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Old July 25th, 2013, 10:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Bare Knuckles??

Hi guys,, new strat player here and looking for some suggestions on pick ups.

For about a year I've had a 57 reissue Hot Rod Strat.

The Pickups are the SCN in the neck and middle and the Dimarzio distortion pickup in the bridge.

While I love the guitar I'm not in love with these pick ups at all.

My style of strat playing is in vein of Rory Gallagher with shades of Jimi Hendrix and SRV with the SCN's I don't really get a good feel for either.

For the past week or so I'm leaning towards the Bare Knuckles line with either the Mothers Milk Set or the Irish Tour set. If I go with these do I need change any of the Tone pots?

So my question for the forum is..does any one have experience with these pickups? Or does anyone have a good recommendation on combinations of pickups.

The other part of this scenario are my amps which are the Black Star HT100 and the MESA TA30 1x12. My Lespaul with stock p/u sound great through either. If I had to make a choice I'd say the strat sounds better through the MESA but still not a well rounded strat sound.

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks
Ed


Last edited by irishaxe63; July 25th, 2013 at 11:06 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old July 25th, 2013, 10:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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No, the same pots will be fine. As long they perform as you want, smoothness, taper, etc. they will just solder right up.
I think you'll be happy with either of those two pick ups.

Nothing to add on the amps...I don't know anything about the Blackstar and I'm not a big Mesa fan.
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Old July 25th, 2013, 11:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I say go with Mother's Milk. They are going to be amazing pickups and you'll probably love them. But, I'm also a fan of Fender offerings. As far as the well rounded strat sound, no Mesa is going to give you the full rounded Fender like cleans until you get into the Lonestar Territory. You TA30 is based on a Vox circuit and is going to be grainy, chimey, and bright. Pickups probably aren't what you need to get the tone you are after. Try your guitar through some Fender amps and see what you think.
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Old July 25th, 2013, 01:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the info... The MESA offers a fatter sound then you may think which was the reason why I bought it. I had tried the VOX AC's and for sure I know what you are speaking of. The MESA offers a different sound, not as good as the Lone Star but still pretty good.

For me,,,and just my opinion the Fender Amps don't move enough air, however I'm mainly a Les Paul player heavily leaning towards the Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Page, Kosoff, Gary Moore blues sound. So the Black Star handles all of that pretty well with the Les Paul.

That said,,I've been playing since '77, all Les Pauls. Just picked up the strat late last year so really still getting used to playing it with my amps. However I've played it through all types of other amps. The best sound yet was with a Fender Twin and even at that I could tell the SCN p/u were not giving me that smooth silky strat sound as compared to other American Standard strats using standard issue pickups. The SCN's seem to have a lot of pop but the sound is a little to sharp. On a scale of 1-10, even with the pick up issue I'm scoring the whole Fender experience at a 9.5 /10.

While I agree that the concept about the Mesa I can tell you that on the clean side, minimum reverb you can get a nice smooth clean sound. In the OD section, you are right in that it's a more nasal OD sound. Switch the power down to 30 or 15 watts and you get the creamy OD no matter the guitar. With the clean channel on 40w you get anything from country twang to Keef or any other classic clean sound you need, nice and full. Anyway,,enough about the MESA.

Thanks for your recommendation on the bare knuckles and the Fender Amps.
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Old July 25th, 2013, 02:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the info... The MESA offers a fatter sound then you may think which was the reason why I bought it. I had tried the VOX AC's and for sure I know what you are speaking of. The MESA offers a different sound, not as good as the Lone Star but still pretty good.

For me,,,and just my opinion the Fender Amps don't move enough air, however I'm mainly a Les Paul player heavily leaning towards the Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Page, Kosoff, Gary Moore blues sound. So the Black Star handles all of that pretty well with the Les Paul.

That said,,I've been playing since '77, all Les Pauls. Just picked up the strat late last year so really still getting used to playing it with my amps. However I've played it through all types of other amps. The best sound yet was with a Fender Twin and even at that I could tell the SCN p/u were not giving me that smooth silky strat sound as compared to other American Standard strats using standard issue pickups. The SCN's seem to have a lot of pop but the sound is a little to sharp. On a scale of 1-10, even with the pick up issue I'm scoring the whole Fender experience at a 9.5 /10.

