november 2015

Photo by Andy Ellis

Pickup guru Frank Falbo on tweaking your guitar’s tone with nothing more than a soldering iron and a few components worth the change in your pocket.

Like it or not, there’s a deeply symbiotic relationship between your guitar’s pickups and its controls when you’re using passive pickups. That’s true even when your knobs are turned all the way up. It pays to understand how these components shape (or rather, complete) the sound of your pickups. Remember, the artisans who painstakingly designed your favorite passive pickups did so with pots, caps, and some guitar cable as part of the equation.

There’s a good chance your guitars still contain their original potentiometers and capacitors, and they may be perfect for you and your music. On the other hand, a bit of experimentation just may transform your guitars in ways that better suit your style and tastes. It’s not an expensive process, either—a good potentiometer costs about as much as a set of strings.

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U2’s The Edge and producer Bob Ezrin, Co-Founders of Music Rising, ( have announced Guitar Icons: A Musical Instrument Auction to Benefit Music Rising to take place December 11th, 2021, starting at 10:00 a.m. PST. Hosted by Van Eaton Galleries ( in Los Angeles, the live and online auction will offer a significant collection of guitars and other music memorabilia by some of the world’s most prominent musicians and friends of Music Rising. The auction will take the charity back to its roots and help support the musicians of the NOLA region after a long period being without income.

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A Wisconsin guitarist hit the jackpot when he met a talented lute builder who hand-cut this stunning neck inlay.

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