Fender CS69 Strat pickups First World Problems - What would you do?


CS69s have always been a favorite but I'd never fully committed to them (esp in the bridge) until recently. Not too long ago I found my #1 (a 69 Strat RI) and I know this to be the case because I not only had to have the guitar when I played it but I haven't put it down ever since.

Here's the problem. I have my dream guitar but the CS69s are often a lot of work. By this I mean their thinner, biting character means I have to pair them with the right amp and signal chain and then use the right boosts and pedals to thicken them up and get them to sound right for certain types of music. As with all Strat pickups they hum as well which is not fun when rocking the Billy Borgan Big Muff tones. OTOH when I need bell like cleans and sweet transparent breakup they are pure perfection.

This would not be an issue if this was a highly specific tool (Strat tones) which is what I originally intended. However, it has quickly become my go to guitar for anything and everything but it takes a little extra work and dialing to make the magic. First World problems to be sure lol.

Has anyone had this challenge with CS69s and what did you do? Did you just grin and bear it because the tone is just that good? Perhaps regularly pair them with something like a TC Spark (in Fat Mode) or TS808? Or did you move on and try Dimarzio Areas or Injectors, Duncan SSL5 or even something like a rails type HB in he bridge?

There's this side of me that is very worried about messing with perfection so it would be great to hear other experiences and opinions.


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Handy with a solder gun? If they are not Abi wounds, I wouldn't feel bad about taking them out and running some of the many fine Strat overwound pickups on the market. You could always go back.

I like the Van Zandt Blues, Fralin Blues and Duncan Antiquities in this category, but there's a ton of good ones out there. You might want to try the Fralin baseplate for the bridge too.

I'd also check out the readings on the tone pots. Sometimes Fender runs pots that are significantly above the 250k they are supposed to be, which brightens up the sound a bit much.

Good luck!


I would add another guitar to your collection with maybe lower output PAFs like Seth Lovers, Antiquities or Thornbuckers.

Btw I have an ssl-6 in the bridge and 69s in neck/mid and love it. Great balance. That said, I think you'd be happier with humbuckers...


I only liked the neck '69 pickup so I replaced them all with Klein Jazzy Cats. 100% satisfied now. Unless you hit a home run right out of the gate like I did you might have some expensive pickup rolling to do. Just do as much research as you can before you buy and go until you are 100% satisfied. Life is too short to not have the right pickups for you in your strat.
If you don't mind noiseless I'd give some Kinman's a try. I put a set of Scoops (too low output for what YOU are looking for) into one of my Strats and man - do they sound absolutely amazing! I also have another Strat with some BN Mother's Milks - they are great too! I used to have a CS69 Strat with the 69s in it and I could never get that bridge pickup to work.

I say yank them and try some other options. That hunt is part of the fun, no?

Plus - you can often a used set for a decent discount (for some reason used pickups seem to be the best deal out there???)


DiMarzio Area 67s are supposed to be roughly similar to CS69. I have one, had it in the neck, then moved it to the middle and put an Area 58 in, which to me was a more balanced neck pickup tone. The Area 67 sounded great, it just (as you say) requires fiddling with the rest of the chain to get a good sound. The 58s are easier to deal with from that standpoint. But if you love CS69s, and you hate noise, take a look at Areas.

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