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Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Rounder44, Apr 19, 2020.
The most important part of any musical instrument is the nut at the back.
I tried a little sound experiment with a 98 American Standard Hardtail, and a 2012/19 American Standard Partscaster build. At the time I had an Eric Johnson loaded pickguard for the partscaster and my original Am Standard loaded pick guard. I made short recordings of both guitars, then switched the pickguards and recorded the same licks with the same amp and guitar settings. What I found was that each guitar had a specific tone and the pickup was only responsible for picking up Bass/Mid/treble. As in the pickups recorded the existing tone of the guitar, and really the only thing the pickups did was deliver volume of certain frequencies.
With either the Am Stnd. Or EJ pickups the 98 Hardtail was easily heard regardless of the pickups. It had a full sound, stronger bass, and more sustain.
What I did learn was that lower output pickups had more clarity, and lowering them allowed me to get the "full tone" of each guitar. Raising them dropped some bass, increased the treble and made the guitar louder, but it didn't affect tone as much as I thought it would.
In the end I sent the EJ electronics packing. Rewired the Am Standard switch like Jimmy Vaughan, and built a pickguard for the Partscaster. The pickups I went with for the Partscaster are Rose Blossoms. They are low wind 50's style. I think to really capture the existing tone of a guitar that a set of low wind vintage pickups can do the trick nicely. Especially if you are one of those knuckle draggers like myself that still uses Marshall Amplifier gain, and a Ts-808.
The pickups make the greatest difference on the guitar.
If you compare an expensive Custom Shop to a Squier, there should be a noticeable tonal difference. However, if you were to upgrade the Squier’s pickups to match the CS’s (or downgrade the CS’s pickups to the Squier’s), it should be very very difficult, in a blind test, to tell the difference between the two guitars’ tones.
Tone is such a subjective quality. What makes it “better”? What are you looking for? More treble, less treble, a mid-range boost, more available variety? My favorite Strat property is that there are several tones there for the choosing. All the stuff prior posters have listed will have an effect. But I have found that different examples of the exact same model can have very different tones, even CS Strats you would think had a more tightly controlled build spec. There are so many variables, it’s hard to say an adjustment will have the same effect on your guitar as it did on another.
I tried to order a blues hat to give me mojo but I screwed up.
I like to keep it simple. Just plug straight in to my amp. Then like Fezz said, work the tone knobs. A strat with 3 pickups and tone knobs along with amp is totally cool. Everything I need, but I'm an old timer. I just saw Clapton playing Japan 2018 on YouTube, and he used his mid boost thing for solos, but he performed most of his electric set riding the neck pickup all the way and he was getting all kinds of different tones from it on each song. The neck pickup. Dude is in his mid 70's and still playing as good, if not better than in the 1960's, and I've been following that long. A wonder to watch. And all, I repeat, on the neck pickup.
All my Guitars play perfectly and I'm not telling how well alright, I've got a Line 6 amp.
...... The "Greatest Tone Difference" ... ???
THE GUITARIST and his knowledge of his guitar and his amp, whether it's a Fender Champ or a Marshall stack. If you suck, are clueless, tone def, you can spend all the money in the world on your guitar and you'll still suck and sound "tone-less".
Diamond cutter grade calluses.
Here we go.............I’m out of this one.
As others have said, a great setup and leveling/dressing the frets. Good luck.
Ok I said it. There isn’t one fail safe thing that always makes the greatest tone difference on your guitar. It changes and sometimes it changes daily depending on how often you play and whether you like to tinker with your rig and your approach to playing.
Sometimes it’s an amp that just sounds right or is so touch sensitive and responsive, it changes the way you approach playing the guitar. It could be a pedal that gives you new tones that inspire you or it could be new chord voicings that make you play differently. It might just be twisting a knob on your amp that’s never been on a different setting.
I’ve been playing the guitar (or it’s been playin me) for the last 45 years and I’m still discovering new things when I plug in and tinker with my guitar and amps.
Here's a consideration for all you guys still hanging on as a "Lacquer makes the difference" disciple..
the lacquer that "makes" the presumed difference is nitrocellulose... Well, assuming y'all want whatever difference it makes to be a consistent quality you can count on.. 'splain this one...
Nitro gets more and more brittle with age... thats where the fine cracks come from as the body expands and contracts.. But even at it's most brittle, Nitro will still soften when the temperature gets warm.... Thus in warmer environments the nature of, the characteristics of the Nitro are completely different from the same guitar's lacquer in a more cool environment..
Haul your axe to a gig in the trunk, cooking in that heat.. and the guitar will arrive with soft Nitro... as the body cools down, the Nitro gets more brittle, "obviously" altering the tone... so why aren't there more guys wondering about that one? The case of the variable tone guitar.
So in which "state" does the Nitro produce the "better" sound?
That’s a trick question Ron and you know it.... Everyone knows that Nitro’s state of flux is equally offset my it’s Mojo which is directly proportional. Duh.
What makes the biggest change in tone/sound on a stock Strat would be the Pickup selector switch, it has 5 tone position's to choose from with out having to adjust anything.