Mick wires up a couple of pickguards with new pickups for his American Vintage Stratocasters… then briefly compares to an original 1961 Fender Strat.
Life too short for long YouTube videos? Interesting bits timings below.
Welcome to the vlog! Regular viewers will know that I’ve disappeared down a rabbit hole over the last year or so, after being lucky enough to spend some quality time with some genuine 1960s Stratocasters. Can I get my favourite 2001 Sonic Blue Strat to sound a bit more like the old ones? Maybe. After previous vlogs changing a few bits out, in this one I turn to arguably the biggest area of tonal difference: pickups!
I’ve got some Ron Ellis ’64 pickups and also some Fender Custom Shop Fat ’60s to try, and in this vlog we get as far as wiring them up and hearing the Ellis pickups in Blue and the Custom Shop pickups in Transit Van (the black one, long story).
There will be more in time. Meanwhile…
Please note that with the wiring, switch, pots and caps, I’m only talking about vintage-type spec. I have no idea about modern switches etc etc etc. Nor any interest, so apols if I don’t respond to questions on anything that isn't 'vintage' relevant. And to save me answering the following hundreds of times in the comments…
• Why didn’t you try X pickups / have you tried X pickups?
We all have to make a choice at some point. These are my choices – explained in the video. The rabbit hole is endless, and I’m already bored of it! Go to 20:05 in the vid.
• Why no grounding plate on the back of the pickguard?
a) Never had one. b) Didn’t buy any, but I might add one at some point. People I trust tell me it might rob a //tiny// bit of high end with the shielding plate in there, but it’s negligible. I’ve never worried about hum/buzz, so I don’t need one for that. Go to 24:45 in the video.
• Wouldn’t it be easier to just buy a) An old Strat, or b) A Custom Shop / Custom Build Strat?
It so would. And if I had the money I would. And I will at some point. b) I’ve played every kind of guitar you can think of, pretty much, over my 20+ years as a guitar journalist. Some fantastic guitars, but //nothing// is like the old guitars in my personal opinion.
• Can you put the old pickups in the new guitar?
No. Please go to 15:05 in the video.
• What are the best pickups for my guitar?
Honestly, and with the very greatest of respect,I don’t know. Every guitar is different, every player is different, every rig is different. So many variables.
INTERESTING BITS & GO-TO SECTIONS
- Intro and context: 0:00
- What are the best Strat pickups? 1:35
- The 1961 Strat? 1:50
- Transit Van (The Black Strat): 2:20
- The Human Variable: 2:40
- The huge questions? 3:35
- The massive grey area: 5:00
- The dreaded middle man: 6:15
- Not another new bridge!? 6:50
- Pickguards: 7:55
- …compared to the old one: 8:42
- Pickups: 9:20
- More plastics, wire, pots: 10:00
- The rabbit hole is insane: 10:30
- Choices: pickups, guards, covers… 11:26
- Pickup cover colours: 12:10
- Knobs: 12:45
- Tone capacitor? 14:35
- I’m NOT taking the pickups out of the old guitar: 15:05
- Where do you start with wiring? 15:38
- Switch orientation? 16:16
- Pots o the guard? 16:38
- Checking the pot tolerances: 17:35
- Fender Fat ’60s pickups in the guard: 17:45
- RWRP: 19:30
- What can you hear? 19:56
- Why did I choose these pickups specifically? 20:05
- Putting the Ellis pickguard together: 21:35
- Mental health progress? 22:45
- Wiring! 23:55
- Grounding plate: 24:45
- Soldering basics: 25:55
- Solder? 26:50
- Why do I find this so hard? 28:28
- Six hours for two pickguards?! 29:22
- Initial playing and tones: 30:25
- Clean tones: 31:10
- Fuzzy tones: 32:24
Guitars in this episode
• THE OLD ONE: 1961 Fender Stratocaster
• BLUE: Fender American Vintage 1959 Stratocaster 2001
• TRANSIT VAN: (The black one) Fender American Vintage 1959 Stratocaster 2012
Amps in this episode
• Two Rock Classic Reverb Signature and 212 cabinet (TR1265 B speakers)
• Marshall 1987x (reissue) with custom Zilla 212 (Celestion Alnico Ruby speakers)
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