#1
ok, QUESTION! if I buy a cheap guitar that doesn't have high quality pups, hardware, ect, but then put the same high quality hardware that is in ,oh, say a gibson SG then would it make that same cheap guitar as high quality as the gibson SG itself? if no then why not and explain?!
#2
Wood is important. Good pickups help, but the wood of a guitar plays a key role in its sound.

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#3
it would make it a gibson SG with crappy quality wood.
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#4
Quote by stradivari310
Wood is important. Good pickups help, but the wood of a guitar plays a key role in its sound.

This.
Plus poor construction and finishing can degrade the tone of a guitar
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#5
If you put makeup on a unattractive female does she instantly become Megan Fox?

Short Answer: No

Long Answer: Kinda

When it comes down to it, the wood material, craftsmanship, and even the age of the instrument are really important factors in overall quality, so there becomes a point where buying upgrades becomes a net looser, and you would better off just buying a Gibson.

You also must put into account the cost of installing the hardware.
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#6
It depends a lot on the genre, too.

I like harder stuff with lots of distortion and never play clean.

One of my Strats is an MIA SSS. The other is a modded Squier Affinity. It has locking tuners some of the electronics like on the MIA deluxes (S-1 switch & 5-way superswitch), a Seymour Duncan Jazz in the neck and a Duncan Design HB-108 Detonator in the bridge, and a Graphtech string tee (only needs one with the staggered tuners). It still has the factory bridge and nut. It had a setup by a luthier and he shimmed the neck.

With the mods it is every bit as playable as the MIA Strat, and with the HH config I like it's tone a lot better than the MIA's for what I play. I still prefer the tone of my mahagony Schecter, but I don't know if that's more a factor of the Seymour Duncan SH-8 in the bridge compared to the Squier's copy of the same pup, or if it's the wood.

At any rate, the Squire is good enought that I play it at shows--in fact, I did that last night. And even with the mods mentioned, plus a custom cut diamond plate pick guard and rare control knobs (S-1 volume, normal volume, & concentric tone, all in the Mustang style) I have less than half invested in it total than the MIA Strat.

So it all depends on what you want to do with the guitar. BTW, it's not just the kind of wood, but also the thickness, the number of pieces glued together, and the quality of the neck joint. Note, a good bolt-on can be better than a cheap glued on set neck, and can even rival neck-throughs.

Incidentally, look for YouTube vids of guitars made of aluminum, concrete, and even cinder block. It's amazing how many of those sound better than a good wood electric guitar with bad pups or crappy saddles.

Another consideration is that often with Epiphones and some other economy guitars, you would't just need a great setup, but you might need serious fretwork to make them as playable as a good Gibson. Also note that even if you lay out the bucks for a high dollar Gibson, better check it out well before buying because I've seen some expensive ones that made the lowest quality MIM Fenders out there look good.
#8
There are certain brands that have good construction even at a lower price point. A lot of them are Korean made, but some vary to other Asian countries. Squiers have come a long way in quality, rivaling some of the lower end US models. The Pawn Shop Mustang Special is a very nice Japanese made Fender. Ibanez makes some decent lower end guitars as well. ESP LTD has good price to quality, and recently I've been looking at the Reverend line again, which is also top notch.

There is plenty of junk out there though. Don't expect to buy a guitar for $100-$200 bucks and make it as good as a $1500 Strat. Tone wood is important in the body, but most of all the neck can be terrible on some lower end guitars. A straight neck with a good shape and radius with a decent fret job will make or break a guitar. If you have to put money into doing a fret level right of the bat you are in the hole generally another $75 (at least around here) before you even start sinking money into parts.

I just rebuilt an old Ibanez RX170 for a friend. He bought it for about $180 back in the early 90s. He spent about $700 in parts upgrading it, and that's with me doing all the work for free. He could have found a very good Ibanez for that money. Now he has a nice set of hardware in a plywood body and it's still going to need a fret level.
Last edited by poppameth at Nov 23, 2011,
#9
The hardest thing to fix is a low quality neck and fretboard. If you find a cheapie that feels good, then it is definitely worth doing stuff to it. If it doesnt feel good, I dont care what it sounds like cuz I'm not going to play it!
#10
Quote by Joe-Floyd-lover
and you would better off just buying a Gibson.

