Player Strat Pickup's: A Disappointment...

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by JRSIV, Oct 7, 2021.

  1. JRSIV

    JRSIV Stuck in the Middle Position Silver Member

    Messages:
    283
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    I look at the forum almost exclusively on mobile, which of course doesn't show signatures; just in case anyone else does what I do here's my signature (a list of my Strat's currently):

    1991 Fender Standard Strat | 2000 Fender Powerhouse Strat | 2014 Fender US Standard Strat | 2016 Fender Road Worn 50's Strat | 2021 Fender Player Strat | 2009 Squier CV 60's Strat | 2020 Squier CV50's Strat

    and a collage shot of them:

    [​IMG]

    @amstratnut As I said in the OP, I know that going from Custom Shop pickups to Player Strat pups isn't necessarily a fair comparison, bit I'm not doing that.

    Today I spent a few hours adjusting the Players pickup height, string changes and experimenting with different volume knob & tone knob placements. The Player pickups are by no means bad, but they are very middle of the road to me. They are serviceable, but when the pickups in my Squier CV50's have more character & mojo it's just a bit disconcerting.

    As far as @CalicoSkies comment, I agree; I have researched pickups from other makers and would be totally open to it. Over the years I've tried lots of different 3rd party Strat pickups, Seymour Duncan, Lollar, etc. I once got some single coils made by the Ed Roman guitar store here in my hometown of Vegas. However, recently the best pick-ups I have heard were Fender Custom Shop pups. The Fat 50's in the American Standard I bought a few months back are just incredible. Same with the '54's in the Road Worn. Plus I'm not going to go any stronger that $200-250 for pickups right now.

    I am keenly aware that all of this is just serious first world problems, lol. But I will say that since I bought a few new guitars this year I've been playing for hours longer than I was in say 2019 and I'm writing more bits and progressions that are turning into new songs. That's invaluable for cats that have been doing this since our teens.
     
  2. Dreamdancer

    Dreamdancer Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    2,329
    Joined:
    May 1, 2014
    Location:
    Greece
    Play with the pickup height quite a bit cause they may have to be lowered more than the sets you usually like....its a balancing act until you get what you want but lets say you are not feeling them no matter what you do....the nice thing about strats is that you can have a loaded pickguard of your favorite electronics wired and ready to go at anytime.

    Why settle for the stock electronics since you can get the best electronics out there(at least according to your preferences) mount them on this nice guitar and at the off chance you ever wanna get rid of it,you get the stock ones back in and you are always left with the best sound you can get ready to be mounted on the next strat...and the next strat...and so on;).
     
    JRSIV likes this.
  3. Audiowonderland

    Audiowonderland Strat-Talker Silver Member

    Age:
    50
    Messages:
    486
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2020
    Location:
    Usa
    I would try a few different brands of strings. That can make a difference. I would tweak the wiring so the tone controls are on the neck and bridge only. I find this improves the quack. I also tweaked my wiring to connect the tones like a 50's Les Paul.

    I found my Player did have a naturally unique voice that I liked.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2021
    JRSIV likes this.
  4. Jimbo99

    Jimbo99 Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    444
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2021
    Location:
    Palm Coast, FL
    The Player & Player Plus series pickups are really undocumented. Pretty much everything else that Fender has for pickups is documented with type of magnet, DCR & Henries for specs. They even have a descriptive profile for anything else Fender pickup, but not the Player & Player Plus versions, Noiseless or otherwise. If one has the multimeter that indicates henries, the DCR anyone can obtain with a standard multimeter. Without seeing those numbers, it's anyone's guess why they would be disappointing. I did find a spec sheet from late Nov 2017 from another similar topic that indicates the Player was 7.44/8.0/8.5 for N/M/B with Alnico V. I've made my own spreadsheet from the specs of both Strat & Tele pickup. For an Alnico V the Player series pickups are a higher DCR (overwound) pickup than most anything else Fender has. There are going to be exceptions though & the Ultra Noiseless Hot seem to be one of the more obvious exceptions based solely on DCR measures.

    https://www.fmicassets.com/Damroot/Original/10001/SM_014450XXXX_Player_Stratocaster_Rev_A.pdf
     
    JRSIV likes this.
  5. Buzzhead59

    Buzzhead59 Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    62
    Messages:
    20
    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2017
    Location:
    Archer Lodge, North Carolina
    I put Peter Florence Voodoo pickups in my 1973. They sound awesome. They are thick sounding. I put in the 60's version.
     