While I agree that the concept about the Mesa I can tell you that on the clean side, minimum reverb you can get a nice smooth clean sound. In the OD section, you are right in that it's a more nasal OD sound. Switch the power down to 30 or 15 watts and you get the creamy OD no matter the guitar. With the clean channel on 40w you get anything from country twang to Keef or any other classic clean sound you need, nice and full. Anyway,,enough about the MESA.

Thanks for your recommendation on the bare knuckles and the Fender Amps.
hey, man
welcome .
if you mostly like the Mesa amp, and it's not making you feel like it's a big part of the issue in tones you want (i happen to like Mesas myself though I can't afford one,lol. but know they make good amps for a wide range of applications and my first teacher had that same one or similar.)..I would say look at some regular SCs.
the Irish Tours are really good for the guys you mentioned. are the Mother's Milk a little more scooped in the mids?

also, maybe take a look at D. Allen. he is a good winder and guy also.

i think the idea you have of getting the power and oomph from the amp since you have switable power modes is a good one .
i am a big Rory and other classic blues fan, and I think the most important thing I learned from him and Stevie and their influences is use pickups with clarity in the neck and middle since you can always add drive from the amp but not cleans to the pickup itself,lol.
like if the pickup is too hotly wound, it tends to not clean up as well to me when needed.
like if you listen to Rory, he uses his Strat's volume knob a lot to go from clean to beefier with the amp providing more of the power?
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Old July 25th, 2013, 02:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I still just don't think pickups are going to change the tone enough to give you that round tone you are describing. I've played the Mesa TA series and it's still pretty Vox like. I realize you don't care for Fender amps because they don't have the big sound and push enough air, but I think you'd at least get the round tone. Have you been able to try your strat through a Fender or Mesa Lonestar? The Lonestar is on my "to do" list for sure, I just can't let go of my Dr Z yet ;)
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Old July 25th, 2013, 02:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I still just don't think pickups are going to change the tone enough to give you that round tone you are describing. I've played the Mesa TA series and it's still pretty Vox like. I realize you don't care for Fender amps because they don't have the big sound and push enough air, but I think you'd at least get the round tone. Have you been able to try your strat through a Fender or Mesa Lonestar? The Lonestar is on my "to do" list for sure, I just can't let go of my Dr Z yet ;)
hey, man
yeah, i guess i just wondered since he does seem to like his amp and to him it's just that last little bit extra in the tone that's missing, it may be easier to try new pickups instead of buy another amp? lol.
not trying to diss anyone's opinion.

just the description he gave of his amp seemed to indicate to me it was overal pleasing amp wise?
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Old July 25th, 2013, 03:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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hey, man
yeah, i guess i just wondered since he does seem to like his amp and to him it's just that last little bit extra in the tone that's missing, it may be easier to try new pickups instead of buy another amp? lol.
not trying to diss anyone's opinion.

just the description he gave of his amp seemed to indicate to me it was overal pleasing amp wise?
Bareknuckles are no joke price wise, and just hate for him to spend that kind of money on pickups without trying to understand what he's looking for from his tone. I played the Mesa TA15 and 30 and wouldn't describe my tone as round or fat on the clean channel. Sounded GREAT, but it was more chimey like a nice Vox than round.

Not suggesting a difference amp, just trying to understand the expectations and the tone he's looking for. I guess from my experience with amps over the years the amp has the biggest influence on tone. I can play 5 strats through the same amp and sound similar, but I can play one strat through 5 amps and sound completely different. You can expect pickups to give you more output, maybe a little more bass or treble, but I've never had a set of pickups transform my sound to anything dramatically beyond the original sound. Amps on the other hand certainly can.
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Old July 25th, 2013, 03:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Bareknuckles are no joke price wise, and just hate for him to spend that kind of money on pickups without trying to understand what he's looking for from his tone. I played the Mesa TA15 and 30 and wouldn't describe my tone as round or fat on the clean channel. Sounded GREAT, but it was more chimey like a nice Vox than round.

