Pickups

Any strat pickup experts?

1

I'm by no means a strat connoisseur so looking for some info if there's any experts out there.

I played a Classic Series 50s strat in store a long time ago and remember liking everything about it. Fast forward a few years, and I picked up a used one locally for a decent price that had "upgraded" Lace sensor pickups installed. I play my Gretsches way more often (and honestly my acoustic more often than that), and have never been able to A/B the Lace sensors with the stock pickups, but I think I liked the stock ones more and wonder if that contributes to how rarely I pick this one up. So now I'm on the hunt for replacements, which has led to a number of questions:

1) What would be a fair market rate for stock pickup take-offs (let's use the Classic Series 50s as the example)? I don't play this guitar enough to justify some boutique after market pickups like Lollars or anything (nor do I have an exact strat tone that I'm chasing), but assume there must be a ton of stock pickups sitting around once people upgrade. So would MIM stock pickups sell cheap as chips or do they still hold some value?

2) Are there any good resources you could point me to to ID the pickups I'd be buying used? Or do I just have to trust the seller? From what I gather they typically aren't marked with a p/n or anything and I'd just have to judge from look of bobbins, wire colour, pole pieces being staggered or beveled.

3) What are the impressions/differences of the higher end MIM pickups from recent series, specifically Classic Series (I believe same regardless of 50s 60s 70s), Classic Players (I believe differed between 50s 60s 70s), and Vintera (again I believe differed between 50s 60s 70s).

4) Do you think resell value of my guitar is increased if I choose the original stock pickups (Classic Series) vs something similar (e.g. Vintera)?

Thanks for any info you can share. I know there are strat forums but figured I'd check here first.

2

I see you refer to MIM(made in Mexico) pups. I haven’t looked for a strat or strat pup in 10 years, but my experience has been that one area the MIM guitars budget out on is the pups. Pups and labor are the two main factor I’ve thought were what made these guitars cheaper than the US made ones. When the Mexican strats first appeared, you could pick one up for a song and a set of American standard pups cheap, because people were loving swapping the stocks for the lace sensor pups. I never really liked the lace sensors. My uncle is a strat fanatic. And was into the sensors. So I managed to pick up his stock pups cheap. I think you might want to look at some of the Fender custom shop pups. They have the Tex Mex pups for $100, $150 for a prepared pick guard with the texmex pups. I don’t know much about the pups from experiance. I ponied up on a set of used Texas specials a few years ago off of eBay for about $150(currently $230 new) still in original box. So my opinion would to pick up the Fender Original '57/'62 Stratocaster Pickup Set for $150 and call it a day. THey seem to match the guitar you originally fell in love with anyway.... here’s a set on eBay for $120 https://www.ebay.com/itm/Ge...

3

I have traveled through the Strat forums and here are 2 USA made inexpensive boutique style pickup companies that are highly regarded by Strat players:

Rose PIckups

Bootstrap Pickups

I have a Rose Robusta neck pickup in my Parts Strat and it's exactly what I was hoping it would be.

You are correct that Lace Sensors are different than standard Strat pickups.

4

When I had strats I really dug Texas Specials, and later, Rio Grandes.

K

5

I have been burned and seen instances of misrepresentation in the used Fender pickup market. At this point, I'd only purchase such pickups directly from the manufacturer.

I saw that Lollars are out of scope, but have to write that his Blackface set is the best sounding option I've heard for a Strat.

6

I never had any complaints about Fender replacement pus. They sound good and aren't overly expensive. Model depends on what sound you are after. If you want cheaper, Tonerider are fine and affordable.

7

Thanks for the replies and suggestions. I guess I brought up MIM pickups for two reasons:

First, the Classic Series 50s are probably what I'm most familiar with and liked them. Not saying they're better than American made Fender or boutique aftermarket, it's just I've never spent much time with the higher end pickups to be familiar with them. However I have no experience with the Classic Players 50s or Vintera 50s.

Second, I want this mod to be cheap as I don't play it a lot. I figured the MIM would be cheaper, but you bring up a good point Matt, and that the extra cost for stock USA take-offs may only be negligibly more than stock MIM take-offs.

At least this gives me rough prices which is nice, cause I'd say I normally see either super low end squier PUs that sell for $15 a set, or high end boutique that sell for $200+ for a set. I dont recall seeing just quality stock Fender MIM or USA PUs for sale very often so hard to gauge what a fair price is.

8

I've never heard anything bad about Lollar or Rio Grande but they're out of my price range. I'll take a look at Rose and Bootstrap, thanks for the affordable suggestions.

9

I have traveled through the Strat forums and here are 2 USA made inexpensive boutique style pickup companies that are highly regarded by Strat players:

Rose PIckups

Bootstrap Pickups

I have a Rose Robusta neck pickup in my Parts Strat and it's exactly what I was hoping it would be.

You are correct that Lace Sensors are different than standard Strat pickups.

– BuddyHollywood

Man, no kidding! I’ve bought two sets of Strat pickups from Rose Pickups. The first set was bought as an experiment on a parts caster I put together for a buddy. The next set I bought was because those pickups were “Strat-a-liscious”. Robusta models in the neck and middle, and a slightly beefier Buff Beauty model in the bridge. And $90 for each set! I want to try some of his Tele pickups next.

