Likes Likes:  0
Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 99

Thread: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

Hybrid View

Previous Post Previous Post   Next Post Next Post
  1. #1
    Lewguitar
    Guest

    Default The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    Been spending alot of time with my Strats lately. Learned alot too!

    One thing I've been doing is weighing all the bridge/tremolo units on a triple beam and comparing the USA Fender Vintage Reissues with the three original '61, 62 and 63 units I have and with the 80's MIJ units I have.

    The USA units sound better. Deeper and more solid and authoritive.

    And all of the Fender USA Reissue units weigh about the same too: around 373 to 375 grams with the bridge saddles in place.

    The 80's MIJ units weigh in at about 320 grams, even with a full size block and the saddles in place. I'll be weighing more of these as I remove them from my guitars. We'll see if they're all that light.

    The three vintage '61, '62 and '63 units weigh in at 375 grams or more. But they are not all identical! All three are slightly differant in depth from each other and deeper than the Fender USA Reissue...maybe a 1/16" to 3/32" difference in depth between the three original 60's blocks I have.

    In fact, when the tremolo is screwed down flat with the top of the guitar and all five springs are in place, the springs where they attach to the block actually stick out a little on the back of my '63 Strat! The block on the Fender USA RI tremolos is about 1/16" shorter in depth compared to my three vintage 60's blocks, so that "problem" has been corrected with the Fender USA RI blocks.

    I think that diff in depth is due to how much was ground off of the tremolo block to flatten it up for a tight fit when attached to the bridge plate. It was probably done by hand in the 50's and 60's and each ended up being slightly diffrant from the next. But only slightly.

    The best tone comes from the heavier units, and I don't hear much diff (if any) in tone between the '61, '62 and '63 units and the Fender Vintage Reissue unit.

    So the first step in the Ultimate Stratocaster Tone quest is changing all the trems in my MIJ Strats to the Fender USA Reissue Tremolos. The tone has improved in all of them!

    Now...onto set-up:

  2. #2
    Lewguitar
    Guest

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    Part Two:

    I've gotten the deepest, most sustainful tone by going with .010 - .046 strings and using all five springs with the tremolo.

    I adjust the six screws that hold the trem to the body and also the five springs around the back, so the bridge plate is flat to the top of the guitar.

    Then I adjust the five springs so that when I bend a note with my fingers the tremolo does not budge. I like to play double stops and hold one note but bend another note up: like a pedal steel.

    I never use the tremolo so I adjust the five springs with alot of tension so the trem won't move and lower the pitch of the pedal tone I'm holding when I bend a second note against it.

    I think that gets the deepest, best tone.

  3. #3
    Lewguitar
    Guest

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    Part Three:

    I think the high E string on a Strat tends to sound alittle buzzy, rattley and weak compared to the other strings.

    I learned that Eric Johnson uses a brass saddle for the high E string.

    So do I!

    It really improves the tone of the high E and I highly recommend this simple mod.

    Is it time to talk about electronics?

  4. #4
    Lewguitar
    Guest

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    Part Four:

    I always convert my Strats to:

    five way switch
    master volume 250K CTS pot
    master tone 250K CTS pot
    .02 Sprague Orange Drop cap or sometimes .02 Hovland Oil N Foil cap
    Fralin Blender Pot

    Now I have a tone control for all five positions on the 5 way switch.

    And I can get the neck and bridge pickups together with the Fralin Blender Pot ($10).

    With the Blender Pot, when the switch is set for the neck pickup I can blend in the bridge pickup by turning the Blender pot down. When the switch is set for the bridge pickup I can blend in the neck pickup by turning the Blender Pot down. VERY COOL and especially useful for adding just a little neck pickup to the bridge pickup to thicken it up and take a little edge off of it.

    I also connect my tone cap to the middle terminal of the volume pot...the terminal that leads to the output jack. This is the 50's mod used on some Les Pauls and it allows me to turn the volume control down without losing my highs.

    The standard connection is to the outside (not the middle) terminal - the same terminal the output of the selector switch and the pickups are connected to.

    If the 50's mod sounds brighter than you like, then simply attach your tone cap to the standard connection on the volume pot: same terminal as the pickups and output of the selector switch are connected to.

