#1
Hey guys,


I'm considering getting myself one of these, but I would need your opinion:

American Special Strat

I would mainly use it to play some funk rythm guitar, maybe try to learn a few hendrix/clpaton songs etc... pretty typical strat stuff.

Basically, my question really is: is this worth the price difference with one of the "high end" mexican ones?

I've played a couple of mexican strats, but they were on the cheap side, so I wouldn't know about the nicer once like for instance this 60s Mexican strat. .

The few american fenders I've played on the other hand were relatively high end ones, and since I know the one I've linked is supposed to be the cheapest possible American Fender, I know it won't compare to them.

As far as the two guitars go, I like the SFG finnish better, the pickups might be a bit hotter (which would be my preference) and the 22 frets are nice,. On the other hand, the 60's is 150€ cheaper, I like the headstock better, and I think that rosewood strats look better (not talking about tone here, I honestly can't tell the difference).

So yeah, help me out here.


TLDR:

I want to get myself a strat, not too expensive. I can afford both the guitars I've linked, and I think each of them have pros and cons. I'm not willing to pay more just because one of them is MIA but I don't mind paying more for a better guitar.

Trying before buying is not an option since there simply isn't that much choice where I live, and I wouldn't buy local because the prices are pretty much 35% higher in Switzerland, which is a ripp off.

Thanks in advance .

P.S.: I'm opened to suggestions, as long as it's a strat (I don't like super-strats) or that the body shape is really close to a strat (for instance G&L or Fretking). However don't suggest HSS strats, I don't like the way they look, and I have enough humbucker guitars anyway.
Also, I tend to find strats with white/black/red finishes boring.
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Last edited by Doogy-Style at Dec 18, 2014,
#2
I'll play along, having been in a similar self induced conundrum, just a few months back. A disclaimer first. I only just began learning almost 3 years ago, so I don't expect my opinion to carry any big weight, and won't be offended to have that confirmed.

The first guitar I got was a used Squire Strat for $99 off the rack at a pawn shop. Had no idea what I was looking at, beyond the vague notion that a Strat was what I wanted. At a year in, I got frustrated with my progress, and mistakenly blaming my own shortfall on a cheapo guitar, I got something much better. Something with dual, split coil humbuckers. Loved it. Still do. Went months without touching the Strat and finally sold it in a yard sale.

After some more months I really started missing the Strat. Or A Strat. So I went looking, thinking the USA Standard HAD to be the one. American made. Just like every car and motorcycle I've ever owned.

At the same music store I take my weekly lessons at, the saleman kept quietly pointing out the plusses of the MIM. Without him actually saying the exact words, he had me quickly realizing that the differences between the USA and the MIM, in the context of MY playing ability, didn't warrant one being priced at double the other. I played them both, back and forth a few times. The same chord progs and riffs, through the same amp, on the same settings. I actually tried 2 different USAs. One had the "Texas PUs" and I don't remeber the other one. And while my still developing ear could hear subtle tonal differences between them and the MIM, it really wasn't like they were worlds apart. All three FELT really good. The finishes on the USAs were more eye catching, of course, with the MIM having the color I really like, just not the gloss finish. I went with the MIM. I love it!

The upside for me, in going that way, is: While I was looking at Strats, reading all the reviews and comparisons I could find, I started wondering if maybe I'd like a Telecaster, instead. I mean, after all, just as many guitarists I admire play Teles as those who play Strats. Some play both.

Much too late to make a long story short, but I ended up going back, 3 months later, and buying a MIM Telecaster. So for me, for the price of one Strat, roughly, I got a Strat and a Tele, and love them both.

Just my measley 2 cents.
#3
Your TL;DR is almost as long as the regular post.


Long story short, it's almost always worth it to go American when it comes to Fender.
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#4
I have a Japanese made Telecaster which is perfect for me. Feels and sounds amazing, and it's well made. It cost just under £700, which I believe is more than a lot of the Mexican made ones (which don't feel or sound as good to me). I have tried a few American ones and yeah they felt good, I couldn't justify/afford the price difference though, especially considering how much I love my Japanese one.

