Poll: What to do with the bridge pickup
Poll Options
View poll results: What to do with the bridge pickup
Buy a decent single coil and just change it
9 26%
Buy a humbucker in a single coil body
12 34%
Buy a full-size humbucker and replace the pickguard
7 20%
Upgrade an amp
8 23%
Voters: 35.
Page 1 of 2
#1
Hi all,

Quick Intro:
New on the forum. Played acoustic (non-pro) for many years, never had an electric guitar.
Couple of years ago bought mexican strat for playing at home, everything stock, and very happy. It's connected to Fender Mustang II, that satisfies my needs (I'm playing almost always clean, sometimes a bit crunchy).

Problem:
My only complaint is a (stock) bridge pickup, that I never use because of the sound. Unpleasantly many highs, too bright, dull with no body. Tried to adjust it's position, changed string sets, but never was able to get anything pleasant. Happy with neck and middle pickups.

I was thinking on my options, so I am seeking for an advice:
1. Buy a decent single coil and just change it. Listened to many samples on SD site - most of the options sound good to me . Though it takes me MUCH time to decide if I love the sound.
2. Buy a humbucker in a single coil body. I think for the crunchy tone I'm seeking, it might work better.
3. Buy a full humbucker and replace the pickguard (will it fit the body?)
4. Upgrade an amp. I was thinking on tube ones with 12" speaker. Fender blues Jr, or Bassbreaker, or Marshall DSL.
Other suggestions are also welcome.

Players/styles/sounds that I like: David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Derek Trucks.
Last edited by eugene_s at Aug 29, 2016,
#2
I just tested a mexican strat HSS with the hum bucker in it, it sounded really good
#4
Yeah I would leave 2 single coil in neck and middle and replace bridge with a humbucker
#5
It depends if you'd have use from a bridge singlecoil or not. First and simplest thing I'd say - if the bridge pickup isn't wired to the tone (I can never remember if it's wired like that on current Mexi Strats), try connecting that pickup to the tone control and see if you can get something you like more out of it.

A bridge humbucker may help for some of those players' sounds, but equally some will benefit from the singlecoil bridge and the bridge-and-middle position on the pickup selector that's obviously very different with a humbucker in there.
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#6
K33nbl4d3, yes, you're right bridge pickup is not wired to the tone. Didn't think about this option, sounds good, thanks. Can you recommend a schematics, or should I just google it?
#7
Quote by K33nbl4d3
It depends if you'd have use from a bridge singlecoil or not. First and simplest thing I'd say - if the bridge pickup isn't wired to the tone (I can never remember if it's wired like that on current Mexi Strats), try connecting that pickup to the tone control and see if you can get something you like more out of it.

This.
Various Strats
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Koch Studiotone XL
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Eastman El Rey 1
#9
Quote by eugene_s
K33nbl4d3, yes, you're right bridge pickup is not wired to the tone. Didn't think about this option, sounds good, thanks. Can you recommend a schematics, or should I just google it?
On a traditional Strat, it's as simple as adding the red wire on the pickup switch:


You'll want to check that the connections on yours are the same as those on the diagram but it should be the same.
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Quote by StewieSwan
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#11
try the tone control thing first

then if that doesn't help enough, 3+4 (make the bridge humbucker autosplit in position 4 if you use the bridge + middle setting a lot currently)
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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
Thanks, folks.
One question: if I reduce "treble" on the amp - how good this predicts the sound if I make the proposed mod (wiring the bridge to the tone and reducing highs there)?
I tried it on the amp and it does not help (the sound is still dull, just with no overwhelming highs).
#13
Dave_Mc, if I go with replacing the bridge pickup to humbucker, in position 4 - do I connect the top or the bottom coil of the humbucker with the mid pickup? I realize that it should be opposite polarity to cancel the noise, but both coils of the humbucker can be connected opposite polarity.
Last edited by eugene_s at Aug 28, 2016,
#14
Quote by eugene_s
Thanks, folks.
One question: if I reduce "treble" on the amp - how good this predicts the sound if I make the proposed mod (wiring the bridge to the tone and reducing highs there)?
I tried it on the amp and it does not help (the sound is still dull, just with no overwhelming highs).


probably not quite the same. that doesn't normally get rid of the shrillness in just the same way. the tone pot to the bridge pickup won't do enough. the other flaw is that rolling down the tone drops the output further, which is kind of going in the opposite direction from what you want if you're trying to get closer to a humbucker (which normally has more output than a strat pickup).

