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Modifying Electronics In A Cheap Strat Copy


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First of all, I'd like to say that I've recently joined this forum and I still haven't managed to dig through all the posts here, so some of my questions may have already been answered.

So, I've got this cheapo strat copy and I would like to "slightly" modify the electronics (well electronics are not the only problem, but I'd like to do some kind of DIY :D ). What I normally do now, is plug the guitar directly to my laptop (which I know is a bad idea) and go to some kind of "rehersals" to jam or learn something new. I have read that without any buffering I'm loosing highs, so I've looked around a bit and found this: http://www.till.com/articles/GuitarPreamp/ and I have some questions. How much power does it drain ? Where am I supposed to wire it (before or after the volume pot or even somewhere else) and how should I mount it in my guitar (how to make the cavity, how to make battery switching easy)? Since it says on the site that this preamp is phantom power compatible, I guess the best option would be to make some kind of switching device, which would switch power sources depending on whether there is phantom power available. It would be great too if the device could be powered off by unplugging the jack (so that it doesn't drain power from the battery). How to modify the input jack to do this ?

After some reading I'm prepared to take a punt that the pickups themselves may not be high quality. I read some time ago this fantastic tutorial about making pickups: http://europa.spaceports.com/~fishbake/fpickup/pickup.htm and http://europa.spaceports.com/~fishbake/buck/humbuck.htm . I'm considering building two single coils and one humbucker (with spliting). I can only say that the guitar was really cheap, so will these pickups really make a huge difference ? My absolute dream would be to have something sililar to David Gilmour's black strat, which has stock Fender 50's pickups IIRC.

What I have also been thinking about was putting in a piezo pickup. Don't actually know how this came to my mind... Could this be used for a pseudo-acoustic sound (and maybe for some clean stuff) ? I was thinking of making something like this: http://web.mit.edu/kumpf/www/guitarpickup.html . Any thoughts on this topic are very welcome.

And finally the pickup selector. I was thinking of using something else than the 5 way selector, maybe a knob selector. Anyway, my point is that I would like to wire it in such a way that it would go from heavy to bright with anything in between. I've seen some wiring diagrams, but I was thinking of something more complex, like using some kind of aditional EQ for each setting, for example making the guitar sound a bit more like a gretsch duo jet :D or a les paul. I know that I won't be able to achieve exact replicas of the sound that these guitars produce, but something similar would definately be nice. Some good ideas on shielding would be very appreciated.

I won't probably do this all by myself, I am getting help from one of my friends who is studying electronics (but doesn't play guitar) so puting some complex circuits together should not be a problem. I'm meeting with this guy during the weekend, I would be very happy if you could comment on my sick ideas B) and tell me what makes sense and what is possible and what is not worth doing.



Edited by spacepl
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I think you could probably have everything you need by purchasing the EMG Pro Series Dave Gilmour set. Everything's on the pickguard, just add a 9-volt and drop it into your guitar. The whole setup is active Low-Z so you can just plug in direct, too. It's a good option if you don't know a whole lot about electronics, especially making noise-free audio controls and preamps.

You might check out the Fishman Power Bridge or the LR Baggs X-Bridge for piezo options. They can be run off the same 9-volt as the EMGs.

Edited by crafty
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Actually, my friend will be helping me put all of the electronics together, I think he has lots of experience doing this. What I would like to do with my guitar (electronics wise):

1. Install an on board preamp

2. Make a sustainer

3. Use the tone controls in a more sophisticated way

4. Make new pickups

5. Make a piezo pickup

I'm currently digging through the sustainer thread for ideas. As for the preamp could you point me to a good solution that can be built from schematics?



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That's a mighty ambitious list - good luck with everything! I personally think you've underestimated the amount of time and effort your project is going to require by about an order of magnitude, particularly considering your obvious lack of experience, but don't let me discourage you. The Tillman preamp you linked to is probably the simplest and most universal preamp you could build, fairly low noise and low current consumption, so it's a good starting point. Building and debugging an onboard preamp will give you an idea of what you're in for. Again, best of luck!

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