Whether you’re looking for your first guitar or just one more for your collection, it can be a confusing and daunting task to find the right instrument. In this guide I’ll try to take you through the jungle and share some knowledge that helped me in my search.
Updated March 2023
But, before you read on I will warn you that this is no ordinary guide to a specific model or brand. In my opinion, there are far more important things to keep in mind than what it says on the headstock.
Buying an instrument is all about inspiration. You’re the artist and the guitar is the tool you use to express yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing in your bedroom or in a big stadium. It doesn’t matter if the guitar is cheap or cost a fortune. What matters is that you’re comfortable using that instrument and that it allows you to be inspired.
My best tip is to just forget everything you’ve read and heard and just go down to your local guitar shop and try a bunch of guitars. You will learn how each model sounds, how different neck contours feels and just how picking up a different guitar makes you play in a different way.
Keep an open mind! David Gilmour’s Black Strat may not be the best guitar for you. What I prefer and use may be just the opposite of what you’re looking for or get inspired by.
Let’s look at some important things to consider.
Bodies and necks
Personally I don’t care what kind of wood a body is. Or what lacquer it has. There are all kinds of different wood but it really doesn’t matter. A good guitar is a good guitar. You should try different body shapes and contours though to get an idea of what feels right for you.
Necks are, in my opinion, more important because that’s where you’ll be doing much of the work.
I prefer darker wood fingerboard. Like rosewood, mahogany or ebony. Darker wood usually doesn’t have any lacquer and they tend to sound warmer and softer.
Maple fingerboard usually have a bit of lacquer and, depending on the type of lacquer and the number of coatings, maple tend to sound a bit brighter, with a bit more bite.
Neck radius and shapes are also important. A typical vintage 50s era Stratocaster neck is fat, with a distinct V shape resting in your palm. Its 7.25″ radius makes it hard to reach all those crazy bends without your notes fretting out. A thinner C shaped neck, with a 9.25″ radius might be more comfortable for most players, while retaining that vintage feel.
I like to try a new guitar without plugging into an amp. Just play it for a few minutes to get a sense of how it feels and sound.
Get the store to set it up for you and pay attention to the neck and look for dead spots and frets that might need maintenance. Listen to the overall sustain and resonance of the guitar when you play single notes and strum chords.
You can always change the setup later once you get to know the instrument so don’t dismiss a good guitar over a bad factory setup. Pickups and hardware are easily replaced too if you want to upgrade later on.
Fender – USA, Mexico or Japanese?
Fender’s American Vintage II line is as close as you’ll get to the original guitars of the 50s, 60s and 70s. It’s superior craftsmanship, with classic details, expensive lacquer and hand wound pickups. The perfect choice if you’re looking for the feel and tone of David Gilmour’s iconic black and red Strats. Or some of his Telecasters.
When I started this site some 20 years ago, there was a huge debate over the quality of different Fender models. USA made guitars were, with good reason, recommended over Mexican made, simply because Mexican made Fenders didn’t stand up quality wise. That has changed dramatically.
Fender’s Mexican made Vintera picks up on the American Vintage models, with the same attention to detail but with cheaper lacquer, machine wound pickups and the price is kept down due to lower labour costs in Mexico. These are high quality instruments and a huge step up from the lesser Mexican models made some 15-20 years ago.
So, what about Japanese Fenders? These are hard to come by these days. Mostly due to import regulations. Japanese Fenders used to be superior to even US made but nowadays I would go for a Mexican made, which cost about the same.
Fender’s Squier brand has really stepped up their game over the past decade and are now producing impressive instruments, with great feel and tone.
The Classic Vibe series feature models from the 50s, 60s and 70s, with beautiful details and great sounding pickups. Down the line you might want to upgrade the pickups and bridge system for something better but there’s really no need.
Pickups are an important part of your tone and changing pickups can often prove to be a good investment. Either for something better or different sounding.
David Gilmour’s Black Strat feature Fender 1971 neck and middle pickups and a Seymour Duncan SSL1C bridge pickup. The modern equivalents would be Fender Custom Shop 69 and Seymour Duncan SSL5. Read more about David Gilmour’s Black Strat.
There are tons of different takes on these offered by different brands. The combination of the 60s era low output and transparent sounding neck pickup and the hot overwound almost P90 sounding SSL5 bridge pickup is really what makes the Black Strat sound.
David’s red Strat feature the EMG SA active single coils, with the EXG and SPC tone controls. EMG are offering a David Gilmour signature set, the DG20, that feature a quick and easy assembly of the whole set. Read more about David Gilmour’s red Stratocaster.
To my ears, active pickups sound a bit flat and dull. They lack some of the dynamics and presence of passive pickups but the DG20 is essential for recreating the authentic red Stratocaster sound. Not least due to the active tone controls that act as really powerful EQs.
Humbuckers might not be the obvious choice for your David Gilmour tones but personally I tend to use humbuckers a lot more than single coils. Part because that’s the tone I grew up with, listening to rock and metal, but I also find 50s era PAF style humbuckers to be very versatile. Not least for recording.
PAF humbuckers or P90s are very close to what you get from a Seymour Duncan SSL5 or the EMG SA, with the SPC tone control engaged.
Did I miss something? Please use the comments field below and share your tips and recommendations!
482 thoughts on “The buyer’s gear guide – Guitars and pickups”
Hi Bjorn! I love the new site!!! I seem to recall you had review of the Fender Custom Shop David Gilmour Strat. I can’t find it on the new site. Is it available anywhere? Also, any guidance as to which guitar picks David prefers. Thank you again for this amazing source of information.
Thanks! Glad you like it! You can read the review here.
Nice job with the website re-design!
I need some help and if anyone will know the answer to my question, it’ll be you. I acquired a Granada lap steel, which is the exact same guitar as David’s Jedsons, a clone of the Fender Deluxe 6-string (Stringmaster). It has 2 single coil pickups and a blending dial like David’s current blonde Fender. You identified the pups in his blonde fender as being “Fender Wide-Range High-Fidelity pickups”. Wide-range pups are humbuckers though. In my Granada, 1 of the pickups is not working and the other has lost some of its output so I have to have someone try to figure out if they’re dead or is the problem in the wiring or the pots. To do that I need to try to find as much technical information as I can about the pickups Fender used in the Deluxe 6-string lap steels and/or what’s in David’s blonde lap steel.
If I can’t fix them, I’ll want to replace them with something that will be as similar as possible in order to get the tones that David gets from his blonde lap steel. (As a matter of note, I have a Rogue lap steel that I completely re-built and installed an EMG-S which is the same pup as the EMG-H in David’s red Jedson just in a different housing and I get the exact same tones David gets.) So with this guitar I want to reproduce what he gets from his blonde lap steel. Can you please suggest pickups that would be good replacements if my current pups can’t be fixed?