So really it's all personal. I think in the future when I have a bit more money I'd look into some nice American ones but I won't lose sleep over not having one until then.
#5
Check out the Godin Passion. Excellent stratclone.

Carvins, too.
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Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Dec 18, 2014,
#6
no. I got into a really big debate with someone over this actually on youtube.

its body is small pieces of alder glued together (not a great idea)
cheap electronics / hardware
They made this to shut people up who will boast to their friends they got an american fender strat. It gets kind of embarassing when they say it's a special though. I am puzzled why fender made them.

go with a mexican (or japanese if you use ebay) if it HAS to be a fender. Even though many brands build just as good as fender.
upgrade to CTS pots - B250k across the board (volume to tone)
paper oil capacitors like Malory or orange drop spragues - 0.022uf or 0.1uf like in the 60s
copper shielding helps
locking tuners (9.14mm schaller tuners)
graphtech or steel guitar parts / tremolo block - the heavier the weight the more sustain
upgrading pickups is extremely over mentioned on forums so im not gonna suggest it right away. Play the guitar first. I've been told some guys like 60 cycle hum and it doesn't bother them.
my last suggestion is ernie ball cobalt strings. Not the best strings ever but it will make the guitar louder.
in the end though for the perfect guitar you're gonna have to get the frets leveled and bring it to a tech after purchasing it to get the most out of it if you've played for a couple of years you'll really appreciate this.

In experience coming from a guy who has owned or played everything be more concerned about the sound than anything. This trumps where the guitar is made. The pickups, everything. Play the guitar acoustically and then through your regular amp you play everything else on and look at the headstock last. Look for something you're going to keep for years. We'll never find the perfect guitar but there's a bunch of things out there to enhance and play our guitars to their full potential.

Godin
PRS (Even though they dont make strats with pickguards)
Edwards / ESP / LTD
not sure who else makes good strats as good or better than Fender myself. I'm a sharp pointy guitar guy at heart.
Last edited by Tallwood13 at Dec 18, 2014,
#7
I'd say if you can comfortably afford it, there's no reason not to go for the US one. It's a better guitar, even if only marginally, and it will hold its value better. As long as you keep it in good condition, you should be able to sell it for almost all of your money back, at any time, if you decide you want to. Hold onto it long enough, it might even gain value.

Also, don't let the fact that the US Special is the cheapest of the American models dissuade you. It's made in the same factory as the other US models, and gets the same level of QC and same factory setup. The Specials play beautifully. The higher end models are more expensive because of pickups, finishes, and in some cases, fancy top woods. Not because they're necessarily crafted better. Also, I believe the Special comes with a gigbag, while most of the other US models come with hard cases, which are worth like $150+ on their own.
#8
Fender makes a classic Strat. Godin, G&L, Suhr, etc, they don't make Strats. They make their interpretations. You may or may not like them better, that's subjectivity. All those other companies aren't better or worse than Fender Strats, they're different.
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#9
Quote by JustRooster
Fender makes a classic Strat. Godin, G&L, Suhr, etc, they don't make Strats. They make their interpretations. You may or may not like them better, that's subjectivity. All those other companies aren't better or worse than Fender Strats, they're different.

Troo awl dat.

Personally, I prefer the others to Fender. Something about the necks and ergonomics don't quite feel as good to me as the Stratclones I've played.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#11
Might want to play one first if you can. I can feel a pretty noticeable difference in feel with the jumbo frets. My first guitar was an Ibanez RG with 24 jumbo frets, so I used to think jumbo or go home. But when I tried one I did not like the jumbo frets on the strat. Ended up getting a MIM FSR(Fender Special Run ^^^) hot rod instead.
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#12
Yes. It is really worth it.
Quote by yellowfrizbee
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#13
to me thats like asking if a gibson custom shop is worth it. i say no.

fender USAs are great guitars. however, a japanese one for like 650 bucks is a really really close call in my book.

