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D.I.Y. How to Hot Mod an Axe


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A guide to to the Hot mod.


First, We assume your guitar is Already playing amazingly. if so, write some things down.


you'll want to take measurements, of.

rhythm pup, distance between poles from the strings, do the same for the treble, and mid. if you have a mid. Take a measurement of your bridge's thumb turn screws, and find how high they are off the body/pick guard whatever the case may be. Write down the measurement of both sides. for your stop bar, do the same thing. your format for paper, keep it tidy, also. having a schematic of your guitar stock, then make a copy of it, and writing your mods out on that, and drawing them, will help you put them in the best order of operation, and keep yourself focused by making a checklist for yourself.





Removing body bushings

I've pulled the bushings out of many guitars, Sometimes they are glued in, especially on cheaper lower end guitars. Trick to getting them out is holding the solder gun tip inside of them and heating them up,for removal. check, but I've use a 6/32nd - 1/2" PAN HEAD MACHINE SCREW if you don't use a pan head machine screw and you use anything else, well have fun trying to get it out. anyways, drop that in. and then start to screw the bridge post back down it'll start to pull up/out. If not, than heat it up and try again.


for re-installation, I recommend using a 1/2 x 1-1/2" of solid steel key bar stock(or round if you can find it)(apply glue, if desired. Contact cement will do, or Krazy glue) I do not personally recommend glue because re-removal will be tricky if needed. just press it in, than press your steel up against it, and just tap gently and kiss it with a nice ball pen hammer, an 8oz is honestly all you'd need. just tap until you hear the tone change when you hammer it. This will ensure that your bushing is set.

If your bushing is very loose when just sat inside and not snug as a bug. Take your axe to a repair. because the bridge bushing's hole has been expanded.

Also, on a last note. Ensure that the guitar is "warm" make sure its not cold, temp wise, not hot or on fire...(Hendrix...) but just room temp, warmish. expansion and contraction.


swapping your machine heads

Its something almost EVERYBODY has done, Throughout the world, Their are countless Gibson Guitars that have had the stock tuners taken out and put in Grover's. Why? Because Grovers are awesome. So this is a fairly easily completed task, Its really all about making sure your holes are the right sizes. So, I'll point out what specs you need Because looking at these specs can sometimes be slightly confusing


So long as those specs match up, to whats on your guitar, they'll work just fine for you. Order the right ones, either the 3x3(Gibson style) or the 6 inline style(Fender style) Just unstring your guitar, and unscrew the stock machine heads and then install the new ones, if the old screw holes aren't used, or are not covered by the new machine head, either forget about it (like most people) or, you can get some wood putty, and matching stain marker, or some paint, and just fill/cover the old holes. For the 6 inline style, its basically the same process.


Changing strings

Changing your strings can make a huge difference, I'm talking about string gauge, If your a new player, stick to the regular gauge. its probably what your guitar's nut is slotted for anyways. If you want to go up to a thicker gauge, you'll need to get some nut files from online and slot your guitar nut to accommodate the new string thickness, failure to do this, can result in a cracked nut *OUCH! :( * In the event that you want to go down in string size, their's tricks to do that, such as the tissue trick, but it wont affect your tone much, you'll just get some string buzz is all. nothing to major.


changing out knobs

This is easiest and one of the fastest ways to turn a stock guitar into something personal. Many aftermarket websites sell fancy knobs, gold plate with pearl tops and such, But it could be as simple as a speed knob on an LP, or changing out black top hats on a V for silver inlay top hats, or witch hat knobs. But first you have to get the old knobs off here's the oldest trick in the book to do it.

1.obtain shoelace.

2.hold the shoelace taught between your hands, and sneak the middle of the lace between the guitar body, and the knob.

3. Now, wrap both ends of the lace around the knob's post, evenly and in opposite directions of each other.

4. do step 3 a few times, and now apply upwards force with one hand *holding both ends of the lace in the same hand now* while covering the knob with the other, to prevent it flying across the room.

Your stock knob should now be off the guitar, if not, you may need an Allen wrench to loosen a set screw.

Now, what i like to do is this, sit with your guitar, as if you where normally playing it, and plug it up. set the post to (max) and set the new replacement knob in so that the number "10" is directly in your line of sight when you glance down at the knob. This doesn't sound like something of much importance, but it can be a very useful tiny thing that can help you out later.


Deglossing the neck

Many Players don't like gloss necks, when your hand gets warm from playing, the friction between your hand, and the neck can slow down your playing. Many players for YEARS have used sand paper of high grit (440-600) and just sanded down their neck's finish until it's closer to a satin, or until it feels better to you. Their really isn't a right or wrong way to do this. its all about feel






We've all seen it, and People will argue their heads off about it. But Why shield a guitar? well it could have to do with eliminating an unknown problem that your hearing, by getting rid of the possibility of RFI. A properly shielded guitar can also improve your live sound when playing a gig. especially where CFL bulbs are in use, or their's wireless communication happening or radio transmittance. You can use a few things to shield your guitar, The most expensive, Conductive paint, is an easy way out. Copper tape, (which is available in various sizes) Has been a choice for years, With its conductive adhesive backing. It's an easy, cheep way to shield your instrument. Contrary to popular belief, Aluminium foil doesn't do much at all as far as RFI is concerned, it Will block out another type of interference (which i cannot recall the name of at all) Copper tape is the easiest however, so all you have to do is get some, gut your guitar's electronics, and coat the cavities with the tape, if you've got a LP, run a wire from the switch, to the electronics cavity, and then sodder both sides of the wire to each cavity's copper tape Now, you have connected both seconds so when it is grounded the separate cavity is also grounded do this with all the cavities that are far from the ground wire. Now, with the bottom and sides of the cavities coated with the copper tape, have about 1/4" of the on the surface of the guitar's body, or where it'll make contact to the cavity covers. as you may have guessed. coat the back side of the cavity cover with the tape aswell. Now the last step, is to sodder a ground to the tape, Since its copper to copper, when everything is screwed back on it'll affectingly ground everything else.





