Hello everyone,

I decided to make a new thread to ask a question regarding my newly bought guitar, an American Fender Standard Stratocaster 2014.

I am still trying to get a feel for the guitar and the pickups, but I wanted to ask a few tips from the masters (owners) among you. So... what are the different pickups used for? What kind of sounds do they give you? How do the Tone knobs change this sound? Why does the 2nd tone knob (the one closest to the bridge) sorts of click at position 10? (Yes, I am quite an unexperienced guitar player).

Any personal experience, websites, whatever you can help me with, would be amazing!
Just want to take the most out of my new "baby"!

Cheers all!
The tone knob "clicks" in place at 10 because it has a bypass switch that is activated by setting the tone knob to 10. Basically, it bypasses the tone-knob circuit completely. I thought it was something wrong with mine at first... There's actually a story behind this, and that is that the Stratocaster didn't have a tone knob connected to the bridge pickup at first, so with the American Standard Strat you have the option to both go "classic" AND to have the option of a tone knob if you want to.

The function of tone knobs is that they reduce the treble when turned down. I believe the American Standard has a special filter that makes sure the volume isn't affected, otherwise there could be slight volume loss with turning the tone knob down, and that is of course problematic.

I am sort of unusual for a Strat player in that I prefer the bridge for everything. Almost never use the tone knobs either. Most players think the bridge is too harsh sounding, and use position 2 instead (bridge + middle). One thing to note is that position 2 and 4 (bridge + middle and middle + neck) is hum canceling, because the middle pickup is reverse wound. It works sort of like a humbucker, while having a sound of its own.

As for what to use the pickups for, it's up to you to experiment with. Everyone has different preferences. The "quack" you get with bridge + middle as well as the "fat" neck pickup are both classic sounds which has made the Strat famous.
i don't have one but for a strat in general

neck pickup is your kind of bluesy lead tone. can also be used for warmer (jazzier) cleans.

neck + middle is your warmer "in-between" tone. sounds nice for cleaner tones.

middle sort of sounds between the neck and bridge in terms of brightness and warmth. originally it was meant to be used sort of the way a bridge pickup normally is, with the bridge only used for really bright passages, but most people don't do that. but if you find the bridge pickup too bright you could try using the middle pickup instead.

bridge + middle is the brighter of the two "in-between" settings. like the neck + middle it sounds a bit more interesting than pickups alone and that can help to add some interest for cleaner tones. Being a bit brighter and less muddy, it can also be used for rockier tones. It's also noiseless (no hum), as is the neck+middle position, so that can be useful if you're getting too much hum.

bridge is the brightest-sounding position, and is often used for the rockiest stuff. if it's too bright you can roll the tone control down a bit (the one nearest to the bridge).

the tone knob clicks because it's a "no-load" tone knob. i.e. at 10 it's out of the circuit. this sounds slightly brighter than having a tone knob on 10 but still in the circuit.

the tone knobs just roll off the highs. Normally i'd personally leave them full up unless things are too bright.

EDIT: ninjaed
Some great replies guys.
I have a 60th anniversary American Strat, and find I use the neck and neck/bridge pickups more than the others.
You guys are great and this community is indeed fantastic!
Thank you for all the clarification and help. That is really appreciated!
I use the middle pickup for my clean tones when I want more of an acoustic sound. robin trower uses the middle position for a lot of his songs as well. I mainly use the bridge and neck positions for most of my playing.

make sure you get a good setup. if you use the trem that is really important so you can stay in tune. personally I prefer that they are set to float as usually a little tug up will unkink the strings if they get caught at the nut.
Strats are incredibly versatile guitars and with that, at least in my experience, comes a good bit of tinkering to optimize each of the sounds you're getting from it.

I've been playing Strats exclusively for about the last 18 months, and it's just been in the past couple months that I feel like I've dialed my rig into a place that allows me to feel great about my tones all across the pickup selector. I like to have everything from decent clean tones to ballsy hard rock tones, and I can access those all from my Strats.

For reference, here's a generic breakdown of how I set the key parts of my rig. You might be able to translate the general idea of what I'm doing into your rig.

For starters, I run a single channel amp (Jet City JCA 20 w/112 cab) set to a warm, cleanish tone that breaks up and sings enough for clean leads. I manipulate the guitar's volume control a lot, so my starting spot on the volume knob is around "8". This allows me to bump up the volume for leads enough to get over the band and into the right spot in the mix. I also have the bridge pickup wired to the bottom tone knob on both of my Strats, which allows you to roll off any harshness (especially for dirty tones). I like to keep a delay pedal on at all times, set as essentially a "fake reverb".

I kick on an OD (MI Audio Blues Pro) for my heavier tones. I run a good amount of gain on the pedal (around 3/4's of what the pedal has on tap), and the volume is set a little above unity with the tone set to a point that is consistent with the amps natural tone and where I like to fit in the mix. At my starting point of "8" on the guitar volume knob I have plenty of gain and girth for ballsy rock tones and when I roll up to 10 I have to perfect amount of gain, volume, sustain, and singing highs for leads.

The key for me was finding the right EQ on the amp (which is around 6/6/4 in terms of B/M/T) that gave me a warm foundation tone to that sounded good all along the pickup selector. Then, I kicked on the OD and tweaked it to where it needed to be.
I have been a Strat player for about 10 years. I blocked the trem because I use a lot of dual string bends and I can hit those more easily without a trem. I also use every PU position and every control. I roll the volume a lot to find that "just on the edge of breakup" sound and I roll the tone off a bit on the bridge PU most of the time to smooth it out.

Neck PU- Warmer female tone for jazz, ballads, Santana, some SRV, Clapton, Gilmour.
Middle PU- Moderate female tone a little more balanced for all the above.
Bridge PU- Aggressive male tone for EVH, John 5, Dick Dale, SRV etc.
Mid PU positions to add interest and out of phase sounds.

The Strat has been around for 60 yrs and still has a lot to offer. Enjoy!
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Nov 11, 2014,