Strat Upgrade Suggestions, Last Shot B4 Chopping Block

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by lkft, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. lkft

    lkft Member

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    I have a 96 Am Strat Std that I have purchased new. I have changed out the orig pups w/SD vintage set (not sure exact model but have the boxes they came in at home) and the SS saddles for graph tech saddles b/c the screws in the orig saddles seized up and became unadjustable.

    The tone is decent but somewhat anemic, especially the bridge position. The height of the pup is approx a quarter inch off the underside of the strings and more or less the same for the middle and bridge positions but they have a bit more punch than the bridge but not to the point that I'm satisfied w/them. So new pickups I believe would be the starting point of the endeavor but I'll let you guys chime in w/suggestions.

    As far as the rest of the guitar goes it is in fantastic shape for a nearly 20 y/o guitar. The neck is strait, the frets are good, the nut is good, tuners are good, trem is good, pots and switch are good. However the action is a bit too high for my liking and I have it adjusted to the point where there is no buzzing w/some hard strumming. I also find it to be the hardest guitar to play compared w/my LP so consequently the LP gets all the attention but the Strat comes out every now and then and does sound decent in the neck position and in between positions but the playability isn't there and if I'm going to have it around it needs to be on par w/the LP in terms of playability and tone and its not.

    I live in Puerto Rico and there are no setup guys locally whom I trust unfortunately so I'm pretty much left to do the setup duties myself which I'm capable of doing and have done up to this point but despite my efforts it not there in terms of tone and playability. I use 10s BTW.

    Ideally I'd like to get Matt Schofield'ish tones out of it so that's what I'm shooting for. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thx!
     
  2. TheoDog

    TheoDog Silver Supporting Member

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    Vintage voiced pickups can be interpreted as weak. Is the bridge pickup modded to a tone control? Pickup height is a big deal.
    How does the guitar sound/feel acoustically?
    I am not a fan of what the graph tech saddles do to the overall tone of a guitar.
    I have always noticed an improvement in the overall tone of a bolt on guitar after I remove the neck and clean out any stickers, finish and sawdust Fromm the neck pocket.

    There is also a chance the pots are a more below spec than usual, which would affect the amplified tone.

    If you love tinkering, it is very likely the guitar can me refined into a great player for you. But the same money and effort could be used to get a guitar you already love.
     
  3. lkft

    lkft Member

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    Guitar sounds pretty good acoustically and feels decent but somewhat stiff. I have to put considerably more strength in a bend to get the note up to pitch on the Strat than I have to use on the LP...I'm sure most of that is the longer scale length but still it seems like it's too much effort. I had considered going to vintage style saddles as a possible upgrade to the graph techs so thanks for that tidbit. I've never had the neck removed from it's pocket b/c I've never felt the need to do so so not sure what could be hiding in the pocket...anyone else ever had this type of issue? Thx!
     
  4. budglo58

    budglo58 Member

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    Low action and hard strumming don't usually work well together. Your LP has a shorter scale length and therefore less overall tension. Of course it will be easier to play . You can somewhat compensate for it by using lighter strings on the strat or try floating the bridge or removing a trem spring . I have 10s on both my Gibsons and strats . I also have very low action on my strats ( 3/64ths), but I play ith a lighter touch. I agree with the op, vintage bridge pickups sound weak. Try looking for a beefier pickup. You may be trying to urn the strat into something it's not.
     
  5. lowbrow

    lowbrow Member

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    That's probably way too low. Typical strat specs call for about 2mm (about the thickness of a US nickel) on treble side and 3-4 mm on bass side (the pickups should be sloped) when the E strings are depressed at the last fret. You usually start there and then lower them as neededÂ…
     
  6. lkft

    lkft Member

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    I always heard that SC pups need more space due to the stronger magnetic pull versus HB which have the canceling effect. Too close to the strings and you start getting unwanted artifacts in the tone. Anyone care to share bridge SC pup height suggestions?
     
  7. lowbrow

    lowbrow Member

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    It's two screws….raise them up and see for yourself. If you go to Fender's support section and download their setup guide it will essentially tell you the same thing. They're way too low.
     
  8. geodr

    geodr Member

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    Maybe start a thread asking for tech recommendations in PR? Sounds like it really needs a good set up.
     
  9. lowbrow

    lowbrow Member

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  10. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    The bridge pup should be pretty close to the strings I would say... maybe 1/8" away at the most. Also the string height (fret height) of maybe 2mm (080) on the high E and 3mm+ on the Low E works well.
    I find strats with low wind pickups anemic. I've gone to Tex Mex Hot pickups on all 5 of my strats. and the good news is they are about $25-30 each new. $75 a set.

    My other favorite pickups were Texas Specials and Fralin Blues. I've had almost all the Fender offerings , Bardens, Lollars etc over the years. Ended up liking the Tex Mex best.
    The Fender 54, 57/62, 69's are all very clean, and airy, but no Balls! (Cajones to you :>)
     
  11. lkft

    lkft Member

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    Okay thanks for the info. I now see I in fact do have the pups too low so I'll spend some time w/it over the w/e and change the strings, raise the pups and lower the action a bit w/the saddles. I'll prob have to get accustomed to a lighter touch w/the Strat as compared w/the LP but I really do need the change in tone a Strat brings to the table b/c the LP is more or less a one (maybe two) trick pony.

    Thanks!
     
  12. TheoDog

    TheoDog Silver Supporting Member

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    According to Dan Earlwine, factory specs are 1/8" on bass side and 3/32" on treble with string pressed at last fret. You can easily get a little closer without stratitis.
     

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