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#1
I have a Fender MIM Standard Strat and I've read all about how MIA's are better quality guitars. Personally I don't care about how a guitar "feels" or the fretwork or any of that crap. I just care about the sound. So what I want to know is if I put better pickups in my MIM, will it sound the same as an MIA?
#2
if you dont care about fret work or how it feels then no it wont sound the same, the way a neck is set up is crucial to a guitar sounding decent at all, while i wouldn't consider mim necks unplayable the american necks are traditionally better, what is your budget for pickups? music you play?
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#3
If you use the same pickups, pots, and capacitors it will sound the same as an American Strat with those parts.
#4
I pretty much have my mind made up on Duncan SSL-1's. If I buy one of the loaded pickguards will that come with the pots and capacitors?
#5
The Duncan prewired pickguards come with everything. All you have to do it remove your old pickguard and disconnect the jack and ground wires. The only hard part of the work is attaching the new ground wire to the spring block in the back of the guitar; heating that thing enough to solder takes a while. Some people actually use a blowtorch or heat it on a gas stove to get a good connection.
#7
You could, but I'm not sure if the neck makes enough of a difference (in the sound) for it to be worth doing.
#8
Pickups are the best bang for your buck. Start there. You can always put good pickups in a different guitar if it turns out yours just doesn't resonate well enough. Plus, MIMs often have perfectly good necks, but the pickups are definitely not great, so you might as well start with the part you know could use improvement.

I'd strongly suggest learning how to install pickups yourself, it's quite useful and not difficult at all, plus you'll save quite a bit of money, first on a preloaded pickguard (which you'll have to solder a jack for anyway) and then later on any further upgrades or repairs that might come along.
#9
Tbh I've found that MiM strats have almost identical necks to the American counterparts. I wouldn't notice the different between an MIA and an MIM if blindfolded
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#10
Part of the reason I want the loaded pickguard is less soldering lol. I figured I could maybe tackle it myself, or worst case scenario it would be cheaper to pay someone to install that rather than having them wire 3 separate pickups.
#11
Quote by N_J_B_B
Tbh I've found that MiM strats have almost identical necks to the American counterparts. I wouldn't notice the different between an MIA and an MIM if blindfolded


I feel the same way. But try telling that to someone who owns an MIA haha.

I will admit they do sound different though, at least when played right next to each other
#12
I love my MIM, it's my go too guitar! Honestly the best sounding strat I played was an old Fender Bullet with Lace Pickups in it. I'd give them a look!
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#13
A big part of what you're paying for is the electronics. It's also a one piece body instead of a 3 or 5 piece glued together. American Strats now come with Fat 50's, which are $200 by themselves. The Micro-tilt is a huge help, and the 2 screw trem will has a better action than the 6 screw, especially if you like to float.

That, and an American is an investment. You can get a lot of your money back out of it in the used market, and special editions only get more valuable as time goes on.

And I can tell the difference between the average American and average Mexican. I feel like most people. Play a chord and hold the body against your chest, it's a pretty apparent giveaway.
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Last edited by JustRooster at Jan 24, 2014,
#14
Quote by JustRooster

And I can tell the difference between the average American and average Mexican. I feel like most people.


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#15
When it comes to tone, I've found that good enough is usually good enough. Start with a pickup change or a better amp and pedals (dunno what your rig is like) and see if that satisfies you.

Your guitar is gonna sound like your guitar. If you get a MIM fitted out with the pups you like and a sweet rig, it's gonna sound good to you. Like a MiA? No idea.

The reasons I'd buy American are a) parts and b) out-of-box craftsmanship. I'm talking fit and finish. Better parts means it should last longer without experiencing problems which require repairs. A MIM just isn't gonna give you the quality parts or the out-of-box fit and finish, most times.

But hey, I'm not a Fender fan anyway. The modern necks don't feel right for my hands.
#16
what sound are you actually looking for as saying will it sound like an American Strat really has no true meaning. tough to give practical advice without a better frame of reference.
#17
Quote by monwobobbo
what sound are you actually looking for as saying will it sound like an American Strat really has no true meaning. tough to give practical advice without a better frame of reference.


