How to make a Strat "dirty"?

Discussion in 'Squier Stratocasters' started by VM51SQ, Jul 24, 2020.

  1. gearobsessed

    gearobsessed Squier-holic

    Aug 21, 2013
    new zealand
    Yup, OCD sounded great with my tele and strat too, but not sure about DD pickups as I've never had them. A buddy of mine uses a hotcake with his strat and jaguar
  2. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    I have two sets of Duncan Designed sc-101 (all single coils) at the moment. One is in my Squier Vintage Modified 70s strat (and the other one was supposed to fill a 22-fret Squier strat but the deal didn't go trough).

    Anyway, I've measured both with a multimeter. One set is slightly hotter than the other, but both are
    around 7.1 K each for the neck pickup, 6.9 K/ 7 K for the middle pickup and the bridge is much hotter - at 11.5 K for the bridge pickup of both sets. These are truly overwound for vintage strat pickups. As other forum members already said in this thread, they are, in fact, much closer to traditional telecaster pickups' tones than traditional strat tones. With my amp, if the volume knob is on more than 8, they don't sound glassy clean or superclear anymore. They start breaking up a little (at least with that Vox amp which only has a clean channel). With an overdrive pedal, they can come pretty close to P90s tones.

    Therefore it makes me think that if you change your pickups to, say, hot rails (at least for the bridge pickup), it might not be much hotter.

    It would be interesting to know what type of pickups you have in your favourite telecaster. Are they "vintagey" or more modern/hotter?

    Perhaps you could measure your telecaster pickup set, then check what kind of gear your favourite artists use before buying anything new. Perhaps they use humbuckers?

    The amp is also a huge part of the sound... a Marshall amp with a gain channel (or a simulation) would probably sound totally different than just a few pedals.

    whiskeyJim at RocknRoll guitar on Squier Talk or on eBay could definitely advise you.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
    VM51SQ likes this.
  3. Ace38

    Ace38 Squier-holic

    Jul 19, 2016
    Tulsa, OK.
    Or...just get a modeling amp. It's hard to do a "one size fits all" amp setup on a regular amp but the digital presets on a modeler will tend to take the different pickup types out of the equation for the most part. I've got a crazy sounding 80s metal preset on my Spider V mk.2 that sounds mostly the same whether I'm using single coils, P90's, low output alnico humbuckers, hot rails or my super hot ceramic humbuckers.
    radiotech and BlueSquirrel like this.
  4. radiotech

    radiotech Dr. Squier

    Apr 23, 2014
    Before you buy a single additional piece of gear...

    Question: Have you adjusted your pickups height?

    You may have them too low, and it’s hard to get a strong enough signal to get some nice dirt on them. Of course you don’t want them too high as to ruin the cleans you like... but I would start there.

    You have a Champion 20, which has some modeling aspects to it. After tweaking the heights, try your blackface, and British amp sims with a bit more gain, and let us know how it goes.

    On my Mustang III, I tweak my presets to individual guitars, and then label them as such. (‘65 verb T, ‘65 verb S, ‘65 verb ‘51, etc). It also helps because the Mustang has a volume control for the preset, and a master volume for the amp. This helps when you can’t “hear“ the dirt because the speaker isn’t driven enough... just changing the master from 2, to 2.5 makes all the difference sometimes. But you should be able to get a similar effect using headphones (if playing too loud at home is a concern).

    Don’t spend money until you’ve done everything you can with what you’ve got... you’ll get to know the instrument, and gear you have better, and you’ll be a better player for it.

    If your still not there after that, you’ll likely know better what you need to make it so.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
    Best1989, BlueSquirrel and drewcp like this.
  5. Maplelover

    Maplelover Squier Talker

    Nov 28, 2014
    Little do people know, the pickups that are more prone to the break up for guitar and that "classic soud" of older instruments is the ohm resistance...they rarely went above 6 ohm ! I've been up and down the "devil's highway " of the search for the grail. I've researched for nigh onto 50 years .
    In the past 3, ---►It's the lower ohm pickups that clean up with the volume knob and go to the holy ground of tone turned up. I have built upwards of 25 Stratocasters and most of the one's that get that special thing are --available on Stratosphere -Robert Cray CS, CS '54, CS '59...and ! Available at Stew Mac alnico 5 . You can dump HUNDREDS into boutique sets...remember ---the last piece of equipment is attached to your head---yer ears ! Those are God's gift !

    The road is long, enjoy the ride...I'll be 70 rear view mirror has some great scenes
    Amelia likes this.
  6. Ricky DelToro

    Ricky DelToro Squier Talker

    Oct 28, 2010
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    Change out your pickup, put an actual Seymour Duncan in its place, lots depends on your amp as well. ie: I have an Obey Propaganda Tele that I slipped a EMG Tele in the neck and a 85 on the bridge, keep in mind the only thing I kept original was the body and the neck joint plate lol

    TEXINGA Squier-Nut

    Dec 7, 2018

    My red strat (see pic) has three DD Pups and sounds great, I also run my strats thru a pedalboard and using the Boss ME-80. With the ME-80 you can get just about any sound.

    when I cut the coil of the Seymour Duncan, I have a very good Texas Blues setup. 5.75 Neck, 6.15 Middle and almost 16K Bridge cut it was something like 7.85K.

    have all CTS Pots with an Oak Grigsby 5 Way Switch and using Russian K42Y-2 PIO .47 caps

