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HSS Strats

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by BallisticSquid, Sep 28, 2017.

  1. BallisticSquid

    BallisticSquid Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 12, 2016
    US
    On a HSS strat, how does the bridge humbucker compare to a humbucker (BB Pro) in a Gibson Les Paul?

    I've been using my LP for my cover band because it gives me the tone I'd like for the majority of the songs we do. One thing I'm realizing is that I really don't like the sound of the bridge pickup on my LP with no gain. There are times though that I'd like a clean tone that isn't fat sounding like I get from the neck pickup.

    So this got me thinking that perhaps a HSS strat would give me the best of both worlds...I could use the bridge 'bucker for my heaving distorted tones and the neck single coil for my smooth thick tones. For the brighter clean tones I can't get from the bridge 'bucker, I could use the middle pickup.

    I'm trying to avoid changing guitars.

    Another option is my G&L ASAT (Tele), which I'll be bringing to rehearsal next week to see how it does. In the meantime I thought I'd explore the HSS strat.
     
    circles and marshallb461 like this.

  2. vid1900

    vid1900 Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 25, 2016
    USA
    You can also split the double humbucker and use only a single coil.

    A quick switch installation and you may have the best of both worlds instantly.

    You can add a small toggle switch, or a pull up on the volume knob.
     
    Bera likes this.

  3. BallisticSquid

    BallisticSquid Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 12, 2016
    US
    My LPs (and my PRS) have a coil split. It doesn't compare...it just makes the tone sound wimpy rather than give a nice single coil tone.

    My PRS comes closer having a better single coil sound when it is split, but again it's not the same.
     
    6stringnate likes this.

  4. MagnusR

    MagnusR Strat-O-Master

    793
    Feb 21, 2013
    Sweden
    But in theory it should be the same, right? Btw i seldom find bridge pickup/clean sound being a good combination regardless if it's a humbucker or single coil.
     

  5. TimJ

    TimJ Strat-Talker

    335
    Aug 5, 2012
    London
    I'm ignorant of the science behind it, but from what little I understand, a humbucker is not literally the sum of 2 single coils stuck together (even though physically it may look like that, from a winding perspective it isn't) so if you split the coils, you're never going to get anything other than an approximation of a proper single coil.

    here's some more discussion if you want the detail:

    https://www.seymourduncan.com/forum...Split-coils-don-t-cut-it-vs-real-single-coils
     

  6. ido1957

    ido1957 Strat-O-Master

    822
    Oct 13, 2014
    Canada
    My buddy has a Strat Deluxe from 2014 or so and the bridge HB is nothing like a LP (he has a studio with 490/498) and I've played/recorded with both.
    Sure it's a humbucker and yes it can sing/crunch/wail but in my humble opinion it is not the same.
    My advice is go to the store and try an HSS, to see if it fits your needs.
    As far as the neck pickup issue, I would consider using middle position. I've set tone/volumes on my LP that sound great in all three positions.
    I use pedals for any extra OD I need.
     
    BallisticSquid likes this.

  7. diogoguitar

    diogoguitar Strat-O-Master

    849
    Feb 2, 2012
    Northwest US
    you could get good sounds with an HSS strat for sure, but it's not going to be like a LP.

    Don't get me wrong, you can get awesome sounds w/ an HSS guitar.
    Forget about these fender humbuckers. I never really liked any of them.
    Get a dimarzio PAF or a seymour duncan 59 for the bridge. It will only cost you like $80, but it's well worth the price.

    If you're looking for a little more gain, I'd recommend the Dimarzio Paf Pro. I have one in the neck position for my guitar and it's great. It pairs well in the bridge w/ a couple of single coils in the other positions.
     
    circles and BallisticSquid like this.

  8. valvestate

    valvestate Strat-Talker

    Age:
    35
    210
    Aug 20, 2016
    Land of the Merlion
    Sad... but true. My Strat's coil split is just wimpy when I put use the 'single coil' mode. Nothing compares with a Les Paul in bridge HB position!

    Still dig Strats though!!
     
    BallisticSquid likes this.

  9. marshallb461

    marshallb461 Strat-Talker

    Age:
    15
    109
    Jun 14, 2017
    Texas
    For my first electric guitar I got an HSS just because I wanted more tonal variety but I kind of want an SSS now and I regret my purchase
     
    BallisticSquid likes this.

  10. carolinaeasy

    carolinaeasy Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    I cannot speak for a Fender HSS, but I recently obtained a Suhr Custom HSS and it just didn't do it for me. When I want that sound I reach for my tele with a sunset pickups PNAF bucker in the neck, more bite, more crunch and it cleans up well and it was made by our very own @Matt_D . Needless to say, the Suhr is gone.
     
    diogoguitar and BallisticSquid like this.

