Hello everyone, I'm having an odd problem with my mexican strat and was wondering if anyone could offer some help as I can't seem to find any solution on the internet.

Basically, if I turn the volume knob up on the strat to around 7-8+, and play a regular E Major open chord, I hear a very distinct F# ringing over the entire chord (as if I'm fretting the second fret on the high e string). It's so bad I can fret and unfret the high e string at the second fret (playing the note I'm hearing) and not hear much difference between the two.

Fiddling around, I have found that it only seems to happen when volume knob is turned up; I have a modeling amp with a bunch of different amp types and even on purely clean settings I can still hear the F#. It's a very distinct 'ring' overlaying the chord. I've found as well that it seems to happen when the lower four strings are strummed; muting the upper two has no effect, and I don't hear it while strumming the upper strings until I'm strumming 4 of them. I do seem to hear it clearest when I strum from high to low though.

I also don't think it's a problem with the bridge or springs, as I've replaced the entire tremolo and bridge assembly with a GFS steel block trem/bridge (including adding an additional spring and adjusting the springs from fully tightened to balanced to allow for tremolo usage). The problem was/is identical between the two 'guitar states.'

I haven't had this problem on my other three electrics (a vox hollowbody with one single coil at the neck, an LTD eclipse with EMG Hz-1 humbucker pickups with a coil tap at the bridge, and a charvette (strat clone) with high gain humbuckers), so I'm curious why it seems to be happening on the strat.

Any ideas?
Last edited by ScratchOne at Jun 24, 2014,
Hmm...you might have a high fret that is producing a "ghost note" on the high "E" string. That is not uncommon - sadly. A lot of guitars are coming from the factories these days with poor fret dressings. You should probably have a good technician check to see if your frets are level across the board. If it is a high fret, fear not! It is an easy and cheap fix.
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
Okay, I just messed around with it a bit more. Whatever is happening is happening on the A string as the 'phantom note' bends up when I bend it while playing DMaj open. Bending the other notes doesn't affect it. Also muting the A while playing the other chords gets rid of it.

If I strum and bend the A (I guess it's a B when fretted in the EMaj) I can really hear it ring out too.

It is a 2000 MIM strat btw with a maple neck. Some sort of harmonic node thing going on with the A string?

I have changed strings since the new bridge too, started with nickle plated 10-46 and switched to steel 10-46.

Edit: in fact now I can hear it clearly with just the E and A string strummed. The note goes up if I move up on the A, but only for another fret or so; as I get to the fourth fret I lose it and just hear the two notes.

It's really odd, basically I'm playing the two lower notes together and hearing a third higher note. It's coming from the A string but I can't see any frets touching, and it only happens when another note is being played; with just the A string strummed by itself I don't hear anything.

In fact it doesn't seem to matter which string is plucked as long as there is another vibrating with the A string. I actually could hear it most distinctly when pinching the B and fretted A string (both producing B). It seems to be some sort of interference leading to, maybe, an overtone on the A that is 1 octave + 5th above the fretted note coming out, so I suspect it's something in the circuit but I'm not really knowledgable enough to figure it out beyond that.
Last edited by ScratchOne at Jun 24, 2014,
Also I wanted to mention that when I tuned the saddle positions, I had to crank the A string pretty far back to where it's nearly in line with the low E string; I'm used to seeing a pair of slats ( . • ' . • ' ) rather than the way it is now (. . ' . • '), maybe having it cranked back is messing up the harmonics? And why would I need to do that on just the A string to get it in tune when the others are okay? This happened with the old bridge so it isn't a saddle problem...
Sorry to bump my own thread as I work this out...
so adjusting the saddle up and down didn't get rid of the note.
I have an ebow plus though, and when I set it to 'harmonics' mode and place it over the a string with the second fret fretted, I get the F# very loud and clear if I place it over the neck pickup (and about an inch either way)
So I'm thinking maybe it's some sort of harmonic node being activated by the neck pickup?
Last edited by ScratchOne at Jun 24, 2014,
Never had this particular issue but it sounds similar to a common issue on single coil equipped guitars called "stratitis". Check if any of your pick ups has the pole pieces very close to the string giving out this harmonic and if possible lower them.
Quote by tappooh
Never had this particular issue but it sounds similar to a common issue on single coil equipped guitars called "stratitis". Check if any of your pick ups has the pole pieces very close to the string giving out this harmonic and if possible lower them.

I think you are right!

Searching for 'overtone strat problems' on google got me to stratitis and it sounds just like it. I realized as well the overtones are not just happening on the A string but on all of the strings. I'm not hearing a 'warbling' though because the notes are in tune so it's more like an undesired chord being played. I guess strats just have this in their design, right? It's what makes them sound more 'chimey' and 'jangly.'

I'd rather the overtone be an octave still. It seems like that's the case on a well made guitar or any stringed instrument that has a 'ring' to it. I'm not sure why my strat goes to a fifth instead. But I guess I have to live with it as it's what gives a strat its sound, and realistically I can just dial it out with the volume and tone knobs (or try to figure out how to fit this strange '2 note full chord' sound into music). I'm not at all displeased with how the guitar sounds either so I can see accepting this nuisance in order to get that sound. Is it just acceptable that the strat has a basically dirty/unbalanced sound?

I'm wondering if maybe I should have bought a brass block rather than steel though. I'm afraid the steel might have just made it worse (the website described the steel as giving a more 'bell like' sound.) If there was some way I could just dial it down I'd be happy; I'm still really curious about what it is that creates this effect (maybe the trem springs interfere?)

Also, very strangely lowering the pickups actually made the problem worse; it just reduced the 'fundamental' and I could hear this overtone much more clearly. When the pickups were up tight the fundamental covered it up a lot more (though the sound got jangly too... other overtone interference probably).
Last edited by ScratchOne at Jun 25, 2014,
This all sounds like your strings are knicking the top of the 2nd fret. Make sure your neck is straight and your action is proper. You may just have a tall fret.
If your guitar does indeed have "Stratitis," this is one sure fix for it:

Duncan Hot Rails. I have three of them in each of my Stratocatsers and am very happy with them.
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley