Help Me Warm Up a Bright Strat - Pickups Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by hardys, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. hardys

    hardys Member

    Messages:
    1,741
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    I've got a bright alder body, maple neck Strat and want to warm it up. I currently have 2 Lollar Tweeds in the neck & middle and a Blackface in the bridge. In this guitar, they are thin and a little bright. I need more mids and low end...something to warm it up. I also tried some DiMarzio Area 58s. They do fatten things up, but they don't nail that single coil sound exactly. I LOVE the warm, fat sound of the Lollar Vintage T in the neck of my Swamp ash body, maple neck Tele and would like to get closer to that tone in the neck and middle positions of my Strat.

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. JohnK24

    JohnK24 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,191
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2004
    Location:
    North of Pittsburgh, PA
    Check out this thread on Voodoo Pickups (by Peter Florence)...that would be my first direction for thicker tones. I had a tele bridge pup from Peter and it was killer...phat, clarity and a nice blend of bass/mids/treble in a tele bridge, which is not an easy pup to wind for all those parameters.

    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=334955&highlight=voodoo+pickups&page=2

    I had a set of Duncan Antiquity "Hot Texas" in a strat a year ago. They are alnico 2 mags...they were very warm, yet held a good clarity...problem is my 62 RI strat is very warm overall, thus I had to find brighter pups.

    good luck !

    J
     
  3. rickc007

    rickc007 Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,827
    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    almost anything will be warmer than Lollar Tweeds
    they are probably the most underwound pickup on the market

    I agree with John on the Texas Hots, I have them
    and have had Lollars, they are wound quite a bit
    more, almost overwound. Very warm, but still have
    that AlNiCo II flavor

    I also use Fender Fat 50's when I want a warmer
    less ice pickey tone that some underwounds can
    give you
     
  4. jamison162

    jamison162 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,778
    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
    Location:
    FL
    If you like the Lollars why not go Blonde/Blonde/Special or Blonde/Blackface/Special.

    Other than that, I say try the Fralin VH/VH/SP43 setup or the Suhr FL Standards. These are my favorite single coil sets to date.
     
  5. hardys

    hardys Member

    Messages:
    1,741
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    I should have clarified that I have a pretty flat radius neck (Warmoth Compound 10" to 16") and the vintage "G" high stagger doesn't work for me. I'd prefer something with flat poles.
     
  6. hardys

    hardys Member

    Messages:
    1,741
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    Which ones are your faves?
     
  7. jamison162

    jamison162 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,778
    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
    Location:
    FL
    Both the Fralins and the Suhrs. The FL's have a little more output. Of course, the SP43 is the SP43, hot but not too hot.

    I used to get hung up on the flat vs. staggered aspect. Fralin offers 2 versions, vintage stagger and hybrid stagger for flatter radii. Suhr's stagger is conservative also. After all, he does some pretty flat compound radius necks.

    Don't let the pole pieces be a big factor, I would rank that way down on the list of priorties when shopping for new pickups.
     
  8. hardys

    hardys Member

    Messages:
    1,741
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    How do the Fralin VHs compare to the Suhr FLs?...details, details, details! :drool

    I'm familiar with the SP43 & Fralin Blues. Are the VHs fatter and less bright than the Blues?
     
  9. jamison162

    jamison162 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,778
    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
    Location:
    FL
    Just put in the FL's and haven't played them in a band setting or full volume yet. I'll let you know after Friday night.

    The VH's aren't really all that brighter than the Blues, just clearer. Less mids. I didn't like the BS's at all. Something about those strong A5 mags and the SPN wire I suppose, they sounded harsh and muddy to me and this is in an ash strat. I like the VH's much better, sweeter, no harshness.

    But these FL's may be the ticket!
     
  10. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,303
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    Location:
    Hills of WV
    Duncan APS2 (flat poles). Alnico 2, Pretty low power, very sweet, chimey with NO harshness, great quacks, versatile, & sustain well. Pretty easy to get Gilmour, Jimi, Knopfler, etc. (Not as good for SRV). Fine pups, fine price. RWRP middle option or all 3 the same polarity. (2 of these neck & middle with a Duncan Twangbanger in the bridge is a great combo!)
     
  11. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

    Messages:
    25,262
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2004
    Location:
    Canada-GTA
    I have a guitar that has cheapo, ceramic bar on the base, pups and they are warmer, fatter and more powerful than typical Strat pups. Surprisingly good tone and... Cheap.
     
