2003 MIM Strat Issue

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by yardbird mac, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. yardbird mac

    yardbird mac Member

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    My one and only Strat is a 2003 MIM that I've done numerous upgrades to. The only original part is the body (sage green color). Its appointments are as follows:

    1. Calaham (steel) tremolo block and base plate.
    2. Graphtech block style saddles.
    3. Kinman noiseless pickups (all three) with wiring harness.
    4. Aftermarket pick guard ('can't remember the brand).
    5. Fender (tapered) locking tuners (no string tree required).
    8. Custom built all (highly flame) maple neck/[12" radius] maple fretboard.*

    These appointments (especially the new neck/fretboard) have made a significant improvement in tone and playability of this guitar (to a point).

    Here's the problem. All is well until I bend notes on the high "E" string above the 12th fret. I do some pretty large bends and those higher (bent) notes on the high "E" string seem to "fade"/wash out when I do upward bends/vibrato. It's not as noticeable on the bridge pickup as it is on the other two. The new neck/fretboard is slightly wider at the nut than the stock neck was. With this setup, the strings (in a resting state) sit directly over each pole piece on all 3 pickups. I can compensate a little by using an upstroke pick attack on those higher "E" string (bent) notes, but that can be a little disruptive in certain situations.

    Is this a common phenomenon with a bigger neck/fretboard, or do I need to tweak my (pickup) setup?:huh




    *Thick, almost "U" shaped.
     
  2. scott944

    scott944 Member

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    Sounds like simple "Strat-itus", caused by the magnetic pull on the strings. Easiest thing to try would be to lower the neck and middle pickups a bit. Could also be caused by the string "fretting out" as you bend, caused by the action being too low or a high fret. Raising the action on the offending string, sometimes even just a tiny bit, fixes it - unless it's a high fret.
     
  3. yardbird mac

    yardbird mac Member

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    BINGO... After I posted this I lowered the pickups by several mm. 'Great tone, but I think a little extra tweaking is in order. I have to give my ears a rest for a few hours.

    -Thanks!!:aok
     
  4. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    So, lowering the pickups did not help?

    I would install some steel saddles and see what that does. May help. Graphtech saddles are not good to begin with, but changing the angle the string addresses the saddle could be critical here.

    Second to that, maybe the fretwork does not have enough "fall away".
     
  5. yardbird mac

    yardbird mac Member

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    Yes I did lower the pickups with a measure of success (hence... "BINGO") and just finished some more adjustments (agin, with improvements), but I need to do a little more tweaking/experimenting to find it's optimum sweet spot. I'm close, but not quite there yet. The "washout" with all three pickups is gone, but it's a matter of incremental turns of the screwdriver at this point (minimal in either direction) to nail "the tone".*

    My Graphtech saddles are all steel (blocks) with graphite coated slots, only. This aftermarket neck is only a year old and everything seems OK in regard to frets, contour, shape, etc. The Strat is not my primary guitar. My LPs see a lot more action. I only use the Strat for a select few tunes. It was set up well when I had the new neck installed, but I wanted to try different brands and sizes of strings and lost/forgot my original settings. I recently went back to .09s.


    * The neck pickup is "there". I need to get in the zone with the bridge pickup. I have a short time window with adjustments as my ears & brain quickly turn to mush. Since I had my stroke, chasing adjustments can be like solving a Rubik's cube:bkw:hide2:bonk
     

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