Unheard-of Strat Mod - Anyone?

AustinPaul

TDPRI Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Posts
78
Location
Austin
With a Les Paul, how much experience have you had putting the switch in the middle position and then varying the mix and tone using all four knobs? I have a lot of experience with it and found that whether with modern or traditional wiring that it didn't really buy me too much. I find myself mainly going from using neck, neck+bridge, or bridge, via the switch, and mostly using either neck or bridge. I do use the volume knobs and tone knobs, but don't find it ergonomic to just sit in the middle and adjust via the knobs. Faster and easier to mostly use the switch and then slightly tweak with the knobs after that.

I would think that three knobs may be similarly less ergonomic and useful than you might think. It's way faster to flick a switch than to turn a knob, never mind three knobs. Also, all three Strat pickups in parallel is a pretty blah sound, IMO.
Sigh - I've had many years of experience twiddling knobs and switches. It's second nature for me. Sure, some tunes leave no time for mid-song twiddling. Other times I do have time. I've heard three pickups in parallel. Yes, it's blah - when all the pickups are on a master volume. But just like a Les Paul, reduce one, the other pops. Flip to bridge or neck, worst case is a quick vol/tone increase/decrease.

On a Strat, it's even more ergonomic. I've been this way since probably my first 1-2 years of playing - which was many years ago.
 

AustinPaul

TDPRI Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Posts
78
Location
Austin
I have a Jaguar that uses switches for the pickups. I kind of like it. It uses master volume and tones. It also has a strangle switch that adds a cap to make it sound thinner.
Yep, had a Jag too. Thanks for your input
My strat has been hanging so long without a pickguard I put strings on it so I can still play it and keep the neck from wandering.

So many options I just can't decide.

3 stacked pots sounds like way too much for me.

2 knobs one switch is likely where I will end up.
Master volume
Tone on middle only
standard 5 way
Bridge
Bridge/middle
Middle
Middle / Neck
Neck

Maybe just a neck and bridge with a 3 way


AHHHHHHH too many choices
Ain't that the truth!
 

chris m.

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Posts
10,422
Location
Santa Barbara, California
Yep, had a Jag too. Thanks for your input

Ain't that the truth!
Use a deaf eddie switch or some other method—a breadboard with some alligator clip connectors could do it- to try every possible sound. Figure out which ones you actually will use. Then wire it as simply and ergonomically as possible to give you just those sounds.

I remember the 70s and 80s when Alembics, Carvins, and others would give all kinds of mini 3-way switches to get a huge array of options. Like brass nuts and heavy brass bridges it all faded away because people discovered that most of those extra sounds weren’t all that useful.

I will say for medium hot humbucker pickups being able to switch between series and parallel coils is very useful in my opinion. Gives a very serviceable single coil-ish sound without hum.
 

NoTeleBob

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Posts
3,365
Location
Southwestern, USA
"Amps have tone controls too, so there's always that." C'mon now. I've been at this for 45 years, and at a pretty high level. In all of those years, I've never seen or heard of this kind of mod. My question was more like a poll than one of seeking guidance.

You've never heard of someone wiring a guitar with no tone - or more popularly, no volume or tone? Lots of guys will tell you that just having a volume or tone control will pull off tone. Electronically, they are correct, it can be seen on a scope. I don't really hear it myself in testing.
 

AustinPaul

TDPRI Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Posts
78
Location
Austin
You've never heard of someone wiring a guitar with no tone - or more popularly, no volume or tone? Lots of guys will tell you that just having a volume or tone control will pull off tone. Electronically, they are correct, it can be seen on a scope. I don't really hear it myself in testing.
Sure I have. As noted earlier in this longish thread, one of the first things I do to my Teles is to remove the neck pickup from the tone circuit.

On Strats, I make sure the rear tone is for the bridge only (Fender finally got wise to that). As far as "pulling tone", yep, that's never been a bother of mine. In fact, something I don't dig is Fender's treble-bleed circuit. I count on rolling off tone when I roll off volume.
 

NoTeleBob

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Posts
3,365
Location
Southwestern, USA
Sure I have. As noted earlier in this longish thread, one of the first things I do to my Teles is to remove the neck pickup from the tone circuit.

On Strats, I make sure the rear tone is for the bridge only (Fender finally got wise to that). As far as "pulling tone", yep, that's never been a bother of mine. In fact, something I don't dig is Fender's treble-bleed circuit. I count on rolling off tone when I roll off volume.

Treble-bleed is more of a potential "feature" on Humbuckers for me. But not on single coils and not on a Fender bridge. They have treble to spare. On something like an LP, it can be useful, as might be 50's wiring. All have advantages and disadvantages.
 

