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SlideGeetar
02-26-2012, 03:09 PM
I recently bought an arctic white MIM Stratocaster w/maple fretboard. Found it used, cheap, on Craigslist and always wanted a Jimi guitar so I went for it. Too good a deal to pass up. I didn't think it would be anything more than an extra guitar to fool around on once in awhile, but it quickly became my go-to guitar over my $800 Gibson SG Special Faded with P90's.

I've upgraded the jack and the switch to some proper quality parts (CRL and Switchcraft), and changed the tone cap to a Mallory 150 series (I also have a Sprague Orange Drop 418P series that I may try).

I've upgraded the pickups to a set of Fender CS 69 and I bought a Duncan SSL-1 to put in the bridge (but haven't installed it yet).

So my question is now that the Strat has become my axe of choice, what can I do to it to increase the playability and tone? I'm going for a 60's/70's rock sound, leaning towards gritty/vintage rather than modern/smooth.

In other words, what are your top 5 Mexican Strat upgrades? I plan to get a pro setup and a new nut but not until I have it how I want it (hardware/electronics/etc). The tuners don't bother me, the neck is not bad, but I'm guessing the bridge/trem setup is a prime suspect for replacement? Callaham sells a whole bridge/trem assembly for $165 and I may snatch that up. For one it would be nice to have a trem arm with zero play, and two - I've heard great things about those Callahams improving sustain. I don't need sustain for days but the stock bridge/trem seems to kill the sustain somewhat quickly (at least I think it's the bridge/trem's fault).

walterw
02-26-2012, 03:27 PM
you're on the right track. better pickups make the biggest difference (i'm not sure that the duncan would be all that much different than the '69s, though. usually you want a stronger bridge pickup, and the SSL-1 is just another vintage-output unit. an SSL-5, on the other hand...)

a better bridge, especially one with a steel block, would be the missing piece of the puzzle. the steel block is a key ingredient of the vintage strat tone.

a good setup is vital, but i wouldn't worry about replacing the nut; the stock material is just fine, once it's been slotted and profiled properly (part of the aforementioned good setup).

finally, with your non-RWRP pickups, you would be a good candidate for the ilitch backplate (http://www.ilitchelectronics.com/backplatenoisecancelingsystem.htm) system, to kill the hum.

SlideGeetar
02-26-2012, 03:43 PM
Right on. Thanks!

With the pickups... the CS69's all measure 5.5k on my meter, but the SSL-1 is supposed to be 6.5k so that's kind of what I'm looking for, a little extra heat in the bridge rather then just plain old 5.5k across the board. The CS69's are incredible though. Very low output but they're definitely my "cup o' tea". I almost always use my DAM Red Rooster clone anyways. I set it to give just the right amount of grit and boost and it's tonal nirvana! heh. I recently built a '67 VOX wah (Clyde McCoy) to vintage specs using period correct caps and parts... sounds incredible. Jimmy Page (early) and Jimi tones galore.

Rod
02-26-2012, 03:55 PM
Go to guitarfetish.com. they sell full size steel blocks you can bolt on your exsisting bridge for $24. They sell alpha pots for $3. Change those out as well. If you want an amazing neck get a Warmoth or musicraft or USACG used from here on the classified pages. I like hot bridge pickups. 10000 ohms.

SlideGeetar
02-26-2012, 04:03 PM
I think I'm going to go Callaham rather than GFS. I can sell that assembly and get most of my money back if I end up not liking it for some reason, but I bet I'll be satisfied. I've bought pickups and guards from GFS before and they have good stuff but it's not always the best. And if I get this Stratocaster just right, I can sell my $800 Gibson SG and come out ahead. Can't sell it for $800 but I can get $500-$600 with the hardshell case.

mikefair
02-26-2012, 04:07 PM
I though the Raw Vintage springs made a really significant difference in tone and playability in my Strat. Small outlay too.

fr8_trane
02-29-2012, 11:15 AM
Personally i think the GFS block is just fine. Its full sized and all steel. not sure what more your getting for the huge upcharge from callaham except that the trem arm will not wobble like the GFS.

