Humbucker in Bridge Position?

jvin248

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 10, 2014
5,476
Michigan
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Mod the wiring in your SSS Strat for series HSH via the Armstrong Blender mod. That way you retain all the classic SSS tones and the reason for having a Strat plus you get all the LP through hot humbucker Super Strat tones. A pair of generic Strat 6kohm singles in series give you a hot 12kohm humbucker, or dial it back for more PAF LP tones. No new parts just a wiring change.

I started with an HSS Strat, after listening to all the suggestions for 'versatility!' and found I eventually hated not having the classic SSS available and the HSS was redundant with HH guitars I got later. I did a hundred mods to that HSS guitar and eventually went to SSS and found the Armstrong Blender and that's my 'auto-mod' for any new Strat I get. I convert HSS or HSH to SSS and install the AB.

If you are curious about the HSS setup then the best option is the previous one about getting a loaded HSS pickguard or buy the parts and load up an HSS pickguard. Pull the stock SSS pickguard off fully intact and swap the new one in. If you try to cobble with parts you'll end up making it difficult to go back to stock when you desire the old tones or to sell the guitar. Stock guitars fetch more money than 'upgraded!' guitars because the next guy wants to mod the stock guitar not a previous owner's ideas of improvements.

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Flapjack

Strat-Talker
Feb 4, 2009
216
United States
Thanks so much for the suggestions! They make a lot of sense. I will likely move ahead with getting an HSS Stratocaster and keeping it or my current SSS. Probably get the same model I have (very happy with it for several years) which also comes in an HSS configuration.
 

ThebiggestJerk

Senior Stratmaster
Aug 26, 2018
1,796
Home
I am considering putting a humbucker in the bridge position of my stock American Special Stratocaster. I am not sure if I should do this and would appreciate any advice.

When I perform, I use mostly positions 4 and 5 for clean settings, but go to position 1 for overdriven sounds (classic rock). I rarely use positions 2 or 3. I play though a completely clean amp and get my drive from pedals. Having the bridge louder than the other positions will not be a problem since I can use the pedals to get the volume where I want it for the bridge, and I am not concerned about losing position two quack (may or may not split the humbucker for position 2 if I get it). I like the overdrive sounds I get with the current bridge pickup and the tone rolled back, but I would like a thicker, bigger sound, with more thunk on the lower strings. This is why I am considering something like a Pearly Gates or PAF 36th Anniversary. I have also thought about a single, stacked humbucker like a rail or little '59 but, based on what I have been able to listen to, I like the sounds of the full humbuckers better.

As I deliberate over whether or not to try a humbucker, any thoughts or suggestions would be most appreciated. Thanks!
I agree 100%. I spoke directly with Dimarzio about this same thing. I love their full sized PAF but unfortunately I had to cut into the body cavity of a strat once to make it fit. I wanted to avoid that so I asked them which stacked or rails single coil sized humbucker sounded closest to a PAF, and they told me the PRO-Track was specifically designed for just that reason. I ran with it and I couldn’t be happier. It does exactly what we both want.
 

KillingTone

Strat-O-Master
Platinum Supporting Member
Mar 13, 2017
802
Yardley, PA USA
I wouldn't get one if it was gonna be my only Strat, but if it was a second or more, sure.

I sold my US HSS Strat last year and bought two SSS Strats with the cash. Wasn't really a fan of the bridge humbucker, plus you don't get Strat sounds in positions 1 & 2: IMO it's only 3/5 of a Strat.
I installed a SD Hot Rails in the bridge of my Elite and also put in a push/pull on Tone 2 to split the humbucker. When split, it does a pretty good job of sounding like a single coil (with decent quack in position 2) but I mostly use it for the HB sounds. But since it’s got an S1 switch, the coil split does add about 4 more different tones when the S1 is on (for occasional use). A funny part about the coil split is that it adds back single coil hum but the middle and neck don’t hum since they are Gen 4 Noiseless.

0920638E-92C0-460B-B244-A8BFE54660B5.jpeg 47881E09-360B-4BD3-95FC-2CC3582F2E5E.jpeg
 

Flapjack

Strat-Talker
Feb 4, 2009
216
United States
Thanks for all of the replies! If I do go with the full HB to replace the bridge single coil, then I suppose I need to think about making it series/parallel switchable and/or able to be split. I would think the former might be best for a relatively low output, PAF type HB, which is what I am leaning towards.
 

albala

Dr. Stratster
May 10, 2012
10,618
Hilton Head, South Carolina
I agree 100%. I spoke directly with Dimarzio about this same thing. I love their full sized PAF but unfortunately I had to cut into the body cavity of a strat once to make it fit. I wanted to avoid that so I asked them which stacked or rails single coil sized humbucker sounded closest to a PAF, and they told me the PRO-Track was specifically designed for just that reason. I ran with it and I couldn’t be happier. It does exactly what we both want.

I love my Protrack and recommend if someone wants rails.

20210606_113243.jpg


If you want a single coil look with thickness, look for a Dimarzio Solo.

I have one of those too and I love love love it

20210605_132144.jpg
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,778
Murfreesboro, TN
If you don't like position 2 and you do want a little more oomph from the bridge, HSS is right for you.

