SMG Review: AweSome Musical Instruments’ Stratocaster
Hyper-Mod™ Pickguard

AweSome Musical Instruments’ Stratocaster Hyper-Mod™ Pickguard


Thomas Wnorowski’s history with modding guitars dates back to the mid 60s. He replaced the standard 5-position switch on his Strat-style axe with three individual switches to control on/off and regular/reverse phase, more than doubling the tonal possibilities. This success and further experiments eventually led to the founding of AweSome Musical Instruments and his patented Pickup Tone Multiplier™ (PTM) switching system. The Stratocaster Hyper-Mod™ Pickguard is just one of a number of products, covering numerous electric guitars and basses, in AweSome’s product line.


The model sent to us was designed for Strat-style guitars with a 3-single coil configuration (pickups not included). The face of the pickguard features a master volume and master tone knob, and six in-line toggles. Three of these are 3-way switches, each dedicated to one of the pickups. The down position activates the corresponding pickup in phase. The up position activates the pickup out of phase. The middle position turns the pickup off. This alone results in 13 tone combinations. Compare this to the five pickup tones you get with a stock setup and you can already sense how cool this is. As if that wasn’t enough, three more 2-way switches control combinations of pickups in series or parallel giving you a total of 35 pure analog pickup tones.

The back of the pickguard reveals the genius driving the switching system: the Pickup Tone Multiplier™ (PTM). This manages the various configurations and routes the appropriate signals through a solderless connector block. “Solderless” has become a buzz word and trend signifying installations that are much simpler than soldering, require fewer tools and skills, and save time. Having gone through multiple mods requiring safety goggles and a steady hand, this is a very welcome feature. Completing the mod was as simple as clipping the pickup leads from my old pickguard and removing the pickups, reinstalling them in the Stratocaster Hyper-Mod™ Pickguard, stripping a little sheathing to expose the wires, and inserting them into the spring-loaded channels on the connector block.

Thomas Wnorowski back in the day with the mod that started it all!


AweSome provides a switch table online to help navigate the vastly broadened capabilities of a modified Strat. Having just completed the install and imagining the possibilities, I didn’t have the patience to read it and instead walked, no, RAN over to my ToneKing Meteor II and plugged in. I literally burned through hours just flipping switches, jamming on riffs, flipping more switches, jamming on more riffs…The guitar sounded great and exposed a huge palette of sonic wonderment from thin, twangy, out-of-phase quackery to deep, round, mellow soul, and everything in between. Inspiring!


I’ve just discovered tone heaven and it’s built right into my guitar! All sorts of wacky “robot”-style, “game changing”, and modeling options are finding their way to market, but for purity of tone and simplicity of mechanics, it’s hard to beat the family of Hyper-Mod™ products from AweSome Musical Instruments. When you consider what you would shell out for pedals or alternate sets of pickups in your quest for perfect tone, a signature sound, and the far-reaching sonic landscape that will open up to you with this mod, you’ll find it’s a bargain not to be missed.

DIRECT PRICE – $129.97 + shipping (3-ply finishes available in white, black, pearloid, and brown tortoise; left- and right-handed. Alternate pickup configurations available.)

Dan Coplan is senior staff writer at SMG. Dan is a Los Angeles based cinematographer and self-admitting guitar junkie. Email:

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