What is the BEST pickup position on a SSS Strat?

If you could only use one pickup on your SSS Strat for the rest of your life which would you chose?

  • Bridge

    Votes: 21 15.1%
  • Middle

    Votes: 32 23.0%
  • Neck

    Votes: 86 61.9%

  • Total voters
    139

JRSIV

Stuck in the Middle Position
Silver Member
Sep 22, 2009
284
Las Vegas, NV
I am surprised the middle pickup actually got this much love (26% as I write this.)

It has always been my favorite Strat pickup. It's just extremely versatile. If you need warmer, neck pup territory you just pick closer to the neck and if you really need it dark roll the tone off a bit.

Need something more bright and strident? Just pick closer to the bridge, tone control wide open. I mention the tone control and it's something a lot of players don't utilize. I like my Strat's set up for neck on tone control 1 and middle and bridge on tone 2, although neck & middle sharing 1 and just bridge on 2 also has it's own thing going on.

For instance in the second position (middle & bridge), you can independently control the tone of each pickup. I think once one is either off or dimed there's a cancellation or something but for those mild tonal shadings it's worth messing with.
 

SatinNeck81

Strat-Talker
Jun 6, 2020
197
Upstate NY
I usually find myself either on the neck or bridge. Been trying to use the middle more, but I feel like it shines more in the in between positions. If I could only choose one, the neck which I'd bet is the consensus.
 

SalvorHardin

Senior Stratmaster
Dec 1, 2020
1,064
Windsor Ontario
I can do all 3 on my Hardtail not a fan though.
Neck & Bridge is nice when clean for rhythm.
Can do Middle& Bridge parallel & in series for a more humbucker sound too but still find myself playing neck or middle exclusively
Yeah, I have a Freeway in my pocket, waiting to be installed for those series sounds. I'm using SSL-1s, so I'm thinking that for some purposes, the series settings may let me hit the amp harder with a more middy lead sound. That's what I hope, anyway.
 

SalvorHardin

Senior Stratmaster
Dec 1, 2020
1,064
Windsor Ontario
I usually find myself either on the neck or bridge. Been trying to use the middle more, but I feel like it shines more in the in between positions. If I could only choose one, the neck which I'd bet is the consensus.
If the choices had been offered, I think I'd land on neck/middle. I tend to use fingerpicking on those positions, or a Jazz II pick. The Jazz III, for me, is too picky and sharp for pos, 2 & 4.
 

Peter Williams

New Member!
Sep 3, 2008
5
Dallas
I've been locked into the neck pup for years, but after seeing Clapton live Monday night, I'm back to exploring the other positions. He played middle-only 90% and bridge-only the other 10% (based solely off the switch position - I don't know if he uses a blender knob). I was surprised that he spent so much time in the middle position, even during solos.
 

johntrem

Strat-Talker
Jun 2, 2012
252
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
I am surprised the middle pickup actually got this much love (26% as I write this.)

It has always been my favorite Strat pickup. It's just extremely versatile. If you need warmer, neck pup territory you just pick closer to the neck and if you really need it dark roll the tone off a bit.

Need something more bright and strident? Just pick closer to the bridge, tone control wide open. I mention the tone control and it's something a lot of players don't utilize. I like my Strat's set up for neck on tone control 1 and middle and bridge on tone 2, although neck & middle sharing 1 and just bridge on 2 also has it's own thing going on.

For instance in the second position (middle & bridge), you can independently control the tone of each pickup. I think once one is either off or dimed there's a cancellation or something but for those mild tonal shadings it's worth messing with.
When the strat was first introduced the middle pickup was referred to in Fender literature as "normal tone". It's a favorite of mine as well.
 

JRSIV

Stuck in the Middle Position
Silver Member
Sep 22, 2009
284
Las Vegas, NV
When the strat was first introduced the middle pickup was referred to in Fender literature as "normal tone". It's a favorite of mine as well.

My #1 "why did I sell it!" guitar was a 1962 Epiphone Casino that only had one pickup in the middle. When I first got it I felt like it was a compromise because I wanted a 2 pickup version but they were hard to come by & expensive. When I jammed with some buddies and one had a '67 2 pickup Casino we of course did the A/B and mine of course sounded different but not worse by any means. I knew when I sold it I'd regret it, and I do.

