To mod or not to mod: That is the Question

Should a fine Gibson like a '61 RI or Custom Shop SG be modded if its owner isn't happy with it?


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Col Mustard

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So we were discussing this on another thread, and I thought, I'm not going to hijack someone else's thread with this, I'll start my own thread. Gather 'round, me droogies... I'll put a pitcher of beer on the table and let's talk about one of our favorite subjects.
MODS and ROCKERS...

Should you or should you not mod a fine Gibson. I didn't include the word "vintage"
because that's a whole 'nother can of worms, and there's a whole section of this forum devoted to the Vintage Gibson. I set it up so you can choose up to three responses if you want. I'm curious.

•I think that normal ETSG Wisdom states that: It's your guitar man, do as you wish...

So that's response #1, and I expect that to be get the most votes... but I'm interested in
what else people might think. I have my own opinions of course, but mine are just opinions, like any other.
I didn't include any "Gibson Sucks" kind of responses, this being the wrong forum for that
kind of negativity. Those who feel that way are free to express it, as long as they stay civil.

I don't think the question applies to entry level Gibsons like SG Faded specials... to me
those are fair game. So the intent is to let everybody who wants to express an opinion about
whether the top line Gibsons can benefit from being rebuilt by their owners. Or if the owner
who does this is devaluing his guitar.
•Can your music benefit if you buy a top line Gibson and then mod it? What's the advantage?
•Should you spend less money on a mod platform type guitar, and then build that into the instrument of your dreams? Any disadvantage to this?
 

Raiyn

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Forgive the copypasta

As I see it, mods are best left to Epiphone / Squire types in most cases, and regular line models (ie Standard types) the rest of the time. Any limited / special edition models should be left unmolested unless you're a properly legendary axeman who would add value to a guitar by merely owning it much less modding it.

That's just like, my opinion man
thats-just-like-your-opinion-man[1].gif

Ultimately it your guitar. If you decide to mod it, cool. Doing so just makes the unmodded ones that much rarer and perhaps more valuable.

That said, just how special is a modern reissue? Is it worth the level of perhaps paranoid protection afforded by some?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-10-30/those-comics-in-your-basement-probably-worthless

Substitute guitar for comic and you'll get an idea of where I'm going here.

The only reason old unmolested guitars command a substantial premium today is because it was common to mod them, smash them, refinish them a dozen times badly and so on. It's rare to find an old one that hasn't been F'd with. That's what makes it valuable. All these well preserved modern
standard and even "collector" guitars won't achieve anything close to the value sbecause they're not rare. Perhaps a truly limited numbered run might achieve some bump in value, but a run of the mill Standard or Reissue? Not so much.



It's exhausting arguing both sides. :naughty: No it isn't! Shaddap you!
 
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Kep

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I come down on both sides of this question and voted for "It's your axe.."

My everyday guitar is a 2013 Derek Trucks model that I modded after playing it twice. My mods were to replace the nut with a bone one, add a generic truss cover and replace the lower three saddles with Nylon - everything else is stock. I did keep all the stock parts so some enterprising player in the future can put it back the way they want - but this will be long in the future after both I and my children are at the happy hunting ground.

On special occasions I bust out the 1965 SG which I will never mod and won't even let some people stand near.

I've often thought about putting an SD'59 in the neck of the DT and ditching the Gibson pots but as my band mate recently said "How good you need to sound man?"
His point being that the audience cannot hear and will not notice any of the things some of us care so much about. When I read about microtones and such things the first thing I think is "You don't play in a band do you." Not that these things don't exist and can't sound cool on a recording but live performance is a different beast - cymbals are loud and hog up a lot of the range of what people's ears can hear - plus they are all on "Instrgram" anyway.

The stock 57's and crappy pots do everything they are supposed to do. I would agree improvement can be made but you will probably be the only one at the show that notices.

