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I hate the Bridge pickup

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by dondante, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. dondante

    dondante Strat-Talk Member

    May 2, 2014
    Coming from PRS and HB pickup guitars I'm finally in love with strats. Specifically the necks and the middle and neck pickup tones.

    I find the bridge pickup completely shrill and thin. Is this just just an acquired taste I'll have to figure out when to use it or what? I just don't see me ever using it though I'd like to have some use for it.

    I've always loved on the bridge pickup on my PRSi and other Humbuckers but ok no the flip side disliked the neck pickups on these guitars most of the time. Lol.

    1989 American Strat
    BuddyHollywood likes this.

  2. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier-A-Holic Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 19, 2014
    Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    Your bridge pickup is probably not connected to a tone it's always going to sound shrill's a simple mod if you'd like to connect it to one of the tone pots....
    ph0enix, pierce, Dreadge and 2 others like this.

  3. bchaffin72

    bchaffin72 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Oct 4, 2008
    It depends on the pickup and its output. Plenty of people do make one of the mods that wires the bridge pickup into one of the tone controls, to be able to have a bit more control over it. I did, even though I also built my own, slightly heavier sounding, pickups too. I still like having a tone control there, as well.

  4. guitarman1984

    guitarman1984 Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 24, 2013
    Bridge only works with distortion or high gain for me
    jaybones, Ecosse, Sarnodude and 4 others like this.

  5. Etacarinae

    Etacarinae Strat-Talker

    May 21, 2017
    United states
    I agree with a lot of strat bridges. Oddly enough, the bridge sound on my vintage noiseless pickups is actually quite good. You lose a little something with most noiseless pickups. In the case of the VN pickups, you loose the shrillness.

  6. dondante

    dondante Strat-Talk Member

    May 2, 2014
    It has the tbx or whatever. It has a tone control. It's just awful sounding though. I'll play with the tone knob some more I guess.

    I haven't even tried it with my gain channel or dirt pedals yet. On clean to moderate breakup it's just awful.

  7. TheDuck

    TheDuck Most Honored Senior Member

    Jan 12, 2016
    Lil' Rhody
    I hated the Alnico V bridge pup in my Standard. Even with the DeltaTone backed off, it was still unbearably shrill.
    The N3 bridge pup in my Deluxe is a different story, though I only use it for higher gain tones. Clean and subtle break up tones are still less than pleasing.

  8. Mouse

    Mouse The Knees of Rock Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 25, 2012
    New Jersey
    A Strat's bridge pickup sounds amazing...when it's a humbucker. ;)

  9. dondante

    dondante Strat-Talk Member

    May 2, 2014
    Yeah, I hate to change pickups in the old guitar but I'm debating trying a Humbucker in the bridge position. Luckily it has the swimming pool route.
    Silvercrow and Textele like this.

  10. suncrush

    suncrush Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 25, 2014
    Yup. HSS for life, yo.

    Start by wiring the tone pot to it. That will take a lot of the shrillness away. If you still don't dig it, it's humbucker time.
    Silvercrow likes this.

  11. Mouse

    Mouse The Knees of Rock Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 25, 2012
    New Jersey
    Jokes aside, maybe adjust your amp/pedal settings as well before to make any swaps. You've got a variety EQ options at your disposal to get a sound you like.

  12. RaySachs

    RaySachs Strat-O-Master Silver Member

    Jun 25, 2017
    Philly area
    For my purposes, the strat bridge pickup is intended only for use in combination with the middle for the quack tone in position 2. Mine has a dedicated tone pot, and I still never use it by itself. I assume you lose the quack with a humbucker back there?

    I find it useful, just not on its own.
    Blackmore Fan likes this.

  13. TheToneBoyar

    TheToneBoyar Strat-Talk Member

    Oct 11, 2017
    Usually when a Strat's bridge pickup sounds too shrill, it's a sign to me that the current settings of your tone knobs and your amp don't lend themselves to tonal "balance" between the pickups.

    It took me years before I ever managed to coax good sounds out of every switch position of a Stratocaster working in proper synergy with the amp, but let me give you a couple tips.