Anything that you can help me with would be fantastic!
Hi don’t have any experience with the Fender or Jedsons myself so I can’t really tell how those pickups sound. All I’ve found are from old ads, which says they’re wide range pickups. I would imagine that they’re fairly low output but again, I don’t know.
I have a few questions about the twin neck Fender 1000 pedal steel that David Gilmour used that I cannot seem to find any answers to anywhere else.
The Fender 1000 is an 8-string guitar, but the only tuning I can find online is for the 6-string Jedsons. I recently purchased a Fender 1000 and I am not sure how to tune the other two strings.
Would it be the six in the middle like ?-D-G-D-G-B-E-?
The low six like: D-G-D-G-B-E-?-?
The high six like ?-?-D-G-D-G-B-E
If so, what would the unknown strings be tuned to?
Also, do you have any idea what gauge strings were used on the Fender 1000 guitar?
Any help figuring this out would be much appreciated.
I really have no idea or experience with an 8-string steel. I would imagine that he’s concentrating on 6 strings that’s the equivalent to a normal guitar or lap steel. Whether that’s the lower or upper 6 I don’t know. I would imagine that he’s using a standard gauge for the strings as he does with the Jedsons.
How did David set his terms: floated or decked? I’ve read decked in many places, yet I’ve seen pics of his guitars that appear to show space between the plate and the body, indicating they must have been floated. Any data you can point folks toward one way or the other?
It’s not floating in the sense that he can do upwards bends but there is a couple of millimeters between the bridge and body. I assume to make the action a bit smoother.
Dear Bjorn, congratulations for this site! Just a question : what is the gauge of David’s strings? I’ve used regular 0.10-0.46 strings and find it virtually impossible to do 1 1/2- or 2-step bends without risking breaking a string or damaging my fingers. I suppose he uses extra-light strings or has extremely muscled fingers… Thanks for your reply.
He’s using a custom set, with a few different guages but it’s basically a 10-46. The double bend is more about technique and how the guitar is set up. On a vintage style 7.25″ you would need to have the string action slightly higher to avoid the string to fret out or die. Other than that, it’s down to practise I’m afraid :)
Mr. Bjorn, sir,
Always a big fan.
It is practically blasphemeous not to have a section, or at least a dedicated article on strings, they being a most essential item of equipment. :D
Could you go into a little more detail about Mr, Gilmore’s choice of strings, gauges and composition of each string, and wound or unwound third? I’m not looking to blindly copy the selection, but really to use the information for better insight into what to expect from my own choices.
No doubt you have covered this somewhere, but a search of this excellent website for “strings” brought up several results, none of which seem to reference strings in any specific capacity.
Best Regards and Health to you.
You’re right, I haven’t covered strings in detail and I probably should. Strings are listed in each album guide though.
If I may jump in… for his Strats and Les Paul, David uses a custom set from GHS, called the David Gilmour Signature Series.
Strats: 10, 12, 16, 28, 38, 48
Les Paul Goldtop: 10.5, 13, 17, 30, 40, 50
You can find these almost anywhere but I usually order them from Sweetwater. I’ve been using them for years and absolutely love them! Just remember though that they’re heavier than what most people use in their Strats and Les Pauls so you’ll have to re-intonate your guitars when you install them.
I don’t know what David uses in his lap steels or his Esquire/Teles. For my laps, I use GHS’s specifically made for lap steels in Open G and Open E tunings that I get from The Chicago Music Exchange.
In my Tele, which is a thinline, so it’s lighter than most Tele’s, I use Ernie Ball Slinky’s (Green);
10, 13, 17, 26, 36, 46.
For my acoustics, I use Ernie Ball Earthwood Light;
11, 15, 22, 30, 42, 52. I also use Ernie Ball Lights in my 12-string acoustic and I believe David uses the same in his acoustics.
I won’t give you advice in my nylon string as I keep having strings pop on me and I don’t know if it’s the strings or just the change in weather.
I hope this helps.
“Neck wood and contour plays an important role in how the guitar sounds…”
“Like the neck, the wood used for the body, and its quality, plays a role in how the guitar sound.”
This videos gives another view on that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n02tImce3AE
Since I cannot find a general comment section, I post this here.
Perhaps you already know about it; but, if not, here’s a link with information you might find useful (the original guitar on which DG’s elusive Giffin 19-fret copy was based):
I couldn’t find a general comment section, so I just picked a post to take the time and thank you. Today I received the special edition of Identity. Been waiting all summer to get it here in Texas! My Airbag collection is now complete. I have all the albums on vinyl.
Music is an amazing uniter for sure. I stumbled on your site about 10 years ago and used your guidance to buy my first guitar, a squire classic vibe 60’s. I was 36 and just wanted to learn how to play Gilmour. Using your site as my guide I quickly moved up in my purchases and became for lack of a better word obsessed. I started playing in a band and about 5 years later my Pink Floyd tribute headlined a small festival. My board, my rig and my tone was hugely influenced by you and of-course Gilmour. Along the way, I one day actually listened to an Airbag album, All Rights Removed to be exact. I was an instant fan. Airbag and Porcupine Tree along with Steven Wilson’s solo works have become my favorite music along with Pink Floyd of-coarse. I am also hugely influenced by Billy Gibbons and Stevie Ray, I am from Texas after all, as well as Slash, Marcus King, Angus Young and many more. I only did the Floyd tribute for a few years, as I found playing a variety of artists and now original stuff, to be more inspirational at this point.. However, Floyd songs are always in our setlist and rocking have a cigar always gets the crowd excited and satisfies my Floyd itch
I used to ask you questions quite often, but I rarely do now. This is just a testament to your incredible reviews and the information on this site. In 10 years I have gone through everything from a Peavy Classic 50, Twin, Marshalls, digital setups, you name it. My favorite amp is my Hi-Tone DG50, but I gig now with a Princeton hand wired clone. I love it and I can cover all our classic rock songs with it. I rarely ask questions anymore, because you have taught me how to dial in just about any amp and any pedal combination. I understand how to compensate scooped or mid pushed, or whatever I am messing with at the time, thanks to your explanations! Along the way and with your guidance, I started finding my own personal tone and definitely branched out on what my ear likes.
10 years later, I have built a studio in my home and have too many guitars to count. My black strat that I put together is still my number 1, but I have several others I adore. Although I love Classic rock and blues and even some metal, I still do always gravitate to my Buffalo FX Mk-1 pushed in front by my Exotic SL Comp and BD2, with the retro sonic flanger and a bit of Analog delay behind it. Sounds great on my Princeton when Mic’d, but if I need to, Ill plug into the Hi-Tone and there it is!!!
