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strat project - advice about pickup config


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I'm bidding on a cheap strat on ebay. If I win, I plan to swap out the pickups for GFS pickups.

My plan is to use 2 single-coil lipsticks (6k and 8k) and 1 Lil Killer hotrail (10k).

What I can't figure out is if I will go HSS or SSH. I remember playing a Squier Hotrails strat and being VERY impressed with the neck pickup but rather indifferent about the rest. I know I will be happy with the bucker at the neck.

I'm wondering how a lipstick will sound at the bridge. Any chance of too much treble? I'm pretty much wondering the pros and cons of each configuration.

edit: added '10k' in the 2nd line.

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I always found I prefered the neck pickup on my danelectro

Looking at demos on youtube, I would agree that neck lipsticks seem to sound a bit better. Just a tad too shrill in the bridge position.

I really liked the idea of the humbucker in the neck.

I hate these unimportant decisions that get turned into big decisions because of indecision!!!

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why don't you have rail in neck, lipstick in mid and something else in the bridge?

I have thought about that too, but not sure what I would put there. I don't want to do any cutting, so I would probably just end up putting a typical strat pickup in there.

I'm open to suggestions about that too :)

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I would think it'd be cool to have another humbucker in the bridge and just wire it up like a standard HSH guitar that way you get the humbucker in the neck and the coil split in between positions (albeit they'd prolly sound a lil different with a lipstick in the middle) and you'd have a bucker in the bridge if you wanted it. you could even wire a seperate volume control for the middle pup so that you could take it outta the signal if you wanted to have just the coil splitted neck or bridge sounds.

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I think it would be cool to get a strat and try this config, a HHS config, with a coil tap. I always wanted to try that, maybe a real hum in the bridge and single coil sized hum in the middle with a single in the neck.

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Thanks everyone for the suggestions, there is some great food for thought there.

I got the guitar today, and it is a wonderful thing! It's not the first guitar I was bidding on, but it's my second choice, and I think fate was kind to me.

AUD$150 got me a 1999 Squier Affinity Strat. The guitar was made in Indonesia (Fender moved production of the Affinity's to China in about 2000), and has some things that later Affinity's don't have. The neck has a skunk stripe, a solid black headstock decal, and very nice, old-school tuners, which I suspect are not stock, but the guy I bought the guitar from said they were. The guitar is a beautiful dark blue colour, maybe Cobalt Blue or Baltic Blue.

The clincher is that the guitar - based on the couple of minutes I played it tonight - sounds wonderful, the purest strat sound I have ever been able to pull from a guitar. It's actually made me re-think the idea of using it as a project. I might still replace one of the pickups with a hotrail, but the idea of removing 2 or all 3 pickups now seems very unlikely.

I tried to snap some pics tonight, but I was not able to capture the blue in a way I'm pleased with. I'll take some pics tomorrow in the sunlight.

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I know someone who has a 2002 indonesian strat with the skunk stripe. It plays like junk because he's given up maintaining it and rarely plays it.

Sounds cool as anyway! The tuners won't be stock and I'd change the pickups if I were you. Nice find!

Based on about 5 minutes with it - and I know that's not long, but my opinion on a guitar rarely changes over time, the Jagmaster is my only exception - it feels really great. Low action, great sound. I'm gonna play it a bit more at volume tomorrow, as well as changing the strings. When the strings are off, I'm gonna pull the pickguard off and see what I can see.

My 51 was Indonesian, and I loved that. The faults I found with it were all my own creation.

However, I also ownded a Squier SE strat (my 'Gilmour' project) and that one was horrible to play. Hit and miss, I guess.

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  • 4 months later...

This is a much-delayed update...

I ended up getting a 10k hotrail from GFS and had it installed in the neck position.

After a few delays and confusing conversations with the guitar tech I went to (regretfully not my regular guy), I got the guitar back a few days ago.

The new pickup sounded AWFUL!

I don't know what effect 'output' has on the volume of a pickup, but I assumed the new pickup would be louder than the stock strat pickups. WRONG! The new pickup sounds disgusting, probably because it has been wired in incorrectly. It's quiet, super-muddy, disconnected from the tone control, and the middle position is almost inaudible.

Does anyone have any idea what the tech might have done wrong, because I don't want to take it back to him if I can avoid it. Of course, I'm probly gonna call him again tomorrow anyway, because I want answers dammit! He already waaay overcharged me, so I deserve some answers.

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This is a much-delayed update...

I ended up getting a 10k hotrail from GFS and had it installed in the neck position.

After a few delays and confusing conversations with the guitar tech I went to (regretfully not my regular guy), I got the guitar back a few days ago.

The new pickup sounded AWFUL!

I don't know what effect 'output' has on the volume of a pickup, but I assumed the new pickup would be louder than the stock strat pickups. WRONG! The new pickup sounds disgusting, probably because it has been wired in incorrectly. It's quiet, super-muddy, disconnected from the tone control, and the middle position is almost inaudible.

Does anyone have any idea what the tech might have done wrong, because I don't want to take it back to him if I can avoid it. Of course, I'm probly gonna call him again tomorrow anyway, because I want answers dammit! He already waaay overcharged me, so I deserve some answers.

Great. That blows. Something is certainly wrong. You have almost convinced me to leave well enough alone. I think your first reaction was correct. If it sounded surprisingly good maybe go back to original config and sell the pickup and cut your loses. Stop the bleeding. Thats too bad though, you sounded excited originally. It's obviously wrong if the tone isn't working unless it's just that muddy that rolling it doesn't help. I don't think thats it, i thinks it's wired wrong. I may leave my tele alone after hearing this.

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Further update:

I took it back, and got it 'fixed'. Then when I bought it home and played it again, not only did the neck pickup still sound muddy and yuck, not only was the tone control still disconnected, but ALL of the pickups now sound muddy and yuck, as though the humbucker is active in EVERY position.

So I called the tech and had an argument with him (he was trying to tell me that it's all correct and the other pickups sound that way because they are 'not that good'), so eventually I just strummed some chords in each position and got him to agree that it wasn't right. He actually suspects something is wrong with the pickup itself. He has taken the guitar yet again, said he will re-wired the whole things, and if the problem remains, he will drop in another hotrail that he has lying around.

This just ain't good enough :-(

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Further update:

I took it back, and got it 'fixed'. Then when I bought it home and played it again, not only did the neck pickup still sound muddy and yuck, not only was the tone control still disconnected, but ALL of the pickups now sound muddy and yuck, as though the humbucker is active in EVERY position.

So I called the tech and had an argument with him (he was trying to tell me that it's all correct and the other pickups sound that way because they are 'not that good'), so eventually I just strummed some chords in each position and got him to agree that it wasn't right. He actually suspects something is wrong with the pickup itself. He has taken the guitar yet again, said he will re-wired the whole things, and if the problem remains, he will drop in another hotrail that he has lying around.

This just ain't good enough :-(

Aw That sucks man, stick with your old guitar tech for sure. but Im sure it will work out in the long run, and when it does DEMO!

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Sadly my old guitar tech - for reasons unknown to me - doesn't return my calls anymore.

But I will definitely be trying to get back in touch next time I need such expertise. The dramas with this guitar have just been ridiculous and frustrating.

When I get it back, I'll try to cook up a demo, I think I have reasonable enough facilities (my old digital camera) to do it :-)

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