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Best upgrades for a MIM Strat?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Kingfish, Jul 24, 2018.

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  1. Kingfish

    Kingfish Strat-Talk Member

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    I have an HH Strat I picked up a few years ago cheap, and want to do some mods but am not completely sure of the best bang for the buck. I'm thinning out my collection and have sold 4 guitars and basses in the last two years, so I'd like to focus on the Strat and make it a great player I'll want to keep. I stripped the thick poly finish off last year and refinished from black/black to white/white. I also blocked the trem bridge, but am still having intonation issues when bending strings. I'd guess locking tuners and a new nut might be the fix, but is there any point to replacing the bridge as well? This guitar has the HH pup arrangement, and I'm not in love with their sound. What humbuckers are popular drop-ins?
     
  2. Believer7713

    Believer7713 Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    What kind of sound are you looking for from your p'ups? There are all kinds of pickups out there depending on what you want.
     
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  3. hcski25

    hcski25 Strat-Talker

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    IMHO, the best bang for the buck items are 1) a proper setup with fret work if needed (I'm not trying to imply that you don't know how to do this) and 2) a new nut (bone or graphtech tusq xl). Those two things alone can make a world of difference in playability. For trem units, Guitar Fetish has some decent replacements that are cost effective and have full size steel or brass blocks. I prefer locking tuners, but I wouldn't say they are necessary unless you are noticing slipping in yours. I swap them out for staggered locking tuners mostly for quick string changes and to avoid string trees.

    As for the sound, that's subjective. Do you want to stick with HH, or would HSS be an option?
     
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  4. CyFan4036

    CyFan4036 Strat-Talker

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    Swapping out your bridge, even with a reasonably priced option, will really make a difference...I've done it on several imports and has fixed my intonation problems. I did the tuners and bone nut first but the problem persisted. Swapped out the bridge and immediately cured the problem and provided a much richer tone. That was with a cheap Dr. parts bridge with block saddles. I think the baseplate was flexing slightly as the original was thinner than the replacement.
     
  5. nocaster

    nocaster Strat-Talk Member

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    second the trem/bridge swap. I can tell you also that I ordered a MIM strat blind on ebay and it had those graphtech saddles in it and I was thoroughly impressed. There's something to that. +1 on the bone nut - i speak from experience with several hundred $ of *compensated* bone nuts later. I am sold.

    as for humbuckers, the options will make your head hurt (or at least mine). take the folks advice above and decide what you're going for.

    I can say that the majority of guitar repair shops i've been to, if they had a strat with an H in it, it was a pearly gates. I never much cared for the JB in strats. There's the shawbucker of course. Bare Knuckle and Lindy Fralin get a lot of good vibes. I'd take a look at dimarzio's site and see if their pickup tool can help you out as well.

    I noticed you said you're having intonation issues - if possible for you, drop some change on a Plek job and bask in the glory....
     
  6. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Senior Stratmaster

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    Forget all that... put your money into a good Music Instructor.. one that's gonna insist ya learn Piano and how to read music... that way ya get what ya think screwing all the new stuff onto the guitar will... respect... but this time the respect will not be envy, envy, covet, covet, of some hi $$ part.. it will be genuine respect for what you have accomplished and what you can do with a guitar... any guitar.. and that will not get old, will not go out of style... and you will never need to order parts to fix it.,:p and your grandkids will think you're totally cool...:D if they only knew... ;)

    It's your call... Parts . . or???

    rk
     
  7. Rastus

    Rastus Senior Stratmaster

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    +1 here ! That's about it !!!

    It is hard work initially, but effort = reward.

    Cheers,

    Rastus
     
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  8. MetalPedal

    MetalPedal Senior Stratmaster

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    I put locking tuners on mine. Made a difference in tuning stability. I also added a Guitar Fetish brass block and a roller-style string tree. It's a great guitar. I didn't see the need to change the bridge, saddles or nut. I like the ceramic pickups and the HSS configuration.
     
  9. Kingfish

    Kingfish Strat-Talk Member

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    I think I'd get more respect for my playing if the guitar would stay in tune o_O
     
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  10. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Senior Stratmaster

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    While I like Locking tuners too, Schallers to be specific... if changing from traditional keys to locking keys improved your tuning stability, you weren't using the traditional keys correctly...

    With pliers bend a 90 degree bend in the string about 1 ¾ inches from the key... cut the thing about 5/8ths or around 17 mm .. stick it down the hole in the key.... start cranking, allow the first wrap to lap over itself.. then continue, you should have about 3 turns on the key, more for the unwound strings...

    That baby ain't goin nowhere...

    rk
     
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  11. CalicoSkies

    CalicoSkies Senior Stratmaster

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    I keep seeing tuning stability mentioned as a reason (or the reason) for changing to locking tuners, but I prefer locking tuners for quick string changes, since you don't have to wind the string around the post.
     
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  12. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985 Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I also have not really noticed a difference in tuning stability between my guitars with locking (Sperzel) and non locking tuners, but I do like the ease and quickness when changing strings.
     
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  13. That635Guy

    That635Guy Strat-Talker

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    If you’ve decked your bridge, try changing the saddles. It’s the point of contact on the string and is most likely causing errors. Obviously check the frets for imperfections and level and crown them if you can. Replace the nut with bone, graph tech xl. If the tuners hold tune, don’t change them. If they don’t, do change em. Find the issue and hit it on the head.
     
  14. SAguitar

    SAguitar Senior Stratmaster

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    Quick string changes? I always have a second guitar behind me. I can change guitars a lot faster than any string.
     
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  15. Chris_69_SS

    Chris_69_SS Strat-Talker

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    I would replace the neck with one from an american standard. Then, find a loaded US american standard body. should do the trick.
     
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  16. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Strat-Talk Supporter

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    '
    I couldn't help but notice that you didn't mention what amp you have.

    And it might be helpful if you described why you're not too thrilled with your current tone (Too dark? Too bright?).

    And what kind of sound are you going for? Metal? Blues? Classic Rock? Jazz? Country Twang? Gangsta Rap? Hillbilly Hip Hop? Euro-trash Disco? What?!?...

    It's fairly difficult to provide any practical recommendations without first knowing a bit more about what you have and what you want...


    '
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
  17. The Strat Dude

    The Strat Dude Posy rules! Strat-Talk Supporter

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    My music instructor said I should take up the triangle or zylaphone, 3rd grade band Phooey:whistling:
     
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  18. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Strat-Talk Supporter

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    '
    My grade school music teacher said I was a really good recorder player... but I think she might have said that to all the kids...

    IMG_4103.JPG

    '
     
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  19. The Strat Dude

    The Strat Dude Posy rules! Strat-Talk Supporter

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    i was forbidden to play the recorder o_O
     
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  20. The Strat Dude

    The Strat Dude Posy rules! Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I do aspire to be a triangle virtuoso some day

     
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