Page 1 of 3

Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:16 am
by stevejamsecono
This is something I've thought about on and off for a long time and I wanted to get the weigh-in of the group.

When it comes to guitars I've never been overly crazy about drifting too far from the original intent of their sound. I like my Gibsons to have normal sounding humbuckers/p-90s in them, and for my Fenders although I've dabbled in a hot rails or two over the year I typically prefer them to have regular (although at this point, noiseless) single coils in them. It's one of those things where I feel like if I didn't like the way the guitar sounded when I picked it up that no amount of pickup swapping is going to make it into something it's not.

Anyway, at the same time I've reached a bit of a crossroads on this. I've been playing my LP Special in my current band and have largely been very happy with it, but have found myself missing the snap and clarity of the Fender scale length when playing. This has led me to contemplate putting together a project guitar for these purposes but already I know it's going to rub up against the above proclivities, because my band requires a certain "fullness" of sound that has generally kept me playing guitars with humbuckers/p-90s in it. The current thought is to put together a Fender Lead mutt (solid ash body), put the same Fralin Noiseless P-90 that's in my Special in the bridge, and see if I don't get most of the way there but with more of the clarity and snap that I desire.

So I guess given all of this, my question is this: When you put humbuckers or p-90s in your fender/fender-styled guitars, do you find that they retain their "fender" characteristics otherwise but with just added thickness in the lows/mids that you would think of from a humbucker or a p-90? Obviously a Gibson will never be a Fender and vice versa, but I guess I'm wondering if the compromise "works" for anyone?

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:35 am
by mbene085
I love hybrid guitars. In my experience, the 0.75" scale length difference and different style bridges (when comparing hard tail to hard tail) make more of a difference to feel than tone.

Gibsons also tend to be made mostly of mahogany vs the maple and ash/alder of fenders, which also contributes to less "snappiness" to the string attack. But honestly, I find that's more of a feel thing than a tone thing.

Just the other day on OSG someone posted a video showing the guy who recorded the Marty McFly rendition of Johnny B Goode in the movie - on an SSS strat with EMGs. Lots of famous recordings have entirely different guitars on them than people associate with the artist - to use an OSG example, J mascis has been recording with a Les Paul Junior and a Telecaster for rhythm and leads respectively.

All that is to say - play what feels right, then tweak the pickups to meet your tastes. Nobody will be able to tell what you're playing in a blind test.

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:52 am
by Matt_A
Anything goes when you're rolling your own.

Imagine you are building a house for yourself in a neighborhood that was built in the 1950s. Your choices of how it's built, what it looks like, and how if functions should be based on the needs and aspirations you have today, not confined to the spectrum of choices that informed the design of your neighbors houses.

Nothing wrong with making a design that suits the context it is in... but envelopes are made to be opened, in a manner of speaking...

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:13 am
by countertext
stevejamsecono wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:16 am
When you put humbuckers or p-90s in your fender/fender-styled guitars, do you find that they retain their "fender" characteristics otherwise but with just added thickness in the lows/mids that you would think of from a humbucker or a p-90?
The answer here is probably. You’ll most likely get some or a lot of what you’re imagining. So many variables, but scale length and pickups are big ones.

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:05 am
by matthew a
A strat with a humbucker night not sound like a strat. But it feels like one, and that’s important.

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:06 am
by matthew a
A strat with a humbucker night not sound like a strat. But it feels like one, and that’s important.

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:04 am
by stevejamsecono
Cheers folks, thanks for all the good thoughts. I think I'm gonna go for it and I'll let ya'll know how it ends up.

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:30 pm
by fuzzjunkie
I have been toying with the idea of putting a pair of Fralin’s Big Singles in a Jazzmaster that has the thin Japanese JM pickups in it now and a new pick guard to go with, of course.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.fralin ... ingle/amp/

They have some of that Dynasonic/Tele bridge tone in the form of a humbucker.

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:20 pm
by marqueemoon
fuzzjunkie wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:30 pm
I have been toying with the idea of putting a pair of Fralin’s Big Singles in a Jazzmaster that has the thin Japanese JM pickups in it now and a new pick guard to go with, of course.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.fralin ... ingle/amp/

They have some of that Dynasonic/Tele bridge tone in the form of a humbucker.

These are great pickups. I have them in a Telecaster-like object.

I also have my lipstick pickup JM project. In both cases there’s still some essential Fenderyness there.

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:03 am
by Despot
I don't see an issue with putting 'non-Fender-y' pickups into a F type guitar.

