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Changing the bridge Humbucker in a Mexi-strat

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(@budysr)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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I bought a new MIM strat earlier this year(my first fender) and I have really enjoyed the guitar. My playing has progressed to the point now that I sometimes wonder if I should have gone with the typical strat that has 3 singles instead of the two singles and bridge humbucker(although I do still like the big sound of the humbucker). Anyway, I got to thinking about maybe swapping out the humbucker for a better one that maybe could be tapped for either single or double coil sound. Is this something you guys think would be worthwhile in a new guitar like mine? I assume it would also require a new knob for the coil tapping? Would I even get a true single coil strat sound from the bridge postition when in the single coil setting?
Any recommendations on what kind of pickups to look for to upgrade? Someone at the local guitar store really like the Seymour Duncan "pearly gates" Any other advice you guys could give me about this potential project would be great.

Oh and I am mainly a blues/rock guy and play my mexi-strat through a blues jr.


   
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(@trguitar)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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Well, this is just my opinion, but the pickup in your guitar is likely a pretty good one so I wouldn't get hung up on quality. That said a replacement pickup gives one the opportunity to change the properties of the pickup you use. I mean for example, hotter, more powerful, more mellow ect....... As far as the colil split making it sound like a Strat with 3 singles it won't, least mine doesnt, but thats OK. For rock and blues you are probably fine with the pickup you have but that doesn't mean you can't change it just because you want to. :wink:

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


   
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(@gnease)
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Joined: 20 years ago
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+1 on TR's comments. the tapped bucker in single mode won't sound like the regular Strat bridge SC -- they are constructed very differently. It may however help in position "4" to combine with the middle pup to get the Strat scooped tone.

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@budysr)
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Topic starter  

Thanks for the comments guys. You seem to think highly of the stock pickups that the Mexi-strat comes with. Maybe they are not as bad as I thought. I was afraid that a single coil strat sound was not gonna be acheviable in the bridge postion with that humbucker. Still I like the humbucker sound there too so I guess its all good.


   
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(@the-dali)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Personally I wouldn't worry about the single coil sound at the bridge. You've got the neck for that.

BUT, have you looked at the humbucker wiring? Many of the Fender humbuckers come with full 4-conductor wiring, so you could easily update your wiring without switching the humbucker. In fact, many strats come wired with the 2nd position of the 5-way switch being the middle and bridge pickup together and the bridge humbucker is "split".

Anyway, check your humbucker (yes, you'll have to take off the pickguard) and see if you have 2 or 4 wires.

-=- Steve

"If the moon were made of ribs, would you eat it?"


   
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(@budysr)
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After spending alot of time searching for the right amp settings, I have decided that I'm happy with the way this guitar's pickups sound and especially the humbucker. Maybe I was barking up the wrong tree, but I'm glad I didn't go out and spend money on pickups that may not of made much difference.
I wonder what the postion right next to the 'bucker position(Pos. 4(or is it 2) on the 5 way) is doing? I assumed it was the middle pickup and the bucker combined, but that sound doesn't sound anything like a 'bucker is part of the mix maybe the 'bucker is tapped in that position when combined with the middle SC?


   
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(@budysr)
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I know I started this thread last year, but I wanted to revisit this exact topic but another idea. Anyway, I never changed anything on this strat but I have "learned" a couple more things about it (from these replys and from fender's website). The humbucker is infact split with the middle pickup in that position and its a drastically different tone than the bridge position which is the bucker only. What I have learned, and I think this is what is bothering me, is that there is no tone control for the bucker. The 2 tone knobs are for the neck and middle. I find the bucker to sometimes be too bright and I don't always want to have to go to the amp to change that. Any ideas on how to get some tone control for that pickup on the guitar?


   
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(@hyperborea)
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Any ideas on how to get some tone control for that pickup on the guitar?

There are a lot of options. If you don't want to add any new controls you could rewire the existing ones so that one of the tone pots is for the bridge and the other one is either for the neck or the middle or for both at the same time (pick one of those options). You could replace one of the tone pots with a stacked concentric pot that allows you to have two tone pots in the space of one.

Beyond that you could add more pots or other controls (switches for treble cut on the bridge pickup etc.).

