Fender Buddy Guys.
Dimarzio Red Velvets.
Dimarzio Red Velvets.
Thanks for sharing. I did that w my Strat. My Strat just took off.
I can’t even put her down.
I've had more Strats than any other guitar. I used to be a big pickup swapper too. Now I have one Strat and it has whatever pickups came in it. They sound great! Fender Fat 50s sound good, Fralins sound good - but the pickup is such an over-rated part of the tone equation IMHO. The body and the body-neck connection are way more important.
I built a parts Strat not so long ago which had all the bits I liked the most. It had a John Mayer Strat neck, a light-ish alder body (can't remember which model but it was a good quality Fender body), Fat 50s pickups etc... Sounded like a Strat. Then I compared it to the Strat I now own (which is admittedly a CS Strat) and there was no comparison. Even unplugged the new Strat had it all over my parts Strat. Everything was basically the same except that the CS Strat had a big, open sound while the parts Strat sounded thin and lifeless. No amount of pickup changing would have helped.
Pickups are a fine-tuning thing. I love TV Jones Classic Filter'trons. Are they going to make a guitar with HS Filter'trons sound way better? Probably not, but they may help nudge your tone in the right direction. Want to change your tone in a more drastic way? Change the speaker in your amp. Try a different overdrive pedal. Change the bridge on your guitar (not so easy on a Strat obviously, but on a Gretsch...)
Pickups on a Strat have such minimal differences and it really depends on the individual guitar as to which will sound best.
Fortunately with a Strat if you want to sound like a particular player - especially one like Dave Gilmour - then pedals will probably make more difference, and changing to a different pedal will let you sound like someone else. Skreddy have a bunch of fuzz pedals which will help you get some of those Gilmour tones. Add some delay and reverb and you're away. The beauty of it is that you can then use another pedal and sound totally different. Bear in mind that for a long time Gilmour played an '82 RI Strat with EMGs, which is a pretty bland sound, mainly notable for the hum-cancelling. I used to use Lace Sensors for much the same reason. Use a lot of effects with single coils and the noise builds up. A lot of that vocal Gilmour tone comes from modified Big Muffs. Try a Skreddy P19 and you'll see what I mean.
Rio grandes--the fat magnet ones.
My best Strat is a Reverend Slingshot Custom from the old American series, with three P90s. Sweet, vocal, singing tone. As fat as you'd want, as bright as you need, and just liquid.
My second best Strat is the Alumicaster I built years ago: hollow aluminum body, aluminum neck, Lace Aluma-Tone pickups. That one's transparent and glassy, with gallons of dynamic range, utterly noiseless, and smooth-oothe-oooothe.
My third best Strat is an '82 '62 Reissue, with whatever Fender put in there.
Maybe this lends credence to Jimmy's and Curt's observation that it's the resonance and life of the build that matters more than the pickups.
I have at least half a dozen other guitars that also get perfectly nice Strat tones - one of them a silly Eastwood "reissue" of the Teisco Spectrum V that just rings like a bell. In fact, it might come in ahead of the '62 Reissue for nice Strattitdue - and, again, it has an exceptionally unitary body-neck construction that feels alive unplugged.
So...don't try to fix an inert, unresponsive Strat with pickups. You can't get there from here.
Lace Sensors. Red in the bridge, silver in the middle and blue in the neck position. The blue is the best neck pickup I've ever heard. They offer more than those three. They even have one that's supposed to mimic a P90.
I have never compared Strat pickups although, as noted by some, there are seemingly a different set of Strat pups for every day of the year. I have just liked the tone that I got from mine and have always stuck with the stock pups that came in it.
Mine is a 1989 Strat Plus that came with gold Lace Sensor pickups. Glassy tone with sparkling highs. The 2 & 4 tones are the classic quack, like what you hear on Sultans of Swing. These pickups simply sound like Strat pups should.
So, while I can't say that they are my favorites (because I have not compared them to others), the gold Lace Sensor pickups are great.
My American Standard Strat came with Fender Noiseless and they were OK pickups but I got a good deal on some Custom Shop '69s with a Fralin baseplate on the bridge. They sounded much better to these aging ears. But then I don't play the Strat a lot.
I have a 2017 American Elite Stratocaster, with a Tim Shaw Humbucker in the bridge position, and 4th generation noiseless single coils in the middle and neck positions. While I'm not overly fond of the noiseless pickups, I absolutely love the Shawbucker. It's very well balanced with the single coils, and still retains the spank and Strat sound. I'm thinking of replacing the noiseless pickups, and this thread is providing me with some great options, that others seem to like.
I've only had one Strat. It was a California Series that had the TexMex pups from the factory.
I thought that is sounded pretty darn good through the amps that I had at the time.
I like TV Jones Starwood Strat pickups. DeArmond magnets and wire and bold Strat tones.
"So...don't try to fix an inert, unresponsive Strat with pickups. You can't get there from here." says Tim - and I completely agree. Sometimes you'll come across a guitar which sounds good acoustically but has the wrong pickups - not very often, but it does happen - and then a pickup swap may work wonders. But the best pickups in the world won't save a bad guitar.
