Pickups for a wenge Strat - sugesstions needed!

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by Jkrakowi, Nov 26, 2020.

  1. Jkrakowi

    Jkrakowi New Member!

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    Hi!

    I'm building a new Partscaster - wenge body, roasted maple neck with pau ferro fingerboard (I think, I didn't quite decided yet which neck to get) and as I've never played a wenge bodied guitar I'm a bit lost choosing pickups.

    I really like deep sounding strats (wenge should help with that as it's supposed to be rosewoodish in tone) but to be honest I don't know if I should choose bright pickups (to balance things up) or vice versa.

    At the moment I'm considering CS Fat 50's but I've also looked at Fat 60's, some Lollars and Fralins. I'm not sold on Seymour Duncans for some reason...

    Another thing is I want to wire a push-pull to add series middle pickup to 1 and 5 positions so RWRP middle pickup would be preferable.
     
  2. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh needs you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too.

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    Welcome to the forum.
    Any of those "Fat" pickup sets will help you get a little deeper sound, but as far as the wood type, that doesn't matter much. There's way too much natural variation in wood to whip up a "recipe" for how a guitar will sound based on species selection.
     
  3. Jkrakowi

    Jkrakowi New Member!

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    Thanks for the welcome! (to be honest it's a comeback on a new account after 8 years of absence since buying my last Strat)

    As for tonewood, I'd partially disagree - of course different guitars made from the same tonewood can sound different due to variation in wood, but departure from something like alder and ash to something like rosewood or wenge should be very obvious. And the same tonewood will have it's own characteristic present in all guitars.
    Check out this tele:



    You can easily hear that's a tele, but it sounds very different.

    Problem is that there aren't many guitars made from wenge in the wild. Wenge necks are more popular than bodies. The only one nicely made demo of a Strat style guitar made of wenge I could find is this one:



    And in my humble opinion you can also hear a difference in tonewood and similarities to the rosewood tele.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2020
  4. Deafsoundguy

    Deafsoundguy Strat-o-hackster Silver Member

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    Whatever the case, that Fender custom shop picture is gorgeous!!! :) Reminds me of the George Harrison Rosewood Tele, one of my all time favorites. Wenge (pronounced wen-gay I believe) is a cool wood. I’ve used it a lot in furniture making along with maple and padauk. Good luck with your project and welcome back to the forum.
     
  5. Jkrakowi

    Jkrakowi New Member!

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    Yeah! I believe it's at leased based on that one. :)
     
  6. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh needs you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too.

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    Of course it sounds different. That wasn't my point though; if you had two alder-bodied Teles they'd sound slightly different from each other. Variations in the wood, values of electrical components and pickups, setup, etc. will all affect the sound. I really don't buy into the notion that you can reliably and repeatably produce a guitar with "focused mids and bright upper chime" (I've seen these sorts of descriptions before) or other such nonsense based on wood selection.
     
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  7. Jkrakowi

    Jkrakowi New Member!

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    Interesting. That makes me think that we have to focus on different things while listening to a guitar. I can definitely hear the tonewood characteristic - mainly to know if the guitar is mahogany or not but swamp ash vs alder is also doable.
     
  8. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    With acoustic guitars, harder wood means brighter and softer woods are warmer.

    With electric guitars, the same rule should hold true but is less noticeable and is subject to flavoring through electronic means (pickups, pots, caps) and of course the hardware, scale length, pickup position, and the amp and the speakers in your cabinet also play a role. The neck will always have more effect than the body; the neck is 3/4 of the vibrating length. If you swap necks on electric guitars, the tone generally follows the neck.

    You've chosen Wenge--that's a VERY hard wood, in the ballpark with the rosewoods. I predict it will be brighter than ash or maple. And it'll be heavy, so it'll probably sustain longer than you need it to.

    When you're thinking about specific pickups to pair with the wood, think about whether you want to emphasize the same flavor that's in the wood (you picked a hard wood to get a bright guitar because you want a bright guitar, so pick something super bright) or whether you want to cut out some of the highs in order to make a more balanced instrument. After you decide that, check through this database: http://www.echoesofmars.com/pickup_data/viewer/

    It includes measured scientific data about what they sound like, including bode plots. Of course not all pickups will be included but a bunch are.

    If it were me, I'd pick pretty much any "vintage" style pickups and then taste test a few different values of pots & caps to fine tune the output.
     
  9. Dreamdancer

    Dreamdancer Senior Stratmaster

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    if you have a wenge body, you have the best recipe for excellent sustain cause this thing is super dense and heavy...i would also suggest a wenge fingerboard for uniformity(i have one of those...love it) and you ll have a guitar which basically needs...no finish...and looks dark raw and sexy.I cant help you with the pickups,i found out that if i like a set on one guitar..i like it on the next...and the next etc etc after the player the amp and the pickups the material just doesnt register for me....
     
  10. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    I always have to wonder if a difference in wood can really be noticed on an electric instrument. I've discussed it with many people who claim to be able to but, to be honest, I cannot. I can normally tell the difference in pickups but in a blind test I couldn't tell the difference between an ash body and a piece of termite infested drift wood...especially after the sound has been manipulated by the pickups, effects (if any) used, cord and amp. Everything will color the sound somehow even if it's to the nth degree.
    This little game that @Otisblove played a few days ago really reminded me of how impossible, at least for me, it really is to differentiate tone woods.
     
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  11. Jkrakowi

    Jkrakowi New Member!

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    That's a great resource and insightful comment! Thank you a lot!

    As for the pickups, vintage strat pickups are a rabbit hole. Too much to choose from.

    Well, a long sustain is my cup of tea to be honest - I've always tried to increase it in my guitars, no matter which model. As for finish, I plan to leave it without the laquer - only protecting it with natural oils designed to be used as guitar finishes. :)

    It's realy, realy interesting. And you're right that everything will colour the sound. But I can recognize a sound of mahogany in a guitar very easily, maybe it's due to having the most experience with a mahogany guitar.

    Nevertheless, I'd recommend listening to interviews with Paul Reed Smith - he's a crazy person. Here you have him trowing string nuts on the table and commenting on how they sound and can change the overall sound of the guitar.