Not suggesting a difference amp, just trying to understand the expectations and the tone he's looking for. I guess from my experience with amps over the years the amp has the biggest influence on tone. I can play 5 strats through the same amp and sound similar, but I can play one strat through 5 amps and sound completely different.
Very true .

maybe he can chime back in later and then you and others can help him a little more? and maybe be.
i just noticed he mentioned mostly British players like Kossof used a Strat sometimes through Oranges(once) and Marshalls, and Page used a Tele through Marshalls on the first albums? and Rory was mostly Voxes?

but yes, i would like to hear more from him as well so you can help him since you have good amp knowledge too.
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Old July 25th, 2013, 04:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I've been playing Gibsons with humbuckers for years, having thick lush tones at my fingertips. I recently bought a Tele and while I really enjoy the feel if it and its character, Coming from the gibson I missed a bit of output from the Tele to saturate the tubes in my amp and give me that slight compression and smoothess, that I was used to.


I went a different route than new pups, and choose a clean boost instead. Set at 11 oclock, nothing serious just enough. I bought the retro-sonic pre-amp/boost, but there are several options.

Just something you might consider.
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Old July 25th, 2013, 05:05 PM   #11 (permalink)
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To my surprise, is that SCN pup's, I have them, in my 59 Ann Deluxe and they do have lots of onph!.... very meaty and I won't describe them as to thin or trebling.... Of course , to my ears, and we all know how that goes, and some are GONE! LoL !!!
Now I play mostly Allen's pickups and get all I need out of them, and yes, through Fender Amps, A Omega Modded Hot Rot that moves Tones of Air, and the other ones are 53 Tweed deluxe, and a Blues Junior Modded to a Tweed tone, and The speakers are the Cannabis Rex.... To my ears, a match made in Heaven !!!
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Old July 25th, 2013, 05:41 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Hi Guys..Thanks for all the great feed back.

To answer some of the questions...

1) I've played the Fender with the following amps...Orange Twin Terror 30, Black Star HT-100, MESA TA30, VOX AC30, FENDER TWIN and a small Princeton. With the Orange it was way to chimey no matter what power setting. With the Blackstar it cleans up nicely or can tear your head off when in the DiMarzo position and using either of the amps OD channels. The guitar does fairly well with the MESA by leaving the power levels on different settings. Recently played a small gig with the MESA and never took the OD channel of 15w and left the voicing in British HG 1 setting...Dire Straits to Jimi, Rory, Keith or SRV..no problem. To me the VOX was closer in sound to the Orange then the MESA but this was at guitar center and god only knows what shape the amp was actually in. The best combo was with the Fender Twin. So what's my issue?????

My friend also has a strat American Standard..not sure of the year and from what I can tell his electronics are the standard fender p/u. For sure they are not Texas speicals, or Duncans or any other PU. When I play his guitar through my amps, same settings as always I can get that warm Fender tone on every position except for bridge. When I plug my strat into his AMP which is a Fender (I call it Tweed) not sure of the exact model it sounds awful by comparison to his either way.

The guitar is fine, the amps (mine or his) are fine I'm pretty convinced that the PU's are tainting the overall tone. They are not bad just not what I'm looking for.

2) My playing style on the strat has the attack and frenzy of Rory, not totally his tone and it swings depending on the songs to either SRV, Keith, Clapton & Jimi plus whatever else might happen to come up. While I like Rory's tone I also want the ability to sprinkle in other sounds /tones as well. Based on the PU's i've listened to on You Tube,,the BK Mothers Milk or Irish Tour seemed to me the best sound I've heard yet.

The observation about the Fender amps is right on point. I saw Kenny Wayne Shepherd last week up here and was playing through a series of Fender combo's and sounded great. He is also uses specially voiced single coils. I'm convinced the exact guitars would not sound that great through a Marshall or Mesa, etc. The Fender amps are the perfect match for the Strat hands down. If I didn't fall so much on the heavier British Blues tone and feel but more towards the SRV sound I would probably buy a Fender amp. The MESA kind of puts me right in the middle when combined with the strat.

My comment about "not moving air" has more to do with the tone and overall sound when any one of the Les Paul is plugged into my amp as compared to plugging it into my friends Fender amp. Still sounds great but a different sound altogether due to the Humbuckers obviously.

Keep in mind I've been playing Gibsons for 35 years with mostly British tube amps. The Fender is only a year in the making for me. I'm not trying to make the Fender into anything it can't or won't be but I know the pickups are limiting the sound and tone more then any other factor.

Keep the suggestions coming, I don't want to drop 300.00 on pickups if I don't have too.