Quote by eugene_s
Dave_Mc, if I go with replacing the bridge pickup to humbucker, in position 4 - do I connect the top or the bottom coil of the humbucker with the mid pickup? I realize that it should be opposite polarity to cancel the noise, but both coils of the humbucker can be connected opposite polarity.


it's up to you, really. i'm not sure i've ever tried it with either coil on the same guitar, but i think the theory is that the coil closer to the middle pickup should sound strattier, while the pickup nearer to the bridge/trem will sound more like a tele. I think. Don't quote me on that, and it may well depend on the specific pickup and guitar in question 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
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
I would recommend trying a new amp first, take your guitar to a shop and try playing it through a few different amps. From your list I highly recommend the Bassbreaker, amazing sounding amp, I am going to buy one to handle the cleaner and crunchier bluesy side of my playing and a Laney IRT Studio for the br00tz.

I would always recommend getting a decent tube amp before farting around with different pickups, I own 4 different guitars with wildly different pickups ranging from cheap Ibanez own brand crap on the GRG to nice Alnico Probuckers on my Les Paul to amazing Dimarzio Fusion pickups on my RGD, all wildly different pickups of low, medium, high quality, all sound like they are running through a solid state modelling amp because of my Vypyr.

Don't get me wrong, the Vypyr is a good amp, sounds great for a modeller, but it just doesn't quite have that valve tone and thus, I will never be truly happy with the tone no matter what pickups I have in my guitars, I believe you may have the same issue.
My Gear:
Ibanez Jet King 2
Ibanez RGDIX7 MPB
Ibanez GRG 7221
OLP John Petrucci
Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro
Squier Stratocaster (modified)
Harley Benton CLD-41S (Acoustic)

Peavey Vypyr 30.

Boss CH-1 Super Chorus
Boss DD-3 Digital Delay
Boss FRV-1 '63 Fender Reverb
#16
^ i'd agree up to a point, but the big problem is that once you get that nice valve amp, if pickups are the problem (and they may well be since humbuckers sound pretty different to single coils) you're still going to notice it. Actually maybe more so, because as you say modelling amps often mitigate (at least a bit) the differences between pickup types.

Kind of a paradox.

"Don't buy new pickups because you won't be able to hear the difference with your current amp, buy an amp instead!"

"But if I buy the new amp won't I be able to then hear the difference between pickups?"

Dunno what the answer is. Outside of the glib "Get both!"
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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 Aug 29, 2016,
#17
Quote by Dave_Mc
^ i'd agree up to a point, but the big problem is that once you get that nice valve amp, if pickups are the problem (and they may well be since humbuckers sound pretty different to single coils) you're still going to notice it. Actually maybe more so, because as you say modelling amps often mitigate (at least a bit) the differences between pickup types.

Kind of a paradox.

"Don't buy new pickups because you won't be able to hear the difference with your current amp, but an amp instead!"

"But if I buy the new amp won't I be able to then hear the difference between pickups?"

Dunno what the answer is. Outside of the glib "Get both!"

Very good points, I agree 100% perhaps I should have been clearer in my point that an amp will make a much bigger difference and improvement in tone than a new pickup.
My Gear:
Ibanez Jet King 2
Ibanez RGDIX7 MPB
Ibanez GRG 7221
OLP John Petrucci
Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro
Squier Stratocaster (modified)
Harley Benton CLD-41S (Acoustic)

Peavey Vypyr 30.

