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Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by ndcaster, Apr 6, 2021.
I like Strats, but prefer my JM.
Let the Strat be a Strat.
These were SSS floating trems when first designed. Try it that way, after a proper set-up. Nut material to allow the strings to glide, 3 springs and a properly tensioned claw, properly adjusted trem bridge height with 2 screws.....all very important.
Let the Strat be a Strat.....THEN decide if hardtail is the way to go, along with re-wiring and such.
And don’t lose the little spring in the trem arm hole. They are super-expensive!! Not.
And don’t be afraid to slightly bend the trem arm down to be more comfortable using it.
I have two deviations from a stock Strat.
A Fralin blender pot in the third hole. This lets me fade in the neck pickup when the selector is on B or B+M. Also will fade in the bridge pickup when the selector is on N orN+M. Master volume and master tone for the other two pots.
I just couldn't abide the stock bridge pickup, so I replaced it with a Duncan Twangbanger. That's essentially a vintage-style Tele pickup on a Strat bobbin.
Lemme see both hands before I answer!
Have you had a chance to try out a Strat with the volume pot in the usual position? If not, well, yeah it's different than a Tele but I like it better. I ride the volume control a lot (especially when playing live) to get different tone and attack combos.
The other thing that's different about Strats is string spacing at the bridge. You have a bunch of choices from really wide to narrower than a typical Tele.
I really like the middle pickup alone for rhythm work. Wire it straight to the volume pot, and use the second tone knob for the bridge pickup.
I lower my pickups practically down to the pickguard, and then raise them gradually until I get the tone I want. I do the middle one first, then the other two to balance output volume.
You might still have to learn how to not hit the middle pickup accidentally while picking.
As far as tremolo is concerned, just leave the bar out, NBD.
Knowing nothing about strats myself I sent mine when I got it done to the tech and asked him to set it up the way he liked it. I love it.
Definitely activate a tone control for the bridge, it’s one jumper soldered to the 5-way switch.
The David Gilmour mod is also worth considering - a micro switch to add the neck pickup into the other combinations. A push/pull pot would make this mod invisible.
The modern 2-point tremolo bridge is more stable/easier to dial in than the 6-screw vintage style. A trick for the vintage bridges is to back off the 4 middle screws a bit so that the bridge moves more freely.
Lube all contact points of the strings (except for the machine heads). Saddles, trem block, nut and string tree(s). It makes a big difference in tuning stability if you want to use the floating bridge.
I like the Graphtech Tusq nuts, but they are not mandatory. If you feel like splurging, Big Bends Nut Sauce is a good lube and the applicator is very convenient.
As for blocking the trem, that’s a matter of personal preference. It’s not actually that hard to set up the bridge to float nicely and be stable.
What has worked well for me is to use only 3-4 tremolo springs and to angle them and the claw such that there is more tension on the lower strings. I will also use springs of different strength as needed. The benefit is that if you use the tremolo more aggressively, the string tension is brought back more evenly when you release the bar. ie more force on the thicker strings.
I don't have a Strat anymore, but I wish I did. The last was a doll baby, but I simply can't stand success, so I sold it to guitar player in a small band. I really meant a small band, they were all short. One thing about it, I don't just toss 'em out there on the CL and let just anybody have them. It's like I'm running an adoption agency, if they don't meet certain criteria they can't have it. (The main criteria is cash on the barrel head, we can work with the rest of it)
The middle pickup is exactly where my strum passes through, so I’ve never clicked with a standard strat.
And those body contours make it feel like it’s trying to get away from you when you play it.
I prefer teles and jaguars, and i feel that most single coil fender guitars sound similar enough that you can put them to work in the same roles.
EG if i was going to start a surf band with another guitarist, I’d be ok with them showing up with any single coil fender style guitar with a vibrato on it. Although preferably another jag so we have at least slightly different sounds.
My first guitar around 1987 was an 80s Ibanez Strat Copy.
I have played strats on and off ever since, but honestly I never have gotten used to picking around the middle pickup. It's just in my way.
FWIW, I recently built a strat with the Clapton wiring, and I just love it. It has master volume, TBX tone (which I love) and an MDX mid boost. It isn't just a booster, as it's also an active eq that flattens the bright strat PUs and makes them sound more humbucker-ish.
I could live without the MDX except that it ends up boosting the whole guitar even when turned down, and that boost is just enough to make the guitar sing. It's a great setup.
I wouldn't want to be without a volume pot, but I'd think you could add a switch to put the pickups in and out of phase with each other or in series/parallel. The new Fender Lead models have a toggle switch that does one of those.
I am shocked by the "Block or delete the trem" answers!
Well... not really... Truth be told, If I didn't need to get my James Wilsey fix once or twice a week, I probably wouldn't even have a strat lol.
But in all honesty, it's floating with 2 springs, and stays in tune like a champ!
I like the middle position, but I have it slammed almost level with the pickguard, 40ish years with strats... and I still never adapted to it sitting in my sweet spot.
This thread reminds me.... I always wanted to delete the tone knobs, and set the volume pot to where the middle tone pot is, So I'm gonna order that now.
Play with the trem...you may like it floating, docked try both. I have three Strats, one floats, one's docked, one's a hardtail.
There is one thing they all have in common....
I ALWAYS install a mini switch so I can get the neck/bridge combo. It's Tele-like with those two pickups together, but with the mini switch I don't lose any "regular" Strat functions.