Check out this video to see what I'm after

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm7irTaftN8

I know it says blind test, but "guitar 1" sounds better to me and if you scroll way back through the comments he says that's the American one
#18
ok but you are missing the point. why does the US sound better to you? this kinda gets at what kind of pickups to recommend. just slapping the US pups in might not get you the exact thing you want. ceramic pups do sound a little different than the alnico.
#19
Well I'm terrible at describing things but I guess I'd say they sound less harsh and a little more compressed than the Mexican pups.
#20
not much help dude. as for the sound keep in mind that those vids are very compressed so don't really give a true picture of sound. still doesn't tell me what you want soundwise out of your strat. there must be a tone you want. get a new amp for starters (I know you've heard this). then when you have a clearer idea of hwat you want sound wise ask again.
#21
Quote by 757ian123
I have a Fender MIM Standard Strat and I've read all about how MIA's are better quality guitars. Personally I don't care about how a guitar "feels" or the fretwork or any of that crap. I just care about the sound. So what I want to know is if I put better pickups in my MIM, will it sound the same as an MIA?


Maybe, but not necessarily.

First, the pickups in an MIA strat are not necessarily "better" or an upgrade just because they're in a more expensive guitar. I consider a pickup swap a "sidegrade" rather than an "upgrade," because you're not adding anything to a guitar that it didn't already have. It's just a matter of personal preference.

Second, there are a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle differences between very similar guitars that can make the same exact set of pickups in one guitar sound different from that set in another.

For example, I have both an Agile Custom and a Gibson Axcess Custom (both LP-ish guitars) set up with identical electronics and pickups. The Agile has a thick solid body, neck-through construction, superglued jumbo frets and a Floyd with a larger brass sustain block than what came standard. The Axcess has a thinner chambered body, set neck construction, medium frets (non-glued) and a Floyd with a standard sustain block. There are definite and obvious differences in sound between the two.
#22
Quote by 757ian123

I know it says blind test, but "guitar 1" sounds better to me and if you scroll way back through the comments he says that's the American one


<G> Never evaluate sound based on a YouTube style video. Ever. There are just too many factors that change the sound between that guitar and your ears.
#23
Quote by JustRooster
A big part of what you're paying for is the electronics. It's also a one piece body instead of a 3 or 5 piece glued together. American Strats now come with Fat 50's, which are $200 by themselves. The Micro-tilt is a huge help, and the 2 screw trem will has a better action than the 6 screw, especially if you like to float.

That, and an American is an investment. You can get a lot of your money back out of it in the used market, and special editions only get more valuable as time goes on.

And I can tell the difference between the average American and average Mexican. I feel like most people. Play a chord and hold the body against your chest, it's a pretty apparent giveaway.


We have to get you out to SoCal. There's a place called Wild West Guitars out here in Riverside (not far from Corona) that has wall after wall after wall of ONLY high-end guitars, including probably every Masterbilt and high-end Mellican Fender. If it lives on a Guitar Center wall, it probably doesn't live on one of these. They do most of their business, apparently, with online sales. I'm not a big Fender guy (I own what, two?), but I definitely appreciate some of these. Some of them are four grand and up. For a FENDER? Sheesh.

You're going to have to revise that "Average American and average Mexican" paragraph; it...just...doesn't...read...well.
#24
JustRooster feels...a lot.

Wild West is known to Reverend owners- they have some color options that are unique to their inventory.
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#25
Quote by monwobobbo
not much help dude. as for the sound keep in mind that those vids are very compressed so don't really give a true picture of sound. still doesn't tell me what you want soundwise out of your strat. there must be a tone you want. get a new amp for starters (I know you've heard this). then when you have a clearer idea of hwat you want sound wise ask again.


I already have a good amp. John Frusiciante pretty much has what I would consider the ideal Strat tone, which is why I'm looking at the SSL-1 Duncan's.

The reason I posted this thread is that I don't want to put nice pickups in my MIM if its still not going to sound how I want. I'd rather save the money for an MIA if that's what I have to do.
#26
You guys...


Anyway, I'm contending that part of that "American" sound is simply the fact that the resonance is so much better due to things like a one piece body and a heavier two screw trem, etc. This is a string instrument, after all.
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#27
Quote by JustRooster
You guys...


Anyway, I'm contending that part of that "American" sound is simply the fact that the resonance is so much better due to things like a one piece body and a heavier two screw trem, etc. This is a string instrument, after all.


sorry Rooster but the bodies are 2 pc and sometimes 3 not 1.

