Mexican ceramic strat pickups - Ultimate sleepers?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by gmm52, Mar 9, 2020.

  1. gmm52

    gmm52 Tele-Meister

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    I've owned a fair number of guitars over the years, and still own a quite few, three Telecaster's, and at least seven Strat's (and several Gibson Les Paul's) some fitted with well regarded pickups like Custom Shop Fat 50's and Lindy Fralin, yet my ear keeps telling me one of my Strat's - a mutt, with Mexican made Fender Strat rosewood neck and polyester finished body of unknown origin - sounds better than the rest. It's fitted with those ceramic Mexican pickups with the pole pieces that are uniformly staggered, like an upside down smile. They're just excellent sounding pickups having a deep bottom end unlike all others and lots of character.

    I'm curious to hear other opinions. Do all Mexican ceramic pickups sound great, or did I get lucky with a set that for some unknown reason has something special going on?
     
  2. NBS2005

    NBS2005 TDPRI Member

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    I have a MIM Tele. I thought the first thing I'd do is replace the ceramics. But instead I adjusted the height; sound great. They compliment the TV Jones in the other Tele and my CS Strat pups. I often prefer them.

    You're not crazy and maybe we're both just lucky.
     
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  3. 8trackmind

    8trackmind Tele-Afflicted

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    You got lucky!
     
  4. SPUDCASTER

    SPUDCASTER Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    That's what came with my '94 Squier Series Strat. They really didn't sound bad.

    But, being a tinkerer. I couldn't leave well enough alone. They were replaced with some Alnico's.
     
  5. Churchjack

    Churchjack Tele-Meister

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    Mine are okay. They sound great if the volume and tone are maxxed, but seem to my ears to lose character and just go thin if I roll off either. I’ve played ‘em for 5 years, but am planning a swap to something hopefully with more body & depth.

    But they’re fun, especially with some dirt in the mix!
     
  6. NBS2005

    NBS2005 TDPRI Member

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    Maybe it's a Canadian thing.....
     
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  7. TelenTubes

    TelenTubes Tele-Holic

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    Never had the MIM strat pickups. The early Korean pickups were not my favorite, but got the job done. Not sure how they compare. Then those got replaced by Texas specials and I'm going with the Fat 50s in my current strat project. I'd know what MIM strat pickups sound like had I gotten a chance to plug mine in before it was stolen. Had it for all of a day and a half.
     
  8. FenderGyrl

    FenderGyrl Poster Extraordinaire

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    I love the MIM SQUIER Black Label Strats.
    I have a bunch of them. Two are still stock PUPs.
    One is a beat to hell 94 that is the best sounding Strat I own.
    It just has that tone similar to the sound of a piano.
    Yet the 2nd and 4th position are pure Strat.

    Just the luck of the draw.
     
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  9. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    My father like(s/d) them because they were 'hotter' than alnico pickups. Personally, I prefer Alnico poled pickups for the EQ they have.

    I would have to assume that modern production pickups are fairly consistent, so I don't think you have to 'get lucky' on a good sounding pair. You either like the voicing, or you don't, IMO. Of course your other gear is also a huge factor in the mix.
     
  10. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I went over 10 years with my stock ceramics in my MIM strat. As I slowly transitioned from surf to blues, I finally succumbed to trying out some '69 CS pups which I really like much more. If it wasn't for TDPRI enablers though, I would probably still be using the stock ceramics.
     
  11. Skydog1010

    Skydog1010 Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

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    I think that is often the case with all pickups. They are individuals...kinda
     
  12. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    I have done some thoughtful pickup swapping on my mim strat with the same stock set you have. I think they sound great, especially with higher gain and if you want that more midrangey, biting tone. They are basically the same tone as the fralin sp43 set, and the same basic construction too. It's not the sound that I want, but it's a fine tone. If I had 7 strats, or even just 2, I'd surely want them in one strat.
     
  13. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    I agree, strat MIM ceramics seem to compliment about any amp. I'm also a big fan of the tele MIM ceramics too.
     
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  14. grooveiron

    grooveiron Tele-Holic

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    Hmmm, I have a set of MIM ceramics I dropped into a MIK Squier, and I agree with everything you say here

    That's ridiculous, er, no, wait…
    .
     
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  15. shupe13

    shupe13 Tele-Holic

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    Whatever came in my 2017 MIM is nothing short of magical. I don't do vintage and vintage they're not. Pure magic.[​IMG][​IMG]

    Sent from my REVVLPLUS C3701A using Tapatalk
     
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  16. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I agree they are great, if they give you what you want ;). For instance - I think the MIM ceramics sound great in the neck and middle position, but I don't care for them in the bridge of a strat - but that's me. I have found very few traditional single coils I like in the bridge of a strat (Tex Mex, SD Alnico Pro II, an unknown strat pickup that came out of a Korean Peavy guitar, of all things ;) ) So I pretty much stick to some type of humbucker in the bridge position).

    On the Tele side, quite the opposite. I like a stratty sounding neck position, so very few traditional tele pickups work for me there (+1 for the Twang King, though!). However, I think the stock ceramic MIM Tele bridge pickup sounds great - in fact, I find it hard to make it sound bad!
     
  17. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

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    They're fine. I guarantee that 99% of guitarists (I have no science to back that up) cannot tell you whether you have ceramics or alnicos in your guitar strictly by listening to you play. Anybody that says they can will not do much better than 50% accuracy in a blind listening test.

    There are some high-end makers that use ceramic mags. EMG is the big one, Yeah, they are usually used for overdrive/distorted tones that many guitarists associate with ceramic mags...because "they're not good for clean sparkly tones." So someone please explain Joe Bardens to me ;)

    Most guitar players listen with their eyes.

    Speaking of which--you can examine a pickup's pole pieces and determine what type of magnet material it has. Alnico rods are cut with a diamond saw, so they have flat tops and straight score marks from the saw cut. Pole pieces in ceramic pickups are cut from steel rod on a lathe, and they have concentric "ring" score lines from the lathe. Check this out:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2020
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  18. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    This is me ^^^^^! I've done so many pickup swaps to make guitars sound different, but not necessarily better! I can't stop tinkering - I love it.
     
  19. Si G X

    Si G X Tele-Holic

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    I don't know about older ones but the pickups in the last 'standards' until they changed them recently were really good imo. Maybe not such a traditional sounding pickup but more like something someone would swap in for a bigger, fuller sound (dare I say it, almost P90 sound). They are great for playing any kind of rock.

    If they were sold by another company, had screw head poles and were accompanied by some fancy description people would probably buy them to put in their telecaster.
     
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  20. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Bill Lawrence, perhaps one of the foremost experts ever, wrote that a magnet is just a magnet, and design and construction are what matters ... hence, a well-designed ceramic unit would sound better than a lesser designed PU with unobtainium mags and windings...
     
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