Scored a near new MIM strat. Help me get used to playing it!

Whatizitman

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I'm new to the strat world. I absolutely love the neck! I've never felt a neck so comfortable and playable.

That's where the fun ends, and the work begins, though. I'm coming from a lifetime of a tele with stock hot pickups, and gibsons and epiphones with humbuckers and p90s. Basically set up to rock in some form or another, I guess.

I really didn't think I would be stepping into another world. Boy, was I wrong.

I'm having difficulty getting used to the pickups in particular. But the frets might need a little dressing, too. Basically, there is almost no sustain higher up on the neck. I first tried raising the pickups, but that didn't help. Stratitis and all. I lowered them to back around spec or lower, and it's better that way. The output is just so low that I can't drive the amp the way I'm used to. Adding a lot of drive with pedals adds some compression/sustain. But sounds like mud.

I'll continue to dial in the relief, string height, and/or frets if need be. But I'm assuming at this point that the sustain and output aren't going to get significantly better just by getting a few high frets leveled out (it doesn't need a full dress).

Is this just the nature of strats? Current MIMs have vintage style, lower output pickups, right? I'd rather not go down the pickup rabbit hole, if I can avoid it. Nor do I want the guitar to only be for clean quack. OTOH, I would like to expand my playing into more appropriate strat genres. Any suggestions?
 

schmee

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Well, it's difficult to say. Strats do take some getting used to playing, but that's more mechanics.
Low output vintage style picks are clean/plinky and can lack sustain at lower volume for sure. The strange thing to me is this is my issue with Humbucker guitars!
I prefer hot strat pickups and Tex Mex at $75 a set are perfect for me.
My 1998 MIM Strat is my #1 gigging guitar, albeit there isn't much left stock at this point. But I bought it stock, and bought it because it resonated strong against my chest unplugged.

The problem is, not all similar guitars sound/feel the same. I played a Custom Shop Strat once that was the worst chunk of "dead wood" I've ever played.
 

Telekarster

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Congrats man! MIM's are mighty fine IMO. The Strat is a different animal from a Tele as you know, so it will take a little getting used to. Most people, at first, have problems hitting the volume knob when struming, likewise the middle pickup seems to get in the way as well. Over time you'll learn how to avoid those things with practice, like I did. In my case, I simply play between the mid and bridge pickups, and I sort of angle my strumming so as to not hit the volume knob. Stuff like that. You'll see... and have fun with it man! Great guitars, and obviously well loved by millions ;)
 

bgmacaw

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That's where the fun ends, and the work begins, though. I'm coming from a lifetime of a tele with stock hot pickups, and gibsons and epiphones with humbuckers and p90s. Basically set up to rock in some form or another, I guess.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

hbstratsoids.png


What kind of amp/effects setup are you using? If you're using a HB oriented rig, this could be throwing things off.
 

Whatizitman

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Not that there's anything wrong with that...



What kind of amp/effects setup are you using? If you're using a HB oriented rig, this could be throwing things off.

My main amp is a modded Bassman 70. It has a good amount of pre-amp crunch, right from the get-go. I have an Epi LPjr with p90s that sound great with it, even at lower gain settings. Sounds good with the tele, too. I also throw in an SD-1 in the mix, mostly. Not bad with the strat. But not great. Yet. The strat gets muddy with too much crunch.

I'm fixing a red knob twin that should sound spectacular with the strat, though. I was only able to hear it for a few seconds before the amp blew (I was testing, anyway). But what I heard was good. Both the clean and dirty channels. I'm looking forward to that combination in the near future.
 

Cali Dude

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I'm new to the strat world. I absolutely love the neck! I've never felt a neck so comfortable and playable.

That's where the fun ends, and the work begins, though. I'm coming from a lifetime of a tele with stock hot pickups, and gibsons and epiphones with humbuckers and p90s. Basically set up to rock in some form or another, I guess.

I really didn't think I would be stepping into another world. Boy, was I wrong.

I'm having difficulty getting used to the pickups in particular. But the frets might need a little dressing, too. Basically, there is almost no sustain higher up on the neck. I first tried raising the pickups, but that didn't help. Stratitis and all. I lowered them to back around spec or lower, and it's better that way. The output is just so low that I can't drive the amp the way I'm used to. Adding a lot of drive with pedals adds some compression/sustain. But sounds like mud.

I'll continue to dial in the relief, string height, and/or frets if need be. But I'm assuming at this point that the sustain and output aren't going to get significantly better just by getting a few high frets leveled out (it doesn't need a full dress).

