Welcome to Tremayne Guitar

Quick Upgrades - Guitars

There are a number of things that can be done to enhance the sound and even stability of your guitar at a reasonable price.  Here's a few ideas:

Tuning Machines - Today's guitar manufacturers utilize a number of different component suppliers in their production process.  The tuning machines that Klusoncome stock on most guitars are suitable for most players.  Like any mechanical component, with a lot of use and over time, the stability of that component my be compromised making it hard to keep your guitar in tune.

There are a number of aftermarket and OEM manufacturers of tuning machines.  With a relatively modest investment, you can have your guitar performing like new with this simple and inexpensive upgrade.

Pickups - You're happy with the look, the feel, the weight of your guitar but you want to get a better sound out of her.  This is one area where a number of good guitars fall short.
 Don Mare Super Sport S-Set
Almost all guitar manufacturers sell aftermarket replacement pickups that vary in performance and price.  An upgrade to the "next" level may be well worth the investment.  There are a number of aftermarket pickup manufacturers that build comparable, and in some cases, superior replacement and / or upgrades.  Changing out your pickups is not an insurmountable task, however if you are un familiar with your way around the guts of your guitar you should take it to an experienced technician.

Controls - Another very reasonable upgrade might be to your RS Guitarworks LP Kitvolume and tone potentiometers, the control switch and the capacitors.  There are arguments on both sides of this issue - some stronger than others.  In my opinion, there is something to be said about the quality of these various controls and the ultimate tone and controllability of your sound.

If you are adventurous, you can source the individual pieces or you can even get Acme Guitar Workspre-assembled kits.  Whether you piece-meal or go for the kit, be sure to consult with an experienced technician or from a knowledgeable representative from where you are making the purchase.  They will be happy to work with you.

'57 Stratocaster® Reissue Modification - The image below is a Strat® pickguard in the process of being wired up.  The components selected are relatively true to what one may have found under the hood of an actual 1957 Fender® Stratocaster®.  The Switch installed is the more modern 5-way CRL switch as opposed to the original style switch which I believe was a 3-way CRL switch.  The Volume and tone potentiometers ("pot") are all CTS pots, however they are a modern upgraded interpretation.  The volume pot comes from RS Guitarworks out of Winchester, Kentucky, and is a 280K split-shaft SuperPot®.  The two tone pots are CTS pots with brass shafts to take a little more abuse.  The capacitor is a Luxe Paper-In-Oil .1 MFD capacitor.  This reproduction is nearly identical to the type of capacitor that was used in Stratocasters® between 1956 and 1958.  Now all that is needed in order to finish this kit up - three Seymour Duncan replacement single-coil pickups.


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The folks at Seymour Duncan (thanks M.J.) came through with flying colors, receiving a set of Custom Shop Stratocaster® Replacement Pickups with the neck and middle rated at DC: 8.3K (middle RW/RP) and the bridge kicking it at DC: 10.4K.  The images below show the old pickguard assembly coming out, the body transition state, and the newly assembled pickguard with the Seymour's loaded.


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The sound/tone was phenomenal, and the client was ecstatic!  This job included a new parchment pickguard,  a volume and two tone potentiometers, a 5-way switch and a set of pickups.  Clearly, this example is at the higher end of the price spectrum, running about $580.  This includes all of the parts, installation labor and setup.  A conversion like this can be done for a lot less depending on the components selected.
 

Quick Upgrades - Amplifiers

In the world of guitar amplifiers, there are only a few options when it comes to design and construction - tube amps, solid state amps and possibly a hybrid combination of tube and solid state.  For this section we will concentrate  on full tube amplification, with the only exception being the rectifier.

Speakers - Speakers may be the first thing one might consider when upgrading one's amp.  This isn't to say it's the least expensive tone solution, however it can sometimes be a very effective one.

Researching on the Internet is always a good move, as well as checking out various forums.  You can gain a great deal of knowledge this way and save some time and money by checking out these sources.

When thinking about doing a speaker swap, besides the sonic characteristic of the speaker, your primary concern should be impedance and power rating.  Your speaker configuration must match the amp output impedance and the power rating of the speakers should match or be slightly above that of the speakers you are going to replace.  There are numerous options and configurations available so take your time and know what you are looking for.

Tubes - Another critical component in the elusive tone/sound equation are the tubes that you have in your amplifier.

Again, the Internet is a vast pool of knowledge, speculation and opinion.  As long as you can make your way through the minutia, you will find useful information.

NOS tubes (new old stock) are regarded by many as paramount in the quest for ultimate tone.  Again, based on what you read and what you believe, in all honestly, your ears will be the final deciding factor.  If it sounds good to you and your happy, that's all that matters!

In my opinion, finding true NOS tubes that actually test within spec is awesome - if you can find them at a reasonable price.  I have tried a number of different new manufactured tubes and have had success and disappointed.  There seems to always be some good / some not so good.

If you do change out your power tubes, it is paramount that you get the amp biased, unless it is a self biasing amp.

If you would like to verify that the tubes in your amp are running at spec, have them tested.  You may ask the questions "where do I get them
tested?"  Bring them to me and for a modest fee, you will get the lowdown.    

Transformers - The power and output transformers are probably the heaviest single items proportionally in a tube amplifier.  Your tube amplifier will always have a power transformer, and output transformer, typically a choke, and if amp has reverb, a reverb transformer.  The image to the right represents a complete set of transformers from Mercury Magnetics for a Fender Deluxe reverb.  Mercury Magnetics is based out of Chatsworth, California.

Occasionally transformers do fail and when they do, a like-for-like original design drop in or an upgrade are readily available.

Notes from a recent job:  I just finished working on Fender Custom Vibrolux Reverb amp.  The guitarist wanted to sweeten the tone and increase clean headroom (make the amp louder before it would start to break up).  Unique fact about this amp, it had already been modified by George Alessandro with point-to-point hardwiring.  After some discussion, the following upgrades were made:

  1. The two stock Jensen Alnico 10" P10R speakers rated at 25 watts were replaced with two Weber Vintage Series 10F150 ceramics speakers rated at 50 watts each.  The objective giving the speakers more room to grow.

  2. Next a complete re-tube was performed.  This included the following tubes in the appropriate "V" locations:
    V1 - Preamp Normal Channel - Tung-Sol 12AX7
    V2 - Preamp Bright Channel - Tung-Sol 12AX7
    V3 - Reverb Send - JAN-Phillips 12AT7WC
    V4 - Reverb Recovery / Gain Stage Vibrato - TAD 12AX7 7025-S
    V5 - Vibrato - TAD 12AX7 7025-S
    V6 - Phase Inverter (Balanced) - JAN-Phillips 12AT7WC
    V7 - Power Tube #1 - TAD 6L6GC-STR Blake Plate
    V8 - Power Tube #2 - TAD 6L6GC-STR Blake Plate

    These tubes were selected based on their characteristics and historic quality.

  3. Last but not least, after consulting with Patrick from Mercury Magnetics, the decision was made to install a ToneClone Choke and to upgrade to a ToneClone Plus+ output transformer.

The results were phenomenal.  Higher volumes, clean overhead and a tone sweetness that was out of this world, to improve with age!

If you would like more information on modifying your amp, just drop me a line.

 
817.488.7133     info@tremayneguitar.com