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diggidy

Making "new" Guitar

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OK, so I started playing guitar around 3 years ago, and my first guitar was a Mexican made strat, with this very cool looking flat navy blue finish. I learned to play on it, and is now my favorite guitar. I have now bought a Gibson SG, and a Marshall MG100DFX for my setup. After playing each for awhile, I decided I don't really like either much and am thinking about selling both. I am about to begin building a guitar with my father, who is an engineer. And also buying a traynor 50blue amp if I can get the money.

Since this strat has become my favorite guitar, but still doesn't have the greatest "components" on it. I am looking to buy a new pickguard, new knobs, a new back plate, maybe some of those string saver saddles, pickups, and that's really all I can think of. I'm trying to make the guitar a lot better, so I almost feels like a whole new guitar.

I was wondering however, where you would recommend getting all these things, (pickguards and knobs and stuff) for a good price.

Lastly, I really need help on buying pickups. I play lots of blues, classic rock, and some heavy metal music. I don't really know where to buy them, or what kind to get.

sorry for such a long post, and thanks for all the help you can give.

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I personally prefer low impedence 'vintage' sounding single coil pickups. You know, the ones that sound very clean and chimey. And, I prefer them over any humbucking pickup that I've heard yet. Sound engineers will tell you that you can cut frequencies out, but you can't add back what ain't there in the first place. The low impedence single coils with magnet pole pieces simply have the widest frequency response of any passive pickups. Also, by rewiring your axe to get some series combinations, you can get a much fatter and hotter sound. To me, a vintage sounding strat with all the good combinations comes the closest to being an 'everything axe'.

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could you possibly give me a link to the pickups you would recommend. Also, should I put the same pickups in all three spots, or get different pickups for different positions?

thanks

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could you possibly give me a link to the pickups you would recommend. Also, should I put the same pickups in all three spots, or get different pickups for different positions?

thanks

A lot of that will come down to how much money you want to spend. Do you have any idea?

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I very seldom post in the long series of “please recommend a pickup” posts here, but

I play lots of blues, classic rock, and some heavy metal music. I don't really know where to buy them, or what kind to get

tells me that

low impedence 'vintage' sounding single coil pickups. You know, the ones that sound very clean and chimey.

is a not so good advise

Vintage style (‘cause that’s what we are talking here) pickups will for sure not be a good alternative for heavy metal and for most people not what they would like for classic rock. I now that Richie Blackmore played a strat (and Yngwie copied that), but most classic rock guitarists play humbucker or higher output pickups equipped guitars. And certainly not vintage style Strats. Even SRV’s Strat (for the blues part) was having over wound pickups (=higher DC resistance). Don’t mix up amount of windings/DC resistance/impedance. Most people mean a “active” pickup (battery powered internal preamp pickup) when they refer to low impedance pickups.

So can you name some guitarists with a sound you like? That will help a lot. And what is your budget?

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Budget is important information...you should not seek cheap pickups and parts as they will be unlikely to be much of an improvement of the parts already on the guitar.

As you want a recommendation, I have bought many parts and pickups from this "eBay" parts supply...

The Stratosphere

(beware, this is probably the Australian version, they are in the states however...look them up yourself warning)

These guys buy brand new fenders and completely take them apart and sell everything off separately... :D

It is an auction system, so don't get carried away...set a budget and know how much a set of pickups would cost as you could end up overpaying...bidder beware. On the other hand you could pickup up some real bargains.

On my squiers, I have replaced a lot of parts this way. Both are fitted with genuine fender branded schaller locking/staggered tuners that are great...they came off the latest deluxe strats.

I got a brand new deluxe SCN neck tele pickup that sound fantastic...about $50 bucks (obviously not a high demand that week)!

For strats, I am biased for a number of reasons but I love the sound of the Jeff Beck fender Noiseless pickups. These are hum cancelling and slightly overwound but a fantastic sound. The lower powered standard models...not so good...but these a great.

Beware bidding on these, they sell individually...that means you may get a neck and a middle but miss out or pay too much for the bridge and find you would have been better off buying the original set. Colour may be important to you...I think these may only come in an off white/cream. Price a set before you attempt to bid this way.

Another option is that they often sell a pickguard assembly complete with pickups right off a genuine fender or even artist model...sometimes this can be cheaper and easier. You may even get one with the elusive S-1 switching...as far as I know...this kind of place is the only place you can get them outside of buying a high end fender.

