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FDP Forum / Fender Guitars: Stratocasters / MIM Strat pickups

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swampyankee
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olde New England

If you can't play good, play loud
Mar 23rd, 2016 07:33 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have a circa 2011 MIM Strat that is bone stock at this point. I've been using it alot in the band and it certainly adds that Stratocaster touch, but compared to my bone stock AmStd Tele, it can sound weak and tinny at times. It can be a bit disappointing when it's solo time and it just doesn't sing.

I know this is a loaded question, but what are a good upgrade for the stock MIM pickups to give me a fuller sound?

Mick Reid
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Australia

American-made in Oz!!
Mar 26th, 2016 08:36 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Hey swamp.
Have you tried an eq pedal? You could set it up so you switch it on when using that strat and fatten it up.

Re: pickup suggestions... I'm sure there will be an onslaught of them just around the corner.
Also, what's your budget for an upgrade? That will make difference in recommendations too.

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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Eat. Sleep. Guitar.

Repeat
Mar 26th, 2016 09:35 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The MIM pups should be powerful and bright.

Are they set about 1/16" from both E strings when they're fretted at the highest fret?

If not, try that.

BrentD
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United States

Mar 26th, 2016 09:52 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yeah, I'd put the ceramics in the MIM at hotter and so in a way bigger sounding than alnicos.

Peegoo
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Mar 27th, 2016 06:48 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The easy way to do the pickup adjustment thing is to rest a finger on the highest fret of each E string and slide a nickel between the string and corresponding E pole piece of each pickup. The plain end of a 1/16" drill bit is another way to do this.

Use a Phillips screwdriver to adjust the pickup up (clockwise) or down (anti-clockwise) so the edge of the nickel just barely slides under the string without touching it.

It helps to do this with a bright light, set low near your bench, on the opposite side of the guitar. You can see the little gap much better that way.

Re-check your gaps once more when done.

Next, test for tone. Do this at the volume level on your amp that you'll be at when it matters. For instance--if you gig with the guitar--crank it up to gig level.

The neck pickup might be a bit close to the strings and create odd overtones or an oscillation in the tone. Not all Strats suffer from this. If it does occur, back down the pickup by equal turns (count them), a half turn at a time, until the weirdness disappears.

(This message was last edited by Peegoo at 08:50 AM, Mar 27th, 2016)

Purple Valley
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USA

Mar 27th, 2016 09:01 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I concur that, if your Strat is an MIM Standard, the ceramic stock pickups should be thick and powerful enough. If it's a MIM Classic (50's, 60's or 70's), that's a different story. In that case,you might want to swap the pups for something beefier.



swampyankee
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olde New England

If you can't play good, play loud
Mar 27th, 2016 05:47 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yea, I had done a bit of googling on MIM pickups and stumbled on some basic no-cost things to do on a MIM Strat to improve tone, including setting pickup heights. Other included things like sanding the paint off the neck pocket and tremelo contact points to improve string resonance. I can see where height can affect tone but not sure the rest is worth the trouble.

Peegoo
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Mar 27th, 2016 06:39 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

That's an astute assessment.

Sanding the paint off the neck pocket to improve tone is akin to screw sniffing.

DuffB2

USA

Time has left behind it's trail of dust.
Apr 27th, 2016 01:50 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

A new set of Lindy Fralin "Blues Specials" or "Vintage Hot" pickups will astound you compared to those cheap ceramic stock pickups. My opinion.

Others might like the ceramics.

Ask yourself, why are the ceramics not in any higher end strats? I think it's because they use better pickups in the nicer models.

You can get some premium pickups for $275 and the place you buy them from should install them for less than 40 dollars, maybe free.

Fat Fifties, Texas Specials, Custom 69s, SSL1s with an SSL5 bridge. Many premium choices. Even the Squier Classic Vibe pickups sound fabulous to me compared to the stock ceramics.

Good luck, you can find awesome pickups.

