Motivation Club #8 with Lieven | Electric Guitar Essentials

Hey folks :wave:

Join Lieven for a focused session on electric guitars: sound, playability, and upgrades. Learn what matters most in choosing a guitar and discover key factors like quality, playability, and personal taste. Find out about useful initial upgrades and when to consider them. Let Lieven’s insights fuel your guitar passion and motivation. Join the Zoom Session with Passcode: 123

Club archive for this class will be here.

Enroll for this session on the Clubs page
SUN, MAR 17 2024 · 18:30 UTC


Hi guys,

I’m looking forward to show you guys some of my guitars.

Not to brag of course but to explain what properties you can look for in a guitar, what really matters and what changes I made to them to help playability, tuning stability, noise and tonal options.

The aim is to know what you are comparing when browsing guitars or knowing what the sense and nonsense is of certain upgrades. I’ll explain what “setting up a guitar” means.

In an extend, I’ll include amps and speakers as well, because you’d be surprised which things matters most when achieving a tone :smiley:

This topic was inspired by this wonderful Community and I hope it can help those who are a bit overwhelmed by options and terminology :wink:


The Mar 17 date for the session is correct, but looks like dates shown for the different cities is incorrect, it shows Mar 14/15.

ah thanks, yes, fixed it!

Hi Lieven, thanks for another great and informative session I really enjoyed! Thanks for answering my question concerning single coils very detailed, but I was thinking towards a slightly different direction :wink:. I’m still not sure in which direction my ambitions with electric guitar will take me and I’m asking myself, if buying a guitar with a coil split option, as some models offer (2 splitable HB’s), would give me best versatility, at least for a few years? Or is it just a bad compromise? I’ve watched quite a lot of video’s with sound examples for coil splits, but you never know, what the guys really use in the background to improve the tone (all sounds so “polished”). I’ve read, a splitted HB always sounds different from a single coil. My question was, if it’s, out of practical experience, a good decision to go for a coil split option (and not to buy lots of guitars for every purpose :joy:, ok, ok, I know this would be the best thing to do :wink:)? My “problem” is, that I have no tone preference, I don’t prefer one tone over the other so far, it depends, so I simply can’t decide, if I should go for single coils or HB’s. I currently play on single coils (borrowed strat).

Thank you for another very interesting and helpful session, Lieven! :sunflower:

And thanks for providing me with a good excuse to buy some upgrades :wink:

Could you consider doing a similar session about amps too, please? That would be much appreciated :grinning:

There are many options when it comes to wiring. Also be wary that not all humbuckers can be coil split. I think “2 wire” bumbuckers can’t be split and you need a “wire design”

In general, a HSS layout on a strat can do a lot already when it comes to versatility. It is the go-to scenario for people who want a versatile setup. HSS: humbuckers-single-single. A coil split on the pickup in the bridge give you 4 pickups in total.

Yes, I read so but I know too little about the tech side to explain why that is. It tends to be a bit more “humbuckery”.

If you are in doubt, I’d suggest the HSS layout. You can get it coil split with a push-pull pot later.
You could see how far you’ll get with a standard HSS layout. Believe me, you might not find the coil-split THAT of a big return of investment versus the humbucker in the bridge instead of a single coil.

There are some nice options to get a humbucker in a single coil size and casing.

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By all means, run down your scenario here because remember; when it comes to osund, your guitar might be less of a factor than you think and some minor tweaks could mean a big improvement.

I could do something on gainstaging, EQ, guitar vs amp versus speaker but not too soon as I would need to work on a good story first.


But I’d also add that Strat style control layout isn’t the most versatile out there. And while you have a lot of different sound options due to 3 pickups it takes some time to dial it in and you can’t really change it fast mid song.
For me Gibson style layout with separate controls for each pickup is way more convenient and gives a lot more freedom. You can even get clean and overdriven sounds without any pedals with some volume adjustments and simple pickup change.

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True, although I think you are in a smaller group of people who doesn’t play with everything all open on all knobs all the time? :wink:

Jokes aside, It’s indeed a different breed of controls and wiring options can do a lot of things to your options like faux-humbucking or some other/extra capacitors etc.

Too much to cover in one episode and this already touched the limit of what I’m comfortable talking about :smiley:

That’s exactly what I do. I want to start experimenting with my tone, but for now I try to spend more time actually playing and trying to learn at least something.
So I use my SG’s controls in only two ways (yet):

  1. simple off switch with one volume know turned to 0;
  2. clean/driven switch with one volume on 10 and one on ~5.
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I’m asking myself, if buying a guitar with a coil split option, as some models offer (2 splitable HB’s), would give me best versatility, at least for a few years?

Or is it just a bad compromise?

I’ve read, a splitted HB always sounds different from a single coil.

I have no tone preference

I simply can’t decide, if I should go for single coils or HB’s.

I currently play on single coils (borrowed strat).

In reverse order …

Do you like the feel, look and sound of the HSS Strat? In your home environment do the single coils hum? Or do you only ever play humbucker or in- between on the pickup selector.

Single coils or humbuckers? Listen to Sultans Of Swing then listen to Brothers In Arms. Single coils then humbuckers played by the same man.

