Monday, March 30, 2009

Strat Hot Rodding Ideas

Ok, for those of you who could care less about this, tell your RSS reader to filter out anything labeled Guitar Tech. If you could care less about this and come to the site directly (thank you!) or just don't want to go through the hassle, then just move along to the next post because this will bore you.

So now that nobody's left, I'm just putting this down for posterity.

I have a MiM Strat, stock. My bride gave it to me as a wedding present! She knew I was really wanting a blue Strat for years, so she made it happen. Rox on.

So anyway, it's a Fender guitar. They aren't exactly known for their active ground loop avoidance. Double for MiM. Also the shielding is virtually nonexistant. Add in the fact that it's SSS (3 single coil pickups) and 60 cycle hum is definitely an issue.

I've shielded my pick guard and it helped a bit, but I didn't really do anything about the ground loops.

So here's the gameplan. Total cost should be less than $100 if I play my cards right.

Let's start with the pickups. I'm going to dump the bridge single coil and bring in a humbucker. I know, I know, you're a "single coil guy." But I bet the first thing you did was change out your bridge single coil. So yeah, go on with your bad self you single coil guy.

With all credit due to Alexplorer's Axe Hacks, I'll be putting in a good sealed ON-ON-ON DPDT switch as a series/tapped/parallel switch for the humbucker. I'm thinking this part in particular. I really like the small size and have had some experience with this switch. Since this switch will be rarely used, it'll be good to have it small and out of the way.

Sticking with Alexplorer's advice, I think I may as well put in a phase switch for the humbucker. I tentatively have my eye on this guy. Again, not really cheap, but I'm only buying 1 of them, and really $5 isn't a whole lot. Remember my target is $100 or less.

Now here's where I will diverge from normal. Dweezil came up with a great idea. If you're a Strat person you know how unfortunate the positioning of the volume knob is. He removed his and put in a push button switch. Volume is either on or off. I never play with partial volume on the guitar, I adjust that on the amp. How friggin genius!

I'll diverge a bit from Dweeze and go with a good ol' fashion SPST ON-OFF toggle switch. I'll use the same style of switch as the STP switch for the humbucker. But I'll put it way out of the way.

Tone. Jeez. There's something that sux. Really, I know some of you Strat-heads are big on your tone control, but I'm not. Again, I turn mine all the way "up" and let the amp do the rest. I'm thinking I may either leave it completely out of the picture, or maybe add a DPDT ON-OFF-ON switch as a "Bright / Flat / Punch" kinda switch? I'm open to suggestions here.

I'm not going to play games with the 5-way. The 5-way is the 5-way, it's perfect as-is. Likewise, I'm not going to mess with my singles.

Before any of this goes in, I'm going to shield the cavity. I'll attach some kind of metal at which point I will ground everything. The pickguard will also be shielded, so I'll need a creative way to avoid a ground loop there yet still maintain the shielding on the pick guard.

Speaking of pick guards, I'm going to see if I can find a pick guard that has appropriate cutouts for the HSS design (no I don't want a stacked hum), but I'd like that to be it. No holes drilled. I'm assuming I can find this on teh intarwebs. Who knows, maybe I can find a cool custom one or something.

Wiring: 20AWG shielded!

So there we go. I'm gonna hot rod my Strat.


Anonymous said...

All that technical stuff is fascinating, BUT does it go to Eleven?

Anonymous said...