Stratocaster Middle Pickup = Secret Weapon

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by BuddyHollywood, Apr 22, 2021.

  1. Swanie

    Swanie New Member!

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    The perfect video for this thread. Just recently I was in the local music store and asked about upgrading the middle pickup to match the vintage ones I put in at the neck and bridge. The staff looked at me like I was crazy. All of them said they never use the middle pickup. Like the video, I always thought it was perfect for that funk rhythm sound. Looks like you can get a great blues tone, as well. Thanks for sharing.
     
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  2. qblue

    qblue Senior Stratmaster

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    You are preaching to the choir, brother!

    I've never listened to the opinions that cast a haze on the middle pickup. I'm looking at my 1970 SSS and the guitar is on the middle #3 position. The 1990 HSS is also there, too. I have had more complaints about the sound of the bridge pickup ( no tone control) on the 1970 than any other Strat pickup.

    The 1990 Strat Ultra has a gold middle Lace Sensor, which I have never heard, because it's wired to act like a faux Tele middle 2nd position = bridge & neck. But I still start there when I get started to play.

    The hell with those who hate the middle pickup alone. As always, there's more for us!
     
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  3. richey88

    richey88 Strat-O-Master

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    Classic middle pickup recorded tones? Here's one - Santeria by Sublime. Anything Bonnie Raitt, she lives there (middle PU).
     
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  4. azharkamal

    azharkamal Strat-Talk Member

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    Well it used to be my „secret“ weapon....then I realized that God himself uses it 90% of the time,occasionally he switches to the b+m....was lucky enough to being allowed to watch while he was soundchecking....it was mid pickup ALL the time!!!
     
  5. azharkamal

    azharkamal Strat-Talk Member

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    Well I „stole“ that from Lowell George... who used the middle pickup exclusively. Check out Little Feat live at Rockpalast.....that is ALL middle pickup...
     
  6. pblanton

    pblanton Strat-Talker

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    BlackStar amps sound good, but they're throwaway. Don't believe me? Call up any amp repair shop and ask them if they can repair your BlackStar.

    If you can pick one up cheap, then do it, but expect that if it ever dies, then you'll rob the knobs and speakers off of it and toss it.
     
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  7. ben1952

    ben1952 Strat-Talk Member

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    Love the "mid" for blues solo's, nice and loud let it sing & change tone by where you pick on the string. :)
     
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  8. kilroy

    kilroy Strat-Talker

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    I almost always use the combo of the bridge and middle pickup, but I often use the neck pickup for leads, and I use the bridge pickup alone for effect. I never use the middle pickup by itself. It's too flat for me. It doesn't have the brightness of the bridge or the fullness of the neck.
     
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  9. Michael

    Michael Strat-Talk Member

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    I come to this conversation from a little different direction. I play what is essentially a home brew ‘56 Mary Kaye with a Duncan SSL-1 pickup set. Difference being, I’m going for a jazz tone & use a .13 set of TI flatwounds. I’ve found that, to my ear, a good approximation of “that” tone comes from using the middle pickup & rolling back the tone control somewhat. Before that epiphany I mostly neglected the middle pickup except to add quack when I was playing in a more modern context. My amps are late ‘50s tweeds.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2021
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  10. lustror

    lustror Strat-Talk Member

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    Strat middle pickup works great with wah (Budda wah)
     
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  11. Afishman9

    Afishman9 Strat-Talk Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks for your observations on the middle pickup. Very good. The overdriven middle pickup is the closest Strat sound to the middle pickup sound Jimmy Page used a lot on a Les Paul. That may seem odd to say at first, but it has the same tonal character. Give it a try.
     
  12. Slartybartfast

    Slartybartfast Strat-Talker

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    Great subject, thanks for bringing it up. I think it's anything but neutral. I think it has a great instantly recognizable sound. Listen to Robin Trower Live from 1976, he uses it most of the time and gets mind blowing tones also maybe his best recorded playing. It's all over Hendrix' records too. Robbie Robertson used it in the studio a lot before he did his trademark strat mod.
     
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  13. Dain Bramage

    Dain Bramage Strat-Talker

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    Blackmore sank it into the cavity to get it out of the way, Robin Trower lives on it, sometimes flipping to the neck, not even aware what his bridge pickup is. It was Trower that turned me on to using it a lot, because I love his tone. He has used many different tremolos devices, experiments with a lot of amp combinations, but always plays that Strat and rides the middle pickup. Try it for a while.
     
  14. of this world

    of this world Senior Stratmaster

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    i keep mine at the ktichen table... i love it.
     
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  15. The Tortoise

    The Tortoise Strat-Talk Member

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    I've experienced the same thing. Personally, I don't care for the classic Strat configuration of it's controls and pickups. The 5-way switch is too easy to bump. The volume knob is too easy to bump. For some reason they only give you one volume control for 3 pickups, but you have 2 tone controls? The tone controls are typically "bright" or "mud" unless you mod them. And that middle pickup is right in the strum zone, not to mention it contributes to killing the sustain since you have 3 magnetic pickups pulling on the strings.
    I recently replaced everything on my Strat with a "blank" pickguard, and went with one Dimarzio single-coil-size humbucker in the bridge. It has a 3-way rotary switch for single, parallel, and series, which is in the usual bottom tone control position. My volume control is a dual-concentric combo Tone/Volume control, like a jazz bass, and it's placed where the middle tone control usually is on a Strat.
    Now I don't have anything in the way and can get a plethora of tones from one pickup. And the sustain is fantastic.
     
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  16. gaddis

    gaddis Senior Stratmaster

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    The middle pickup has always been my “home base” on a strat.
     
  17. Groundwire

    Groundwire Strat-Talker

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    This is how Leo intended it! The middle pickup is “home base” and then you move to the neck or bridge if you need to drop back behind a singer, or jump out for a lead.
    The middle pickup is by far my MOST used position and it’s THE Strat sound for me. I love how glassy and hollow it can sound. Doesn’t get too muddy with overdrive and doesn’t sound too thin cleaned up. I’m always baffled when I hear many Strat players say they never use the middle pickup alone.
    One of the secrets IMO, is to set the amp for the middle pickup. Then it will always sound balanced, and you can use all pickup settings. If you set up the amp to sound good on the neck pickup, the others will sound thin (and I think this is why a lot of folks use a booster with the bridge pickup), and if you set it to work with the bridge pickup, the neck may be real muddy. Setting everything around the middle pickup makes the Strat so much more versatile, IMO.

    BTW, this is my first post on this forum, but I was inspired by the middle pickup love. Thanks for the great topic.
     
  18. RussV

    RussV Senior Stratmaster

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    Useful as a kind of neutral tone. That said, mine hasn't worked for years because my 3 way is old and knackered!
     
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  19. ooglybong

    ooglybong New Member!

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    Also, from a January 2008 Guitar Player interview with Robin Trower (available here at https://procolharum.com/rt_guitar-player_jan2008.htm)... "He keeps his Strats stock and has a strong preference for the middle pickup, which he called 'the mainstay of the whole thing. That’s the one all [my] rock and roll things are done on.' "
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2021
  20. Bigsbyguy

    Bigsbyguy Strat-Talk Member

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    The great Texas Playboy's rhythm player, Eldon Shamblin told me he used the middle pup on his '54 Strat all the time.