Help - Cannot get "Stratty" Tone from VM Modified 70's Strat


Apr 14, 2017
I have a VM '70s with the DD PUs, and mine is as stratty as it gets, at least to my ears. I am using a Fender and other fender style amps, along with a compressor and other pedals. I find that compressor, and some light reverb gives me the strattiest tones of all. I would say, if you know someone with a similar set up, give it a try. It might be your rig, and not your guitar.


Jul 14, 2018
Nashville, Tn
I'll just throw my little 2 cents in; I say that if you want "Stratty" tone, you just can beat a set of Alnico V single coils... One of my best sounding (and most Stratty sounding) Strats is a '89 Korean Squier II with a set of those Belcat Alnico pups that cost $25 for the SET on Amazon... Another thing I'll mention that MAY help, is in order for me to get that "round" "rubbery" Strat sound, I've gotta turn the bass up a little... Single coil Alnicos are cheap, and the bass knob is free with the amp, lol...


Mar 18, 2010
I'm not sure about the other variables involved here but i will say that I have a VM 70'S SQUIER strat with stock pickups in it.
When I plug into my rig ( usually straight in to amp) my wife from another room yells over " you're playing your Strat again aren't you"?
So she can tell what it sounds like and she's not " into" guitar.


Mar 31, 2020
Rutherford, NJ
I'm not sure about the other variables involved here but i will say that I have a VM 70'S SQUIER strat with stock pickups in it.
When I plug into my rig ( usually straight in to amp) my wife from another room yells over " you're playing your Strat again aren't you"?
So she can tell what it sounds like and she's not " into" guitar.
I feel repetitive, but I think the OP's problem is the amp, not the guitar.

Karl Beach

Squier Talker
Gold Supporting Member
May 2, 2020
Twin cities, MN
It is often said but seldom comprehended: "When all else fails, examine your expectations." This is not a put-down...rather, the perspective of many years (with thin gray hair and tinnitus to prove it (Laughter of the Immortals (Google it))). I'll assume you have an internal notion of the sound you seek. So did Les Paul and Leo Fender. I'll also assume you don't have a guitar manufacturing facility at your disposal. What to do? Here's my best, time-earned advice: go to a real music store staffed by real, music savvy guitar players in an off-peak time. Cultivate a relationship (even with a COVID mask) with one or two and let them help you systematically work through combinations of guitars, effects, and amps on display until you find a kit that approximates the sound you crave. Unless you're independently wealthy, this quest cannot be accomplished via Amazon. That approximate kit is your baseline. Then, and only then, bring in your own guitar and plug into the effect(s) and amp your experiment indicated. Finally, with expert and now-friendly guidance, determined what you need to do and buy to OWN that sound. As a Nissan auto commercial featuring a 'Japanese mystic mechanic' once ended: "Life's a journey, enjoy the ride." Best wishes!


Jun 8, 2017
Honolulu, HI
I'm gonna throw something out there that will cost you next to nothing and makes a HUGE impact on the sound of any guitar I play...

Try using a different gauge pick. Buy a bunch, eveything from a .33 to a 2mm. Try them all, and hear the differences :)
That's true. I can hear a difference in seemingly similar celluloid picks from different makers. A Fender medium and a Dunlop medium and a D'Andrea medium all sound a little different, even though they're all celluloid. And, then different materials sound different too, Tortex, Ultex, nylon, Delrin. They all have their own character.

Ian Sheridan 1978

Squier Talker
Mar 2, 2019
I've got to chime in with that I own a 70's VM (fsr smashed avocado) with stock SC101's and it's my favourite strat I've owned. The in-between settings are beautiful. Just love it for knopfler like clean sounds. Amazing guitar. Always in tune and loves fuzz!
(It has a big block and tusq nut, but I don't think it's essential)



Dr. Squier
Jul 4, 2012
MAUD Oklahoma
Are you the 62z guy on da bay??
I would say rewire your guitar and wire it with a G&L style PTB wiring. It will allow you to cut down some of the bass witch can overwhelm the rest of the signal, and cover up that stratty sound.
I have plenty of people come to me and say the same thing. Most were used to ceramic pickups, and when they start using Alnico, they are not happy with the sound.

The PTB with the bass slightly rolled off is the best way to get "that sound". The sound that shines clean or slightly overdriven. I think the best pickups for that sound are the MIM stock ceramic with the side by side magnets. But, they are too bright with distortion and sound crappy.

But with the PTB you have the best of both worlds, the warmth of Alnico's, and the accentuated mids and highs of the ceramics. The only downfall is when you cut bass it also cuts a lot of the signals power. You will find a lot of the oomph in a guitars signal comes from the bass. Also with Alnico magnet pickups you have to work to get that highly percussive sound. Ceramics put out more power and accentuate picking dynamics more.

Try this, you will be very happy with it. But you need to follow the wiring 100%...the 1meg pot must be C1meg.

Others that do the same but in a slightly different way, Precision Music Technologies DMT Control, Fender TBX, and Artec's BCU (active). I find the G&L the best, in dependant controls, and not powered.

Here is a good video on what the bass cut does.