Point being, the middle position is extremely versatile. Another 'one that got away' was a Gibson SG Custom reissue with three pickups. The wiring was such that you couldn't access just the middle position; I'm very curious what it would have sounded like wired for middle pup access.
 

Mhannigan

Strat-Talk Member
Apr 30, 2021
41
02908
Man there is nothing like when the band is cooking and ya throw it into the bridge and kick on some nice fat, sweet overdrive and just go for it. There is a reason the manual for the strat in the 50/60s called it the "Lead Pickup"
Gibson still does. I've always just defaulted to what I "know" - bridge for lead tones, neck for rhythm tones, but the third pickup and the infinite combinations of pickups with tone create a continuum of possibilities.

Considering that we're talking about people who would buy a SSS configuration, I'm pretty sure nobody would buy a Fender with 1 pickup. That would kind of make the guitar a non-strat and I would think, quite unappealing to any SSS Strat player. Even if the one pickup sounded phenomenal, Strat folks would quickly get bored with it.

I can't even nail my preference down to one guitar, much less one pickup!

I enjoy the flexibility of tonal variations. And for me, it's more an "in the moment" thing. Not everything I play sounds the same every time I play it. I like that.
 

Mhannigan

Strat-Talk Member
Apr 30, 2021
41
02908
I just had an additional thought. How about a guitar with four or five pickups?

If I can just get some huger buttons for this bad boy, I'm all over it.

yi2jqhfcplbebzxre7k5.jpg


Or, if I can get my hands on a Teuffel Birdfish, I think I can jam 5 pickups onto that bad boy.
 
Last edited:

Mhannigan

Strat-Talk Member
Apr 30, 2021
41
02908
Yes! I built that guitar and named it after my buddy who passed at age 14 (98 in dog years) not too long ago. RIP Buster
View attachment 508074
Awwww.... That's sweet. I lost my dog of 14 years, recently, too :(

How strange that I would notice that name and comment. I was assuming it was a Chibson or something. That's actually a really, really heartwarming story - someone like me who loves dogs at least as much as guitars. I got a tattoo of my "Mickey" after he passed.

Any special story behind the other guitar? Did you build that one as well?
 

AJS000

Strat-Talk Member
Aug 19, 2021
41
Australia
I've been locked into the neck pup for years, but after seeing Clapton live Monday night, I'm back to exploring the other positions. He played middle-only 90% and bridge-only the other 10% (based solely off the switch position - I don't know if he uses a blender knob). I was surprised that he spent so much time in the middle position, even during solos.

Yeah Clapton is normally neck/middle for most of the time.

No blender used. Tone is the master TBX tone pot.
Bottom tone control is for the 25db mid boost used to really fatten up the sound.

Woman tone anyday with a Strat when that's cranked. Also necessity are noiseless pickups.
 

SalvorHardin

Senior Stratmaster
Dec 1, 2020
1,064
Windsor Ontario
Gibson still does. I've always just defaulted to what I "know" - bridge for lead tones, neck for rhythm tones, but the third pickup and the infinite combinations of pickups with tone create a continuum of possibilities.

Considering that we're talking about people who would buy a SSS configuration, I'm pretty sure nobody would buy a Fender with 1 pickup. That would kind of make the guitar a non-strat and I would think, quite unappealing to any SSS Strat player. Even if the one pickup sounded phenomenal, Strat folks would quickly get bored with it.

I can't even nail my preference down to one guitar, much less one pickup!

I enjoy the flexibility of tonal variations. And for me, it's more an "in the moment" thing. Not everything I play sounds the same every time I play it. I like that.
Of course, there's EVH.
 

SalvorHardin

Senior Stratmaster
Dec 1, 2020
1,064
Windsor Ontario
I just had an additional thought. How about a guitar with four or five pickups?

If I can just get some huger buttons for this bad boy, I'm all over it.

yi2jqhfcplbebzxre7k5.jpg


Or, if I can get my hands on a Teuffel Birdfish, I think I can jam 5 pickups onto that bad boy.
Steve Morse, with his modded tele. Guitar Player cover of some issue in 1982.
 


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