Dear Mr. Paul Reed Smith, I love my PRS Vela Semi-Hollow; however, the oddball pickup selection to be some 1960s futuristic Telecaster just don't work for me. Plus, everytime I pick it up, I think this is an SG killer, not a Tele. Then there's the fact I hate your locking tuners. So, I fixed your guitar for you. — Sean
OK seriously, adding humbuckers (or in my case, Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P90s in HB size) is really easy. The guitar is already routed for dual humbuckers. All you have to do is cut the pickguard and wire them up. You will need:
Here's a picture of the files I used. First thing, take the paint pin and paint the back of the pickguard around the minihumbucker. It will make it easier to see what material you need to file away. I used a water based paint so it would come off easily.
The minihumbucker is slightly narrower than a full size, so take a round file and open the mounting holes just slightly. Be careful! We will drill the actual holes in a minute. We are going to use the 2 nails to act as guide pins for our plastic humbucker ring. It has to be able to lay flat on the back of the pickguard. Once you get it all lined up to your liking, use some super glue (a little, not a lot) to glue the humbucker ring to the back of the pickguard. Do the four corners and a drop in the middle of each rail. This is to support the pickguard while you file as it is really thin at the top, as well as being your guide. Once it dries, file away! Use the holes in the humbucker ring to drill the mouting holes. Take your time and you'll get great results.
Once you get the filing done to your taste and you have tested your humbucker fits ok, take a razor blade and score and pry the humbucker ring off. If you didn't use too much, it should come off easily. A scrape with the razor blade and some cleaning and all the paint and debris will come right off.
I took a black marker and went over the white middle layer, that way if there were any slight imperfections in my filing, the white wouldn't be shining through and giving it away. I wasn't a fan of the SE electronics, so I put StewMac CTS 500k pots in. The Vela volume is already the right size but the tone is small for Asian sized pots. Take your drill bit set and find the first one that will not go through. Using your hands as to not create chips, slowly turn the drill bit and it will cut right through. Move up until the hole is the correct size. If you're swapping pots too.
Mounting up and the final wired assembly.
Do your wiring right. CTS pots, Orange Drop tone cap, Switchcraft 3 way switch and Switchcraft 11 1/4" jack. Putting it back together.
The final product strung up with D'Addario NYXLs. The Phat Cats are one of my all time favorite pickups. They are well worth your hard earned dollars.
Oh, and without those bad locking tuners. I replaced the PRS locking tuners with a set of PRS vintage style from a 594. No regrets on that at all. Much better looking and I like them better for function and sound. Good luck on your pickup swap!
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