Why hardware is the key to great guitar tone

(Image credit: Future)

There are plenty of modders out there who wax lyrical about pickups and paper-in-oil caps, but far fewer people look to the guitar’s metal hardware for improvements in tone. And while a bridge or a replacement set of saddles may not be as charismatic as handwound humbuckers, you’d be foolish to overlook their impact on your guitar’s sound. 

Few guitar makers have examined the effect  of individual components on an instrument’s performance as extensively as Paul Reed Smith. That’s why I decided to ask him what kind of difference the right hardware can make to your guitar’s overall tone. Why, for example, does PRS bother to design its own bridges and tuners, among other things? Surely it would be easier to buy in parts from established hardware suppliers?

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Jamie Dickson

Jamie Dickson is Editor-in-Chief of Guitarist magazine, Britain's best-selling and longest-running monthly for guitar players. He started his career at the Daily Telegraph in London, where his first assignment was interviewing blue-eyed soul legend Robert Palmer, going on to become a full-time author on music, writing for benchmark references such as 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and Dorling Kindersley's How To Play Guitar Step By Step. He joined Guitarist in 2011 and since then it has been his privilege to interview everyone from B.B. King to St. Vincent for Guitarist's readers, while sharing insights into scores of historic guitars, from Rory Gallagher's '61 Strat to the first Martin D-28 ever made.