I installed Fender Tex-Mex pickups in my partscaster Strat when I buit it. I really liked the bridge pickup and the reverse wound middle pickup was OK but I wasn't sold on the neck pickup. It didn't have that funky and bluesy Strat tone I love from the best Strat players I like. I decided to change it up a bit and put a TV Jones Power'Tron in the bridge, move the Tex-Mex bridge pickup to the middle and then I bought a Rose Robusta Strat neck pickup for the neck. I really like this pickup! It delivers exactly what I was hoping for. I believe it's probably comparable to a Fender Fat 50s.
Having the hotter wound Tex-Mex bridge pickup in the middle allowed me to lower it a bit and because it's not reverse wound it generates the quack when combined with the Rose neck pickup. My Strat is a true Partscaster mutt that is perfect for me.
Pickups are the first form of amplification in the signal chain. So yeah, they're kind of a big deal. They're the first thing your signal "sees" after the string is plucked. My 6120 was a great guitar with the original HS Filtertrons in it. When I changed to the Brian Setzer signature pickups, it was completely over the top. Pickups make all the difference in the world. Why would someone prefer the sound of a guitar with Dynasonics vs Filtertrons vs P90's in the same guitar if pickups didn't make a difference? My advice is to school yourself on pickup design and philosophy and choose the right pickups for a particular guitar, playing style and amplifier. Pickups are as different as people. One size does not fit all. Best of luck and have fun in your quest for the ultimate tone.
"One size does not fit all." Spot on!
I'm not saying that pickups don't change sound in a guitar - of course they do. But other things can have a much more profound effect on tone than pickups. Changing types of pickups will make a much bigger difference than different models of the same pickup. Changing the speaker in your amp will have a far greater effect on your sound than swapping from Lollar Strat pickups to Fralin Strat pickups.
I have changed pickups in lots of guitars over the years and yes the sound does change. But I have had more success in achieving the sounds I want by changing guitars, amps and overdrive pedals than by changing pickups. I think pickup changes could be seen as "the final piece of the puzzle", ie you have gone through your entire rig and want to get things "just right". I am absolutely certain that nobody playing my 6120 SSLVO would be able to tell that the bridge pickup has been swapped from a TV Jones Filter'tron Classic to a Classic+. I suspect that TV Jones himself would struggle to tell what the pickup in the bridge was! But the swap made enough of a difference to me at the time to make it worthwhile.
However if I started using a BF Fender Deluxe instead of a Tweed Super then a lot of players would notice.
When I used to visit the Gear Page I would read of players who would buy a Historic Les Paul and have bought new pickups for it before the guitar even arrived! Somehow they had convinced themselves that the stock pickups in a guitar that they hadn't even played yet were not good enough. Crazy!
Yes the pickup is the "first form of amplification in the signal chain" - in the electrification of the sound if you want to be pedantic. But they only "pick up" what the guitar produces. I have found changing bridges or bridge saddles to have a greater effect on the tone than some pickup changes.
Anyway, I'm not disputing that pickup swaps can help you get the sound you want. It's just that I feel there are many other ways to get there before considering a pickup swap. It took me a lot of Stratocaster pickups to realise I'm not really a Strat player!
Fender Buddy Guys.
Lollar Blackface. They are the real deal.
J.M. Rolph. Honestly, I don't have much experience with Fendery stuff, but he delivered a set of pickups that sounded exactly like I wanted them to. Known more for PAF types, but I can tell you he'll chat about the nuances of Fender pickups for as long as you're willing to.
If you're using any strings carried by Guitar Center, change that first.
Different types of strings make a huge difference in tone.
Then get a pair of Red Velvets, and delete the middle pickup.
There's a difference?? Strats always pretty much sound like Strats.
Simple- whichever pickups my (since sold) MIJ Squier came with. It came with the obligatory Strat "squawk" yet the neck could mellow it out to almost jazz tone through the right amp setting.
Saw no reason to change em, so I didn't.
I have Lace Sensor Golds on all of my strats. I bought a Srat Plus in '89, and then changed all my other strat pickups to Lace Sensors. I've tried different colour sensors over the years, but far prefer the original Golds.
I also have Lace Sensor humbuckers on other guitars. I just lurve them.
Being a vintage sort of guy I'd say I like 50s's and early 60s Strat pickups best of all, but I guess that's not of much help here.
Having tried countless new sets over the years, I've found that House Of Tone in the UK come closest to the vintage ones - in fact, very close indeed. Fabulous pickups.
I understand that not everybody is chasing vintage tone, but if you are I'd recommend putting a aluminium shield under the pickguard and ensuring that the tone cap is 1uF rather than 0.047uF. Both make enough of an audible difference that they should be address before you engage in an endless and expensive round of boutique pickup swapping.
Last but not least - GHS Big Core Nickel Rockers.
+1 on the Nickel Rockers. Sorry for the derail, but Shuggie, have you ever tried Monty's pickups?
I've tried plenty on various builds. My fave is Fatboy 59 rsv low winds but he keeps messing with the names. I think they're called V2s now.
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