I also went with the GFS solid steel saddles as well. I don't buy into the stamped steel vintage mojo thing at all.

All that said I upgraded my MIM to a bladerunner trem and haven't looked back. Its not a vintage piece but IMO its better design all the way around and its a drop in replacement for ANY strat. YMMV.

Other mods

Move the tone control from the middle pickup to the bridge only (not bridge and middle) You get the tone control in its most useful location and the now unloaded middle pickup will improve the quack tones from the 2 and 4 positions on the switch. The only possible drawback is the middle will be a bit brighter than normal but i never use the middle by itself anyway

I like the gotoh staggered tuners as well. You can get rid of the string trees in most cases because of this which is one less friction point to impede tuning stability.

Make sure to purchase some guitar lube for the nut and saddles. The cheapest most easily available stuff is the teflon oiler from Radio shack. Pretty much the same thing as big bends but for much less dough
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2102643

For a new nut consider the graphtech tusq XL. Its impregnated with teflon. great for trem guitars.
http://www.graphtech.com/products.html?CategoryID=18

kstrat62
02-29-2012, 11:25 AM
I though the Raw Vintage springs made a really significant difference in tone and playability in my Strat. Small outlay too.

Where do you get these?

burningyen
02-29-2012, 12:55 PM
G&L setup trick as relayed by walterw:

http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=456627

walterw
02-29-2012, 01:35 PM
They sell alpha pots for $3. Change those out as well.
No, that would be a step backwards! Mexi standard fenders already have CTS pots, much better than alphas any day.

Also, +1 to moving the second tone pot to the bridge by itself; you get a smoother bridge pickup (now having one tone pot instead of none) and a clearer N+M sound (one tone pot instead of two).

The 6.5k Duncan might indeed be just right behind the mid-5k fender pickups.

analogsystem
02-29-2012, 01:37 PM
#1 strat upgrade is free. Connect the bridge pickup to a tone knob.

SlideGeetar
02-29-2012, 02:29 PM
Where do you get these?

http://www.rawvintage.com/eng/item_springs.php

SlideGeetar
02-29-2012, 02:35 PM
No, that would be a step backwards! Mexi standard fenders already have CTS pots, much better than alphas any day.

Also, +1 to moving the second tone pot to the bridge by itself; you get a smoother bridge pickup (now having one tone pot instead of none) and a clearer N+M sound (one tone pot instead of two).

The 6.5k Duncan might indeed be just right behind the mid-5k fender pickups.

I find the stock pots on my MIM to be very good. No scratchyness and a good taper. The axe is a 2005 so that's pretty good lifespan thus far. I do have three 250k audio taper (Allparts/CTS) pots on standby though, just in case.

I modified the wiring so that the middle tone control is now middle AND bridge but I'll go ahead and change that to bridge ONLY, next tim I change strings. I agree that would probably be best.

And yes the 6.5k Duncan SSL-1 is a real sweet match for the 5.5k Fender CS69 neck and middle. I actually really dug the CS69 in the bridge spot, but it was a weird weak bridge tone. VERY vintage. I liked it but I like it better with the slightly hotter SSL-1 in the bridge. Gives it just a tad more balls and versatility. Perfect vintage staggered set.

Ronsonic
03-01-2012, 10:28 AM
My list is much like everyone elses:

Put the second tone knob onto the bridge p/up.
Raw Vintage springs (disclaimer / plug - I sell them)

I also like vintage strength p/ups in the middle and neck with something stronger in the bridge. Lots of good ones out there.

Most importantly of all set it up well. If you have any ability to do your own work this is a chance to cultivate it. Take your time, work in steps, it doesn't all have to be done in one session on the bench. That's for real pro's. If it takes a few weeks to get something perfect, that's fine. Play, tweak, play, adjust, play, play, play.

Jahn
03-01-2012, 10:30 AM
i have the raw vintage springs in my strat too. a great set up is key, i usually don't keep the action this low but on my strat, it totally works. i unblocked the trem, so now it floats, really great sustainy sound now when i warble it a bit. oh, and the clapton has a TBX and midboost in there, those are both really handy.

