My top three forays into hot-rodding resulted in a replacement tour guitar, a potential collectable that's now my No. 1, and a sentimental guitar that brings me joy.
I came of age when players prided themselves in hot-rodding their instruments, often with mixed results. Sure, Van Halen built his Frankenstrat that changed the world, but remember "Shark," his 1976 Ibanez Destroyer played on "You Really Got Me," "Jamie's Cryin',"and "On Fire"? Ed admitted Shark was a mod casualty. "It was a great-sounding guitar, until I hacked a chunk out of it to make it look different. It was ruined!"
Sometimes they work, sometimes not. Here are a few of my adventuresome mods. Crazy? You be the judge.
PRS SE One
I toured with my 1958 Les Paul Jr. until one soundcheck when I noticed a new, deep gouge across the front. I don't mind guitar battle scars if they come with a cool story, but this nasty gash was not my doing. So I started looking for a touring guitar that sounded similar but was inexpensive enough that I would not worry about wear and tear, theft, or negligence.
I bought a PRS SE One for under $300 (probably less than the road depreciation on my '58). The One did one thing really well, but I wanted more variety. I hired my buddy Forrest Lee to put a B-Bender in this small, flat body. Forrest had to flip the bender upside down to make it fit, but it worked perfectly. The stock P-90 was cool, but hummed and did not cut, so I popped a DiMarzio Minibucker in the original slot. I wanted a neck pickup but had already taken a lot of wood out for the Bender. I feared the body would cave if we routed near the neck heel, so we installed a DiMarzio Area 61 middle just north of where a Strat middle would be with a 3-way switch right behind the single volume. Then I installed an adjustable ResoMax Wraparound Bridge to help stabilize intonation.
Result: What started as a replacement for an LP Jr. became a truly unique instrument that's much more versatile. Even with these expensive mods, I'm in about $1,000. The middle pickup doesn't kill me, but the bridge alone is killer and both combined is very Strat second position. I would love to add a tone knob, but fear this skinny body will collapse if it loses more wood.
Gibson Music City Jr.
Mad genius inventor and guitar guru Joe Glaser designed the Music City Jr. for Gibson roughly 11 years ago. I got a non-serial-number prototype from Joe that features a rosewood fretboard (Gibson used maple on the production model). The guitar came stock with two P-90s and a B-Bender, so it was totally my bag. As I played it, it felt like the P-90s just didn't have enough bite, so I changed to two DiMarzio Minibuckers. After playing a few gigs with it, it was apparent the high E didn't ring well. Turns out, the mounting screws on the Minis were a bit long, which made the pickups ride too high, impeding the movement of the top E. I took out the pickups and ground down the screws so I could lower them.
My buddy Dion Edge at Gibson Repair and Restoration painted a light gold finish to give it some flash, then designed and cut a faux tortoiseshell pickguard for a cooler look. To really set it off, my buddy Shane Syx pinstriped it.
After a year of four-hour club gigs, my ribs were bruising from the sharp edges. I took a belt sander and hacked out a big belly cut on the back and sanded a big chunk on the front where my right arm draped to give it a Strat feel. I also nipped off part of the neck heal, giving my hand easier access to high notes. I also changed the tuners to Graph Tech Ratio locking tuners.
Result: Being a prototype, this was a potentially valuable instrument, so my hacking out wood and painting it made it considerably less collectable, but I don't care. Uno is my No. 1. No regrets.
Peavey Omniac Jerry Donahue
Peavey built me a JD with my son August's artwork superimposed on the front. The artwork meant so much to me that I wanted this to be my No. 1 and set about personalizing it. Forrest Lee installed a B-Bender. We then installed a left-handed Fender Tele bridge, a DiMarzio Area T Bridge pickup, and an Area 61 in the neck, then routed a hole in the middle for another Area 61. Regrettably, I used a 3-way switch and converted the tone control into a middle volume. The 5-way is way more efficient and I miss the tone control. Although the maple neck was beautiful, it just never felt right in my hands, so I bought a no-name, eBay baritone neck and did the swap.
Results: I set out to build a No. 1 but wound up with a very cool specialty guitar that I rarely need but always enjoy.
1. Mods are a gamble.
2. Trial and error is the only way to know what works for you.
3. You can do irreparable damage.
Sometimes mods are the only way to get the sound you're looking for.
