Upgraded Strat pickups... not really

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Andy Lights, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. Rod Parsons

    Rod Parsons Friend of Leo's

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    I put a "ceramic" DeMarzio SDS-1 single coil, with adjustable pole pieces, in the bridge position of my '95 American Standard Strat, and it is an amazing, loud, ballsy sound, that I absolutely love. It IS a true single coil, so it DOES hum, but proportionately, it is about the same as the other stock ones,... it's just that the pickup is louder. It's like switching into lead 'overdrive', when I flick the switch all the way back. I will need to get another one for my CV-50 Strat's bridge position... :):):)
     
  2. italo

    italo Tele-Meister

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    Tex Mex pickups sounded a bit edgy for my taste, but I woulnt say they were bad pickups. After these I tried CS69 abby signed pickups and I didnt like them at all. No quack in 2 and 4 positions and a very weak bridge pickup. I ended reinstalling the original ceramics in this 2008 MIM and now it sounds like a strat to me.
     
  3. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    I put a Tex Mex in the bridge of my '99 MIM Strat. It's got lower output than the stock pickups so it's fairly close to the strings while the two remaining stock pickups are down near the pickguard. Personally I love the tone of the Tex Mex - it's raw bluesy spank. Think SRV, not Mark Knopfler. If you're going for pretty chime and quack it's not the pickup for you. But if you want a crunchy American rock pickup that sounds nice overdriven it's pretty sweet. At least to me, it's been a big improvement over the stock pickup.
     
  4. Andy Lights

    Andy Lights Former Member

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    That must be it... 'cause I do prefer the Knopfler sound. Good call!
     
  5. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

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    Me too - I prefer the Knopfler tone.

    And I do like your avatar....but why doesn't he move? :eek:
     
  6. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've got Texas Specials in my American Strat. Through my AC15 I get great Knopfler tone on position 4.
     
  7. Andy Lights

    Andy Lights Former Member

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    Hahahaha! Mine's shy 'cause he's a Newbie... and not a very original one either, apparently! :oops:
     
  8. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

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    :lol:

    And you know what? I've used this avatar for a few years now so it's probably time for me to change it. Lemme think about that.


    Changed it! :cool:
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  9. T-Bone

    T-Bone Tele-Holic

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    The stock pickups on my 2011 American Standard do everything I'd ever want a Strat pup to do.

    The stock pups on my mini MIM Strat, actually sound fine, they just kinda lack "character". Haven't felt a need to change them. The guitar is still 100% stock and these little guys are super hard to find now.
     
  10. Andy Lights

    Andy Lights Former Member

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    You, Sir, are too kind. Chapeau!
     
  11. Morgenholz

    Morgenholz TDPRI Member

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    I had a 2000 MIM '60's Classic for a time, and thought that it easily sounded the strattiest of all of my strats (others were American Standard and AVRI), ceramic pickups and all-- It was my go-to for surf and jangly chordal stuff. I only parted with it because it weighed as much as a Les Paul.
     
  12. JoeNeri

    JoeNeri Friend of Leo's

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    Despite the internet forum syndrome of having to modify everything, I think a stock MIM Strat, including the stock ceramic pups, is a great guitar.
     
  13. Dan R

    Dan R Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm glad you brought this up, Andy. I had a '97 MIA Strat. It was a well-made guitar and one of the best playing guitars I have ever owned. However the pickups were totally sterile and boring. They had no character whatsoever.

    Then I played my friend's MIM Strat. I loved the way it sounded compared to mine. Even though mine was built a tad bit better, it cost over twice as much. I was sort of disappointed that I'd paid extra for an American made instrument and was not happy with it. I asked if they were ceramics in the MIM and he said he thought they were. I commented that I liked them much more than mine in the MIA. One day I got rid of it and eventually went back to the telecaster. I'd still like to get a Strat one day, because I like them. It goes to show that buying a more expensive model does not necessarily mean you will like it better than a cheaper one. I've never understood why the pickups in those MIA's of that era were so weak.
     
