MIM Strat mods-what to do?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by GuitarsFromMars, Sep 11, 2006.

  1. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

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    I have a 1954 50th Anniversary MIM Strat as a loaner with the option to buy and decided I am going to buy it.I just got it back from the luthier after having the tailpiece blocked,new bone nut,frets leveled and dressed,new strings and intonation set.I was wondering what you strat guys have done to MIM Strats to make them sound and play better than they do bone stock?
     
  2. tfunster

    tfunster Silver Supporting Member

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    Sounds like you got the guitar all set up so hopefully it'll play great.

    I'm guessing the most obvious and hopefully final step would be to put a set of great pickups in there, and there are a hell of a lot of pickup makers out there:
    Jason Lollar
    Lindy Fralin
    BareKnuckle
    Alan Hamel
    and Fender Custom Shop makes some really nice pickups for half the price of those guys.

    Good luck!
     
  3. VintageToneGuy

    VintageToneGuy Supporting Member

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    I put a set of EMG DG 20's (David Gilmour) active pup's in a Mexican Strat and it sounded Killer. Also, just put a set of Fralin Blues Specials in My American Strat which sounds killer also. Both are pricey though!
     
  4. SFW

    SFW Member

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    Let's see... I always put locking tuners on them. From there, I usually wire the last tone knob to the bridge pickup (while replacing the pickups), new trem unit with a heavier block and a graphite nut.

    It sounds like you're well on you way, as far as stock mods go. All you have left is to put some nice pups in there. Where are the pics? ;)
     
  5. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    Callaham bridge assembly. Personally, I never understood the point of locking tuners, if strung properly standard tuners work just fine. If the guitar goes out of tune a lot it's most likely the nut. If you like noiseless pu's the Kinmans are tough to beat. Other then these things there's not much else unless you want to put a bone nut on it and have it refretted, I'd play it for a while first.
     
  6. c_mac

    c_mac Supporting Member

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    Locking tuners are easier to string than standard tuners, not that standard tuners are hard though. I personally love locking tuners and put them on all of my guitars.

    Keep GFS in mind for pickups. They have many different Strat pickups to choose from and they sound killer and are cheap.

    One mod that I do on Strats or Strat-style guitar is to add a push/pull pot or mini-switch to turn the bridge pickup on and off. This allows you to get a few extra pickup combos like neck+bridge and all 3 pickups at once.
     
  7. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

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    I don't have a camera...the guitar is all gold:shoreline gold paint,gold anodized aluminum pickguard,gold hardware including tuners,bridge,pickguard screws.The neck is very straight grained flat sawn maple with a 9 inch radius to the fret board.The pickup units that are in the guitar actually sound pretty righteous I'm thinking about getting the Callaham mexi-block as I am told by a buddy here in Florida it's the thing to do.I like the sound of a bone nut over graphite, although I sprinkle graphite dust liberally in the sting slots with each string change.
     
  8. Jack The Riffer

    Jack The Riffer Member

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    Got the same strat and concidering what you've done to it so far I'd say play it for a while as is. Agree about the stock p/u's, they do sound pretty good.
     
  9. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

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    Ah-I was wondering when you were going to show up:p I wasn't sure if you had seen one of these,but that you own one-excellent!:cool:
     
  10. Jack The Riffer

    Jack The Riffer Member

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    :BEER

    Also no need imho to buy a new mexi-block unless you just want to mod further, Fender's been doing this for over 50 years and I think they got it right.
     
  11. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    They had it right, but unless I missed something they have changed from hard steel to zinc a while back. Jap strats had zinc blocks. Also if you notice a lot of the strats hanging on the wall most of imports you will see will have thinner blocks. It's all about cost reducing a product, Fender is no different then any other manufacturer.

    I hate to say it but it but changing from zinc to steel does make a difference.
     
  12. Jack The Riffer

    Jack The Riffer Member

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    Here's my reasoning/logic/experience/voices in my head:

    Ever have a day where everything just sounds soooo damn good you want to have sex with your gear right then and there? Then the next day, with the same amp settings, same guitar, same everything, for whatever reason it just doesn't sound the same, call it an off day.