i really like G&L and i do like carvins. most people i know with cavins have the set neck or neck thru, but aparently their bolt (strat) models are pretty good.
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#14
i vote no. I've tried a few and they just didn't do it for me overall. as far as I can tell they are just glorified MIM strats slapped together in the US. if you take your time to play a few MIMs you can find perfectly good ones that play and sound great. higher end MIMs like the 60s player are excellent guitars and certainly better than the American special. as mentioned the American special is aimed at players who can't afford the standard or deluxe but want to say they have an American made guitar. a nice idea on paper but the guitar (at least the ones I've tried) is just average and you're not really getting much for the extra money. with the money saved you can upgrade the MIM with truly better pups.
#15
Bear in mind, the MIMs tend to have 42mm nuts, whereas the American Special, Standard and Deluxe have 43mm. A lot of players don't care, but some people (including me) notice. The slightly wider nut makes it feel a bit more modern to play, a bit more like a superstrat.

I haven't tried the Special, so I can't comment on the question. But I thought that was worth pointing out- you're not really comparing two identical things at different price/quality points, there are also spec differences as well.
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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
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#16
Quote by Dave_Mc
Bear in mind, the MIMs tend to have 42mm nuts, whereas the American Special, Standard and Deluxe have 43mm. A lot of players don't care, but some people (including me) notice. The slightly wider nut makes it feel a bit more modern to play, a bit more like a superstrat.

I haven't tried the Special, so I can't comment on the question. But I thought that was worth pointing out- you're not really comparing two identical things at different price/quality points, there are also spec differences as well.


1mm really dave lol.
#17
Quote by ryanpeppers
a bit off topic here but what does FSR mean?


Fender Special Run.

Quote by ikey_
to me thats like asking if a gibson custom shop is worth it. i say no.

fender USAs are great guitars. however, a japanese one for like 650 bucks is a really really close call in my book.


I've owned 2 CIJ, 2 MIJ, and 3 MIA Strats, including a special. The quality difference is pretty noticeable. Japanese Fenders feel pretty different. Plus, that 2-screw trem and Micro Tilt is awesome.

Quote by monwobobbo
i vote no. I've tried a few and they just didn't do it for me overall. as far as I can tell they are just glorified MIM strats slapped together in the US. if you take your time to play a few MIMs you can find perfectly good ones that play and sound great. higher end MIMs like the 60s player are excellent guitars and certainly better than the American special. as mentioned the American special is aimed at players who can't afford the standard or deluxe but want to say they have an American made guitar. a nice idea on paper but the guitar (at least the ones I've tried) is just average and you're not really getting much for the extra money. with the money saved you can upgrade the MIM with truly better pups.



The Special is a lot of MIM parts assembled in America. The American Standard is a pretty different guitar from the MIM. Almost all the parts are different, and the fundamental workings of the tremolo are different and vastly better. Plus, resale on MIM's and CIJ's are pretty crap.

Quote by Dave_Mc
I haven't tried the Special, so I can't comment on the question. But I thought that was worth pointing out- you're not really comparing two identical things at different price/quality points, there are also spec differences as well.


Not worth spending $1,000 on a guitar that doesn't have a 2 way truss rod, micro tilt, no-load wiring, 2 screw trem, and a micro-tilt adjust all from the factory. The American Standard Stratocaster is a pretty beast guitar. I have no idea where all this hate is coming from on UG all of a sudden. Ownership bias? A little Fox and the Grapes syndrome?


Someone who says they can't feel the difference in a MIM Standard and a MIA Standard Strat that isn't selling something or doesn't have a youtube channel, well, I wonder how good your skills are. To me, it's pretty apparent.
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Last edited by JustRooster at Dec 19, 2014,
#18
Quote by JustRooster

Someone who says they can't feel the difference in a MIM Standard and a MIA Standard Strat that isn't selling something or doesn't have a youtube channel, well, I wonder how good your skills are. To me, it's pretty apparent.


