High-pass capacitor on the master volume pot. This keeps the highs from dropping out when you turn the volume down.
Phase switch on middle pickup. These are really useful for getting another couple sounds out of a stock Strat. Very bright and clanky on a clean signal; sharp and biting through distortion.
Neck pick-up add-in. This gets you two additional combinations: N+B and all three pickups. David Gilmour has added this to his guitar at times, and a lot of copies of his instruments have it as well, though I didn't know that at the time I installed it.
Added a varitone in place of the second tone knob. This model was from (the now-defunt) Gribblin Engineering. It originally came on a long-shaft rotary switch with a chickenhead pointer knob. I hate altering the stock appearance of guitars (see my page on Principles of Guitar Modification), so I cut the shaft shorter and filed it down to accommodate a Strat knob. It wasn't perfect, but it worked well enough. It also got some interesting tones that really impressed me.
The version with these mods in it can be seen on the Red Strat v.1 page.
I bought the creme Strat mainly to house the now-hot-rodded guts of the red Strat, only it didn't work out that way. The DG20 set looked best with the creme Strat (which also happened to have a very glossy neck like Dave's red '57 reissue), so I put it in that.
Though he's more famous for the black Strat(s), Clapton has sometimes played a torino red one like this as well, so I decided to finally turn this guitar into a version of his '80s and '90s signature Strat.
Gold Lace Sensor pickups. I think these were incredible, and most people seem to overwhelmingly prefer these to Fender's "Vintage Noiseless" crap pickups that replaced the Sensors in Clapton's signature model in later years.Many of the above mods (and probably a few others) are detailed on the Black Strat v.2 page. I can't remember just which elements of the wiring were present when it was in the various transitional phases during this period.
TBX tone control, etc. but not the Clapton preamp. I didn't get the preamp until these guts had migrated over to the black Strat and this guitar became v.3. This tone control can function like a regular tone knob, but also can add a small (but noticeable) amount of brightness.
Phase switch. I'm not certain I had this mod on this incarnation, but I almost always include a phase switch on any Strat I can include one on since they're very interesting and useful additions.
Routed the body for a battery. I'm not sure when I did this. I believe I experimented with a preamp (though not the Clapton model) sometime in here, although I also did in the black Strat. I may not have routed this until I needed to for the active pickups.
I should also note that the pickguard
the original to the guitar, although I couldn't tell you when or why I
got a new one. I think it may have been from the creme Strat when
I installed the Gilmour EMG set into it years before, although I can't
be certain. All I know is that not all of the holes in it lined
exactly with the screw holes in the body. I just left those
without screws most of the time, but I more recently took the time to
drill new holes to match the current pickguard.
EMG SA pickups + SPC and EXG preamps. This is the classic Gilmour set-up, only I bought the pickups in white and the two preamps separately instead of getting another DG20 package deal. In fact, I didn't know it when I did this, but by this time (mid-2000s?) the DG20 had incorporated the SPC and EXG preamps onto one board so they couldn't be separated. It's apparently a cost-cutting technique on their part, but it's an inconvenience if you ever go this route and decide to modify or abandon one of the preamps or the other (which I eventually did; see below).
Attempted to gloss the neck with hardware-store clear coat spray. This worked well enough, but there was some checking in the finish almost from the start, possibly because of the conditions under which I sprayed it or maybe my technique or even the material itself. I have no idea. It held up for several years, although it doesn't compare to a professionally done job.
New tuners. The cheap original tuners were replaced with vintage-style Klusons like you see on the '57 reissues or the aforementioned Blackie. These also happened to work really, really well and one of the sets I had on here were among the best tuners I had on any instrument.
|This was one point in the
I'm not sure what the story was here, but probably when I was trying to
troubleshoot the problem with it grounding out.
Note the original tremolo. You can also see that I have the pickups labeled with tape as N, M, and B to keep them straight.
One of these days I need to install a battery box in this guitar so I don't have to deal with loosening all the strings and unscrewing the pickguard just to check if I have a dead battery.
Note that these upgrades weren't performed all at the same time, but were all part of the same evolving vision for this guitar.
New neck. This was from a Japanese '57 reissue. The gorgeous gloss looks great and feels incredible. Add to that the fact that it even affected the tone positively, something I didn't expect. The neck came with its own Kluson vintage-style tuners, but these may be swapped out later as I don't feel that they're as tight as the replacements I had added earlier and then removed with the old neck. Those are still on the original neck in my closet. (Update: The good set of tuners went on a Telecaster I made into a version of the '52 style. I probably should have put them on the this guitar since I play it more than the Tele.)
Replaced the trem. The cheap original trem was swapped for a vintage-style trem from a Mexican Strat. The part was found on eBay. The claw is the original that came with the guitar, although I have no idea where the springs might have come from. (Maybe this guitar, maybe another? I have a bunch of these in a parts drawer upstairs.) The trem bar is shared between this guitar and the black Strat (which is what it came with originally). I never bothered to buy a second arm since I often play the trem by rocking my hand across it, my own weird technique. Note that I never cut the trem bar shorter as Dave famously does on his Strats.
Removed EXG and added a dummy control. This wasn't a mod so much as an attempt to trouble-shoot the guitar at one point when something in the circuit was shorting that that the battery was always running out. It turned out that the EXG wasn't the culprit; an exposed ground wire was, but I had already reassembled the guitar by then, and I really never used the EXG all that much anyway. In that space I added a pot with a knob on it. Not wired into anything, just for the sake of appearance.
New pickup selector switch. No real reason, electronically speaking. What happened was the original was some off-brand selector that had too wide a shaft to accept conventional selector knobs. The original knob came off and couldn't be replaced without replacing the entire switch, which I did while wiring in the following couple of electronic additions.
Added a simultaneous pick-up add-in switch (under the vol pot). I'd previously put add-in switches on other incarnations of this and other Strats, but the simultaneous add-in turns on both the neck and bridge pickups no matter which position you're in, so you don't have to remember which pickup you wired it to add. (Positions 1 and 5 give you the so-called Tele-sound while the middle three positions give you all three pickups.)
Added a passive tone control. This took the place of the dummy control that stood in for the EXG. I felt like I needed something to cut the highs, especially on distorted leads.
New backplate. The original was lost at some point, and the guitar went without one for a short while. I've since found the original, but I like this replacement better. The new one has the vintage-style six string-holes instead of just a single opening. Not a big deal, but I like the look better, even though honestly the other is easier to work with when changing strings.
New pickguard screws. Most of the originals were lost during the many mods over the years. I literally had only three or four remaining to hold the pickguard on, and those weren't even from the same set. (The heads were visibly different among them.) I replaced these all with very close approximations of the screws Fender uses, only they were bought a pack of a hundred from the hardware store for a few bucks.
New knobs. The original set (which probably wasn't even original) were too aged to match the rest of the white plastic on the guitar. I'm all for "relic" guitars when they get that way naturally, but this looked too mismatched.
|The original neck (still attached) next to the new neck, one taken from a Japanese '57 reissue (hardware included).|
stop with a copy? Make it your own. Modeling a
after someone is a good starting point, but continue beyond that in
that appeal to you, even if it means obscuring the "signature" quality
of the instrument. The guitarist you're trying to emulate already
has his own guitar that got that way because he followed his own
If you're going to modify a guitar, make it your signature instrument,
not for someone who will never play it.