Anyone ever "downgrade" their American pickups to MIM ones?

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by Gonflyn, Sep 20, 2021.

  1. Gonflyn

    Gonflyn Strat-Talker

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    Wanted to try converting my SSS American Performer an HSS for a little more versatility and "push over the cliff" when needed, (never use the bridge single), but as it's more of an experiment I didn't want to spend a bunch for right now.
    I ended up buying an MIM loaded pickguard cheap - with Alnico 2 Bumhucker/Alnico 5 Singles.
    I had test driven a Player with this config and was surprised at the sound, didn't feel like there was that much in it between them and the Yosemites, and the humbucker obviously added a new dimension.
    Anyway, we'll see how I get along with this setup once it arrives.
    Anyone else ever downgrade their pups from American to MIM and like em as much or better?
     
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  2. archetype

    archetype Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    I've never looked at it as a downgrade. It's just using the pickups that you prefer.

    There was no "downgrade" before the concept of "upgrade" drove the first wave of replacement parts and pickups a few decades ago. "Downgrade" is a harder sell than "upgrade."
     
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  3. ThreeChordWonder

    ThreeChordWonder Senior Stratmaster

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    Buying a loaded pickguard from a MIM someone else has upgraded is a great way to try this out.

    If you don't like the results you can probably sell the pickguard on again for close to what you paid for it.
     
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  4. bunjamin

    bunjamin New Member!

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    Yes, I liked the player series strat pickups way more than the fat 50s on the last gen of Am Stds. I might be able to sell you a neck and middle if you're interested. Assuming I stick with the Dimarzio Areas I have coming! I have found that the middle player single coil is noise cancelling with slug coils of dimarzio and duncan bridge humbuckers.

    Ignoring the amazon knockoffs, pickups are a matter of preference anyway and aren't objectively better or worse.
     
  5. T-Rey

    T-Rey Strat-O-Master Silver Member

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    The Player pickups are really great sounding in my experience. I just traded my HSS Player away but the pickups including the humbucker sounded very good and I really thought I would be changing at least the humbucker when I bought it. I still have a Player Tele and have no intentions of changing the pickups in that one either any time soon. They sound very nice. I think you will be surprised.
     
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  6. ThreeChordWonder

    ThreeChordWonder Senior Stratmaster

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    I agree, having changed my Player's pickups to an SD Trembucker and two SSL-1s, that any improvement will be marginal and subjective, perhaps just changing the tones slightly to suit the individual's ears and musical genre.

    The reason SD pickups hum canceling when mixed with Fender ones is that they're wound in the opposite direction. You may find you need to reverse the wiring to keep them in phase, however.

    Out of interest, SD told me you don't need a RWRP pickup with a humbucker in the bridge. First of all the humbucker is a humbucker so that's P-1 covered. In P-2 you're going to have either two north coils and one south, or one north and two souths. But if you split to leave the North coil active, that humbucks with SD single coils anyway, which are usually souths.
     
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  7. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

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    I don't think I've ever put MIM pickups back into a Strat, but I've come to the point where I will just leave them in there. They're sort of like a cross between a P-90 and a vintage Strat pickup. They get a bad name for being cheap and stock, but their design is a good one. Single-coil sized humbuckers, like Choppers, etc. are the same overall layout, with two blades and two coils, instead of pole pieces and one coil.
     
  8. bunjamin

    bunjamin New Member!

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    I was indeed referring to an auto-split wiring, which I have wired successfully with an Air Classic and a 59/Custom Hybrid. The Fender Player Middle pickup is South+counterclockwise and the slug coil of both of the humbuckers I tried were North+clockwise.

    You are right that you don't need a RWRP pickup in the middle if you aren't splitting the humbucker or don't care for noise cancellation. Either the 2 north coils will overpower the south or vice versa.

    Having experimented with quite a few HSS configurations, I've decided for now to use a lower output bridge humbucker and not split it.
     
  9. stratelespaul

    stratelespaul Strat-O-Master

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    For short money, Duncan Designed SC 101 singles and HB 103 bridge humbucker
     
  10. ThreeChordWonder

    ThreeChordWonder Senior Stratmaster

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  11. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

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    .