  14. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    When I finally found my magic MIM strat after having auditioned dozens of strats at various price points for several months, I did some online research. The big internut hubbub at that time (Maybe it is now? No clue, I'm out of the loop) was that you had to replace the stock bridge/trem on the MIM (probably for "tone"), and that flew in the face of one of the main reasons I bought that particular instrument in the first place - it stayed in tune when using the wang bar (w/ three springs!) better than any vintage-style trem that I've ever played, which is a whole bunch, and even better than Wilkinson systems and roller nuts and such that I've owned/played. So I certainly wasn't going to replace a system that worked, with regard to tuning stability, nearly as flawlessly as a locking system, whether it is a fluke or not on this particular Stratocaster, for a slight improvement in tone (if that even happens).

    I replaced the stock ceramic pickups in my guitar simply because I didn't like them. There's not much to read into it beyond that, really. I think it's great that many do like them, as it's less stuff for them to have to fuss about with. I'm totally nuts about the Harmonic Design pickups that I put in that MIM strat. Like I said earlier in this thread, that was my last pickup swap (quite likely my last swap EVER), which was well over ten years ago.

    I hate modifying anything. I'm just not a tinkerer at heart. I just want everything to be perfect when I buy it, as is. I just want to play the stuff, not sit around and keep dinking with it.
     
  15. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    I got my 50's Baja and 2012 MIA strat with a plan to get some boutique pickups for them. No need. The Broadcaster/Twisted tele set and the Strat's Fat 50's were spot on. Some other models I found characterless or too bright and thin though.
     
  16. alainvey

    alainvey Tele-Holic

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    Those are high-end Fender pickups, though. They're supposed to sound good, and they do sound good.

    I'm 50/50 on the tex-mex set. Yes, they sound average clean, but they do sound pretty great with some overdrive.

    I used to have a mim standard that I swapped some cheap alnico v pups into. I consider the neck and middle a complete improvement, but I do still miss the bridge pup (even now, when I have better guitars and pups).

    It lacked that stratty sting, which is precisely why I liked it.
     
  17. Morgenholz

    Morgenholz TDPRI Member

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    > Tim: I hate modifying anything. I'm just not a tinkerer at heart. I just want everything to be perfect when I buy it, as is. I just want to play the stuff, not sit around and keep dinking with it.

    I love dinking with things, but I have arrived where Tim already is-- If I like a guitar enough to buy it, I leave the pickups alone-- those are its voice. I end up with more guitars than I need to hide from my wife, usually in Olympic White for strats and butterscotch for teles, so nobody knows for sure how many, but I spend zero time swapping pickups and soldering. I'll admit that "yes, this is a different guitar" to anybody that can appreciate the slight variations in the fretboards or tone.

    And I sold my MIM '60's Classic unmolested rather than mess with those ceramic pickups, because they sounded perfect for it.
     
  18. JKjr

    JKjr Tele-Holic

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    It's great to have choices. Back in the early 70's (uphill both ways) Gibson and Fender had lost their way with regards to pickups, and there were no options.

    Leaving aside the fact that we all have different ideas concerning tone and dynamics, it sure would be nice to figure out why some guitars like/dislike certain pickups. I have a few broad general ideas, but would be interested in what others think...any ideas?

    I REALLY don't care for MIM ceramics...I've yanked a couple sets, and couldn't do it fast enough. But a friend has one he brought over for a swap, and I talked him out of it; they sound great with his setup. Granted he brought Texas Specials (not my favorite). But they were the right pickup in the right guitar with the right amp. Go figure.
     
  19. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    The Robert Cray strat has US Fender Custom Shop vintage ALNICO Strat pickups :D:D

    http://intl.fender.com/en-GR/guitar...caster-rosewood-fingerboard-3-color-sunburst/
     
  20. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    The '60s Classics come with alnico pickups, a Mexican-produced version of the 57/62s that do sound very nice.
     
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