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Magical "24th" natural harmonic on a Stratocaster

broken_sound

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,291
I was playing around with the old strat last night, eating away on some stupid noodles, when I found myself doing a lot of “24th fret” harmonics on the 22 fretter. Noticing that the natural harmonic falls directly over the bobbins on the neck pickup, I wonder if this was done on purpose. Did Leo place the neck pickup in this precise position on purpose and if so, is that why the neck pup is so magical on strats? This position is an iconic sound and I wonder if it just happened to work out that way or if Leo was really just THAT good.
 

Deed_Poll

Member
Messages
3,088
Of course, whenever you fret a note this distance changes, but I agree there is something special about the position of that pickup.

Ironically the only thing that annoys me about it is that the 5th fret / 24th fret harmonic doesn't sound properly as it sits on a node!

I also think the bridge pickup is in the wrong place on a Strat. The Tele's bridge pickup is a little further from the bridge and is a bit more weighty as a result.
 

raja

Member
Messages
582
LEO was the electric guitar Mega Man who created for us guitarists iconic guitars loved by many world wide, he got it right!
my desert island guitar would be a Fender Stratocaster.
 

Dale

Member
Messages
10,310
Leo had the stars align. Aside from production I think a great deal of it was luck.
 

vladorg

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,448
Is the harmonic in the same position over the neck pup centerline?
It is, that is why the neck pickup on a Strat sounds the way it does. Personally, I never liked the neck pickup on a 24-fret guitar for the same exact reason - it is away from that sweet spot of the 24 fret harmonics.
 

broken_sound

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,291
It is, that is why the neck pickup on a Strat sounds the way it does. Personally, I never liked the neck pickup on a 24-fret guitar for the same exact reason - it is away from that sweet spot of the 24 fret harmonics.
The fact that Leo wasn't a player and created essentially the perfect guitar from scratch is beyond me.
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
25,738
on a 21-fret strat (with truss-rod adjustment directly behind the neck pickup), the slugs are roughly 1/12" away --- towards the bridge, i mean --- from the 2nd-octave harmonic.
 

IPLAYLOUD

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,988
If it was done intentionally, it was because Freddie Tavares told him to do it.
Freddie played Lap Steel and knew where all the harmonics were.
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,520
I was playing around with the old strat last night, eating away on some stupid noodles, when I found myself doing a lot of “24th fret” harmonics on the 22 fretter. Noticing that the natural harmonic falls directly over the bobbins on the neck pickup, I wonder if this was done on purpose. Did Leo place the neck pickup in this precise position on purpose and if so, is that why the neck pup is so magical on strats? This position is an iconic sound and I wonder if it just happened to work out that way or if Leo was really just THAT good.
It's not an uncommon neck pickup location for sure, but it's not one that Fender or anybody else used consistently across their entire product line afaict.
 

handtrix

Member
Messages
2,353
Consistently, no.
A little known fact though; It was Lester Polfus' R&D that has the "Les Paul's" pickup placement precisely how they are orientated.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,589
[
Ironically the only thing that annoys me about it is that the 5th fret / 24th fret harmonic doesn't sound properly as it sits on a node!
just switch to any other setting than neck and you have those harmonics back.
I also think the bridge pickup is in the wrong place on a Strat. The Tele's bridge pickup is a little further from the bridge and is a bit more weighty as a result.
well no, because then it's crowding the middle pickup, changing that all-important sound a little bit; "nashville" style teles are a compromise, either the bridge pickup is closer to the middle than on a strat, or that middle pickup gets moved a bit from its classic location.
 

RedTiger

Member
Messages
3,003
Of course, whenever you fret a note this distance changes, but I agree there is something special about the position of that pickup.

Ironically the only thing that annoys me about it is that the 5th fret / 24th fret harmonic doesn't sound properly as it sits on a node!

I also think the bridge pickup is in the wrong place on a Strat. The Tele's bridge pickup is a little further from the bridge and is a bit more weighty as a result.
There's a whole school of thought behind that, of course. How the neck pickup on a 24 fret guitar doesn't have the same hollow, tubular sound that a 21 or 22 fret guitar's neck pickup seems to have.
 

Deed_Poll

Member
Messages
3,088
[

just switch to any other setting than neck and you have those harmonics back.

well no, because then it's crowding the middle pickup, changing that all-important sound a little bit; "nashville" style teles are a compromise, either the bridge pickup is closer to the middle than on a strat, or that middle pickup gets moved a bit from its classic location.
I agree with all this, it's always going to be a compromise when you consider the sound of pickups alone AND in combination.

For me personally, I've never been a fan of the quacky sounds on a Strat (I quite like the middle position on a Tele and Jazzmaster) so I would take the Tele bridge pickup if I was building another Strat.

I do wonder how it would sound if you had an angled 'humbucker' in the bridge with 12 magnetic polepieces that used the coil closest to the bridge for the combined sound and the other coil for the bridge alone sound...
 

Deed_Poll

Member
Messages
3,088
There's a whole school of thought behind that, of course. How the neck pickup on a 24 fret guitar doesn't have the same hollow, tubular sound that a 21 or 22 fret guitar's neck pickup seems to have.
I just thought I'd say I like that description for the Strat neck pickup sound - "hollow and tubular". Nails it for me!
 

Deed_Poll

Member
Messages
3,088
Consistently, no.
A little known fact though; It was Lester Polfus' R&D that has the "Les Paul's" pickup placement precisely how they are orientated.
I heard it was just for looks. The humbuckers orientation thing, I mean.

Obviously when the LP was in development stages (i.e. the last time its design was anywhere near Polfus until the Recording model) it would be years until the Humbucker was even released.

It could well be the case that he fine tuned the positions of the P90 pickups.
 

Deed_Poll

Member
Messages
3,088
on a 21-fret strat (with truss-rod adjustment directly behind the neck pickup), the slugs are roughly 1/12" away --- towards the bridge, i mean --- from the 2nd-octave harmonic.
Depends on what strings you are using, how high your action is etc. to intonate the saddles. They have a fair bit of play in them.

It would seem a tiny bit one side of the other is going to be within tolerance, being perhaps the breadth of the magnetic field from the polepieces. Once you start to move it too far it does lose something, though.
 




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