There are other online stores or your local music store but it always pays to shop around, be patient, know how much things are worth new and set a limit. I would avoid HB's on a strat, even though mine has two JB noiseless and a SD JB HB in it as strats generally sond and work better with single coils and you like your guitar, so better not to mess with a winning formula.

Yes...there is a difference between the bridge middle and neck pickups. The bridge is usually hotter and the middle on genuine single coils (noiseless are different) is usually a reverse magnetic polarity.

Replacing parts can be expensive, so be realistic. I think I paid around A$100 for my schallers. The parts from the stratosphere although recovered from fenders have never been played...they are new and well shipped but won't come in a fender box or anything :D ...

hope all that helps, and good luck...

pete

PS...I am only mentioning these guys at the moment because I am not bidding on anything, but if I was...I wouldn't be encouraging the competition. You will often see things for $1 but in the last day these will dramatically climb...so beware...once you set your heart on something it is hard to stop.

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OK thanks for all the replies. I am looking to spend probably around 175$ for pups. I am about to start my first build (zakk wylde camo LP) so I don't want to spend a ton of money a the moment. I'll post some sounds that I like.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6LotiAcF1w Zakk Wylde- Farewell ballad (I know they're EMGs but I really like the sound) I also like no more tears sound

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDBIbJKjAZQ SRV- Texas Flood

I like Jimmy Page's sound(s); stairway to heaven, black dog, etc.

Classic Angus sound, Highway to hell, back in black

slash, november rain, sweet child o mine, paradise city

I play a variety of sounds/songs, from blues to classic rock to heavy metal (only the older heavy metal, none of that slipknot crap or anything). Because the guitar I am starting to build will have EMGs, I think I should stay closer to the blue and classic side, but still want to be able to get a "heavy tone". I understand these sounds are across the board, but I want the "average" of all these tones I guess.

I also understand that a lot, if not most of the sound is the amp, do you think the Traynor 50 blue amp will be able to cover the sounds I'm looking for.

thanks

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I just got done doing something similar....redid a MIM Strat I put Texas Special Pickups in it and I love them. Im sure there are other pickups out there that will give you the same sound as the Texas SPecials or even better. I paid around 140 for all three on ebay shipped. In bridge position they have a really good clean sound for playing classic rock. if you go to the the next swtich up the bridge/neck it has a amazing blues sound. If tuned right can sound just like SRV's Number One. So if you like the sound of Numbers Ones I recomend the Texas Strats.

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You said you can get good SRV sound of them, but can you still get a good heavy metal tone out of them. I know they will cover the blues and classic rock stuff, but how do they do when you start getting a little "heavier".

I don't know much about pickups, does the most variety of your tone come from your amp, or the pickup? thanks a lot

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the texas special pups seem to be really good for blues as such, but quite bad for heavier kinds of music. Is there maybe a combo of pups you could recommend. I'm looking for a versatile set of pickups, so I can count and this guitar for alot of the blue, classic rock, and heavy metal kind of stuff.

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You are trying to cover a lot of grounds in one guitar, from SRV to Zack… I’m sorry to say this but that will not happen. There is no “magic pickup” that will do everything. Well the line 6 simulation guitar is intended to do that and look what people thing of that…

Let’s try to work through your list

SRV, Classic good sounding vintage pickups on the hot side

Angus Young, typical traditional SG, very dynamic due to the thin body and a medium-low output humbucker (my personal estimation from how it sounds)

Jimmy Page, Typical PAF tone with typical normal windings and probably a AlNiCo5 magnet judging from how the treble sounds (once again my guess)

Slash, Duncan JB do I need to say more (OK, pretty hot Humbucker with AlNiCo5 magnet, pretty heavy on the treble)

Zakk, on the clip he might as well have been using a Duncan JB, but on the more trad Wilde/BLS songs he take full advantage of the EMGs, lots of output.

There is no way you are going to be able to combine all of this in a Strat package, especially as most of the players mentioned uses HBs. That is if you are not ready to hog out some wood and install HBs, maybe together with a matching middle SC (can anyone say superstrat?).

The most reasonable alternative would be (IMHO) to go for a Duncan JB (or similar) at the bridge and maybe a Duncan 59 in the neck (not 100% sure there) and install it with either coil splitting OR Series/parallel switching abilities (the second being my first suggestion). That way you will have a decent more than decent HB sound and a nice approximation of a hot Strat when splitting/wiring in parallel)

Conclusion: If you want HB sound-get HBs. Simple as that.