Dr. Squier
Dec 9, 2014
I've just listened to a demo made with a Peavey 112 amp on Shane's 'In the blues" Youtube channel.
Apparently the Peavey 112 has two channels, good eq possibilities, and many knobs and switches to try out... Maybe it's just a question of managing to dial in the amp to get closer to what you'd want?
I don't remeber where I saw that, but it was after I sold my Red Line Studio Pro. Someone said that by diming the volume on the gain channel and adjusting loudness with the gain knob was the best tone you could ever hope to find.


Oct 10, 2020
Bought a VM Modified 70's Strat (Rosewood finger board) in 2015.
Didn't like the Duncan-Designed SC-101's . They were too hot.
Swapped them out for Bare Knuckle Irish Tours.
Maybe made a mistake?

The Irish Tours are not as hot as the SC-101's but are still hot-ish. Neck and Middle are around 6.4 DC output and bridge is around 7.4

I've lowered them quite some way so they are more or less flush with the pick guard...or just a tad above it.
But they just don't sound very "Stratty" to me.

I know the VM 70's Strat body is Basswood.
I've read that Basswood can be warmer and more mids-heavy than Alder - and that perhaps could be part of the issue in combination with the pickup choice I have made.

Has anyone on this forum swapped out the Duncan-Designed SC-101's on a VM Vintage Modified Strat for lower output pickups (maybe between 5.7 DC output and nothing higher than 6.2) and got good "Stratty" tones out of it? OR is it always going to be a challenge to get a decent Stratty tone out of a BUDGET basswood bodied guitar.....and I'd be better off with an Alder-bodied Strat???

I swapped a pair of Fender Yosemite pickups into my CV 50's Strat and I absolutely love the tones I get. They're definitely not hot. Also, I'm playing through an MK2 Katana 50, which has blown me away for the price. Might want to upgrade your amp, as well.
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Nov 15, 2021
Fagaras, Romania
ok let me try to help. Get a trial version of Amplitube 5 - and use a "Fender 50's" style amp sim. It's not perfect but it will not break the bank even if you go full version later. And you get to explore the sounds. And if you like it there's your answer... stay digital or start raising for another type of amp. All this modelling business (ha!) taught me to appreciate guitars differently.. now I don't plug in and compare- I plug in and run the sims... After 20 minutes I know what type of amp the guitar "likes" and if it will amount to something at all . I have been surprised ..basically all guitars that came to me after a good setup- both old clunkers or misfits or modded ones, mine or my friend's - they all sound good to exemplary but each has a "personality". And then there's the wonderful world of ..tone caps and treble bleed circuits- basically you can "voice" the already installed pickups- pretty much in some cases. I suspect the guitar's fine- even with the normal pickups.
BTW for the classical nasal yet clear sound, bright but with enough bass and clarity- sounds amazing in description but sounds more like surf rock in person- you can go for a very cheap Fender Vintera 60's pickup set. They come with a wiring manual and their "vintage" schematic shows a 0.1 uf. Yup not a typo, zero point one micros. And it will surely sing. Then again, change ONLY THE CAP ( 4 USD, shipped perhaps) with any 0.1 uF, even ceramic disk , for "authenticity of tone" as they were built like that in the 60s. Did the full mod to my affinity, was pleasantly surprised and that was it- for a while. Then the curiosity bit me- what would happen if I kept the cap and pots and swapped the old pickups back? Just for funzies? Well- it was nice. Just as nice- but a tad different. If I were to chose they could stay- or not? Will buy parts and put them in- with a 0.1 uF.Very stratty- disturbingly so.

Dave M

Feb 27, 2017
Mira Loma, CA
But they just don't sound very "Stratty" to me
Sorry for the late reply....this vid is 10 years old...he's playin' a VM 70...he's getting "stratty" tones....I had one ....maybe Fenderish tone amps do something...but the lower output pups do tend to have that stratty tone to,,,like in the CV 50's...


Apr 17, 2010
Melbourne, Australia
Since it's been resurrected, I can't help but wonder what ultimately happened here. Did the OP ultimately find what he was after?

Reminds me of a thread that got resurrected on TDPRI a couple of months ago with similar tone issues. Hundreds of suggestions, refused to try any of them (not suggesting that's what the OP here was doing), and after a dozen pages or so not a single thing was resolved.


Squier Talker
Jan 17, 2021
Yes, lots of that always, sometimes you find answers to your problem, cause somebody else already had one,,,.I saw that 2022 date and thought it was started on sept of this year...oh well....
thats ok mate. 2020 and 2021 never happened hehe.

on topic, i wonder being VM strat in the first place wouldn't the tone be more beefy and not very stratish in the first place? i mean, comparing it to the likes of a player strat or a CV strat.


Squier Talker
Jul 14, 2011
Milan, Italy
thats ok mate. 2020 and 2021 never happened hehe.

on topic, i wonder being VM strat in the first place wouldn't the tone be more beefy and not very stratish in the first place? i mean, comparing it to the likes of a player strat or a CV strat.
Agreed. Anyway, I'm the lucky owner of a maple on black VM Strat (exactly the same axe featured in the video posted by Dave M), and I would say that: 1) the neck is fantastic: beautiful, chunky, with rolled eges and 2) the neck is fantastic: see my avatar <. Being the neck 80% in a guitar, 'nuff said.

(Pssst... I like the sound, strattish or not. Sounds more on the beefy side imho. I put the 2nd tone control on the bridge pup, and this makes the guitar more versatile - still imho).