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Strat harshness: bridge pickup on high E and B strings above 12th fret

Ben Sp

Member
Messages
1,104
Just got a 1996 US Corona Strat that sounds great everywhere on the neck with the bridge pickup except on the high E and B strings above the 12th fret.

This harsh upper upper midrange frequency just kind of takes over in that area of the guitar, and the tone control doesn't effectively address it; it just turns it to mud.

Using the bridge pickup to play leads in the key of E around the 12th fret on the 2 high strings at any kind of volume just hurts! High G, for example, on the G string sounds great, but that same note on the B string, 15th fret, is an icepick.

I don't think it's the pickup itself- the problem existed with the stock strat pick up that it came with, and I changed the rear pick up to a Dimarzio stacked humbucker, which was an overall improvement over the thin stock pickup, but it that unpleasant frequency in that particular range of the guitar still exists.

I'm wondering if changing the bridge saddles is the answer, or, does it have something to do with where the neck connects to the guitar, nickel strings... It really feels like the guitar is just vibrating that way in that spot. Any ideas?
 

Sirloin

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
15,895
I usually switch to the "in between" position of bridge/middle pickup together for the higher up the neck stuff. Soves the problem for me.
 

scorched

Member
Messages
275
You could have a touch of 'stratitus'. Pretty common on strats. It's a strange overtone or harmonic that srews up the fundamental note.

I put in a set of Texas Specials a while back and that guitar had 'stratitus' so bad it was un-playable. I could lower the pickups but then I didn't like the tone.

Try lowering the neck and mid position pickups just as a test. Count your turns so you can get back to starting point if it has no effect.

Also, make sure you don't have a slightly raised fret somewhere down there as that can throw some funky overtones, also.
 

LPSlinger

Member
Messages
1,419
Just got a 1996 US Corona Strat that sounds great everywhere on the neck with the bridge pickup except on the high E and B strings above the 12th fret.

This harsh upper upper midrange frequency just kind of takes over in that area of the guitar, and the tone control doesn't effectively address it; it just turns it to mud.

Using the bridge pickup to play leads in the key of E around the 12th fret on the 2 high strings at any kind of volume just hurts! High G, for example, on the G string sounds great, but that same note on the B string, 15th fret, is an icepick.

I don't think it's the pickup itself- the problem existed with the stock strat pick up that it came with, and I changed the rear pick up to a Dimarzio stacked humbucker, which was an overall improvement over the thin stock pickup, but it that unpleasant frequency in that particular range of the guitar still exists.

I'm wondering if changing the bridge saddles is the answer, or, does it have something to do with where the neck connects to the guitar, nickel strings... It really feels like the guitar is just vibrating that way in that spot. Any ideas?
How do you have the tone control wired up? Does the tone control work on your bridge pickup? If not you might want to try wiring it up and see if rolling it down will get rid of the problem. The "vintage" wiring scheme for a Strat calls for a bridge pickup with no tone control.
 

Baxtercat

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,686
Sounds like the joke; 'Dr., it hurts when I do this.'

So don't play those notes in that pickup position.
SRV, Yngwie, thousands of others flick to the neck pickup when they go up the neck.
 

Blix

Wannabe Shredder
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
26,236
Sounds like the joke; 'Dr., it hurts when I do this.'

So don't play those notes in that pickup position.
SRV, Yngwie, thousands of others flick to the neck pickup when they go up the neck.
It's not that simple.
And Yngwie does plenty high notes on the bridge pickup...
 

bob-i

Member
Messages
8,766
I like to wire a tone control as a master tone. I like to roll off the the shrill highs from the bridge PU, but when the highs are rolled off and you flip to another position without the tone rolled off, it just sounds wrong to me. With a master tone I find it more balanced. Just my $.02
 

Tonebender

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
607
I had the same problem and lived with it for years with some of my strats.

A brass tremolo block may be the answer. I put one in my swamp ash/ maple strat and it fattened up nicely with no loss of clarity. Now my high notes stay full and smooth.

Got the block from KGC with deep drilled holes and couldn't be happier.
 

Tonebender

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
607
Not really; provided its done carefully....

1)Remove the strings and springs.

2)Put a piece of masking tape on the bridge plate under the saddles.

3)Mark where the saddle adjustment screws sit on the tape using a fine point pen or pencil. (whichever doesn't rub off easily)

4) Remove saddles and take note which saddles correspond to which particular string.

5) Reassemble with new block

The steps with the tape, saddle marks and arrangement are most important because they'll save you the trouble of redoing the intonation and action adjustment.
 

Ben Sp

Member
Messages
1,104
I went ahead and ordered a brass KGC block and some Graph Tech saddles, so we'll see if that tames it any. Thanks Tonebender and everyone for your advice and expertise!
 

wilto

Member
Messages
2,819
I have just been to hell and back to heaven with my strat tone. All I ended up doing was winding the volume control on the guitar back to halfway. This really brings out the sweetness of the guitar IMO.:beer
 

newsonghawaii

Member
Messages
114
I agree with the pickup height advice. It can make a huge difference. And then sometimes you just have to compromise a little to balance output and clarity.
 

Tonebender

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
607
+1 On this. My volume knob is rarely on10....

Did u order the block with deep drilled holes? I found it to be helpful with keeping my strat in tune when using the bar. It was very dependable beforehand but the deeper holes made dive-bombing and coming back in tune possible....

I have just been to hell and back to heaven with my strat tone. All I ended up doing was winding the volume control on the guitar back to halfway. This really brings out the sweetness of the guitar IMO.:beer
 

Vulteroz

Member
Messages
361
If tone control turns your's bridge tone into mud, try putting lower value capacitor on tone control: 22 nF or maybee even 10 nF
 




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