Intro to Modding and Building Guitars
Should you even mess with it? That's probably the number one philosophical question for the guitarist. I assume anyone reading this probably already has at least one guitar and it's likely fine—you can play it, it makes noises, and
you can probably plug it into an amp to make it louder.
But tinkering with guitars produces
little hits of dopamine. Dopamine makes you feel good. Let's be honest, it's kind of like drugs, but I'm betting it's on the non-problematic-and-probably-good-for-you side of
the spectrum. I find the tinkering therapeutic, and I get as much out of messing with the guitars as I do from playing them.
That said, you should know 💀 The Dangers 💀 of what you're getting into.
Guitar / Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS)
GAS is an addiction of sorts: "an urge to acquire and accumulate lots of gear". GAS is not just limited to Guitar stuff, of course, and afflicts those in other realms such as
cars (even though car-nuts strangely don't call it GAS). Be careful out there.
G.A.S. by Walter Becker (acknowledgement)
"The gent in question is a devoted husband and a doting father, but right now there is no family in the family room; there's no room for the family in the family room. All horizontal surfaces are covered by guitars..."
Getting Rid of GAS (bargaining)
"I have it. I think I’ve had it for a long time. At least, I still have many symptoms. Psychology Today defines Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) as 'lustily buying more tools than you need.'"
GAS - Living With Guitar Acquisition Syndrome (acceptance)
There is literally a book about GAS. "A hilarious, tongue-in-cheek book for guitar players and collectors who suffer from Guitar Acquisition Syndrome. It contains insights, tips, confessions, and stories from over 200 "afflicted" enthusiasts from 23 countries."
Should you mod your guitar?
Aftermarket Upgrades: Worth the Trouble and Expense?
"Guitar players love to tinker. For some, pickup swaps are as common as string changes...is it worth it to dive into aftermarket upgrades? Will it help or hurt resale value? Is it worth the trouble? Let’s weigh the options."
Top Five Guitars to Mod
"With so many options in the pickup and replacement part world readily available these days, let’s look at five less expensive guitars that, with some new parts and passion, can become your most versatile instrument."
Building a guitar: Partscasters
A partscaster is a guitar built from parts. You can build the guitar of your dreams—exactly the shape and color you want, with boutique pickups and that exotic neck wood in just the right contour.
A couple things to know about them:
- They can be built for about ~$400 and up. To build a partscaster in the $400 range you will probably need to find rad deals on used parts. A nice one out of new parts clocks in at around the $1,000 - $1,500 range. Really the sky is the limit,
- Be aware of resale value! They usually fetch much less used as a whole unit than the cost of the parts.
- Partscasters are often Stratocaster or Telecaster replicas due to readily available parts that work together.
- You don't need to buy genuine OEM parts. There are several companies making very high-quality aftermarket bodies, necks, etc. such as
MJT . In fact two of my Strat partscasters have 0 Fender parts on them.
Why would anyone build a partscaster?
"I got to wondering why we builds Partscasters. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve built a few myself but occasionally question the logic. These are perhaps the most common reasons:"
Six part series: An Introduction to Partscasters, Frankensteins and Six-String Surrealism
"Many partscasters, also known as Frankenstein guitars, begin innocently enough with a simple bridge humbucker replacement. But there are many reasons to build out from there, like being a broke musician, earning bragging rights for “rolling your own” and the easy availability of low-cost, high-quality parts."
Ultimate Guide to Building Your Own Partscaster
"You CAN build your own dream partscaster guitar, save some money in the process, and skip all the bonehead mistakes we made along the way. Here’s how."
(Telecaster) Show your Partscasters
Inspiration for a Telecaster build
(Stratocaster) Showing Off Partscasters
Inspiration for a Stratocaster build
Next: Set it Up
Now you're all geared up to mod your guitar or build a new one. All those changes will require a setup. Learn about setting up your own guitar in
part 3 →