Yes your music can benefit if you mod a top of the line Gibby - mine did - if only to give greater confidence and therefore allow for more free exploration.
No you should not spend money on a lesser axe and then mod it. It fine of you only have $200 to start your career but if you have 8 Epi's and no Gibby you ain't doin it right. Also the frets on lesser guitars are well lesser so there's that.
 

bwotw

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My white SG is returned to stock now that I'm gonna put it for sale. But at one point, I changed almost everything on it.

Main reason: I love guitars and I like to experiment and try stuff. I'm learning to do setups, replace electronics, catch the little sonic differences with hardware changes... Get to know the instrument beyond the playing experience. As an example, the Flying V I posted earlier I refinished mostly as a challenge, to have some experience in that area (truth be told, I got it incredibly cheap, so that helped the decision).

My point is, I don't think those kinda changes are "better" per se, just different. In a way that I prefer.

Let's take just one example, pots. The 300k linear pots stock on most Gibsons work great if you play totally clean and pristine, maybe even straight to the board. Then, the 300k's tame the spiky high end and have a good travel for a gradual increase or decrease in VOLUME. Some players (me included) play differently: into an overdriven amp, which thickens the sound and produces distortion (obviosuly). In that scenario, some of us use the volume knob not so much to control the actual level of the signal, but to control the amount of distortion and to be able to clean up the sound. More like a GAIN control than a volume. Then, the 500k logarithmic pot works better (cleans up in the 7-10 range, not the 0-3, and the 500k gives it a bit of extra treble). Are the replacement pots "better" than the stock ones in any way? No, they just have specs I prefer, that's all.

Then there's the little things I've changed 'cos I liked the looks better, no extra functionality at all. Certainly not needed, but nothing wrong with a little bit of extra fancy.

DISCLAIMER: Absolutely all my guitars were bought second hand. Maybe if I was the orginal owner and paid up well for them, I might've had a different perspective.
 

chilipeppermaniac

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I voted send it to ME. Had to be the 1st to say it. As for collector smector factor, that is for rich people.
In today's internet, video game, couch potato, high tech society we have become, only the rich can afford unmolested
"collectible" or one day hoping to be "collectible" guitars.

My next votes go along the lines of It's your guitar, do as you wish,,,,,,,, or else if it were me for my own guitar, Do only mods that are reversible.
In other words, I personally would not take a 2 bucker SG/LP Custom Shop/61 RI and then router out a middle pickup rout and put full batwing guards where 1/2 guards once were and slap a Bigsby on it and swap in some new tuners you need to drill extra holes in the head to mount etc
 
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Col Mustard

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A MOD IS AS GOOD AS A WINK TO A BLIND HORSE...

So not everyone agrees with me, for sure. I do love to mod guitars, and have done it mistakenly
in the past, hence my words of caution now. I bought a 1966 Fender Jazz Bass from a guy who wasn't
playing it... this in 1972. I forget what he wanted for it, but I offered him a hundred and showed him the
green cash, and he took it.

I walked out of there knowing I had to take it to a luthier to get its neck
straightened (one of the things I pointed out that persuaded him to take my offer). But I also knew I had
just scored one of the world's best instruments for a hundred bucks. I was happy, and ready to pay the
luthier what ever he needed to put the old Fender right. In those days, a used Fender bass might have gone
for two hundred in good condition. And a new one for three hundred.

Plus, in those days, it was just an old bass. Nobody was worshipping them then. But it was the BEST old bass
to have. I thought so then, and I still do. Hell, I didn't even know how to play bass when I bought it. I had always
wanted to be a bassist, so this was my first step. Here's the young kernel in like 1975, after learning how to play.
1976_wtrclr@100.jpg
Dan Earlewine had just opened his first guitar shop in Ann Arbor, and I took the bent bass to
him. He straightened the neck and set the instrument up for me and charged me five bucks.
Maybe it didn't need much to be right. He said so.
I've had no further trouble with this instrument, except problems I caused myself by modding it.
It came stock with a sunburst finish, red yellow and black. (which I always considered fugly).
I named him Sluggo.