You have no tone preference and play at home. Do you yearn to play with a tremolo bar? I f yes then no, I would suggest the only reason to choose an HSS Strat is if you love the look and feel.

A split humbucker will sound different to a true single coil. It is to do with the physics and consctruction, magnets and coil winds. But they are all just electric guitar sounds and you have no preference.

A bad compromise? Nobody buys a Les Paul with coil splits because their first priority is the split coil sound. That is far and away a secondary issue and some may never use the split at all.

Do you want a guitar with dual humbuckers? If you really yearn for one then go for it. You will, no doubt, love the sounds you can get. With two volume, two tone contrs much is possible. With splits you can have that little more.

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@LievenDV @Richard_close2u Thank you both for your detailed answers! The background of my question was, that I currently play the strat clone of my son, all good with that so far, but at a point, when he wants it back, I’ll have to buy my own one. My current playgrade doesn’t require a very specified setup so far, so my initial thought was to stay versatile with only ONE guitar, at least until I know where my journey will take me. I read a lot about gear, so I already tought about a HSS configuration as Lieven mentioned, but was asking myself if the coil split option would provide a wider covering of possible options.

To be clear: I have no general preference, but I do have a preference in different contexts. I like crystal clear single coil sounds as much as a more “humbuckery” sound, depending on the context, so would be nice to cover a range of options.

I currently play a SSS configuration, no issues with humming so far.

Great example, both tunes are one of my favourites and a good example for what I meant with tone in the given context.

So far, I don’t need one :joy:. But I have one :hugs:.

The more I read and taking your statements into account, I maybe shouldn’t give the split option too much attention.
Maybe adding a LP double HB with a shorter scale lenght would be a nice addition to the strat (as long as I can use it) and 2 guitars is always better than one, I guess :guitar: :guitar: :blush:?

I recently had a short visit at my local guitar store and used the time to get my hands on a guitar with a shorter 24,75" scale lenght, I was kind of surprised, that I actually could feel the lower string tension compared to my strat clone (I didn’t expect that so clearly). I’m planning to dive a bit more into Blues after finishing Grade 3. Maybe the scale length should be a more important criterion to consider?
(Oh man, could somebody give me a few decades of lifetime back, to try all of those options and we are not talking about amps, pedals, etc. so far :see_no_evil:. I come back to my old intent: 1. Learn to play well…, then 2. think about buying guitars :wink:).

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Not specifically; I do blues on both my 25.5" (Strat) and 24" guitar (jag copy) and one is not better than the other… but different. 24" feels at home but that doesn’t dismiss other guitars.

Don’t forget what I’ve told about string tension: it’s the combo of scale length and string gauge.
I tend to play a bit different on the strat. I think I find hammer-ons easier to do or I like the sound of 'm more? hard to express but it gives me different inspiration while playing.
I haven’t even mentioned flat woudn strings. a bit more expensive but that jummy smooth feel. try it some day! :smiley:

I wouldn’t fit a guitar into “for this genre” too much; having something that broadens your spectrum is usually a more universal idea. Most of all; picking up a guitar sohuld give you the feeling you can’t put it down and you get ideas and inspiration while playing it.

It’s good that you’re careful with the weight of the coil split.

You might be worring too much about tonal options :wink:

Well set up or not; having the guitar on your lap, jamming some chords, trying some lead and blues etc should give you a vibe. Is this guitar a platform that clicks with me?
Does it already sound interesting without upgrades?

All starts with a platform. there are humbuckers in double and single size, wiring options, etc… but chaging body, neck, fretwork etc is a different kind of work.

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I thought last nights run thought on electric guitars for somebody who has no interest in owning one was quite illuminating.(this statement will probably come back and bite me in the future).

So many options if you don’t have a fixed idea what you want, I thought choosing my first acoustic guitar was difficult but your first electric guitar, so much choice,

I do have one criteria, the body must be predominantly red, oh dear have started to look at the on line stores.:guitar:


I won’t :wink:, I know, in the end you could play lots of music on any guitar…

This already is the core issue of my problem :joy:. Too many of those guitars out there are SO beautiful. You buy one and you get kind of hooked… :blush:.

That’s the beginning of the end of self-control. And btw, Michael, I share your preference for red guitars… a woman should own one :guitar:.


I hear ya brotha!
Sorry if I did an inception :wink:

Michael Caine Just Ended An Eight Year Long Debate Over The Ending Of " Inception"

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I’ve mentioned this elsewhere…
My wife is always saying “I have a lipstick :lipstick: that matches the color of that guitar :guitar:”!!!

Keep Gibson & Revlon/Chanel/L’Oreal in business at the same time!!! :flushed:

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This is a REAL issue… not only beautiful but with slight yet distinct tonal variations even with the same configurations… Seymour Duncans sound different than Gibson PAFs etc… where do we stop? Do we Stop?? Should we Stop??? I still have quite a bit of unused closet space :innocent: :smiling_imp::face_with_hand_over_mouth::hugs::exploding_head:


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Who knows?

Frankly said: NO! :guitar: :joy:

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