New custom strat, need pickup advice for swamp ash padauk combo

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by analog orange, Dec 15, 2005.


  1. analog orange

    analog orange Member

    Messages:
    87
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Central Midwest
    I'm building a strat with USA Custom parts. The neck will be solid padauk or padauk with a Pau Ferro fretboard (or other material).
    The body is one piece swamp ash.
    Wilkinson vintage style bridge just like Suhr's using.
    Sperzel open back tuners.

    I want three single coils. I don't want it to be super bright. I'd prefer a richer P90ish, bass heavier, mid heavier tone, but as complex sounding as I can get.
    I know what you're saying, "Why did you pick swamp ash if you don't want super bright..." Well, it's a gorgeous piece of wood, it's one piece and I got it for a steal.

    My favorite strat that I've owned was an 89 Japstrat. Basswood body, all maple neck. It was not overly bright at all, but it had a wonderfully deep tone even with the stock pickups. I could have just been one of those magic strats, I dunno.

    I know that the basswood rolled the highs back a lot. How do we get the highs there for the Swamp Ash body padauk neck combo? I think I can one up the tone of the Japstrat in the mids and lows, but I really want to nail the highs.

    Are there any fretboard materials that you would recommend if you thought it would help me get there. I thought maybe a good piece of rosewood might roll the highs back if we need it. But I'd love to keep the neck all padauk as the piece I found looks freakin amazing.

    So. I've been thinking about Fralin Steel pole 43s, Harmonic Design SUPER 90 BRIDGE PICKUPS, I've heard that the Vintage Vibe stuff is good. I'd preferably like to buy from someone who can prewire everything so I can just drop it in. I can solder....okay my soldering sucks and I haven't the time to practice sooo.

    Advice guys?
     
  2. CharlieNC

    CharlieNC Member

    Messages:
    581
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2005
    Location:
    Fort Bragg
    okay, i'm trying to figure out what you're asking.

    do you want advice on a fretboard material or pickups?

    if you want a nice thick tone from a swamp ash body i would suggest something in the vein of an Alnico2 magnet pickup. i like the SD regular Antiquities for that particular sound.

    if you want to go brighter then the Antiquity II with Alnico5 mags are the way to go.

    as far as fretboard material is concerned... ebony is a good choice for a nice bright tone, pau ferro is a little warmer, and rosewood will be even warmer than that.

    that's all you really need to know.
     
  3. analog orange

    analog orange Member

    Messages:
    87
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Central Midwest
    Thanks.

    I'm getting mixed signals from a lot of people regarding the pau ferro. Some say it's extremely bright, while others say it's fairly neutral. My question regarding the Pau Ferro was would it make padauk neck brighter or darker?

    Anybody else on Harmonic Designs, Fralins? I'm a little afraid of Alnico II's because I don't want to lose all my dynamics. Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  4. royd

    royd Member

    Messages:
    1,992
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    I just put a set of Vintage Vibe SP-90s in one of my guitars and they are very, very nice pups. They are round and warm with nice even response across the registers. They quack a good bit in the 2 & 4... They seem to be very well made. I like them a lot.

    I highly recommend them for the quality and sound. The fact that they are readily available and much less expensive than the other similar pickups is only a bonus. At Pete's prices, you could buy the pups and have someone locally wire everything up and still probably spend less money than on just the other pups you mention.

    FWIW, the guitar I have them is is pretty bright - hardtail, flamed maple top on alder back with maple/pau fero neck.
     
  5. CharlieNC

    CharlieNC Member

    Messages:
    581
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2005
    Location:
    Fort Bragg
    I wouldn't worry too much about how the fingerboard wood will change the tone of the neck. Padauk is similar to maple in terms of tone (by itself) so any fingerboard wood you place on top of it will yield a similarly classic tone... i.e. maple/rosewood combo, maple/pau ferro, etc.

    also, i've never heard of Alnico2 magnets squashing dynamics. the pickups Fender manufactured in the 50's all used Alnico2 magnets. although, the sound is somewhat warmer with more mids compared to a sixties type of pickup that utilizes Alnico5 magnets. however, considering that 50's Fenders were predominantly Ash bodied, the Alnico2 mags worked well in them.
     
  6. BadgerDave

    BadgerDave Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    497
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago
    Here's a photo of my guitar. The body and neck are Padauk, the fretboad is ebony with stainless steel frets, the tremolo hardware is Callaham. There is no finish on the body or neck, not even oil.

    [​IMG]

    I tried several sets of pickups in this guitar including a Lollar Blackface set, Fralins and a set of Harmonic Design Vintage Plus pickups with the Super 90 bridge. All were excellent, but the Harmonic Design set was just a touch more harmonically full, present and balanced in this guitar. I have the electronics wired with a master volume, master tone and blend control. This allows me to roll off some highs on the bridge pickup. I wouldn't say that this is absolutely necessary, but if you play clean through a Fender style amp, it's a nice feature.

    Good luck in your quest.
     
  7. royd

    royd Member

    Messages:
    1,992
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    nice guitar badgerdave...

    you showed us yours so here's mine

    [​IMG]

    again, they are vintage vibe sp-90's, maple top on alder back with maple/pau fero neck.
     
  8. analog orange

    analog orange Member

    Messages:
    87
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Central Midwest
    You and I have similar aesthetic tastes. Nice. How did you smooth out the pores in the padauk? That's a Warmoth neck isn't it? Also, which Fralins did you try? What kind of tone are you getting from your padauk guitar?

    I'd be playing mine primarily through a Pearce G2r and Top Hat Club Royale.
     
  9. analog orange

    analog orange Member

    Messages:
    87
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Central Midwest
    Can you tell me what you paid and how long the wait was? Lovely guitar.
     
  10. royd

    royd Member

    Messages:
    1,992
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    I had them in 5 days. I think I paid $150 for the set.
     
  11. analog orange

    analog orange Member

    Messages:
    87
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Central Midwest
    I think I'm gonna give Pete a call. Thanks.

    Has anybody tried the Fralin Steel pole 43's?
     

Share This Page