It happens to all of us to find ourselves, by chance, having to deal with a cheap guitar, one of those that are perhaps given away for a birthday or Christmas. Not many people know, however, that it is possible to improve the sound of any existing cheap guitar. Obviously you have to deal with small expenses (no more than one hundred and fifty euros, to be precise) even if you can invest more money to get optimal results. To get a cheap electric guitar that offers you a clean, harmonious and decisive sound, you just have to follow this simple guide after considering whether it is worth spending money on the instrument: meanwhile, consider how much you use that instrument, how, if you like it, if you want to learn how to play it and how much time you can devote to it, and finally make a decision: arrange it as best as possible or settle for a mediocre sound as long as it is higher performance than those provided previously, at the time of purchase? Once you have answered this question, you can continue reading this guide. We will explain in four simple steps how you can improve a cheap guitar. Here’s to you how to do it! Good luck and have fun with this simple guide.
- Allen keys of various sizes
- Phillips-head screwdriver
- Clips crocodile
- Soldering iron
- The key to pipe (supplied with the guitar or available from a hardware store)
- Keys for bolts of various sizes
- Paper vertata 000
- The bottle of primer
Studied the composition of the body
Here is the first step of the guide on how to improve a guitar cheap. The first thing to do, is evaluate if you really should spend about 150 euros: if the purchasing price of the instrument is less than the expenditure required to improve it, forget it, not worth it. To verify some of the basic characteristics of your guitar, the first step is to know the composition of the body, namely, whether it is solid wood, maybe glued in 3 parts, or if it is laminate or plywood, high-density. To test this, just put the guitar parallel to a source of light and to detect the lines of junction of the wood, visible even when heavily painted, or scratch away the paint in a hidden point, as in the photo, which shows a body in the multilayer. If you have discovered that the body is laminate or the like, forget it: it is a little more than a toy, and the real performance increase would not justify the expense. If invoice is discrete, we can start working on it. We identify the problems affecting your guitar. The most common are, in order: tuning unstable, setting the wrong pickup, scarce.
Mounted the mechanical self-locking
Here is the second step of the guide on how to improve a guitar cheap. TUNING INSTABILELa most of the times this is caused by mechanical low-quality, which do not keep the rope taut with constance, or have an irregular operation, and inexact. We source of the mechanical self-locking (mechanics special with a clamping mechanism of the string) and we fit on our guitar. Before the purchase, pay attention to the holes of the housing of the mechanical on the headstock: try to buy mechanical slightly larger than those previously fitted, this will ensure a stable and long-lasting. If necessary file the holes of the accommodation to make space for the mechanical. If you have mounted the new mechanics, but the tuning is still uncertain, then this could be the bridge. If you have a bridge type tremolo, you can replace it with one of the many that are offered in the market and the operation is simple, provided that you have purchased the components of the right size (look on the official website of your guitar to know the exact dimensions of the recess). With the bridge fixed, it is easier to act and there are many more products to choose from. If you changed the bridge, but the ropes break without a particular reason, you will need to smooth the points of contact of the strings with the saddles. On these points of discharge voltages is not negligible and, therefore, a minimum edge may compromise the service life of the rope (just have to use sandpaper to 0000 or 000). Once you have solved the problem of tuning, let’s move on to step 3.
Improved the setting
Here is the third step of the guide on how to improve a guitar cheap. The setting is a fundamental part of a tool: although expensive, a setting that was wrong will compromise the playability of your instrument. The most common problem is the action (distance of strings from fingerboard) is too high. To verify the action, we measure the space between the low e and the last fret. If greater than 3 mm, it will be necessary to lower the strings by acting on the bridge saddles. If the distance is less (you will feel the typical metal sound, similar to a mosquito) we will have to raise the saddles. Remember that the strings thinner need less action, instead of the bigger ones. Now, we check the curvature of the neck: press a string (the low e is fine) at the same time the first and last button (here an example of this). Now, with the help of a credit card (or a tax code) we measure how much space between the string and the middle button (usually 10 or 12). If, at the I bottom, the thickness goes just right, then the curvature is correct. If it is greater, or less, you will have to act on the truss-rod, which is usually present on the headstock, or under the base of the handle. The adjustments of the truss-rod must be made 1\4 of a turn at a time, giving each time to the wood of the handle to change the curvature (10\15 minutes). Turn it counter-clockwise if the thickness does not pass between the rope and the key; turn it clockwise if the thickness can be moved easily. You must make sure that the thickness steps s enza play in the space between the low e and the fret. For an in-depth guide on the set-up, with pictures and specifics of each model, go here.