    Are we ready to talk about pickups? It'll have to wait for just a bit...I'm going to go for a hike for the next 6 hours in Lyons, Colorado!

    But I'll continue upon my return....

  5. #5
    Lewguitar
    Guest

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    Part Five:

    My favorite Strat pickups for vintage Strat tone are:

    Duncan Antiquity II Surfers
    Duncan Antiquity I Texas Hots
    Duncan Surfer N & B and Texas Hot Custom bridge
    Duncan SSL-1
    Fralin Vintage Hots underwound 3%
    Van Zandt True Vintage


    I also really like:
    Duncan APS-2 & Twangbanger
    Duncan Antiquity Texas Hots

    But those don't really sound like vintage 50's or 60's Strat pickups...although they are excellant pickups and among my very favorites!

    I'll discuss all the subtle tonal differences (as I hear them) and compare all of these to the original pickups in my '63 Strat as this thread progresses...

  6. #6
    Mojo's Minions dr.barlo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Istanbul
    Age
    48
    Posts
    3,390

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    After getting the surfers from you, I tried to detemine which of the sets I have would be out off my 3 strats. Guess what happened, I converted my fat/fat walnut warmoth strat (with the a5/a3 modded ant humbuckers) into a real strat. And it's hardtail. Thus added another single coil strat to the 3 I have. Now I got 4 strats all loaded with single coils.

    Anyway for the last two weeks I have been comparing the following sets:

    1. surfers (9.80K bridge, 6.30K middle, 6.50K neck)
    2. van zandts (blues bridge 7.10K, vintage + neck and middle both 6.30K)
    3. fralin set (blues bridge don't remember the DC value, vintage hot neck (5.80K) and middle (6.30K))
    4. SD antI / Fralin set (9.95K ant I custom bridge, and the neck and middle of the 3rd set)
    5. SD surfer / Fralin set (9.80K surfer bridge, and the neck and middle of the 3rd set)
    6. SD antI bridge / Fender Texas Hot neck and middle (again don't remember the particular DC values, but they were like 6.30)
    7. Fralin Blues tele lead bridge and van zandt vintage hot neck and middle (not those of the second set above tho, I got 5 of them, love them you know)
    8. non staggered 90 stock fender pickups, all 6.00K

    I think I didn't leave anything out.

    Have done the comparison on my 01 mary kay white rosewood neck ash body american strat. That one is a great guitar, very much alive!

    Might give more details later, but for now it suffices to say that my favorites are

    1. the first, the second and the seventh set
    2. the third, forth and fifth set

    I am sure that this thread will turn out to be a long one. So what's the point of hurrying, will be writing more later.

    B

  7. #7
    Super Toneologist dani's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    victoria, australia
    Age
    43
    Posts
    1,497

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    instant vault material!
    the mind is willing, but the flesh is weak...

  8. #8
    Mojo's Minions papersoul's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    4,119

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    Great stuff, Lew! I hope you anjoyed your hike...I am jelous.

    Hey, do you know anything about the Highway 1 strat? I am hoping to get a strat in the upcoming year but want to be able to play before I buy and can only really see myself spending for a H1 start since it won't be my main guitar but will be nice to have around!

  9. #9
    Lewguitar
    Guest

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    Thanks, I did enjoy my hike. Mondays are my day off and if the weather's nice I'll usually be out hiking or climbing a mountain.

    I don't know anything about the Highway 1 Strat...sorry. All of my Strats are 10 to 41 years old!

    Speaking of which, I wanted my '63 to be perfect for this test so I opened it up to do a little work on the wiring and ended up removing the pickups and measuring them.

    I was surprised to find that all three identical '63 pickups measure 6.3K or a little over.

    I thought mine were all 6K but I was wrong.

    I do remember from interviews with SRV's various techs, including Rene Martinez and Caesar Diaz, that SRV supposedly favored 6K or a little under for Strat pickups.

    SRV was after a clean tone. With his heavy strings, strong hands and powerful picking attack, getting a sparkling clean tone was difficult for him and I've also read from Caeser Diaz that Caesar increased the size of the input resistors on SRV's Fender amps from 68K to 100K.

    Otherwise SRV couldn't get the super clean shimmering tone he loved for tunes like Riviera Paradise, Lenny, Little Wing, etc.

