My brother's Silver Series Strat

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Jackroadkill, Aug 4, 2019.

  1. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill TDPRI Member

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    My brother hasn't played his guitar in ages, and, feeling the need again, he sent it to me for some work to be done.

    I bought the guitar for him in about 2001, and the serial number dates it to 1991-2. It's a MIJ Silver series Strat, but has had some mods done to it. We're trying to work out what to do with it, and as originality doesn't seem to be a huge issue, we have several options (see below).

    Here are some pictures:

    IMG_3503.JPG IMG_3504.JPG

    Presumably not the original bridge; I've looked all over the web for info on these guitars and have found no mention of any of them having Fender-stamped saddles or a full, machined block. If anyone knows different I'd be happy to hear about it.

    IMG_3505.JPG IMG_3506.JPG
    No date stamps, but I assume that ST-M stands for Stratocaster Maple.

    IMG_3507.JPG
    This is where things get interesting; I think that originally the scratchplate would have been black, as evidenced by the majority of internet photos and the pickup covers, which are black. The pickups themselves are original (as in they're the ceramic ones I expected to find). The pots are cheap and nasty, as is the cap, but the switch is a beast of a thing which seems to be very high-quality. The added switch is to allow all three pickups to be used at once, and will be thrown out whatever we do. The wiring is pretty shoddy generally and will need to be replaced too.

    I wasn't expecting to see a "Made In Japan" sticker on the rear of the scratchplate - I wonder if the original butcher (sorry, owner) took it off the heel of the neck (that's where I'd have thought I'd find it) and put it under the scratchplate? Again, if anyone knows more about this than me I'd love to hear what you know.

    IMG_3508.JPG
    At some point a Tele pickup has been added and removed.

    IMG_3510.JPG
    At least the machineheads are original and unmolested...

    Right, so our options are:

    1) Completely disregard originality and go for quality, replacing the pickups, pots and cap for the best we can get.

    2) Leave the pickups in it but upgrade the pots and the capacitor and leave the guitar as a cheap and cheerful player.

    If anyone has any observations or comments we'd be very glad to hear them.

    Thanks,

    Jackroadkill
     
  2. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

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    Upgrade the pickups and the pots it might inspire him to play it more
     
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  3. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill TDPRI Member

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    We've ordered pots, caps and wiring and I'm awaiting my brother's decision on what sort of pickups he wants.
     
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  4. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Your call but a buddy of mine has a 86 or so MIJ std Strat and the pickups look like those , and ... they sound great, really! He upgraded the switch and pots and jack but kept the original pickups. Everyone who has played that guitar comments on how good it sounds.
     
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  5. Stefanovich

    Stefanovich Tele-Holic

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    A friend of mine has one of these and he replaced the pickups and wiring with what he liked (don't remember what pickups, but nothing exotic) and it is one of the best strats I have ever played. And I normally don't care for Japanese Fenders.
     
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  6. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill TDPRI Member

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    We'll hang on to the original pickups, just in case my brother ever wants to go back. As far as ceramic pickups go they are pretty good, but they don't have much growl in them. He's very much a growler.
     
  7. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    Upgrade those ceramic pickups. If the pots are smooth or a good taper replace them. Thos small pots can be fine sometimes though.
     
  8. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Meister

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    I too have a Silver Series MIJ strat ca. early '90s. Other than the pickguard, it's completely stock AFAIK, and it's one of the few stratocasters I've played that I really bonded with. To my ears, the pickups are excellent; less trebly than most strats. And the neck profile is absolutely perfect for my hand.
     
  9. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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  10. awasson

    awasson Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I’d also recommend Vlad’s pickups. Have a read of his pickup building discussion. It’s full of recordings and demos. He can definitely recommend you a set depending on what sort of sound you’re looking for. The discussion he did on his pickup design is pretty intensive. Towards the end, he bought a cheap Chinese Strat knockoff as his test bed so as to dispel any concerns of tone woods influencing the sound. Here’s a post with a sound clip of his pickups: https://www.tdpri.com/threads/wood-...ne-…my-experiment.592471/page-64#post-8469999

    Full disclaimer, I’ve got an early version of his pickups. They’ve got a very big sound to them. Almost like a P90.
     
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  11. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill TDPRI Member

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    Today I managed to get at the guitar and began to sort it out.
    IMG_3518.JPG
    Above are the new components - decent quality stuff in an attempt to let the old girl sing a little.

    Before:

    IMG_3522.JPG
    As you can see it was a bit of a rat's nest...

    IMG_3524.JPG
    I dragged the nest out and evicted the residents, leaving me with this. A bit of soldering later and I arrived at a much better state of affairs:

    IMG_3529.JPG

    OK, sounds...

    Using my little Orange Crush 20w practise amp, the cleans are pretty good, but overdriven sounds are a bit weak in comparison. It has all the usual Strat characteristics (including hums and buzzes etc, but we're not worried about those) and the controls work better than they did. I haven't had a chance to run it flat-out through my JCM800 or Orange Rockerverb yet but have A/B/C'd it against my SG Junior (with Bareknuckle P90) and the BK Piledriver-equipped Tele. Each have more output and grunt, if not the tonal flexibility of the Strat.

    It's going back to my brother to see what he thinks. I'm willing to bet that I get it back reasonably soon with a request for some pickups that can handle a little more dirt.
     
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  12. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill TDPRI Member

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    I tried it using the JCM800 last night and was... underwhelmed, at least where the distorted tones were concerned. The cleans were really good, and had a responsiveness that rivals pretty much any Strat I've ever played, so I'm pleased with this aspect of the sound.

    However, the driven sounds failed to set me alight. Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad, and some very useable tones could be found. The problem was that I really had to go looking for them, as opposed to them just jumping out at me. Generally they seemed lacking in clout, and could I think that some added beef will be a necessity.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
  13. awasson

    awasson Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    Where are the pickups heights? I find I prefer my pickups somewhat lower than some I've seen. It allows for more chime and less abrasiveness. Or... You might just be in the market for a new set of pickups.
     
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  14. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill TDPRI Member

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    Tried them high, tried them low, tried them in the middle... I've found Strats often sound good with the pickups set low down under the strings, but in this case there wasn't a massive change in the tone.
     
  15. awasson

    awasson Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    Sounds like you're due for a new set of pickups.

    We talked about the pickups @Deneb produces. They're exceptional. There's no question. He has demos he did on his cheap mail order strat from China as well as his custom hand built Strat so you'll have an idea of how the pickups perform regardless of the instrument. Check this out:

    His neodymium powered single coil strat pickups (scroll down for the demo): https://www.deneb-tone.com/proekt-01

    His neodymium powered single coil rails (I have the prototypes for these): https://www.deneb-tone.com/proekt-02
     
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