Here is the fourth step of the guide on how to improve a guitar cheap. The pickups are the microphones of the guitar, alone constitute 80% of the instrument’s sound. It is evident that by changing the pickups, the instrument’s sound will only improve. First of all, we check that the pickup we need: humbucker, single coil, humbucker sized single. Once you understand which type of pickup mount (here a guitar with 1 humbucker and 2 single coil), you need to understand what we play: metal, rock and the like, you choose a pickup with high impedance (which means that they will have a higher volume and distorted sounds more compact). To generate more soft, that require a clean, crystal clear, and rarely sounds crunch, opt for medium-low impedances. Remember that humbuckers are usually high impedance, while the single low-impedance. If you don’t have space on the guitar for a humbucker, you can opt for a humbucker size single, of size equal to the single coil. To change the pickups, search the schema for you on the internet. Many times just the configuration of the pickups to find a scheme suitable (HSH, HSS, SSS, HH, HS, where H stands for humbucker and S for single coil. From right to left means from the bridge to the neck, and then follow the order of your guitar). With the scheme you’ll have a clear reference on how to mount the new microphones. Here a sample schema for guitars HH. Open the battery compartment, electronics, make several photos of the connections before you touch something, you’ll have a reference point. Provide to desolder (but not to tear!) the cables from their housings. Mount the pickups, screwing them to the body (or the pickguard) and proceed according to the schema, by performing the welding. If you’re not familiar with soldering, you can practice with old electrical wires, or bring it to a luthier or an electronics expert.
Painted the guitar
Here’s the fifth step of the guide on how to improve a guitar cheap. In this step I will explain how to customize your guitar, the economic painting. The first thing you have to disassemble it. You have to paint the body and other external elements of the guitar. You can add colors by using a spray product, or a varnish solid. Once you have finished paint it, you have to pass on the guitar and a nail Polish suitable for musical instruments, to have a beautiful finish and professional. Before coloring your guitar, remember that first you have to sand. In this way you can make the color adhere well. Polished the guitar with a block of emery or sandpaper. Then apply the primer and finally the paint or the spray. To obtain the best result, you need to apply more layers of color. Be very careful not to paint the inside of your guitar, the economic.
Add coloured wires
Here is the sixth step of the guide on how to improve a guitar cheap. In this step I will explain how to customize your own guitar cheap. In fact, you can add to your musical instrument of colorful threads or profiles. I recommend you to choose colored ones, or stickers or the ones with decorations. Be sure to purchase wires or profiles that are easy to apply on the guitar. Then you should place them on each corner of your musical instrument. These threads are nothing more than strips of plastic or wood. The color of the profiles is usually white or wood color. However, they can also have other types of color and can have decorations and different reasons. The application is simple, fast, and only takes a few minutes of your time.
Applied the stickers to the keyboard
This is the seventh step of the guide on how to improve a guitar cheap. Instead of using a keyboard in the stone or mother-of-pearl, you can purchase stickers to customize it. In fact, you can apply them easily under every rope and in every finger on your guitar. Use of adhesives, colors, shapes, words and different reasons. Before applying, remove all of the strings, thoroughly clean and dry the keyboard as your musical instrument. This is done, you can apply your stickers bookmarks. If you like, you can choose to buy the stickers for the headstock to personalize with your name. In this way, you will have a guitar like the best musicians in the world.
Enter a new pickguard
This is the eighth step of the guide on how to improve a guitar cheap. I recommend you to further customize your guitar, the economic by inserting a new pickguard. I suggest you pick one with patterns, decorations, colors, and beautiful shapes and details. The pickguard has the function of protecting the surface of your musical instrument from scratch that can cause the pick. In addition to being a functional element, can also be a decorative piece and characteristic. You can either replace with a new one if not possessed, or replace the one that you had already. I recommend, however, to pull it off by making a great deal of attention. Use a spatula to remove the bridge. You can make use of a lamp to take advantage of the light and the heat.
Changed the pin to the bridge
Here is the ninth step of the guide on how to improve a guitar cheap. Replace the pins or poles to the bridge. These have the function of fixing the string of your musical instrument to the bridge. To customize your guitar, I recommend you to choose the pin details and are very colorful. I suggest that you choose those mother-of-pearl, brass or a material with brilliant and bright colors. Know, also, that by replacing the pin and inserting the ones made in the bone, modify, and improve the quality of the sound of your guitar.