Refinishing a Guitar

Lets say you bought a Gibson Faded Explorer, but you prefer a glossy white explorer, have no fear, all hope is not lost.

1st. take measurements of all the settings (stock or custom) of your guitar, and get yourself some various sizes of zip-lock bags.

2. strip the guitar carefully, and place the screws in bags (a bag for pick guard screws, the guard(if it'll fit) (a bag for the pickups, their springs and screws, and a bag for the electronics. (why electronics in a bag? it'll keep them clean

3. now your guitar is striped down to bare bones no hardware at all, no bushings. I'd use a sanding sponge and get to work sanding the guitar down to bare wood

4. now than your neck is carefully sanded, and so is the body, using good tape(Frog tape works great!) mask off the sides, and top of the fret board, and the top of the head stock, you may wanna do 2 layers of tape, Make sure you have smooth sealed edges and your tape isn't messy. If you've got binding on your guitar, you'll have to use a razor blade to scrape the paint away to expose the binding (be warned many Epiphone guitars have the binding painted on) You'll want to use a good wood putty to fill any major nicks on the guitar.

5. now you can build a jig hold the guitar, but you don't have to, but start spraying the guitar with a good high quality primer, don't use the cheep stuff. once this is done. use fine sand paper, and sand your primer once its dried smooth and even.

6. select a good paint, Rustoleum 2x painters coverage is good. Lets way Antique White, gloss for this,(check your tape again, and spray your guitar carefully and evenly, Let the Paint dry for the full recommended drying time on the can.

7. repeat step 6. 2-3 more times.

8. apply a Gloss clear coat to your paint, Let it dry to the full amount of time on the can, and go back and re-gloss the guitar, as many times as desired, this adds depth and luster to the finish, 3 to 5 times is plenty

9. check your work, Nail polish can be a good tool to have if you notice a chip anywhere

10. now, before re-installing your hardware and such, take some good polish, and polish that bad boy up, a buffing pad with some polish will give you a nice shine.



installing a vibrola

vibrola's are IMO a piece of vintage awesome that can give so much Without taking much away from your tone or your guitar They are decently heavy for their size, add sustain, As well as the legendary "Whammy Bar!" (named by Dave Davies Guitar player of "The Kinks"). These are fairly straight forward modifications that need little explanation aside from how to align them. However, I will go into detail about this due to my personal experience and because their's few other sources on the web who do go into detail on this subject. Using some string, something visible, red whatever, lace it through the machine heads of both the e strings, and run them through the nut, down the neck, over the bridge, onto the vibrola, and then tie them tight. What you want to do, is eyeball both the strings, and get them both as close to perfectly straight as you possibly can. than while holding the vibrola in place. make your marks. Their is no guide for where to put the vibrola as far as distance from the string. But, One could use the stopbar as a reference as to where to have the mount. On V's its pretty straight forward A good source of '67 Vibrola equipped V guitars can be found Here, at the 1967-Flying V weby For your Flying V's I' would go off those pictures, please remember however, that the 1967 Flying V pickguard was wider between the bridge section, and the control's side. Here's an example.

This is my '06 faded V I retrofitted


This is an Original 1967 Flying V


notice the diffrences in the pickgaurd, And yes. It is the pickgaurd Gibson used 2 sizes, one for Vibrola V's and ones that had the stopbar



For your SG Guitars, and explorer's It Honestly Does not matter where you place the Vibrola so long as it's centered on the guitar in relation to the neck and strings. the more space you have between the vibrola and the bridge, would arguably increase your sustain, at least my research suggests. On an explorer or sg guitar, use the strings, and the stopbar as a general rule of thumb on where to mount it, If you want to mount it further back. I would take a fresh guitar string that corresponds to the farthest machine head. and lace it though. Make sure you have At the Minimum 4 inches of the string past the machine head. for example, On this 1958 reissue Vibrola equipped Gibson Explorer, The string to check would be the High E string. I've determined you need about 1-1/2"- 2" of extra string to make a nice tidy winding job


Now, their is 2, technically 3 versions of the Maestro vibrola, the short version as seen in pictures above. And the long Vibrola(sometimes called the maestro or the Lyre Vibrola, which can be seen on such guitars as the Older Angus Young's(ACDC guitarist) Gibson SG


Now, once you feel that you've got the vibrola is exactly where you want it. Make your marks, I use an exacto blade, and just barely make a mark into the guitar's top along the sides, and bottom of the vibrola's mount. then, use a Philips screw driver, and use it to center your screw holes, before you pre-drill. Pre-drill using a small drill bit. Than use a cordless screw driver to sink the screws in. DO NOT sink them all the way once all of your screws are almost down, use a hand screwdriver, and sink the middle screw, all the way Now, do the same with the 2 other screws, the reason for doing this is because the mount is countersunk. This means if your base gets shifted when it's installed, your screws wont sit properly on the base plate.

And yeah, now you've got a Vibrola on your guitar!



I'll Add more to this post later, Filling holes and such, Until then, I'll leave what I've got for your viewing pleasure, and you guys can add whatever you'd like about stuff and things.




Where to buy aftermarket parts and mods.

Steward MacDonald

Graphtech Guitar nuts

Retro-Spec guitar


The Shadow Humbucker ring Guitar Tuner (this thing is amazing)

Grover Machine Heads

Seymour Duncan Pickups

DiMarzo Pickups

Joe Barden(JBE) Guitar Pickups

EMG Guitar Pickups

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