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> Getting Nice Tone Out Of My Stratocaster
fkalich
post Nov 22 2008, 05:59 AM
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I have had an American standard Strat for a year and a half, and I never could get to to sound worth a darn, so I rarely played it.

I finally figured it out. Really the answer is on the Fender Site. Here...

http://www.fender.com/support/stratocaster.php

You just set it up according to their spec, and then it sound great!

1) First the Truss Rod, get that right. If you don't, you won't get the action right. Of course if you don't know what you are doing and you screw up, your Strat will make excellent firewood.
2) Also the nut. None of these shops cut the nut consistent. I purchased a set of 9 nut files on Ebay awhile back, you need these to lower it if it needs to be in any slots. Sometimes they really put it too high on some strings there, much higher than necessary. If you don't take it down to a reasonable level, you will really not get the action like it should be set.
3) Now they recommend 4/64th of an inch action at the 12th fret on all the strings on the standard single pole pickups. This is unusual, higher than typical on the treble strings. But with a Strat, buzz really sounds like crap, you can't get away with as much as you can with humbuckers. Also because of the 9.5 radius neck, you can kill strings bending if you set them too low.
4) Now here was the tricky part. You need to set the pickups down some on the standard strats to get a good sound. They said 5/64 of an inch clearance on the base side, 4/64 on the treble. This is really where I was going wrong, having them set as high as I could. The standard strat pickups have their characteristic sound, but I think a lot of this is that they pick up the dissonant harmonics on a vibrating string. But if you set the pickups way high that gets overwhelming, so it sounds like crap. If you set it down then it sounds real good.
5) If you need to, you can adjust the string lengths to bridge after all this.

I now like my Strat, it sounds great. Which is much better than sounding like crap, which is how I used to feel about it.

This post has been edited by fkalich: Nov 22 2008, 06:01 AM
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Ian Bushell
post Nov 22 2008, 07:01 AM
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Great info, Glad you got it going Fkalich!
Weird though...i'm trying out some standard and deluxe american strats as well as a richie kotzen tele.
They all sound awesome and ready to go!


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fkalich
post Nov 22 2008, 07:38 AM
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QUOTE (Ian Bushell @ Nov 22 2008, 01:01 AM) *
Great info, Glad you got it going Fkalich!
Weird though...i'm trying out some standard and deluxe american strats as well as a richie kotzen tele.
They all sound awesome and ready to go!


I suspect my issues had to do with what I use as a device (Zoom G9.2tt), which I always use. I don't think it liked standard Strat pickups, until I set things to Fender spec with action so no fret buzz, and lower pickups.

If you listen to guys playing strats here, such as Carlos, and others, listen to what I am talking about. You hear a slight dissonance in the harmonics. This is your Strat sound, and it sounds good. But I think my Zoom box, until I did what I did, just exaggerated that so much, it was an ugly sound.

I am sure I need to move on to specialized stomp boxes, at some point.

Anyway thanks for replay. You play real well btw, have a real good book, swing, groove, rocking rhythm to your play. That comes from inside a person. Also you get a good sound. I have several of your lessons in my 100 essential list, and others in the todo after the essential 100 list. You are one of the teachers who, when I see you have a new lesson, I expect it is going to be very musical, in a "sounds good" sense.
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Ian Bushell
post Nov 22 2008, 08:35 AM
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QUOTE (fkalich @ Nov 22 2008, 08:38 AM) *
I suspect my issues had to do with what I use as a device (Zoom G9.2tt), which I always use. I don't think it liked standard Strat pickups, until I set things to Fender spec with action so no fret buzz, and lower pickups.

If you listen to guys playing strats here, such as Carlos, and others, listen to what I am talking about. You hear a slight dissonance in the harmonics. This is your Strat sound, and it sounds good. But I think my Zoom box, until I did what I did, just exaggerated that so much, it was an ugly sound.

I am sure I need to move on to specialized stomp boxes, at some point.

Anyway thanks for replay. You play real well btw, have a real good book, swing, groove, rocking rhythm to your play. That comes from inside a person. Also you get a good sound. I have several of your lessons in my 100 essential list, and others in the todo after the essential 100 list. You are one of the teachers who, when I see you have a new lesson, I expect it is going to be very musical, in a "sounds good" sense.


Yeah the Zoom is probably the cause of the whole thing.
Stomp boxes would be a really good move when you can.
Let me know and i can give you some names of different pedals to try out.

Thanks alot for your reply! haha Thanks for the kind words i appreciate that:)

This post has been edited by Ian Bushell: Nov 22 2008, 08:35 AM


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Velvet Roger
post Nov 22 2008, 08:57 AM
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It took me several weeks to finally get my new strat (EJ strat) to sound like it should be, 2 times adapted the truss rod, played around with the all the pickups plenty of times to find the real sweetspot for all of them and getting the action as low as possible without the irritating buzzing (luckily my neck is 12" radius so it can get a bit lower). The fender site was a good starting point for me to get going with it, but in the end I really have it setup differently (but with much better characteristics etc). It now plays like a breeze for me, I love the sound and I just have to play the damn thing the whole day tongue.gif

The last thing btw what I did, and what made a major difference in the sound for me was changing the type of strings from 0.10 standard nickelplated d'daddario strings towards DR pure blues strings which are the pure nickel on the EDA strings. After that change the whole instrument gave me exactly the sound I would like (chords sound just gorgious), as those bass strings sound a bit more mellow and fits well with all the vintage aspects of my strat. Btw, I also have the zoom G9.2tt and I get now awesome tones from my guitar with and without the zoom. Only problem I am still working on a bit is to improve my sound while recording on the PC (but I am getting there). Am just thinking of getting a Toneport UX2 just for recording purposes.

