Tips on getting the best out of my first Strat

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Powderfinger, Jul 2, 2006.


  1. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger Gold Supporting Member

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    I've been playing a long time, but just got my first Strat. It's a very different beast from the LP type guitars I've always played. I can't seem to get a good smooth sustainy lead sound or a good hard rock rhythm sound. What do you experienced strat players do to get the best sounds? Do you typically take leads on the neck, middle or bridge? The bridge pickup sounds pretty harsh. Do you usually roll off the tone? Any tips would be helpful.
     
  2. slowburn

    slowburn Supporting Member

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    to help you get more "LP" type of sounds you could put 5 springs on, adjust the bridge so it's flush or nearly flush to the body, and playing with at least 10s (11s sound better for this IMO, but the difference in sound going from 10s to 11s is not as great as the difference in going from 9s to 10s, so you could get by with 10s). these subtle changes should help you get a fatter sound. this has been what has worked for me, (I too prefer a thicker, sustainier sound than your avg strat with floating trem and 2-3 springs will provide). your mileage may vary.

    edit: on the other hand if you keep on trying to make your strat sound like an LP, perhaps you need to stick with LPs.
     
  3. sinner

    sinner Supporting Member

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    Hey, congrats on your first Strat! You have begun a whole new sound world for sure, so enjoy the journey and don't rush it. Take time to explore this new world, it has many wonderful tones to offer. Just like your LP, the Strat answers when you roll off the tone and volume. You may have to change your usual amp and fx box settings for this new guitar, but the sound is in there!

    I'm sure you are familiar with all the recordings out there, illustrating the range of the instrument--so don't get frustrated. Generally, the Strat is not as "dark" as a humbucker LP, so look at your treble settings (amp & guitar and fxs). With a good, tasty OD (TS type, Timmy) you should be able to go from that fender glassy clear tone to roaring power chords!
     
  4. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger Gold Supporting Member

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    Don't get me wrong guys. I know the Strat's not going to sound like an LP. That's why I got a strat! Just trying to maximize my enjoyment of it.
     
  5. Rusty G.

    Rusty G. Member

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    First thing, the strat is a different animal. Try thinking of it as another color in your palette of choices for sounds. I don't use a strat as my "go to" guitar, but it does offer some different textures in a mix or recording and it's something you'll really need if you play blues or classic rock.

    Try this. First, move the pickup selector to the 4th or 2nd position. . .the one between the middle and bridge pickup. That'll give you the typical "Strat Quack". Play the opening riff to "Sweet Home Alabama" and you'll see what I mean.

    Now, move to the neck pickup. Try strumming the opening chords to Jimi Hendrix's "Red House". Or, anything by SRV.

    In my experience, there's nothing that sounds just like a strat, but a strat.

    It's got a scooped sound on its own, so you don't have to scoop the mids if that's how you play. I usually use the bridge pickup and just roll back on the tone controls and volume knob to about 8 (out of 10). I find that's where you'll find the best strat tones.

    Good luck and have fun experimenting.
     
  6. sinner

    sinner Supporting Member

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    BTW, what Strat did you get? Also, take some time to learn about set-ups for the Strat, they behave different that way from your LP. The Strat pickups are very sensitive to height for intense. The trem assembly is whole other beast. Maybe do a search for "Strat set-up" and stuff and learn about how these areas effect the tone (and playability).

    How about a photo?
     
  7. JLee

    JLee Member

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    The fattest Strat tones I ever had were with a '94 strung with 12s, extra springs and tremolo flush to the body, and a pretty high action. I kept tearing the flesh just under the tips of my nails though and just prefered humbuckers anyway, so I sold the guitar. :Spank A Sunface(without the less bass mod) or a London Fuzz will get you huge rhythm and lead tones as well with a Strat. Sounded too much like my humbucker guitars, so I sold those pedals.
    :Spank:NUTS:rolleyes: I've read that Jeff Beck likes to roll the volume knob back a notch. Gets you a smoother tone, but I prefer the volume wide open for those distinctive raw Strat tones.
     
  8. scottlr

    scottlr Member

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    I was always a Gibson guy, but playing top 40 in the early 80s found me trying to get a strat sound like the records on a Gibson. Hard to emulate w/o a coil tap switch. So I got my first Strat style guitar, a G&L Skyhawk. It was a totally different sound than I was used to, but it nailed the tones I was trying to copy. After a few months, I got used to the sound, and picked up a used Strat for a backup guitar. I have loved them ever since, though I have recently got back to Gibsons, which I also love.
    BTW, my wife doesn't understand why I have 4 Strats. But they all 4 sound very different from each other, yet all have a distinct Strat sound.
     
  9. tybone

    tybone Member

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    For me, the key to good rock strat is to have enough gain on tap. For me that spells an amp that is turned up a bit or at least has the pre amp gain turned up. (begs the "question what amp do you have?").

    Cheers
    Larry
     
  10. dharmafool

    dharmafool Supporting Member

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    After 35 years of playing Gibsons and occasionally Telecasters, I got my first Stratocaster in 2001.

    First, I gotta say the Strat is the most comfortable guitar body shape I've ever known.

    Next, I almost never use selecter positions 2 or 4, they're just not my tone (I have a 2000 American Deluxe swamp ash with Vintage Noiseless pickups).

    I play mostly the middle or neck pickup and always seem to mess with my tone control when I switch from lead to rhythm or vice versa.

    I use a Blaster preamp trimmed way down to almost no extra gain. I'm learning to flip to my bridge pickup for "jangly" tones, with the tone pot rolled back somewhat, but I don't call on it much.

    One of these days I'll wire in a neck-bridge selector option.

    I blocked the trem with a wedge of maple, but didn't add springs like others have mentioned. I still have just three.

    Anchoring the trem is a major tonal improvement IMO. My understanding is that the American Deluxe has a good stainless steel trem block, so no upgrade was necessary there (imagine that!).

    I also use a brass nut, which is simply my preference. I tried it as an experiment, having heard a lot of conflicting opinions about it over the years, and was immediately drawn to the difference it makes. I think it's a lovely change if clean ringing tones and a fairly light picking-hand attack are your thing.

    I also use the Blaster as a way to send a lower impedance signal to my cable and amplifier. I find that using a low-impedance cable by George L, Evidence or Belden is also critical to getting a rich, full tone.

    To find the pickup positions you favor, I suggest you first set your amp's tone controls as close to a flat response (no boost or cut to any frequencies) as possible. This may be "5" on your amp's tone section -- though old Fenders (which is all I really know) are set up differently. For a flat response on those, the bass and mid pots are set at "2" or "3" and the treble pot is set at "6" or "7" -- YMMV.

    After you have found some appealing tones using your guitar's controls: Dial in each one, then go to the amp and see what develops when you move the amp's tone controls away from flat response. You may find yourself leaving the amp pretty much flat.

    Have fun!
     
  11. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger Gold Supporting Member

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    Eric Johnson strat. Sunburst.
     
  12. msrecprod

    msrecprod Member

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    How is the tone improved by adding extra springs to the tremelo? Is there anything else you have to do? Also does blocking the tremelo with wood improve the tone?
     
  13. bullet69

    bullet69 Member

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    good choice
     
  14. supergenius365

    supergenius365 Silver Supporting Member

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    The EJ all ready gives you my best advice: Using the second tone knob to control the bridge pick up. I wired mine that way and get alot of sweeter tones now than before.
     

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