I played this bass stock for some years, and then decided that what I really wanted was one of those
cooooool Fender "Groovy Naturals" that they were selling in the dark CBS years. I admired those, but
could NOT afford a new bass. We played four sets a night for pretty small money then. *grins
So one Sunday afternoon I took some Formby's furniture refinisher and scrubbed off the lacquer
and the sunburst and everything, right down to the wood. No problem. I stained it with some walnut
gunstock tone and gave it a hand rubbed oil finish with Tung Oil. That worked pretty well. So then I
had my dream bass. I didn't put the chrome ash tray pieces back on, or the pick guard or the tug bar.
I did put those in a box, so I wouldn't lose them.

It was just an old used bass that I got for a hundred bucks. And a red, black and yellow sunburst seemed
intolerably dated and old style to a young man during those times. So I played it bare naked for years and
years, feeling like it looked a lot more radical that way. (and it did). Sluggo earned his name by performing in
the nude, like a gladiator or something.
Sluggo-BFG@100.jpg
The mod had no effect on tone of course. I didn't like the empty screw holes after a while, they seemed
too radical maybe. So I inserted some black nails in the holes. Which was even more radical, I thought.
*laughs

Then one day, maybe about 2005, I was browsing on the Elderly Instruments site: www.elderly.com
and I saw that they had posted a 1966 Fender Jazz Bass, and were offering it for $18,000.

Uh, really? But they weren't kidding. Elderly doesn't kid around. They sell the real thing.
And I owned the real thing too, but mine was.... well kind of naked. I mulled that over for a good long
time, and then began to regret that I had stripped it. My brash, ballsy response had always been:
"I don't care what the value is, because Sluggo is not for sale. Not till they pry my dead cold hands off it."
But my sensible angel kept saying: "You could sell that and pay off your house, you idiot..." (she was exaggerating
but she's like that).

I began to think paranoid thoughts, owning something even half that valuable. What if the wrong person saw me playing
that, and mentioned it to an even wronger person, and they targeted me... I don't normally go around paranoid, so I didn't
like the sensation. I decided to take Sluggo up to Elderly and get him appraised. What's a coat of paint worth, anyway?

Hah. They looked him over carefully and told me he was worth about $2000. Now I have to tell you that my sensible angel
was very disappointed, but the rest of me was relieved. "is that all? so I don't have to be all fussy or what... I can just play it
like I always have. No one will try and push me down for that." They appraised him bare naked, with black nails in his screw
holes, and none of his original decorative parts. Bridge, pickups, knobs, nut, tuners are all original. Pots have been replaced.

But I laugh ironically to think that, when I was done stripping the sunburst off, I had a brownish gummy mess in a coffee can,
and a worn piece of steel wool, and some rubber gloves covered in more brownish gummy goop. I threw all that away, but in
that old coffee can, invisible, was about ten thousand dollars that I never had, but couldn't afford to lose...

Here he is now... I went and found that old box with most of the parts, and put them back on... because darned if he doesn't look
cooler and more radical now, fully dressed again. He's got his original chrome pieces and pick guard. I lost the 'guard screws and
the tugbar, so I bought some "aged' screws and found an online source for a tugbar made of ebony. And this is why I urge caution to
any young hothead who's considering modding a fine fine guitar. He's worth whatever someone will pay for him, but he's still not for sale.
Whole bass_4x.jpg
 
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Sp8ctre

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Here is how I feel since I have modded a few fine brand new Gibson guitars....

#1. Play it first....play it a lot!!! Break it in, get a feel for it...try all your amps and settings and such...see what you can wring out of it...

#2. If you don't get everything you want from step #1 DO a PROPER Setup....then start out with small mods, change strings, maybe the nut etc...

#3. If you're looking for a sound you're not getting but love the feel of the guitar and the way it plays, do some bigger mods....pick ups, wiring, jacks, pots...

#4. If you really don't bond AT ALL in step #1 or #2 get rid of it...I've had guitars I just don't like from the jump...I've held on to a couple only to get rid of them in the end...