PS, I use Duncan’s as a reference as most people know how they sound, they have reasonably good descriptions on line and there are sound clips available for all pickups. By all means try out different makes until you find something you like and then buy it. Or maybe let me or someone else wind you a set of custom pickups…but that will cost a bit more than GFS or some other Asian imported pickups. :D

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Ok, I'll try to get away from the metal a bit then.

How do you know how well different pickups will work together?

what would you say about a hot stack in the bridge, JB in the neck, and a 59 in the middle. How do you know where to place the pickup?

and what is coil splitting and parallel. is there like a basic pickup post somewhere where I can read up on it. I have build your own electric guitar by melvyn hiscock, it may be in there?

anyway would the setup i posted work? if not whats wrong with it?

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I don't want to sound rude, but I think you are asking too much all at once to do everything...while at the same time you are paving the way towards the right kind of path and should continue along that road.

I am struck by this opening sentiment...

OK, so I started playing guitar around 3 years ago, and my first guitar was a Mexican made strat, with this very cool looking flat navy blue finish. I learned to play on it, and is now my favorite guitar...I am about to begin building a guitar with my father, who is an engineer.

(zakk wylde camo LP) so I don't want to spend a ton of money a the moment.

You are asking a lot from any one guitar with no need, the point of multiple guitars is often to cover a number of bases. You can ruin a guitar by trying to make it a jack of all trades...but master of none! After trying a gibson SG and Marshall, it could be that "your sound" and most comfortable instrument is in the fender camp (plenty of heavy music was done with plain old fenders...Jimi of course, but the other jimmy too...solo from "stairway...", telecaster!) Three years is a little hard to know (30+ years for me is not enough!).

You are building a Les Paul presumably with high gain pickups that will do the metal thing and have great sentimental value. I suggest you put you metal leanings into that direction for when you are in a heavy mood. Leave the fender to do what it does best in blues, rock and other stuff...country, surf, knophler, floyd, etc...

That is not to say you shouldn't mod it a little, but it should be in a direction that addresses a particular need. You mentioned string saver saddles...do you use the trem a lot, is it not staying in tune, are the MIM saddles not up to scratch...or are you being seduced by hype and just GASing (gear acquisition syndrome) so that you can have your strat "fully loaded" for bragging rights (we all do this a bit, so don't worry).

Here is the direction I am going in at the moment. I have two projects on at the moment. One I just finished is a telecaster. Obviously a bright, clear tone. It is unique in a lot of ways and the parts cost many times the amount of the guitar new (a Squier) but it plays great and has a fantastic sound. It has a sister though, a flame top Les Paul that is half complete. This has fairly high gain pickups and I am seeking from it a warm tone and a different feel. Between the two, it will be able to cover a lot of bases. Looking at you project in pairs like this, will create a better guitars where you don't ask too much from the one instrument and you can set them up so that they do what they do a lot better.

So...if you plan for the new LP to cover the heavier side of town, it sounds like the strat can look after the blues, classic rock and clean precincts. For the strat then, instead of asking the "which pickup should I buy" question...which often annoys and is not really answerable as everybody has opinions...ask yourself, what is it that I want and what does what I have lack.

A lot of things like tuning problems and such can be "fixed" by playing with the setup and learning some tricks. Changing things like saddles and tuners can have quite a bit of an effect to the sound and feel of a guitar. For heavier sounds, you may consider a good distortion pedal or something.

For me, I like a bit of the bite taken off my strat for a more classic rock/modern sound and this will be the middle ground between the other two guitars mentioned. I use the JB Noiseless as I don't like "noise" and the old strat buzzing (other feel it is an essential part of the sound of course). These pickups are powerful, but they still have all that strat chime and harmonics and make a good strat like sound with no noise and a warmer modern edge. But that is what I was looking for. While I am a JB fan, and so perhaps a little biased as I like his range of sounds, it should be noted that the seymour duncan JB humbucker has become THE standard because JB's sound is so good and versatile...powerful, but not over the top going into muddy territory and a lot of character and clarity to allow the character of the guitar to shine through. However, you are going to need the whole set and it may be costing a bit, especially with another project on the go and a new amp proposal.

On amps, I am not familiar with this one. I look for a good clean channel and push that with an effect if I want more distortion or boost. Between you two guitars, an amp that can do clean to classic rock and a good distortion pedal you pretty much have all the bases covered.

Also remember, times and people change. The sounds you like now will evolve and eventually you will be seeking your "own sound"...a lot of this "sound" will of course come from your playing as it continues to develop.

