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Muddy Strat

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by lineboat, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. lineboat

    lineboat Friend of Leo's

    Aug 6, 2012
    I'm probably asking what 1000 other people have, but what's the first step to brightening up a MiM Strat? I've never owned one until now. Ive had an American, and a couple Squirts, but I love the look and feel of this one; it's just dull. Will a good nut, rewiring, and trem block make it brighter, or will it need new pups too????
  2. YoGeorge

    YoGeorge Tele-Holic

    Mar 16, 2003
    Pickups will make a lot more difference than a nut, electronics (which I think are pretty decent on MIM guitars), or a dumb piece of metal like a trem block.

    If you have the cheap ceramic pickups like recent MIM teles, get those the heck out of your guitar. Buy a used set of decent pickups like Duncans, American Vintage, etc. Are you really looking for "bright" or are you looking for a better feel and a better juicy tone? If it's just "bright", turn up the treble control on your amp.


    SPUDCASTER Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2010
    whitebird, idaho
    I'd start with the less expensive stuff first. You already mention new nut and rewiring. Maybe before that I would go after adjusting the pickups and new strings.

    Not knowing which model/year of MIM that it is. You may have ceramic pickups and mini 500k pots. That alone should make it brighter. If that's what you have.

    The '94 MIM that I have came with the ceramics and the 500k mini's. I never thought the ceramics sounded that bad. But, the tone quest kicked in, those got changed.

    Some people swear by the trem block change making a big difference, some don't. So probably not something I would start with.

    Might be a simple as some minor tweaking and some different settings at the amp for this guitar.

    Good luck.
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  5. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

    Dec 2, 2006
    MIM Standard pickups are pretty dark sounding, to brighten up the guitar a pickup change is probably in order. A steel trem block helps with a lot of things but it won't brighten it up significantly.
  6. Chautauqua

    Chautauqua Tele-Holic

    Jan 3, 2012
    Portland Oregon
    I just swapped some Custom Shop 69's into my MIM Standard and they are AWESOME... BUT the ceramic pups... the sounded pretty dam good too. I think people invent reasons not to like them because they're "budget" level or not the hip thing to like/have. Yes, I swapped pups, but not because I really disliked the Ceramic pups (other then the gritty bridge pup), I was more looking for the FINAL LITTLE details of tone that would make me 100% happy. The guitar was great STOCK, it just got THAT much better with the new pups.

    Otherwise work with you amp and the tone knob cause my ceramic pup'd Strat with the tones cranked could shatter glass it was so bright. I'm not getting where people find "muddy" in a Strat :confused: Now a guitar with "regular" Humbuckers (non WRHBs) sure... mud city, but Strats??? Nope, sorry, either something is malfunctioning, you've got the tone controls on 1, or your amp has the treble turned all the way down.
  7. fezz parka

    fezz parka ---------------------------

    Get the pickups away from the strings. Neck pickup sounds best flush with the guard. Adjust the other two to match the output to the neck.
  8. lineboat

    lineboat Friend of Leo's

    Aug 6, 2012
    Ok. I just dropped the neck pup, and adjusted the middle, and it helped. A little. I think I'll start with wiring, maybe new pots? I have no idea what's under the guard. It's an 06-07. I'll just tinker with it until it sounds right to me; hopefully those stock pups will pan out. When I got this one, I got what I'd been looking for. The feel! I can work with the rest... Thanks guys!
  9. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

    Oct 3, 2010
    The pots are probably fine, most mim guitars have the same pots and caps as the American made fenders. The nut won't change the sound either, but having a well set up nut is useful
  10. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Tele-Meister

    Nov 22, 2009
    Fayetteville, NC
    I had the same issue with my 07 MIM Standard Strat. I adjusted the pickups and researched all kinds of solutions.

    Then I realized, that it was a Strat: it's not as bright or as articulate as my Tele and it's not going to be.

    I found EQ settings on my amp that made me happy.

    It's taken almost 5 years but I've finally bonded with that this thing.
  11. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

    Oct 3, 2010
    On this forum we tend to encourage people to experiment and try different solutions before spending money on pickups. But this doesn't mean that changing pickups are out of the question either. If you still find you're not happy, there are enough inexpensive pickups out there that can get you closer to what you want. GFS, tonerider, rose pickups and Bill Lawrence to name a few.
  12. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    You don't need new pots or capacitors, and rewiring won't help (although connecting one of the tone pots to the bridge position will help balance the positions overall). The nut won't get you very far at all. My friends have had great results switching out the trem block (or entire bridge), but I'd actually recommend pickups before any of these. Bill Lawrence's Keystones sound great, perfectly clear with exceptional sparkle and highs, and are $84 + shipping for the set.
  13. guitarzan13

    guitarzan13 Friend of Leo's

    Jul 25, 2006
    LaGrange, GA
    500K Pots and a 22 cap will help some.
  14. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    Changing capacitors on the tone pot has no effect with the pot on 10.
  15. waparker4

    waparker4 Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 9, 2011
    Philadelphia, PA
    Big -1 there. IMO
  16. Willie D

    Willie D Friend of Leo's

    Nov 19, 2004
    So. Illinois
    A set of these really brought my son's MIM Strat to life, and 45 bucks didn't hurt the old wallet.

    But you're right, a Strat just isn't as articulate and bright as a Tele. The only S-style guitar that comes close in my (albeit limited) experience is a G&L S-500 with MFD pickups. Those puppies can be bright.
  17. waparker4

    waparker4 Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 9, 2011
    Philadelphia, PA
    Try a strat with a fender CS 54 bridge pickup. It's just as bright and articulate as a tele imo. I'm not sure where this notion comes from :confused:
  18. ifallalot

    ifallalot Tele-Holic

    Feb 24, 2012
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Yup. I just came to this same realization

    But now that the master has spoken I'll be taking a screwdriver to my Strat as soon as I get home this afternoon.

    Yo Fezz, do you have any more Youtube vids? The tone on one of the songs you posted last year has been haunting me ever since it was so good
  19. Wrong-Note Rod

    Wrong-Note Rod Friend of Leo's

    Mar 4, 2009


    They're different animals. SOME sounds they make might have something in common, but generally, the Tele is more upper-mid heavy with more "prescence" and that translates into "twang" (at least for me it does)

    while your standard strat is more bottom-and-top and sounds different. But there are sounds out of a strat that your standard tele can never make too, that wonderful chime in between neck and middle pickup, and that bitchin strat neck pickup thing with the wiggle stick on some chords.. golden.
  20. vintage clubber

    vintage clubber Friend of Leo's

    Apr 12, 2012
    Mechanicsville, VA
    Best bang for the buck strat pickups from here:

    He generally turns your order around in a week or so.
  21. Teleterr

    Teleterr Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 7, 2011
    Lewes De.
    I have messed w Squier p/ups, which despite being 3.5K vs the MIM 6K are much darker sounding. Like the Squier, your p/ups have either a single ceramic or 2 ceramics in a P-90 configuration. I've found replacing them w 2 Firebird magnets in a P-90 configuration really brightens the tone. Also, you can remove the steel poles and replace them w AlNiCo magnets for the same effect. Available aftermarket and cheap. Cheaper than new p/ups and no annoying soldering.
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