    I've kept Squire ceramic block pickups to use in other guitars -- because just lowering the pickup weakens the magnetic pull so it behaves like alnico. Players tend to set their pickup heights 'to the specs!' and those specs were made for weaker alnico. Many of the Squier bobbins I've measured revealed they have characteristics more like hand-wound pickup output ...


    The lowest cost most versatile setup I've found for Strats is the Armstrong Blender mod. A wiring only change to keep the SSS pickups for all the classic tones plus dial anywhere up to full HSH. I've had HSS and they are less versatile.


    .
     
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  12. blacktuesday

    blacktuesday New Member!

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    I did once take out a '54 Custom Shop and replaced with stock MIM ceramic. I rarely play above bedroom volume anyway, so any difference is minimal. Like the poster above me pointed out, setting the height is the key.
     
  13. Chipss36

    Chipss36 Strat-O-Master

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    Really good pickups, sound good regardless of how bad they are set up, and pickups are the heart and soul of an electric guitar, I have never downgraded pickups, I do at times install different pickups when doing a comparison. And keep a few baseline pick guards set up.
    And when I make a puckup choice, I have ran many sets in that exact guitar, and let the best set stay.


    And it’s socking to me going back, to a lower end pickup, things like string balance, or general tone, the difference is about a huge as it gets.

    I think many things a can be very subtle tone wise, but pickups are not one of them.

    Even with ceramics, take the dimarzio rail pickups are all over the place, tone wise, and I have ran every blade type they make.
    the difference in the fast track and the fast track2 is very apparent.
    in tone, in eq, in blending with other pickups…


    Kinda scratching my head, if people can not hear a difference in tone with pickups….
     
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  14. Gonflyn

    Gonflyn Strat-Talker

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    Well, got the loaded HSS pickguard out of a Player Strat.
    I have learned one thing. I suck at soldering and remember why I don't have the patience for it.
    Anyway, after a few hours of futzing around and having to replace a volume pot I finally got it installed and, more importantly, actually working.
    The verdict is........ Good.
    I don't feel like I'm giving up anything tone-wise to the American Yosemite pickups in the single coil department and having the humbucker has increased the rock-out factor of my Strat greatly.
    It has all of a sudden become my most versatile guitar overnight.
    Recommended.
     
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  15. Chuck8436

    Chuck8436 Senior Stratmaster

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    It may be sinful, but I prefer the sound of ceramic pickups in a strat.
     
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  16. Baelzebub

    Baelzebub Dr. Stratster

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    I haven't but I'm interested in your take on it.

    I have an HSS loaded guard I took out of an MIM because I wanted the body for another build, and I was just looking at it yesterday and thinking I needed to find a home for it, and am looking over parts to see what kind of build I can use it in. It sounded great in the MIM...but I had a set of Fralins that went in the other build.

    The MIM guard I took out just has ceramic singles and a standard humbucker with split. Nothing special, but like I said, sounded great in the guitar it came with.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2021
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  17. Baelzebub

    Baelzebub Dr. Stratster

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    Not at all sinful...those MIM ceramic pups are pretty damn good.
     
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  18. Slacker G

    Slacker G Strat-O-Master

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    I used to change them all the time for pickers that didn't like the MIM pickups. I loved them as they had a bit more bite and mids. A lot of musicians just "considered" them inferior to big name brands. I would change them for a low fee if I could keep the MIM's. I still prefer them to a lot of pups.
     
  19. jwag

    jwag Strat-O-Master

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    I have not done that myself, and probably wouldn’t do it to be honest if the guitar was stock. If I purchased a MIA Strat with aftermarket pickups I didn’t like and I could get deal on a set of MIM Alnico’s, I’d have no problem doing it.

    My Classic Series 60’s Strat’s have the stock pickups and I have no intentions whatsoever at this point to change them. I do think I could improve the tone by swapping them with Fender MIA, or aftermarket offerings. The question I ask myself is…would the returns be worth the cost?

    If you like they way they sound, I don’t see it as a downgrade….just the opposite.
     
  20. marksound

    marksound Strat-O-Master

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    I played a ton of gigs on a stock 2003 MIM Standard Strat and a budget partscaster with a set of $45 ceramic pickups. Nobody ever complained, even other players.

    Use what you like and damn the torpedoes.
     
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