TunedupFlat

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 17, 2022
Posts
355
Age
42
Location
Alberta
I used to use a resistor and cap to set the tone for my bridge(just enough to knock a hair of the top end), and used 2 volumes and a blend for the bridge and neck.

I have used pretty much every wiring scheme on strat under the sun. 10 way switches, 7 way, 3 volumes, etc..

But in all my years I have never found a ton of use for the old 2-4 positions. I don't really care about hum canceling and since I'm not a duck, I don't quack.

I'm sure I'm in the minority, but these days I have gone back to using a 3 way switch on my strat with a single volume, tone for middle and neck, and a bridge tone control. If I want other sounds I'll just pick up a LP or a Tele or something.
 

chris m.

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Posts
10,422
Location
Santa Barbara, California
I used to use a resistor and cap to set the tone for my bridge(just enough to knock a hair of the top end), and used 2 volumes and a blend for the bridge and neck.

I have used pretty much every wiring scheme on strat under the sun. 10 way switches, 7 way, 3 volumes, etc..

But in all my years I have never found a ton of use for the old 2-4 positions. I don't really care about hum canceling and since I'm not a duck, I don't quack.

I'm sure I'm in the minority, but these days I have gone back to using a 3 way switch on my strat with a single volume, tone for middle and neck, and a bridge tone control. If I want other sounds I'll just pick up a LP or a Tele or something.
The quack sounds are interesting. On the one hand they are super iconic and are an essential part of the vibe of many classic guitar-centric songs. Think Sultans of Swing, for example. On the other hand, they tend to disappear in the mix when playing live. I've found them to be useful in my funk band.

Sometimes I like the rhythm funk sound of a more full-bodied Tele (middle or bridge position), or even the middle pickup on a Strat.

There's also plenty of famous funk rhythms laid down with humbuckers on LPs, 335s, and other instruments. If equipped with lightly wound PAF style pickups they can have plenty of bite and clarity. Alternatively, on a couple of my humbucker guitars with hotter pickups, I have installed push-pull volume pots so I can switch to parallel coil wiring and get a cleaner, clearer tone quite suitable for rhythm playing.

But one cool thing with a Strat is that if I set up my quack tones to have the right volume level for rhythm playing, if I switch to middle, neck, or bridge by themselves I get a natural boost that helps my lead tone jump out of the mix.

Our band gigs a couple of times a month and I like to mix it up. I always bring two guitars, but my main guitar for the gig varies greatly-- Strat, Tele, Jaguar, PRS, 335-style, LP, Framus or Ibanez Super-Strat, DeArmond with Dynasonics, Gibson Flying V, whatever I'm in the mood for.
 

57joonya

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jul 23, 2021
Posts
1,311
Age
48
Location
New Jersey
It's even easier for me to ask him to accomplish this feat for me. But all kidding aside, I've done a lot of pickup and pot soldering, but once it gets to a certain point, well nowadays, I'd much rather be playing my guitars. It simply takes more time than I'm willing to invest.
I hear this. It usually makes more sense for me to go to work amd make money, and pay someone who is faster and better at these things than me . If it’s an easy thing and I can do it in my spare time, than that’s a different story .
 

AustinPaul

TDPRI Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Posts
78
Location
Austin
Use a deaf eddie switch or some other method—a breadboard with some alligator clip connectors could do it- to try every possible sound. Figure out which ones you actually will use. Then wire it as simply and ergonomically as possible to give you just those sounds.

I remember the 70s and 80s when Alembics, Carvins, and others would give all kinds of mini 3-way switches to get a huge array of options. Like brass nuts and heavy brass bridges it all faded away because people discovered that most of those extra sounds weren’t all that useful.

I will say for medium hot humbucker pickups being able to switch between series and parallel coils is very useful in my opinion. Gives a very serviceable single coil-ish sound without hum.
Yep, I remember all the buttons of the late 70s-and 80s. So many buttons! Cars too!
I used to use a resistor and cap to set the tone for my bridge(just enough to knock a hair of the top end), and used 2 volumes and a blend for the bridge and neck.

I have used pretty much every wiring scheme on strat under the sun. 10 way switches, 7 way, 3 volumes, etc..

But in all my years I have never found a ton of use for the old 2-4 positions. I don't really care about hum canceling and since I'm not a duck, I don't quack.

I'm sure I'm in the minority, but these days I have gone back to using a 3 way switch on my strat with a single volume, tone for middle and neck, and a bridge tone control. If I want other sounds I'll just pick up a LP or a Tele or something.
I agree completely about the 2-4. Never, ever use it. Never use the middle either. Now I'm thinking of also using a three-way, with middle position being neck and bridge, which I've come to use a lot on my newest Strat. Middle pickup disconnected, one vol for bridge, one for neck, tone for bridge only. Yep, after all this discussion, I think this would be the most useful and simple solution.

My mascis Tele has that out of phase deal which I didn't like, but now I like the variety. If I want that great neck/bridge tone, I have other Teles for that, or I can get close to it on the aforementioned Strat mod, or my Am Pro2.
 

AustinPaul

TDPRI Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Posts
78
Location
Austin
Our band gigs a couple of times a month and I like to mix it up. I always bring two guitars, but my main guitar for the gig varies greatly-- Strat, Tele, Jaguar, PRS, 335-style, LP, Framus or Ibanez Super-Strat, DeArmond with Dynasonics, Gibson Flying V, whatever I'm in the mood for.
Love your guitar choices. Not far from mine. I just sold my 339 (Epi) that I thought about upgrading as I've had more use for it lately, but decided to move it in favor of a D'Angelico mini DC with Seymours and better neck profile for me.

I'm not a big fan of Knopfler's "Sultans..." tone. I used to groan when Clapton used/uses it. However when SRV used it, I loved it. Probably because of the higher gain. If I'm covering something like "Couldn't Stand The Weather", I have pretty much fun with it! Lol Yes I know I'm talking out both sides of my mouth. 😏
 

chris m.

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Posts
10,422
Location
Santa Barbara, California
Love your guitar choices. Not far from mine. I just sold my 339 (Epi) that I thought about upgrading as I've had more use for it lately, but decided to move it in favor of a D'Angelico mini DC with Seymours and better neck profile for me.

I'm not a big fan of Knopfler's "Sultans..." tone. I used to groan when Clapton used/uses it. However when SRV used it, I loved it. Probably because of the higher gain. If I'm covering something like "Couldn't Stand The Weather", I have pretty much fun with it! Lol Yes I know I'm talking out both sides of my mouth. 😏
I think the "quack" tones sound best when the guitar is really way out front in the mix, whether live or on a recording. Otherwise it tends to get buried. But it also can be a bit of a cliche. Kind of like wah-wah, it is probably best in smaller doses. But I feel the same way about the Strat neck pickup blues-rock lead tone. A bit overdone.

For guys that don't ever use the Strat middle pickup, I say give it another chance. I think it's a great sound that isn't as over-used as the neck pickup tone. The great Robin Trower is a big user of the Strat middle pickup. Not too bright like the bridge pickup, not too trite like the neck pickup. To get a good signal out of it you don't want to have it too far below the strings like some guys are wont to do.
 

AustinPaul

TDPRI Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Posts
78
Location
Austin
I think the "quack" tones sound best when the guitar is really way out front in the mix, whether live or on a recording. Otherwise it tends to get buried. But it also can be a bit of a cliche. Kind of like wah-wah, it is probably best in smaller doses. But I feel the same way about the Strat neck pickup blues-rock lead tone. A bit overdone.

For guys that don't ever use the Strat middle pickup, I say give it another chance. I think it's a great sound that isn't as over-used as the neck pickup tone. The great Robin Trower is a big user of the Strat middle pickup. Not too bright like the bridge pickup, not too trite like the neck pickup. To get a good signal out of it you don't want to have it too far below the strings like some guys are wont to do.
Oh yes, I've done everything I can with the middle pickup as a big Trower fan since I was a kid. I recall his quote about using the neck pickup because it's "rock and roll". Funny thing, I saw him many times over the years, and was able to get up close the last few times (around '04-'06) and noticed he wasn't using the middle pickup as much as I expected, but he did switch a lot too.

Yea, the overdriven neck tone is done to pieces, but I just love it too much to not use it. The audience either tired of it, doesn't know the difference, or mostly, loves it - at least from my experience.

Now one thing I haven't yet tried, is to rock the middle pickup in the mix, using my plexi that I can now thicken big time with my newish (two months) Power Station to manage the volume. Now, I'm hoping that the average sound guy will change from the dirty looks they usually shoot when you wheel a half-stack in, to "whew" when they see an attenuator! 👀
 

Winky

Tele-Holic
Joined
Nov 6, 2011
Posts
541
Location
Canada
I don't think they will be hum-cancelling either -- provided these are the original, unaltered pickups from 1974 -- in any position.
Humbuckers rely on each coil seeing a similar electromagnetic interference wave.

Even if you flipped the poles and reversed the polarity in one to get them in phase and theoretically hum cancelling, they might not be great at hum cancelling due to their physical distance from one another. But wait. The wavelength of a 60hz EM wave is about 37,000km so a few centimeters will not matter in terms of the phase of the interference. Nevertheless, the strength of the interference might vary significantly (inverse distance cubed) if one PU was very close to a localized source. Also seems likely to be a second-order effect.

