My favorite guitar (tinkering project)

Hello dear guitar fellas,

i wanted to use this opportunity to show you my favorite guitar - my 2012 Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster. It came equipped with a low output Atomic Humbucker (8,4k), which is pretty much “meh”. It’s a decent humbucker, but i always felt, that it’s kinda “steril” and doesn’t have really good dynamic response. Last year, I began to learn, how to tinker with guitars. After some projects with really cheap guitars, I felt confident enough to tackle my “more expensive” Strat. Lo-and-behold my modded/improved Strat :smiley:

I wanted to have a very own unique Strat, so i moddded the hell out of it:

-swapped the Atomic Humbucker with a chinese hot-rail humbucker (oripure), which has the power i hoped for. (also, it’s really pretty nice - despite it’s low price $30)
-swapped the pickguard for more “style” :smiley:
-installed a miniswitch for coilsplitting the humbucker.
-removed all pots - changed the values to volume 250k, tone 500k. All audio-taper
-changed the first tone pot to a master tone pot
-changed the second tone pot to a master bass tone pot
-installed a killswitch, because why not?

Unfortunatelly i drilled the killswitch button hole for the pickguard too big, so i needed to fix it temporary with some tape, until the new, bigger button arives.

So, what do you think? Do you guys have a favorite, modded guitar?


removed electronics:

drilled the hole for the killswitch:

finished project:


The killswitch is cool - I’ve always wanted to put one in…at some point. Some guitarists prefer a linear taper on the tone pots…but there certainly is no consensus on this in my experience. You didn’t mention this detail of pots - some guitarists also like to put ‘high friction’ pots in the tone position and a ‘low friction’ pot in the volume position.

One of my favorite strat mods (for the SSS configuration) is to replace the 5-way with a 4-way switch and wire position 4 (or traditionally the position you would assume to select the ‘neck’ pick-up only) and have it as the neck and bridge in series - it’s a rather fat sound for a SSS guitar (and inspired by a popular tele mod). The options at that point would be 1- bridge, 2- bridge and neck in parallel, 3- neck only, 4-neck and bridge in series.

*note: physically the middle pick-up is moved to the neck position as it is reverse wound and works well in series with the others - although I’m not so sure this is necessary given the distance apart, just good in practice and theory. I’ve always then moved the neck pick-up then to the middle position (disconnected) and lowered it flush to the pick-guard just for aesthetics.


i had linear tone and volume pots in a few projects, but i don’t like this “on-off” effect. Especially with the bass roll-off, i wanted some more control over the effect.

About the friction: i tried some alpha pots, some CTS and cheap chinese ones. At the end of the day i sticked to the chinese ones, because the “not so fluid” motion doesn’t bug me that much and they work just fine. At least for now. But even at the chinese market there are “good” pots and absolut horrible ones. I had some 1 Buck push/pull pots which were complete rubbish. They did at least work, but the almost no existing turn resistance and “wacky contacts” are no joy - even for me.

I wanted to have a Strat with max. versalitility. So i sticked to the HSS configuration. But your mod suggestion sounds neat. Maybe i’ll do that if i buy a cheap SSS Strat. A way to beef up your tone is always great :slight_smile: