New pickups and new sound, with Golden Age Prewired Pickguards

Issue 87 May 14, 2009

Improving your tone, the quick and easy way.

Strat copy

“I like the looks of my guitar and I’ve got it set up the way I like it, but it doesn’t sound as good as I want it to!” That’s a pretty familiar request from customers, and here’s what I tell 'em:

Presto-chango: All new pickups without the wiring!

I received a call on the tech line from Adam Fox, who used to work in Dan Erlewine’s repair shop. Adam's out in Los Angeles now, writing music and working on a new project with a producer friend. He said they were recording the very next night, so Adam was going over his bandmates’ guitars to get them up to speed for the studio.

Poor quality electronics
Poor quality pickups

The other guitarist in his band has a well-made imported Strat-style guitar. He digs the way it plays but isn’t too crazy about how it sounds. Curious about its innards, Adam popped the hood to see what was going on under there. He quickly realized why the guitar sounded so bad: it was loaded with cheapo electronics.

Plastic switches, the cheapest pots and single-coil pickups with flat steel pole slugs: these pickups are a far cry from the originals that inspired them, in both their construction and their sound. If you've heard one of these guitars, you know what I'm talking about: very harsh and thin sounding.

Adam had seen our Golden Age Pre-wired Pickguards online, and asked if they’d be a good option for this guitar. The answer to that question was a definite yes. These prewired guards are loaded with StewMac single-coil pickups, which are wound to vintage specs with 42-AWG coil wire and staggered Alnico 5 polepieces for an authentic tone. The components are the same great stuff that comes in these wiring kits.

Simply pull the old electronics

A snip from some wire nippers, and out come the old electronics.

Out with the old!

No soldering required!

Yep, that’s a screwdriver, not a soldering iron. The blue no-solder connector makes this a fast swap..

No-solder hookup!

Check it out!

The new Freehand Holder for better, easier spray finishing! Here’s the best way ever to hold an instrument while spraying. Get a uniform, pro-quality coat on all surfaces!

Free Hand Holder

Hold body or neck, electric or acoustic!

What's next?

That’s all there is to it! You’re all wired up! Just put the pickguard assembly in the guitar and string it up. It took longer to restring this guitar than it did to change the pickguard!

Adam Fox

Adam’s back at the recording console less than 24 hours after calling me. They began laying tracks with this guitar immediately. (Overnight shipping to the rescue!) See you in the Top 40!

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