Almost Sold My Rios!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by UMT, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. UMT

    UMT Member

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    (Long story-short) After 22 yrs with the same modified MIJ Strat, I came into possession of a new Special Edition Telecaster (Korean) HH which I had intended to sell right away until I played it at real playing volume. I haven't played the Strat live since. The Tele HH is mahogony set neck, strings thru body with a rosewood board and SD 59 neck and Pearly Gates bridge. As I had always been a loyal Strat guy, I thought I would try to duplicate the Tele by building a Strat HH. Alder body/maple neck/rosewood board but I thought I would try a Rio Grande Genuine Texas neck and BBQ bridge. I was trying to get a Strat that sounded as nice or better than the Tele. Didn't happen. Although the Strat turned out pretty good, it just didn't have the dynamic or clarity of the Tele. Actually, the Rios on the Strat just didn't sound that good. The neck was OK but I absolutely hated the BBQ bridge. Just nothing there soundwise. I tried a 59/Pearly Gates setup in the Strat (both: my original and the one I built) and it sounded good, but not as good as the Tele.

    I ended up being pretty disappointed in the Rios and was getting ready to sell them on Ebay this weekend when I thought: 'I'm going to just TRY these Rios in the Tele before I sell them' (I've swapped pickups so many times now, I'm almost a expert! Ha) WOW! You couldn't get me to sell these Rios for anything. NICE tone. LOVE the bridge pickup. Kinda made the SD's sound a little thin in the Tele! I mean the SD setup was nice but the RIO's are sounding a bit sweeter in the Tele.

    So, tell me: why is this? Why would these Rio's sound just OK in the Strats but sound GREAT in the Tele when the SD's sound about the same (but nicer in the Tele) ... The SD's sounded better in the Strats that the Rios did. (Wiring done all the same way- Tone pots/capacitors exactly the same in the built Strat)

    UMT
     
  2. Cthross

    Cthross Member

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    The wood makes a difference. Maybe that's what you were/are hearing. Mahogany and set neck versus alder and bolt-on. These are two pretty big differences that are the difference between the two largest guitar makers.
     
  3. UMT

    UMT Member

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    I had been told that wood/shape/size of the guitar all made a difference and it only makes sense but the thing that really got me was how one set of pickups could sound not all that hot in one guitar and killer in another.

    I guess the bottom line is that you can't assume that a different set of pickups is necessarily going to make a guitar sound better.

    UMT
     
  4. Cthross

    Cthross Member

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    I have an ESP Viper 400 that I put a Jazz/JB combo in and it absolutely screams. It's an all mahogany set neck guitar. I had previously tried them in an LP Studio and a parts-o-caster. In the studio I found them to be bright and didn't like them. In the parts-o-caster which has an alder body and maple/ebony neck with two graphite reinforcing rods they were even brighter. I find them to be great in the Viper and like them much better than the EMG pickups that were in there.

    The problem now is that I have an extra set of EMG's and want to build another guitar for 'em.
     
  5. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    It's definitely true that the tone of an electric guitar is far more than the sum of its parts. I've many times heard this sort of thing - a pickup which sounds so-so or only 'good' in one guitar sounds amazing in another... or the other way round, after you've fitted it :).

    It was said in the 1970s by no less than Fender (Musical Instruments, not Leo) that the tone of an electric guitar was purely down to the pickups - nothing could be further from the truth... although I suppose if your benchmark is a boat-anchor heavy, thick-skin-finish, pot-metal-bridge Strat, maybe I can understand where the idea came from ;).
     
  6. UMT

    UMT Member

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    John,

    How much of a difference do you think the metal of the bridges has to do with it? The reason I ask is because I put a cheap (Probably pot metal! Ha) bridge on the FrankenStrat and my old Strat has a locking system tremelo on it that I know is made of 'pot metal'. While the new Tele has a metal bridge and while I don't know exactly what metal it is, I know it is not pot metal. And while we are on the subject, if a guy has a 'pot metal' bridge but puts stainless steel saddles on it, will that negate the pot metal?????

    By the way, in preparation for 'selling the Rio's', I bought a 40.00 (delivered) set of DragonFire ceramic humbuckers for the FrankenStrat and they sound damn good. Not quite as good as the brand name stuff but not far behind either. (I think I'll use that guitar to play some slide.)

    UMT
     
  7. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    The metal makes a substantial difference, especially steel vs 'pot metal' (which is actually a soft alloy of zinc and some other metals I'm not certain of). I'm less convinced there is a real difference between types of steel. Brass vs steel is clearly audible too, both for saddles and for the bridge block.

    I don't think a pot-metal bridge can be fixed entirely with steel saddles either, although it does make some difference.
     

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