  10. #10
    Mojo's Minions papersoul's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    4,119

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    Very cool Lew! I lived in Salt Lake city for a year to basically snowboard and hike.....I had off every Thursday and Friday which was great! I was so into it, I didn't own one guitar at the time. I finally bought one before moving back east.

  11. #11
    Lewguitar
    Guest

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    Quote Originally Posted by papersoul
    Very cool Lew! I lived in Salt Lake city for a year to basically snowboard and hike.....I had off every Thursday and Friday which was great! I was so into it, I didn't own one guitar at the time. I finally bought one before moving back east.
    When I was a full time gigging musician in the 70's and 80's I owned two electric guitars: my '63 Strat and my '60 ES-355.

    Could barely afford those!

    It wasn't until I retired and got a real job that I could afford to own more than two guitars!

    But except for my '63, most of my Strats are just real nice Fender Japan Strats. When I see a nice one for around $300 or $350 or so, I'll buy it and keep it for awhile. If it's an especially resonant and nice playing guitar I'll keep it. If not, I'll sell it again in a few weeks or months.

    I don't keep them if I'm not playing them, but I do have six nice MIJ Strats...all with differant pickups. Mostly Duncans and Fralins...one with Van Zandts.

  12. #12
    Mojo's Minions Quencho092's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Age
    32
    Posts
    3,544

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    how many axes you got lew? just curious, you must have one sweet collection!
    2004 50th Anniversary Deluxe American Strat, SETH-N BRIDGE, ANT 2 SURFER MIDDLE, ANT 2 DLX MINI HUM NECK

    280K RS guitarworks volume pot, 250k cts tone pots, .047uf paper in oil Jensen aluminum capacitor, running D'addario Chromes 13's with wound g > Analogman Orange Juicer>Acoustic 200H Bass head> Alesis Picoverb> unknown 12'' JBL Orange car speaker

  13. #13
    LoveMachineologist jeremy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    albany, ny
    Age
    42
    Posts
    29,782

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    nice lew, i also use 5 springs with the trem screwed down tight (though i use 11's most of the time) and its amazing how similar we set things up. the only difference is that instead of the blender pot i use a bridge/neck in series switch.
    im currently on the search for a new bridge for my splatter strat that has the surfers, its got a fender trem but not a great one.

    you really notice the difference with the brass saddle?

    as far as the hw1 goes, its an american body and neck with mexican parts. i have the neck and body from one and put all good parts on it and its a great guitar

  14. #14
    Lewguitar
    Guest

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy
    nice lew, i also use 5 springs with the trem screwed down tight (though i use 11's most of the time) and its amazing how similar we set things up. the only difference is that instead of the blender pot i use a bridge/neck in series switch.
    im currently on the search for a new bridge for my splatter strat that has the surfers, its got a fender trem but not a great one.

    you really notice the difference with the brass saddle?

    as far as the hw1 goes, its an american body and neck with mexican parts. i have the neck and body from one and put all good parts on it and its a great guitar
    Hi Jeremy, I removed the Gotoh tremolo/bridge from my Strat with the Texas Hot Custom bridge and Surfers neck and middle last night and weighed it: 350 grams. I replaced it with a Fender USA Vintage RI: 378 grams...about the same weight as the original trem in my '63. Again, the tone was improved: more sustain, more solid feeling and deeper, bigger tone.

    They're $100. and for the money can't be beat.

    As for the brass saddle for the high E, I have an old Dimarzio bridge from the 70's that I raid for my brass saddles and I do hear an small improvement in the meatiness of the high E. With an .011 the diff might not be as great as with a .010 but what I hear with the high E brass saddle is less buzz...less rattle...less of a thin, steely, rattley, buzzy tone.

    That's the same diff I heard when I replaced the six saddle bridge on my James Burton Tele with an old 60's Fender 3 saddle bridge that I put Seymour Duncan angled brass saddles on.

    I think a .010 E string is just so small that it rattles against the slightly rough surface of those vintage style Fender saddles. I never cared for all brass saddles on a Strat...though I do prefer them on a Tele.

    So I've got four of my five test Strats just about ready for this shootout.

    One more to go: my MIJ Strat with the full set of Surfers gets it's bridge/tremolo replaced today.

