Best way to mellow out a Strat?

Scott Baxendale

Most Honored Senior Member
Gold Supporting Member
May 20, 2020
5,982
Sante Fe, NM
Now, let’s not be rash. The digital pedals from Line 6 sound great, and the multi effects units (M5, M9 and M13) have the same great sound. They’re awesome as long as you don’t use the overdrive modules.
To me ALL digital multi effect processors are actually more like tone eliminator pedals. They compress the signal on the way in and expand it on the way out leaving all the dynamic range on the floor.
 

CandyAppleHead

Strat-O-Master
Apr 28, 2008
907
Cambridge, England
I don't think there's anything wrong with the guitar (apart from maybe the action - more on that in a second). A Wildwood 59 is as good a Strat as any and should be more than capable of delivering whatever classic Strat tones you need. It's not the pickups, the pickup height, the strings or the wiring.

I think it's the settings on the amp. The amount of gain there sounds like it's at that point where it's paradoxically starting to choke the sustain and muddy the natural tone of the guitar. Back it off a bit and give it more volume. Maybe dial in a little more treble.

The guitar cannot of course be more stiff when plugged in. That's impossible. It can sound "stiffer" though, as the OP is having to fight harder to wring tone out of it but is up against the constraints of the amp settings.

Having said that, if the OP is actually experiencing any stiffness - which I guess means when bending strings - try raising the action. I've played Strats that have felt stiff in this way because the action was too low, making it difficult to grab the string for bending. Try raising the saddles a quarter turn and see how it feels.
 

RhinestoneStrat

Senior Stratmaster
Aug 8, 2019
1,535
Ontario
"My new football is harder to shoot than my old basketball, and every time I try to dribble it, it shoots off at weird angles."

Dude, you bought a football. Don't expect it to be a basketball. If all you've ever played is basketball, you've got some new moves to learn.

I don't say this to be critical. I'm in a similar boat with my LP. I really want to love it, but I haven't the first idea how to handle hamburglar pickups.

There is always options...especially against a harmless & defenseless Strat.:cool:

402697-b8a1e26bae19d296a483bb07cad8a6c7.jpg
 

c_corie

Strat-Talker
Oct 16, 2020
131
USA
I will make another clip this week probably, I’ll try less gain. A fuzz pedal seems to help it sound more even- at lower fuzz settings as well, maybe it’s a single coil thing.

Maybe it’s that the amp isn’t a good match, but every other guitar I own sounds amazing into it and the Celestion Blue is pretty broken in by now.
 

Wylde Horses

Strat-Talk Member
Mar 30, 2020
82
Vancouver
He was most hung up on the “bumble bee” capicators as one of the secrets to the “magic” tone of a real sunburst, yet when he played he ALWAYS had the tone controls on 10 all the time in effect disengaging the capicator from the circuit.

While I agree on your point regarding the type of capacitor be irrelevant, unless the pots are no load, they are never out of the circuit, even on 10. A little of the signal gets bled off, so even with the tone pot on 10, a lower value capacitor will make the guitar sound brighter.

I learned just how much a standard pot will affect your tone when I was building a pickguard with a blender pot and the no load pot hadn’t arrived yet, so I used a spare I had kicking around. When I was tapping the pickups to check the wiring, it took me a minute to figure out what was going on because the pickup that was supposed to be “off” was definitely “on”, though it was quieter, probably ~20% of full volume.
 

Scott Baxendale

Most Honored Senior Member
Gold Supporting Member
May 20, 2020
5,982
Sante Fe, NM
While I agree on your point regarding the type of capacitor be irrelevant, unless the pots are no load, they are never out of the circuit, even on 10. A little of the signal gets bled off, so even with the tone pot on 10, a lower value capacitor will make the guitar sound brighter.