Feel doesn't really equate to performance though, that's all some people want to pay for. In other things the different price points offer undeniable performance increases. That or the stuff is so obvious, even to an absolute layman would notice. Which is why there are never people saying the following:

"Guys why is a 50 inch TV more expensive than a 42 inch TV?"
"Why aren't the 300GB HDD and the 100GB HDD the same price, they look the same!"
"My laptop wouldn't run a game so I bought the nicest feeling one in the shop and it won't run it either! What's up with that"


TL: DR

If you can't play Yngwie buying his Strat won't fix this. However in basically every aspect of life paying more completely solves your problem (which likely stemmed from not paying enough initially). e.g My Laptop was shit so I bought a good one, now my laptop is good.
#19
To sum it up you do not go wrong with either of them.

However to put you in the ball park of your influences its the '60s strat that is closer to Hendrix here.

I can still recall testing a '70s reissue Strat just like Blackmores at the Califonia jam 1974 through a Marshall JCM2000 half stack. It was a Mexico version and new still. I did try it quite a few times but in the end it came down to the pickups only being a bit weak to me. I am used to '69 ones.

In any case with the '60 you have the option to put any pickups in it or or other mod if needed to make it sound and work for you not costing you much more than the special.

For Jimi you need '63-'69 style pickups and Clapton is Laze sensor/noiseless but the '69 Fender would be a great upgrade and would be good for Claptons first solo album onwards though that was a '56 Strat brownie and parts Strat Blackie later. You can get '56 pickups too. Just stick with Fender and you would be cool.
Last edited by anders.jorgense at Dec 19, 2014,
#20
Quote by JustRooster
Fender Special Run.


I've owned 2 CIJ, 2 MIJ, and 3 MIA Strats, including a special. The quality difference is pretty noticeable. Japanese Fenders feel pretty different. Plus, that 2-screw trem and Micro Tilt is awesome.


The Special is a lot of MIM parts assembled in America. The American Standard is a pretty different guitar from the MIM. Almost all the parts are different, and the fundamental workings of the tremolo are different and vastly better. Plus, resale on MIM's and CIJ's are pretty crap.


Not worth spending $1,000 on a guitar that doesn't have a 2 way truss rod, micro tilt, no-load wiring, 2 screw trem, and a micro-tilt adjust all from the factory. The American Standard Stratocaster is a pretty beast guitar. I have no idea where all this hate is coming from on UG all of a sudden. Ownership bias? A little Fox and the Grapes syndrome?


Someone who says they can't feel the difference in a MIM Standard and a MIA Standard Strat that isn't selling something or doesn't have a youtube channel, well, I wonder how good your skills are. To me, it's pretty apparent.


not really a fair comparison. 22 frets vs 21 and different fret size are dead giveaways which require little to no talent to figure out. now as to actual feel there really isn't as much as you might think. I have a MIM and a Strat Plus Deluxe and one of the selling points of the MIM was the fact that the neck felt very similar overall. (the fact that the MIM had already been modded to almost the same specs as the Strat + was the biggest selling point). exactly the same no but close enough to where I don't have an issue switching from one to the other. truth be told I like the MIM a little better. this is a one guitar case and certainly representative of all though. a well setup 6 point trem can work just as well as a 2 point. I do grant you that overall the 2 point is a little better though.

agree that the American standard is a different beast from the MIM standard as stock guitars. I do like MIMs for certain tones a little better but of course the US performs really well across the board. the US special didn't impress me tone wise or playing wise at all. it seems like a mutt.
#21
The US Special doesn't have a Greasebucket mod on the Texas Specials. The Texas Specials almost require that on strats not to sound shrill. It's a guitar to fit a price point and a need. People want that MIA for cheap regardless if they're getting what they pay for.

Mexico and upgrade or MIA Standard. I usually skip right over the Specials.
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#22
Quote by JustRooster
The US Special doesn't have a Greasebucket mod on the Texas Specials. The Texas Specials almost require that on strats not to sound shrill. It's a guitar to fit a price point and a need. People want that MIA for cheap regardless if they're getting what they pay for.