ATL Strat
03-01-2012, 10:35 AM
Go for the Callaham block and bar. I even put these on my top end CS strats. The fit of the virtual pop in bar is worth it by itself.

9fingers
03-01-2012, 11:42 AM
All the above plus an Acme or Fralin blender pot; one volume, one tone(no load is good), one blender.

AceBSpankin
03-01-2012, 12:45 PM
What about springs? How many is the "right" amount? I have 4 and my bar is real stiff, maybe too stiff. But...... it doesn't move much while bending so I don't have to fight that!! Any preferences??

Matt L
03-01-2012, 05:16 PM
What do you guys think about the stock pickups in the Classic Vibe '50s Strats? On one hand, they seem pretty decent, but they do seem a bit weak when I turn on some gain. Should I bother upgrading the electronics first, or just do everything? I've got 10-54 strings with trem decked w/ 5 strings tuned to Eb, and it sounds pretty damn good, even compared to my American Standard. I've got a set of Suhr ML neck and middle pickups and a Duncan SSL-5 ready to go into it......

Mark Robinson
03-01-2012, 05:36 PM
A lot of it is personal choice. Like many players, I prefer a hotter bridge pickup than stock. I recently began using an SD Twangbanger in the bridge. When I was wiring the guitar, I surveyed my new CTS 250K pots. I was replacing the pots, since I had a bridge humbucker in there before with 500k pots. Two of the new pots were fine, pretty much on the money but a third was quite low. So when those strings were worn out, I swapped in a 300k in the treble pickup tone position, and that Twangbanger is alive now. Nice and steely, I'm happy.

McStrats
03-01-2012, 06:14 PM
By far the best upgrade to a MIM Strat is a fret dress (or a re-fret) and set up by a really really good luthier. You'll dial in a good sound with the stock components. The thing that's going to put the biggest smile on your face is how it *plays* - it's what separates a MIM from a MIA more than any other thing.

Putting bookteek pickups or s steel trem block on a guitar that has buzzes all over the place is like putting lipstick on a pig. Set that sucka up first.

walterw
03-01-2012, 11:50 PM
no argument there.

this points up a key difference between old and new mexi strats; the new ones have nice tall, fat fretwire, while the old ones had the thin vintage wire.

the playability is greatly affected by the frets, and changing skinny to fat (or vice versa, for any wierdos who go that way ;)) is pretty expensive.

Trickstaaah
03-02-2012, 12:01 AM
no argument there.

this points up a key difference between old and new mexi strats; the new ones have nice tall, fat fretwire, while the old ones had the thin vintage wire.

the playability is greatly affected by the frets, and changing skinny to fat (or vice versa, for any wierdos who go that way ;)) is pretty expensive.

Yep. My 1994 MIM Strat is a great guitar, but now that I have a couple of others with bigger frets, it gets less play than it should.

Strats are very setup-sensitive guitars. So while I agree with many of the tips here -- tone on the bridge pickup, better bridge and block assembly, etc. -- I think a killer setup will make even a mediocre Strat a thing of beauty. So take your time and make tiny adjustments -- a little more/less relief in the neck, a little higher or lower on the saddles, and so forth.

Have fun!

burningyen
03-02-2012, 06:13 AM
What about springs? How many is the "right" amount? I have 4 and my bar is real stiff, maybe too stiff. But...... it doesn't move much while bending so I don't have to fight that!! Any preferences??
Personal preference, experiment.

majorledhead
03-02-2012, 09:15 PM
A nice big chunky compound radius neck with jumbo frets, a set a Lollar Blackface pickups, the RS Guitar wiring/pot upgrade package,and a callaham bridge is a solid combination.

fumbler
03-02-2012, 10:19 PM
What about springs? How many is the "right" amount? I have 4 and my bar is real stiff, maybe too stiff. But...... it doesn't move much while bending so I don't have to fight that!! Any preferences??
Raw Vintage springs are totally worth the $20 IMHO. They're softer than most stock springs so 5 RV springs feels like 4 or 3 stock springs.

