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Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Rounder44, Apr 19, 2020.
Heavier trem block
5spring as tight as hell
Higher string height
If you're eliminating switching out pickups right from the start, then 1) Action setup 2) String type 3) Pickup proximity. The obvious things. Easy question, easy answer.
After that, a bit more involved procedure is changing the nut to a Zero-fret system... but few people want to go to that trouble, or "de-official" their prized Strat to do so. But the tone difference and affect on action is remarkable. Alternate camps claim bone nuts are just as good and such is a difference of opinion. Since sound is subjective and changing out the nut instantly makes the guitar "non-standard", whether or not to do a nut replacement is totally an individual decision.
Of course you could remove the block and replace it with a Teisco tail. That should gain some comments on a Strat. ;D
The people that think the Wood or setup or Pickup height have "little effect" either A) Play with too much Gain or B) play thru a Modeler & thus have an invalid opinion
The Player does have great effect, my Singer Rhythm Guitarist thought it was more my Better Rig, then we swapped for a Song or 2 & I still sounded better
Float the bridge
Yes on higher action
For Sure its the Player
For me, it's light/heavy strings, preferably D'Addario NYXL1052 Nickel Wound Electric Strings -.010-.052 Light Top/Heavy Bottom, though I swap out the unwound .17 for a wound .17. These strings made a huge difference in sound (as would be expected given the low end gauges), beefing up tone from the single coils, and adding "whump" and creaminess to the humbucker I put on the bridge. They made "my" sound.
I'm for a complete set-up , then lower the pick-up height , and change to a high quality trem block . Either Steel or Brass , your choice , Brass being somewhat brighter sounding . W/O a soldering iron being involved , those are your main choices ...
Despite all the Smartazz answers, changing Pup height, or String Height will do little to NONE to enhance the tone. Of course making the Strat 100% correctly Intonated is #1 in assuring it sounds "right".
The Neck of ANY stringed instrument plays (pun) just as much importance as the body, it's the obvious selling point of any "set neck" or Neck-thru" guitar. Because Fender guitars are all bolt-on necks, that physical mating of the neck to the body via the pocket is the most important factor in the sound of a Bolt-on Neck guitar ... ANY brand. That physical wood of the neck contact to body, not just where the screws pull the neck to the body, but more importantly where the end of the neck butts into the vertical edge of the neck pocket.
There is a little trick we had at Fender to assure the neck was tight against the inside edge of the pocket, but it can be dangerous if you do this foolishly. So don't be stupid.
With the strings on, detune each string 3 notes E 6th string becomes B and so on to the 1st string. If it's a Strat, Jaguar, Jazzmaster, Mustang, any with a Trem, take the Trem bar off and lay the guitar on a folded bath towel on a long table face (string side) DOWN. With a PROPER sized Philips Screw Driver, WHILE HAVING YOUR FREE HAND ON THE BODY PUSHING DOWN MODERATELY, loosen the bottom two screws a 1/4 turn ONLY. Then loosen the top two screws also 1/4 turn ONLY. IF you hear a "Pop" or "Snap" sound during this process, the neck was NOT at the bottom of the pocket and now it is! If you don't hear anything, go back to the BOTTOM two screws and loosen another 1/4 turn ONLY. ..... AGAIN you may hear that POP / Snap sound or you may not because the neck was already as far into the pocket as if could go. DO NOT LOOSEN ANY FURTHER!! Tighten up the screws - Bottom Two First and then the TOP two last.
Retune your guitar. The first thing you will notice after this adjustment, is a noticeable improvement in Sustain and likely Tone. A Maple neck will sound more "Fender Twangy" and Rosewood capped neck more mellow.
Send your thanks to me, the Guitar Neck Chiropractor, you just got your secret setup adjustment.
Pickup height and string height are at the top
A lot also depends on the listener. I find a lot of your "wonderful tones" to be a horrid screech...
I'm probably a little late to the game, but here's my two cents worth, and this is a variation on it's all in the player's hands;
Assuming the usual set-up, (with proper low action and intonation adjusted appropriately), the greatest tone difference you can enjoy can be found in simply exploring and using the Stratocaster's Controls (pickup selector switch, Volume and Tone knobs) to their full advantage.
Most performers set the Volume and Tone knobs to a particular setting, set the five-way selector switch to their favored pickup position, and then play the entire song or set pretty much that way.
The reality is that there are enormous tonal differences that can, and should, be made on the fly, during the performance of each song.
Watch any experienced gigging musician.
They tend to flip from this pickup position to another, to make the guitar cut thru the mix better, or soften up the bite even.
They'll make subtle Tone knob refinements, sometime two or three times in one performance.