OP didn't see Vox just the mg in your sig.
#28
Ah, yeah, I was thinking of Tele's. Almost all the Ash Teles are one piece.


At any rate, there's no doubt the bodies resonate better.
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#29
Quote by JustRooster
You guys...


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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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Et tu, br00tz?
#30
Quote by 757ian123
I already have a good amp. John Frusiciante pretty much has what I would consider the ideal Strat tone, which is why I'm looking at the SSL-1 Duncan's.

The reason I posted this thread is that I don't want to put nice pickups in my MIM if its still not going to sound how I want. I'd rather save the money for an MIA if that's what I have to do.


You can make a MIM sound really good. I have one that is completely redone, only thing that is original is the body. It sounds and plays better than my MIA now. New pickups will definitely change the sound. The other major piece on a MIM that is junk is the bridge. Bridges can be a little pricey, so if you want to replace one part on the bridge change the block. The next cheap upgrade I recommend is a new Nut.
#31
Quote by paulhudginsgt
You can make a MIM sound really good. I have one that is completely redone, only thing that is original is the body. It sounds and plays better than my MIA now. New pickups will definitely change the sound. The other major piece on a MIM that is junk is the bridge. Bridges can be a little pricey, so if you want to replace one part on the bridge change the block. The next cheap upgrade I recommend is a new Nut.


Done and done. I think I dated it at 1999, bought from a NYC 9-11 survivor. Lefty MIM's were routed as fatstrats, but I've heard of some without pickguards routed for S-S-S. I think I went through 4 different sets of pickups, even Texas Specials, before I "settled" on something that I could live with. There's still a fat deadness that even some MIA's I've played have, but my MIJ stills sounds and plays better. The bridge and FENDER saddles are higher quality than most of the MIA's, but I did put a heavier block on it; can't put a bar on it, but I don't use one anyway. Heavy strings help too - 11-60. Nut is the original plastic p.o.s. that will probably be the last thing I change, if I ever do.

The stock bridge pickup was actually really good, but buzzed way too much, even with shielding. I put a Duncan hotrail in there and killed the tone a little to get clean distortion, like a bright humbucker. I got a set of Dragonfire Texas Blues to try out - the bridge had a good Hendrix-y tone, was just too hot and too easy to get feedback, but the neck and mid just worked great! I changed to one master tone and a blender pot for the neck so I can blend it in anywhere; new Allparts pots and film capacitors. And then I added a momentary kill button, 'cause it was there in my solder kit...

Still on the fence about whether or not the wood/laminate/finish affects the tone. I saw somebody post something about the phenomenon of holding the guitar to your body - I do that too! NONE of the guitars on the floor at Guitar Center "feel" good. A couple of basses almost drained my bank account, though.

Anyway, anything I can do to help just ask.
Last edited by 1152 at Jan 26, 2014,
#32
Quote by paulhudginsgt
You can make a MIM sound really good. I have one that is completely redone, only thing that is original is the body. It sounds and plays better than my MIA now. New pickups will definitely change the sound. The other major piece on a MIM that is junk is the bridge. Bridges can be a little pricey, so if you want to replace one part on the bridge change the block. The next cheap upgrade I recommend is a new Nut.


I was looking into a block upgrade the other day, but I read something that kind of changed my mind about it. People were saying that it gave their guitar a brighter sound, and someone mentioned that its probably just because you always change to new strings after you swap them out. So now I'm questioning if they really do anything
#33
Quote by 757ian123
I was looking into a block upgrade the other day, but I read something that kind of changed my mind about it. People were saying that it gave their guitar a brighter sound, and someone mentioned that its probably just because you always change to new strings after you swap them out. So now I'm questioning if they really do anything


any change will affect the tone a little but not as much as you might think. seems like your problem is that you don't have a very clear idea of what you want. my MIM has had all kinds of upgrades (including block) and none has had a detrimental effect at all. my goal was to make it a suitable back up for my 89 Strat Plus Deluxe. bottom line is that you need to have a good idea of what you want to accomplish, be it a tonal change , better tuning stability etc.
#34
Quote by 757ian123
I was looking into a block upgrade the other day, but I read something that kind of changed my mind about it. People were saying that it gave their guitar a brighter sound, and someone mentioned that its probably just because you always change to new strings after you swap them out. So now I'm questioning if they really do anything