By the way...my vote was "Reversible Mods"
 

RVA

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•Can your music benefit if you buy a top line Gibson and then mod it? What's the advantage?
This is subjective. It can benefit you if it results in you enjoying it more. While better fretwork may be a part of a more costly guitar's attributes, the pickups, caps, post, control layout etc. may not be what one wants. If there is no stock guitar out there that is perfect for you, modding is necessary to be happy. What is the advantage of any mod that does not get rid of tuning issues or fret buzz? Is it not subjective enjoyment?

•Should you spend less money on a mod platform type guitar, and then build that into the instrument of your dreams? Any disadvantage to this?

No disadvantage if you have the skill and the less expensive guitar is otherwise an adequate platform.

I think this is the essence of this debate boils down to money, which is relative. While it may seem odd to some to mod a $ 4,000 guitar, that is because that seems like a lot of money to that person and to devalue it is a waste of that money. Why is it a waste if you enjoy it? Is a yacht, a Porche, a butler, a driver, an expensive meal, a fine hotel, a waste. If you feel that people should not indulge in these things and should be humble with money, then you may also consider that a $ 4,000 guitar is equally opulent. However, to many, a custom shop guitar for $ 4K is not expensive at all and otherwise do not care diddly about the resale value. I think there is too much emphasis on the relative concept of "expensive" built into this analysis.

Of course, as mentioned earlier, this is different from vintage instruments with historic value as the basis for keeping them intact.
 

Col Mustard

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thanks you guys... all this is great stuff.
Any new guy checking into our forum might be attracted to this thread, because maybe he's thinking
some of these thoughts. Anyone who's got a question might find it articulated here, and then be
able to figure out his own situation.
 

Gahr

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I voted for the first option, but I definitely see where you are coming from, Colonel. If you buy an expensive guitar, why not find an expensive guitar that is what you want in the first place?

Now, if only things were that simple... If the guitar you bond with happens to be a great Gibby, and it feels just right in your hands, but you think that at set of Bare Knuckle Whatevers will make it sound even more to your liking, then why not? Personally I don't think of the resale value of any of my guitars, and I am happy to mod them if I feel the urge. Not that I do a lot of mods, but I have done a few things and will do more. Pickup swaps and a few cosmetic things mainly, and a new selector switch in a couple of them.

That being said, the only guitar in my possession I would consider somewhat expensive is my 2014 Derek Trucks SG. I have put a pickguard on it because I like the look of an SG with a small pickguard, but I will not touch the '57 Classics in it. And personally I don't see the need for any upgrades when it comes to pots, hardware etc. in that one. Naturally, other people might feel differently about what is needed. Like you (at least I presume you agree), @Col Mustard, I think good Gibsons (which to me means most of them) are guitars that essentially don't need any modification. But perfection is in the eye of the beholder, or in this case in the hands of the guitar player.

I guess I really look at my guitars as tools, albeit beautifully crafted tools, and good tools can be made to suit the craftsman.

Now, a completely different question is wether or not the mods have made me a better player...

Edit: I still feel you should always play the guitar for quite a while before doing any mods to it. Learn what it sounds like and what you can or can't do with it. Then it will be easier to figure out what kind of alterations will make it your perfect guitar.
 
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Sp8ctre

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Here are three guitars to put perspective on my answers...

#1. My 2014 Gibson SG Standard - Perfect out of the box...just what I wanted both feel, sound and playability...

#2. My 2013 Gibson Les Paul Traditional - Perfect feel, plays very nice...but, I didn't like the sound...too thin...I upgraded all the pots and jack and installed 50's wiring then threw in a set of Bernie Marsden Beast Buckers...Now it's perfect too

#3. My Bacchus Telecaster - Low priced mod platform...terrible electronics out of the box, but felt good...more $$$ in upgrades than the guitar cost...still don't love it...can't get what it cost to build it in resale...
 

WavMixer

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Lemme preface with saying that I love the Col's posts. He doesn't just toss up a couple of words to raise his post count, he writes a novel of some really great reading material. Nice pics too.

Secondly, I don't own a fine Gibson... not even a crappy beat up old Gibson. I did buy a brand new G400 at full GC pop and have invested more into it than what it cost new. IF I had it to do all over, I would have bought a used Gibson, but I had never planned on modding my G400. Oh well, at least I have lots of fun modding it, learned a lot about it and it is still to this day my favorite guitar to play.

Now to answer this question... Hell yes I have the right to do what ever I want to with my guitar, end of story. However y'all do not have the right to modify your nice Gibson axes. So just save yourself the time, frustration and money by sending them to me. :naughty:
 

gball

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I say mod away. Your guitar, make it work better for you and don't care what anyone says and especially don't care about resale - if you buy a guitar worrying about resale you probably shouldn't be buying it.

The pros mod to their hearts content for this reason, and honestly, if you are doing the right mods for you, it can make you a better player: if your guitar plays/feels/sounds better by personalizing it then you may just play better. This is why a personalized setup is crucial...NOT a setup to factory specs or what some luthier or guitar tech thinks is right, but a setup done just for you.
 

58pit

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So we were discussing this on another thread, and I thought, I'm not going to hijack someone else's thread with this, I'll start my own thread. Gather 'round, me droogies... I'll put a pitcher of beer on the table and let's talk about one of our favorite subjects.
MODS and ROCKERS...

Should you or should you not mod a fine Gibson. I didn't include the word "vintage"
because that's a whole 'nother can of worms, and there's a whole section of this forum devoted to the Vintage Gibson. I set it up so you can choose up to three responses if you want. I'm curious.

•I think that normal ETSG Wisdom states that: It's your guitar man, do as you wish...

So that's response #1, and I expect that to be get the most votes... but I'm interested in
what else people might think. I have my own opinions of course, but mine are just opinions, like any other.
I didn't include any "Gibson Sucks" kind of responses, this being the wrong forum for that
kind of negativity. Those who feel that way are free to express it, as long as they stay civil.

I don't think the question applies to entry level Gibsons like SG Faded specials... to me
those are fair game. So the intent is to let everybody who wants to express an opinion about
whether the top line Gibsons can benefit from being rebuilt by their owners. Or if the owner
who does this is devaluing his guitar.
•Can your music benefit if you buy a top line Gibson and then mod it? What's the advantage?
•Should you spend less money on a mod platform type guitar, and then build that into the instrument of your dreams? Any disadvantage to this?
I'm torn between 1 and 2.
 

58pit

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A MOD IS AS GOOD AS A WINK TO A BLIND HORSE...

So not everyone agrees with me, for sure. I do love to mod guitars, and have done it mistakenly
in the past, hence my words of caution now. I bought a 1966 Fender Jazz Bass from a guy who wasn't
playing it... this in 1972. I forget what he wanted for it, but I offered him a hundred and showed him the
green cash, and he took it.

I walked out of there knowing I had to take it to a luthier to get its neck
straightened (one of the things I pointed out that persuaded him to take my offer). But I also knew I had
just scored one of the world's best instruments for a hundred bucks. I was happy, and ready to pay the
luthier what ever he needed to put the old Fender right. In those days, a used Fender bass might have gone
for two hundred in good condition. And a new one for three hundred.

Plus, in those days, it was just an old bass. Nobody was worshipping them then. But it was the BEST old bass
to have. I thought so then, and I still do. Hell, I didn't even know how to play bass when I bought it. I had always
wanted to be a bassist, so this was my first step. Here's the young kernel in like 1975, after learning how to play.
View attachment 22281
Dan Earlewine had just opened his first guitar shop in Ann Arbor, and I took the bent bass to
him. He straightened the neck and set the instrument up for me and charged me five bucks.
Maybe it didn't need much to be right. He said so.
I've had no further trouble with this instrument, except problems I caused myself by modding it.
It came stock with a sunburst finish, red yellow and black. (which I always considered fugly).
I named him Sluggo.