Boss CH-1 Super Chorus
Boss DD-3 Digital Delay
Boss FRV-1 '63 Fender Reverb
#18
Trade it in and get a Les Paul.
Bhaok

The following statement is true. The proceeding statement is false.
#19
Quote by N1ghtmar3C1n3ma
Very good points, I agree 100% perhaps I should have been clearer in my point that an amp will make a much bigger difference and improvement in tone than a new pickup.


oh absolutely, and I agree with you, I just find it kind of funny that most of the time, although we're ostensibly saying what we think is the best use of the available funds, what we're basically effectively saying is, "ideally, buy both, just in this order!"
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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 Aug 29, 2016,
#20
Guys,

Thanks much for the advices.
I guess, one point is still not clear to me: how decent are stock Mex strat bridge pickup. I actually like the stock neck/mid pickup a lot. Is the bridge one so much different? Or is it just defective?

P.S. I'm waiting for the soldering kit I've ordered, so the mod you recommended is not done/tested yet, and i can't say if it helps.
#21
Quote by eugene_s
I guess, one point is still not clear to me: how decent are stock Mex strat bridge pickup. I actually like the stock neck/mid pickup a lot. Is the bridge one so much different? Or is it just defective?
They're not bad pickups by any means. They use ceramic magnets, whereas in my experience people generally prefer AlNiCo for Strats, but they do get the right kind of sound nonetheless. That being said, to an extent the bridge position just has its own character regardless of your pickup choice, and you may find that dull; I hardly use the bridge pickup on my Teles for similar reasons, although I do like the middle position. If you can't get along with that position as it is, a humbucker there will at least get you good higher gain sounds - that's a common configuration for a reason.
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Youre officially uber shit now.

Quote by StewieSwan
3d9310rd is far more upset than i 
#22
eugene_s I am willing to wager that your problem is the amp and or amp settings, not the pickup - if you set your tone to sound great on the neck pickup, but it's way too shrill on the bridge, that's symptom that either your amp is unbalanced or the settings are too extreme and when you switch to your bridge pickup you're accentuating annoying frequencies. Start by trying to set your amp while on the bridge pickup to see if you can find a decent setting there, and then see if that fixes the problem. Start with your EQ settings flat ( i.e. all at noon) and see if that helps.
Last edited by reverb66 at Aug 30, 2016,
#23
I had the same problem with my American Standard, I've had a lot of luck with a DiMarzio Injector. The name, description, and Paul Gilbert endorsement make it seem like it's a loud, angry metal pickup, but it's actually surprisingly single-coily, just with a little more beef and far fewer shrill highs. It's also really friendly with the tone control, so it's easy to dial back the highs if there's still too much. (On that note, if you do swap the pickup, make sure to have one of the tone controls running to the bridge pickup as long as you're rewiring it. I'm not sure if MIMs come wired that way now, but if not, it's one of the best simple mods you can make to a strat)
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#24
Quote by reverb66
eugene_s I am willing to wager that your problem is the amp and or amp settings, not the pickup - if you set your tone to sound great on the neck pickup, but it's way too shrill on the bridge, that's symptom that either your amp is unbalanced or the settings are too extreme and when you switch to your bridge pickup you're accentuating annoying frequencies. Start by trying to set your amp while on the bridge pickup to see if you can find a decent setting there, and then see if that fixes the problem. Start with your EQ settings flat ( i.e. all at noon) and see if that helps.


I spent some time playing with amp settings and effects to make it sound better. While distorted it sounds OK, clean it's too shrill.
Inspired by your reply, I'll give it another attempt.

Thanks.

And, yes, I'm looking on the market of used amps for a used tube amp.
Last edited by eugene_s at Aug 30, 2016,
#25
Quote by eugene_s
Guys,

Thanks much for the advices.
I guess, one point is still not clear to me: how decent are stock Mex strat bridge pickup. I actually like the stock neck/mid pickup a lot. Is the bridge one so much different? Or is it just defective?