Consider the pots. A 500k pot turned down to 250k (about 7.2, on audio taper) sounds exactly like a 250k pot turned up to 250k. Many people prefer 500k pots with humbuckers, esp. for the tone. It won't hurt your single coils to use 500s, although you may want to turn down a little bit to find your old tone. Of course keep your 250k tone pot for the neck pickup. And since you don't use the middle pup alone, it doesn't need a tone control.
 

Flapjack

Strat-Talker
Feb 4, 2009
216
United States
I am still considering a HB in the bridge. If I move head with it, I would like to put a push-pull pot in so that I can split the HB. Can you recommend which push-pull pot I should get? Never swapped these before. Thank you for your help.
 

GhostJam47

Strat-O-Master
Apr 21, 2021
880
Seattle
I have a 59 (full size) in the bridge and love it. Sounds like maybe u want something a little hotter.

Either way, I'd consider an always on switch for the bridge. Great tones from All 3 on and the neck/bridge combo.
 

Hal Nico

Senior Stratmaster
Apr 28, 2012
3,755
JAMOADR
I am still considering a HB in the bridge. If I move head with it, I would like to put a push-pull pot in so that I can split the HB. Can you recommend which push-pull pot I should get? Never swapped these before. Thank you for your help.

I use a 250k ohm Push-Pull on my Squier to dump to ground one of the coils in the Bridge Humbucker,

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fr...Desc=0&_odkw=push+pull+poteniometer&_osacat=0

I use a Master Volume and Tone control so the 2nd Tone control slot is free.

Just match up the spindle type and length to your present pots.

HTH :)
 

Flapjack

Strat-Talker
Feb 4, 2009
216
United States
Thanks for the replies. I don't necessarily want something hotter than a 59, but do want more mids based on what I hear in sound samples. Obvioulsy, sound samples can only help so much. I will have to see how whatever I choose sounds in my guitar...
 

stevierayfan91

DEEPLY SHY.
Feb 20, 2011
12,231
Private.
Thanks for all of the replies! If I do go with the full HB to replace the bridge single coil, then I suppose I need to think about making it series/parallel switchable and/or able to be split. I would think the former might be best for a relatively low output, PAF type HB, which is what I am leaning towards.


Hi, @Flapjack


For splitting humbucker in position 2 if wanted, I would try to look at him buckets in the 12k ohms or a bit higher.

If the humbucker is 8K ohms ,splitting to a coil would be very low 4K ohms .
 

BuddyHollywood

Strat-O-Master
Jul 22, 2011
962
Venice, CA
A Strat has 3 knobs. HSS can make use of these 3 knobs in a great way to accommodate the different pickups. Here is how I have my HSS wired.

  • Use the first knob as a volume pot for the humbucker. You can install a 500K or 1 meg pot here. Solder the pickup directly to the pot.
  • Use the second knob as a volume pot for the middle and neck single coils. You can install a 250K pot here.
  • Use the third knob as a master tone for the whole guitar.
  • Solder the middle and neck pickup to a Telecaster style 3 way switch.
Wiring it this way allows you to blend in the volume of any of your pickups in any configuration. If you want the bridge pickup by itself you turn up volume 1 and turn down volume 2. If you want the middle by itself you turn down volume 1, turn up volume 2 and have the switch in the 1 position and so on. If you want all 3 you can turn up both volumes and put the switch in the middle position.
upload_2021-9-23_9-54-30.jpeg
 

Flapjack

Strat-Talker
Feb 4, 2009
216
United States
A Strat has 3 knobs. HSS can make use of these 3 knobs in a great way to accommodate the different pickups. Here is how I have my HSS wired.

  • Use the first knob as a volume pot for the humbucker. You can install a 500K or 1 meg pot here. Solder the pickup directly to the pot.
  • Use the second knob as a volume pot for the middle and neck single coils. You can install a 250K pot here.
  • Use the third knob as a master tone for the whole guitar.
  • Solder the middle and neck pickup to a Telecaster style 3 way switch.
Wiring it this way allows you to blend in the volume of any of your pickups in any configuration. If you want the bridge pickup by itself you turn up volume 1 and turn down volume 2. If you want the middle by itself you turn down volume 1, turn up volume 2 and have the switch in the 1 position and so on. If you want all 3 you can turn up both volumes and put the switch in the middle position.
View attachment 509075

Thanks for sharing! This is one wiring configuration I was not aware of. Appreciate the suggestion....
 

keys88

Strat-Talker
Apr 4, 2014
305
Columbus, OH
HSS is a great configuration. Gives you a lot of options. I know some people have good luck with stacked humbuckers but I prefer a full-size pickup. Stacked pickups are good if you don't have a route for a humbucker, but to my ears they don't sound 100% the same.

If you're worried about using 250k pots with a humbucker you could always go with 300k pots instead. It's like a middle ground between 250k and 500k. Or you could wire it with two volumes and one master tone (instead of two tones and one volume). Wire the neck and middle to a 250k pot for their volume, and wire the humbucker to it's own volume using a 500k pot.

And just thinking out loud... if you used a 250k no-load pot for the master tone you would have the right value for the single coils, but then you could take it out of the circuit completely when you use the humbucker so it wouldn't darken your tone.
 
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