    Everything runs into a Fender Champion 100

    bossttr 021.jpg


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
    duzie and Las Palmas Norte like this.
  8. surf green

    surf green Squier-holic

    Jul 15, 2014
    HERE'S THE DIRT. At the end of my "strat guy" era, I bought a loaded ACTIVE pickguard from Dragonfire. It has onboard effects including a quadra channel and tone expander. It's been a while but in simple terms the vol knob is push/pull single to double coils. The mid tone knob is a 5 way selector switch, going from clear to full metal, with everything in between. The bottom tone knob is a push/pull tone expander going from normal strat tones to advanced tones. It takes a 9V battery.
    I sold most of my strats but hung on to this pg, The price was over $100 (not sure of exact $). It dropped into a regular strat body. I blocked the trem to a hard tail, eliminated the springs and claw, and used the cavity to store 2 9V batteries, vel-crowed to the wood, all hidden by the trem cover.
    When fired up, this system provides whatever sound you're looking for, and a lot you're not looking for. DSCN4159.JPG DSCN4160.JPG
    Las Palmas Norte likes this.
  9. surf green

    surf green Squier-holic

    Jul 15, 2014
    radiotech and drewcp like this.
  10. Darvinreed44

    Darvinreed44 Squier Talker

    Jun 23, 2020
    Drop a Dunkin hotrails in it problem over
  11. driver8

    driver8 Squier Talker

    Jun 19, 2020
    Turn down your tone controls, like way down. All the way to "mud" then only back up enough to get rid of the mud, maybe around 2 or 3. Then stack a couple of overdrives, or better yet an overdrive and a fuzz. You'd be surprised at all the different gain effects you can get from two pedals together than you'd get from either one on its own. Can really get some raunchy tones.
    JKjr and VM51SQ like this.
  12. One String Sam

    One String Sam Squier-Meister

    Jan 10, 2015
    The Moon
    I caught him live around 1995, still awesome.
    VM51SQ likes this.
  13. BigAndy

    BigAndy New Member

    Jul 15, 2016
    New York
    Read this:

    Especially this:
    "First, the bridge is a very "hot bridge". Not louder so much as darker. The DC resistance is 11.5k, the inductance is nearly twice that of a typical Strat pickup at 3.9H. It's not quite as dark as an SSL-5, but almost. Despite the hotter wind, the voltage output is only about 2dBV higher than the neck or middle pickup, so the intention here is treble attenuation more than it is increased volume output. This inductance is more typical of a Telecaster bridge pickup.

    The second difference, and by far the most major, is that all three pickups have copper shielding around the coils, as can be seen in the pic below. A copper shield might seem like a good idea, but it capacitively couples with the coil, adding about 150pF capacitance, which is equivalent to several feet of extra guitar cable length. The resonant peak of a neck pickup with 2.8H inductance is typically around 3.7kHz, but with this added capacitance the peak frequency is brought down to 3.2kHz, which makes for a darker pickup, typical for a Telecaster, but not a Stratocaster.

    The neck and middle pickups are typical Strat in terms of DC resistance and inductance, but because of that copper shielding, they end up being closer to a Telecaster neck pickups. The inductance is similar to an SSL-1, despite the DC resistance being higher at 7k per pickup. If not for the copper shielding, they would spec out very close to SSL-1's.

    Another difference from SSL-1s that make them more similar to Telecaster pickups; they're flat poled. The gauss measures 950 at the tops of the center-most AlNiCo 5 pole pieces, down from a typical 1050 on center, due to the shorter size of the magnets.

    The final difference is that the bobbins are plastic rather than fiber bobbin. This isn't really a big deal, but we're reached a point where you can get real fiber bobbin Strat / Tele pickups for bottom dollar, so there's no need to settle for plastic. One upside to plastic, though, is that the pole pieces can be pushed around without risk of destroying the coil. So they need not be flat-poled, a stagger profile could be applied manually.

    If you have a set of these and want to make them sound even more Strat-like, you can carefully snip the ground connection to the copper shielding. This will prevent it from capacitively coupling with the coil, and will raise the peak frequency by about 500Hz for each pickup.

    The copper shielding also causes eddy currents, which reduce the Q factor a small amount, about 1dB at the resonant peak. Removing the copper shielding entirely would win that small amount of resonance back."
    VM51SQ likes this.
  14. Tuwanek

    Tuwanek New Member

    Jul 7, 2020
    Have you tried adjusting pickup height?
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  15. VM51SQ

    VM51SQ Squier-Meister

    Apr 14, 2017
    I will always have my T style ! Nothing I've ever heard sounds that good no matter what rig you run it through. Leo got it right the first time. I've spent the last week trying to get my ideal dirty tones out of my strat, and I've come to your same conclusion; Strat for the cleans, Tele or my dual humbucker Mustang for dirt. Like you said, right tool for the job.
  16. VM51SQ

    VM51SQ Squier-Meister

    Apr 14, 2017
    No, they appear to be set up properly, but I haven't tried playing arond with the heights yet.
  17. VM51SQ

    VM51SQ Squier-Meister

    Apr 14, 2017
    My Tele has Kent Armstrong vintage '52s, which I absolutely love! I think that's the problem, I benchmark everything to those pickups, and I realize that that's not a realistic thing to do. Not because those are the best PUs, but because they are my favorite, so nothing will probably ever compare to me.
  18. techowiz

    techowiz Squier-holic

    Aug 21, 2014
    new york
    Not a strat, but.......
  19. VM51SQ

    VM51SQ Squier-Meister

    Apr 14, 2017
    You're right ! I've tried that and it gets me really close to the "sound in my head"! The best combo I've found is through 2 very cheap pedals: the Rowin Dumbler, and the Danelectro Pastrami. When I stack these 2 pedlas, I get really close to a Tone Bender sound !
    BlueSquirrel likes this.