Just bought a Strat. Should it sound this bright?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by fiveightandten, Feb 22, 2020.

  1. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    You don't even have to solder. I bought dual-ended test wires with alligator clips at both ends. Great for testing guitar pots and caps.
     
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  2. Tootone

    Tootone Member

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    Please correct me if I am wrong... and I may be. I remember seeing a Fender Factory tour video on YouTube, where there was a guy tapping necks and bodies and stacking them according to bright or dark resonance. And as per above, bright neck blanks were matched with dark body blanks etc.
     
  3. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    Sounds like baloney but "Neck Tapper" would be an interesting conversation opener when asked "what do you do for work?"
     
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  4. Tootone

    Tootone Member

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    Frantically searching Fender's YT back catalogue. Well, I stuffed up, my memory is not as sharp as it once was. Blank tone matching is done on Custom Shop guitars... at least I knew I wasn't making sh!t up.



     
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  5. Cinnamon Kid

    Cinnamon Kid Member

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    You can make a strat sound like it’s under water. Pretty normal to roll off the tone knobs, I find almost any Strat I’m at minimum 3/4 on the tone knobs if not more. I also spend a lot of time towards or in the neck pickup position. Like 90% of the time. That bridge is pickup is supposed to be bright. I rarely play the country twang stuff, but bridge can be good when your pushing a lot of distortion, tightens the sound up some. Have fun with it!
     
  6. ED_P

    ED_P Silver Supporting Member

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    The only difference I see is you have a red "1" sticker on yours, when I compare it to my 2014 model. I know Fender had a Highway 1 Strat, but I would think there would be numerous other differences if that was the pickguard you got.

    Oddly enough, I found the Fat 50's neck pickup to be very muffled sounding, and ended up swapping in a brighter mystery pickup from my spare parts box that I like a lot more.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    Haha. Good one. Now that you posted it, I think I recall seeing that too.
     
  8. teefus

    teefus Silver Supporting Member

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    i would agree that the pickups look too high. imho, they should also be staggered in height in reference to the bass and treble side and staggered in height in relation to the individual pickups themselves.
     
  9. jrockbridge

    jrockbridge Member

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    The Strat bridge position is normally bright. But, there are several ways to make it less bright. The easiest way to tame the brightness has already been mentioned, roll off the tone knob. And, as has already been posted, roll off some volume as well.

    Pickup height will make a difference as has been posted. It can be a bit of trial and error but well worth the time spent tweaking.

    A less easy way to reduce the bright has also already been posted. You can change the tone pot to a lower value which will make the pup sound darker (or add a cap to lower the value).

    As has been already suggested, different pups can help beef up the sound. My '06 Am Dlx came with SCN pups and S1 switch which I sold and replaced with Fralin Vintage Hot in the neck and middle (slightly scooped, 1950ish, 6ish output). But, the bridge is a Fralin Steel Pole 43 which is higher output (closer to 7ish output) and emphasizes lows and mids.

    Base plates are another way to boost lows and mids without changing pups. It's a pretty affordable modification (costs about $12 a piece). I cannot personally vouch for how much of a difference they will make because I've never done it myself.

    Another way to beef up the sound is by adjusting the bridge. If you do not plan to use the whammy bar, you can adjust the floating bridge flat against the body by tightening the springs under the back plate. I'm not a whammy player, so I loosened all the strings, took off the back plate and tightened the whammy springs until the bridge was flat and tight against the body. Then, I used a small allen wrench to raise the screws of all the saddles. Once, I got the saddle heights where I wanted them, I tuned the strings to pitch and used a strobe tuner to set the intonation, adjusting the scale length of each bridge saddle until the intonation was perfect. Last, I put new strings on, stretched them, tuned them up to pitch, checked the intonation again and made a few minor adjustments, done. This made my Strat sound MUCH thicker than typical. I still roll off a lot of tone and some volume when I'm on my bridge pup. It's the nature of the bridge position beast.

    A good pedal can help beef up a Strat. For example, I recall the EHX LPB1 ($40) was a favorite of some players back in the day to pair with a Strat because it's a simple boost pedal that just happens to bump up mid and bass frequencies. If you want to switch from Tele to Strat without having to adjust the amp because the Strat sounds too thin, a pedal for the Strat can make a lot of sense.

    One of my favorite pedal cures for thin Strat syndrome is the classic white Xotic RC Booster which I find to be a bit scooped and has a LOT of EQ adjustment making it easy to tame brightness. But, since my Am Dlx already sounds thicker than a typical Strat and my Fender amp already sounds a bit scooped, I prefer to push up the mids with a Klon or Klone for my ultimate PHAT Strat tone.

