Converting RG HSH to HSS

I have an RG body (and accompanying neck) that I’m looking to modify. The previous owner routed the sides for binding and it had dodgy paint job so I sanded down and added the binding. Other than a pai t job, I’m looking to go HSS or even SSS. I don’t have any single coil tones in the arsenal and thought this DIY project might be the opportunity.

Although I’m not the biggest fan of pickguards, I’m assuming that would be the way to go?

I’m also looking to move the volume pot position too.

Has anyone here done a similar thing and any advice on best approach? could/should I make my own scratchplate?

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A pickguard would certainly ve the easiest way to go - yhe alternative is very carefully shaped wood inserts and wood filler, sanded smooth, but you’ll likely still see a faint line through the finish, especially over time.

There are plenty of people selling aftermarket RG pickguards on the net, finding one shouldn’t e too hard.


This solution also makes it easy to switch back to HSH if you change your mind.

I’m a big fan of pickguards on Stratish guitars especially if there’s a middle pickup. For ergonomic reasons I like being able to lower any middle pickup flush to the front of the body with no gaps around the edges (Ritchie Blackmore style).


fair point there!

yeah, I’ve seen some. I’ll just have to take a stab at one and see how I go!

You can always go for the Yngwie Alcatrazz vibe where he put single coils into Gibson style pickup mounting rings.

Nice! that looks awesome - almost franken-V

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Pick guard is easy, you can also buy humbucker to single coil conversion rings as well so you have options:

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Two immediate thoughts.

  1. Those are hideous.

  2. Those are a really, really, really cool idea. :laughing:

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Honestly I think the pick guard is the way to go in this case, since it’s a stripped body. The one thing you would have to be careful about is that most guitars that use a pickguard are top routed, and have top routed channels so you simply mount everything to the pick guard and drop it right on top. If you use a pick guard for a guitar that has a back route you would have to be a little creative with making sure the wiring was routed through the body and into the electronics cavity, before mounting the pickup to the guard.

Those rings are more for somebody who wants to easily retrofit a single, and not have to worry about screwing into the body.

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I agree that they won’t look the best, however I doubt the guitar will have a great paint job after I’m done with it! hahahaha!

I reckon that armed with a sharpie, I could do some funky designs on those pickups rings!

I just wish you could buy a single coil pickup that was housed in a humbucker (one half just a fake part)

Wire the humbucker as a single by grounding out one coil. Or if you don’t want to do that, there are options on the market that are humbucker sized but only have one active coil and a dummy coil.


I’ve never tried them, but the Rio Grande Tallboy family of humbuckers evidently ARE true single coils when split, but are capable of running as a full humbucker too. I don’t know exactly what that means, but my suspicion is rather than running two magnets next to each other and wrapping the whole thing in copper wire, they wind them as each magnet is separately wound with copper, but positioned next to each other as if they were a normal humbucker.

I’ve been curious about that design for years, an honestly, it’s not like I’m in a position where I can’t just drop $180 on a bridge humbucker out of curiosity and not lose much sleep about it if it just isn’t for me. I should probably just do it, for science. :laughing:

Likely it’s both the magnets functioning as the poles, and the physical dimensions of the bobbin. You can fit quite a bit more wire on a strat bobbin, than a typical Gibson humbucker bobbin, and because it’s a taller coil, affects the sound.

Good point - I wasn’t even thinking about the magnets!

The other thing too is that the rio grand looks to use a German silver baseplate which might have a small effect. But at that point it’s kind of nit picky. Another pickup that is similar is the Duncan stag mag.

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You can. EMG makes Single coils in a Humbucker housing. Tom Morello has them in his Arm the Homeless guitar.

There’s also the DiMarzio Humbucker from hell which functions as a humbucker but has a single coil sound.