guitar shop 101

How we turned three affordable Squier, Ibanez, and Yamaha axes into custom instruments like no other.

From YouTube to Instagram to myriad DIY forums, the internet is filled with modders showing off their latest projects. Name your flavor of guitar gluttony—from Gibsons to Fenders, offsets, and shred machines—and there's a virtual place you can go to both feed your craving and feel better about how much time you spend obsessing over how to make your axe sound and play more to your liking. "You think my tweaking tendencies are out of control? Check out this guy…."

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Put some shimmer and spank into your dual-humbucker guitar with this alternative wiring scheme.

Recently a client brought in a 1995 Fender Strat and asked me to replace its two humbucking pickups (Photo 1). The original pickups had been upgraded years ago with a set of Seymour Duncans—a JB in the bridge position and a Jazz in the neck slot. These are excellent pickups and typically sound great in most guitars, but my client said they were too dark for the type of music he plays.

It was tempting to sell him a new set of pickups, but instead I recommended we rewire the pickups in parallel (more on this in a moment) to see if that would provide the brighter tone he was looking for. Because both pickups have a 4-conductor harness, I knew we could pull this off using the existing 3-way blade switch and without adding any extra switches to this guitar—an important consideration for the owner.

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Got a funky blade switch on your T-style guitar? Here’s how to install a new one.

Recently a client brought me a very cool 2004 Fender Tele (Photo 1) that needed a new blade switch. His guitar played well (and looked great too) but the switch had started to cut out at random times onstage. It’s not uncommon for a Tele switch to wear out—especially if you use it vigorously—so let’s see what it takes to replace it.

We’ve previously covered how to install both 3-way Gibson and 5-way Strat switches, so this project will complete the set.

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