Pickup Upgrade

I had built this Stratocaster quite a while ago.  At that time, I had purchased a fully loaded pickguard with Fender 69' Custom Shop pickups.  But truthfully, the sound never really worked for me.  For years I have loved the look and feel of this Strat, but always gravitated towards some of my more recent Custom Strat guitars where I had designed and assembled the electronics.

I recently decided I needed to do something about this.  After a lot of research, it seems that the Fender 54' Custom Shop pickups were the way to go for me. Not only do they have a sound that most players agree upon as a rich and full classic Strat sound, but they play very well through a modelling amp such as my Line 6 PodXT Live.  While I had this guitar apart, I decided to paint the electronics cavity with electrostatic insulating paint that helps cut down noise.  I also changed out the capacitor to one that is 475k (orange drop).  I really like the wax cloth wire insulation that came with these vintage pickups; which actually contributes to the sound, but also because it is simple to slide it back a little when doing the soldering. 

Patient shopping on eBay landed me these wonderful pickup for $110 to my door.  However, this was not a cheap project when you add in my time.  There was an issue with the pickups where one side of each of them had not been tapped (threaded correctly).  This was not easy to determine, since they were also coated in wax.  So, once I determined that they used a different screw than my prior pickups, I had to drill counter sunk seats for each screw in the front of the pickguard, then tap out the missing threads on one side of each pickup.  I trimmed the wires to length and after removing the prior pickups, resoldered the new ones and did a preliminary test.  Re-assembled the guitar, cleaned it, and replaced the strings. 

All told, it was about 2 1/2 hours, and I am fairly fast at this.  Thankfully, I had all the right tools for the job, or it would have even taken longer and cost more.  My point to you is, be prepared for things to go wrong (a little or a lot) and then adapt from there to get what you want.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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