Split loom trim. A good acoustic guitar can last a lifetime, but if it’s equipped with onboard electronics, that technology becomes obsolete in a matter of years. Bummer. I have three acoustic-electrics, dating from the late ’90s to the mid 2000s, that came with preamps mounted in the bass side of the body. Though the guitars are still perfectly functional, their clunky old electronics have been sonically eclipsed by today’s sleeker systems that mount in or around the soundhole. Like any self-respecting tone freak, I removed the ancient beasts from my guitars and replaced them with more state-of-the-art pickups and preamps, but doing so left a gaping hole in the side of each guitar.
The hole itself isn’t a problem. No—it’s a soundport! Very handy. But while playing, I found myself staring at the edge of the hole that was cut into the side. It’s raw and ugly. The manufacturer never bothered to sand, smooth, and finish the edges because the preamp’s mounting flange covered all the sins. After pondering the many ways I could dress up these distracting holes, I finally hit on one that’s easy, cheap, and looks cool in a steampunk kind of way.
If you’ve got a guitar with a similar hole in its side, I think you’ll dig this hack. It starts with something called “split loom”—a flexible plastic sheath used to surround wires in autos, computer installations, audio systems, and so on. It’s a black, ribbed, hollow tube that’s slit along one side (Photo 3a). Split loom comes in different diameters; the 1/4" size is perfect for this hack, and a 100-foot coil costs less than $7 on Amazon.
First, measure the perimeter of the hole (Photo 3b). Then cut a corresponding length of split loom, pry it open, and gently press it around the edge of the hole, covering all the rough wood. The resulting trim (Photo 3c) looks like something from an H.R. Giger painting.
Typically, you’ll also have four holes where the preamp was screwed onto the body. You could reinsert the original screws, but without the thickness of the preamp housing to hold the screws away from the wood, their tips will poke into the guitar’s interior. I wanted to avoid that, so I sought out four shorter screws—long enough to sit securely in the holes, but short enough that they wouldn’t protrude inside. Short hex screws did the trick and even enhanced the steampunk effect.
Bonus! Another use for split loom is to protect the skinny wires on wall-wart power supplies. Onstage, these flimsy cables can break quicker than you can spell Yngwie, but sheath them in split loom and your drummer can drop a cymbal on the wire without cutting it. I suggest cinching a zip cable tie at each end to keep the loom in place (Photo 3d).