Thanks
Ed
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Old July 26th, 2013, 12:29 AM   #13 (permalink)
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You know...if you're dissatisfied with the tone from a particular amp, you can always futz around with the bias. Try rebiasing it a little hotter a bit at a time. There should several videos on the subject...maybe even with your specific model. You could also swap your preamp tube...well, at least 12ax7, 12at7 series. Maybe try a different brand of power tube as well. What tubes do Mesa's run? Mess around a little and you can make a huge difference.

Your issue? IMHO Fender makes the best amps.
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Old July 28th, 2013, 02:47 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I've been critical on here before about the price of Bare Knuckle pups. I live in the UK where they're made, and a couple of years back imported some D.Allen CS Austin Blues which including import duties still cost me £35 less than a comparable set of BKs. There's no doubting the quality of BKs, but I don't believe D.Allens, or Fender CS for that matter, are any less quality.
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Old July 28th, 2013, 03:10 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I don't know Bare Knuckle, but read very good review in Fender Forum. Notice every forum have their own popular brand? BK is just too expensive. Between Fender Am Std pup and D Allen, I am not looking for new ones any time soon. The only other one that tickled my curiosity is Kline from a demo.

As for amp, I don't know the Black Star, but I tried so many Mesa at the time, I just cannot put my money down. You want tone, don't use Mesa. There is a very good technical reason for this. Every stage between the guitar and speaker take a little away from the tone. Mesa have so many stages, boosting the signal up, then attenuate the signal down, switching from one signal chain to another............it's like a spider web inside. You want tone, get the simple amp. Nothing beats the tone of a tweet amp, look at their schematic and you'll see how simple and few components they have. This is the key to tone. Can't afford one, buy a kit and build one. IT's only about $600. As an amp designer, you can take this to the bank. Guitar amp is just like audiophile amp, the better the amp, the simpler the circuit, less is more.

If you have money to burn, check out the Morgan, now that's the amp of amps.
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Old July 29th, 2013, 11:19 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Guys..thanks for all the comments and thoughts.

Earlier in thread some one asked about the tubes in my amps as they are now:

MESA TA30 (4) EL84 / (6) 12AX7 all fixed bias.

Blackstar HT100 (2) ECC83 / (1) ECC82 / (4) EL34

This weekend I had the ability to borrow my buddies Strat and his Fender Tweed (Blues DeVille) model.

His Strat which is a late 2000's American Standard HSS version, seems to have the FAT's in all 3 positions. He has never changed them and purchased the guitar new about a year ago.

Here are my findings:

His strat through any of the amps and my effects pedals sounds fantastic. In order from best to worst...Fender Tweed, HT100 clean & voiced, and using the OD1 channel. Worst of the 3 but still far from worst sound was the MESA TA30.

My 57 RI Hot Rod Srat with the SCN & DiMarzio...best to worst....HT100 Clean & voiced, OD2 channel, MESA TA30 & FENDER DEVILLE...were tied for second and here is why. The hotter output DiMarzio, and perhaps the SCN push the Mesa and the Blackstar, but really did not sound great through the DeVille, whereas his sounds incredible through the Deville all settings being equal on any channel.

No matter what the SCN to me seem to have a very nasal quality to them in the clean setting as compared what seems to be a more scalloped sound to the what I think are the Fats, vinatge p/u's or Mothers Milk that I've heard, etc. When used in the OD channels on either the MESA or the BLACKSTAR for sure the nasal quality of the DiMarzio is very present and the SCN don't seem to have the pearly sound by comparison to other strat in any position, on any amp.

The HSS Strat sounded better through the DeVille gain channel. The 57 RI produced a really loud, dry, nasal tone by comparison.

Albeit...I'm complaining about the difference between an A+ and an A, and I get that.
While I'm mostly a Les Paul player which is why I've moved to the MESA and BLACKSTAR, I really want to embrace the Fender experience and so far have. I'm not a strat expert by a long shot but this weekend with hours to burn I'm pretty sure I've narrowed this down to SCN's and the DiMarzio. Could I live it with it? Yes. Overall I'm looking for more warmth in the clean sound and can see now that even with the amps I have it can be achieved.

