Stratocaster Pickup Recommendation

oyobass

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I was afraid to say this, but unfortunately this could be a possibility.

Bodies that are too light and not dense enough always sounded too unfocused, shallow, and no sustain to me. At least for strats/teles in my experience. I was never able to remedy that with pickups, hardware, or neck changes.
Too heavy as well. I have an HSS SX strat with an "alder" body and Duncan PU. I think it must be from the 'Alderus Cementus' tree variety... It is a real tone suck combo, but plays well. I keep it in hope that I can fix it some day..
 

Jack Clayton

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Too heavy as well. I have an HSS SX strat with an "alder" body and Duncan PU. I think it must be from the 'Alderus Cementus' tree variety... It is a real tone suck combo, but plays well. I keep it in hope that I can fix it some day..

I'd add that I've played super lightweight bodies that resonate like a dream. My tele is light as a feather, and it sings like a bird, even unplugged. I think people get it in their head that weight correlates with resonance, but I'm not convinced it does.
 

oyobass

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I'd add that I've played super lightweight bodies that resonate like a dream. My tele is light as a feather, and it sings like a bird, even unplugged. I think people get it in their head that weight correlates with resonance, but I'm not convinced it does.
I once put an old Japanese bolt-on SG neck on a pine board that was about 12" x 16" x 1" as an experiment. It was light and resonant as all get out, sounded like a quiet acoustic. I should have put a piezo on it, but I took it apart long ago.
 

2HBStrat

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I was afraid to say this, but unfortunately this could be a possibility.

Bodies that are too light and not dense enough always sounded too unfocused, shallow, and no sustain to me. At least for strats/teles in my experience. I was never able to remedy that with pickups, hardware, or neck changes.
I've determined that the neck makes more of a difference in tone than the body does. The OP might switch the neck to see if there's a difference
 

Zepfan

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The Robin Trower set the Fender used to sell was really nice, 50s neck pickup early 70s RWRP middle and a Texas Special bridge. He always made them sound good.

Deneb-Tone Neodymium magnet Strat set sounds smooth and silky.

Cavalier Pickups. Rob makes excellent pickups.
 

63 vibroverb

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Too heavy as well. I have an HSS SX strat with an "alder" body and Duncan PU. I think it must be from the 'Alderus Cementus' tree variety... It is a real tone suck combo, but plays well. I keep it in hope that I can fix it some day..

Alder is typically very light, I don't know if I've played a heavy alder body. It's possible that it could be plywood or an alder laminate. Those types of materials can often be heavy and dead sounding in my experience. A heavy piece of real ash or mahogany is a thing of beauty soundwise. That's just me though. I'm sure there's always exceptions.


I'd add that I've played super lightweight bodies that resonate like a dream. My tele is light as a feather, and it sings like a bird, even unplugged. I think people get it in their head that weight correlates with resonance, but I'm not convinced it does.

Lighter weight will certainly equal resonance, while heavier weight will equal sustain most of the time. For me, there is an ideal range where you get both. If you get a real old guitar or a really dry aged piece of wood that all the water and sugars have been removed, it will be light and both resonant and sustainful. That said, I've played more bad light guitars than bad heavy guitars.


I've determined that the neck makes more of a difference in tone than the body does. The OP might switch the neck to see if there's a difference

They both make a difference, in my experience.
 

oyobass

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Alder is typically very light, I don't know if I've played a heavy alder body. It's possible that it could be plywood or an alder laminate. Those types of materials can often be heavy and dead sounding in my experience. A heavy piece of real ash or mahogany is a thing of beauty soundwise. That's just me though. I'm sure there's always exceptions.
It could also be the neck or the cheap single-locking Floyd that is stealing the resonance.
 

63 vibroverb

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It could also be the neck or the cheap single-locking Floyd that is stealing the resonance.

Could be, hard to really know without swapping things out. Regardless, a guitar that plays well is always worth having around despite what it's made of. You can always tweak the sound later.
 

teleman78

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To have had a Strat you liked and then put all those fine pickup sets in a parts Strat you have yet to like as much as your old plain jane US Strat, I'm going to say the guitar is just a dead sounding bunch of parts.

Allowing that a rack of same model Strats all sound different, we know that the guitar has an influence on the pickups.
Some will stamp their feet and claim the guitar cannot possibly play a role in its own tone, only the pickups matter.
Yeah sure OK next!
I've been swapping Fender parts around since 1980 and some assemblies of neck body and bridge are just kinda dead.
Some players may find some sounds they like in a dead bones guitar.
You seem to need more than deadwood to be happy.