Just pointing out that buying a Gibson does not automatically mean you'll get a good guitar no matter what.
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#11
Quote by Sleaze Disease
Just pointing out that buying a Gibson does not automatically mean you'll get a good guitar no matter what.


+1
#12
there are great cheap guitars. everything can be replaced over time; as one has more money. look over ebay.
#13
OK. This is my take on this.

Firstly, the term "quality" is a bit of an all-encompassing thing; principally covering the sound, appearance and playbility of your instrument.

Now, when we're talking about the sound of an electric guitar then I firmly believe that the key factor in this is the electronics - pickups, pots, etc. - rather than what the thing is made of. As jetwash69 has said, you'll find guitars made of all sorts that still sound good. Mr Vai has a perspex JEM, Steinberger made those headless things in the 80s that have virtually no body to them, yet they're still acceptable, "quality" instruments. There are plenty of responses on my first build thread from people saying they have plywood guitars that sound fantastic. Of course, ultimately, the sound of a guitar is subjective and if you only ever play industrial hardcore then a concrete axe with active pups will probably serve you well. It is my belief that tonewoods only really come into their own on acoutsics. But any experiment to prove empirically that this is the case would be terribly tedious and expensive.

Playability will mostly come down to having a neck you are comfortable with, and having a guitar that stays in tune and has good intonation. There's no reason why you should have to pay big bucks to get these feaures - after all, they're all down to geometry. So you could hit upon a bargain basement guitar that just happens to feel "right" to you and behaves itself. Again this is subjective and highly personal: what feels good to you will be someone else's hell.

Appearance is possibly the last thing to consider. Look at all the time and effort people put into "relicing" their guitars because they like the beat-up, road-worn look. Obviously a beautifully finished instument gives the impression of "quality" but if it's a sod to play and sounds like a goose farting in the fog then it's not going to impress anyone, least of all yourself. You'll find some beautiful looking Chinese machines with gorgeous MOP dragon inlays and stuff - but that doesn't really count for much if it feels like a plank and sounds like a Stylophone.

To answer your question: No, upgrading will not turn your WalMart Starter into a '59 Les Paul. But if it plays well (in your opinion) and it makes you smile every time you pick it up then there's no harm in upgrading: it will only improve it and make you love it more. Hopefully. Follow your heart. If you like the guitar as it is, then by all means sink some time, effort and cash insto trying to make it better. If it's a bit "meh", then you're probably better off investing in something else.
#14
you could make it almost sound the same, but you will never make it play the same. build effects sound and hugely effects playability.

it really denends on the guitar. a custom shop SG. no never.

a sgstudio or something? ok. take a nice epiphone (with no issues, of abnormally good quality out of the box), add strap locks, locking tuners, a really nice nut, a better 3 way switch and thats a start to get to gibson level. upgrade the pups are your pretty much there as long as the guitar is nice nough to play well.

i would much rather upgrade my epihone than buy a gibson studio. i would want new pups (wouldnt pay for em right now), locking tuners, earvana nut, upgrade my 3 way and possibly my tone pot with some tweaked caps. much rahter have that than 50% of gibsons i pick up.

...but my epiphone was made by god himself. i know cause everybody that picks it up loves it. its a fact
#17
As it's been said, you can change everything on a guitar except for the wood it's made of. And in theory, you get better wood when you pay more (that's what she said?).

But I've found two things to be true... First, just because a guitar is "quality" on paper, doesn't mean you'll love it (or even like it). And vice versa, just because it's inexpensive doesn't mean it's junk.

And second, if you take a Gibson Les Paul and an Epiphone Les Paul, put the same pickups in both, and run them through a decent amp, your average audience member will never be able to tell the difference. Except the douche who's stealing your guitar while you're grabbing a beer in between sets. He'll go for the Gibson every time
Current Gear:
2002 Gibson Les Paul Standard
'57 AVRI Fender Stratocaster
MIJ Fender Jaguar Special HH
Marshall JVM410
Vox AC15 C2
#18
Throwing Active pickups in a guitar will make it sound like any other guitar with active pickups. But it's hard to find a cheaper guitar that plays nice. I recall getting my hands on a Dean Dimebag Baby ML and it played really nice! It sounded like shit though so I ended up getting rid of it. I have played plenty of cheap guitars, with proper setup. Not some jack off who thinks what they know what they are doing fiddling with the bridge. They usually play nice but the sound's poor.
#19
Quote by von Layzonfon
OK. This is my take on this.