    We've all experienced this so I began to question a lot of the mods I've messed with and wondered if I really did hear a difference in some of the things I perceived as changed for the better.

    Based on being a constant tinkerer and having several strats of each (MIM-USA-Custom Shop) the biggest and most pronounced changes in tone resulted from a proper setup, p/u's, string gauges and pick's (try a thin pick and a heavy back and forth and tell me your thoughts) The other stuff like different blocks, different bridges/saddles I WANTED to hear improvements but in the big picture never did.
    Here's another point: what's the first thing a person does when they, for example, change the trem/block? Add new strings. Well the new strings are gonna sound better than the ones you just changed right?

    Don't get me wrong, mod away and have fun (I do) I just think the internet has created too much folkelore and turned it into 'fact' and a lot of newbies read this thinking they have to spend a ton of money to get good tone and that's just not true.
     
  13. leofenderbender

    leofenderbender Supporting Member

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    You missed the mark by not saying that it makes a tremendous, big-time, or huge difference. The difference in tone from the MIM block to a Callaham rolled steel block is definitely worth the cost/effort.

    There are a number of features in a MIM strat that could be improved: the inertia block and the pickups being the most notable.
     
  14. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

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    This is now turning into the kind of discussion I had hoped for...
     
  15. Go Cat Go!!

    Go Cat Go!! Member

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    I swapped the block and saddles on my 93 MIM standard for Callaham parts. It made a huge difference. The guitar sounds thicker and it has more body. (I sound like a shampoo commercial). It doesn't sound thin at all anymore. On my MIM 60's Classic and my Deluxe Player I swapped the bridge for a Wilkenson vintage 6 point. Again it made a difference for the better. I have become a believer in Wilkenson and Callaham products. My tin ear can hear the difference with the guitars unplugged.

    Just my $0.02.
     
  16. Redrum

    Redrum Member

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    Switching to a Callaham tremolo block makes a HUGE difference. No kidding. I'm not the anal Eric Johnson tone type, but switching to the Callaham block definitely increased the sustain and ring in both Strats I put them in. For around 60 bucks it's one of the best mods you can do to your Strat.

    Really.
     
  17. Jack The Riffer

    Jack The Riffer Member

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    Do you use the whammy or block your trem? I'm starting to think that because I don't whammy (all mine are blocked) is why I never heard any difference.
     
  18. mojocaster.com

    mojocaster.com Member

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  19. Redrum

    Redrum Member

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    Jack The Riffer,
    I play the wang bars in both Strats all the time, but the strings still seat into the tremolo blocks regardless of whether the trem is blocked or not.
    Check-out the Callaham blocks at www.callahamguitars.com for details.

    Tonequest also reviewed these superior blocks as well. It's one Strat upgrade you won't regret.
     
  20. T. Caster

    T. Caster Member

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    You might try an electronics upgrade kit from RS guitars, go for the Super Pots" option. I just did this on my parts caster Tele/Strat and it made a SIGNIFICANT difference! Much fuller sound, more than I had expected.

    If you are on a budget, there is quite a buzz going around over on the Tele forum about the new Bill Lawrence "Keystone" pups for Tele and Strat. These are not the noiseless series, but a brand new line. They are not on the Lawrence web site, are distributed by on of the forum mods I believe. They are very reasonably priced, I think under $80 for a set of three Strat pups. Here are a few links. I haven't tried these, but would have if I had heard about them sooner.

    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/just-pickups/49722-keystone-tele-pus.html

    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/just-pickups/55161-keystones-here-2.html

    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/just-pickups/56147-lawrence-keystone-vs-l280s.html


    Another relatively unknown source for high grade pickups is Budz Guitars. I recently got a set for my Tele/Strat partscaster, and they sound really good, especially after the RS upgrade install. I got the Purebred Strat neck and middle, and the Mongrel Tele bridge. The Mongrel is a slightly hotter pickup, but retains the bite and overall Tele sound. Cliff, at Destroy All Guitars is his main distributor. For strats, if you have a flatter fingerboard radius, you might want to order them made flat rather than staggered.

    http://www.destroyallguitars.com/pages/budz.html

    I don't have any connection to any of the businesses mentioned, just passing along info.

    Dan
     

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