I was listening to that Identity Album for the first time, as I wrote this. It was actually reading the biography in the album sleeve, that inspired me to do so. I loved reading the album and your band’s story, so it made me want to share mine. I have seen Gilmour twice and Steven Wilson several times, but I have never been to Europe yet. My wife and I will one day journey over there to catch an Airbag show. It is on the bucket list. So thank you so much for your Gilmourish info and even more, your music. You have greatly influenced my guitar journey and provided the soundtrack for many incredible drives through the mountains. I look forward to seeing you guys live one day and hearing more of your music!
Chad from Dallas
Hi Chad! Thank you so much for the kind words and for your support all these years!
Holly molly this is the Biggest thread on your website I’ve seen yet! It just proves how much we all enjoy your website. It’s always educational and informative but its Never Stuffy. You always make us feel good!
My question today is in regards to David’s Les Paul guitars. I own an Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro Koa. I like the ProBucker pick ups not love them…I find myself using the coil tap for a single coil tone but that’s not what I bought a Les Paul for…What Humbucker pick ups would be great for the Gilmour tones?
I don’t want P-90s i want a Les Paul Guitar with the Humbuckers!
Looking forward to your reply…
Thanks for the kind words Walter! I’ve been using Gibson Classic 57s for years. They have that vintage low outpyt character, with just enough bite for true humbucker tones. I also recommend trying something like the Seymour Duncan Phat Cats, which are humbucker sized P90s. You can easily get Strat-like tones and pretty hevay humbucker tones, depending on your pedals. In one of my LPs I run a Classc 57 bridge and Phat Cat in the neck.
I acquired a guitar from a avid collector and musician who past away recently and had a plethora of Fender american-issue strats, teles and older japan or whatever played well. It was near the end of the estate sale and they had a few left overs. I suddenly realized I may have a chance at the holy grail of guitars at prices I still can’t afford. One strat in particular is a prototype for David Gilmour. The story goes David played it and hated it. No rework was done to it. The 50 year signature series Black Strat was released at a later date. This is the 1954 re-issue-sunburst vintage, The back plate is engraved with “For David Gilmour From Your Friends At Fender” Custom Shop logo on back C.W. Fleming now retired. The plastic plate has the serial #4002. The gentlemen new the CEO of Fender.
I talked to Fender Support today and they asked for pictures so they can do more research. If necessary the neck may need to be removed to assure authenticity. The former owner new his guitars
Thanks for all the information packed in your blog articles!
Hi Bjorn, Greetings!
Recently I bought a ’93 Fender Mij ST-54 Reissue. Excellent guitar. Do you think it’s worth replacing the original Big Block bridge by a Callaham Vintage?
That’s about the same era as my main Stratocaster. I thought it was a huge upgrade when I did it years ago. Better tuning stability and overall more sustain.
Hey Bjorn, is there something special about the wiring in Davids Esquire?
Not to my knowledge. The info I have is listed here.
Incredible work and cheerful picking to all.
I’m really grateful for your articles and reviews, keep going! I’d like to ask you, what’s your opinion or experience with G&L guitars. My target is a Legacy Tribute (strat with a few tweaks and upgrades). Do you think they’re better than MIM fenders or CV squiers? The general opinion on this guitars is good, fine and precise trem system, great playbility, really twangy pickups (I’m gonna change to EMG’s anyway). I just want your opinion as a gilmourish pioneer!
Thank you for all the work you do for us, and excuse my poor english.
Thanks for the kind words, Bruno! I have very little experience with G&L but I’ve only heard positive things. I think it’s safe to say that they’re a big step up from Squier.
Hi Bjorn, I know its subjective but I would like to know what strings/brand you use or would recommend for a classic mex strat. There are some GHS GB-DGF strings that I am looking to get but can’t find a dealer here in NZ with them. Keep the reviews coming… I always look forward to new ones being posted.
Yes, strings are very subjective and personal so I do recommend that you try different brands and guages to get a feel of how they work with your guitar and playing. I used different GHS strings for a while but I think they have terrible quality control so I always eneded up throwing a lot of string and having to replace them very often. I use Ernie Ball 11s on most of my guitars these days. Sometimes 10s. They sound great and I’ve never come across a bad string.
I have an old Squier Strat from the mid 90s, that I bought new and found was basically an official “Partscaster”. It’s made in Korea, but the parts (especially the electronics) seem to be from all over. Anyway, it’s been highly modified since- new
Pickguard, bridge saddles, and I threw on a Fender vintage 70s maple neck (with the bullet truss rod) and short tremolo arm. My question is this- is it worthwhile, in your opinion, to do the “Gilmour mod” to add pickup selection options? The ability to use the neck and bridge pickups together is interesting, but I think I read somewhere David really didn’t use the mod much himself. Just wondering if it’s worth doing. Great work as always! Thanks!
I’ve tried it but found it useless for my tones. It doesn’t sound bad but I just couldn’t find it useful. Teh tone you get is sort of what you get from the middle position of a Tele. Not as hollow sounding perhaps but similar.
Hi! How is the height of the bridge? Near the body or floating? Regards
What are you referring to? David’s setup?
Hello Bjorn, first of all I wish you all the best for this new year! Health and success in your solo carreer, and please carry on your amazing job for the Gilmourish community!
It’s a while now since my last comment on your website, but I still check it very often and I don’t miss a single video you post on Youtube! I wanted to share my experience and some informations about the David Gilmour Stratocaster.
In fact, I’m the happy owner of a David Gilmour Stratocaster NOS since December 2019, as a kind of gift to myself in order to celebrate my oncoming 30 years old and 10 years of learning and playing guitar! And she’s really a beauty to play and look at (yes, she’s a woman, as she can be capricious too, just like a woman! :D ) My model is from 2017 and shows a special decal on the back of the headstock, celebrating the 30th Anniversary (1988-2018) of the Artist Signature series (what a coincidence!).
After some tests and thinkings, I decided to buy the model which was in stock in the shop, as there was a waiting list of one year to order a guitar from the Fender Custom Shop and the guitar wouldn’t be at home in time for my birthday. But then I entered a long process, mainly because the guitar was not complete with her accessories (in fact all of the accessories were absent, even the certificate of authenticity and the short tremolo arm), there was just the Black Strat and the flight case.