They'll roll the Volume knob up slightly to get more bark, or roll it down just a bit, to even out the bark.
I can't find it right now, but Joe Bonamassa filmed a pretty good video of himself seated with a guitar (it was a Les Paul of course, but the fundamentals are there), and he demonstrated a wide variety of sonic magic you can make without pedals and without effects, just by going for the right selectors switch, Volume, and Tone adjustments.
Okay, I'm gonna shut up now.
Well obviously everything outside the guitar has a lot more to do with tone that things inside of it..(player,amp,various dedals etc etc etc)..when it comes to the guitar itself though and excluding the soldering and changing of the electronics as you said, if i had to make one change that would definitely be the tremolo block, either brass or steel.
The rest would be an overall setup that would go either in the direction of Carl Verheyen who basically sets up his guitars floating and in specific intervals or decked with 5 springs or blocked.
- The mass of the trem block
- If you deck the trem you will get better tuning stability and a very very VERY slight questionably noticeable increase in sustain and perhaps even a perceptible tone change (or not?).
- Pick closer to the neck for less treble and more warmth
- Pick lighter for cleaner tone
- As has been said, use the volume and tone knobs
- If you want SRV tone, lower the pickups... of course this brings up the subject of action... set your action where you like it.
- If you are playing with distortion and you are pissed off that your lead playing is fizzy and buzzy because you can't crank your Marshall, get a Soldano and replace the speakers with Celestions (I use an astroverb).
- There are strings made of different materials... they say that nickel strings are warmer than steel, and I think Stainless steel is brighter (and would destroy nickel frets quickly!)
- Bigger strings are bassier, or less trebly, but it is VERY hard to hear the difference unless you filmed the same guitar with different gauges and then compared the footage (like people on YouTube do).
Most typical, run-of-the-mill pros, ON AVERAGE, play 9s on everything (restrain yourself, please, any readers outraged by this GROSS, accurate, overgeneralization!), but people like David Gilmour and Eric Johnson play something like 10-52 sets on their strats.
Phil Collen of Def Leppard plays 13-58 on his guitars touring (probably his fixed bridge guitars), like SRV did!
I'm curious what you are trying to correct...? Too bright? Too... something?
I find that with most inspiring Strat and Telecaster players, they switch pickups and sometimes tone/volume as the work through a piece of music. The controls and selector is the first place my eyes go to when I’m watching a talented guitarist because I want an idea of which pickup they're using to get their sounds.
This guy (Nick Johnston) is often moving between pickups to get the sounds he feels are necessary. In this video, one you get past the first 20 seconds of Schecter branding, he switches throughout his solo between the bridge, middle+neck and neck. I’m in awe at the stuff he comes up with.
Yep...and some of us have been doing that longer than he's been alive.
But he knows the score.
Sometimes you just need to sell the turd and get something that works.
Ensure all screws and fasteners are tight and make sure the neck screws are really tight. Adjust truss rod so neck is almost flat. Raise string height as high as you can get away with.
5 Pages of answers...
I fiddle around with all these things all the time..
Setup is A and O. Make sure the setup is good and one that suits your personal preferences and desires.
Straighter neck(truss rod) is good for softer playing, more neck releif and it sounds and works better when playing hard...
Pickup height - there are good articles about standard settings - For me I find I like them a tad lower than what is usually regarded as standard.
I always keep the screwdriver close and change the pickup height every week, a little this way, a little that way. There are tips in this thread, middle pickup a little lower...
Everything matters - maybe - like Eric Johnson has one of his saddles(high e) made of a different material.
2-3 or 5 springs for tremolo... float like Jeff Beck, or flush(only down)like me? Woodblock like Clapton?
Some people (khungrabin) like old strings, others like newer strings.
I like the sound of my strat when the volume is rolled back a bit -7-8, sometimes to 3, it softens the tone just a little and somehow is just "better", for a lot of the things I do. If you need volume bring up to volume on amp.
Also it depends on your amp setting, say you have a small tube combo, 10-30w, these are easy to play full throttle(11). This way the volume knob on the guitar becomes really meaningful. Even a Roland JC-120, you can set at full volume. If you play 10 on the guitar and 3-4 on the amp you dont have the headroom to use the volume knob.(But this is good if you want to sound like Nile Rodgers).
If you need less volume use a smaller amp. A Blackstar Fly or something. General rule: Amps sound better when played at full volume.
Last but not least: What sounds good alone is different from what sounds good with a band!
Often you play at home and its standard material. In a band the reportoire, in my case anyway, is broader and requires more versatility and different sounds.
So...bring the screwdriver to rehearsal..