up Your Tone. There is a reason Eric Johnson uses this cap value.
2. Stratocasters have a tremolo cavity on the back side. Covered with a plastic cover with 6 screws. Remove the cover…. And experience a big difference in Your Tone and Overall Sound.
3. Remove all paint from any location that is not seen. Under the bridge, inside the pickup cavity, under the pick guard. These 3 locations are easy to get too. This will allow your guitar body the breath. You will love the change in tone!
4. Replace your pots and wiring with good quality components. Cloth wiring is best.
These are simple and inexpensive mods that are easy to do and will make a difference that you will hear. Each will have a distinctive change in your guitars tone. Have some fun …. and give it a try. Enjoy your New Tone!
Tone Man Guitar
What's So Great About 50s Vintage Guitar Wiring?
Let’s first go back to the 50s and even 60’s. Think about the sound or “Tone” that came out of that era. So many great recordings that we strive today to just get somewhere close to that sound. They did not have the sophisticated recording equipment we have today. Many of those sounds came from Les Paul’s and other Gibson made guitars. The 59 Les Paul was Magic! The difference is in the electronics. Many things effect the tone including the material the guitar is made of, the amp, electronics and even your own playing style. But if you are looking for an easy economically way to get “That 50's Tone”. Upgrade your wiring back to the 50’s vintage style.
There is nothing special or difficult about this wiring. It simply connects the tone pot to the output of the volume pot (middle lug) instead of the input lug. Putting the tone adjustment after the volume. This is the way Gibson wired up their electric guitars in the late 1950s. Les Paul, SG and ES-335.
It’s hard to describe but one of the best descriptions I have heard is “The Tone Just Gets In Your Face”. Notes open up after you play them. It’s stronger, tighter and adds clarity especially to the neck pick up. Will definitely improve the Muddy Neck sound. By rolling back your guitar volume some you can clean up an overdriven amp. One of my own favorite things is the elimination of much of the treble loss when you roll the volume down. Both volume and tone controls are very responsive and smoother.
Now the above has all been about the way the components are wired up. What about the electronics. You don’t have to change any components to achieve the 50s vintage wiring but If you really want to bring your guitar Back to Life here are a few suggestions that want break the bank.
Hope this helps some of you out there that are considering a modification to your guitar. Tone is very much subjective and a matter of taste. I personally like the 50’s style and have modified all my guitars. Give it a try and have some fun. Good luck with your search for That Magic Tone!
Tone Man Guitar