Many of us have done crazy stuff to guitars that we have regretted later. The idea of a Stratocaster with 25 pickup combinations sounds really tempting, until you discover that only a few of them are actually useable and, even worse, you can never remember how to find them. What's more, every time you look at the gaping switch holes you drilled in that scratchplate, you might feel a horrible twinge of regret. In fact, you might have concluded that Leo Fender actually got it right in the first place.
However, there are some wiring modifications that can make your guitar more versatile and enhance its tone without compromising looks or ease of use. Some mad modders have actually stumbled onto some cool, useful combinations, and these days aftermarket parts suppliers carry potentiometers, switches and components that you can install and remove without damaging your guitar in any way.
Is your Tele too shrill, or is your Strat too dark? We can tell you how to cure that. Did you know you could combine those pickups so they work like a beefy humbucker and still keep all your stock tones? It's quite simple when you know how. So banish the dog from the room, slacken off those strings, plug in that soldering iron, and prepare to take a tone trip.
Did you ever wonder why Fenders are always fitted with 250K potentiometers and Gibson use 500Ks? Higher value pots prevent high frequencies from leaking to ground, so they sound brighter. Since Fender guitars are generally brighter than Gibsons, 250K pots are used to tame potentially excessive treble.
So if you want to make your Tele or Strat sound brighter, try swapping the 250K pot for a 500K or even a 1M. If you play through a slightly dark-sounding vintage-style amp like an early tweed Fender or an non-top boost Vox, this simple tweak will really help your guitar to cut through – and you won’t have to modify your amp or your speakers.