walterw
03-02-2012, 10:27 PM
A nice big chunky compound radius neck with jumbo frets, a set a Lollar Blackface pickups, the RS Guitar wiring/pot upgrade package,and a callaham bridge is a solid combination.
all that, plus some gotoh vintage-type keys and a nice replacement body from warmoth or USACG, and your mexican strat would really be something ;)

fumbler
03-02-2012, 10:46 PM
all that, plus some gotoh vintage-type keys and a nice replacement body from warmoth or USACG, and your mexican strat would really be something ;)
But you can still use the same strap buttons :rimshot

Zingeroo
03-03-2012, 12:46 AM
I've been interested in the GFS brass trem block. For those prices, you can try the steel and the brass.

jazzrat
03-03-2012, 06:23 AM
#1. Usable tone control on the bridge pup.
#2. I use Callaham but I'd say any block that improves the trem arm connection would be good.

Ronsonic
03-03-2012, 12:54 PM
all that, plus some gotoh vintage-type keys and a nice replacement body from warmoth or USACG, and your mexican strat would really be something ;)

I've got an 80s MIJ Squier that evolved like that. All that's left is the neck.

SlideGeetar
03-04-2012, 07:47 AM
Best replacement Strat neck? I want the truss to be in the normal spot, not the heel. And some taller frets than these tiny Fender vintage ones on my MIM... oh and the CBS headstock shape if possible but not a huge deal if not.

walterw
03-04-2012, 02:25 PM
sounds like you're in the market for a highway 1 strat.

Rod
03-04-2012, 03:19 PM
sounds like you're in the market for a highway 1 strat.

I was thinking the same... Both of my Partscasters have Highway 1 necks... They're just great!!

bluesking55
03-04-2012, 05:02 PM
I like Walter's post, all solid infomation

Lolaviola
03-05-2012, 01:24 PM
I've got an 80s MIJ Squier that evolved like that. All that's left is the neck.
Funny, my latest project evolved from a Squier Japan maple neck.

As far as upgrades, I always go for a traditional look, but not in the "vintage correct" sense.

1. Wilkinson VSVG Bridge. Stew-McDonald sells these and it is the best thing I've ever put on a strat.
2. Fralin baseplate on the bridge pickup; alternately, a bridge humbucker is nice
3. Tuning machines; burnish and lube nut and saddles
4. shielding, good quality electronics
5. fret-dress and intonate using your strings of choice. Polish frets if you can't get the dress.

rumblebox
03-05-2012, 03:39 PM
1. The stock MIM pickups sound fine with mag swaps. On my dad's strat i swapped out the ceramic mags in the singles for A5 rod magnets and swapped the A5 mag in the humbucker for a UOA5. Sounds great now.

2. Locking tuners, roller tree, lube the nut, float the bridge.

3. 2 volume, 1 tone, good shielding job

4. connect all the pickups to the tone pot.

5. Push pull pot to activate the bridge pickup no matter where the 5 way switch is.

Tune-O-Matic
03-05-2012, 03:49 PM
The absolute best mod you can make to Strat is to wire the bridge pickup to a tone control.

And the best part is, it's free.

Lolaviola
03-05-2012, 08:13 PM
1. The stock MIM pickups sound fine with mag swaps. On my dad's strat i swapped out the ceramic mags in the singles for A5 rod magnets and swapped the A5 mag in the humbucker for a UOA5. Sounds great now.

2. Locking tuners, roller tree, lube the nut, float the bridge.

3. 2 volume, 1 tone, good shielding job

4. connect all the pickups to the tone pot.

5. Push pull pot to activate the bridge pickup no matter where the 5 way switch is.
Cool
How do you accomplish this?
2 volume, 1 tone

rumblebox
03-05-2012, 08:23 PM
http://www.briggsguitars.com/www/images/Strat_JSeaval.PDF

Lolaviola
03-08-2012, 06:00 PM
http://www.briggsguitars.com/www/images/Strat_JSeaval.PDF
It seems the Fralin Blender wiring would get the same results, if you didn't want to fiddle with 2 volumes.