P.S. I'm waiting for the soldering kit I've ordered, so the mod you recommended is not done/tested yet, and i can't say if it helps.


obviously it's impossible to say without our trying your guitar, but a lot of people don't like strat bridge pickups, pretty much for the reasons you've mentioned. it's entirely possible that you just don't like it.
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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
Yeah the start bridge pickup is bright and shrill, but it will cut through like a knife through butter in a band context. Experiment with pickup height. connect it up to the tone (as mentioned) , even try experimenting with string and pick gauge.

Strats really are the best players, so experiment without too much outlay before you give up and go Gibson / Epiphone.
#27
Quote by AdamHarkus
Yeah the start bridge pickup is bright and shrill, but it will cut through like a knife through butter in a band context.
That's a good point too, a lot of things that sound nasty on their own work great when you're playing in a band, and bridge pickups definitely fall into that category.
Quote by H4T3BR33D3R
Youre officially uber shit now.

Quote by StewieSwan
3d9310rd is far more upset than i 
#28
I'm very happy with my single coil size SD humbucker in that position. Sounds fantastic, don't know about whether it is hooked up to tone control. It us a USA strat FWIW.
#29
Each strat pickup has a unique sound. If you don't like the sound, use a different position or combination of pickups. That is why they give you the 5 way switch.
#30
I know you mentioned listening to some samples at SD.com or wherever, have you considered looking up what humbucking Strats sound like and if that's your cup of tea?

One of my personal dilemmas with Strats is that I'd just like a master tone, because the bridge pickup can sound very very bright with there being no way to roll it back.
Try adding more delay.
#31
Quote by telecastrmastr
I know you mentioned listening to some samples at SD.com or wherever, have you considered looking up what humbucking Strats sound like and if that's your cup of tea?


Not really, good point. I should just go to guitar center and try hss strat before making any significant changes to my strat.
#32
Quote by eugene_s
Not really, good point. I should just go to guitar center and try hss strat before making any significant changes to my strat.

If you're near a Guitar Center, that's PERFECT! Try a different Start and see if it sounds good through a similar amp, try it through a better amp (I saw you were curious about the amp I believe), and try an HSS Strat and do the same thing would be my advice.

Everyone has their specific preferences, but I feel like I personally need hands-on time to make a good decision... Hope that helps!
Try adding more delay.
#33
Well kidz, playing the bridge SC pickup on a Strat clean, is bound to be too bright at close range.

I'd suggest, rolling the tone off a bit, and using the other 2 pickups more.

If you're playing by yourself, you don't have to cut through any mix. roll the tone off, guitar and amp, your ears will last longer.

Do I sound too sensible there?
#34
Quote by Captaincranky
roll the tone off


Still waiting for the soldering kid to wire the bridge pickup to the tone. Once done, I'll update the thread with my findings
#35
Quote by eugene_s
Still waiting for the soldering kid to wire the bridge pickup to the tone. Once done, I'll update the thread with my findings
Well, methinks you're still going to be a bit disappointed in any tonal improvement that might make, but it's a good start

You're used to the broad range of harmonics the acoustic guitar produces, and any electric, SC or Humbucker equipped is going to sound quite sterile and thin by comparison/ Replacing the amp with perhaps a tube jobbie, will fatten the sound, but it also requires turning up. And when you do that, you're way better off in a band context.

My humble suggestion is that instead of an amp, you investigate effects pedals, in an attempt to create a unique sound all your own, and one which gives you pleasure playing at reasonable household levels.

First off, an acoustic simulator, and/or an octave multiplier. ElectroHarmonix's "Pitchfork" is a state of the art form of the latter.

ElectroHarmonix also offers their "9" series of pedals, each on which recreates the sound of some type of keyboard from the past. There are 2 organ pedals, a piano pedal, and a new one which recreates the sound of the famous "Mellotron". OK, they aren't cheap, but nothing else besides a true guitar synthesizer, will do what they do.

Here's link to all the pedals I've mentioned. Each pedal has a demo video with it, so you'll know what you'd be getting, or getting into, as it were:

Mel9 http://www.musiciansfriend.com/amplifiers-effects/electro-harmonix-mel9-tape-replay-machine-guitar-effects-pedal (Mellotron)

B9 http://www.musiciansfriend.com/amplifiers-effects/electro-harmonix-b9-organ-machine-guitar-effects-pedal (Classic Hammond tone wheel organs and more).

