Ever wondered what makes one guitar so different from the other one? Is it the feel of the neck, fretboard, or is it the sound from the pick-ups? The answer is probably all of these elements.
If you have several Stratocasters, play something and record it (or put it on a loop) and listen back and be surprised how different (or similar) they can sound. Do this with the naked ear and you probably think they all sound the same as the differences are in the details. Why do these variations sound so different. The answer goes back to what I mentioned before about fretboard, neck, pick-ups and bodyshape.
The Stratocaster is probably one of the easiest guitar to modify since most of the parts of the guitar will come apart. Want to try a neck with a different profile? Just swap the neck for the one you would like to try and see how it feels like.
Playing different guitars makes you aware of how different they can feel and sound. By changing the parts you can get close to the guitar you really like. In a way it is an experiment because the “perfect” guitar simply does not exhist.
It is possible to build your own guitar from parts as a D-I-Y project. Another way (and much easier) is to get a budget guitar and to upgrade slowly some of the parts you feel are lacking in quality. The pick-ups may be the most obvious choice when it comes to changing parts. What about the neck?
Before you do anything with your budget guitar make sure the guitar is set-up as well as it can be to match your playing style. All too often these guitars do not get the time they need to play right. Most of these guitars end up with beginners and most people may play these guitars a little while before they move on to something better (and more expansive) A sloppy set-up will set any guitar apart from one with a proper set-up.
Guitars can play how you want them to be, any guitar, budget or top-notch. The magic lies in how you preform the set-up and how well you are at comparing your budget guitar to something of much better quality.
Once your guitar is set-up as you like it to play listen carefully to what is lacking: Are the pick-ups honky, microphonic, lacking any detail? Swapping the pick-ups will make a huge difference in the sound of the guitar.
What about the body and the neck? Play the guitar without any amp, and listen out how well the guitar resonates. Play some open chords, do they ring out or do they get dull very soon?
Guitar sounds how I like it but……………the neck may be a bit akward to play. As mentioned before, necks come in different profiles. Check what it is you do not like and look into a neck with a different profile.
Once you have upgraded most parts you may still not like the sound and feel of the guitar, but by doing all this work you have gained some insight in what creates the sound and feel of the guitar. Move on to next project or get happy with what you have? It is all up to you!
Hope to catch you soon again.