Black Strat Reborn and Un-Gilmoured

There was nothing wrong with my black Squier Vintage Modified 70s Strat, which I renamed the Vintage Gilmourized Strat on account of the mods I had made to it.

In fact it was great as it was and you know the old saying “If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it” is right?

WRONG!

If you feel like tweaking, then tweak away is my motto and that is what I did with the black Strat. There have been a number of key changes and a few subtle ones, so here are the details:

Subtle Changes:
White plastic parts replaced with parchment ones including the trem arm tip, changed from black to parchment. I couldn’t believe what a huge aesthetic difference (for the better) there was after changing the trem tip!

Not-so-Subtle Changes:
New wiring scheme – 5-way super-switch, giving the following pickup settings:

  • Bridge – tone 2
  • Bridge+Middle in Series – no tone
  • Bridge+Neck in Parallel – tone 2
  • Bridge+Neck in Series – no tone
  • Neck – tone 1

I used 500k pots for this to account for the series tones, which I knew would be quite dark sounding. First of all I wired it all up using the 2 Seymour Duncan SSL5s I have – one came out of the black strat and the other came out of the Blue Classic Vibe Strat and I already had decided they would sound better with 500k pots. I used a Duncan Designed SC101 (one of the stock pickups) for the middle.

It turned out pretty good and worked first time (I’m getting better at wiring obviously), but I couldn’t help wondering what it would sound like with the SC101s. The SSL5s sounded good, but not quite enough bite for my liking. The next day I went for it and put in the SC101s. It’s a big improvement as the variation of sounds is wider now with these less meaty sounding pickups. The series positions sound great for lead work and I’ve still got my most used single/parallel sounds: Bridge, Bridge+Neck & Neck. The 500k pots, actually seem to suit these pickups better than the original spec 250k to my ears also. In fact they don’t sound much different – not really brighter, just a bit clearer.

This could prove to be the best stage-worthy Strat setup for me. Here’s the icing on the cake – I had a spare SC101 middle pickup, so I put that in the neck position instead of the SC101N. This way all my sounds are now hum-cancelling except the bridge or neck by themselves.

I still have my beloved Tonerider TRS4 Alnico II Blues pickups in the blue Classic Vibe Strat and they’re staying!

I am going to sell both Duncan SSL5s and the solder-less wiring harness that was in the black Strat to cover the costs of these mods and a new high-powered 8″ speaker I want to install in my Orange PPC108 cab.

A video demo of the latest rewire will be coming soon.

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