13 Cheap or Free Ways To Make Your Electric Guitar Sound Better

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By Guitar Pick Reviews

We all love that sweet, crisp sound of a well-played electric guitar, right? But what if your own guitar isn’t sounding as great as you’d like it to be? Don’t worry; you don’t have to spend heaps of money to make it sound better!

There are some cool, simple, and pocket-friendly tricks that can help you get a way better sound from your electric guitar.

Stick around, and let’s dive into some easy and cheap (or even free!) ways to make your guitar sound just the way you want it.

Ready to rock? Let’s go!

Improving the Sound of Your Electric Guitar and Why It Matters

Making your electric guitar sound better is like fine-tuning your favorite tool. A well-sounding guitar not only makes your music more enjoyable to listen to but also makes playing more fun! 

When your guitar sounds good, you feel good, and that boosts your confidence and motivation to play and create even more.

Plus, a guitar that’s in top shape can help your playing skills shine and keep your audience engaged. Let’s keep things simple and find easy ways to uplift that sound without breaking the bank!

Free Ways to Improve the Sound of Your Electric Guitar

Before you pluck away those hard-earned dollars, here are some wallet-friendly tweaks for your guitar:

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Adjust the Pickup Height

The height of your pickups, those magnetic marvels underneath your strings, directly influences your guitar’s output and tone.

Too high, and your sound can distort; too low, and it may weaken. Use a screwdriver to gently adjust the pickups: raise them slightly for a bolder sound or lower them for a softer output. 

Remember, small tweaks can make a significant impact, ensuring each strum sings just right!

Clean the Output Jack

A crispy, clear sound demands a clean output jack. Dust and grime in the jack can interfere with your guitar’s voice, introducing unwanted static or crackles.

Simply unplug and gently clean the inside of the jack using a cotton swab lightly dampened with rubbing alcohol.

Ensure no residue is left behind and allow it to dry thoroughly before plugging back in. There you have it: a straightforward step to a cleaner, clearer sound.

Make your electric guitar sound better by cleaning the output jack
A dirty output jack can never pass a clean signal. Instantly improve your electric’s sound by giving it a proper clean up.

Fix Noisy Guitar Knobs

Crackly, popping guitar knobs can interrupt your musical journey with unwanted noise.

Here’s a straightforward fix: Use a contact cleaner. Remove the knob, give a short spray inside, then rotate the potentiometer (the component the knob turns) back and forth a few times.

This cleans off grime and oxidation, ensuring a smooth, crackle-free adjustment of your volume and tone controls while playing. Voila, clear sound ahead!

If you want a step-by-step guide, you can find one here.

Clean the Pickup Magnets

Over time, pickup magnets can accumulate metal shavings and dust, subtly dulling your sound. 

A gentle wipe with a soft, dry cloth can clear away these tiny intruders, ensuring your pickups capture your strings’ vibrations in all their purity.

Clean pickups mean a clearer, crisper sound, letting your playing shine through without any muddy interference. Quick, simple, and so effective!

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Rusty pickup magnets will make your guitar sound dull
Rusty pickup magnets will make your guitar sound dull

Set Up Your Guitar

Ensuring your guitar is properly set up is pivotal to achieving optimal sound.

A good setup includes adjusting the truss rod to straighten the neck, setting the string height for comfortable playability, and ensuring the intonation is accurate so notes play correctly across the entire fretboard.

Remember: a well-set guitar not only sounds better but also feels easier to play, keeping your focus on the music, not the mechanics.

Here’s a full guide on how to set up your guitar.

Properly Intonate the Guitar

Intonation impacts the accuracy of the notes on the fretboard, guaranteeing that each fretted note is in tune all along the neck.

Begin with a well-tuned string at the open position, and check its octave note at the 12th fret. If these notes don’t align, adjust the string length using the saddle on the bridge until both notes are in perfect harmony.

It’s a gentle dance of tiny adjustments to make sure your melodies ring true, from the headstock to the body.

A well-toned guitar sings sweetly, with every note on every fret reliably in tune, allowing your music to flow authentically and accurately.

Shield the Cavity

Shielding the cavity, where your guitar’s electronics reside, helps mitigate unwanted interference and noise.

Adding a layer of conductive shielding tape or paint can minimize hum and buzz, ensuring your guitar sounds as clean and pure as possible.

It’s a small change that can make a noticeable difference in your sound quality!

Cheap Ways to Improve the Sound of Your Electric Guitar

A little investment can go a long way in uplifting your musical journey. Here are some budget-friendly upgrades:

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Change Your Strings

Over time, strings lose their vibrancy and clarity. By swapping them out for a fresh set, you instantly reclaim a bright, clear, and resonant tone.

Whether it’s a smooth nickel-wound string for a warm tone or a stainless steel string for a brighter sound, new strings can make a notable difference without breaking the bank.

Dirty guitar strings on an electric guitar prevents it from sounding as gool as it can
Dirty guitar strings on an electric guitar prevents it from sounding as gool as it can

Upgrade the Nut

Elevate your guitar’s tone by upgrading the nut!

A high-quality nut, crafted from materials like bone or Tusq, not only enhances your instrument’s resonance and sustain but also ensures strings are neatly guided, reducing unwanted pinging sounds during tuning and play.

It’s a small investment for a noteworthy impact on your sound quality. Invest in a quality nut, and hear the difference with every strum and note!

Get Some String Muters (FretWraps)

Buzz and unintentional string noise can muddy your playing. Enter FretWraps: these handy, affordable accessories wrap around your guitar’s neck just above the nut. Muting strings you’re not playing and granting crystal-clear clarity to your solos and chords.

Easy to apply and adjust, they let your intended notes shine without any unwanted sonic intruders. A small investment, FretWraps ensures your playing is clean, sharp, and beautifully unblemished.

Upgrade Your Cables

Old cables can be the unseen culprit behind a muddy or buzzing sound.

Investing in a new, quality cable ensures your guitar’s voice travels clearly and fully to your amplifier, preserving every nuance of your playing. Remember, a clear path equals a clear sound!

Try Another Pick

Your pick is more than just a piece of plastic; it’s a tone-changer. Different materials, from wood to acrylic, can dramatically alter your sound.

Want warmth? Go wooden. Craving clarity? Acrylic’s your friend. Experiment a bit; you might find a pick that strikes the perfect chord.

Read the full guide about guitar picks, or read some guitar pick reviews to give a new pick a try.

Finishing Thoughts

Your guitar is more than just an instrument; it’s a part of you. With these simple and affordable tweaks, you can make it sound its best.

Remember, a great sound doesn’t always need big money. Sometimes, just a little care and a few smart changes can make all the difference. Keep playing, keep improving, and enjoy every note you play!

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