Is this just the nature of strats? Current MIMs have vintage style, lower output pickups, right? I'd rather not go down the pickup rabbit hole, if I can avoid it. Nor do I want the guitar to only be for clean quack. OTOH, I would like to expand my playing into more appropriate strat genres. Any suggestions?
Pick up a klon clone pedal. I like the J Rocket silver Archer pedal. You can get a nice boost, even with the gain off.
 

bgmacaw

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Pick up a klon clone pedal. I like the J Rocket silver Archer pedal. You can get a nice boost, even with the gain off.

I was going to suggest a Klone or a Rat, depending on the desired dirt level.

I use an optical compressor a lot for clean playing, especially slide.

There's also the plain old boring EQ pedal.
 

Whatizitman

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Hmmm. A Rat sounds interesting. I've only in the past liked drives that work with already crunchy amps. Maybe getting all the dirt from something like a Rat could work better?
 

JL_LI

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There's also the plain old boring EQ pedal.
I play clean and use a BOSS EQ-200 equalizer with all of my guitars. Strats can be spikey so I roll off high frequencies. The EQ-200 also has a level slider. It’s a great clean boost. A quality equalizer with a level slider may be all you need. Don’t give up. I have two Strats, one a CS ‘69 and the other an American Standard with Ultra Noiseless pickups. They’re different as night and day but both are great guitars.
 

Whatizitman

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OK I’m starting to get things dialed in a bit better. I had tightened the neck too much, thinking I would need it with 10s. Nope. Serves me right for not measuring. Action is higher than I typically prefer. But I don’t find myself fighting with it much, which is nice. I am gonna need to spot level. But no hurry. It’s sounding gooooood. Better sustain and attack on the higher notes. I’m very ham fisted. I guess I could learn a light touch. But where’s the fun in that?

OMG the neck! Where’ve you been all my life?!!
 

Fret Fretterson

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Glad to hear you are getting the setup sorted. It’s always great to find a neck that just feels right. My only strat has low output pickups and I think they shine in the right context. If you haven’t yet tried it with fuzz, I recommend you give that a shot and see how you like it. Crank the fuzz but roll back the guitar volume until you are right on the edge. Magic.
 

Whatizitman

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Glad to hear you are getting the setup sorted. It’s always great to find a neck that just feels right. My only strat has low output pickups and I think they shine in the right context. If you haven’t yet tried it with fuzz, I recommend you give that a shot and see how you like it. Crank the fuzz but roll back the guitar volume until you are right on the edge. Magic.
Well…. I sold my green Russian for cash I used toward the strat. I’ve yet to fall in love with a fuzz. Guess I’ll just have to try again. Any suggestions?
 

scook

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Fuzz Face of some sort is perfect with a Strat.
Early 70’s Muff circuits too although some folks don’t consider them true fuzz.

What types of fuzz sounds do you like? Spitty Velcro or more towards velvety smooth sustain?
 

ChicknPickn

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I have had much the same experience you describe, particularly with a certain "muted" sound on the upper frets. I did a full level / crown / polish on my 50th Anniversary Std. Strat and then took my time working with relief and string height. But the truth is that it still doesn't have the sweet ring and sustain of any of my Teles. Still working on it. One person who looked at my fret work said my crowning job might not have been sufficient - - too much flatness left after polishing. Next time I restring, I'll take a look at that.
 

Whatizitman

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Fuzz Face of some sort is perfect with a Strat.
Early 70’s Muff circuits too although some folks don’t consider them true fuzz.

What types of fuzz sounds do you like? Spitty Velcro or more towards velvety smooth sustain?

When I think of fuzzy tones I like, I think of Hendrix and Page.

EDIT: not fond of Satisfaction or Spirit in the Sky, in contrast. I make an exception for Dan Auerbach.
 
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jvin248

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.

The older MIM Strats used ceramic magnet pickups for the reasons you cite (need more horsepower drive). But then purists were always complaining about having to swap pickups (but few actually lowered their pickups which gets them to sound like weak alnico). So it's a fight.

Short term: find an 1/8th inch piece of steel, that a magnet sticks to, to stick behind the bridge pickup. That way the magnetic flux that would go out the back of the guitar is reflected at the strings.

Put the jumper on the switch to use the second tone knob on the bridge pickup (default common is no tone knob on the bridge pickup).

Otherwise, here is what I do:

img_20190714_105810.jpg


Reverse\Hendrix angled bridge pickup pickguard. I spent $10 on this Tort one. It has black pickup covers now instead of silver.
Armstrong Blender mod (second tone blends between stock SSS and hot Super Strat HSH) -- a wiring only mod so no new parts.

Pedals: $30 Joyo American Sound (you can use your Fender Tube Amp) or $25 Azor 303 gray case Fuzz (you can use your Big Muff Pie or Fuzz Face) or gain stacking with a $25 Golden Horse and $25 Black Rat (you can use your original Klon and vintage RAT).






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