10

+1 on rose pickups...been around awhile now and still lower priced...he'll wind what you want as well

careful about picking a used mim set...most mims used cheaper pups..they had slug polepieces and bar magnets below the bobbin...kinda like a thin p-90

classic fender pups have magnet polepieces...big difference in tone

cheers

11

Dimarzio Red Velvets, and delete the middle pickup or be able to turn it off. I have my middle on a separate volume pot...haven't turned it on in dacades. Middle position with just Neck & Bridge is awesome. Red Velvets Rock for both Rock & Rockabilly, etc.

12

Something I recorded & produced in the 90's....I made the guitar player use my Strat instead of his Epiphone.

13

+1 on rose pickups...been around awhile now and still lower priced...he'll wind what you want as well

careful about picking a used mim set...most mims used cheaper pups..they had slug polepieces and bar magnets below the bobbin...kinda like a thin p-90

classic fender pups have magnet polepieces...big difference in tone

cheers

– neatone

Rose will also let you choose which magnet you want for each pickup ( Alnico 2, 3 or 5). I used Al3 in neck, Al2 middle and Al5 in Bridge. Fun stuff. The Rose website is a good one. I’m glad he’s doing what he does.

14

In a serendipitous turn of events, I posted a Strat question on a Gretsch forum; get recommended Rose pickups; and while perusing his website come across this: https://www.rosepickups.com...

Dedicated Bear (aka Steve) pickups. This has to be "our" Bear does it not? I only had one interaction with him but he definitely seemed like an outstanding gentleman!

15

I believe it is. Very cool. This guy makes great pickups.

16

Dimarzio Red Velvets, and delete the middle pickup or be able to turn it off. I have my middle on a separate volume pot...haven't turned it on in dacades. Middle position with just Neck & Bridge is awesome. Red Velvets Rock for both Rock & Rockabilly, etc.

– Billy Zoom

I like that bridge/neck sound too. I get there with a little toggle switch that turns on the bridge pup, no matter where the pup selector is.

17

Dimarzio Red Velvets, and delete the middle pickup or be able to turn it off. I have my middle on a separate volume pot...haven't turned it on in dacades. Middle position with just Neck & Bridge is awesome. Red Velvets Rock for both Rock & Rockabilly, etc.

– Billy Zoom

BZs not kidding. I did that. I scored a Red Velvet for the bridge and a Blue Velvet for the rhythm and middle. Totally transformed my Strat.

18

In a serendipitous turn of events, I posted a Strat question on a Gretsch forum; get recommended Rose pickups; and while perusing his website come across this: https://www.rosepickups.com...

Dedicated Bear (aka Steve) pickups. This has to be "our" Bear does it not? I only had one interaction with him but he definitely seemed like an outstanding gentleman!

– Jon

There was a point at which Rose did a special where he donated a portion of one of his pickup set sales directly to help Bear. I bought one of those sets and put them into a partscaster. They replaces some Fender Custom Shop '50's...and to my ears sounded pretty much the same (meant in a good way).

19

I bought a 1987 Fender Squier Japan Strat in 1999 at Voltage Guitars in Hollywood. The guitar was very nice but the pickups were lacking. I bought Fender Custom 54 Strat pickups from Angela www.angela.com for $109. They are nice but maybe not enough output for what you want. These are still being made but probably cost more than they did then. I since sold the guitar but replaced the 54s with the old pickups because I wanted to keep the 54s since they are so good. I left the upgraded electronics tho. CTS pots, cloth wiring, switch and capacitor.

In a Classic Players 60s Strat I have it came with Custom Shop 69s. Those are very nice. Look into those. I think they have more output than 54s even tho I haven’t measured them. I think they would be better for rock than the 54s but for rockabilly I think the 54s and the 69s are good for both.

I haven’t tried Pickup Wizard but I’ve heard rave reviews about those. Look into those.

20

If you want it to stay in Fender "vintage" land the Pure Vintage 59 or Pure Vintage 65 pickups by Fender are very good and reasonably priced. In reality once you get to good-great pickups you're maybe getting 10%-15% difference in clarity, or bass, or presence, or output, or hold together better louder, etc. If you want to go boutique and have the money you can look at Lollar, Fralin or my fav boutique Don Mare & Van Zandt - some of the boutique makers go for a specific sound/era/etc so make sure that's what you need. Seriously the pickups Fender puts out from the Pure Vintage and Custom Shop are very good pickups.

As for resell value that would depend on the buyer and what they are looking for. I don't think there will be a ton of difference $ wise between stock and say ventura pickups. Some buyers prefer stock because it's a bit less cost and they can put the pickups they like or just use stock, whereas if they have a specific pickup set the buyer has to be ok with those especially if the price is a bit higher then with stock pickups.

21

GFS makes good pickups. I had their blue wire pickups. Forgot the model name but they were good.

22

i have Custom Shop 54s in my Strat. they're great for that wiry mid-50s tone a la Richard Thompson. the Strat i had to sell in 2013 had the Abigail Ybarra Custom Shop 69 pickups with the grey fiber bobbins, and though i prefer the 50s sound the 69s were even better. i put a Tonestyler in and could get everything from that juicy Hendrix sound to a 54-ish sound to Garcia's Wolf guitar when it still had Strat pickups to a muffled Jaguar rhythm circuit tone, but they were very versatile even with the stock Strat wiring. you occasionally see a set on Reverb or eBay...snap them up like an crocodile on the banks of the Lompopo if you see them. i don't know how their current 69 pickups wound by Abby's understudy compare, but suspect they'd also be good.

23

that was the bridge/neck combo, right, Billy?


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