STRATS with humbuckers...please share your experiences

DHart

Member
Messages
596
Hey... I am a Strat lover and have a few of them. Obviously, they're amazing guitars with single-coil pups.

But when you have that Strat single-coil base well-covered... and want to have more of a humbucking sound, while retaining the wonderful comfort and playability of a Strat body, how have you gone about this?
 

auburn-grad

Member
Messages
1,002
I have 2 that fit the bill.

I have an American Standard that I put a Dimarzio 36th Ann in the bridge (with Fender Vintage Noiseless in the neck and middle) and I have a Dave Murray strat that is HSH (36th Ann in the neck, vintage sc in the middle, and a Super Distortion in the bridge).

I love strats that have HBs. You get the best of all worlds. They can do the clean, the distortion, the typical HB thang, they are comfortable, and they are durable.
 

david(j)

Silver Supporting Member
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2,765
I swapped a ton of pups through on my strat, and finally settled on a JB in the bridge. It's classic for a reason.
 

DHart

Member
Messages
596
I have an American Standard HSS, Fat '50s in neck and middle, and a Diamondback at the bridge position. I like this set-up a lot. The Diamondback in the bridge position is full, bright, but not an "ice-pick".

What I'm interested in learning more about is humbuckers in both the neck and bridge positions... set up similar to how Gibson would do it... but in the body of a Strat.

TO be honest, I have gone from 3 nice Les Pauls to just one, now. They just aren't so enjoyable for me to play anymore. I almost always play sitting down, at home, and the Lesters just aren't as enjoyable to sit and play as the Strats are. I still have a wonderful 2012 Les Paul Standard with highly figured maple Trans Amber top... wonderful instrument. But I do play my Strats much more, generally.

I would like to have one Strat which is just "HH".

I'm considering picking up a Blacktop HH, or creating an HH loaded pick guard, to install in one of my American Standards. I'm sure the pickup quality in the "build-my-own" would be a lot better than buying a Blacktop. Or... since the Blacktops are priced so well, perhaps I should just buy one of them, then swap out the pups for some better quality pickups?

What to do.... so, hearing your input is much appreciated.
 

daa2202

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
814
I've tried a couple of different approaches, and the one thing I can say definitively is that a Strat with a humbucker in the bridge is not going to sound anything like the same pickup in a Gibson (or Gibson-style) guitar. It's something else entirely.

I've tried full-size humbuckers, and single-coil-sized humbuckers. Factory and aftermarket. DiMarzio and Duncan (and others.) I finally have hit upon a combination that I love: DiMarzio Cruiser Bridge model pickups in the neck and middle positions (yes, you read that right), and DiMarzio ProTrack in the bridge position. These are all single-coil sized rail-style humbuckers. The neck and middle (and in-between) positions are all very single-coil sounding, except with no noise...and the bridge pickup has a lot of PAF-style character. It's a great combo and my experimentation is over.

Full disclosure - this is installed in a Stratocaster-style guitar made by Ron Thorn which has a korina body and neck, so the alder and maple (or ash and maple) combination will be a little different, but I think it will still be a great combination (especially with an ash body Strat.)
 

Sirloin

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
16,176
While not a real strat, this hardtail Carvin kit kills with this electronics package. I had a custom prewired pickguard made by Sigler Music. Two Suhr Aldrich Humbuckers and a Fender Fat 50s in the middle. Regular 5 way switch. 1st tone control puls to spit both buckers, second tone pulls to add the neck pickup at any time.

I am blown away by this config. Love the sound of a bucker in a 25.5" scale guitar.

 

Deed_Poll

Member
Messages
3,088
My experience is, if you want it to sound exactly like a Les Paul, don't bother. If you want the most versatile guitar possible, I'd say a HSS Strat can deliver that. I had a Lone Star Strat (USA) and it was great, but as my collection grew I found specific guitars for specific sounds. If I could only have one guitar it would probably be HSS.
 

DHart

Member
Messages
596
Great input... everyone. Thank you.

Deed Poll, I agree that an HSS Strat is an awesome tone machine. I have two HSS Strats at present; one an American Standard (Sienna Sunburst) and the other a Mexican Standard (Midnight Wine).



I love the tones from the American Standard Sienna Sunburst HSS (Fat '50s and Diamondback).

As for the Mexican Standard, HSS Midnight Wine Strat (MIM)... it is a fantastic guitar, very well put together! Fit and finish is very pleasing, indeed! But the relatively cheapo HSS pups just do not offer up the quality/clarity of tone that I would like (as compared to Fat '50s or quality brand pickups), so these pups do need to go "bye-bye."

