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Strat Upgrade, Advice Sought
Post by tekbow on Nov 30th, 2011, 11:34am

Hey guys

So i have a Japanese Strat (alder body, texas specials), great guitar (won't go over the story of going into the shop and trying it and god knows many other MIJ and MIA Strats out again), excellent build blah blah, but as some of you may or may not know, where MIJ/CIJ strats always seem to fall down (ironically) is the wiring and electronics..

After a couple of years, they always tend to develop bad hum, and scratchy pots, switches and input jack. they don't start out like this but they get like this as time goes on, seen it a bunch of times with japanese strats throughout the range (have a 92 Squire silver series and played a bunch of old MIJ guitars..). Time for a complete wiring upgrade and I'm going to get a callaham bridge assembly too.

2 mods i'm going to have done no matter what route i go down is a high pass filter to keep high end when the volume is backed off and rewiring the middle tone to the bridge.

the 2 options here are go with a good copper foil shielding job in the cavity and back of scratchplate, buy one of these kits from acme guitarworks

and leave the texas specials be. this way i figure i can get a truer single coil sound (i like hotter strat PU's, think SRV, DG and JH) and hopefully drastically reduce the hum


Get a set of Kinman woodstock plus PU's and the same wiring kit, (not sure whether the kit would be applicable to the kinmans but still need to change pots etc out) callaham but leave the shielding job, and possibly sacrifice a "true" single coil sound to kill the hum completely. Have heard PU's like kinmans, fender vintage noiseless etc are good but just not the same as a "real" single coil. Have also heard you can't tell the difference.

I'm aware that with single coils, no matter how much shielding you do there's always going to be a certain amount of hum, and with a shielding job you can lose a certain amount of high end even if you don't wrap the PU's, which is what i'm hoping to compensate for with the callaham and highpass filter should i go that route. it's all a matter of what you're prepared to put up with. with the kinmans, no hum at all, but possibly compromised less true single coil sound.

What would you guys do?
Re: Strat Upgrade, Advice Sought
Post by Leonardo on Dec 18th, 2011, 10:06am

FWIW I had some noiseless Lace Sensor Holy Grail pickups in my Strat. Replaced them with Suhr ML Standards, and they sound very different. They're different pickups and I'm not sure how much can be attributed to the noiseless factor, though.

I'd accept the fact that Strats and single coils are a little noisy, and stick to standard single coils. I don't think the extra copper shielding will make a huge difference, but I don't think it can cause any harm either. It's up to you.

Personally, I'd get the Acme wiring kit (pots, switch, capacitor and volume kit), and upgrade the tremolo block with one from Callaham (possibly a shorter trem arm too).

Just get used to turn the volume pot all the way back when not playing. I wire one tone knob to the neck and another to the bridge, and middle pickup is left with no tone knob.

If noise becomes a real problem, I'd consider getting a Suhr SSC backplate.
Re: Strat Upgrade, Advice Sought
Post by tekbow on Jan 27th, 2012, 04:40am

hey Leo

Well i did a bit of experimenting in my apartment and rehearsal rooms came to the conclusion that the baseline hum is more to do with the city i live in than anything else. Edinburgh is quite densely populated and you tend to be never more than a few feet from a dimmer switch, fluorescent tube light, plasma tv etc etc. so i decided to go with just the callaham bridge and new pots/wiring upgrade/mods with no shielding job. the increasing hum i experienced since i got the guitar seems to be more a function of the increasing amount of new man toys that have made their way into my apt the last couple of years. the strat especially does not like the laptop I'm writing this on lol