The shop manager took my problem personally and called a representative from Fender in France to explain the situation and find a solution. Finally Fender agreed on sending a new certificate and a pack with all of the accessories within two weeks, after checking the guitar’s serial number. But what motivated my choice on still buying this specific model from this specific shop, in addition to the qualities of this model, is the following information from Fender France that could be interesting for the Gilmourish community :
“The David Gilmour Stratocaster, in both NOS and Relic finishes will be discontinued in 2020. So the production will be stopped and no more orders are taken for this model. It will be replaced by a Masterbuilt version from the Custom Shop, so way more expensive than the current version and only crafted on demand.”
So speaking about the guitar now : she’s a killer! Not too heavy, very comfortable, and what a neck! Very slim C neck profile, great for my little hands and fast to play despite the nitro finish. To me it’s a very similar feel to my 2 Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster necks (first batch from China, can’t compare with the actual versions from Indonesia). The radius is a vintage 7.25″ with vintage style frets, which is not a problem for me.
I told she’s a bit capricious, that’s because she can go out of tune very quick! I lubricated the nut slots, saddles and string tree with a bit of graphite grease. That seems to solve the problem, so now the guitar just go a little out of tune during the first ten minutes of play (the time to heat the beast :) ).
The pickups deliver a gorgeous tone, there’s not a single switch position that is unplayable. I won’t comment on the SSL-5 at bridge, as it’s now a well known PU. According to the specs sheet that come with the certificate, the middle PU is a custom-wound one, it sounds like a custom CS69 to my ears. It is perfectly balanced with the bridge PU, and I’m able to find the Knopfler tones that I love so much ! The neck pickup is mentioned as a “HW Strat D Gilmour NK” in the specs sheet, so don’t know really if this is a custom version of the Fat 50’s but could be. And I understand David’s choice on this pickup over a CS69 as it is creamy and round with a bit of punch, which is perfect for clean works and driven tones. Add a PC-2A, a TD-X for just a bit of boost/drive then a Boonar, and your spot on the Echoes intro from Gdansk! And again, perfectly balanced with the middle PU. I don’t use the mini-switch a lot, but the tones are interesting and I can imagine some applications for clean sounds.
The short tremolo arm is a joy to use, but I added a little sping in the arm’s hole in order to keep it in place and accessible while playing.
If you and the Gilmourish community are interested, I can share the specs sheet of my guitar.
Happy new year !
What do you think about te classic vibe mustang or jazz master ?
Best regards !
Don’t really have much experience with those two models but the Classic Vibe series are well worth checking out. Great value!
hello bjorn, I would like to buy a new Strat to choose from a Fender American highway used or Fender American vintage reissue62 used from 2000 but not with the original neck but one from Allparts Relic neck as well as nitro lacquer and rosewood fingerboard with a Leosounds 1962 ST Classic pickups set, an orange drop capacitor was still installed is 999 euros or a new Fender Jimi hendrix Stratocaster 778 euros
where can i get more quality for my money
am a very big pink Floyd fan and have been visiting your Gilmourish site for years
i’m not sure if an allparts neck can replace an american vintage fender neck!
I come from Germany I don’t speak English well, I had this translated by a translater
I am very grateful to you for every tip
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I don’t think you can compare an Allparts neck with a Fender USA made. The US necks and the vintage reissues in particular are very high quality. It’s always hard to recommend one guitar over another because what’s important is that you’re comfortable with the guitar. An instrument should be sinpiring and allow you to play comfortably. My best tip is to try different models and choose the specs that feels best for you.
if I choose a Jimi Hendrix Mexico Strat or a Fender vintera 60 or a used Fender highway one 2002 USA which moidel would the Gilmour tones capture better?
My best tip is to try different models and choose the specs that feels best for you.
I would like to know what you think about this guitar in terms of value for money/Guilmour tones:
Thanks for the reply and keep up the good work you have done to Pink Floyd / David Gilmour fans
Think you will get a lot of guitar and value for the buck. Do also check out the new Vintera series from Fender. Awesome instruments.
What about 21 frets strat VS 22 frets strat ?
What’s your question? Doesn’t matter tonewise but you get an extra fret for higher notes :)
What do you think of the Fender player series and the new Fender Vintera line of Strats?
I’ve tried a couple of them very briefly. Very good and a jump up from the Classic Series, which was also very good. I’ll definitely check them out more.
have you ever tried a Gretsch guitar, maybe even one of the new Electromatic Jet models?
Since May last year they are selling these sort of remakes of the old (Duo) Jets, like Gilmour’s, for about 500-600€.
I’ve seen great reviews and comments on these chinese made guitars so far and I’m looking to get a humbucker-ish sound with those FilterTron pickups.
They’re really nice and well worth checking out. Keep in mind though that the pickups doesn’t really sound like humbuckers. Similar but they have a character of their own.
Yes I am aware of that and that’s exactly what I’m curious about: To get a sound neither like single coils nor humbuckers :P
I was wondering if you knew if the Harley Benton ST-57DG is any good of a replica for Gilmour tones. I will iclude link if you want to check specs.
Haven’t tried them.
Well, Harley Benton is the “house brand” of Thomann as far as I know and most of their products are fairly cheap and promise great quality. The guitar costs 180€, so I’m not gonna say it’s bad, but one shouldn’t expect a great product at that price.
One of the reviews however said that the initial setup of the guitar was the worst he ever got … so yeah I’m just giving you a fair warning :D
Have you tried Harley Benton David Gilmour strat?
Great guide. Guess Im a non-conformer of the old days. I know this guitarist that was a awesome guitar player reminded me. If you get Davids licks 80% right. People know what your playing. :) I got now by chance a 88 Charvel DR1 Stratocaster and these are the great models of the Charvels. I changed the pickup out with a Dimarzio Distortion pickup. More of a EVH burner but fun as hell to play. Last a 2015 Epiphone Les Paul with a Seymour Duncan Distortion pick up. This one I use for learning slide, to have to change the tremolo all time, It becomes a pain in the ass. Still looking for a Fender Strat but I got best of both worlds pretty much anway. One thing I have noticed since I started playing guitars, people back then. Really didn’t give a crap about modding a guitar or changing pickups like I have talked to some guitar players today and their always going its in OEM or Original Equipment Manufacture Or “Pristine” Which us old guys say. Its the wood that counts. Yes I have all my old pick ups if anyone wants to buy my guitars they can have it. The sound of the guitar makes it, if you want more gain or other things. Change pick ups. Doesn’t cost a arm and a leg. Especially with some of the active pick ups around.
Gilmore is magic……I currently have a BURNS MARQUEE that emulates Gilmores tone to a tee….. did not realize how few European guitars are availale in the U.S.
Hey Bjorn, I’m about to buy a lap steel. I see that David used an open Em and an open G on his. Do you know if he used flatwound strings on his lap steels and what gauges they were? Thanks!
He’s using D’Addario EHR360 half rounds.