  11. KyStratman

    KyStratman Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    32
    72
    Nov 27, 2016
    Kentucky
    I recently put a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge of my favorite strat and it’s amazing both normal and split. It really does sound 95% like a normal single coil strat bridge.
     

  12. jpjr50

    jpjr50 Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    46
    707
    Jun 3, 2016
    Florida
    I'm on the other spectrum, I have an HSS but I've upgraded the pickups & electronics with Suhr parts.

    Although the punch doesn't compare to my Les Paul but it does have several more tonal combinations because of the humbucker.

    The HSS Starts don't have 500K pots either and most humbuckers made are to be compatible with a 250K pot.

    I love my guitar now with all the upgrades but in stock form it wasn't that great.
     
    BallisticSquid likes this.

  13. BallisticSquid

    BallisticSquid Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 12, 2016
    US
    This is something I should explore...thanks for reminding me of that middle position :).

    In the meantime, I sorted out my dilemma for now. There is a song we do where I needed a kind of dirty tone and I was using the bridge pickup with just the tube screamer on. It works for some things but not this song (Goodbye to You). My solution is to use the amp gain and roll back the bridge pickup volume to tone it down. Works beautifully. I use my volume to control gain in other songs...hadn't thought to do that here for some reason.

    Thanks everybody for the input!
     

  14. Seymour Duncan

    Seymour Duncan Senior Stratmaster Vendor Member

    My take on this is that I love HSS Strats. I like to try to cover as much ground with one guitar as I can, as I hate switching instruments. That being said, I don't care what pickup you use, you won't get it to sound like an LP. And this has a lot more to do with the guitar construction than the pickup wind.

    Different wood, bridge, scale length, pickup distance from the bridge, headstock angle...all of these will override any pickup change. You *can* get a thicker sound out of a HSS Strat by using a pickup with more mids (I use a Custom Custom), but it still isn't an LP, much less one with a particular pickup. If you *need* an LP, that is about your only choice here. If you want to get 75% of that, it is approachable with some warmer pickup changes on an HSS Strat.
     
    Stark, Bera and BallisticSquid like this.

  15. Textele

    Textele Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Oct 10, 2009
    USA
    +1

    Faithful HSS Duncan JB guy here and that is exactly how I operate my machine.

    There is a lot of tones just in the volume knob on a guitar if you set your amp right.
     
    fezz parka and BallisticSquid like this.

  16. IronSchef

    IronSchef Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    54
    821
    May 17, 2012
    Fox Point, WI
    If I could have only ONE guitar - it would certainly be an HSS Strat. Like mentioned above, you can get a lot of different sounds from one instrument.

    With that being said, I do not think its ever going to sound JUST like a Les Paul, even if you put a Gibson Burstbucker in the thing. Close enough to use for songs that would call for an LP, sure, but not quite 100% there, and I think it has the most to do w the different scale length

    You can really get around this whole issue if you just get LOTS of different guitars!! :D
     
    tubejockey likes this.

  17. BallisticSquid

    BallisticSquid Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 12, 2016
    US
    I've learned the hard way that if you want a guitar that sounds a certain way, buy that guitar! :). I have a SSS strat, an LP with BB Pros, and LP with '57 PAFs, a G&L ASAT (tele), and a PRS CE24. I have all of the tonal variety a guy could want...but I don't want to be switching out guitars on stage. I've tried that in the past and it's no good.

    I may try an HSS stat in the store one day just to see what it's all about.
     
    Stratoman10 likes this.

  18. marshallb461

    marshallb461 Strat-Talker

    Age:
    15
    109
    Jun 14, 2017
    Texas
    I have a MIM Fender HSS Strat, and I highly recommend you get an HSS too, for the extra tonal variety. However, mine doesn’t have a coil split, so I don’t have the bridge single coil option.
     
    BallisticSquid likes this.

  19. brians

    brians Strat-Talker

    Age:
    47
    364
    Nov 28, 2016
    ZA
    Me too and I agree
     
    BallisticSquid likes this.

  20. Ebidis

    Ebidis Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    51
    Nov 14, 2013
    Alabama
    Just a thought: What I do with my Les Paul is set the amp for a nice bright, articulate, crisp, clean sound on the neck pickup, and then use the tone knob on the bridge pickup to tame the highs for my overdrive sound. It works really well since the pickups have separate volume and tone controls.

    I set the neck pickup volume low, and then I can use the toggle to switch between clean neck, and full overdrive bridge sounds. Sort of a "poor man's" channel switching.

    I am not the first one to think of this, guys like Jimmy Page, Joe Walsh, Joe Perry, and (insert name of classic rock legend here) have been doing it for decades.

    It really does work amazingly well, and is actually one of the advantages of a Les Paul/SG style guitar.
     
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