#1
Hi,

I've always enjoyed the playability and looks of my strat, but the sound has always been too thin for my liking. The body is alter (light weight) and neck is maple. I'm more into the John Mayer and SRV type of sound.

Without changing any tree parts, is it possible to get the sound to be more aggressive as I mentioned above, by only changing pickups? What would you recommend?
#2
Of course. A Strat is a Strat. What makes a "50s Strat" different from the Standard Strat is the neck profile and the electronics - and of course the looks, I mean color choices and stuff like that (let's not start a tonewood debate here, but I don't think it really matters that much - and also, most Strats are alder and maple). SRV used pretty heavy strings and I'm sure part of the tone came from them (IIRC, they were 13s).

Also, it has a lot to do with your amp. So before changing your pickups, you need to have the right amp because that's what makes the biggest difference in tone. If the amp upgrade doesn't get you close enough, then change your pickups. What amp/pedals do you have?

It's also a lot in your playing style.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#3
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Of course. A Strat is a Strat. What makes a "50s Strat" different from the Standard Strat is the neck profile and the electronics - and of course the looks, I mean color choices and stuff like that (let's not start a tonewood debate here, but I don't think it really matters that much - and also, most Strats are alder and maple). SRV used pretty heavy strings and I'm sure part of the tone came from them (IIRC, they were 13s).

Also, it has a lot to do with your amp. So before changing your pickups, you need to have the right amp because that's what makes the biggest difference in tone. If the amp upgrade doesn't get you close enough, then change your pickups. What amp/pedals do you have?

It's also a lot in your playing style.


I have the Tech21 Trademark 10 amp. It's small but its got a decent set of sounds.
#4
that amp has a srv setting apparently.

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#5
Quote by Skaven83
Hi,

I've always enjoyed the playability and looks of my strat, but the sound has always been too thin for my liking. The body is alter (light weight) and neck is maple. I'm more into the John Mayer and SRV type of sound.

Without changing any tree parts, is it possible to get the sound to be more aggressive as I mentioned above, by only changing pickups? What would you recommend?


I'd say leave the guitar alone and focus on the amp and player. A 50s Strat will do awesome SRV tone all day long in the right hands.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#6
Weak thin sound from any guitar tells me I need to tweak the pickups some. I won't go too far into the amp thing, only that I've never seen a modeling amp I liked. I want a tube amp sound so I have a tube amp.

Bring the pickups closer to the strings, with strats I often lower the treble end of the bridge pickup and raise the bass end as close as I can get it without killing sustain. The other two it varies, but I think with my Squier it's the same on all 3. Bass end closer to the strings than treble end. Once you get the bridge pickup set, bring the others to a height that will give you even volume levels, then tweak the bass and treble ends to fine tune the tone.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#7
kinda agree that it's more about your amp than the guitar. SRV used fender tube amps cranked to 11 for his fat sounds and that isn't something your amp can truely deliver (never tried one but have played through other modeling amps). john mayer uses custom pickups which you can buy but they are very expensive. he also uses some really high end amps as well. one of the things about modeling amps is that they don't really see different pickups as well as a regular amp does. i can run any of my 3 strats (all with different pups) into my POD and get pretty much the same tone despite the pickups used being very different and sounding different through my tube amps.

i'd say take some time and experiment with your amp especially with the tone controls. strats have sweet spots that will make them sound fatter. use a little gain to fatten up the tone as well. last but not least don't feel bad. guys with way better gear have been trying to get both of those guys tones and can't quite get it either.
#8
Are you sure about the quality of the 50's pickups? It's a MIM, and I would somehow expect that the sound would be classic for that 50's sound, but not for the modern more aggressive sound. That is why I though changing the pickups would move the sound in the right direction. Of course, like many here have said, many other things contribute to the sound.

I actually tried raising the pickups a bit, but noticed that they were quite high by default already. Raising the hight even by a little the sound started becoming dull with excessive vibrations from the magnets.

Edit: another reason I've given thought about the pickups, is that I've compared my friend's strat through the same amp and it sounded amazing with the sound I am trying to aim at. I think his strat was somewhere in the American Standard -range, was quite heavy, with rosewood fingerboard.
Last edited by Skaven83 at Apr 5, 2015,
#9
^ Well, then find out what pickups the MIA Strat used (or what pickups SRV used) and maybe upgrade your pickups (if you liked the tone). The 50s Strat was designed for 50s tones (maybe more ideal for surf music) so the pickups may not work that well for SRV.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#10
Yeah, the '50s classic series strat pickups are very thin sounding and lacking in "balls", and I think it's not likely to be an amp problem - "new amp" is pretty much the default answer that is given to all tone related questions here (sometimes ironically), but it's not always the right answer. I have a classic '50s strat and I while I don't personally have a problem with the thinness of the tone (I do have a problem with the harshness of the bridge pickup but I'll be fixing that soon enough), I know exactly what you mean. apart from the potential for snarling harsh spikey treble nastiness, it's a very tame sounding guitar, by design.

