Cool Mods indeed.....
Thanks to Fender's "swimming pool route" technology this American Standard Stratocaster body (long since forgotten in the basement) has been fitted with 3 Fender American Series Jaguar pickups! With the work of a Dremmel tool the standard pickguard has been modified to allow these body mounted pickups. I added a 2004 Fender American Series Rosewood neck, Sperzel tuners and other standard Fender parts to make one cool axe. The Fender American series Jaguar pickups (purchased from Angela Instruments) are nice and hot clocking in at just over 7 ohms. They are said to be made to original specs with fiber bobbins and cloth wire. I decided to follow the Jaguar theme with a master tone and a choke to cut low frequencies. Unlike the Jaguar with it's choke switch this guitar boosts a second master "tone" control choke. I wired the bottom tone control to be a master with a .003µF capacitor (actually three .001µF caps in parallel). This gives the ability to control how much low frequency is rolled off. Curiously, unlike my 1964 Jaguar's choke this one also squeezes off a bit of the glassy highs. Go figure. Perhaps the 250k pot is the reason why. Nonetheless this second "tone" proves to be very useful. Lastly my usual middle tone "push/pull" pot modification gives the "two outer and all three" additional pickup combinations along with the standard strat five.
A closer look reveals my complete disregard for the fact that Jaguar bridges are considerably higher than the Stratocaster. Therefore (unlike the picture below) the Jaguar pickups needed to be screwed down much further than I figured to give the correct string distance. I pondered using the Fender micro-tilt feature on the neck and body to tilt the neck to clear the pickups but I didn't like the idea of a gap in the neck pocket. Instead I chose simply to screw the pickups further down. While losing the clean look of the pickup bases being flush with the guard the end result still looks pretty cool. I must say that these pickups sound great. Loud and clear. Plenty of mids but still very quacky in the "in between" settings.
Pictured above are the pickups installed after incorrectly assuming they would be flush. No big whoop.
Nice 2004 Fender American Series neck with added Sperzel locking tuners.
Check out this cool mod. Pictured below is my 1996 American Standard Stratocaster with three mini humbuckers and a Chandler guard. While this interesting combo was loud and proud I soon decided to go back to a more conventional pickup configuration. This guitar now has a nice white guard and three Rio Grande Tallboy pickups. However I couldn't leave well enough alone and along with the Rio single coils are three push/pull pots for some crazy stuff. Scroll down for more info. You've gotta love that "swimming pool" route for swapping guards with no unsightly routing.
Below is a left handed American Standard Stratocaster body that just sold for $151 on eBay. This will be the perfect starting point for some lucky lefty out there. I swiped the picture just to illustrate the "swimming pool" pickup route.
The same guitar as above with the mini's now looks fairly stock. The only exception is the three push/pull pots that mix things up pretty good. The middle tone when pulled up with give both the neck and the bridge pickup for a more Tele or Jaguar tone. This is the easiest mod to do and enables all seven possible parallel pickup combos. Now things get twisted. When the volume is pulled up and the pickup selector is in the neck position this give both middle and neck in series for a true neck humbucker tone. Additionally when the bottom tone is up and the selector is on the bridge position this gives you the bridge and middle in series for a true bridge humbucker tone. This mod can be done with any set of single coil pickups when the middle pickup is reverse wound/reverse polarity. Needless to say there are variations of the above when the selector is moved. Very twisted indeed. Why would I do this? Why not. Push 'em all down and things are back to stock....well except for that super Rio Grande tallboy tone. That is anything BUT stock.
CLICK HERE for cool wiring diagrams including the completely absurd Rio Grande Tallboy "humbucking" conversion scheme!!!
I proudly present The StratoVarious.......
Ok... Now for some real twisted stuff. Three single coil sized Dimarzio humbuckers, each with a mustang switch. One switch controls one pickup 'tapped/off/full humbucker' simple as that. Now you can mix them up pretty good for all kinds of tones. Add to that a Torres midrange control where the middle tone used to be and you get.....The StratoVarious! Cool. I got this idea after working on my Nephew's 1969 Fender Mustang. I had started with a set of Kent Armstrong pickups because they where black with no markings or polepieces at all for a very mustang look. The Dimarzio's when tapped are still reasonably hot single coils. The Kents sounded very good as humbuckers but where a bit thin when tapped. They did yield some great combinations though.
CLICK HERE for cool wiring diagrams including the StratoVarious pictured below! It is rumored that Leo Fender was overheard saying "what the...... is this guy nuts?"
Be sure to email me if you want to know more about any of these projects.
Previous incarnations of my two American Standard Stratocasters..........
1996 American Standard Stratocaster aka "StratOvarious". Three mustang style switches replace the standard 5 position switch allowing each pickup to be turned on as a humbucker, tapped as a single coil or turned off. This gives me way too many combinations ! Plus the middle tone is a Torres mid range control. A super cool axe indeed. The pickups are Dimarzio Fast track 1's with a Chopper in the bridge. Despite the opinion of some that American Standard Strats with their "swimming pool" routes have an inferior tone due to less wood around the pickups these guitars are by far the easiest and most fun guitars to modify and sound great. Also it is easy to undo if you change your mind. In addition the two pivot bridge makes for a far more stable tuning situation for whammy fans like me then any vintage Stratocaster. Maybe this is easy to say if you own both vintage and new but I can't say enough good thinks about these guitars. Be sure to check out my Cool Mods page to see other modifications this and other guitars have gone through.
1997 American Standard Stratocaster This eBay bargain was new old stock with the film and Fender sticker still on the guard. Only problem was it must have sat in a window because when I bought it (nice and cheap) I peeled the film off only to find the guard had yellowed nicely but the silhouette of the sticker was pure white ! Oh well not to fret. A cool pickguard from 30th Street Guitars in NYC and some Lace (Sensor) Chrome Dome pickups really dressed this guitar up. Add some chrome knobs and switch tip to match and this is one shiny cool guitar. While this guitar maintains the standard Stratocaster "vol/tone/tone" configuration the middle tone is also a push/pull pot that in conjunction with the 5 way switch enables all three pickups to be on at once or just neck and bridge. This gives all seven possible pickup combinations ! In regard to my love of the American Standard Stratocaster all the same rules apply for this as the 1996 above. Great guitar, stays in tune, sounds terrific and is delight to play. If you only have one guitar make it an American Standard Stratocaster. These are all over eBay. Buy one now!
Check back soon for more Cool Mods.....