So a block isn't going to change your sound like new pickups will. What I found and granted my MIM I dropped in a SuperVee BladeRunner not just a new block was that the guitar is more resonant. The difference might not be mind-blowingly obvious but to me it is quite noticeable. When I am looking at upgrades for electric I look at the pickups first, then anywhere on the body the strings are touching. Nut, bridge, tuners, etc.
#35
keep in mind that there is far more to Johns tone than the guitar. honestly that may be one of the lesser elements. different pups will improve your strats tone but don't expect instant RHCP just cuz you have the same pups he does. I understand that you don't want to feel you wated money but as mentioned by pretty much all you can get a good sound from a MIM strat with a little care and understanding what you want out of it.
#36
I think John's guitar is a huge element of his tone, or at least the aspect of it that I'm looking for. I don't care for all the crazy effects he used on the later live performances. I just want his straightforward sound he had in the early days, which I've seen people come very close to by playing just a strat into an amp, sometimes not even a Marshall
#37
You also need to know how your tone changes depending on your technique

Then I don't mean blunt things like basic posture, but things like do the notes sound even when you pick even, when you change the angle do the overtones change well, do they sound good?

Those kind of things.

I mean you can put my dad in a ferrari, and let him partcipate in a race, and he most likely would end near the bottom.

This however does not mean that a ferrari is a bad car, and a good driver might very well come 1st in the same car.

That being said, change the pickups first. I found with the Americans, the tonal balance was a tad better. Like if you'd do a basic lick, only the notes you accented were actually accented, and you didn't have notes within pop out because of a slight tonal difference.

The low and high frequency response was the same between different notes, balanced if you will, and chords were even, no notes within standing out tonally wise.

Sadly I do not have the experience to tell if this is because of better pickups or a better neck.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Jan 27, 2014,
#38
Quote by xxdarrenxx
You also need to know how your tone changes depending on your technique

Then I don't mean blunt things like basic posture, but things like do the notes sound even when you pick even, when you change the angle do the overtones change well, do they sound good?

Those kind of things.

I mean you can put my dad in a ferrari, and let him partcipate in a race, and he most likely would end near the bottom.

This however does not mean that a ferrari is a bad car, and a good driver might very well come 1st in the same car.

That being said, change the pickups first. I found with the Americans, the tonal balance was a tad better. Like if you'd do a basic lick, only the notes you accented were actually accented, and you didn't have notes within pop out because of a slight tonal difference.

The low and high frequency response was the same between different notes, balanced if you will, and chords were even, no notes within standing out tonally wise.

Sadly I do not have the experience to tell if this is because of better pickups or a better neck.


Exactly. The notes are more even and compressed, which is what I said I was looking for in an earlier post. Thanks for the response!
#39
If you want John's sound as close as you can get, he plays Seymour Duncan SSL1's in his main 1962 Strat. However, the real key to his sound is that Marshall Jubilee he plays through.
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#40
I thought he had Antiquities in the 62. The '55 strat had the SSL1s and then he put Antiquities in the 62 when the pickups had to be replaced. I think the confusion comes from the interview quote in Vintage Guitar:
I would like to, but they do eventually need to be changed. On my '55, I bought it with an expert who insisted we open it up to see if the pickups were original. He and the people at the store all thought that they were original. Then years later, we found out that they were Seymour Duncan Vintage Strat pickups. They are so similar to the original that it's hard to tell the difference in sound. I had my '62, which has the original pickups, and then I had the '55 with the Duncans, and the sound was very similar. The differences had more to do with the guitars than the pickups. Eventually, I had to get Duncans in the '62 as well.

Now, the Duncan forums figured out that the '55 had SSL1s in it, but he never does actually mention which models of each were in which guitar, and it's not necessarily implied that they were the same model. I seem to remember being fairly certain that the 62 had the Antiquities. The Edwards/ESP Frusciante strat, which is a very faithful reproduction of the the original 62, has Antiquities. Plus the original guitar has that parchment look to its pickups that suggest (though not strongly) a set of antiquities.

None of this is confirmed, though, it's all hearsay. I'm sending Duncan an email, see if they have any say on this.

Not that it matters very much, the SSL1s sound damn close to the antiquities and are significantly cheaper. They're probably the smarter choice regardless of what's actually in the '62.
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