Mexico and upgrade or MIA Standard. I usually skip right over the Specials.


agree. it's sad that both Fender and Gibson feel the need to put out subpar guitars just to say "hey a cheap (per se) American made guitar". yes I know market demands but who do they think they are really fooling.
#23
Quote by JustRooster
(a) Japanese Fenders feel pretty different.

(b) Not worth spending $1,000 on a guitar that doesn't have a 2 way truss rod, micro tilt, no-load wiring, 2 screw trem, and a micro-tilt adjust all from the factory. The American Standard Stratocaster is a pretty beast guitar. I have no idea where all this hate is coming from on UG all of a sudden. Ownership bias? A little Fox and the Grapes syndrome?


Someone who says they can't feel the difference in a MIM Standard and a MIA Standard Strat that isn't selling something or doesn't have a youtube channel, well, I wonder how good your skills are. To me, it's pretty apparent.


(a) Yeah the MIJs (like Tokai etc.) generally feel more like the vintage reissues (except without nitro, in most cases anyway).

(b) It's ages since I've tried them but I always reckoned the USA standard was a fair bit nicer than the MIMs (of course, that could also be a cognitive bias because you're preprogrammed to think the USA one "should" be better ). The MIM classic and classic players are quite nice, though (but again more in the vintage camp, at least to my fingers).

The neck shape/profile on the USAs suits me a lot better too, of course, so that's also likely influencing how I feel.
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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.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
Last edited by Dave_Mc at Dec 19, 2014,
#24
Quote by Dave_Mc
(a) Yeah the MIJs (like Tokai etc.) generally feel more like the vintage reissues (except without nitro, in most cases anyway).

(b) It's ages since I've tried them but I always reckoned the USA standard was a fair bit nicer than the MIMs (of course, that could also be a cognitive bias because you're preprogrammed to think the USA one "should" be better ). The MIM classic and classic players are quite nice, though (but again more in the vintage camp, at least to my fingers).

The neck shape/profile on the USAs suits me a lot better too, of course, so that's also likely influencing how I feel.


fender's have been without (or very little) nitro for a long time. even back in the day they only had a nitro topcoat. not as big a deal as many might think. MIMs are designed to have the older feel so no big shock there.
#25
yeah
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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.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#26
well I went for the MIM finally... Resale being not something I'm interested in, I went for the cheaper. I also thought that since the stuff I'm interested into was probably played on something more similar to the classic player, I might as well take that into account.
And finally, I'm more familiar with the 12" radius, plus the rosewood fretboard and 60s headstock just looks better to me.

Ideally, I would have gotten a SFG/Surf Green strat with a rosewood fretboard and 60s headstock... but that's not something easily found, at least not in a price range I'm willing to pay.
Maybe one day, when I have a nice collection and have become a better player than I am right now, I'll get myself my ideal strat. In the meantime, this will do.

Thanks a lot guys , hopefully I've made the right decision.
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#27
Quote by Doogy-Style
well I went for the MIM finally... Resale being not something I'm interested in, I went for the cheaper. I also thought that since the stuff I'm interested into was probably played on something more similar to the classic player, I might as well take that into account.
And finally, I'm more familiar with the 12" radius, plus the rosewood fretboard and 60s headstock just looks better to me.

Ideally, I would have gotten a SFG/Surf Green strat with a rosewood fretboard and 60s headstock... but that's not something easily found, at least not in a price range I'm willing to pay.
Maybe one day, when I have a nice collection and have become a better player than I am right now, I'll get myself my ideal strat. In the meantime, this will do.

Thanks a lot guys , hopefully I've made the right decision.


MIMs have a 9.5 " radius as do most fenders at this point. only a few of the reissue guitars have the old 7.25" radius. the Eric Johnson has a 12" radius

enjoy
#28
^Yup. If you bought an MIM guitar, it's probably 9.5".
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#29
Quote by monwobobbo
MIMs have a 9.5 " radius as do most fenders at this point. only a few of the reissue guitars have the old 7.25" radius. the Eric Johnson has a 12" radius

enjoy


according to allmost all the documentation I could find on the internet (this site for instance) the 60s Classic player has a 12" radius.