Firstly, the term "quality" is a bit of an all-encompassing thing; principally covering the sound, appearance and playbility of your instrument.

Now, when we're talking about the sound of an electric guitar then I firmly believe that the key factor in this is the electronics - pickups, pots, etc. - rather than what the thing is made of. As jetwash69 has said, you'll find guitars made of all sorts that still sound good. Mr Vai has a perspex JEM, Steinberger made those headless things in the 80s that have virtually no body to them, yet they're still acceptable, "quality" instruments. There are plenty of responses on my first build thread from people saying they have plywood guitars that sound fantastic. Of course, ultimately, the sound of a guitar is subjective and if you only ever play industrial hardcore then a concrete axe with active pups will probably serve you well. It is my belief that tonewoods only really come into their own on acoutsics. But any experiment to prove empirically that this is the case would be terribly tedious and expensive.

Playability will mostly come down to having a neck you are comfortable with, and having a guitar that stays in tune and has good intonation. There's no reason why you should have to pay big bucks to get these feaures - after all, they're all down to geometry. So you could hit upon a bargain basement guitar that just happens to feel "right" to you and behaves itself. Again this is subjective and highly personal: what feels good to you will be someone else's hell.

Appearance is possibly the last thing to consider. Look at all the time and effort people put into "relicing" their guitars because they like the beat-up, road-worn look. Obviously a beautifully finished instument gives the impression of "quality" but if it's a sod to play and sounds like a goose farting in the fog then it's not going to impress anyone, least of all yourself. You'll find some beautiful looking Chinese machines with gorgeous MOP dragon inlays and stuff - but that doesn't really count for much if it feels like a plank and sounds like a Stylophone.

To answer your question: No, upgrading will not turn your WalMart Starter into a '59 Les Paul. But if it plays well (in your opinion) and it makes you smile every time you pick it up then there's no harm in upgrading: it will only improve it and make you love it more. Hopefully. Follow your heart. If you like the guitar as it is, then by all means sink some time, effort and cash insto trying to make it better. If it's a bit "meh", then you're probably better off investing in something else.


Bolded paragraph is terribly wrong. I agree with the rest though.

Tone wood on a guitar is by far one of the most important factors in a guitar.

TS: It will come nowhere near the quality of a real Gibson SG, because the quality of wood is higher, the attention to detail is higher, the construction quality itself is higher, the pickups are more articulate, the fret job is a lot cleaner, the hardware itself is of a higher caliber, etc.

There's a lot more that goes into a guitar than pickups and electronics.

My things:
Bowes SLx7
Washburn WG587
Washburn X40Pro
Washburn X50
Washburn HM24
Washburn WR150
Laguna LE200s
Arietta Acoustic
First Act
Valveking 112
VHT Deliverance

Last edited by valennic at Jan 19, 2012,
#20
Actually, the bolded paragraph is dead on. Any objections are usually based on myth. For acoustic, wood and construction are paramount. For an electric guitar played through an amp, pickups are the single most important part, then the wiring choices, pots and other electronics.

Debates about pickguard material, wood species for the body, etc., for an electric guitar, possibly with active pickups, and played through a high gain amp are so much nonsense. Pickups - single coil, humbucker, active, passive, high output, scatterwound, wire diameter, etc. are the single most important aspect of a guitar's tone. The amp choice can also negate any subtle wood differences on an electric.
Various Strats
PRS SC245 (2007)
Fessenden SD-10 pedal steel
Koch Studiotone XL
Mesa Boogie Express 5:25+
1958 National lap steel
Eastman El Rey 1
#21
Quote by Vulcan
Actually, the bolded paragraph is dead on. Any objections are usually based on myth. For acoustic, wood and construction are paramount. For an electric guitar played through an amp, pickups are the single most important part, then the wiring choices, pots and other electronics.

Debates about pickguard material, wood species for the body, etc., for an electric guitar, possibly with active pickups, and played through a high gain amp are so much nonsense. Pickups - single coil, humbucker, active, passive, high output, scatterwound, wire diameter, etc. are the single most important aspect of a guitar's tone. The amp choice can also negate any subtle wood differences on an electric.


Really? So, when I've played the same pickups in guitars made of different woods, and the tone was completely different, I'm hallucinating? Thousands of other guitarists are hallucinating?