I've also swapped possibly hundreds of Strat pickups, but like a good number of us, I find that the whole rest of the guitar can be better or worse, and pickups just might not fix a worse guitar.
You gave this one a good run, really good run.
Try another body, maybe another neck.

What body and neck is this dead dull guitar we speak of?

you make a very good point, I guess will try to change the pick guard for a plastic one. This build has always had an aluminum pickguard. Maybe the pickguard is the problem?? Who knows?

See guitar as per attached

Alder semi hollow body and has a Musikraft roasted maple neck with rosewood fingerboard
 

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teleman78

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The stock pickups on my Classic 70's MIM strat were actually pretty sparkly and articulate, but just a little too thin and weak. Being 18 years old at the time, I naturally didn't have much money so I tried some pickups that were taken out of a Highway One strat. Think I paid around $60 for the set from stratosphere. They were Alnico 3 and overwound really hot. They definitely cured the thin and weak, but man were they dark and no touch sensitivity! The bridge pickup was actually killer though.

Years go by and I kinda just tolerated the sound of my strat. Still loved it, but always felt meh about the clean tones. Out of nowhere, I came across these Bare Knuckle Mother's Milk pickups at a Mom & Pop shop. Loved the name of them and was aware of the Frusciante reference. I had some extra money at the time, so I just said "f*ck it, why not?". Once I soldered them in and got the heights adjusted right, it was a revelation. The clarity and touch sensitivity is amazing. And they sang with a natural sustain that's beautiful. The MM's made me love my strat like the first day I got it, but even more so. It can mimic Hendrix, Gilmour, and Blackmore so well (and of course Frusciante).

I guess I didn't do too bad finding the right ones after the 2nd pickup change. But these are definitely never coming out! I also heard the 63 Veneers from Bare Knuckle are very similar, about 90%, just slightly different.

In case it wasn't mentioned yet: good quality 250K pots definitely go a long way! And this may be silly, but the tension springs in the back can also make a difference.

Great story, thanks for sharing
 

teleman78

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You mentioned the DiMarzio Area 67. Also consider the Pro 54. I have this in the neck of my #1 (an alder Fender body from an American Deluxe Strat) and it's just great. It's hotter still than the Area 67 or 61, but mates well with them. I have the hotter of the two (61 or 67) in the middle.

Thank you, I will take your advice and try the Pro 54 set because why the heck not? I will also change the pickguard from aluminum to plastic.
 

teleman78

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As a few have said, if you haven't found a soul mate among all these options, maybe the pups aren't your issue. What is your current wiring situation? The wrong setup in that area can hold you back, even if your pickups are great.

I have the classic strat wiring: Only the good stuff CTS 250k pots, 0047uf Orange drop cap, treble bleed.
 

teleman78

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I was afraid to say this, but unfortunately this could be a possibility.

Bodies that are too light and not dense enough always sounded too unfocused, shallow, and no sustain to me. At least for strats/teles in my experience. I was never able to remedy that with pickups, hardware, or neck changes.

To be quite honest I’ve had the opposite experience... the lighter bodies have better more open and focused sound.
 
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oyobass

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I've determined that the neck makes more of a difference in tone than the body does. The OP might switch the neck to see if there's a difference
I just put a cheapo Amazon $53 maple neck on an $80 Monoprice Indio black strat. Aside from having a trainwreck of a fret job (14th and 15th frets pressed way to far into the fretboard and a 22nd fret that was way too high) it was very light weight and resonant.

The thing almost rings like an acoustic now. The stock Monoprice neck was very good, one of the best inexpensive guitar necks I have seen, but it was a bit heavier and less resonant. After hours of fret work, the new neck is pretty amazing to hear and play.

The neck can make a big difference in the guitar's sound and feel.
 

Rufus

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I have two Strats with a set of DAllen 62s and Klein ‘59s, both vintage low wind, high quality pickups but honestly, I hear no real difference between them and any stock Strat pickups that I have heard.

I have adjusted them myself and had them professionally set up, but I was disappointed that I don’t hear a discernible difference, like I expected.
Neither set sounds bad… just didn’t hear the magic that others have described.

Saves me $ from going down the tone rabbit hole, I guess.

IMO, the amp will have a bigger influence on your sound.
 




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