    P.S. There was a video posted recently regarding strings by Rick Beato and co. They tested multiple string gauges. Heavier strings were found to have much more bass response. Therefore, heavier strings is yet another way to reduce a thin sound. Heavier strings and even tuning down a half step are two more cheap ways to avoid thin sound.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
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  10. Trickyrick85

    Trickyrick85 Member

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    I kind of like the treble bleed mod myself. Perhaps my hearing is compromised, but I like the fact that you can retain the clarity of the highs when you roll off the volume. Plus Andy Timmons is a proponent of the treble bleed circuit and has, in my opinion, a stellar tone. Of course your milage may vary.
     
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  11. PatriotBadger

    PatriotBadger Member

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  12. LPMojoGL

    LPMojoGL Music Room Superstar Supporting Member

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    My American Pro Strat is super bright. I keep the tone knobs somewhere between 5-7, depending on where the volume knob is.
    No biggie. That brightness works great in the mix.
    My Nash Tele was beefier sounding.
     
  13. kcprogguitar

    kcprogguitar Member

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    I also highly recommend a rewire of the tone pots. My second tone pot controls the bridge instead of the middle pickup.
     
  14. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    Any reason not to have it control both?
     
  15. kcprogguitar

    kcprogguitar Member

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    No, not really. I really don’t use the middle much. I always run a 3-way switch, so no quack for me.

    Next time I take the pick guard off, I’ll give it a go.
     
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  16. jrockbridge

    jrockbridge Member

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    It depends on the guitar and how you use it. If you are a player that always leaves the volume rolled off slightly in the same spot and the guitar happens to sound a bit thin overall at max volume, I suppose clipping any treble bleed would be a simple fix. Without a treble bleed, the volume acts like a master treble cut.

    I'm with you Trickyrick85. I like the treble bleed mod. Here's why: First of all, Strat's come with two tone knobs. And, over the years, I've really gotten into using a Fuzz Face, particularly for those glassy clean tones. The sweet spot for getting those magic Fuzz Face cleans often requires rolling off a lot of volume on the Strat and rolling back some tone knob. Without the treble bleed mod, the Strat volume cuts too much treble when you roll it off a lot IME. And it's great to have the tone stay at the sweet spot when you roll the volume up on the Strat to make the Fuzz Face break up. The same principle applies to an amp or any amp-like dirt pedal when the player wants to go from clean to dirty by adjusting the knobs on their Strat.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
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  17. dazco

    dazco Member

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    Your hearing is fine. The people that don't like it have reasons that are either user error or very different playing style than u, maybe very different pickups, i could on forever. But TBs have to be right for the guitar and pickups or they yield crap results and many don't know how to implement them correctly. And i think thats a big part of it. And yes, andy timmons.....his tone is very similar to mine and he goes about getting it in the same fashion in which a TB is necassary. But there are more reasons than their are stratocaster models why some don't like them I still believe however user error in how they are implemented and used is the #1 reason. You can't always just put one in and leave everything else the same and expect it to be perfect. Like any other gear or mod or part, you have to learn it's idiosyncrasies and how to get the most from it. It's like playing a strat them plugging in a 335 and not adjusting your amp for the 335. Few things are ever perfect with all else unchanged. Everything must be compensated for in some why. Change one thing, several other things may need changing be it a setting or the way you play and use it. There are tones that are some of my absolute favs i use that i literally cannot get w/o a treble bleed, at least not close enough to win the cigar. Even if i could i'd have to have extra footswitches or pedals etc etc to get them.
     
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  18. Sean

    Sean Supporting Member

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    I play strats exclusively- they are very different than Teles. If you have no time in on a strat and this is your first, expect a bit of a learning curve. You'll get used to it quick and may love it, or you'll always wish it was something else and just play a Telecaster or Gibson-type guitar.

    Some strats are plinky-er and thinner sounding than others. If you don't like this one, take it back. No amount of pickup switching & futzing around will make it better. It is a sum of all the parts that makes it what it is, and for whatever reason, some are better by far than others.

    If you do want to go down the road of changing it, I would do the following:
    1) Wire it so it has a dedicated tone knob for the bridge pickup only. The other tone knob will be for the neck/middle pickups (or just the neck if you want).

    2) pick up a Fralin bassplate. It'll make your bridge pickup alittle more Tele like and give it a small bump in bass.
    https://www.fralinpickups.com/product/prepped-baseplate/

    3) Have your bridge tone pot rolled back to at least 7 all the time.

    4) It's difficult (for me) to dial a neck pickup and bridge pickup to sound good simultaneously on a strat. So what I wound up doing was adding a no-load pot for the neck/middle tone pot while using a regular 250k pot for the bridge tone pot. This way, I can grab a little more brightness out of the neck pickup without setting the amp super bright. YMMV but it works great for me.

    Good luck- but bottom line...don't keep a guitar you don't initially like thinking your can change it. Way better to keep looking for one you instantly like from the beginning.
     
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  19. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    This also sounds like good marriage advice.
     
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