If you’re even marginally into guitar gear, you won’t have any trouble envisioning the vast conceptual chasm that opened before us when we decided to do a series of stories on guitar makeovers for this issue. Even for players interested in the same style of music, there are a zillion different cool mods you could do to a zillion different types of guitars. Factor in all the genre and subgenre possibilities, and it gets even messier. If we tried to please, say, the hordes of blues and blues-rock players in our audience, which “canvas” should we start with—a Les Paul? A Strat? A Tele? Or one of the many boutique variants that blend elements of all three? You get the idea. It was a bit daunting.
That said, we’ve got plenty of makeover ideas for our own gear, not to mention lots of gear-crazy friends. So we were confident we’d find some cool stories. We just knew we had to choose things that were unique enough that even guitar-tweaking junkies who’ve seen it all would at the very least think, “That’s not for me, but y’know what—that’s still damn cool!”
To that end, we thought Ben Friedman’s story of getting a call from his art-collector friend about an autograph-scribbled ’80s Paul Reed Smith for sale on an antique auctioneer’s website (“Blasphemy or Alchemy?” p. 56) would appeal to more traditional players because of its quasi classicist bent. But the company’s reputation with up-and-coming players in heavier genres, as well as the story’s interesting historical considerations, should also render it interesting to hard-rock or metal fans, or anyone else who’s struggled over whether to mod an old piece of gear. Thanks for sharing your adventure, Ben!
I didn’t originally intend to put myself into any of the makeover stories—you get quite enough of me on this page every month as it is. But it just so happened that I was scoping out a Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom to upgrade at the very time that someone else on the PG staff suggested the makeover theme. Knowing we needed a project that fell in the middle of the makeover-intensity scale, I eventually figured, “Hey, I’m having Bill [Hook, author of “Surf-Twang Tweak-a- Rama,” p. 66] do stuff you don’t see everyday, so why not?”
Think Yuri Landman’s beat-to-hell guitar on the cover of this issue is freaky? You ain’t seen nothin’. Even the four totally whack instruments above aren’t the most out-there designs from his restless, fearless mind. Brings new meaning to the term “experimental,” doesn’t it?
My whole project got a lot more intense than swapping pickups and modding the ashtray bridge to work with a Bigsby just when it was supposed to be done. One of my pickup choices just wasn’t sending my ears into fits of ecstasy like I wanted, so I decided late in the game to buy a completely different type that required getting a new pickguard to mount everything to. I want to publicly thank everyone who rolled with the punches to make it all come together lightning-fast in order to meet our deadline.
Wayne Richman at Tone- Guard pickguards was incredible. When I called him about buying one of his anodized-aluminum pickguards for a Tele Custom, but with a Jazzmaster-pickup neck route—a design for which he didn’t have a CAD file yet—he didn’t even blink. After seeing a pic of my guitar, he opened his Fender Tele Deluxe rendering file, called me up, and knew exactly which areas to have me measure. He tweaked his file’s measurements a bit, then marshaled his NASA-approved vendors to make sure something that normally takes weeks happened over a weekend. That’s some serious hustle! Curtis Novak got me his fantastic pickups in record time, too. Mr. Hook then busted a move on the guitar the same day I got the pickguard. And last, but definitely not least, senior art editor Meghan Molumby turned around and shot great pics on a dime. Thanks to all of you for kicking major ass!
We could’ve gone many different routes for the third, more extreme makeover story, but the provident timing—and extremely unique nature—of Yuri Landman and Bart Hopkin’s new book, Nice Noise, pretty much made “Flying Double Dutchman Crunch” a shoo-in. If you visit issuu.com/yurilandman and see some of the crazy stringed instruments Landman specializes in, you’ll quickly realize that the project he details for us is actually pretty tame relative to what he normally does. Yuri was a pleasure to work with and didn’t hesitate to help when I called out of the blue to recruit him for the task. Thanks, Yuri!
So what about you? I’m guessing you’re eager to share your own mods, your dream mods, and your opinions of the ones we settled on. And, actually, we do welcome your input. Hell, if the stuff so many of you tell us about via email and on Facebook is any indication of the wider Premier Guitar audience, you guys have some pretty damn ingenious and insightful ideas. So consider this your invitation. What are your most adventurous makeover stories? We’d love to hear them on our Facebook page, on Twitter, or via email.