This post has been edited by Velvet Roger: Nov 22 2008, 09:11 AM


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kjutte
post Nov 22 2008, 02:03 PM
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QUOTE (fkalich @ Nov 22 2008, 05:59 AM) *
I have had an American standard Strat for a year and a half, and I never could get to to sound worth a darn, so I rarely played it.

I finally figured it out. Really the answer is on the Fender Site. Here...

http://www.fender.com/support/stratocaster.php

You just set it up according to their spec, and then it sound great!

1) First the Truss Rod, get that right. If you don't, you won't get the action right. Of course if you don't know what you are doing and you screw up, your Strat will make excellent firewood.
2) Also the nut. None of these shops cut the nut consistent. I purchased a set of 9 nut files on Ebay awhile back, you need these to lower it if it needs to be in any slots. Sometimes they really put it too high on some strings there, much higher than necessary. If you don't take it down to a reasonable level, you will really not get the action like it should be set.
3) Now they recommend 4/64th of an inch action at the 12th fret on all the strings on the standard single pole pickups. This is unusual, higher than typical on the treble strings. But with a Strat, buzz really sounds like crap, you can't get away with as much as you can with humbuckers. Also because of the 9.5 radius neck, you can kill strings bending if you set them too low.
4) Now here was the tricky part. You need to set the pickups down some on the standard strats to get a good sound. They said 5/64 of an inch clearance on the base side, 4/64 on the treble. This is really where I was going wrong, having them set as high as I could. The standard strat pickups have their characteristic sound, but I think a lot of this is that they pick up the dissonant harmonics on a vibrating string. But if you set the pickups way high that gets overwhelming, so it sounds like crap. If you set it down then it sounds real good.
5) If you need to, you can adjust the string lengths to bridge after all this.

I now like my Strat, it sounds great. Which is much better than sounding like crap, which is how I used to feel about it.


When setting PU height, it's the total magnetism that matters.
You will lose alot of sustain if they're too high, needless to say, the sound will be rubbish.

Too low, and they won't pick up enough vibrations, and it will sound somewhat like when they're too high.
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Nov 22 2008, 02:57 PM
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After I bought the strat I completely dismantled the guitar and made it to my specs. I had years of practice on strat copies so I knew what to do. Good quality Strat is cool because it is very flexible for adjustments, you can adjust it to almost any players preference. The main problem I see with strats is the high E string. If you put thicker E string you will get much better tone on the strat, and better sustain with bending.

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Nov 22 2008, 02:58 PM


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Jose Mena
post Nov 22 2008, 05:09 PM
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Many times a guitar all it requires is a setup to make it sound great.


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ChrisVdS
post Nov 22 2008, 05:49 PM
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My ibanez RG is in the shop to get the setup right because it does not feel right at all my other RG i sold played allot better straight from the factory with nothing adjusted. I'm playing my dad's vintage strat now but i don't like the gloss or whatever it is finish they put on the neck it makes it feel sticky but other then that it's a good guitar.

This post has been edited by ChrisVdS: Nov 22 2008, 05:50 PM


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skennington
post Nov 22 2008, 10:08 PM
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Glad you got it set up to your liking fkalich. smile.gif That is a sweet guitar to have setting around and not wanting to play it. I guess the set up makes all the difference in the world sometimes.


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Guitar1969
post Nov 23 2008, 02:33 AM
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QUOTE (fkalich @ Nov 21 2008, 08:59 PM) *
I have had an American standard Strat for a year and a half, and I never could get to to sound worth a darn, so I rarely played it.

I finally figured it out. Really the answer is on the Fender Site. Here...

http://www.fender.com/support/stratocaster.php

You just set it up according to their spec, and then it sound great!

1) First the Truss Rod, get that right. If you don't, you won't get the action right. Of course if you don't know what you are doing and you screw up, your Strat will make excellent firewood.
2) Also the nut. None of these shops cut the nut consistent. I purchased a set of 9 nut files on Ebay awhile back, you need these to lower it if it needs to be in any slots. Sometimes they really put it too high on some strings there, much higher than necessary. If you don't take it down to a reasonable level, you will really not get the action like it should be set.
3) Now they recommend 4/64th of an inch action at the 12th fret on all the strings on the standard single pole pickups. This is unusual, higher than typical on the treble strings. But with a Strat, buzz really sounds like crap, you can't get away with as much as you can with humbuckers. Also because of the 9.5 radius neck, you can kill strings bending if you set them too low.
4) Now here was the tricky part. You need to set the pickups down some on the standard strats to get a good sound. They said 5/64 of an inch clearance on the base side, 4/64 on the treble. This is really where I was going wrong, having them set as high as I could. The standard strat pickups have their characteristic sound, but I think a lot of this is that they pick up the dissonant harmonics on a vibrating string. But if you set the pickups way high that gets overwhelming, so it sounds like crap. If you set it down then it sounds real good.
5) If you need to, you can adjust the string lengths to bridge after all this.

I now like my Strat, it sounds great. Which is much better than sounding like crap, which is how I used to feel about it.


Many don't follow Fender's specs - many feel the string height is too low on their specs, causing buzzing. Playing style affect it alot too. Lastly - The strats have had many different pup types over the the years(Mine has Lace Sensors - 96 Strat Plus) so characteristic strat sound is relative.


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