Tips on Beefing up my EJ (Maple) Strat


I know that I am playing a STRAT and I am no trying to play ZZTOP with it


I would like some tips on pickup height adjustments and any tricks that you guys have done to make your EJ Strat not sound so "Thin" and HIFI.
I usually play my Rory Gallagher strat instead of the EJ because it has more even string definition and doesn't sound "plunky".
I currently have it setup with 10's and with 4 springs.


Brass saddles will give it a rounder fatter tone to a degree i think could potentially cure what ails ya. But on strats if you use the trem at all they tend to burr up quickly and break strings.

Also, while it's generally thought that steel blocks are better, period, the fact is they aren't. they are simply different than zinc blocks. the difference? mainly that steel is a good bit brighter. I put a calaham in my MIM RI and after realizing my strat was sounding awful thin lately, i associated it with the block and put the zinc one back in. The tinniness was cured, and i really didn't notice anything else...sustain or any of that. Nothing changed going to or from the zinc block except brightness. If you happen to have a trem with a zinc block handy give it a try. Mine sounds so much better with zinc than with steel. theres zero doubt it will take away some of that brightness. Whether it will be enough for you is something you'd have to see for yourself.

Maple neck really don't have a lot of brightness till up in the 5k or higher range. So a tiny cap like maybe 300 PF from the hot tab of the jack or the volume pot to ground might do it for you. Maybe even lower like a 100 PF. that should just roll off a little bit of the very top.


Your instinct to look at pickup height adjustment is sound. The EJ Strat is sensitive to pickup-height differences to an extent greater than any other guitar I've known. If the bridge pickup is at exactly the "right" height, its tone is exemplary. If the pickup is a hair too low or too high the magic is gone and the pickup sounds weak or loaded with dissonant overtones.

My EJ bridge pickup sounds "right" at a fairly steep angle. The "bass" side of the pickup is just a hair above the pickguard, and the "treble" side of the pickup is much closer to the strings. You might start by setting your pickup at a similar angle and then raising the pickup until the string response is approximately even. Then make minor adjustments and let trial & error and your ears do the work.

The neck and middle pickups are a bit more forgiving, but are still sensitive to pickup height. I set mine at an angle that is not nearly as steep as the bridge pickup, and I set the treble side a bit lower than the treble side on the bridge pickup.

The EJ pickups possess some characteristics that don't attend ordinary strat picups, and those characteristics might not be your cup of tea. But it is probably worth hearing what those pickups sound like at their full potential before changing parts around.


Gold Supporting Member
Use a Fulltone Fat Boost II. I use one with my strat and it's instant beef


All the EJ's I played or owned were plinky and polite. I've done reviews on them years ago and used that exact description- "hifi" to describe them. Very polite guitars. That fat, one piece 1/4 sawn maple and lightweight alder gives it, it's sonic footprint which is a very snappy, light "acoustic-y" sound. Not a lot of beefiness with that design. I hate this phrase is what it is.

I've swapped out necks (maple or rosewood fingerboards) several times and as soon as I did, had a MUCH fuller tone. All of a sudden the guitar had some nuts, the pickups did what I wanted, and I had the sustain I liked to hear out of a strat.

I didn't care for the tighter than normal perceived string tension either. I did all the tricks of shimming necks, lowering saddles, string trees etc.. After all that, as soon as I put a different neck, all was cured. That's my experience with several EJ's back in their first year. I've decided they ain't for me.

Haven't tried the new rosewood EJ.

Kyle Ashley

Silver Supporting Member
I have a RW neck on my EJ as well...although it's aftermarket and not one of the new RW models. I put a Callaham baseplate on my bridge PU, and was surprised at the amount of extra "beef" that resulted. Fuller, fatter, and more balanced between the other pickups.


The other night I played my Strat, and left my Klon and Compressor on to thicken things ups. Worked out great. Also made good use of the tone controls.


Try setting it up with three straight springs and bit more relief in the neck. Maybe float the bridge a hair if its decked.

Sometimes it can make a big difference. Pure nickel wound strings are another thing to try.


The Toxic State
Silver Supporting Member
+1 on adding a base plate, to the bridge p/u. I did it, works great, and is cheap ($10 ) and easy to install.


Add a Floyd Rose and an Invader - LOL!

Seriously, nickel strings and play with the pickup heights. I did install a standard polarity PU into the middle of mine, fattened up the #2 and #4 positions just a little. I do like the brighter sound of the guitar.

Maybe shield the cavities - Might roll off very slight amount of highs and kill the high frequency noise. Baseplate is something that could be non-invasive.

To me it sounds like an Alnico II PU set might get you where you want - Something line Duncan's Antiquity I.

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