Zingeroo
03-08-2012, 06:13 PM
Set the trem flat against the body. Increases tone and sustain and if you break a string, it won't go out of tune.

rumblebox
03-08-2012, 09:03 PM
Kind of defeats the purpose of having a tremolo..... It wont stay in tune with heavy use unless you float it.

Zingeroo
03-08-2012, 09:52 PM
Kind of defeats the purpose of having a tremolo..... It wont stay in tune with heavy use unless you float it.

I don't use it heavily. If you're not doing wild whammy bar stuff you're better off with it flat against the body. It sounds a lot better.

t***9
03-08-2012, 10:24 PM
I though the Raw Vintage springs made a really significant difference in tone and playability in my Strat. Small outlay too.

I agree, should be the first upgrade: better feel to the guitar (more vintage IMO), more overtones and sustain. Under $20 deliv. off ebay.

t***9
03-08-2012, 10:32 PM
Set the trem flat against the body. Increases tone and sustain and if you break a string, it won't go out of tune.

Absolutely, don't know why I didn't do it sooner. Hendrix setup his guitars this way too, but he had problems staying in tune tho he was really working that Trem as we all know and love.

fumbler
03-09-2012, 08:53 AM
Set the trem flat against the body. Increases tone and sustain and if you break a string, it won't go out of tune.

A lot of people (including me) prefer the sound of a floating trem. Decking it loses some of the "airiness" (tough to describe.) You can't do the gentle "chorus" warble if you deck your trem, either. A floating trem is a big part of my playing.

Try it both ways and see what you prefer.

But no arguments about breaking a string.

burningyen
03-09-2012, 09:41 AM
Yeah, I much prefer the sound of the bridge floating.

Zingeroo
03-09-2012, 04:09 PM
Different strokes for different folks... But I can see why people love the old hard tail strats. Setting the trem flat gets you a little closer.

Lolaviola
03-09-2012, 06:20 PM
I do have a set of those raw vintage springs, and they dont suck. very smooth.

A440
03-09-2012, 07:36 PM
I haven't done the RV springs, but adding a 4th spring did make a noticeable diff for me, and it was free since I had some extras around. I prefer floating bridge too.

I've had many strats and all are different, some are dark, some have been bright. I tweak based on indiv needs.

I can never seem to find the perfect bridge pickup. I've tried various sets, but looking for something that can do the nice cleans and sound fat with od pedals.

Been looking at the Dimarzio areas, but don't want anything too midrangy, but many can be too bright on the more vintage side of the spectrum. I orig had a Fralin SP43 in there, but it was too dark for this guitar. Funny, because I'm a big P90 fan.

It's easier for me to find neck and mid pickups I like, but bridge always seems to be a challenge even with tone cntrl on the bridge.

Davo17
03-11-2012, 06:45 PM
1-Gibson 50's wiring. Adds much rawness and presence. You are switching 2 wires.
http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2009/Jul/Gibson_50s_wiring_on_a_Stratocaster.aspx
2-As mentioned earlier-tone knob for the bridge.
3-Heavy strings. It allows a fatter tone, lower action, and better tuning stability.
4-A real setup-with the nut addressed.
5-A new trem-all steel. Keep the old one, you might want to put it back in if you sell it.

SlideGeetar
03-14-2012, 07:58 AM
sounds like you're in the market for a highway 1 strat.

Thanks for that bit of advice! I didn't want to talk about it until now (eBay auction), but I won the auction and received and installed the neck yesterday... :love: it's perfect!!!

I got a 2006 rosewood highway 1 strat neck. Paid two forty-something shipped, but well worth it. The jumbo frets are exactly what I was looking for and I really dig the CBS headstock. It's also larger/chunkier than the wimpy MIM neck. I like the change in tone that the rosewood fretboard gives versus the stock maple. Now I have a VERY nice strat.

