Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Stratosphere loaded pickguards

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by grim83, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. grim83

    grim83 Tele-Meister

    Jul 14, 2014
    I have my wife's old arbor strat laying around and find it is a fun change of pace from my usual tele and 335 combo. It has a seriously small neck and feels pretty good to play. My only gripe is the pickups are pretty crappy, so I've been looking for a low cost option as this is a pretty cheap guitar anyways. I ran across the cheap loaded pickguards on stratosphere for like 40ish bucks, I just wanted to see if anyone else has tried these. If so what were your thoughts. I typically play a mix of country, rock, and blues.

  2. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Dec 29, 2010
    The stuff Stratosphere sells is good. Whether or not it will be an upgrade over what you have, or whether it will fil your guitar is another story altogether. I don't know what an Arbor is, but it might not be shaped the same as a Fender or Squier, so parts might not interchange.

  3. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Tele-Holic

    May 29, 2016
    Sounds pretty cheap for a loaded guard! That includes pickups, pots, and all the wiring? I'd be leary at that price considering a pickguard alone can run you 25-50 bucks depending on source and material. I'd be interested to hear how they are.

  4. grim83

    grim83 Tele-Meister

    Jul 14, 2014
    It's just a cheap strat knockoff that you could buy for less than $100 probably, but it's from when the wife was a kid so I might as well use it. Im hoping it will fit, but I'm pretty much split between the stratosphere option, some of the cheap ceramic Wilkinson's, or a set of Tex Mex.
    It is awfully cheap but alnico 5 magnets and all makes me want to gamble. Just hoping someone else already has and can give me an idea of what to expect.

  5. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Nov 18, 2010
    Not all A5 pickups are the same... Here's where I put my $40 ($35 when I bought them). I also bought a pickguard from them for $12/pair and a set of knobs. The wait for them to arrive was almost a month:

    I had a 5-way switch and pots so that wasn't a problem but if you need those, I'd buy a prewired kit from GFS. I don't recall what they sell them for but it's probably $25.

    The result is a very good set of A5 pickups, excellent materials and cloth covered wires.
    3-Chord-Genius likes this.

  6. jvin248

    jvin248 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    This is the path I pursue with a bland or bad sounding guitar: change the tone cap(s), test, change the volume pot, test, add a series cap on a muddy pickup, test, swap out pickups. If you start with swapping pickups, you may have left other poorly sounding components in there and you'll swap more than one set of pickups. Lately I've been using Bourns pots, oak-grigsby switch, switchcraft jack, higher voltage non-branded caps. I've fixed guitars with just a tone cap(s) exchange - just today a MIM Strat got a new cap and sounds like a keeper.

    MonkeyJefferson and awasson like this.

  7. grim83

    grim83 Tele-Meister

    Jul 14, 2014
    I planned on changing the other bits out as well arbors are bottom of the barrel guitars so anything should theoretically be an upgrade

  8. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Nov 18, 2010
    Hey with that MIM cap swap; did you swap out the OEM .022MFD and upgrade to a better quality cap or did you change the value of the cap?

    I've also changed out components to get improvements but on my MIM Strat, I wasn't able to get what I wanted without eventually replacing the pickups.

  9. uriah1

    uriah1 Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Feb 12, 2011
    You pay for what you get..caveat emptor
    I got preloaded from them and Sigler.
    I usually don't try value PU..if I am going to
    hold on to gtr

  10. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 16, 2014
    Auburn, California
    Reality check. It costs about a hundred bucks to get a halfway decent set of pickups, something like the stock MIMs, low-model Rose's, Vintage '59s, or Tex Mex's. What do you think the quality of pickups will be that come in your $40 pickguard? They're going to cost the Stratosphere about a buck apiece wholesale and come from Indonesia. Better to buy the parts individually or maybe just buy the wiring harness and order the guard and the pickups separately.

  11. Falconbill

    Falconbill Tele-Meister

    Sep 27, 2015
    $40 for a loaded strat pickguard? Dang, they must have a factory of toddlers with soldering irons banging these out. :cool:
    Chip.Lindsey and uriah1 like this.

  12. MahoganyStratDZ

    MahoganyStratDZ Tele-Meister

    Mar 5, 2012
    "I got a preloaded from Sigler."

    They run a 15% discount off their preloaded pick-guards about once a month which is great when they are in the $175 range. You cant build a loaded PG for that price part for part with the same components. He will also build the assembly anyway you want if theres a combination in mind he doesnt show for sale.

    I dont think in this regard he can be beat.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017

  13. MonkeyJefferson

    MonkeyJefferson Tele-Meister

    Oct 26, 2010
    I've purchased several loaded tele harnesses from them, and they are first rate.

  14. Tonetele

    Tonetele Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2009
    South Australia
    I have built quite a few guitars in the last 15 years and find the Stratocaster the easiest. All grounds to volume pot, back of bridge and output jack- with a 0.022 uF capacitor. Easy- 3- in line positive connections.
    In fact, you can do it by just removing the pickguard- so easy. Careful soldering -2 hours tops and don't even need to change- move- strings. I KNOW it sounds like bragging but they are the easiest guitar to re-wire. Have done more than I can count.
    ( on the other hand I struggle with two humbuckers).
    Stratocasters really are that easy.
    The Stratosphere stuff is good but expensive IMHO. Try Stewmac or Tonerider Wiring
    diagrams. I have had a love affair with Mighty Mite necks since the late 70s. and they are Fender licensed products. They fit just perfectly, especially with GFS bodies. Please don't rush- shop around. Good luck.
    awasson likes this.

  15. Tonetele

    Tonetele Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2009
    South Australia
    P,S Try WD Music- they started out as pickguard manufacturers- and onto all parts. I like the fact that they sell, cheaply, also 5 screw Tele p/up ( as per vintage) and 8 screw Stratocaster guards- in vintage green, tort, whatever. Also at very good prices if you are prepared to settle for single ply guards.

  16. archetype

    archetype More tone than talent Ad Free + Supporter

    Jun 4, 2005
    Williamsville NY
    I'm 99% sure that the Stratosphere $39.95 loaded pickguards are from Donlis in China. The 6K/6K/6.4K pickups in this...

    ...correspond with these from Donlis...

    ...and these Donlis resold by Guitar Madness...

    Donlis makes these loaded pickguards to order for anyone who wants at least quantity (100). They have the usual, inexpensive pots and switch. Reports are that the tone is decent and they're an upgrade for ceramic magnet Squier Strat pickups if you want to keep it cheap.
    awasson likes this.

  17. LowThudd

    LowThudd Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 11, 2014
    Sherman Oaks, Ca

  18. LowThudd

    LowThudd Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 11, 2014
    Sherman Oaks, Ca

  19. harold h

    harold h Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 15, 2004
    You can just about buy anything Stratosphere sells cheaper elsewhere if
    you are so inclined.

    That is not knocking them, it is just that their business model includes a
    lot of markup.

  20. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Friend of Leo's

    Apr 3, 2015
    Winchester, VA
    Not true. Pickups are wires wrapped around a magnet - there's no reason why a $1 wholesale pickup from Indonesia would sound any worse than one retailing for $60. GFS and others have demonstrated that excellent pickups can be purchased for not much money at all. Name brands, "hand wound", etc. won't make a pickup sound any better or last any longer.

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