Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by mbutler, Feb 17, 2006.
What are your favorite Strat pickups, and why...
(Single coil, passive only)
Wagner SR's. Absolutely the best.
I haven't tried them all, but I like Kinman Woodstocks. Purists will tell you that they don't have the vintage mojo, but they work for me.
Edit: You did ask why, didn't you? For me the Kinmans offer the best of old and new. They're quiet, they're powerful, they have less string pull, they're sensitive to adjustments and the stagger makes more sense.
Used to be Fralins, but now Lollars. They sound most vintage-like to my ears.
The stock pickups in my '63 strat are the best I have had . I have not tried any boutique pickups, but I do also like the Fender custom '54's as well. I'd love to check out the Suhr V60lp's.
Fender Custom Shop '69's here!!, but boy would I love to try out a set of the Kniman Woodstocks! ( I would never give up my '69's though)
Here are my favorites:
1) DeTemple Sweetspot pickups - Vintage, well balanced & level volume output for all pu positions.
2) Kinman Woodstock - Best Noiseless for modern & vintage tones.
I also heard the Suhr's - very bell like and chimey- in a friend's Strat, and at some point I will break down and in get them for myself.
I'm not an exact true to vintage tone guy I like it a little fatter, Lollars are fantastic, it's not like we're dancing with ugly ladies here, but my personal favorites neck and middle Fralin Blues Bridge Harmonic Design Super 90. Blender Pot and volume roll off cap installed.
Been around the block on this topic, so I figured I'd weigh in. I've had stock, Fender Custom Shop, boutique, and killer pups custom made to my exact specifications.
And the winner?
Custom Shop 54's.
Mark Mitchell (SMARK) on the FDP told me years ago that in his opinion, these are best for traditional vintage Strat tone. I kept his recommendation in mind, but went to the corners of the Earth for "the tone". Spent the money and (of course) did all the install/uninstalls myself. Then, I tried the 54's. I love them.
IMO, and in my JV, they can be woody, inside-out funky, and the bridge simply screams. I freak'in love these pups.
I've got Fat 50's in another Strat, and they are OK, but not as toneful as the 54's. I've got CS Custom Classics in another Strat and EJ's in my EJ Strat. The 54's hang nicely with the CS and EJ Strats. The Fats might get replaced.
Hope this helps!
Bill Lawrence L280s. Strong, clear, classic sound, no noise, no bs.
This is great! Keep the suggestions rolling in. A couple of people said lollars...which model?
this thread is exactly what I need...
is there any point in changing pickups on 1979 Strat or I should get a different guitar?
you know...it's rather thin sounding,flat dynamics...
Compare it to other Strats unplugged. Great guitars sound great unplugged.
Had 'em but didn't think they held up to real SC's especially for strat quack. I recently installed his new L200's with an L290 in the bridge and I think I am done with strat pickups forever (although I might try a full-size BL noiseless P-90 in the bridge for ***** and giggles). If there's anything lacking in vintage tone from these pickups (and I not sure that there is), the stupendous lack of noise makes up for it 10 fold. Oh yeah the whole set cost me $120 which is about half of what you'd pay for boutique noisy pickups or Kinmans.
My absolute favorites are the Fralins in my main guitar (just about Vintage Hot specs with a baseplate on the bridge). It's a perfect combination of rich fundamental, ghostly harmonic content, sweetness, slice and punch. I also have a set of Lollar blackface (again, with a Fralin baseplate on the bridge pickup) - the guitar they're in isn't as ringy and alive as my main one, but the Lollars are obviously at least comparable, sweeter and lacier in the top end (more Bobby Bland than Lightnin' Hopkins). I wouldn't hesitate to recommend either.
Hey Sandman: I've got plenty to say about this topic! I've got a "vintage" '79 myself that I bought used in '79. It was covered in about 5 lbs of plastic finish and I was a budding guitar tech, so I refinished it in black/clear lacquer, which to this day looks absolutely killer - even refinished the back of the neck. I had ripped out the wiring way back when and rewired it more than once, in a number of different ways. Like many late 70's Strats, the neck has twisted a bit and the truss rod is useless, but I can set it up to still play very nicely.
A couple of years back I ripped out those pups and sold 'em on eBay. I found them to be way thin and just plain lifeless. Even though I was selling off "vintage" stuff, I was happy to do so. I put in some of the pups mentioned above, which included really good stuff like Bill Lawrence L-280's for instance. Then, I tried Fat 50's and I was set. The 50's are soooooooooooo far better than the stock pups that I was very happy.
Now, the 54's that I more recently put in my JV are just the best, I may go back and swap out the Fats - or maybe keep 'em just to have something different.
Here's my suggestion for you (from a fellow '79 owner):
- Sell those stock pups on eBay. I think I got like $130 for mine?
- Rip all that nasty wiring out there.
- Buy CS 54's. Check out Angela.com, amazing prices and nice people.
- Buy a Blender pot from George at Acmeguitarworks.com. His wiring diagram will allow you to have a master volume/master tone/blender setup providing a controllable mix of neck and bridge. It's wonderful. Buy some cloth wire from George as well. Also consider buying a Fralin baseplate - George sells 'em.
- Grab a copy of VintageGuitar magazine,any recent month, go to the full page ad for acmeguitarworks showing that beautiful wiring job on the back of the Strat pickguard, and copy that wire routing to a tee. I have. It's a beautiful thing. Follow the instructions for the baseplate.
- Buy a 6-pack of Sam Adams.
- Locate your killer '67 BF Deluxe Reverb (or similar)
You won't believe the difference. It's night/day. And in your situation, it'll be 100% paid for with the sale of your old pups.
That's my $.02.
Hope it helps!
All of the pickups mentioned here so far are great IMHO. But I have found the Duncan Antiquity's to be the ticket for me.
I love 'em in my Shell Pink Strat:
If your guitar sounds bad unplugged, then even the best pickup will only give you the same tone louder...
I've had my amps & guitars sorted for some time, so I haven't played many of today's popular choices, but I'll be sticking w/my Fralin vintage hots (w/baseplate on bridge p-up) as I can't really imagine better authentic strat tone. 10 years in, and they're sounding better every day. Given your explicit specifications, I really don't understand why so many players are recommending Kinmans. I've got his broadcasters in my mahogany thinline, and while they're dead-silent & very toneful, they're not a single coil design and shouldn't be expected to sound *exactly* as such.
This is slightly off topic maybe. But I have a question about these strat pickups. Are "vintage" sounding strat pickups inherantly low output? I know you can't descibe output over the net, but here is my point of reference and hense my concern. I own a 1993 American '57 RI strat with the original stock pickups. I also own a franken tele that has, so I was told, pickups from a 52 RI tele. There are other parts from a 52 RI in the guitar, so I have no real reason to doubt that these are in fact pickups out of a 52 RI. The tele has about 30% more output (at least) then that strat. I would like to keep the vintage tones of the old strat, and I know compared to "modern" sounding pickups, vintage strat pickups will be a little lower output. But this much? I have no interest in fat sounding over-wound pickups. But are these just an anemic set, or are all vintage strat pickups weak (at least weaker than vintage tele pickups)?? The CS 54's sound interesting as do the Suhrs from what I have read about them. Will they have a higher output than these stock 57 RI's?