A strange thing is happening

RaySachs

Senior Stratmaster
Gold Supporting Member
Jun 25, 2017
1,814
Philly area
So I've had a Robert Cray strat for two years and some odd months now. I paid almost nothing for it due to an accounting error at a large national retailer that I tried to get them to fix, but they didn't, so I ended up paying $140 for this $925 guitar. It's been overwhelmingly my #1 since I bought it. I had the controls slightly modified had the frets leveled and expertly set-up, had a bone nut put in. But it's basically a MIM hardtail, nothing fancy, just good. Plays like buttah!

But right around New Years, I bought a Silver Sky. AMAZING pickups, never heard anything like 'em. Balanced, full, the bridge pup is awesome with or without a tone control. It's a GREAT guitar! And so the Silver Sky was gonna obviously be the #1 and the Cray was gonna live in the closet and be a backup. These are my only electric guitars. I'm just a strat guy and decided to stop fighting that. But as much as I liked the Silver Sky, I was aware from the beginning that I didn't like it's neck profile quite as much as the Cray. I like it fine, but it's a little broad around the shoulders and the Cray just feels like a strat is supposed to feel, easier to hang a thumb over and whatnot. So, I'd pull the Cray out of the closet from time to time, just to play that neck again.

And then it started STAYING out of the closet more and more and the Silver Sky was back in there. More and more over time. My initial assessment was that the Silver Sky pickups were so full and rich sounding they made the Cray sound kind of thin and anemic. But I'm starting to realize I kinda LIKE thin and anemic - it's nothing you can't compensate for with your amp settings. And somehow the Cray sounds like a STRAT and the Silver Sky sounds great, but it sort of sounds like something else. It doesn't quack like a strat - it's sort of like the relationship of the five switch positions is linear, it just goes from more treble in the 1 to fuller in the 5 in incremental but nearly equal steps. There's very little volume drop-off in the 2 & 4, but there's not a lot of tonal difference either, not much quack or funk. It doesn't sound as much like a strat - I guess it sounds like a Silver Sky, which is far from a bad thing, it's a great thing. But I'm beginning to wonder if it's MY thing.

It's weird, but my $140 dollar Robert Cray seems to be stealing back into the #1 position and the $2000 Silver Sky seems to be my #2 lately. I'm gonna give this some time because I don't entirely trust this yet. When I pull the PRS back out, I do love it, but I keep putting it back in the closet in favor of the Cray. If this becomes a lasting phenomenon, I may have to sell the Silver Sky and just get something much less expensive as a backup. Because you just can't have your $10 million quarterback sitting on the bench in favor of a $600,000 backup, even if the backup is kicking ass. Not without trading the expensive guy away at some point... Maybe it won't happen, but it's kind of blowing my mind that I'm even thinking about it.

I did NOT see this coming...

-Ray
 

jvin248

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 10, 2014
5,434
Michigan
.

As I was reading your initial post I was thinking ... he's going to swap the pickups and controls from the SS over to the Strat!
Not to give you any ideas lol.

On the silver sky, how are the pickups heights adjusted? Leave the neck and bridge where you have them but drop the middle pickup so it's flush with the pickguard. This will give you more quack in 2 & 4, you'll have a volume drop on the middle pickup but you can go back if you don't like the test. Count the number of screw turns down and back up.

I have also found the tipping the middle pickup say low on the bass and high on the treble while the neck and bridge are low on the treble and high on the bass sides also gives more quack. Unequal strengths between the bobbins is key.

On hotter MIM dual ceramic Strat pickups I have the neck and middle pickups flush with the pickguard and the bridge up just so there is volume balance neck to bridge. Then I get quack with hot ceramic pickups. 1/8th inch can matter a lot for stronger pickups and good tone.


.
 

RaySachs

Senior Stratmaster
Gold Supporting Member
Jun 25, 2017
1,814
Philly area
.

As I was reading your initial post I was thinking ... he's going to swap the pickups and controls from the SS over to the Strat!
Not to give you any ideas lol.

On the silver sky, how are the pickups heights adjusted? Leave the neck and bridge where you have them but drop the middle pickup so it's flush with the pickguard. This will give you more quack in 2 & 4, you'll have a volume drop on the middle pickup but you can go back if you don't like the test. Count the number of screw turns down and back up.

I have also found the tipping the middle pickup say low on the bass and high on the treble while the neck and bridge are low on the treble and high on the bass sides also gives more quack. Unequal strengths between the bobbins is key.

On hotter MIM dual ceramic Strat pickups I have the neck and middle pickups flush with the pickguard and the bridge up just so there is volume balance neck to bridge. Then I get quack with hot ceramic pickups. 1/8th inch can matter a lot for stronger pickups and good tone.

.
When I first had the Silver Sky, I played around with the middle pickup height, and I got some increase in quack, but not enough to justify the loss of volume in the 2 & 4. It still didn't seem like they were fundamentally different sounds than the other three positions, mostly just a bit more or less volume. With the Cray, there's no question when I'm in the 2 & 4. I don't have a lot of use for the 3, but I have the bride pickup sharing the first tone control with the neck, and I like the Cray bridge quite a bit with some dirt and the tone rolled off a bit. The SS bridge is a far superior pickup, but I'm not ALL that much of a bridge guy (that's why I don't have a tele anymore) and I'm fine with what I get from the bridge on the Cray. And I absolutely love the 2, 4, & 5, which I guess makes me a fairly typical strat guy. It might be worth playing around with the middle pickup on the SS again, given how much my perceptions have changed, and see if I can find something I like more there.

Thanks for the suggestion.

-Ray
 

Antmax

Strat-Talker
Dec 2, 2018
205
Brit in Sacramento
I"d be curious to see whether the Cray neck fits on the Silver Sky lol. But I'm always one that likes to experiment and doesn't really consider guitars as anything more than a tool and not an investment.
 


Top