- Last Call: John Bohlinger's Top 10 Rig Rundowns | Premier Guitar ›
- What Bohlinger Plays: Open-E Pull-Off Lick - Premier Guitar | The ... ›
- What Bohlinger Plays: Open-E Pull-Off Lick | Premier Guitar ›
- Money Can't Buy Me Tone - Premier Guitar ›
- ‘Premier Guitar’ Vs. the Machines - Premier Guitar ›
- ‘Premier Guitar’ Vs. the Machines - Premier Guitar ›
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Fender honors the indie-legend with signature pickups and accessories.
Fender announces the J Mascis Signature Jazzmaster Pickups, an ode to one of alternative music’s most prolific shredders. Throughout Dinosaur Jr’s twelve album discography and his rich solo career, Mascis has established himself as one of guitar playing’s most tone-savvy and ferocious players.
At the heart of his genre-defining, nearly four decades-long legacy is the Fender Jazzmaster. Not only does the bold and angular design of the Jazzmaster lend itself to a player as subversive as Mascis, but there is no instrument that sounds quite like it. That is, until now.
Compared to the tones on the Fender J Mascis Signature Telecaster and the Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster, Mascis notes,“The new pickups have a sweeter more vintage sound,” and as his hopes for what people might feel when they test out the new pickups, J Mascis adds, “I hope they feel like playing their guitar, ideally they could make a song that could be my new favorite record!”
Key Features Include:
- Neck Pickup: 7.27K and Bridge Pickup: 7.31K DC Resistance
- Neck Pickup: 3.6 Henries, Bridge Pickup: 3.7 Henries Inductance
- Enamel-coated magnet wire delivers warm vintage-style tones
- Alnico 2 rod magnets for warm, sweet output
- Flush-mount pole pieces produce even string response
- Installation hardware include
Exploring the J Mascis Signature Jazzmaster Pickup Set | Artist Signature Series | Fender
The pickups are being released as part of a larger collection of signature J Mascis Accessories which include J Mascis Magenta Flower Strap, J Mascis Yellow Burst Strap, J Mascis Coiled Instrument Cable and J Mascis Dinosaur Jr. Pick Tin.
For more information, please visit fender.com.
Charvel unveils its new collab with guitarist Marco Sfogli.
Charvel unveils its new collaboration with PFM and Icefish guitarist Marco Sfogli. To pay homage to a guitarist whose sonic capabilities seem to know no bounds, Charvel has sought out to create a signature instrument as limitless as the player who inspired it. A pair of active EMG SA single-coils in the middle and neck positions effortlessly evoke classic Stratocaster bell tones, while an EMG ‘89 bridge humbucker provides a powerful bite. The signature model’s bolt-on maple neck has received a unique “caramelized” heat and drying treatment that imbues the wood with a warmth and comfort that is usually unique to expensive vintage instruments.
- Alder body with quilted maple top
- Scalloped lower back bout and cut heel
- Bolt-on maple neck with graphite reinforcement, 22 jumbo frets, and Luminlay side dot inlays.
- EMG SA single-coil neck and middle pickups, EMG ‘89 humbucking bridge pickup.
- Floyd Rose 1000 Series double-locking tremolo bridge system
- Five-way blade pickup selector, tone control, and volume control with push/pull coil splitting capabilities for the bridge pickup.
Marco Sfogli Presents His Signature Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1 HSS FR QM
- Signature S1-style guitar designed in collaboration with Marco Sfogli
- Classic alder body with an unmistakable California sound
- Quilt maple top for added tonal depth and a premium look
- For more information, please visit charvel.com.
A highly versatile sonic tool, the pedal can deliver a broad range of tones – everything from mild, wonderfully organic overdrive to medium-gain crunch with a richly satisfying midrange kick.
The pedal is a collaboration between Shnobel Tone and guitarist, songwriter, composer, and record producer Frank Simes. Based in Hollywood, Simes‘ long list of credits includes work with A-list artists such as Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Warren Zevon, RodStewart, Roger Waters, Roger Daltrey, and Martha Davis from The Motels. Additionally, Simes was the musical director for The Who for many years.
Its touch sensitivity makes it a perfect choice for guitarists who rely on precise right-hand technique, and it cleans up nicely when you roll back your guitar's volume knob.
Frank Simes Overdrive features include:
- Three knobs: Volume, Gain, and Tone controls
- True bypass foot switch
- Top mounted power and in/out jacks
- Hand-built with through-hole components
- Crinkle-coated diecast aluminum enclosure, dimensions 4.7 x 3.7 Inches
- Standard 9v center negative power – no battery compartment
Frank Simes Signature Overdrive
Shnobel Tone’s Frank Simes Overdrive has a suggested retail price and MAP of $249.
For more information, please visit shnobeltone.com.