Strat Mods to Improve Primary Tone

Discussion in 'Fender' started by FLICKOFLASH, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. NHTom

    NHTom Senior Member

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    One thing I have to comment on............

    The idea that most of the "big names" don't have a trem cover on their guitars due to tone is "in my opinion" not true.

    My money would be on the fact that for a pro musician touring and playing gigs nightly, it makes it way easier and most importantly during a gig FASTER to replace a string.

    Can it influence tone? maybe......I have not tried it

    Can it influence a guitar tech's ability to swap a broken string in less that the length of the next song on the set list........YES.......and I have tried that with a couple bands I used to tech for....


    Again, only my opinion.........not saying it doesn't change tone, but I think most of the pro's who don't have them is for their tech's benefit.

    NHTom
     
  2. FLICKOFLASH

    FLICKOFLASH V.I.P. Member

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    Everything you screw down becomes tone absorbant .or in the tone chain
     
  3. Gryphon

    Gryphon Senior Member

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    I think it goes beyond that; everything that touches the guitar can have an effect, but clearly some of those things do so little that even Eric Johnson wouldnt hear it.

    This is an important thread, so we need to go back over it and reach a consensus on which mods make the most difference, and which the least. It will be really hard to agree on how much effect a back cover has, but I think most will say it has a lot less effect than a bridge with good coupling. Nuts are very important for open strings but less so when you fret the string; the material of the nut will have an effect but once you've got beyond soft plastic, and into the bone or brass territory, few will hear any improvement if you decide to get more exotic with the nut material. Of course, cost if a factor, as a new bridge and block from Callaham will certainly sound better but you'll be paying over $100 for it, whereas taking the back cover off is a lot cheaper but wont deliver the same improvement.
     
  4. BadPenguin

    BadPenguin Senior Member

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    Like I always said, I always thought the strat was inherently flawed design-wise, since there are SO many way to improve the tone of it!

    Anyway, first thing I do is toss the one tone control in the trash, and have a master volume master tone. In the hole left behind, add a simple 2 way switch wired to the 5 way's neck and bridge input. When flicked in the on position, you can have either N+B (in position 1 or 5) or all three on. (Position 2 and 4)
     
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  5. InkedLester

    InkedLester Drippin with Blues Blood

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    Always! Just be careful when playing naked; don't get your junk in those springs!
     
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  6. FLICKOFLASH

    FLICKOFLASH V.I.P. Member

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  7. jrbondy

    jrbondy Junior Member

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    I bought a new American Strat a couple weeks ago online, (mistake) and the 5th & 6th strings from the 10th fret up sound TERRIBLE! Real tinny/banjoish, kind of a dead sounding tone. I have changed strings, re-setup the thing 3 times exactly to Fender's website spec's and it just don't get any better. I even removed the trem block and sanded both joining surfaces to be sure of a good contact fit and it's still there, Rubber bands in the springs. The rest of the Guitar sounds fine & looks awesome, just the 5th & 6th strings on the upper frets. Getting ready to take it to a Fender tech I guess cuz I'm at a loss. Checked all my other guitars and none of them have this problem or anything even close. Pretty sad when a Brand new Fender comes like this...:fingersx:
     
  8. FLICKOFLASH

    FLICKOFLASH V.I.P. Member

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    What gauge string you using ? Have you checked your pickup heights ? Maybe lower the treble side and check sound then .
     
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  9. 79standard

    79standard Senior Member

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    If it makes you feel any better, I have a $1500 custom "brasscaster" that was professionally set up, and yet the 6th and 5th strings also sound like crap above, say, the 12th fret.
    (The pickup heights are all within the usual approved range.)

    Even with the action at 3.5-4mm at the 12th fret, I still get a tinny, nasty, splatty "boink" that makes it sound like a yard-sale offshore guitar.

    I've had other strat-style axes that do it, too, and no matter how unplayably high I set the action, that did not cure it.

    Sometimes the cure was a new set of strings (which I am about to try), and sometimes the problem resolved as mysteriously as it appeared.