Over the years, I have identified a bunch of things that contribute to what I like to play with. A clear sound with a lot of string definition (I like to hear all the notes of a chord clearly) and a little echo in the background (I use an old analogue delay). I like my guitar quiet without buzzing and a 10-46 string set for improved tone over super lights and I like a more powerful warm sound over the more wiry typical vintage fender sound. I tinker with action and set up a lot to get a feel I want and even things like adjusting pickup heights can make a big difference to me (and costs nothing). I like the "tone" to be familiar...a fender or gibson...but different enough from the norm to be identifiable and not an imitation of other players.

But that is me, someone who loves SRV will likely want to replicate his thing much closer...a shredder is going to want a machine that really lends itself to that thing (my set up is not that good for "shredding")...if the LP thing is your bag, then there are plenty of players to take cues from.

I would suggest that you look at the pair of guitars and a proposed amp as a set and think carefully at what you are looking for from each so that they complement each other. Look to the new LP to cover the areas that the strat lacks and if modding the strat, mod it in that direction instead of trying to cover all bases.

2c no change...hope that helps...

pete

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ok, I get what your saying. Do you know anything about the Lace sensor hot gold's, they look pretty nice but I can't get all the info I need in order to buy.

you said I should make the strat more of a blues and classic rock guitar, so would you recommend anything else that hasn't been mentioned.

lastly, where would you recommend getting a bone nut, and should I have a tech does it (my nut right now is getting pretty worn)

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lastly, where would you recommend getting a bone nut, and should I have a tech does it (my nut right now is getting pretty worn)

Nuts can make a big difference to the performance of a guitar and they are not easy to do. So yes, a tech would be better. Nuts come in a variety of different materials and bone may not be the best depending on how you play. If the tremolo is used, you may want to consider something with graphite like the graphtech ones...I just put an LSR on my new tremolo tele, but it does mean that you have to permanently alter the nut slot to do it...so you want to be sure with this approach. Nuts can be difficult to shape and if you go to far, you really need to get another and start again, so it can be frustrating without experience and end up costing more or less than good results...maybe even damaging the guitar.

Pickups...in a bit of a rush just now...but it really is each to their own. Not a big fan of lace myself (even though JB used to use them) as they seem to lack a bit of character for mine. There is a lot of brand mojo and instead of looking at product, we should really be trying to discuss sound and what you really want out of them. Do you want quiet, do you want classic strat, do you want power or do you want clarity...and what mix of these do you want...

pete

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I'm thinking id like a classic strat sound, with a bit of power, and maybe some clarity.

If I could, I'd want to mix these 3 sounds, if possible.

,
, those two combined would be very nice I think, kind of like SRV. lastly, maybe a little more of a vintage blues sound. That should be good. Also, do you think I should get new pots and switches and stuff while i'm at it, and if so what ones? I'm not sure if I have 250k or 500k right now.

Oh yeah, any advice on how to find a luthier/tech. I searched google a little and couldn't find anything. Are they sparse or do I think need to look a little hard? hah thanks a lot for the advice you've already given me

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what is coil splitting and parallel. is there like a basic pickup post somewhere where I can read up on it. I have build your own electric guitar by melvyn hiscock, it may be in there?

Sorry if I’m causing you a bit of confusion. It’s in the Hiscock book:

1st edition page 141 and 143 for circuits but no good explanations to what it really does to the sound

2nd edition page 159 gives an brief explanation but not very deep, showing coil tapping diagrams on page 173 and series/parallel diagram at page 174

What it does is two completely different things. Coil tapping (or cutting) cuts out one of the coils on a HB to create a more SC like sound. Unfortunately you will get as much hum as with a normal SC. And most people use the screw side coil (cutting out the slug side coil) and that will produce a thin but too weak sound. Use the slug side coil of the HB instead. Switching to parallel coil of the HB (series is the normal way) gives you a hum-free (well as good as it gets) sound and a thinner sound compared to a HB, but a little bit fuller than a traditional SC (and a noticeable bit more bite compared to quite week vintage style SCs).

But:

I'm thinking id like a classic strat sound, with a bit of power, and maybe some clarity.

will probably rule that out as it will not give you a classic strat sound.

The Texas Specials already mentioned are some excellent pickups for that classic Strat sound with a bite. Try finding a guitar store that carries a Fender that is equipped with then and give them a test run. If you like them, get them or some clones. Otherwise you have to settle for listening to with sound samples on line.

