Should I route out my S-S-S strat for a humbucker?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by jpage, Feb 20, 2006.


  1. jpage

    jpage Silver Supporting Member

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    Anyone know how difficult a process this is (for a professional) and how much I should expect to pay? And should I do it--I like my Warmoth (nitro-finished swamp ash xxlight body, AAA birdseye brazilian neck, Callaham bridge & block, Fralin Vintage hot N&M, Kinman Woodstock bridge) strat but never use anything but the #4 & #5 positions on it.

    Will this process affect the tone of the guitar? I bought the Kinman thinking it might be the answer but I just think I don't like the single coil bridge sound. Not to mention I lost the #2 position after it was installed. Hated the little 59 (muddy, lifeless) I tried previously and had the same sacrifice to pos #2. But now I have to deal with the "which pots to use" question now right? I usually like a lower output humbucker because my tone is usually on the bright side.

    FWIW, I run out of a Plexi and use a TS or OCD set at low to mid gain as a solo boost.

    [​IMG][/IMG]
     
  2. ricoh

    ricoh Member

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    Man.......I sure wouldn't cut up that guitar for a HB PU. If it were some dog OK.............but that guitar is just too cool. If I had to have a HB in strat.......................................................................
    {and I never would} I would get a new body I guess. I had a tele that I put a HB in the neck position. never really liked it. Good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  3. radialaced

    radialaced Member

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    warning! warning! if your not happy with that guitar the way it is you still may not be happy with it even if it has a humbucker in it.

    I have found that I didn't like the humbucker in the bridge position of my 75 strat, (somebody routed it before I got it). I thought the humbucker in the bridge sounded overly compressed and clucky, not what I was looking for.

    I tried a Lindy Fralin, a Seymour Custom Custom and a Seymour 59 and I didn't like any of them.

    I also tried the single size humbuckers in the bridge position and found the same thing, clucky and compressed.

    So.....all of my strats, (seven of them) have single coils in all 3 positions. And they sound the best that way.

    In my opinion if you want some more beef from a strat pickup then go to higher output pickup and/or use a pedal.

    Remember, this is just my opinion. There are plenty of players here that love humbuckers in the bridge and they make great music with them.
     
  4. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    I would think the perfect PUP for you would be the Fralin Steel Poled 43, not a humbucker but in legit P90 output/tone territory and at most you'll need to rout very slightly within the cavity - externally, your beautiful Strat (and it is a looker!) will retain it's stock look.

    http://www.fralinpickups.com/stratstyleSP43.asp
    STEEL POLED (43)

    [​IMG]
    This set is wound on adjustable pole pieces (steel) and bar magnets with 43 gauge wire for 25% more output. The bridge of this set has the output of a P-90.
    • Approximate Ohm Readings:
    • Neck - 8.5 K
    • Reverse Middle - 8.5 K
    • Bridge - 10 K
     
  5. jpage

    jpage Silver Supporting Member

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    Jeez, but I AM happy w/the guitar. I just don't like the strat bridge pickup by itself. If I decide not to do the S-S-H thing I plan on switching back to a standard single in the bridge and just build another strat with a mahogany body and conversion neck. The thing is, I know I'd use my #4 position which I'm sure can be salvaged with wiring/coil tap options and a humbucker. The bucker would just provide another option in pos #1 that I might use.

    And worse case scenario, if I hate the new setup, aren't I just a pickguard away from going back to the S-S-S setup? I mean, how much of a tone difference can one HB route make?
     
  6. jpage

    jpage Silver Supporting Member

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    Jon, even if I went this direction and needed to route out just a bit for install, wouldn't it make sense to go ahead and cut for a humbucker? The one place I called quoted me $70 to just do the diggin'.

    Goes back to the original question no one has answered yet; how much if any of a difference in tone would the one HB route make to the guitar?
     
  7. slipbeer

    slipbeer Supporting Member

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    I had one that had been S-S-H'd and I could never get a H that blended in with the S-S. It sounded like a completely different guitar and not a good one.

    It just never balanced out right.

    And while you are technically right that a new pickguard will cover up your rout, what if all your guitars MOJO lives in the wood you cut out?

    Best to go to GC and buy one off the rack and try it first. Since you can cover your experiment, you can always return it if it's not the answer.;)
     
  8. jpage

    jpage Silver Supporting Member

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    Oh man! That's just not fair. You know deep down that's my fear. But that can't be reasonable...

    Can it?
     
  9. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    Beware: "Everything affects everything" ;):jo
     
  10. ScottB

    ScottB Gold Supporting Member

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    Why not try a different single coil sized humbucker?

    I can recommend the:

    1) Dimarzio ProTrack

    and

    2) Duncan Cool Rails

    both as nice, well balanced with a single coil type p'ups without the obnoxious shrill and a little more bite. If you don't like em, you can sell em. I didn't like my little '59 that much either. I think both of these kick it's butt.