I played this bass stock for some years, and then decided that what I really wanted was one of those
cooooool Fender "Groovy Naturals" that they were selling in the dark CBS years. I admired those, but
could NOT afford a new bass. We played four sets a night for pretty small money then. *grins
So one Sunday afternoon I took some Formby's furniture refinisher and scrubbed off the lacquer
and the sunburst and everything, right down to the wood. No problem. I stained it with some walnut
gunstock tone and gave it a hand rubbed oil finish with Tung Oil. That worked pretty well. So then I
had my dream bass. I didn't put the chrome ash tray pieces back on, or the pick guard or the tug bar.
I did put those in a box, so I wouldn't lose them.

It was just an old used bass that I got for a hundred bucks. And a red, black and yellow sunburst seemed
intolerably dated and old style to a young man during those times. So I played it bare naked for years and
years, feeling like it looked a lot more radical that way. (and it did). Sluggo earned his name by performing in
the nude, like a gladiator or something.
View attachment 22282
The mod had no effect on tone of course. I didn't like the empty screw holes after a while, they seemed
too radical maybe. So I inserted some black nails in the holes. Which was even more radical, I thought.
*laughs

Then one day, maybe about 2005, I was browsing on the Elderly Instruments site: www.elderly.com
and I saw that they had posted a 1966 Fender Jazz Bass, and were offering it for $18,000.

Uh, really? But they weren't kidding. Elderly doesn't kid around. They sell the real thing.
And I owned the real thing too, but mine was.... well kind of naked. I mulled that over for a good long
time, and then began to regret that I had stripped it. My brash, ballsy response had always been:
"I don't care what the value is, because Sluggo is not for sale. Not till they pry my dead cold hands off it."
But my sensible angel kept saying: "You could sell that and pay off your house, you idiot..." (she was exaggerating
but she's like that).

I began to think paranoid thoughts, owning something even half that valuable. What if the wrong person saw me playing
that, and mentioned it to an even wronger person, and they targeted me... I don't normally go around paranoid, so I didn't
like the sensation. I decided to take Sluggo up to Elderly and get him appraised. What's a coat of paint worth, anyway?

Hah. They looked him over carefully and told me he was worth about $2000. Now I have to tell you that my sensible angel
was very disappointed, but the rest of me was relieved. "is that all? so I don't have to be all fussy or what... I can just play it
like I always have. No one will try and push me down for that." They appraised him bare naked, with black nails in his screw
holes, and none of his original decorative parts. Bridge, pickups, knobs, nut, tuners are all original. Pots have been replaced.

But I laugh ironically to think that, when I was done stripping the sunburst off, I had a brownish gummy mess in a coffee can,
and a worn piece of steel wool, and some rubber gloves covered in more brownish gummy goop. I threw all that away, but in
that old coffee can, invisible, was about ten thousand dollars that I never had, but couldn't afford to lose...

Here he is now... I went and found that old box with most of the parts, and put them back on... because darned if he doesn't look
cooler and more radical now, fully dressed again. He's got his original chrome pieces and pick guard. I lost the 'guard screws and
the tugbar, so I bought some "aged' screws and found an online source for a tugbar made of ebony. And this is why I urge caution to
any young hothead who's considering modding a fine fine guitar. He's worth whatever someone will pay for him, but he's still not for sale.
View attachment 22283
DAMN SON, you can make a post.
 

58pit

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Here is how I feel since I have modded a few fine brand new Gibson guitars....

#1. Play it first....play it a lot!!! Break it in, get a feel for it...try all your amps and settings and such...see what you can wring out of it...

#2. If you don't get everything you want from step #1 DO a PROPER Setup....then start out with small mods, change strings, maybe the nut etc...

#3. If you're looking for a sound you're not getting but love the feel of the guitar and the way it plays, do some bigger mods....pick ups, wiring, jacks, pots...

#4. If you really don't bond AT ALL in step #1 or #2 get rid of it...I've had guitars I just don't like from the jump...I've held on to a couple only to get rid of them in the end...

By the way...my vote was "Reversible Mods"
Well said !
 

donepearce

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I think everyone who chose the first option has ducked the question. Of course anyone can do what they want with their own guitar, but that isn't the point. Do you think it is a good idea, would you do it - that is the point.

Now come on, go back and change your answers and lets find out what we really think.
 


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