Ever want to play a sitar? http://www.musiciansfriend.com/amplifiers-effects/electro-harmonix-the-ravish-sitar-synthesizer-guitar-effects-pedal

The Pitchfork http://www.musiciansfriend.com/amplifiers-effects/electro-harmonix-pitch-fork-polyphonic-pitch-shifting-guitar-effects-pedal mock 12 string and more.

And something which might appeal to you even more, "a looper": http://www.musiciansfriend.com/amplifiers-effects/tc-electronic-ditto-looper-guitar-effects-pedal

Loopers are pretty generic, there are many on the market. The Electro-Harmonix "9", series are one of a kinds.
#36
Captaincranky, thanks for the info, I will take time to go over it, and may be try some in local Guitar Center.

Quote by Captaincranky

You're used to the broad range of harmonics the acoustic guitar produces, and any electric, SC or Humbucker equipped is going to sound quite sterile and thin by comparison/

you are probably right, though I love the "sterile" sound of the neck strat pickup.
There is another opinion in this thread (by you and others), that bridge pickup supposed to sound as it sounds (bright and dull) , many players don't like it, and if I like 4 other positions of the switch - I should be happy (and I am ).
Nevertheless, I hoped I can do something with the bridge to get an extra fun from my guitar. And very appreciative to you guys for your suggestions.

Hope my status/plans make sense.
#38
OK, folks, I got my soldering kit and made the mod exactly as K33nbl4d3 advised.
Verdict: it definitely solves my problem. And it sounds very good when I dial tone to 4-5 (not great as neck, but really good). This bridge sound is definitely something I was missing, especially for some rhythm I like to give clean with high strings. I claim it as success
Thanks all who suggested this mod, especially K33nbl4d3.

Now, motivated by (huge) success, there are couple more mod questions:
1. Since I play on both neck and middle pickups with tone dialed to 8-9 (just to remove hum a bit), and I like bridge dialed to 4-5 I constantly need to adjust the tone switching from neck to bridge. Is it a reasonable mod to wire both neck and mid pickups to one tone pot and bridge to another?
2. I only need to remove a hum from neck/mid - should I put a separate, smaller cap value capacitor for the neck/bridge.
3. Last one - is there a common way to experiment with capacitor value for the tone (for all pickups). e.g. put a variable value cap, measure the desired cap for each pickup and then replace with fixed value capacitors?
#39
sweet, glad that worked

you should absolutely be able to do 1) (don't ask me how, though, i'm not that well up on wiring ). In fact I find it a bit strange that so many Fenders which do have a tone control attached to the bridge pickup have the same tone knob for the middle as well- I'm the same as you, I'd find it much more useful to have a separate tone knob for the bridge and then have the middle and neck share a tone knob (since I'd roll the tone back a little for the bridge but generally have it up full for the other two pickups). I think some of the custom shop strats maybe have the tone knobs set up like that, shame it's not more. But I would imagine the fix shouldn't be much harder than what you did to attach the tone knob to the bridge pickup originally.

I'm not sure about 2). Do you mean removing hum when either the neck or middle pickup is on by itself? I could be wrong but I'm not sure a cap is going to solve that.

Again for 3) I'm guessing that's possible but I'm not sure how to do it. The other flaw is if you ever change your mind you can't change the tone.
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?
#40
Was not clear enough with 2) and 3)

For 2) - yes for single coil by itself. When I dial tone to 9, the hum is down while the sound is not impacted much. Can I replace the stock cap with another cap with different capacitance, to remove hum more effectively without impacting the sound much?

3) The tone handles control the pots, which is the resistance to capacitor, which is grounded.
However, the capacitance value of the capacitor is constant. I know that various guitar manufacturers put different cap values (which in turn define what frequencies removed). Is there a way to experiment with the cap values?
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