    JRSIV likes this.
  6. madamoose

    madamoose Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    41
    Messages:
    34
    Joined:
    May 2, 2020
    Location:
    Zagreb
    i had a player tele with stock pickups and to me they were just to hot and to crowded sounding. there was no sparation in freq just a whole lot of mush going on.te ceramics on the standard mim were much better to my ear . yes they were hot but they had character
     
  7. Handsome McClane

    Handsome McClane Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    58
    Messages:
    1,212
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2020
    Location:
    Sacramento
    I bought a Player Series bass last year. Comparing the sound side-by-side with my old P-Bass with a single not-too-expensive Tonerider pickup, the Player Series sounds like crap - thin, bland, trebly. Pretty sure they cheap out on pickups for the Player Series. If they put in quality pickups there's no reason to buy the higher end MIM models.
     
  8. jrbirdman

    jrbirdman Senior Stratmaster Platinum Supporting Member Silver Member

    Age:
    67
    Messages:
    4,479
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2016
    Location:
    Puget Sound
    I put a set of '56's in my player, what a step up.

    Have you considered 57/62's
     
  9. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    4,965
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Location:
    Michigan
    .

    The steps in fixing guitar tone:
    -adjust pickup heights, tip, screw poles if there are. Lower is often better tone. (check! you did that)
    -Measure and swap Pots 'n Caps. (up next!)
    -Last is swap pickups, then go back to the top with adjustments.

    The controls are just as important as the pickups, but cost 1/10th the price.

    The more clearly you can define why exactly you do not enjoy the guitar as is vs the best of your other guitars will enable you more quickly getting there with mods.

    Guitar is too 'dark' then you need a volume pot that measures at the high end of its spec. If too 'ice pick' then you need a lower end of spec volume pot. Or if 'too muddy' use a series cap on the pickup hot lead. Not enough 'presence' (higher end atmosphere like adding a touch of reverb) then use a lower uF tone cap. Measure your best guitar's parts and compare to this guitar's part measurements.

    I used to swap pickups until I learned how important the control parts were to the signal system.

    .
     
  10. SurfsUp

    SurfsUp Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,988
    Joined:
    May 18, 2016
    Location:
    Aff-Ma-Heid, Ontario
    At the risk of repeating what others may have mentioned (it's early on a Sunday and my morning coffee is yet to be brewed) but have you tried playing with said guitar in a 'band' setting?

    I find my guitar sounds different when I'm just noodling about on my own, to when I play in my band.

    Different volume for one, atmosphere, vibe......what have you.

    I primarily switch from my Les Paul to my 2015 American Deluxe with N3 pickups. The N3's for whatever reason get a bit of a cold shoulder online, but they get nothing but praise from me and those I play with.
     
    JRSIV likes this.
  11. JRSIV

    JRSIV Stuck in the Middle Position Silver Member

    Messages:
    283
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    I hear you brother I just don't gig out enough right now to test it. I live in Vegas where pre-Covid I was turning down gigs, now if there's a live show on the Strip you're lucky, let alone clubs, bars, house parties, etc.

    I am more heavy into songwriting & recording and I tried several different things in tracks (EQ, compression, mic placement, amp emulation with IR cabs, etc) and did manage to get the Player pickups to sound pretty good.

    My thing is I want to be blown away practicing if you hear me. I have always known how important pickups are to tone but I hadn't put too much stock into it until the Strat's I got this year with Custom Shop pickups already installed (2014 US Strat comes with Fat 50's & 2016 Road Worn Strat had Custom '54's installed).

    I have tried Lollars & Seymour Duncan pups before in other Strat's to varying results, this is my first real long term experience with Custom Shop pickups. I said it before that I'm open to try others but I am just really digging these CS pups.