    In addition to playing around with the TBX control, you should make a lot of adjustments to your amp's EQ. If it has a presence control, you should start by turning that down. Turn down the treble by a good amount. Turn up the mids and the bass and experiment with them at different levels. But in general, the treble should be just low enough so that the bridge pickup is not too shrill and the other 4 positions don't sound muddy. I also tend to have bass a little lower than mids. If the bridge pickup is too shrill in comparison to the other 4 positions, turn down the tone control.

    I think it would be a shame to get rid of the pickup that's already in there, kind of like throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. And it would be much more expensive than figuring out how to fine-tune your tones with a Strat. Who knows; maybe when you start to get closer to your preferred sound with a Strat, it'll inspire you to play even more than the humbuckers you were using before. That's what happened with me.

    Although if you are dead-set on switching out that pickup, I would recommend something like a DiMarzio HS2. Get a push-pull pot in there and you can have both strat and humbucker sounds, which at some point in the future, I'm sure you'll find useful. You won't even have to change your pickguard. I'm telling you; it's possible to get incredible, smooth, sustaining lead sounds and non-shrill clean sounds from single-coils in the bridge. It just takes a lot of patience.
    R00STER, stratosdane, SurfsUp and 3 others like this.

  14. GuitsrGeorge

    GuitsrGeorge Strat-Talker

    Apr 21, 2013
    long island, ny
    Probably the absolute best, easiest, and cheapest mod you can do to a Strat is connect the bridge pickup to a tone control.

    It takes the somewhat useless bridge pickup from being the worst to maybe the best of the three.

    I still can't figure out why Leo did it the way he did.
    stratman323 and TheToneBoyar like this.

  15. Dick Blackmore

    Dick Blackmore Strat-O-Master

    Jan 10, 2017
    San Diego
    Whoever at Fender decided that the bridge did not need to be wired to a tone pot was a moron.

    If its a TBX tone knob you need to turn it down to 3. Trust me. I play almost exclusively on the bridge pickup. You have to remember that the TBX pot at 5 is 10 on a normal pot. Don't understand why people hate this pickup so much, its the best one, sounds like gold when you get it dialed in. You cant get no twang without that bridge pickup.
    R00STER, Yaralag, Lone Woof and 2 others like this.

  16. TheToneBoyar

    TheToneBoyar Strat-Talk Member

    Oct 11, 2017
    Ah, but OP mentioned earlier in the thread that he's been playing around with the tone control on the bridge PU (unless I misunderstood). It's already wired to the bridge, so now I think the best suggestion would be to start toying with amp settings.
    Dick Blackmore likes this.

  17. HankPym

    HankPym Strat-Talker

    Sep 11, 2017
    Has this typically not been standard? My first real stratocaster I owned (Fender Deluxe Players) did not have a tone pot on the bridge pickup. However, my two current strats (highway one and MIJ 54 reissue) have a tone pot for the bridge. Similar to OP, I found the bridge pickup unusable on Stratocasters until I got one with a bridge tone pot!
    TheToneBoyar likes this.

  18. PCollen

    PCollen Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 13, 2014
    Try setting the guitar and amp for the neck pickup tone you want, then adjust the bridge pickup tone control to tame the bridge pickup highs. Most who use the bridge pickup a lot are constantly fiddling with the bridge tone control. I have the neck and middle pickup on the upper tone control, and just the bridge pickup on the lower on my Strats.
    TheToneBoyar and dondante like this.

  19. dondante

    dondante Strat-Talk Member

    May 2, 2014
    Yes. I have tbx. A tone knob on my bridge. Problem is when I turn it down to take shrill away it has my favorite middle pickup too muddy. Ughhh.

    I'm still learning this strat. So bare with me.

  20. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh needs you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too. Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jan 10, 2014
    Initech, Inc.
    That would be Leo Fender. I don't think he was a moron.
    Back in the day, amps had a hard time with highs, so Leo used every trick he could to coax more out of the guitar. That's why Strats and Teles both have a bridge pickup slanted towards the bridge on the high side, it makes it brighter.
    These days amp designs have caught up but guitarists tend to fight change, so we have these things carrying over.