$250 for used MIM strat
$170 for Callaham bridge/trem assembly
$245 for Highway 1 Neck
$105 for set of Fender CS69 pups
$45 for Duncan SSL-1
$20 Raw Vintage springs
$-40 (sold one of the CS69 pups)

$795 total damage... yikes. I could have just bought a new Highway 1 Strat for that price but I'd still need to replace the pickups and possibly the bridge assembly so I guess it's not so bad.
Plus I'm thinking of picking up a different Strat body and then reassembling the stock MIM and selling it off for what I paid, which would soften the blow a little bit...

burningyen
03-14-2012, 09:16 AM
For a Strat with those specs, $800 is not bad at all. If you're trying to minimize your spend, you'll generally do better parting out the MIM body and neck rather than selling them together.

SlideGeetar
03-14-2012, 09:34 AM
Cool thanks. I was thinking of grabbing a sunburst MIM body but I don't know if I really give a shit about the looks that much to be bothered with swapping out the body. The arctic white is just fine by me. I guess it's not a huge pain in the ass since everything on a Strat is mounted to the pickguard... but if I got a sunburst body I would want a black pickguard so I'd still have to remount the pickups and pots and switch. Screw it. Nothing wrong with the body I have. I'll just sell the MIM neck/tuners and get a nice setup from my trusty local shop. I also have the stock pickups and the stock trem assembly but I don't know anyone who would pay much for those items...

jeo_tokai
03-15-2012, 09:51 AM
1. Callaham or Brass Blocks
2. Ti Saddles
3. Boutique Pickups
4. CryoPots
5. Straps ;-)

dazco
03-15-2012, 03:37 PM
I'm just curious about one thing concerning floating trems....how do you guys who use em like that deal with the fact that when you bend a string and play another string while one is bent, the other string goes well out of tune? I've tried floating before, but that always has me going back to decked. otherwise i kinda like floated trems, but i just can't see how you deal with that one flaw. I can't.

burningyen
03-15-2012, 04:45 PM
I either bend both strings or release the bent string as quickly as possible. Stiffer/more springs and less float also helps. There's also stuff out there like the Tremsetter, the Mag-Lok and this guy's invention (http://thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=971551).

walterw
03-15-2012, 08:03 PM
so how did the duncan work out as a bridge pickup with the fender '69s?

SlideGeetar
03-16-2012, 07:50 AM
so how did the duncan work out as a bridge pickup with the fender '69s?

I really dig it. It's a great match. The CS69's I have in neck and middle are 5.5k and the Duncan SSL1 bridge measured 6.5k (measurements taken while pups were out of the guitar, disconnected)

The SSL1 is less bright than the CS69 in that position but I assume that's because it's wound hotter? It's hard to say though because when I changed the CS69 out for the SSL1 I also changed the wiring so that the 2nd tone control is for bridge only. I can't help but wonder what the SSL5 might sound like in there though. Rather than having the SSL1 for a nice even setup, the SSL5 would make the Strat more versatile. After all, it's not like I can ever use all 3 pickups together, and I never use positions 2 and 4, so who cares if it's a balanced set or not? Might be better to go the "swiss army knife" route and try to have more tonal options. I dig vintage tones so that's what I was going for - classic 60's traditional Strat sound... but I also enjoy some 70's rock so the SSL5 might just be the ticket.

We'll see. It's in the shop getting a setup right now. I get it back today or tomorrow. They'll set the pickup heights and all that so I'll see what they do with it and see how it sounds and then make the decision.

pennylink
03-16-2012, 09:36 AM
These were the 5 most important upgrades to my MIM Strat:


Pickups (Kinman Blues)
Bridge pickup wired to second tone knob
KGC Brass block (I tried a Callaham steel block but found it too bright)
Raw Vintage Springs
Paper In Wax tone capacitor

I also changed the neck to Warmoth w/ SS frets and did a full setup, but that was a personal choice, wanting a beefier neck, and by no means a necessity as there was no problem with the stock neck.

dougb415
03-16-2012, 09:42 AM
I'm just curious about one thing concerning floating trems....how do you guys who use em like that deal with the fact that when you bend a string and play another string while one is bent, the other string goes well out of tune? I've tried floating before, but that always has me going back to decked. otherwise i kinda like floated trems, but i just can't see how you deal with that one flaw. I can't.