Hi Bjorn, as always thank you for the awesome work you do with this site and your videos. It is greatly appreciated.
Right now I’m in the process of making a Black Strat replica for around 1500€. I have the electronics pretty much decided, but I can’t decide on whether buying an already built guitar and adapt it to look and sound as close as possible to the Black Strat, or making one with a luthier by buying the separate guitar parts. Do you have any thoughts on what could be better? And do you have any suggestions for a good base guitar to transform into a Black Strat replica?
Thank you very much!
Buying separate parts demands that you know what to look for. Depends on how much you want to put into this and what sort of guitar you want. Do you want one that’s as close to David’s as possible, or one that looks like his but one that’s based on the type of body contour, neck etc that you prefer. A good place to start is the mid range Mexican Classic Series, which is really good.
Just let me post this… if you ever heard of it and know what was the solution.
I’m getting mad as I break string E (Addario 10) in my Strat, too often. Allways in the same spot, 11-12 fret. Regulary after two or four days but once after 10 minutes playing.
My bendings are normal +1 or +1 1/2.
I “know” about the possible causes as sharp end frets. I filed, sanded and polished these frets last week but I keep breaking string E.
My other guitar (Telecaster) which I builded myself, has jumbo glassy frets, which is a pleasure to bend as the frets are very slippery, but I also break string 10 quite often. Not too often as in the Strat.
The Strat is old, and never changed frets. I think now would be the time to do it, but the shinny and glassy frets of the telecaster don’t make me feel very optimistic.
In this process, it came to my mind that I might have idea on what wa causing the problem but I was wrong. As I have made some guitars, the last process I give to the frets is polishing. The polishing compounds are quite abrasive and I thought that the frets would probably kept some polish that could break the strings while bending. I cleaned all the neck and frets very carefully, but no difference
I keep breaking…
As far as I know Mr. Gilmour is selling his private guitar collection, over 120 guitars, black strat included. Who will be the lucky persons to get one of them?
Probably some rich dude who will never touch it.
Exactly! I’m not particularly impressed with that maddening ‘video interview’ that was posted recently on YouTube, where two nitwits natter about Dave’s amazing guitar collect at the auction house (Sotherby’s) and the stupid cameraman just focuses on them and hardly any shots of the guitars they were nattering about…
Right at the beginning… ” What we see here, as we walk into the first gallery is David’s famous ‘Black Stratocaster’…” And the ‘camera person’ gives it a passing glance and then focuses back on the two nitwits!
Along with many others on YouTube, I was furious. I came to the conclusion, that either the camerperson was a complete moron, or some toff at Sotherby’s had told them not to film the guitars… Which is quite likely.
Yeah, of course it’s a great thing that Dave is doing, selling off his collection for charity… BUT doesn’t he or the auctioneers consider, that we fans, that put him where he is and in a position to buy all this wonderful collection, deserve at least to have a decent look at all his wide range of collectable guitars? Wherelse would we EVER get the chance?
Yeah, basically money talks and these guitars will end up on the walls of fat cat wankers that probably avoid taxes by saving in the Kaman Islands… And couldn’t even play, ‘Wish you were here’ on a Harley Benton acoustic !
He has explained why.
Yes I know it! but I meant why he took this decision! To sell his Black Strat in my opinion mean he is retired unfortunatelly.
According to himself, he is not retiring. Check out the official video he did explaining the sale.
sad that only the 0.1% can afford to buy one of Gilmour’s classic axes. Not many of us have 200k in pocket cash lying around.
I think you’re missing the point. This is for charity. The more these guitars can earn the better.
did you knew about David auctioning his guitars, including the Black Strat and 0001? All about it here: https://www.christies.com/features/David-Gilmour-legendary-Black-Strat-comes-to-auction-9637-3.aspx?fbclid=IwAR3yn0cGyYLyJomY8tBgZhsG1D5U7PAIaJ3a4HTEgjcjXJtNfVWo4uPEfyM
Seems like David is selling 120 guitars in his collection for charity upcoming june (auction by christies new york). He is even selling his black strat, les paul and 0001 white strat!!
Well I guess another tour is definitely not in the books anymore sadly.
Watch the official video he did for the sale. He is not retiring.
Does this mean he is retired??
Hello Bjorn! Have you seen David’s selling most of his guitars? There’s a Rolling Stone interview about it, which also confirms he did in fact use the 0001 strat on his first solo effort!
Hi. GIlmour fan for many years but new to actually playing his stuff. I currently own a Edge Signature Strat and have my eyes on a DG Custom Strat, but the price! Ouch! Would you recommend a next best guitar from the Fender Custom Shop?
Hmmm… The Edge Strat should be more than enough don’t you think? No reason it won’t provide nice Gilmour tones. Depends on how bad you want similar specs as David’s. In any case, I recommend that you get a guitar that feels comfortable and that you like. I didn’t like the DG Strat so I didn’t buy it… as strange as that may sound. I’m not that familiar with the whole CS range but the American Vintage 50s or 60s should be a good start. As for pickups, Fender CS69 neck and middle and Duncan SSL5 bridge.
Can’t thank you enough for all the effort you put into this website, which is ALWAYS open in my browser, for songs tone references or simple curiosity on some kind of gear. It’s my main source when buying new stuff.
Currently, my favorite setup is the MIM 50’s Tele on a buffalo Patriot and an MRX Carbon copy (plus OD808 and Electric Mistress for specific songs) or Mooer yellow compressor for cleans.
I was a little skeptical about soloing on the 7,25” radius neck, but was the only I didn’t have yet and, surprisingly, I loved it. Just looking around the website now (I told you I just open it and read for fun from time to time), just realized David’s guitars have this neck profile.
Anyway, thank you for your dedicated work.
Thanks for your kind words, Diego! Yes, David seem to prefer those vintage style radius necks. They can be a challenge, especially if you’re used to the more modern necks, but if your guitar is properly set up then it shouldn’t be a problem.
Hi Bjorn. Thank you for emphasizing the importance of having your guitar properly set-up. Even the greatest guitars can sound and play very badly if the attention to detailed set-up is not addressed. A great set-upcan make an okay guitar a great guitar.
Correct and folks LEARN how to do a setup- it really is not that difficult and paying a tech $60-100 is expensive over time. I had a very old guitar that I restored for cheap and now it plays like an expensive guitar:
Or hand it over to someone like me, who has a heart and will set up peoples guitars, just because I can… And all I require is a decent cup of tea and a spliff!
What do you think about the gretsch duo jet? Often David has used it during his career and I have seen a few models similar from the gretsch at a reasonable price.
Nice guitar. It has a tone of its own.