No. They are not. The amp only ACCENTUATES the tone of the wood. You cannot seriously believe what you're saying here. The pickups are important, but they can only bring out what's already there.

On what are you basing these statements anyway? So luthiers are just, full of shit now eh?

My things:
Bowes SLx7
Washburn WG587
Washburn X40Pro
Washburn X50
Washburn HM24
Washburn WR150
Laguna LE200s
Arietta Acoustic
First Act
Valveking 112
VHT Deliverance

Last edited by valennic at Jan 19, 2012,
#22
The people drinking the koolaid know more about the koolaid than the peopel who made the koolaid and also probably drink the koolaid? I think not.

^^ wood matters a lot.
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GFS Tuner
TS-9 (Keeley ish mod)
Dunlop GCB-95 Wah truebypass
ICP Gstring Decimator
#23
Quote by valennic
Really? So, when I've played the same pickups in guitars made of different woods, and the tone was completely different, I'm hallucinating? Thousands of other guitarists are hallucinating?

No. They are not. The amp only ACCENTUATES the tone of the wood. You cannot seriously believe what you're saying here. The pickups are important, but they can only bring out what's already there.

On what are you basing these statements anyway? So luthiers are just, full of shit now eh?


2 identical guitars? I'm saying that people who obsess over the minutiae of woods are missing a bigger picture - one of overall body and neck design and mass, which can be affected by wood choice, but the overriding factor is the electronics choice. Did I say luthiers are full of shit?
Various Strats
PRS SC245 (2007)
Fessenden SD-10 pedal steel
Koch Studiotone XL
Mesa Boogie Express 5:25+
1958 National lap steel
Eastman El Rey 1
#24
Quote by Vulcan
2 identical guitars? I'm saying that people who obsess over the minutiae of woods are missing a bigger picture - one of overall body and neck design and mass, which can be affected by wood choice, but the overriding factor is the electronics choice. Did I say luthiers are full of shit?


Implications that wood has nothing to do with tone, so in a sense.

Body and neck design have little to do with it. Steinbergers can sustain longer than or equal to a Gibson, and vice versa. The woods are arguably the largest chunk of what will get you the tone. There's a very reason well established companies make guitars out of many different kinds of woods. The electronics are the miniscule factor in that sense.

I apologise for the rash reaction, but I when I hear that wood has nothing to do with tone I tend to fly off the handle.

My things:
Bowes SLx7
Washburn WG587
Washburn X40Pro
Washburn X50
Washburn HM24
Washburn WR150
Laguna LE200s
Arietta Acoustic
First Act
Valveking 112
VHT Deliverance

Last edited by valennic at Jan 19, 2012,
#25
Quote by valennic
Body and neck design have little to do with it. Steinbergers can sustain longer than or equal to a Gibson, and vice versa. The woods are arguably the largest chunk of what will get you the tone.

Steinberger used carbon necks and very little wood due to an extremely small body design, so I'm not sure what you're trying to get at. To compare a Gibson to a Steinberger, then claim that the wood choice is the overriding factor doesn't make much sense. Sorry, I'm puzzled, and trying to keep this civil. My experience is that the tone and response of an instrument can be completely changed with a different choice of electronics.
Various Strats
PRS SC245 (2007)
Fessenden SD-10 pedal steel
Koch Studiotone XL
Mesa Boogie Express 5:25+
1958 National lap steel
Eastman El Rey 1
Last edited by Vulcan at Jan 19, 2012,
#26
Quote by Vulcan
Steinberger used carbon necks and very little wood due to an extremely small body design, so I'm not sure what you're trying to get at. To compare a Gibson to a Steinberger, then claim that the wood choice is the overriding factor doesn't make much sense. Sorry, I'm puzzled, and trying to keep this civil. My experience is that the tone and response of an instrument can be completely changed with a different choice of electronics.


Maybe Steinberger wasn't the best example, but the material they used to create them affected the tone, yes?

Completely changed? No. Altered a bit? Yeah. What I'm trying to say is that a Mahogany guitar will sound different from an Alder guitar, and that will sound different from a Walnut guitar, and a Maple guitar, etc. That was the point I was trying to make. Again, apologies for getting rash.

