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Humbuckers In A Strat

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I'm starting a strat project soon, and I'm definitely putting humbuckers in it. I'm also using an all-maple neck with stainless steel frets, and I'm not sure if an alder body will make it too bright....

Why are most humbucking guitars mahogany or warmer toned woods? Are humbuckers actually brighter than alder, and the wood change is to compensate for that? Or could I get a more strat-like sound out of humbuckers putting them in alder?

If I had to narrow down the tone I want to one player, I'd say Trey Anastasio.... but I wouldn't mind a bit in the strat direction tonally. Don't want the twang though. I'm coating the wood with a solid color so the wood type is only for tone. Any advice?

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Trey Anastasio uses a guitar more akin to a small bodied hollow-body jazz guitar than a strat. That's a big part of his sound.

Here's the website for the luthier that built his guitar:

Paul Languedoc

I believe that if you dig around on that website it will tell you what pickups he uses in Trey's guitars. That should help you achieve a sound somewhat similar to his. Also, Languedoc's guitars are made entirely of curly maple for the most part, so you may want to go with a wood combination that may mimic that somewhat in a solid body configuration. But, I wouldn't stress over the body wood to much.

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Oh yeah I know all about Trey's guitars. I'm not sure if all his Languedocs are koa but I'm sure his main one is. Still, I'm set on a strat. All the guitars I've had before were pretty nice and fragile, I want a guitar I can throw around and beat up for years and years... I'm not trying to copy his tone exactly, just get as close as I can I guess when I'm playing that style of music with a strat, but I'd still like to be able to play more Fender sounding stuff like The Band and Jeff Buckley... hmmm. Maybe forget I said anything about that. I just want a good versatile tone in a strat with humbuckers.

Edited by HerrHerron
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I think just his newer guitar is Koa, the older one is maple. Regardless, it sounds like you'd be fine just following standard fender convention as far as the woods go and throwing in a nice set of humbuckers like what Trey uses. I'm not sure anyone will be able to give you anything more specific than that with regards to a particular 'sound' you are looking for. But, I wouldn't stress too much about the body wood.

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  • 3 months later...
OK well, I guess my only question is this: Do you think an alder body, all-maple neck and stainless steel frets should sound alright with humbuckers?

Maybe not usually used for the type of music you are planning, but I think a proverbial ton of Ibanez guitars, probably a lot of Jackson and ESP and others as well, use that formula. I believe a lot of SuperStrats, including the Fender Fat Strats, have that setup (all-maple neck, Alder or Swamp Ash body). The G&L Invader has that setup (Maple neck, Ash or Alder body, usually with a rosewood fingerboard though, I believe, but I think all-maple including the fretboard is an option) and is apparently a really nice guitar. So there are stranger combinations.


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Humbucker in a strat. Great tone \m/ hahahaha

I think the humbucker and woods issue is pretty simple. Seth Lover invented (or simply popularized, some would say) the humbucker pickup. He worked for Gibson. Gibson's "signature" wood has always been mahogany, whereas Fender's have been alder and swamp ash. Therefore: humbuckers + mahogany.

I would do much more reading on how pickups actually work. There is no way hums are "brighter" than single coils, unless they are specifically wound that way. The mechanics of how a humbucker is wired knocks a chunk off of the high end of the tone spectrum.

And I think a lot of us would agree that, especially at higher gain levels, the pickup dictates the sound more than the wood..... and certainly more than stainless steel frets :D

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