I would recommend getting some Texas Specials or a similar alternative if you want a thicker, more aggressive sound. I think John Mayer has a signature set of pickups which should do the trick too, but I can't for the life of me remember what they are called, I only know the name sounds like something you'd order at KFC rather than something you'd buy as an upgrade for your guitar
I like analogue Solid State amps that make no effort to be "tube-like", and I'm proud of it...

...A little too proud, to be honest.
#11
^ I haven't tried those pickups but I agree that "new amp" isn't always the right answer.
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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
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#12
Quote by Blompcube
Yeah, the '50s classic series strat pickups are very thin sounding and lacking in "balls", and I think it's not likely to be an amp problem - "new amp" is pretty much the default answer that is given to all tone related questions here (sometimes ironically), but it's not always the right answer. I have a classic '50s strat and I while I don't personally have a problem with the thinness of the tone (I do have a problem with the harshness of the bridge pickup but I'll be fixing that soon enough), I know exactly what you mean. apart from the potential for snarling harsh spikey treble nastiness, it's a very tame sounding guitar, by design.

I would recommend getting some Texas Specials or a similar alternative if you want a thicker, more aggressive sound. I think John Mayer has a signature set of pickups which should do the trick too, but I can't for the life of me remember what they are called, I only know the name sounds like something you'd order at KFC rather than something you'd buy as an upgrade for your guitar


This is what my guitar now sounds like, from 4:29:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jngLznfvQsw&spfreload=10

... and this is what I'd like it to sound, from 4:42
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAqe0vcuG8E&spfreload=10

I noticed only the second video is using the neck pickup, but maybe you get what I am going after. The second video is pretty darn close to what I am looking after.

Beginner question: If I get a set of texas specials, can I install them using my original pickup covers? The ones I have are vintage white, and I think the Texas specials are "normal" white...
#13
yeah some texas specials, or perhaps some kind of boutique option. seymour duncan has the quarter pounder. there are also "single coil looking" stacked humbuckers. some of the strat style buckers are rails, like the hot rails models, but some look indistinguishable from regular singles. theres LACE brand. the new fishman fluence are super cool, but they may run you about 250-300 bucks. really for 3x singles thats not that bad actually, but some aftermarket singles you can nab for about 50-70 a pop so perhaps they are a bit pricier.

a google got me 225 for the strat set. honestly i would be all over that. i get pissed at noise easily, even from humbuckers. so i would be gravitating towards a noiseless.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFa4hLeSNG0

if it were me:
fishman fluence set
LACE brand
some form of texas specials style
or an aftermarket stacked bucker

i would probably put a hot, stacked bucker in the bridge, perhaps leave the neck and middle read singles.
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#14
have you tried using a tubescreamer?
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
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?
#15
in this case i still don't think it's as much the pickups as the amp. he's using a modeling amp which as most of us know just doesn't do the lower gain tube breakup thing all that well. the original pickups in SRV's 62 strat aren't much different than the 50s style pups. granted the current 50s pups are made with cleans in mind. SRV cranked amps up way louder than most of us ever could to get his sound and power amp distortion is a key part of it. Meyer is a little different but once again he used some pretty high end stuff.

OP i think you need to work on the EQ settings for your amp and also use the TS style overdrive (i assume this is part of the available fx) to fatten up the sound.
#17
Quote by monwobobbo
in this case i still don't think it's as much the pickups as the amp. he's using a modeling amp which as most of us know just doesn't do the lower gain tube breakup thing all that well. the original pickups in SRV's 62 strat aren't much different than the 50s style pups. granted the current 50s pups are made with cleans in mind. SRV cranked amps up way louder than most of us ever could to get his sound and power amp distortion is a key part of it. Meyer is a little different but once again he used some pretty high end stuff.

OP i think you need to work on the EQ settings for your amp and also use the TS style overdrive (i assume this is part of the available fx) to fatten up the sound.

But if TS's friend's Strat got pretty close to the tone he's after and his guitar sounded too thin (both being Strats), I think a pickup change is the right thing to do.

