#1
I got this sweet neck-through single cut guitar. It's single cut, Les Paul shaped with basic Les Paul controls (2 tone, 2 volume, 3-way pickup selector) but no binding, and guitar's pretty light. But it's a neck through with the striped neck-through look. It's a Harmony Marquis from late 70s or early 80s, I'd guess, and probably made in Japan during the period that the Asian-owned Harmony brand was making guitars in Japan before moving production to Korea and getting a bad rep. This guitar may very well have been made at the Matsumoku factory, but I don't know.

When I got it, the pickups were mismatched -- black bridge humbucker and cream neck humbucker. My guess is that the neck is stock and the bridge was a replacement at some point. Even worse than the mismatched color, I think both pickups sound like crap.

But every problem is an opportunity, and I was wanting a chance to try my new soldering iron and do some electronics work. I went back and forth on what to do, and finally settled on P-Rails with the Triple Shot rings, all come in cream and should look great on this guitar and match the original color scheme.

I've been watching videos on good soldering technique and replacing pickups and stuff, and I'm just about ready to start. However, one of the videos I saw today had me suddenly wondering if I should replace the pots while I'm at it. It's a relatively cheap addition compared to the cost of everything else -- $5 a pot, four pots, for some good CTS pots.

Since I'm replacing the pickups, I decided to also get new knobs for it that I think will look sharper than the golden speed knob types that came with it. One of them was non-original anyway, and a bit mismatched, so I would have had to either try to find one knob that perfectly matched the three original ones, or buy a new set of four anyway. For $5, I got four new knobs on the way that I think will be more flattering, still vintage style. I am second-guessing not getting the speed knob type that would keep the guitar looking more as it came originally, and I would have done that if I thought this guitar had significant collector value, but I'm thinking it's value is more as a unique player, a cool vintage neck through with P-Rails.

Well, just posting cause I'm excited to start my first electronics mod, but I won't be able to start till tomorrow. Can hardly wait.

Ken
Bernie Sanders for President!
#2
You realize that there are at least three different output levels of P-Rail, right? I rejected the one that SD said was the "neck" pickup and subbed in one of the two hotter ones that they claimed were "bridge" pickups.

You also have the choice of putting the single rail coil pickups closer to the bridge and to the fretboard if you want to, and SD will actually send you some with the logos appropriately done to support that.
#3
CTS or bournes potentiometers are a nice touch. Some people even swap to different tone capacitors like paper in oil being a very popular choice. CTS boasts that they toss or re-make potentiometers if they aren't to specific tolerances or guidelines.. something like that.

My best advice is to go with linear potentiometers say for example B500k . You get a smoother decrease of volume and because of that your sound stays more consistent going 10-1. It's similar to the Kinman treble bleed. Stewmac did an excellent video on this.

That being said the triple shots and P-rails tonefiend (joe gore) did an excellent video/article showcasing what they did. Think he also did the jimmy page wiring on the guitar too so he got 30-50 tones out of one guitar. I'd check it out if you have time.

soldering tips
tin every wire and contact
use 60/40 solder, it's easier to work with
solder flat to the surface of potentiometers