  12. jamison162

    jamison162 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,778
    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
    Location:
    FL
    Sounds like the pickups I just took out of a friends 80's Jap. Strat. They only spec'd at 4.38 (all 3). But they were some of the loudest, punchiest pickups I've heard. Still a little muddy though on the neck/middle even with the low wind. They have regular alnico pole pieces but also have a ceramic bar magnet underneath center across the pole pieces.

    I wonder what a Fralin VH would sound like with a ceramic bar magnet on the bottom instead of a metal baseplate.
     
  13. Tonebender

    Tonebender Supporting Member

    Messages:
    564
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2004
    Location:
    NYC
    New pickups are a fine solution but don't forget that the electronics can also be modified.

    Try subbbing in lower value pots or a higher value tone capacitor.
     
  14. hardys

    hardys Member

    Messages:
    1,741
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    I was listening to some sound clips of Fender, Fralin & Lollar pups on Acme Guitar Works website. I liked the clips of the Lollar Specials. Anybody have experience with these?
     
  15. DGDGBD

    DGDGBD Member

    Messages:
    6,177
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2006
    Location:
    NJ
    Duncan quarter pounder
     
  16. Paul Conway

    Paul Conway Member

    Messages:
    4,282
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2006
    Location:
    Devon, UK
    Has anyone compared the Suhr Fl classics to the standards? I have the classic set in right now, and it has far too much treble/upper-mid emphasis.

    Is fatness and a detailed, musical clean tone mutually exclusive?
     
  17. spjoker

    spjoker Member

    Messages:
    175
    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    Location:
    Florida
    In the fender strat my friend was talking about the pole pieces aren't that strong...if any magnatism..the strength of the pull is the bar mag across the bottom. Some say they measure out at vintage 57's specs.
    This week we tried the fralin vh vh sp43 and In my 80's jap strat and it didn't sound good at all. Big surprise and disappointment. I really thought that would nail it. It depends on the body wood, age of wood, neck wood and electronics what pickups compliment the guitar.
     
  18. hardys

    hardys Member

    Messages:
    1,741
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    What was disappointing about the Fralin's? Too bright, too muddy?

    I had an 80's Japanese Strat...the one with the Flod Rose type locking clamps at the nut and the fine tuning tuners on the bridge. I tried a BUNCH of different pups on that axe, but NOTHING could make it sound decent. It was just flat, lifeless and one dimesional. The old saying is s-o-o-o-o-o true...you can't polish a turd! :nono
     
  19. spjoker

    spjoker Member

    Messages:
    175
    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    Location:
    Florida
    80's MiJ strats are a pretty good bargin. They are not turds by any means. The reason I think your guitar didn't sound to good is because of the Floyd Rose system. That has no business being on a strat...IMO. If you want to play heavy metal go grab an ibanez and put the floyd on it and bang your head. I believe I tried the wrong style of Fralin for my guitar...simply put. Fralin makes good pickups. The Fralins were clear, but lacked substance and character...just dull. But Fralins do sound good on other guitars. So I think for a strat on the bright side vh,vh, sp43 (Fralin) would be good, suhr has a real good sound with an ash body. I would go for a pickup that has more mids and lows and more output on an ash body. For alder it's a different story.
    Oh, you also have to consider the paint job...laquer or poly. The paint will taint a pickups color and response, not to mention neck wood and bridge choice.
     
  20. MjCartney

    MjCartney Neo-Maxi Zoom Dweebie Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    741
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2006
    Location:
    Twin Cities, MN
    Ditto that. I have a "Contemporary Standard Strat" model from 86-87 that had a Kahler on it. I took off the useless nut clamp right away, (it clamped behind the nut, so you still had a bind point...), and blocked off the Kahler with wood shims. Sounded better. Replaced the pickups. Better still. Replaced the Kahler with a 2-point American Standard trem. Sounds really nice now & I get a lot of compliments on the tone of that axe. I think you have to judge them all individually, some are gems, some are just junk.

    I have an ash Strat w/maple board that I tried lots of pickup combos on, and couldn't lose that "ice pick in the ear" tone. I decided to try swapping the bridge saddles for a set of the charcoal colored Graph-Techs that I had laying around & that did the trick for me. Lost the icey tones I hated, and sounded a lot warmer. You're working with an Alder body, but the saddle trick might be worth looking into with one of your existing pickup combos.

    Good luck on your tone quest!
     

Share This Page