Best Strat Pickup Mashup:
So picture this best Strat pickup mashup. You have just acquired a nice old Strat as the basis for a super versatile 'best of all electric guitar tones ever' project. You have got all sorts of weird wiring ideas in mind but first off you want to decide what style of pickups (e.g. Tele / Strat / P90 / Active etc etc) to put in (and where). Luckily this imaginary Strat body has a big 'swimming pool' routing, so there is plenty of room for anything. But you want to limit it to just 3 pickups; Bridge, Middle & Neck for normal Strat 5 way switching. Where to start?
Bridge Pickup; For me there is really only one contender. The peculiarities of the Telecaster Bridge design make its tone both unique and a must-have in this mashup. And with some clever switching (see later) it could even be made into a quasi-Humbucker! It will never sound like a Strat Bridge of course.
And to really add some interest, how about one of Graph Tech's 'Ghost' saddle mounted piezo pickup systems? http://www.graphtech.com/products/brands/ghost/ghost-pickups---guitar Want to see how different Strat and Tele pickups are? See; Stratocaster Telecaster Comparison
Middle and Neck Position: OK, just 2 pickups to go, so now it gets difficult. Surely there needs to be at least one genuine Strat single coil in there, and for the genuine tone that has to be passive rather than active? And a real Humbucker (with some coil splitting)? Nothing quite sounds like a P90 either (particularly in the Neck position), but is there space for such a niche tone in the best Strat Pickup Mashup?
What goes where?: So on balance, this mashup is going with a Strat single coil and a Humbucker to complete the trio. Because nothing else quite captures the tone of a Strat Neck pickup, the single coil will go in the Neck position, leaving the Humbucker in the middle slot. So thats the basic line up; Bridge = Telecaster Bridge pickup Middle = Humbucker pickup Neck = Stratocaster Neck pickup
Some Clever Switching?: That is the basic choice made, but there's more to be squeezed out of this seemingly unrelated combination. Some guitarists add a small metal plate under a Strat pickup to make it sound more like a Tele. What would happen if the earth connection was removed from the Tele Bridge pickup's plate? And it would be great to somehow magic up a Humbucker in the Bridge and Neck positions. Well one of the reasons for putting the Humbucker in the Middle is so that it can have its coils split (known as tapping - see Humbuckers and Coil Tapping). That means its split 'single' coils can be combined with the true single coils of the Tele Bridge and Strat Neck pickups. Using the normal Strat 5 way switch will give something close to the Stratocaster 'quack' position 2 and 4 tones. But its also possible to arrange for switching to add the split humbucker coils in series with the other 2 single coils. Depending on relative magnetic and winding polarities, this would give a quasi humbucker pickup in both the bridge and Neck position, Wow! see this web link; http://www.premierguitar.com/articles/Adding_Series_Switching_To_Your_Strat
In Conclusion: So that's my fantasy Best Strat Pickup Mashup! Each of the 3 pickups I have chosen has a unique tonal characteristic in its own right. With some clever switching its possible to convert that basic 3 into an HSS, or HSH, or even SSS configuration. And all that tonal variation from just 3 humble pickups. Maybe I need to build one to see how it all works in practise! We may all have our favourite styles and manufacturers / models of pickups, but I hope this Blog may spark some curiosity and experimentation. And if you want some fun designing (virtually) your own custom guitar online check out the following links; http://www.usacustomguitars.com/virtual-guitars/virtual-guitars-s/ http://guitarwtf.com/2012/04/27/free-virtual-guitar-builders/ Have fun!