Also, do you think I should get new pots and switches and stuff while i'm at it, and if so what ones? I'm not sure if I have 250k or 500k right now.

Switches only if you either need it for new switching options or if they scratch bad when used. Otherwise keep them. Pots are a different thing. A lower value pot will “bleed” volume or tone to ground (electrical ground that is). A 250k vol pot will have the same effect as a 500k pot turned down a tiny tiny bit. The same goes for the tone pot. I recommend keeping what you got until you have your pickups installed. Then try it. If you have 250k pots you can boost your treble a tiny bit by upgrading vol and tone pots to 500k or 1M pots. Or the other way around. If you have 500k pots and your pickups are a bit to trebly you can tame them by switching to 300 or 250 k pots.

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However, in the Hiscock book,  I've found a few minor mistakes in the eletronic schematics (or I've got it completely wrong...) eg. on the parallell wiring on pg 174 of the 2nd edition. I think you need to switch wire 1 and 4 OR 2 and 3 in the switch diagram to make it work with the pickup diagram above.

But the explanations in the book are quite good, just make sure you go through the diagrams and make sure they are correct before you start soldering.

Heggis

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You know...one thing is that I am in australia, so I have no idea where you are or what services you could access.

Also, those clips have a lot to do with the overdrive and amp...plus the player. You should be getting similar sounds out of your guitar with practice.

The best things you can do for the sound is always play in tune and set upr the guitar to facilitate your style. Make the most of the instrument and not look to brand names and equipment upgrades to make a lot of difference to what comes out.

I did the same thing when I was younger...I went out and bought a gibson Les Paul (which I still have) and had it seriously worked. It is a great guitar and I played it for the longest time. Even though I have played for some 30+ years, both my main guitars are worked squiers. In the last ten years my main playing instruments have been cheap guitars with very cheap pickups.

The thing is, I might sound 2% better with my seymour duncans and fender noiseless or my latest vintage fender "wide range pickup", I might sound another 5% better through my valve fender deluxe...but the rest of the 93% is up to playing well, in tune, in time and something worth listening to...or at least fun to play.

There is nothing worse than the feeling, and we all do it, of craving something only to find after the gloss of the purchase that it didn't satisfy what we were searching for. I know it seems like a cliche that the sound is in your hands...but it is true. Your MIM strat stock is probably a lot better than what hendrix used and definitely better than some of the things you have cited as the sound you are after. Jimmy Page used telecasters for a lot of the early albums, even masonite danelectros on occassion and little supro amps that were budget in their day to get that huge sound and craft those riffs. It is not what you play on, but what you play that counts.

Pot values and stuff depends on the guitar pickups and the whole system...but it is confusing and a lot of people put out a lot of BS about what is better...but most of it is just mechanics. The real sound comes from things like pick attack, vibrato, vocabulary and really listening.

When I was a teen, I guess there was not so much of it, and no internet or tab and I would spend hours bending notes to pitch, practicing vibrato and little nuances and playing along to records. Perhaps someone should start a thread getting some of these things explained as you can make a significant difference and improvement to your sound for free with a few exercises far and above what you will get from a pickup change.

If anyone wants me to waste some more space on such a thread and where others can contribute...post Yes. If you would rather I keep to myself these things...vote NO

pete

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so your saying that, even with the texas special pickups, I can still get a good overdrive tone with them. And yeah think that would be a great idea.

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I like Jimmy Page's sound(s); stairway to heaven, black dog, etc.

Classic Angus sound, Highway to hell, back in black

In my experience, you get a good classic rock sound with warm pickups (P-90s or humbuckers) overdriving a Marshall-esque tube amp.

Here's a sort of stupid song I recorded. This is a guitar I built, with homemade P-90's (underwound). The amp is a 5w tube creation using a classic Marshall Plexi preamp overdriving a single power tube. The parts cost me about $50 I think. Amps like this allow you to control the amount of overdrive with your fingers and pick attack--a very exciting and musical way to play.

http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?PID=1081529&t=8496

Anyway, there's some thoughts for you. The classic Zeppelin heavy guitar sound is basically my favorite overdrive (well, that and Hendrix), so I thought I'd chime in with a way I found of making a SIMILAR sound.

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Hey Pete...YES.

Diggidy: From the tones you like, it seems to me that a Strat won´t give them to you. There are many differences between the guitars and setups that produced those sounds you mention and a Strat. But, would you consider upgrading to a nice single coil set and the mid boost circuit, a la Clapton? Maybe it´s an option that would get you nearer of what you want.

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