(This message was last edited by DuffB2 at 03:52 AM, Apr 27th, 2016)

Mick Reid
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Australia

American-made in Oz!!
Apr 27th, 2016 02:11 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"Ask yourself, why are the ceramics not in any higher end strats?"

Like many things guitar, not all ceramic pickups are created equal.

Yes, there are some nasty sounding ceramics out there, but I have a "vintage" set (lol! - 1980-ish) of G&L MFD pickups that are ceramic (from an S-500) and they sound great. Admittedly I don't currently have them in a guitar, but I'd never get rid of them. They'll go back into something someday.

Current G&L USA models are still using the MFD ceramics, and whilst they're not as pricey as their Fender counterparts, they're not junk by any means.


reverendrob
FDP Data Goon
Moderator

When I sin

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Apr 27th, 2016 07:18 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Why they're not in the "higher end" stuff: largely because the market perceives them to be better, not because they necessarily are.

I could personally care less what the magnets are made of as long as they do their job and don't crap out.



cka1973

U.S.A.

May 7th, 2016 11:22 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Hey swampyankee, there are a myriad of pickup makers out there that produce some fine pickup options from kinman's, to Fralin's, to the fender custom shop, to the fellas on ebay making low cost,handwound stuff using top quality components just trying to make a name for themselves (dogtown, GFS, etc..). My advice would be to read plenty of reviews and buy what you can afford. I personally like Fender's offerings, but there are other cheaper, quality options out there for every budget that woud be great replacements to the stock pups if you dont care for the tone from ceramics.

(This message was last edited by cka1973 at 02:25 AM, May 8th, 2016)

Standard24

San Antonio, Texas

Jun 20th, 2016 04:41 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I've had maybe 100 MIM Strats, and I suggest replacing them with some better quality ones. They are just "builder's grade" pickups.

reverend mikey
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west Omaha, east NE

The real Rev of the FDP
Jun 21st, 2016 12:18 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I've had maybe 100 MIM Strats..."

Wha...? Are you a member of the "MIM Strat of the Month" Club?

Anyway - I agree that the MIM pickups are pretty low end - but they do work well for overdriven to distortion tones, not so much for more complex clean to slightly overdriven tones...

Aren't Joe Barden pickups also made with ceramic magnets?

bluzcat
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Eastun' Carolina

Like Ringo, I'm happy to be here!
Jul 22nd, 2016 01:14 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I played a Strat at church with MIM pups this past weekend and got several "wow, you sounded so clear today" and even got asked if I had a new amp...usually play a 50th AmSe with 54's. I was like "hand slap to forehead"...go figure everyone compliments the "cheap" pickups.

ecfan

New Jersey USA

I-IV-V
Jul 22nd, 2016 01:47 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I've been playing a bone-stock MIM Standard Strat for 8 years at countless jams and I have always been pleased with the sound (and playability!)of it. I, too, have received compliments like "You sounded great". They CANNOT be talking about my playing! LOL I will never "upgrade" this guitar.

DrKev

Irishman in Paris

Forget Tone - go with Note Choice
Jul 22nd, 2016 08:19 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

What rev rob said re: perception.

Try this - tell people they are playing ceramic when they are really playing alnico, or tell them they are playing alnico when it's really ceramic and see what responses you get.

Purple Valley
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USA

Jul 22nd, 2016 08:49 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

FWIW, the Fender Hot Noiseless pups are ceramic, and they're great. Way more "stratty" than the MIM Standards, and they sound great clean, IMO. I also like the Standard pups for medium/high gain stuff.


Peegoo
Contributing Member
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Eat. Sleep. Guitar.

Repeat
Jul 22nd, 2016 09:10 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Joe Barden also uses ceramic magnets in his pickups, and many performers and studio jocks use 'em to great effect.

Like Joe says--it doesn't matter where magnetism comes from.

TheBeagle

UK

In the doghouse again
Jul 24th, 2016 04:50 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It also depends what sound you have inside your head. If the sound coming from the guitar doesn't match that, why did you buy that guitar?

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FDP Forum / Fender Guitars: Stratocasters / MIM Strat pickups




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