Yep, no floating trems for me. First time that happened I just looked at the Strat in disbelief - WTF?!? :peenut

Ronsonic
03-16-2012, 10:26 AM
I'm just curious about one thing concerning floating trems....how do you guys who use em like that deal with the fact that when you bend a string and play another string while one is bent, the other string goes well out of tune? I've tried floating before, but that always has me going back to decked. otherwise i kinda like floated trems, but i just can't see how you deal with that one flaw. I can't.

Just shove the other string too. Doesn't help if you've got an open string droning, but who's gonna notice.

americananalog
03-17-2012, 01:50 PM
Just shove the other string too. Doesn't help if you've got an open string droning, but who's gonna notice.

Yep. You have to move BOTH strings if you want perfection. After doing it that way for so long it's an adjustment when playing on a fixed bridge guitar. If that can't work (like with an open string) just slightly push down on the bridge as you bend.

Lolaviola
03-18-2012, 02:36 PM
I'm just curious about one thing concerning floating trems....how do you guys who use em like that deal with the fact that when you bend a string and play another string while one is bent, the other string goes well out of tune? I've tried floating before, but that always has me going back to decked. otherwise i kinda like floated trems, but i just can't see how you deal with that one flaw. I can't.
Heavier strings and more springs. Problem doesnt go away, but it is lessened. It can also be 'fixed' with technique.

tylerfreak
03-18-2012, 03:47 PM
Its a noble cause to upgrade your MIM Strat, very fun and a nice learning journey, but honestly I would sell it and use the money that you were going to drop on upgrades and just get a good used American Deluxe, Jeff Beck, or Eric Clapton Strat. The resale will be much better and it will be ready withall you need from the get go.

Best of luck!

Gdog
07-31-2012, 08:39 PM
1. good pickups -lollars, fralins, (dimarzio areas are good for noiseless)
2. gotoh vintage locking staggered tuners(not just because they're locking, string change is a snap)
3. good nut - bone one preferably that is cut correctly (no hanging in the grooves) - a little graphite in the slots helps too.
4. good tremolo with steel block (I have a gotoh)
5. raw vintage springs (was able to change from 2 to 4 springs, changed from .009 to .010 string gauge - guitar body seems to vibrate a little more now)

other things I've done...
I have blender setup, which is just preference. Gun oil finish to neck is also an added plus for less friction. Also shielding and grounding are a very important too.
I had an Earvana compensated nut installed which did improve overall tuning.

A. East
10-20-2012, 12:05 PM
There's a lot of really good advise in this thread. I'll throw in my two cents . . .

A couple of months ago a kid came into the shop and sold a MIM strat that looked like he pulled it out of a dumpster. The neck was shot so we bought it for next to nothing. I decided to fix it and use it as a shop guitar for an example of what can be done to upgrade a guitar.

Here's what I did:

1) Refret with Jescar wire. The neck had relief without string tension so this had to be done anyway, but never underestimate how drastically a good refret can change the tone and feel of a guitar.

2) Bone Nut. This is a no-brainer as well. The attack and clarity you get from bone is the only way to go - IMO.

3) Callaham Saddles and Block. You could obviously go with whatever nice set of saddles and block you'd like - I used Callaham because we're a dealer and I really like his stuff.

If you notice I addressed the points of contact for the strings first before worrying about any electronic changes. A lot of the time that's all that really needs to be done. The guitar sounded killer acoustically, but the pickups were still cloudy and gross, so they had to go.

4) Lollar Blackface Pickups and a Rewire. I kept the pots and switch because there's no real reason to change them. I rewired everything, nice and pretty. I think I used an orange drop cap . . . can't remember.