I learned just how much a standard pot will affect your tone when I was building a pickguard with a blender pot and the no load pot hadn’t arrived yet, so I used a spare I had kicking around. When I was tapping the pickups to check the wiring, it took me a minute to figure out what was going on because the pickup that was supposed to be “off” was definitely “on”, though it was quieter, probably ~20% of full volume.
You’re splitting hairs regarding my previous point a little bit, I think?
 

Andrew Wasson

Senior Stratmaster
Nov 6, 2018
3,826
Vancouver, Canada
Wow... That was a lot of reading. I hope the OP got his tone sorted out after all of that.

My first attempt would be to put a compressor in the signal chain with a touch of compression and a bunch of sustain. That tends to thicken up the tone.

I'd add some reverb and delay through an effects loop. Maybe some chorus to thicken the sound too but slow and not too much.

@c_corie, since you do like EJ's tones (so do I), have you looked at his pickup set? I've got an EJ strat and I am happy with what it does. No changes needed.
 

c_corie

Strat-Talker
Oct 16, 2020
131
USA
Wow... That was a lot of reading. I hope the OP got his tone sorted out after all of that.

My first attempt would be to put a compressor in the signal chain with a touch of compression and a bunch of sustain. That tends to thicken up the tone.

I'd add some reverb and delay through an effects loop. Maybe some chorus to thicken the sound too but slow and not too much.

@c_corie, since you do like EJ's tones (so do I), have you looked at his pickup set? I've got an EJ strat and I am happy with what it does. No changes needed.

I made another video, I wasn’t feeling it so of the 10 minutes of noodling this was the only usable part, but it actually shows the issue through another amp. The neck and middle pickups sound ok but bright, the bridge pickup sounds less full and less bright? It’s the stock set, maybe I’ll try those Pure Vintage 59’ now that things are safer out, I’ll bring it to my guy.

Also the reverb did help make it less obnoxious sounding lol.

 

Andrew Wasson

Senior Stratmaster
Nov 6, 2018
3,826
Vancouver, Canada
I made another video, I wasn’t feeling it so of the 10 minutes of noodling this was the only usable part, but it actually shows the issue through another amp. The neck and middle pickups sound ok but bright, the bridge pickup sounds less full and less bright? It’s the stock set, maybe I’ll try those Pure Vintage 59’ now that things are safer out, I’ll bring it to my guy.

Also the reverb did help make it less obnoxious sounding lol.



What's your settings on the amp? The blues cube has lots of settings so just a photo will give us an idea of whether some changes will improve things.

The neck pickup sounded decent. The in between settings sounded good but the bridge did sound a little thin. I tend to have my bass/mid/treble for a little thicker tone and I have my gain up for some more drive and natural overdrive. On my SSS strats, I have the rear tone on the bridge pickup and I'll roll back the tone on my bridge pickup substantially to thicken it up.
 

c_corie

Strat-Talker
Oct 16, 2020
131
USA
What's your settings on the amp? The blues cube has lots of settings so just a photo will give us an idea of whether some changes will improve things.

The neck pickup sounded decent. The in between settings sounded good but the bridge did sound a little thin. I tend to have my bass/mid/treble for a little thicker tone and I have my gain up for some more drive and natural overdrive. On my SSS strats, I have the rear tone on the bridge pickup and I'll roll back the tone on my bridge pickup substantially to thicken it up.

The amp was set as follows, no switches were on (gain or bright.)

gain- 30%

bass- 60%

middle- 40%

treble- 60%

master 80%

Reverb- no idea pretty high?

all on the 5w mode.
 

Andrew Wasson

Senior Stratmaster
Nov 6, 2018
3,826
Vancouver, Canada
That looks like the sort of settings I'd have for my semi hollow body, humbucker guitar.

I'd bring the mid up for sure and maybe knock the treble back a little. Fender used to have a setting they called 666 becuase that was the magic base setting they recommended you use; then you'd fine tune from there. Guitars mostly don't do real bass so what we preceive as bass is actually mid.
 


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