Thanks
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Old August 8th, 2013, 04:25 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Use the Irish Tours in my Strat, tbh they're very charactered pickups but very fat sounding, especially with the baseplates, it depends where you're starting from with them , mexican pickups can sound "scratchy" on the bridge but with amps you might be able to Eq the sound you'd like, there are two "tricks" I've learnt, one was setting the mids full on , especially for that gritty sound like Gary/Rory and your bass about half way to 3 quarters up and the treble on about 3 or off completely and using a treble booster. The other method was something that Matt Schofield does a lot and twists the pots until there's a distinct difference in sound and set it right on that point, apparently it's where the amp's most responsive but I used the mid's trick mostly on solid states and the matt schofield idea on valve amps, seems to get quite a nice fat tone, saddles can also heavily affect it (sounded like bs when I first heard it too) but changing them to "proper steel" can fatten out the sound and tremolo blocks (again sceptic turned believer) the saddles are about 7 or 8 quid on axesrus so not that dear of a mod either. Hope this helps out a bit Would be interested in hearing a demo of the guitar as is too
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Old August 8th, 2013, 06:16 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I agree with the comment about the mid control. I rarely touch any other control on my amps (and adjust vol if needed). It has saved me lots of money.
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Old August 8th, 2013, 06:25 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irishaxe63 View Post
Hi Guys..Thanks for all the great feed back.

To answer some of the questions...

1) I've played the Fender with the following amps...Orange Twin Terror 30, Black Star HT-100, MESA TA30, VOX AC30, FENDER TWIN and a small Princeton. With the Orange it was way to chimey no matter what power setting. With the Blackstar it cleans up nicely or can tear your head off when in the DiMarzo position and using either of the amps OD channels. The guitar does fairly well with the MESA by leaving the power levels on different settings. Recently played a small gig with the MESA and never took the OD channel of 15w and left the voicing in British HG 1 setting...Dire Straits to Jimi, Rory, Keith or SRV..no problem. To me the VOX was closer in sound to the Orange then the MESA but this was at guitar center and god only knows what shape the amp was actually in. The best combo was with the Fender Twin. So what's my issue?????

My friend also has a strat American Standard..not sure of the year and from what I can tell his electronics are the standard fender p/u. For sure they are not Texas speicals, or Duncans or any other PU. When I play his guitar through my amps, same settings as always I can get that warm Fender tone on every position except for bridge. When I plug my strat into his AMP which is a Fender (I call it Tweed) not sure of the exact model it sounds awful by comparison to his either way.

The guitar is fine, the amps (mine or his) are fine I'm pretty convinced that the PU's are tainting the overall tone. They are not bad just not what I'm looking for.

2) My playing style on the strat has the attack and frenzy of Rory, not totally his tone and it swings depending on the songs to either SRV, Keith, Clapton & Jimi plus whatever else might happen to come up. While I like Rory's tone I also want the ability to sprinkle in other sounds /tones as well. Based on the PU's i've listened to on You Tube,,the BK Mothers Milk or Irish Tour seemed to me the best sound I've heard yet.

The observation about the Fender amps is right on point. I saw Kenny Wayne Shepherd last week up here and was playing through a series of Fender combo's and sounded great. He is also uses specially voiced single coils. I'm convinced the exact guitars would not sound that great through a Marshall or Mesa, etc. The Fender amps are the perfect match for the Strat hands down. If I didn't fall so much on the heavier British Blues tone and feel but more towards the SRV sound I would probably buy a Fender amp. The MESA kind of puts me right in the middle when combined with the strat.

My comment about "not moving air" has more to do with the tone and overall sound when any one of the Les Paul is plugged into my amp as compared to plugging it into my friends Fender amp. Still sounds great but a different sound altogether due to the Humbuckers obviously.

Keep in mind I've been playing Gibsons for 35 years with mostly British tube amps. The Fender is only a year in the making for me. I'm not trying to make the Fender into anything it can't or won't be but I know the pickups are limiting the sound and tone more then any other factor.

Keep the suggestions coming, I don't want to drop 300.00 on pickups if I don't have too.

Thanks
Ed
What about the lace sensors the way Clapton was using during the From the Cradle album tour?
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Old August 8th, 2013, 09:56 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Try this: adjust the pickups you have as low as you can without them falling into the cavity. Start playing and adjust the neck pickup higher, one turn at a time while playing in between adjustments. Keep doing this until you a) hear something you like or b) the pickup hits the strings. If you don't hear anything you like and the electronics are fairly standard...... time for new pickups.

Get in touch with D. Allen, tell him what tones you're shooting for and listen to what he suggests. You won't be disappointed.

Its that simple.
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