I have an Epiphone SG with stock pickups (Epiphone Alnico V Classic) and a Laney Lionheart.
To me the Epi sounds good: the alnico V sounds bright and open with mids a bit scooped (I think) which can be good for gilmour tone, but maybe the pickups are too hot.
What type of pickup should I consider if I want to let my SG be more versatile, not only for gilmour stuff but also for classic rock and metal?
PAF’s…? P90’s…? Or what else… ?
Many thanks for your attention.
I like the Vs. They have a nice bite but you might want to consider a PAF alnico II if you’re looking for a similar output but less highs and more mids. I also have Duncan Phat Cats in a couple of my Les Pauls. Humbuckersized P90s. Great tone.
Or SD P-Rails, even better… You get the P-90 augmented with half an SHR-1B…. With ‘Triple Shot’ switching (or a mini toggle or two…) you get to select hum-cancelling or a very thin, but clear single rail… Purrrfect for heavy blues sounds.
I recently gave the PAF Neck Humbucker, basically made by Seymour Duncan now, a shot in my Sqier CV Tele and I must say it sounds awesome! The sustain is insane with this thing.
Maybe it sounds a little bit dark/muddy, but I read that this is normal with the Tele’s 250k pots, because the pickup is usually made for 500k pots. Also it’s difficult to match the output with the Tele bridge PU, but I’m, sure with more tweaking of the PU height I will eventually get there.
Do you have any experience with a PAF, Bjorn and would suggest 500k pots? My concern is the bridge PU will sound too harsh/bright then …
I haven’t really experimented with different pots on my humbucker guitars. PAFs and vintage style humbuckers can sound fairly bright though but it also depends on the amp and pedals that you use.
OK haha well goes to show you how little experience I have with Humbuckers :D
I used it with a VA Ram’s Head Muff (sounded acutally cool despite being the neck PU) and the Keeley Phat Mod into the Hiwatt T20.
Oh I do wanna point out that I think one of the tubes in my amp is broken/damaged cause I get a loud hissing/noise from the speakers now, which wasn’t there before. Also the Volume dropped and the sound has less treble so I have already ordered new JJ Electronic tubes to replace the ones used in the amp (bunch of cheap “Ruby” tubes …)
Hope that fixes the amp and also gives me the clarity/treble back, which will ultimately lead to the Humbucker sounding better and everyting else as well :D
Sounds like a tube… I assume you’ve eliminated other possibilities? Cables, wiring, pedals, power etc…
Yeah: Vol pedal on/off, pedals on/off and lastly unplugged the cable from the input of the amp and still the hiss is there …
From what I’ve read it’s probably one of the power tubes, but I think I will replace them all anyway for the JJ tubes, which give more headroom and clarity as you have mentioned here somewhere ;)
So I put in the new tubes, it sounded great for a few mins and then a big PLOP! sound and the amp died basically … :( now its really, really, really quiet.
Not sure what’s wrong now, but sounded like one of the tubes blew up already. Or it’s something else?!
Oh… did you swap all the tubes? I realy don’t know. Could be a number of things… I had similar issues a few years back and it turned out that there was a bad tube socket. I’d take the amp to a certified tech and let him look at it. Could be a transformer thing or a leaking cap. They should know. Don’t mess around in there… could be dangerous for both you and the amp.
yeah it’s something else than the tubes … and I’m not gonna mess with it for sure!
Gonna message Hiwatt tomorrow and see how to deal with this best.
Might have to send it back to England for repairs then …
just to follow up on this:
So after messaging Hiwatt they offered to pay the costs for a repair in germany.
I sent the amp to a local tech and Hiwatt will pay the costs (hopefully) …
Anyway I like that they offered this solution so I can avoid shipping the amp back to England :)
That’s nice. Hopefully they’ll follow up on that :) Good luck!
I had a head that had that problem, it ended up being the output transformer. I’m so glad HIWATT is taking care of it for you! I had to spend a fortune to have mine replaced, and it never sounded right after that. It was an early 80’s Laney Pro Lead 100? had all the push pull pots, and went from clean to shred. I wish I had it like it was when I bought it. I was the first person I knew in the States who had a Laney, they were just being touted in magazines as being a great alternative to Marshall, and the clean channel was almost HIWATTish. Oh Well, another expensive piece of gear that I sold for next to nothing, haha.
Best of luck with your amp!!!
Those “cheap” Ruby tubes are probably rebranded Shuguangs. That’s what Reeves was shipping in a lot of their amps, and from what I’ve read, and experienced, they’re fine tubes. But it does sound like a tube, probably power, but I’ve had pres do that as well. I now run JJs in my amps, except for my Reeves, which has Mullards.
Best of luck, KEITH
Oh hey Keith, just found out you commented on my issue from a while ago haha
The problem was the power supply and the technician fixed it. A bit later though I had no sound whatsoever and turned out that was a broken preamp tube, which I replaced by myself.
Recently I had a few volume drops randomly and that was probably caused by dust in the input sockets. Also fixed that by myself by pulling the cables in and out a few times and blowing air into the sockets.
Hopefully that solved that, but guess I had some bad luck so far with the T20 … very fine amp still, despite the issues.
Have you ever tried this guitar?
Do you think can be a good option to play some Gilmour’ s songs?
Unfortunately the original Les Paul gold top reissue has got a very high price.
I had one of those, an older model, at one point. Sounded really good. I didn’t like the neck profile but that’s just a matter of taste.
Yes, the neck on this model is thin as the 1960 les Paul but I think that it will be my only option at this price otherwise I have to spend a lot more for a 56 reissue.
I have the Gilmour strings on my strat. What strings would you recommend for a 2018 Telecaster American Elite? I think the Gilmour strings would be good.
I think strings are very subjective. Depends on what sort of gauge and type of strings you’re most comfortable with and what fits your guitar. A standard 10-46 set would obviously work on almost any guitar but again, I recommend that you try a couple of different types and guages and decide.
Hey Bjorn, the other day I went to the local Guitar Center and played one of the new Player Series Telecasters. First off, I should point out that it was rather difficult to find one that didn’t have a third pickup in the body position. There was only 1 that didn’t! I played it and I just say, for 650 USD, it goes me away. If the pickups in the Standard Teles had the same problem as that of the pickups in my MOM Strat (meaning they are to o high output and have way too much mids presence) Tender certainly did an AMAZING job at putting much better pickups in. Over all, I have a feeling one will some day be in my arsenal. Unfortunately, I played it through a Tender Tweed amp without any effects of anything, so I can’t really say if it’s good for David’s tones of not, but I will say it’s definitely an upgrade from the Standard MIM series, and I would most certainly suggest checking one out.