    Something about the bolt-on neck/spring-and-fulcrum bridge Strat recipe lends itself to shamelessly pseudo tone on the wound strings (especially E) above the 12th fret or so. (And I say this as a confirmed strat cat.)

    :dunno:

    Note: I play .009s, occasionally swapping the .042 for a .044.

    .
     
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  10. 79standard

    79standard Senior Member

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    As for tone alterations:
    Every change has SOME effect on tone, but it's not always a difference that can be perceived (or even measured with currently available instruments). :cool:


    :jb:
     
  11. jrbondy

    jrbondy Junior Member

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    Wow, I fell off the planet but now I'm back. Thank you for your reply & I apologize for being absent. Still have the Strat, still has that "boink" sound, acoustically & plugged in. been to a Fender cert tech & he played around with it & pretty much said I way & Strats sound this way, after some "give me a break time" he said it could be the neck but fender won't give me a another one so it looks like im up $hit$ creek, I do however have another body from a "John Mayer Strat" I'm thinking of switching to see what happens. I will never purchase another guitar without playing again, I should have known better. I have alot invested in this one now switching out just about everything that can be changed, and now I'm possesed in getting this right before I die of frustration.
     
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  12. marksoundguitars

    marksoundguitars Chief Paint Sniffer MLP Vendor

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    I know this is a necro-thread, but I just found it (with a new post).

    After reading all the way through (but skipping the links) I have to say, not many of the mods suggested will make a noticeable difference to anyone in a live audience. Some might be audible sitting on the couch playing unplugged. Some might make a difference on an oscilloscope. Most are just a placebo.

    But hey, whatever trips your trigger. I'm not here to judge. An entire cottage industry has grown out of guitar mods and custom work.

    That aside, I can make a cheap Strat sound immensely better with little more than a good setup. A decent set of pickups (a lot can be had for not much money) and a nut made of bone or Tusq can open up an otherwise adequate guitar. Just decking the trem can improve sustain and tuning stability. Swapping the middle tone control to the bridge makes that pickup more usable, ala Jimmie Vaughan, and still leaves the B/M position open and airy.

    One of the best sounding Strats I ever built is my first one: a pre-finished basswood body, MIM trem and tuners, Mighty Mite maple neck, and Tonerider pickups. Well under $1K, and it was my main gigging guitar for years. It might have been dumb luck, but that's the basis and benchmark of every Strat I've built since then.

    But all of this is subjective, and in the end it's the player that makes the real difference.
     
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  13. kevinpaul

    kevinpaul Premium Member

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    The best Strat I ever played is the MIM I bought last fall. I said a white Strat with a maple board was the perfect guitar. I have said that for years and never knew why. I have one now and know they are a perfect guitar. I put everything you can name and then some. I just click with this guitar like no other in my life. Now I need to learn how to play it and learn this guitars flavors.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017
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  14. viking20

    viking20 Senior Member

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    I cant believe an article written by Wacky Dirk is the foundation for this looong thread.....
    Check out his own site singlecoil.com for even more snake oil talk , LOL
     
  15. Kris Ford

    Kris Ford Senior Member

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    And it needs to learn you too!
     
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  16. kevinpaul

    kevinpaul Premium Member

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    IMG_4038.JPG IMG_4789.JPG
    I know what you mean, how likes to held and adjust it balance and set.
    The black Japanese Les Paul need to lose weight.
     
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  17. Kris Ford

    Kris Ford Senior Member

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    Yep!

    But once you get there, and make that ONE adjustment that makes you go WOW..it makes it all worth it!
     
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  18. kevinpaul

    kevinpaul Premium Member

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    Years ago the Japanese Strats were cheap to buy. Many of my friends and I dreamed of owning an American ( real ) Strat. I never had or have that romance with the Japanese Strat. They were used like money. I had an ugly orange one that I used to get a bag of weed and a chic. She stayed during senior school and college. Nice kid, she is a rich lawyer in Chicago now. Yes we write. The American Strats had it all over the Japanese and other copies, except maybe one. Peavey T series guitars were great in the early 80s. I have and love my 1981 T30 CNC made Peavey.
     

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