This was the last piece of the puzzle. We were A-B'ing it with CS Fenders and other high-end guitars and it was holding its own in sound and playability. Most of the dudes actually preferred it to the CS stuff (myself included). It's still an ugly ass guitar, but if you close your eyes it's amazing - It's like an ugly chick with a slammin' body.

If you're in Chicago you can always stop in and play it yourself. It's hanging up in the shop just to show what can be done with a ragged out guitar.

jazzandmetal?
10-20-2012, 12:59 PM
There's a lot of really good advise in this thread. I'll throw in my two cents . . .

A couple of months ago a kid came into the shop and sold a MIM strat that looked like he pulled it out of a dumpster. The neck was shot so we bought it for next to nothing. I decided to fix it and use it as a shop guitar for an example of what can be done to upgrade a guitar.

Here's what I did:

1) Refret with Jescar wire. The neck had relief without string tension so this had to be done anyway, but never underestimate how drastically a good refret can change the tone and feel of a guitar.

2) Bone Nut. This is a no-brainer as well. The attack and clarity you get from bone is the only way to go - IMO.

3) Callaham Saddles and Block. You could obviously go with whatever nice set of saddles and block you'd like - I used Callaham because we're a dealer and I really like his stuff.

If you notice I addressed the points of contact for the strings first before worrying about any electronic changes. A lot of the time that's all that really needs to be done. The guitar sounded killer acoustically, but the pickups were still cloudy and gross, so they had to go.

4) Lollar Blackface Pickups and a Rewire. I kept the pots and switch because there's no real reason to change them. I rewired everything, nice and pretty. I think I used an orange drop cap . . . can't remember.

This was the last piece of the puzzle. We were A-B'ing it with CS Fenders and other high-end guitars and it was holding its own in sound and playability. Most of the dudes actually preferred it to the CS stuff (myself included). It's still an ugly ass guitar, but if you close your eyes it's amazing - It's like an ugly chick with a slammin' body.

If you're in Chicago you can always stop in and play it yourself. It's hanging up in the shop just to show what can be done with a ragged out guitar.

Agree with ALL of this.

blong
10-20-2012, 05:30 PM
I just replaced a trem block with a brass one from KGC for client. He orderd a block, and stamped steel saddles, amongst other upgrades. I was rebuilding a Peavey Predator (one of the good old USA ones from the early 90's) as a fun project. I had just gotten the parts from GFS. I put on their staggered locking tuners, and a gold trem unit with a big brass block. Since I had his parts and mine, I compared them. I found not too much difference in the brass blocks, except one was about half the price. I don't see how a brass block from one company is much different from another, since most of these guys order parts from the same manufacturers and have a run with their name stamped in 'em.

So, I'd go with a GFS block. I just don't see how a Callaham block is any better than the GFS or the KGC. I also think the GFS locking tuners are just as good as the expensive ones. I know, b/c I've put both on numerous guitars. I actually like the GFS tuners better as the thumb wheel is more comfortable.

I like the Fender Tex-Mex pups. Wire the bridge pup to the tone pot. If you want the middle pup on a tone pot, I would wire the neck and middle to the middle tone pot. The SC 69's are really good pups, too. I can't say one is better, just different. I like the scopped mids of the 69's, and they are just nice. The Tex Mex pups are a little punchier in the mids. I think they are more throaty, the 69's more chimey and bell-like in tone, like a classic strat should sound.

So, block, tuners, and pups are fine enough, along with a good setup.

Bob

blong
10-20-2012, 05:35 PM
I also happen to agree with jazzandmetal. I just posted in Guitars in General on this forum a project I completed last week. I redid an old 1990's Peavey Predator USA. I put on a bone nut, new bridge, new tuners, and a cleaned up the neck and set it up. I was going to redo the pups with Fender Tex Mex or CS 69's, or thought about using the GFS Jimi set (it's a really good set of pups, I've dropped them in a guitar and liked 'em a lot), but when I put it back together I loved to old Peavey pups. The guitar sounds and plays fantastically well. Others have really liked it a lot. Everyone who has played it can't believe I left all the stock electronics in it and it sounds so good. So, take the post from jazzandmetal to heart.

Bob