Tuners or Pickups... which to buy?

Discussion in 'Squier Strat Forum' started by gcconspiracy, Feb 14, 2009.

  1. gcconspiracy

    gcconspiracy Strat-O-Master

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    Okay, I'm looking at making a small order to GFS (I've got about 50 bucks to spend), do you think I'd be better off to replace the tuners with these: Gotoh Style Chrome Locking Tuners- Six In Line- True Mechanical Lock
    and the trem block with this: Solid Steel Tremolo Block Fits Most IMPORT Tremolos!!

    or, should I replace the pickups with these:Strat Vintage Alnico Stagger Pickup Set

    I can only do either tuners AND block, or pickups... let me know what you think would benefit the guitar more.
     
  2. GregP

    GregP Strat-Talker

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    If it were me I would go for the pickups first unless you just can't keep the guitar in tune with the tuners you have on it. If your guitar is stable tuning wise you would notice more of a difference from pickups than you would from tuners/block IMO. I have swapped the block in my MIM and to be honest the difference is more one that I feel than one that I hear. It adds sustain but with the Texas Specials I have in it I can't say it sounds particularly different than with the zinc block.

    ...Greg
     
  3. gcconspiracy

    gcconspiracy Strat-O-Master

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    Thanks Greg, I'll keep that in mind. Does anyone have experience with these pickups? They've gotten good reviews, but I'm not sure if they'd be a huge upgrade from what I've got now (Squier Deluxe Strat with Duncan Designed SC-101's)... any thoughts on that?
     
  4. Orbit

    Orbit Senior Stratmaster

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    what are you replacing as far as pickups go ?
    what model strat ?

    my personal opinion :
    unless you have some REALLY crappy tuners, you probably don't need locking gotoh's. (at least not as a first mod)
    The steel block.. well, it helps a little, but not as much as some would have you believe.

    Bang for buck difference would be swapping out p/ups.
    I JUST now swapped out some new Fender 57/62's that I used for 2 sessions with some used GFS Greybottom 70's Non -stagger (I have a 9.5" board), and I actually like them a LOT.
    They have great bass response, and great string definition when you strike chords. Not as 'chimey' as my CS '54's, but they LOVE my pedals.

    The wiring isn't as big as Fender wire, but it's at least cloth coated.
    And, I had to touch up my bridge p/up's contact points at the bottom of the p/up, it was cutting out like a cold joint. fixed now. easy enough
     
  5. voided3

    voided3 Strat-Talker

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    Which guitar? EDIT: just saw you mentioned the Squier Deluxe after I posted.

    The only item of those three I can speak for from experience is the locking tuners. They really do work quite well, though I recommend you still get at least 3/4 of a wrap around the tuner's capstan to avoid breakage. Combine those with low friction or no string trees and some graphite on your nut and you have rock solid tuning. That said though, I have not had them for a very long time so I can't vouch for any sort of reliability, but they seem decent and very attractively priced compared to other lockers. I'd say before swapping tuners that you should check other aspects of your guitar to see if those are the root of any tuning issues, typically friction points like the nut, string trees, saddles, and bridge plate (or even how you put on your strings). If you currently have sealed tuners and they feel loose, you should A) check the hex nut on the headstock face for looseness and B) try tightening the small screw on the end of the tuner buttons as they control resistance against the plastic bushings.

    If you're going to get a new block, made sure you can get exact measurements to ensure compatibility with your bridge plate. The whole vibrato units that come with the new blocks GFS sells are quite affordable, so that isn't an impossibility.
     
  6. elementlax

    elementlax Senior Stratmaster

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    go for the pups
    GFS makes quality pickups, i used to have their p90s in my guitar, and they were just as good as gibsons
     
  7. gcconspiracy

    gcconspiracy Strat-O-Master

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    well, it looks like the pickups are the popular choice... now I just have to figure out if I want the "Texas", "Overwound", or "Vintage" set! Does anyone have any experience with any of these? They seem to be solid pickups, but I'm not sure I understand the difference between them all. Anyways, thanks for all the feedback, and feel free to add to what's already been said. Also, I should add that the tone I'm looking for is something similar to classic Clapton, John Mayer, or even SRV. Basically, I'm chasing what I would think of as a classic strat blues sound.

    -gcc
    -ps, here's the links for the three different sets. They are very similar in price, so that's not an issue.
    http://store.guitarfetish.com/sttalstpiset.html
    http://store.guitarfetish.com/stovalstpise.html
    http://store.guitarfetish.com/stvialstpise.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2009
  8. VolFan1nGA

    VolFan1nGA Strat-Talker

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    I don't have experience with any of those but I can tell you that I WILL! Especially if they are decent at that price! I could have bought all 3 sets for what I paid for my Fender Texas Specials. Let us know how it sounds after you get 'em in.
     
  9. StratGuy68

    StratGuy68 Strat-O-Master

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    You're thinking of swapping out the Duncans on your Deluxe? That surprises me because I think those pickups are what make that guitar, especially if you like classic Strat tone. If you're looking for something thicker or bluesier, I'd go with the overwound set. The GFS vintage pickups would probably be a step down from the originals.