This is a silly post. Seems no reason why pairs of correctly configured single coils couldn't be "humbucking".
 

chris m.

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Posts
10,422
Location
Santa Barbara, California
Humbuckers rely on each coil seeing a similar electromagnetic interference wave.

Even if you flipped the poles and reversed the polarity in one to get them in phase and theoretically hum cancelling, they might not be great at hum cancelling due to their physical distance from one another. But wait. The wavelength of a 60hz EM wave is about 37,000km so a few centimeters will not matter in terms of the phase of the interference. Nevertheless, the strength of the interference might vary significantly (inverse distance cubed) if one PU was very close to a localized source. Also seems likely to be a second-order effect.

This is a silly post. Seems no reason why pairs of correctly configured single coils couldn't be "humbucking".
Empirical observation has me quite certain that using a RWRP pickup paired with another pickup cancels 60Hz hum quite effectively even with the two single coils a few inches apart, whether in a Strat, Jaguar, Jazzmaster, or Tele. I've had them all and it definitely works.
 

TunedupFlat

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 17, 2022
Posts
355
Age
42
Location
Alberta
Oh yes, I've done everything I can with the middle pickup as a big Trower fan since I was a kid. I recall his quote about using the neck pickup because it's "rock and roll". Funny thing, I saw him many times over the years, and was able to get up close the last few times (around '04-'06) and noticed he wasn't using the middle pickup as much as I expected, but he did switch a lot too.

Yea, the overdriven neck tone is done to pieces, but I just love it too much to not use it. The audience either tired of it, doesn't know the difference, or mostly, loves it - at least from my experience.

Now one thing I haven't yet tried, is to rock the middle pickup in the mix, using my plexi that I can now thicken big time with my newish (two months) Power Station to manage the volume. Now, I'm hoping that the average sound guy will change from the dirty looks they usually shoot when you wheel a half-stack in, to "whew" when they see an attenuator! 👀
Ha ha. I live for the dirty looks when I roll in my 2204. Another trick for the half stack live that let's you run a hair more volume is a plexiglass amp shield. The attenuator combined with the sheild makes for happy sound guys and front row people
 

AustinPaul

TDPRI Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Posts
78
Location
Austin
Ha ha. I live for the dirty looks when I roll in my 2204. Another trick for the half stack live that let's you run a hair more volume is a plexiglass amp shield. The attenuator combined with the sheild makes for happy sound guys and front row people
Absolutely agree on the plexi. I actually saw them first here around Austin. We have Eric Tessmer here. He and his 3-piece play beautifully loud. He runs a rig kind of similar to SRVs (at any given time). He's used road cases and plexi shields for years now. It was only after seeing him, along with a few others locally, that I saw Bonomassa with his. As Bonomassa says, "the sound has to go somewhere." Love that quote. But yep, that projector beam of loudness from a 4x12 is a force to be reckoned with. <my wife just left for a few hours, I'm sure you can guess what's warming up as I type this... >

I'm not far from dropping the dinero on a nice shield setup that will also work for my Super Reverb, and well, I'll stop there, lest I share all my stuff with the world! But whatever the case, I definitely want to make my own. Prices of the pre-made ones are insane eh?
 

TunedupFlat

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 17, 2022
Posts
355
Age
42
Location
Alberta
Absolutely agree on the plexi. I actually saw them first here around Austin. We have Eric Tessmer here. He and his 3-piece play beautifully loud. He runs a rig kind of similar to SRVs (at any given time). He's used road cases and plexi shields for years now. It was only after seeing him, along with a few others locally, that I saw Bonomassa with his. As Bonomassa says, "the sound has to go somewhere." Love that quote. But yep, that projector beam of loudness from a 4x12 is a force to be reckoned with. <my wife just left for a few hours, I'm sure you can guess what's warming up as I type this... >

I'm not far from dropping the dinero on a nice shield setup that will also work for my Super Reverb, and well, I'll stop there, lest I share all my stuff with the world! But whatever the case, I definitely want to make my own. Prices of the pre-made ones are insane eh?
The prices totally are unreal for pre-made. I had one made for 4x12's and another made for when I'm running dual combo amps.

The one for the combos was a little more pricey as I can split it into singles.

Can hardly wait to give it a rundown with the new sf super reverb and the tweed bassman
 

mexicanyella

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jan 26, 2012
Posts
4,588
Location
Troy, MO
This thread is making me think about a strat’s three control holes being used (one with a concentric pot) to incorporate a V/V/T Jazz bass wiring system for the neck and bridge pickups and a Brent Mason-style blendable middle pickup.

Oh, wait, whoops...

I think it’s a cool idea and encourage you to do it.
 




Top