    And yes, pickup height, string gauge, pick type, action, pots, capacitors, et al. ALL contribute to the sound of the guitar. Pickups however are a very key part of the process of amplifying guitar. If we get too Macro about it then it starts with "the pickups sound great in THAT guitar but just fair in another" thing, where you can become paralyzed with choices and variables. The electric guitar is a symbiotic relationship of dozens of parts coming together as one.
     
    SurfsUp likes this.
  12. Antstrat

    Antstrat Dr. Stratster

    Messages:
    10,621
    Joined:
    May 6, 2019
    Location:
    Over There
    Those must be really comfortable chairs to have 7 of them.
     
    Cerb likes this.
  13. Phiu-x

    Phiu-x Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2020
    Location:
    Canada
    You sound like you like ceramic more than alnico V. That Squier CV you says sound so much better has them, you favorite mim has them, , you see a link here ?
     
    JRSIV likes this.
  14. Wound_Up

    Wound_Up CUSTOM USER TITLE Silver Member

    Messages:
    3,323
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2020
    Location:
    Shreveport, LA
    Setting yourself up for failure by deciding they can't sound great because they're player pickups is totally bass ackwards to me.

    They sound great to plenty of people. So they can, and DO, sound great. I bet they can even sound great to you, right up until it's revealed that they're player pickups.
     
    SGD74 likes this.
  15. Chimey

    Chimey Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    201
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2014
    Location:
    USA

    Stock Squier CV are alnico, not ceramic.
     
    JRSIV likes this.
  16. Bakelite1

    Bakelite1 Strat-Talker

    Age:
    52
    Messages:
    285
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2020
    Location:
    Vancouver BC
    Mix the sets you already own to get their strengths? I like ceramics in the neck for example. I have Tex-Mexs, they were too hot before hours of adjustments. I don't need a lot of attack response, though.

    I had issues with an alnico set once and resolved them with rewiring using different values. My point is that there are a ton of things you can do, it's a real rabbit hole.
     
    JRSIV likes this.
  17. Leofender

    Leofender Strat-Talker Silver Member

    Age:
    59
    Messages:
    433
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2021
    Location:
    Australia
    I agree with your assessment and bow to your experience!
    I swapped out my Player Scratchplate and slapped it into my Squire... It's a good guitar for practice and travel.
    Player
    I chose to buy a very high quality cable harness with premium pots and switch including a treble bleed.
    I chose Custom Shop FAT 50s pups.
    Careful setup and tweaking has made some differences, but... Pup heights and action setup aside...
    The result is mind blowing! It's got heaps of spank, is bold, is articulate and instantly recognisable as a Strat...
    The guitar does not fight me, it wants to sound clear and balanced... It is effortless to play. Clean or dirty, the guitar is a magic wand of tone now.
    I have spent a very modest amount to bring the tone and grit I needed to express myself better... Yay!
    Try this yourself, you will hear a massive breakthrough result in tone.
     
    Phiu-x and JRSIV like this.
  18. davidrf

    davidrf Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    42
    Messages:
    681
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2010
    Location:
    Italy
    To some people even Squier Bullets sound "great". In my limited and humble experience, and compared to every single pickup I ever tried and I consider "great sounding", Player pickups will never sound "great". Decent, good, very enjoyable, giggable. But I reserve the word "great" to other products...
     
    Leofender and JRSIV like this.
  19. Hillebert

    Hillebert Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    109
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2021
    Location:
    Germany
    Did the comparison this afternoon with 4 amps:

    Blackstar HT1R MK II
    Marshall Origin 5C through 2x 1931 A/B Cabinets
    Marshall 3310 Mosfet with above Cabs
    Fender Blues Deluxe

    2021 Player with default PU's
    1991 An Std with C69's
    In all setups the C69 were more chunky and aggressive, the Player was less meaty but more glassy and bell like.
    Different sounding but quality wise absolutly on par.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2021
    SGD74, Leofender and JRSIV like this.
  20. Leofender

    Leofender Strat-Talker Silver Member

    Age:
    59
    Messages:
    433
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2021
    Location:
    Australia
    Good point, Player pups are very Straty sounding. For sure they are serviceable, and adequate. For that search for the ultimate tone, one must seek splice in the Fender Custom Shop!