Pop music is about stealing pocket money from children. - Ian Anderson


   
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(@budysr)
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appreciate the sugestions Hyperborea. I think I'm gonna look into either switching the middle's tone pot to the HB and moving that middle in with the neck, or looking into replacing one of the pots to get tone on all 3. Thanks again for the ideas. That Hb really needs to have a tone control(at least it does with my taste anyway)


   
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(@blue-jay)
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appreciate the sugestions Hyperborea. I think I'm gonna look into either switching the middle's tone pot to the HB and moving that middle in with the neck, or looking into replacing one of the pots to get tone on all 3. Thanks again for the ideas. That Hb really needs to have a tone control(at least it does with my taste anyway)

I agree, was waiting for that suggestion, like it very much and it would make a good course of action. Sweet Strat! 8)

If you're going to move things around, here's a switch I helped design, and used the first of it's kind in my Texas Rod.

http://reviews.photoweborama.com/allthingsguitar1/fatocaster/fatocaster.htm starts here http://www.deaf-eddie.net/switches.html

Oh yeah, and then the tone goes to 1 master tone for all 3, doesn't bother, in fact pleases me. :D

The above has 11 solid tones. Also did a one-off HH, or double-humbucker with 10 tones, 5 times two, with splittin'. :wink:

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.


   
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(@hyperborea)
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There's another possible option - if you end up setting the tone on the amp in just one location for the humbucker you could wire in a fixed tone control for it in the guitar. You could wire in a fixed resistor and a capacitor under the pickguard with the wiring the same as you would do for a normal tone circuit. That would give you a fixed treble cut for the bridge. It would be similar to what you would get if your tone control was turned down to the same setting all the time.

Now, picking the right fixed resistor might be a bit tricky. You'd need to guess at what tone setting you'd use and then figure out the resistor from that. You might then need to change out the resistor a few times. To avoid that you could use a trim pot instead of a fixed resistor that would allow you to dial in the resistance value.

Pop music is about stealing pocket money from children. - Ian Anderson


   
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(@budysr)
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Well, I finally got it done. Had the humbucker wired to the bottom tone knob and it now shares that with the middle. Also had that tone knob replaced with a pull knob that allows coil tapping of the humbucker.(Not sure why fender doesn't build 'em this way) Now I've got a couple more tone options and tone control on the humbucker(which was the point anyway). Cheap upgrade and I'm happy. I'd recommend this for anybody that has a HSS mexi-strat with the factory wiring.
I would agree that the humbucker tapped into single doesn't sound like a typical strat with a single in the bridge position, but its still cool. I just really wanted tone control on the humbucker and position 4 on the pickup switch sounds badass with both the tapped bridge, and with untapped. Upon the wire guys suggestion, I also had a resistor installed in the volume of the guitar that is supposed to preserve the tone as you lower the volume(so the treble doesn't roll off) At least that's what he said anyway and it didn't cost much of anything to do. I haven't decided if I like that mod yet as it might be changing the point where the volume brings in the dirt. Gotta play with that one a little more.


   
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(@blue-jay)
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That's very good work. The treble bleed circuit might take some time getting used to, as you have noticed. It's purpose is to preserve the trebles as you lower volume, and it does so by rolling off and tapering down on the midranges, and bass, thus you may not get the dirt that you are accustomed to. It is intentional especially when the amp is set for loud, and you are using the guitar's volume control. It lets you avoid unwanted 'muddiness' - well the premise is that you don't want mud if you can eliminate it.

FWIW, I had to use the same circuit on my Texas Hot Rod Strat here, because I already changed the volume pot from a sedate, or mild-mannered 250K to a 1 meg, or 1000 K. So it just roars out Texas mud, whatever a high river flood on the Mississippi, Rio Grande or Delta might sound like? It makes a tornado out of tube amps, and clips 'em good, podner. :lol: The treble bleed takes down the mids and basses, while keeping the high end of the tonal spectrum.

I think that if your next move was to a Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates you would be quite happy, and have even more fun.

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.


   
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(@budysr)
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Well, funny you should mention the pearly gates pickup, Blue. I was thinking that a pup upgrade maybe in the neck would be tuff for this insturment(although I must say, I am not totally disappointed with the tones) what kind of difference do you think I might see with a SD vs. the stock MIM strat neck pup? I am a quickly becoming a 'tone snob'


   
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(@blue-jay)
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Well, funny you should mention the pearly gates pickup, Blue. I was thinking that a pup upgrade maybe in the neck would be tuff for this insturment(although I must say, I am not totally disappointed with the tones) what kind of difference do you think I might see with a SD vs. the stock MIM strat neck pup? I am a quickly becoming a 'tone snob'

Since you asked, I like the Duncan single coil SSL-1 very much, and put one in a Squier Strat, along with a Lil '59.

Here, and I wonder why, the SSL-1 which is vintage and lower power, is first, or last depending on how you look at the listing. http://www.seymourduncan.com/products/electric/stratocaster/index.php?page=4

Alternately, I have recommended the SSL-2 and an Alnico 2 is a very sweet choice as well. They're just so nice, and quiet too. http://www.seymourduncan.com/products/electric/stratocaster/vintage/vintage_flat_ss/ but I think that the #1's Stagger is better suited to MIM and MIK strats. It sounds very good BTW, and brought the Squier to life, with the more expensive guitars, while ridding it of harsher ceramic magnet pickups which are stock, except in MIA's.

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.


   
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