    Or, easier still and reversible, do the Eric Johnson mod (connect middle tone pot to the bridge) and roll off a little tone, works wonders...
     
  11. royd

    royd Member

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    I'd go with Jon. Like you, I never liked the sound of a strat bridge pup alone... so my two frankencaster have something else in the bridge - one has a custom wound Duncan tele pup to fit in a strat slot and the other has a Vintage Vibe P90 ish pup. I love them both and it still feels and sounds like a strat only with a lot more attitude in the bridge and the bridge pups work with the middle and neck.
     
  12. robbieboyette

    robbieboyette Member

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    ScottB hit the nail on the head exactly. I reccomend the Duncan JB JR for the bridge. Then if that doesn't sound good to you...you can always pop the single coil back in. John Phillips on here can tell you the best way to compensate for the pots so that the humbucker sounds up to it's full potential.
     
  13. Max

    Max Member

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    Oh come on guys, I have routed every strat I've had for a humbucker at the bridge and it has never changed the sound of the remaining singles. Think about the strats with swimming pool routes. Or the expensive booteek strats (Suhr Tyler etc). Never heard anyone say the single coils in those sound bad because there's a bucker in the bridge.
    I've gone through all the hot single coils, single-sized humbuckers etc., It's close, but not good enough. If you want the humbucker sound you will never be really satisfied.
    Just do it. By the way, it's not a vintage piece that you have to keep original. If you want to go back to three singles just slap the old pickguard back on and noeone will ever see (or hear) the difference.

    Max
     
  14. NagakuAoshi

    NagakuAoshi Member

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    Or you could buy a Strat Plus (from the early 90s) that have the swimming pool routing. That way, you won't have to worry about damaging your beautiful guitar. I have a Strat Ultra (91) and found the swimming pool routing to be a breeze for me when it comes to pickup changes*. Just remove the points where the cable jack connects to the pots and you're ready for a swap, humber, p90s, single coil, etc. It's all good with this guitar.

    Most Strat Plus, or similar from that era, guitars aren't highly valued by collectors (mainly due to the swimming pool routing). They're great guitars for their value. You could probably score an American made off ebay for about 600-700ish, similar to the cost of a MIJ strat from the same era.

    *Note: I have a few pickup assemblys in my possession.
     
  15. pjrhd28

    pjrhd28 Silver Supporting Member

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    I wrestle with this issue constantly and here is what I've concluded:

    a. Don't put a HB in traditional strat (alder or ash). Something just doesn't work.

    b. The Suhrs, Andersons, etc. where the HB works best in the bridge are typically (not always) the maple top over bassood, alder, ash, etc. I think that's where a HB in the bridge position works. Not in the traditional tele/ strat bodies.
     
  16. RGB

    RGB Supporting Member

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    I routed my '83 with no problems whatsoever. However, I've had many different pups in there and now I'm going to try Vintage Vibe's strat sized P90's....maybe that would be an option for you....no routing needed!
     
  17. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I have a chambered Warmoth body strat that was SSS and I wanted a humbucker for the br. I talked to Warmoth and they told me they leave plenty of wood in the br area to accomodate routing. I did it and have been very pleased with it. For a long time, I used Anderson pups, SA1, SA1R, and H2+ but I replaced the H2+ with a Fusion model from HAS sound. Everything is splittable and the tone knob is pull-add-br. The Fusion pup is like the Dimarzio Bluesbucker - a silent P-90ish tone or split for more like a regular single. I'm getting incredibly great sounds out of this ax. Nothing vintage about it, but tons of useable tones.

    Conclusion - I'm really happy with having routed out the body to accomodate a hum sized pup. btw, the routing was simple. Strip the guitar, blue masking tape everywhere, mark the shape and rout away. No biggie.

    jon
     
  18. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Member

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    I wouldn't worry about the route affecting the tone too much. It's more an issue of paying money to devalue the guitar. It will cost to have the work done as well as get a new pickup and pickguard. In the end your guitar will be worth less.

    I am with the crowd that recommends trying a stacked humbucker before you route it. I have had most every type of stacked humbucker in the bridge position of Strats I have owned and there are some very good ones. Why not try a Hot Rails, JB Jr. or HS-3? You can find them used for about $60 and resell for the same price if you don't like them. Just a suggestion. If you are dead set on routing the guitar it's noones business really.
     
  19. rwe333

    rwe333 Supporting Member

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    Your business, your guitar - no harm, no foul. That said, it's a good idea to try some of the more humbucker/single coil-size designs out there before going to the expense of a route, new 'guard, etc. DiMarzio offers some great options - contact them and let 'em know the tone you're after...
     
  20. Marty s Horne

    Marty s Horne Member

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    That is a sweet looking strat! Personally I would try a hotter bridge single like a Muy Grande Rio Grande before I would carve up a favorite guitar or a JB Jr or vintage rail if you want more of a humbucker tone.
     

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