Also TS's amp is not a basic digital modeling amp - it's an analog modeling amp (I don't know if that even really matters).
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#18
Quote by Skaven83
This is what my guitar now sounds like, from 4:29:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jngLznfvQsw&spfreload=10

... and this is what I'd like it to sound, from 4:42
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAqe0vcuG8E&spfreload=10

I noticed only the second video is using the neck pickup, but maybe you get what I am going after. The second video is pretty darn close to what I am looking after.

Beginner question: If I get a set of texas specials, can I install them using my original pickup covers? The ones I have are vintage white, and I think the Texas specials are "normal" white...


I own a 2000 USA Strat and a good friend has the 50s MIM. Lots of quality gig time on both. All of those tones in your vids are easily accessible with either guitar, a TS-9, and a decent Fender tube amp. No pickup swaps needed. Spikey bridge PU also easily tamed with a flick of the pinky finger.

Just spend some quality time with the guitar and unlock it's tonal secrets... or buy aftermarket add-ons and wish and hope for the best. So many folks give up on their guitar too easily and look for the magic pickup pill to tonal nirvana. You have been holding that SRV tone in your hands the whole time.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#19
Quote by Cajundaddy
I own a 2000 USA Strat and a good friend has the 50s MIM. Lots of quality gig time on both. All of those tones in your vids are easily accessible with either guitar, a TS-9, and a decent Fender tube amp. No pickup swaps needed. Spikey bridge PU also easily tamed with a flick of the pinky finger.

Just spend some quality time with the guitar and unlock it's tonal secrets... or buy aftermarket add-ons and wish and hope for the best. So many folks give up on their guitar too easily and look for the magic pickup pill to tonal nirvana. You have been holding that SRV tone in your hands the whole time.


great advice but he doesn't have a fender tube amp which may be part of he problem. i agree that many just assume soemthings wrong if they don't get a tone n a few minutes with minimal effort. i spend a fair amount of time dialing in my amps and othe fx to match each guitar i have. not just a plug and play deal.

Maggara it may well be the pickups but i still have my doubts. did the friend use the exact same settings on teh amp, we don't know. he may also be better at playing thier stuff than the OP i mean a heavy hand works better for SRV. thee are other factors that could have made a difference as well.
#20
Like a lot of newbies, I spent a lot of time chasing SRV's tone, only to realize that it's almost impossible to duplicate. As has been pointed out, there's the way he played. Second, it's hard to know what amp(s) he was using on which song on which album. On one album, there were 32 amps in the studio, so good luck figuring out which he used.

Compare his sound on a studio album to the sounds on "Live Alive". Much different.

I had tried the Texas Specials on my American Standard, and they sounded too hot. I went with Klein Vintage 59 pickups, and they have a warmer sound. Between those, the heavy strings, the Tube Screamer, and a Super Reverb Reissue, I have a sound that's sort of SRV, but one that I like.
#21
Quote by monwobobbo
great advice but he doesn't have a fender tube amp which may be part of he problem. i agree that many just assume soemthings wrong if they don't get a tone n a few minutes with minimal effort. i spend a fair amount of time dialing in my amps and othe fx to match each guitar i have. not just a plug and play deal.

Maggara it may well be the pickups but i still have my doubts. did the friend use the exact same settings on teh amp, we don't know. he may also be better at playing thier stuff than the OP i mean a heavy hand works better for SRV. thee are other factors that could have made a difference as well.

I got an impression that TS played both guitars through the same amp with the same settings. If the MIA Strat sounded close to the tone TS is after through his amp, I think pickup swap would be pretty reasonable.

But yeah, TS, tweak your settings. If the "SRV" preset doesn't sound SRV enough, just tweak the knobs. Same settings won't work for all guitars.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#22
i am not sure if your amp is helping things (and i don't know how it takes pedals) but a compressor could help a little bit. they aren't always the answer, but they can be good in moderation.

i would:

1. play with your amp's settings
2. bring your guitar and amp to GC and demo a compressor
3. get new pickups.
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#23
I just got Classic player 60's Strat.This has the Custom Shop 69 pickups in.Now i saw Youtube vid of one of the custom shop guys say that these are the weakest pickups the custom shop makes.This being said i am gonna say that CajunDaddy and Monwobobbo are right.It's either your amp or attack that is the issue,Not the pickups.I can get SRV,Hendrix or pretty much any Strat tone with this guitar through my Blues Jnr.