I am considering ordering an HH pick guard, a couple of high grade humbucker pickups, a new switch, and making this Midnight Wine Strat into a pure HH Strat. My Strat single-coil needs are very well met, so now I want a Strat that is pure HH humbucker... even if it won't sound just like a Gibson HH guitar.

I would appreciate hearing from more folks who have ventured into Strat HH land.
 
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Flyin' Brian

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,250
I have an old 1980s Strat Plus that I converted to a Big Apple Strat.

It became the most versatile guitar I own, despite looking like an unwanted weird uncle.

 

greenlander

Member
Messages
1,262
I've had one of these new Classic Player HH Strats for awhile now and love it. It's actually the first production model Fender that I've ever been 100% happy with (after years of building partscasters). It's perfect. There's a 5-way selector so you can coil-split either humbucker (they are Wide Range Special HB's) and pretty much get any tone you need.

It looks sexy as hell, too. Dark Mercedes Blue is a great color. Bound neck, CBS large headstock...:aok

 

Average Joe

Member
Messages
11,936
I love my HSS AM Standard strat i a band context. For the kind of gain I use the humbucker still retain a bit of the fender twang in a way that I really like. It's certainly its own sound rather than a Gibson LP tone, but it's a very useful one in a band context
 

Dave Wakely

Member
Messages
1,863
I have a Stratosonic with twin HBs, which sounds pretty good (considerably toppier than a comparative Gibbo, but that wasn't unexpected).

I'm tempted to put a pair of TV Jones in it, as I don't have them in any guitar at present - any opinions on the wisdom of doing so?
 

Deed_Poll

Member
Messages
3,088
If you want a more ergonomic / lightweight LP I'd look into Godins. They make some excellent guitars.

Or else look into a mahogany USACG 24-3/4" conversion neck for the MIM?

I think I'd only do a true H-H Strat if the neck 'bucker had magnetic polepieces and could be split for a true SC sound. Neck single is just home for me on a strat.
 

jalmer

Member
Messages
2,012
I have an '85 Squier MIJ contemporary with a Duncan Custom bridge, Pearly Gates neck. IMO doesn't have the deep tones of a les paul neck p/u, but perhaps the bridge is more similar. My bridge is decked, 6 spring, so really doesn't have that stratty sound. But, yes, more comfortable. Very enjoyable but a different animal. crossbreed.
 

Custom50

Member
Messages
8,622
I have a Squier strat with 2 humbuckers that I bought used for 100 bucks. It just plays and feels good and I wanted a cheap beater to take to dive bars. I stuck a Dimarzio breed in the bridge position and the cheap-ass strat has no business sounding as good as it does.
 

jcarpenter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,841
I had an early 00's model HSS strat with the S1 switch. I loved the neck pup tones but could not do the hard rock tone as well as my LP. I suspect (although never tried) a hard tail bridge with 24 3/4 scale neck could marry that neck pup clean tone and the LP bridge grind. For each individual it comes down to compromises that you are willing to live with.
 

SNick

Member
Messages
362
I have an American 2004 Strat in HSS configuration with the S1 switch and the "Custom Staggered" Tex-Mex singles and Diamondback HB. I really liked the tone of the Diamondback pickup. Not muddy and full toned. The single coils were OK, I just never liked the overall tone.

I caught a deal on an original Fender loaded pickguard from 2013 with Fat 50's and that's what I ended up with. I still have my original HSS loaded pickguard if I want to put it back, but I don't think that will happen.
 

JJ321

Member
Messages
1,575
I have one electric at the moment and it's an HSS Strat. I used to have a Dimarzio BC-2 single coil size humbucker in the bridge, but at the moment I have a Bareknuckle Nailbomb in the bridge. This guitar has stayed with me while others have come and gone.
 
M

Member 132475

I have a strat with three different Duncan pickups in it, an APS-2, an SSL-6 and a Little 59. I've tried all combinations, and for a long time I used the Little 59 split in the neck, the APS-2 in the middle and the SSL-6 in the bridge. All combinations were great. The other day I wanted to swap around the neck and bridge pickups. The SSL in the neck is just too dark, so it went in the middle (and screwed wayyy down), the APS-2 to the neck, and the 59 to the bridge. The 59 is designed for the neck, so it's a bit lower output, but it sounds terrific in the bridge. Bright and punchy and great sustain. The middle and bridge combo does not sound like a true strat, much more punchy, but it cuts very well. The 59 split in the bridge position does NOT work well. Way too wimpy.
 






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