    Lew

  15. #15
    Super Toneologist
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    1,046

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    i dont think the Hwy. 1 pickups are mexican, they sound too good. waaay better than any mexi-strat i ever played.

  16. #16
    Fuzzy. Guitars the guy who invented fire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Just north of The ATL
    Posts
    22,539

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    MIM 50's, 60's, and 70's Strats do in fact have the same pups that come in Highway One Strats as well and 50's and 60's MIM Tele's have the same pups as Highway One Tele's...these are NOT the same as the early MIM pickups with bar magnets...these are the much better MIM guitars, IMO the 50's, 60's, and 70's MIM Strats and the 50's, and 60's MIM Tele's are the best guitar foe the money Fender has to offer...If you want the same quality with more modern features, get a Highway One...the MIM guitars are period correct...7.25" radius, skinny wire frets, 21 frets, ets...but if you want a vintage style strat or Tele and only have a few hundred bucks your a fool if you don't go MIM!

  17. #17
    Mojo's Minions papersoul's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    4,119

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    Quote Originally Posted by the guy who invented
    MIM 50's, 60's, and 70's Strats do in fact have the same pups that come in Highway One Strats as well and 50's and 60's MIM Tele's have the same pups as Highway One Tele's...these are NOT the same as the early MIM pickups with bar magnets...these are the much better MIM guitars, IMO the 50's, 60's, and 70's MIM Strats and the 50's, and 60's MIM Tele's are the best guitar foe the money Fender has to offer...If you want the same quality with more modern features, get a Highway One...the MIM guitars are period correct...7.25" radius, skinny wire frets, 21 frets, ets...but if you want a vintage style strat or Tele and only have a few hundred bucks your a fool if you don't go MIM!
    The only problem is that I like a flatter, more modern fretboard radius........10" or more. I would be able to deal with 9.5" though. I like that you can get a G&L with a 12" radius fretboard!

  18. #18
    Red&Goldologist joelap's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Connecticut
    Age
    32
    Posts
    2,247

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    I agree, let's vault this baby!
    7 FREE TRACKS OF ROCK - driftrocks.bandcamp.com

    PARTY - pulsepartyband.com

    In mother Russia, pedal overdrives you.

  19. #19
    Tone Member badco33's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Brentwood, CA
    Posts
    141

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    Hey Lew, where do you buy the USA reissue bridges? I saw that MF has a 62 strat reissue bridge for $79.99. Is that the same? Is the construction any different than the current Highway-1 or MIM strat bridges or is it just a weight issue?
    Peavey Classic 30 with Celestion G12H30
    Keeley Modded Boss BD-2 / SD Pickup Booster
    1993 Gibson Les Paul Studio- Custom (b) 59 (A4) (n)
    2001 58 Gibson Les Paul Reissue- 50th Anniv Seth Lover Set
    2002 Gibson Gary Moore Signature Les Paul- Stock
    2004 Gibson Les Paul Standard- Antiquity Set
    2001 Gibson ES335- 57 Classics
    2004 Gibson Les Paul Jr.- Antiquity Dog Ear
    Highway-1 (parts-o-caster)- Antiquity Texas Hot set
    Highway-1 (parts-o-Tele)- Antiquity Set

  20. #20
    Lewguitar
    Guest

    Default Re: The Ultimate Stratocaster Tone!

    Quote Originally Posted by badco33
    Hey Lew, where do you buy the USA reissue bridges? I saw that MF has a 62 strat reissue bridge for $79.99. Is that the same? Is the construction any different than the current Highway-1 or MIM strat bridges or is it just a weight issue?

    I have them in stock for the same price. Yep, that Fender '62 RI is the bridge/tremolo I've been installing in all of my MIJ guitars. And it's virtually identical to the three bridge/tremolos I have from the 60's: a '61, '62 and '63.

    I don't know how the construction would differ from the MIM Strats, but as I mentioned, the Fender Japan bridges with the full size tremolo block look the same but weigh up to 58 grams less than a real vintage 60's Fender bridge or the '62 RI!

    That does make for a difference in tone and I think the heavier '62 RI bridge sounds deeper and produces a bigger, "manlier" tone.

    Bonnie Raitt would probably agree!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •