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My strat mods

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by ValveFan, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. ValveFan

    ValveFan Tele-Meister

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    First off, this post is offered as information and opinions, not recommendations.
    I got myself a daphne blue Squier Deluxe Strat a year or so ago. http://www.fender.com/products/search.php?partno=0300500523
    It was a pretty nice hunk of wood right out of the box. I like the alnico V pickups, and the two point trem is very smooth and stable. It's just a better design than the six screw bridge if you are going to use the trem IMHO. I played it stock for quite a while, but I got the itch to do some mods... I thought I would share my experiences.
    #1. I replaced the zinc bridge block with a steel one from guitarfetish.
    Results - Subtle, but there seems to be more sustain, better tone.
    #2. Replaced the cast saddles with Fender branded bent steel.
    Results - Some love 'em, some hate 'em. They just sound more "stratty" to me. A positive, but again subtle change.
    #3. Replaced the "electronics". CTS 250k pot for volume, two CTS no-load pots for tone and the "blender" wiring scheme. A Sozo .068uF tone cap. A treble bleed r/c network on the volume pot. I used a .001uF cap and 150k resistor in parallel.
    Results - The no-load tone pot set-up puts some nice gloss on the tone when dimed. The blender circuit is a winner. Easy to use and understand. I particularly like the neck/bridge combo. Master tone for all three pickups is also a useful improvement. The treble bleed is a big improvement for me. The tone no longer looses it's presence when dialing the volume back. Tone cap? Just my preference.
    #4 Added a steel base plate to the bridge pickup.
    Result - This one surprised me. It seemed like one of those voodoo-hype ideas. I fabbed one up for nothing just to try it. It really did beef up the bottom of the bridge pickup tone. I like it!
    Conclusions - Most of these mods were pretty subtle taken by themselves. Cumulatively they add up to a strat that rings like a bell with some useful new tonal choices. Overall I am very happy with the end results.
    Notes - I spent about $80 total for parts and did the work myself. If you are going to replace the small sized pots in this model guitar you will need to drill the holes in the pick guard out to 3/8" and replace the knobs as the CTS pots have different splines on the shaft.

    Happy tinkering!
     
  2. southwoodgtars

    southwoodgtars Tele-Holic

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    Sounds like you really thought out your mods. In my opinion there is something really cool about taking something that is already to your liking and making a few changes to make it exactly what you want. I am also interested in making a base plate for my bridge pickup. I rarely use it because it just doesn't sound right. I have spent a lot of time making height adjustments and trying different pickups. I guess I just don't like stat bridge pickups. I guess my question is what gauge steel did you use?I have been looking at lowes and have had a hard time deciding. I know it's only like $7 or $8 but I really don't have that to waste.
     
  3. ValveFan

    ValveFan Tele-Meister

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    The stock I used for the base plate measures just under .060 thick. That's about 1/16". I read somewhere that the plate needs to be .050 or so minimum thickness and needs to be ferrous metal (steel or iron). Thicker is not a problem. I glued mine on with rubber cement in case I wanted to pull it out. I think you would be able to test it with just the pull of the magnets in the pickup holding it in place. Make sure it is insulated from the pole pieces and grounded. Also, having a tone control for the bridge pickup makes it a lot more useful for me. You could rewire so that the tone knobs are for bridge and neck instead of the standard set-up. Just a thought.
     
  4. southwoodgtars

    southwoodgtars Tele-Holic

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    Thank you for the info! I greatly appreciate it! I have a tone shaper in that strat so a tone knob for the bridge pickup is no problem. I look forward to trying this. I hope it helps me get what I want out of my strat.
     
  5. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    Sound like good mods!
    Here are mine on a cp60 strat:
    1. Steel trem block
    2. Bone nut
    3. Göldo backbox trem stabiliser. I also left off the trem cover.
    4. 22nf cap
    5. Removing the stickers from inside the neck pocket. This amazingly fixed a problem with the neck alignment!

    I once replaced the mint guard with a parchment one for a while, and the electronics and pickups have been changed around a bit several times.
     
  6. 13ontheB

    13ontheB Tele-Afflicted

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    How do I wire my 2002 MIM Strat so the tone control works with the bridge pup?
     
  7. 13ontheB

    13ontheB Tele-Afflicted

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    Found it on the strat forum :rolleyes:
     
  8. sdlotus

    sdlotus TDPRI Member

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    How do you make sure the base plate is insulated from the pole pieces? For the ground just run a wire from the plate to ground right? Thanks for the help...........stan
     
  9. ValveFan

    ValveFan Tele-Meister

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    I trimmed a piece of electrical tape just a little wider than the pole pieces (about 1/4" by 2-1/4") and stuck it over them before I glued the plate in place. I trimmed it so the glue would be able to stick to the bottom of the pickup rather than just tape. You are right on about the ground wire. Hope that helps.

    P.S. You will need a high powered soldering rig (or perhaps a propane torch?) to solder a ground wire to the plate. Some soldering flux will help as well.
     
  10. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    You don't have to insulate it from the polepieces, and i didn't bother with grounding the plate either. Just make sure you get some wax or something in there to stop squeal.
     
  11. southwoodgtars

    southwoodgtars Tele-Holic

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    I figured you would just do it like a tele base plate which is grounded. I usually use a small bead of silicone on the bottom of the pole pieces to glue the plate on. Why wouldn't u ground it while ur messing with it? Just wondering.
     
  12. sdlotus

    sdlotus TDPRI Member

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    Thanks valvefan that helped a lot.Some times my old brain catches on slow.Always good to get help......................stan
     
  13. ValveFan

    ValveFan Tele-Meister

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    sdlotus- Glad to help a fellow musician. southwoodgtars is at least partly correct about the grounding. Grounding the plate is not 100% necessary, but if it is grounded it provides some additional shielding. As far as insulating the pole pieces, I'm just going by what I have read in my own research.

    Here's some info I used when installing mine.
    http://www.fralinpickups.com/bplate.asp
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
  14. syrynx

    syrynx Tele-Afflicted

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    Very interesting and useful report, ValveFan. Thanks for taking the time to write and post it.
     
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