Anyway, even a 9.5" would be fine I guess, it's just that 12" is closer to what I'm used to.
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#30
Quote by Doogy-Style
according to allmost all the documentation I could find on the internet (this site for instance) the 60s Classic player has a 12" radius.

Anyway, even a 9.5" would be fine I guess, it's just that 12" is closer to what I'm used to.


pretty sure it's a mistake. no 60s fender was even close to 12" so that wouldn't be a vintage spec. as I said almost all fenders are 9.5" even the reissue stuff. the Strat Deluxe is an exception as it has a compound radius neck but even that starts at 9.5".
#31
We're mistaken, monwobobbo, it's a 12" Radius: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/StratCP6SBl


The current run of the Classic Player series isn't really to spec with anything, it's an amalgamation of specs that Masterbuilders put together and put into production. The 50's Classic Player Strat has medium jumbo frets and a 2 screw trem, for example. His 'player is a 12" Radius.

Killer Strat, friend!
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#32
Quote by JustRooster
We're mistaken, monwobobbo, it's a 12" Radius: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/StratCP6SBl


The current run of the Classic Player series isn't really to spec with anything, it's an amalgamation of specs that Masterbuilders put together and put into production. The 50's Classic Player Strat has medium jumbo frets and a 2 screw trem, for example. His 'player is a 12" Radius.

Killer Strat, friend!


I stand corrected. geez 2 point trem on that one to. not much 60s about it.
Last edited by monwobobbo at Dec 20, 2014,
#33
Quote by JustRooster
The US Special doesn't have a Greasebucket mod on the Texas Specials. The Texas Specials almost require that on strats not to sound shrill. It's a guitar to fit a price point and a need. People want that MIA for cheap regardless if they're getting what they pay for.

Mexico and upgrade or MIA Standard. I usually skip right over the Specials.

The American Special does have a Greasebucket circuit?
#34
Quote by GuitarL91
The American Special does have a Greasebucket circuit?



It's got the Delta Tone No-Load, which is way cooler, I think. No need for the Greasebucket (which is really just a treble bleed) as the Fat 50's are not shrill. They're fantastic pickups by themselves. The No-Load is a system that rolls off a little bass as you roll off your volume so your tone doesn't get muddy when you want it to clean up. Very useful. That only comes on the American Standards.
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#35
Quote by JustRooster
It's got the Delta Tone No-Load, which is way cooler, I think. No need for the Greasebucket (which is really just a treble bleed) as the Fat 50's are not shrill. They're fantastic pickups by themselves. The No-Load is a system that rolls off a little bass as you roll off your volume so your tone doesn't get muddy when you want it to clean up. Very useful. That only comes on the American Standards.


Nope!

The treble bleed/volume mod does clean up the muddy stuff when you turn down the volume knob.

The no load pot allow you to turn your bridge tone down and also if the pickups are hot do the Delta tone thing.

I have both installed on my Stratocaster earlier this year and it is 2 great mods to have on such as a guitar. But I got CS69 pickups which are more vintage so the Delta tone is not really present.
#36
Ah, you're right! I'm striking out in this thread, haha.
OBEY THE MIGHTY SHITKICKER
#37
It does give a few cool options on a Strat with the 2 mods.

On a lower volume anything less then 10 full up you get the high tones but it might sound a bit to thin and with the No load pot installed you can roll down the tone on any of the 5 switch options you got with a 5 way switch. Thereby you get cleaner and less power but still a more balanced tone you can play around with.

Also with the No load pot installed the bottom tone control works on position 1,2,3 and 4 giving you good options to mix tone 1 and 2 + the volume to your liking.

That is the main thing I have experienced by installing those 2 mods and they are staying. In fact I got 2 pickguards that I plan to fully load and I am doing the same wiring/mods but different looks/pickups to try at a later point.