Thanks for the tip! Looking at the specs it seems to be a good alternative for David’s Tele tones.
Just bought a Fender MIJ Traditional 60’s Strat! I’ve had the rare chance to get one at Germany’s “Musicstore”. Mainly to upgrade the Neck of my Black Strat, but also to have a backup/second Strat.
A very fine guitar with basswood body, a vintage style Rosewood Neck and vintage style pickups, close to CS 69’s (I compared the guitar’s sound to my Black Strat).
Kind of heresy to take off the Neck from this beauty, but I wanted to make my Black Strat as good as possible and I always wanted that vintage style Rosewood Neck, so I swapped Necks :P
Still a great guitar though now with the MIM Maple Neck (it even looks better with Maple, cause the guitar has a sonic blue finish).
So if you have the chance to get one of those, don’t hesitate! I think, as Bjorn mentioned above, these japanese made Fenders might even beat some US made ones.
Bjorn, what string action/height do you prefer or have on your guitars?
I assume it differs a bit from guitar to guitar, depending on the neck mainly.
I’ll have my Black Strat with the new Rosewood neck set up by an expert now, because the string action is too high …
Fender suggests like 1,6mm at the 17th fret and I have 2,5 or something right now, if I don’t want the strings to touch the frets high on the board when bending. Ultimately the expert will have to lower the frets I believe to fix the problem and get lower string action :(
I have a slightly higher action on my Strats and Teles that what Fender recommend. Obviously it depends on the neck contour but action is a very subjective thing and I think what Fender or any technician/luthier may suggest it should be taken as a guide. Again it depends on the neck contour, how youâ€™ve set the bridge, whether you prefer a slightly curved neck or straight and not least your playing technique.
Thanks for your evaluation! Yes, I understand. I took it to the technician and he said it’s too high, which I also agree with.
I can play it, but it is not as comfortable as on my Squier Classic Vibe Tele and the new MIJ strat.
I’m gonna take the guitar to him on Monday again and we will discuss, how he will set it up for me so I will remember, what you wrote here.
Thanks again! :)
What are your thoughts on this bargain Strat?
At about $300 it looks like a great copy of Gilmour’s black Strat without the 6k price tag.
I haven’t tried this one but I’m sure it’s a fine guitar. Looks great though!
hey, I try by Ctr+F, but nothing found about acoustic guitar pickups, I think about budget option of course, if somebody can help
regards from Poland
Thanks! Don’t have much experience with acoustic pickups so not sure I can help. Look up the gear guides for Pulse, Gdansk and Rattle That Lock to see what pickups David’s using in his acoustics. Does any one have anything to share?
Depends upon the kind of acoustic playing you do… If you’re a percussive player (you like banging/finger-tapping the soundboard alot), then a dual preamp system with an under bridge/saddle piezo and an internal condenser mic, would be ideal… If you like to play through an FX chain alot (…as I do) then a magnetic pickup (as per a normal electric…) is a must.
Pickups come in all types, shapes and sizes… From the most basic coin-sized stick on piezos, that you stick to the guitar soundboard (top), the aforementioned under-saddle strip type piezo (…the most commonly used and factory fitted to many acoustic guitars, nearly always with some form of proprietary preamp…), to the more expensive magnetic types that clip into the soundhole.
My favourites are Lace ‘California’ (soundhole magnetic) and a standard under-saddle piezo… But in studio, I like to add a channel from a standing microphone placed infront of me.
Word of warning… Condenser (or dynamic) microphones, either placed inside the guitar, or external, can cause severe feedback, if the gains are not carefully set… Piezo’s can howl a bit too… Magnetics don’t tend to howl so much, because they just sense the vibrating steel strings.
The cheapest system, by far, are the ‘stick on button/ jobs and the standard under-saddle piezos, hundreds available for less than 20 Eu’s or £/$’s… Lace, LR Baggs, Ghost, Shadows and some Seymour Duncans or DiMarzios can be a tad pricey, but excellent performance… Like with most things in this world, you pay peanuts, you play peanuts…
How much of an impact on did the Callaham bridge give on your tone?
Compared with the stock Fender system I would say a lot. It’s been a while since I did replace it but I remember noticing a much more balanced tone and a lot more sustain. It also has a smoother operation. I’m very happy with the Callaham system but I’m sure there are other similar systems out there too.
I hope you are well and happy with all the new demos you did! ;-)
I’d like to talk about acoustic guitars, thing we rarely do!
Some time ago I knew you recorded Airbag tracks with a Yamaha (which one?) and more recently i noticed what seems to be an Epiphone EJ200CE on Instagram. What do you like about them, about their sound or playability, if you want share other things about acoustics guitars…?!
PS: I notices some TC Electronic pedals in davids control room, and i didn’t knew David uses Callaham trem too!
Hi Nicholas, sorry for my very late reply… Vacation :) I use a Yamaha LL16 for recording and the Epiphone is something I just have laying around. Somethimes use it for demos but it’s actually a very nice guitar. The Yamaha has a warm and nice tone. Very big sounding and depedning on the mic placement it can do all sorts of tones very well. Nice neck too. I’m not an expert on acoustics but I really like the Yamaha and I’ve used in all of my solo albums.
My dream is to play Floyd and Gilmour songs on a Gilmour signature Black Strat. Actually I have assembled one by myself and looks close to the nos version, sound great and good feeling. The body is from a squier and the neck is the Classic 50 nitro lacquer which is very slim. I have seen the actual price of an original Black Strat…itâ€™s almost 4700 euro, too much…do you think itâ€™ s worth to buy one?
I haven’t bought one, so no. I personally don’t think it’s worth it but then again, I wasn’t looking for one either. I’m sure the fans that has bought one are very pleased with theirs and you should decide for yourself if you think it’s worth it or not :)
Hi! I have built my Black Strat from myself adding am old SSL5 pickup in the neck position which sound great! Basically I cannot hear if there are differences between the Gilmourâ€™ s strat and the mine. I have found an SSL1 pickup now in a guitar shop…do you think it could be more close to the original Black Strat? Thanks!
No, the SSL1 is closer to the CS69 while the SSL5 is a replica of the SSL1c that Duncan wired for David back in the 70s.
Hi bjorn which pickup do you think he uses on his fender telecaster? I am especially asking Neck humbucker pickup. Thanks..
In Squier series you have mentioned about Bullet and Classic Vibe (CV) models. I have following questions:
1. What are you views for Squier Affinity and Squier Vintage Modified (VM) series ? Are they better or inferior compared to Classic Vibe?