I had one of those 'Telebration' Telecasters a few years back - it was a sort of mash up between a '70s Tele Custom and a '70s Jazz Bass (so black block inlays on a natural maple neck with binding). I put a Charlie Christian pickup in the bridge position ... which is about as far removed from a regular Telecaster pickup as you can get. It didn't sound at all like a Telecaster afterwards - but it was the sound that I wanted at the time and it did what I needed.

I also used to love how it messed with people's brains a bit - the sound was so completely different from what you'd expect from a Telecaster, yet the feel of the guitar was right for a Telecaster player (which most of my playing friends are). That used to amuse me.

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:07 am
by stevejamsecono
Despot wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:03 am
I don't see an issue with putting 'non-Fender-y' pickups into a F type guitar.

I had one of those 'Telebration' Telecasters a few years back - it was a sort of mash up between a '70s Tele Custom and a '70s Jazz Bass (so black block inlays on a natural maple neck with binding). I put a Charlie Christian pickup in the bridge position ... which is about as far removed from a regular Telecaster pickup as you can get. It didn't sound at all like a Telecaster afterwards - but it was the sound that I wanted at the time and it did what I needed.

I also used to love how it messed with people's brains a bit - the sound was so completely different from what you'd expect from a Telecaster, yet the feel of the guitar was right for a Telecaster player (which most of my playing friends are). That used to amuse me.
This is good to think about and cool to hear.

Yeah I guess I just get total option paralysis with pickup choices and don't know to do unless it's a really obvious move (i.e. I like p-90s but I need it to not make noise, boom, noiseless p-90s).

Ideally I want this guitar to have the fender playability and clarity but with a bit more heft in the sound so it still sounds good in my three-piece band, so there's a lot of ways I could go with this :derp:

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:17 am
by Maggieo
Perhaps the answer is Tele-Gib. But it's got to have the chopped Tele bridge; do a Tune-O-Matic and it gets too Gibson-y.

Image
Tele-Gib, December 23, 2016 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:26 am
by jvin248
.

Rewire your existing SSS Strat with a series option. Some like a push/pull tone pot to put the bridge and middle in series. I like the Armstrong Blender mod (second tone pot becomes a blender between SSS and HSH) ... run of the mill 6kohm Fender single coils become a 12kohm humbucker which approaches the "JB"/"Super Distortion"/etc hot end of the humbucker market ... but you can blend it back toward some single coil stuff.

If you want to get more single coil tones out of your HH humbucker guitar ... lower the pickups to the trim ring/pickguard and raise the screw poles. You know, those screw heads on the one bobbin no one messes with for some strange reason? Screw those out 1/8th to 1/4 inch and you'll essentially strengthen the signal to a single bobbin (while maintaining the humbucker hum protection!). You may need to turn your amp volume up a hair. You'll get that clarity you seek. If you tweak the neck pickup screws into a Strat stagger you'll even get closer to a famous Strat neck pickup tone and keeping the screws level to each other on the bridge will be more of a Tele Bridge/P90 tone. I have one HH I hard-wired the neck pickup to just the single coil side of the pickup and the bridge remains a full humbucker for an HS guitar.

You can even fit a Strat single coil at an angle in the typical humbucker route, say the neck position on your HH guitar, with a plate that fits the single coil and screws to the back of the pickguard at the humbucker elevator holes. I did that converting an HSS Strat to a reverse angle Hendrix single coil bridge pickup SSS (with the Armstrong Blender) and it fits fine. You may need to cut a scrap piece of plastic yourself, but they do exist and can be bought with enough search.

Remember that pots and caps are important to match to the pickups you are swapping in if you go that path on a Strat. I'd suggest getting a new pickguard and all new pots and caps so you can swap fully loaded pickguards. With the classic control matching (like 500k for HH, 250k for SSS, 0.047uF or 0.022uF caps), you will find that whatever pickguard is in the Strat will make it sound like that guitar: Strat, Tele, LP, Gretsch, and on and on -- do several and you'll quickly find out how little influence the magic wood/etc really has...

.

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:06 pm
by Pacafeliz
As all know, my crackwhore Jag has an ancient Höfner pickup in the neck (my avatar). Still don't know if it's a mini humbucker or not but it completes the sound palette! :-*

Re: Fenders with NonFender Pickup Choices

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:20 pm
by mackerelmint
Image

Ol' John Oates has been rocking humbuggies in a strat since forever and look where it took him.