    The stock tuners on the Deluxe are actually very good. They turn smoothly and hold tune really well. I originally promised myself that my Deluxe was going to stay stock, but that may be going out the window. I'm now considering installing a set of Wilkinson Kluson-style tuners because I like the way they look and I want the slotted tuner posts. I'd also like to replace the bridge saddles with a set of vintage-style stamped saddles, which would give me an American Standard/Classic Player-style bridge. Both of these changes are out of personal preference and not to correct any problems with the guitar, because the original parts are excellent.
     
  10. Rokit5

    Rokit5 Strat-Talker

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    Id Swap the pickups. They will make the bigger sound difference in my opinion
     
  11. gcconspiracy

    gcconspiracy Strat-O-Master

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    As far as the pickups go, I've just heard some incredible things about the GFS pickups. Not that I'm disappointed with the DD's, I'm just searching for a certain sound, quite possibly something with less output (I want that sweet vintage, classic tone).

    As for the tuners, I've not had such good luck with them. My D-string tuner was insanely stiff when I first got it, and now both it and the G seem to have obvious dead-spots. I'm not sure if it's the tuner's fault or not, but I'm not having much luck keeping the guitar in tune lately either (like, one song, and it's out noticeably).
     
  12. orange bullet

    orange bullet Strat-Talker

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    my friend got the vintage gfs pickups i posted about it som where but there really good 4 the cash
     
  13. bobmac

    bobmac Strat-Talker

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    I don't want to offend anybody but all this talk of mods & changing parts has got me stumped. When I bought my Strat I went to a guitar shop and tried dozens of different axes (just as we all do) and found a MIJ Strat that had the weight, feel, and sound that really impressed me. My MIJ has that classic stinging Strat sound, plus that lovely warmer tone of the neck pup, so why would I change that? I don't understand. If you're not happy with the tone of the pups then why buy the guit in the first place. Fair enough if the tuners are slipping, change them but otherwise why not leave perfection alone?
     
  14. johnreardon

    johnreardon Senior Stratmaster

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    Agree with you Bob, however, many people seem to get enjoyment out of switching bits. Often when they do switch bits like pups, they convince themselves it sounds better, mainly because they have spent money doing the change. Still if it keeps people happy, who are we to moan? :D
     
  15. Orbit

    Orbit Senior Stratmaster

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    Some people buy cars and never touch them. They go from point a to point b just fine.
    Some people like to put bigger motors in, makes them unique, and they do go faster.

    as for guitars..... If I had a multi-thousand dollar guitar, I probably would leave it stock, too,
    My last 5 guitars have been partsocasters. THAT's why I try new stuff. because it's not ruining the value of anything for one, and it makes it MINE, not one that anyone can go buy off the rack at GC.

    There are no music stores within 65 miles of me, and that one is a combo pawn shop, so I do a LOT of buying of parts online. It's the only way I can try out different things.

    As for GFS Vintage, I posted up above about them ... they're good for the buck, they're hotter than stock p/ups, (except maybe Texas Specials, Tex Mex, etc), and they have a good thump, and good string/note definition in chords. I swapped out a set of brand new Fender 57/62's for them, and I do like them better than the Fender p/ups.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  16. xen_

    xen_ Strat-Talker

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    Q: What's the only thing more fun than playing guitar?
    A: Pulling the guitar apart, upgrading bits and then playing it.

    I suspect in this case you might be right about having to convince oneself that it sounds better. In complete ignorance of the relative merits of either the SD designed, or the GFS pups, I would take some convicing that it is in fact an upgrade. But everyone whose used them seems to have ... convinced themselves that is.
     
  17. Kuroyama

    Kuroyama Strat-Talker

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    As a tinkerer since age 5, I understand the need to take things apart and rebuild them. IMO this conversation is a bit rudderless in that we dont know what pickups are to be swapped out, what model they are currently in, why he isnt happy with them currently, and what he wants to achieve by swapping.

    "bigger" sound?? you can get that by adjusting the pickup height.
    "noisy" pickups?? you can fix that with shielding.

    How about understanding what he wants to do before debating the merits or demerits of the action first...

    Otherwise you just another 5 year old disassembling his Dads binoculars, then stereo, with no reason why other than it would be a neat thing to do. (I would later rebuild the stereo years later in the garage. The binoculars were just thrown away, though I did keep a neat prism from the enterprise!)
     
  18. Orbit

    Orbit Senior Stratmaster

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    I agree on the convince yourself sometimes.
    However. I'm pretty sure that the $56 I just spent on the 70's GFS was $$ well spent. They have more of what I was looking for when I got the 57'62's.
    I have no reason to puff up GFS p/ups, actually. I was simply posting my personal recent experience with them.
     
  19. johnreardon

    johnreardon Senior Stratmaster

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    Working hard so you can buy more guitars:D

    Seriously, I am one of those people who are better with their brain than their hands. Never really been interested in pulling guitars apart, any serious work I need doing, I prefer to pay to get someone to do it.
     
  20. Jefro

    Jefro Senior Stratmaster

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    I'd have to go with pickups...

    While a full size trem block would be nice for the extra sustain and better tuners may be hold it in tune better... I personally concentrate more on the sound quality of my playing vs anything else. So I would also prefer having a clean sounding pickup.