Tree Guitarworks

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Essential Stratocaster Mods

Strats are some of my favorite guitars! At one time I had five of them... I'm down to two now. Such a brilliant piece of engineering that is as fresh today as when they were first designed sixty years ago! But there are a couple of things I think Leo should have done differently. Fortunately they are very easy mods that anyone who can solder can do.

Tone control for the bridge pickup: This is the first thing I do to my strats. A tone control takes the ice-picky edge off the bridge pickup and makes it very usable, and my favorite position for solos and crunchy rhythms. All I do is run a little jumper from the terminal on the selector switch that goes to the second tone control to the empty terminal next to it. Now the second tone controls both bridge and middle pickups.

Neck and bridge pickups together: This is a very nice combination that adds some sparkle to the neck pickup, giving it an almost mid-position tele sound. There are several ways to get there, ranging from very simple to not-really-that-difficult.

The easiest way is just swapping the bridge and middle wires on the selector switch. The downside is it mixes the positions up and you lose the fourth neck-middle combination. Now position one is your middle pickup; two, bridge-middle; three, bridge; four is the neck-bridge combination; and four is the neck.

Another way is to use the first tone pot a master tone for all the pickups, and use the second tone pot as a blender control to add in your desired amount of bridge to the neck pickup. The advantage is you don't have to add any additional components, you retain the stock look, and the selector switch works as before.

You can also add a switch that turns on the bridge regardless what position your selector switch is on. This can either be a separate toggle switch or a push-pull switch replacing one of the other pots. A toggle switch is a little easier to operate than a push-pull, but requires drilling a hole in your pick guard.

Finally, you can replace your standard selector switch with a "super" switch, which allows all sorts of options in addition to the neck-bridge, including in-out of phase, serial wiring, which turns your single coils into a humbucker, etc. This is a bit more complicated.

There are wiring diagrams available on the web. Seymour Duncan has some good ones. Or if you shy away from soldering tasks, it is something I can do for you.