My things:
Bowes SLx7
Washburn WG587
Washburn X40Pro
Washburn X50
Washburn HM24
Washburn WR150
Laguna LE200s
Arietta Acoustic
First Act
Valveking 112
VHT Deliverance

#27
OK, I suspect that we can agree that wood choice can accentuate or detract from certain characteristics of the chosen electronics. It is not, however, my experience that wood choice will define the guitar. Certain pickup choices do not match as well with certain wood choices, while others are perfect. In a lot of cases, an amp choice can be far more important than anything other than a single coil/humbucker choice.
Various Strats
PRS SC245 (2007)
Fessenden SD-10 pedal steel
Koch Studiotone XL
Mesa Boogie Express 5:25+
1958 National lap steel
Eastman El Rey 1
#28
Quote by Vulcan
OK, I suspect that we can agree that wood choice can accentuate or detract from certain characteristics of the chosen electronics. It is not, however, my experience that wood choice will define the guitar. Certain pickup choices do not match as well with certain wood choices, while others are perfect. In a lot of cases, an amp choice can be far more important than anything other than a single coil/humbucker choice.


I can agree on the amp bit, but I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree on the wood bit. I do agree, however, that certain pickups pair very well with certain woods.

I just feel that the first bit is backwards

My things:
Bowes SLx7
Washburn WG587
Washburn X40Pro
Washburn X50
Washburn HM24
Washburn WR150
Laguna LE200s
Arietta Acoustic
First Act
Valveking 112
VHT Deliverance

#29
Quote by valennic
I just feel that the first bit is backwards

Doesn't it really amount to the same thing?
Various Strats
PRS SC245 (2007)
Fessenden SD-10 pedal steel
Koch Studiotone XL
Mesa Boogie Express 5:25+
1958 National lap steel
Eastman El Rey 1
#30
if you plug into a slo with 2 guitars with high output pickups and you can't tell them output something is very wrong.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#31
Quote by Serj_Tankian420
ok, QUESTION! if I buy a cheap guitar that doesn't have high quality pups, hardware, ect, but then put the same high quality hardware that is in ,oh, say a gibson SG then would it make that same cheap guitar as high quality as the gibson SG itself? if no then why not and explain?!
Upgrading a cheap guitar is the same as upgrading a cheap car.
#32
Quote by al112987
Upgrading a cheap guitar is the same as upgrading a cheap car.


only ... cheaper
#33
Quote by al112987
Upgrading a cheap guitar is the same as upgrading a cheap car.
Quote by Dunkelheit-164
only ... cheaper

And yet people still do it...often to extremes.
http://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?t=786082
#34
Quote by von Layzonfon
And yet people still do it...often to extremes.
http://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?t=786082

Yep, we did that back in the 70s to everything we could get our hands on. They were junk, but we made them 'ours', so to speak. Same with a cheap guitar. If nothing else, one learns a lot about how the parts work and how to do minor mods. Most are reversible, and parts can be salvaged for future use. It's never a total waste of effort.
Various Strats
PRS SC245 (2007)
Fessenden SD-10 pedal steel
Koch Studiotone XL
Mesa Boogie Express 5:25+
1958 National lap steel
Eastman El Rey 1
#35
"Body and neck design have little to do with it. Steinbergers can sustain longer than or equal to a Gibson, and vice versa. The woods are arguably the largest chunk of what will get you the tone."

I've gotta pull you up on this statement valennic. You are correct that wood effects the tone of an electric guitar. the biggest influence on tone ? no way.

Besides it says clearly in the which pups thread, that amp and electronics effect 90% of you're tone, and UG don't lie.
#37
I had BC rich Warbeast Trace and still have a KKV MMGv2 both with the BSDM pickups and am assuming the same electronics. These two were very very different sounding guitars. The trace was a string thru and the KKV is a wrap around The KKv is a much better full sounding guitar. The trace was very thin and brittle sounding, thus the reason I do not have anymore.
By what some are saying on this thread is that since they both share identical electronics and a different piece of wood they should almost sound identical....they did not...not even close.

My point is the wood matters a lot IE shape,density.mass ect...
So my opinion is yes you can turn a cheap guitar into a good one with installing good/better stuff, it just needs to be the right one. Which is why I still say if you get an EPI made out of a good chunk of wood and throw some Gibson pups in it ,it will sound like a Gibson. You just need to get lucky and find it. And that skill only comes with many years of experience.
What the hell!!!