Recommendations? Strat pickups...

Leee

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I picked up a ‘99 hardtail Stratocaster a few months ago. In fact, it’s one of the guitars in a “Twins” thread I started a few weeks back.

The more I have played it after doing a plastics swap, experimenting with 9s on it instead of 10s, I have discovered something that’s gonna have to change.

Staggered pole pieces.

Specifically, pole pieces sticking up way beyond the top of the pickup covers.

Bugs the hell out of me.

Every Fender I’ve ever owned (and numerous Strat-style guitars) over 40 years had more uniform magnet heights that did not reach up to grab my pick when I get anywhere near the middle pickup - which is pretty much all the time.

So I’m gonna put a different set of pickups in it.
Something with a smooth top profile.

Which ones to choose?
There’s only a million choices.
(And that’s just from Fender)

I have never been picky about tone or performance of single coil pickups in any Fender I have ever owned.
I have played some really hot ones in other peoples’ guitars that I didn’t care for.
But I don’t think I’ve ever heard a bad pickup in a Strat.

Humbuckers?
Oh, that’s another story. I have plenty of opinions about humbuckers.

But single coils?
Hell, I don’t know where to begin.

I already have a bone stock ‘93 American Standard so I don’t really need to duplicate that.
But what would be any different in a vintage-type output pickup?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
 
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mikekim

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Lace Sensor Holy Grails... stunning pickups... no stagger on top..
 

bluesoul

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A lot of the winders will offer sets either staggered or flat. Lollar Blondes are nice and would not be duplicating what your American Standard does.
BTW...as much as I like vintage or vintage spec strats, one of my favorites is a 92 American Standard (bone stock).
 

madmusicltd

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Lace sensor gold/red/blue/silver series do not have pole pieces, great pickups as well.

I have the golds in my Strat
 

jvin248

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.

If you are hitting the pickup poles ... your pickups are set too high.

'Strat Stagger' gives a Strat the classic tones everyone is used to hearing in songs. Go flat across you get more mid-scoop. Go equidistant to the strings matching the fretboard radius gives more of a sterile tone.

Before swapping pickups (and lowering them) if you are chasing tone mods, be sure to measure and swap Pots 'n Caps first. $10 for a tone change instead of $100.

See how low Hendrix set his pickups, and tipped them. I also like to point out how often he would have hit a regularly placed Strat volume knob as he plays from saddles to neck getting all the tones.
 

Dolebludger

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I have a partscaster that has Tex-Mex pups in the neck and middle and a SD hot rails in the bridge. All the pole pieces in the neck and middle are even, and of course the bridge pup has two rails. It is the only Strat I have ever played with a tone that I like.
 

Leee

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I’m with you on every point you made, except this one…
If you are hitting the pickup poles ... your pickups are set too high.
Arpeggiated and picking stuff is where I noticed it.
Strumming is not an issue.
But I snagged the pick on the D and G pole pieces enough to decide that this isn’t going to work for me.
At least, not in the middle pickup.

Consider me one of the great unwashed, and I never said I could play guitar worth a damn to begin with, but I am willing to accept some subjective and unverifiable tonal loss in order to get the pole pieces back down where I am accustomed to them.

Just goes to show, 40 years of playing guitar and I can still stumble into something that should’ve been obvious at the beginning.
 

ErictheRed

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I recently bought a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound middle for a HSH guitar, and...I don't recommend it. It's flat and high output (which I wanted), but doesn't sound very Strat like at all.

I'm on a similar mission as you, and I'm looking into Lindy Fralin pickups, which have an option called hybrid stagger. Many others have flat pole pieces as well.

I would HIGHLY recommend the Suhr ML single coils, they might be my most favorite boutique Strat pickup. They're on the vintage side of output if that's what you want, and while the pole pieces stick out, they aren't as pronounced as many Fender.
 

Duane_the_tub

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Jason Lollar offers every one of his pickup designs with flat pole pieces, and his website will tell you it's the way to go.
 

Leee

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Never used them.
Of course Lollar’s reputation is top notch.
Thanks!
 

Nintari

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My 96 standard has even poles and sound amazing. I bet you could find them on Ebay for a dime a dozen if you searched.
 

Leee

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My 96 standard has even poles and sound amazing.
Yes.
Probably precisely the same pickups that I have in my ‘93 American Standard.
I have zero complaints about them, and I bought the guitar new 28 years ago.
Not a single mod done to that guitar in all the years I have owned it.
 

Guy Named Sue

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I recently bought a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound middle for a HSH guitar, and...I don't recommend it. It's flat and high output (which I wanted), but doesn't sound very Strat like at all.

I'm on a similar mission as you, and I'm looking into Lindy Fralin pickups, which have an option called hybrid stagger. Many others have flat pole pieces as well.

I would HIGHLY recommend the Suhr ML single coils, they might be my most favorite boutique Strat pickup. They're on the vintage side of output if that's what you want, and while the pole pieces stick out, they aren't as pronounced as many Fender.
QP isn't supposed to sound stratty. It's basically a tele bridge pickup made to fit inside a strat. Wider diameter magnets and wound hot.
 

efstop

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Be daring. Order a set of Strat sized lipstick pickups in chrome or black from Guitar Fetish. Can't get a smoother top profile than that :)
 

Nintari

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Yes.
Probably precisely the same pickups that I have in my ‘93 American Standard.
I have zero complaints about them, and I bought the guitar new 28 years ago.
Not a single mod done to that guitar in all the years I have owned it.
Same with my 96. The only "mod" done was an ugly mushroom sticker I slapped on the backplate because I thought it looked "trippy". Damn thing looks horrible now lol.
 

Leee

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Be daring. Order a set of Strat sized lipstick pickups in chrome....
Strat sized?

PFFFFFFFFFTTT!!!

You are five years too late.
I have a set of full-size Seymour Duncan lipsticks in a Strat.

Combined with a little inspiration from Jake E Lee, there are three of them at a pretty severe angle opposite of traditional Strat bridge pickups.

Fairly low output, so my idea was to get the treble side away from the bridge to make them less spanky and to get the bass side closer to the bridge to make it sound a little sharper and fuller.

I even went with three stacked volume/tone knobs and individual switching for each pickup.

Raw Ash body that a buddy of mine painted, and a Fender Highway One neck (big CBS headstock) from 15 years ago.

It’s a mutt, an experiment that was never fully realized, but it was a great learning experience in many ways.
I will find a picture and post it as soon as I can.
EDIT: Pic added to post.
 

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Guitarhack

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Some really great strat winders out there

Don Mare (I think he's trying to catch up on orders right now but he's great and will work with you to find the sound you're looking for)
Cavalier (Rob Distefano - also great to find the right pickup for the sound you're looking for)
Ron Ellis - Nothing but praise for the sound of his pickups - Josh Smith has a set in his number one strat. With that said you'll have to be patient. This is a second job for him and the communication is slow. Also these are some of the most expensive out there. With that, his 50/60s pickups are the ones I"m keeping in my CS strat.

Haven't used these but they are very well respected winders of strat pickups
Mark Foley - a British winder (Matt Schofield uses his PU)
Rocketfire - build Strat and tele style guitars
 


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