2. In classic Vibe, there are 50’s , 60’s and 70’s model. Which one will you recommend?
3. What about Squier Delux and Squier Standard series?
All the questions are considering David’s tone in mind :)
It all depeneds on what you need and what you feel comfortable with. All of these are good quality instruments but I would say that the Classic Vibes are slightly better in terms of features and build. The Affinity and the other seieres are also meant to be more entry level instruments. I guess the 50s or 60s are best suited for Gilmour but again, it all depends on which you feel fits your style and preference.
Hi bjorn. What do you think of the American Special stratocasters? Do not you think they have a more vintage sound than American Standards? A greeting
You can easily swap the pickups on a Standard and make it sound more vintage. The Special comes with Texas Specials, which are semi-vintage, with a bit more output and mid range compared to 50s and 60s pickups but you get a mix of vintage and modern features in the design. My best tip would be to try both and decide based on which you’re most comfortable with.
I just bought a Fender Stratocaster Standard (MIM) and i find it fantastic!
Great playability, the frets are perfectly leveled and it stays in tune quite well. Maybe just the pickups are a bit too “fat” and compressed, but i like them very much on distorted tones.
I am very critic but i could not found significant flows.
I played for years a Classic Vibe ’50 but there is no comparison, the CV is definitely a step below.
My now heavily modified Strat was also a MIM Strat originally. It’s a bit hit or miss with these in terms of quality, so you seem to have gotten a good one ;) Mine has a slightly deformed neck, which results in the strings touching the frets high on the fretboard. That’s why I’m putting on a new neck soon :P Other than that it worked fine in the original state.
Now it’s gotten a new tremolo system and other pickups to enhance the guitar, but yeah: Can’t really complain about a MIM Strat nowadays :)
Hi to everyone of the community,
I am about to swap necks on my Strat and the new neck will likely be bought from a german guitar part builder who does not have the rights to put a Fender decal on the headstock for obvious reasons.
Does anyone have experience here with removing/transferring a decal from a headstock to another or maybe even copying/buying a officially licensed decal from a store?
Cheers for any help and happy holidays ya’ll ;)
It should be easy to track down decals on EBay and you’ll find lots of tutorials on YouTube on how to apply these.
Thanks Bjorn and happy new year!
Ordered the new neck and a solution for the decal has also been found: Went to my local guitar store and the owner just gave me a decal which he had lying around :)
Another update after almost 2 months of having the Callaham system on my Strat:
So it works fine and no more cracking from the neck or something. I changed string gauges from 9 to then 10 though which might have helped, although that shouldn’t really make a difference I suppose …
It is set up lush to the body, but still detunes after playing solos and stuff and I figured out why: The nut is causing it! The strings are getting stuck there, so I lubricated them with Big Bends Nut Sauce (I find that name hilarious :D) and it has helped, but still not perfect.
So Bjorn, let’s say you play to the whole “Coming back to Life” which, as you know, involves 3 Solos and 2 rhythm parts. Does your guitar stay (completely) in tune during this?
I’m trying to figure out what to expect from a good tremolo system. Surely it will always detune a little bit after doing bends/solos, so I assume this is normal?!
Thanks for your input!
I always spend a bit of time stretching the strings and tuning it up properly before rehearsal, recording or stage but once it’s tuned it pretty much stays in tune throughout a show unless I do something really crazy with the arm.
The most common issue is friction so a bit of lubrication on the nut and the saddles (even if they’re new) is often needed. Make sure that you have good quality tuners and that they are properly fastened and that you have the right balance between the plate screws and the claw screws. Keep in min too that proper stringing is crucial for keeping the guitar in tune. The technique obviously depends on what tuning keys you have.
Yeah I think I’ve done all those things. I should look into the plate and claw screws again though and the nut might need some further lubricating and/or rasping. Mostly it is specifically the low E and B string that seem to get out of tune the most, so kinda odd I guess …
I did swap the tuners from standard ones to vintage style, which required me to drill new holes in the neck, but I think the tuners are fine.
Good day. Just discovered this site and first of all I just want to say it’s excellent. After a bit of advice. I own a Standard MIM HSS in a die for Lake Placid blue (well I like it lol).. and play it through a BOSS Katana 50. So far so good. If you owned this set up what changes would you make to the Strat to improve all round sound? And as a matter of interest is it easy enough to change from a HSS to a SSS? Thanks for the advice in advance.
Hi Tom! As discussed in the feature, you can always consider replacing or upgrading the pickups and hardware but that’s often more down to taste rather than performance, although I would say that swapping the stock trem system, nut and perhaps the post for something better often pays off. Good quality cables also does wonders. I don’t have any experience with swapping the humbucker for a single coil but I’m sure there are lots of tutorials out there with some tips. Cheers!
Thanks for the response. All noted…onwards and upwards.
Great article Bjorn!
I have a Squier Classic Vibe 50s. Now i’m changing all pickups to ssl5/cs 69/fat 50s. Which capacitors do you recommend? The stock capacitor are good?
Thanks for all!
I haven’t really thought about that in regards to the Squire guitars. In any case it depends on what you want the cap to do.
Do you have any idea of which capacitor the Black Strat is equipped with ?
Thank you Bjorn, but do you have any idea of the brand/type ? Orange Drop ?
I’m really no expert on the technical stuff but it’s a vintage type ceramic disc cap.
What modern lap still guitar should I buy that clone Gilmour sound?
Thanks very much
Any model would do I guess. David’s yellow Fender has the original Fender pickups, while the red Jedson has an EMG humbucker. They are fairly hot so you might want to consider replacing less hot pickups with something hotter depending on what steel you buy. Effectswise, he pretty much just use a bit of compression, overdrive/fuzz and delay.
I am looking into replacing the Tremolo system on my Black Strat, which is based on a Mexican. You suggested the Callaham and I actually found a dealer in Germany :) Quite expensive, but do you think it’s worth getting the Mexican Standard upgrade package, which claims to give you the vintage style sound, feel and stability?
I am starting to become unhappy with the standard Tremolo system, which also makes my Tremolo arm fall down every time…
I have Callaham on all my Strats and couldn’t be happier. It’s a huge improvement. I can only speak for myself but I do highly recommend it.
Alright you got me… Ordered! :D
So I installed it myself (first time ever doing that) and I have managed to set it up quite nicely, although there is some more fine-tuning required, which I will get to in the next couple of days. It stays in tune quite well, but not as consistent as it can be I think…
One of the few problems is, when doing bends, that I can hear one of the springs “pop”, so I will try and solve that by replacing it with another. Also when doing bends on the B string I can hear the neck sort of “cracking”… I assume that’s because it’s not set up quite right yet.
If you have any tips or know, how to solve these issues Bjorn, feel free to enlighten me ;)
Thanks, as always, in advance!
Could be a number of things and hard to suggestion anything without having examined your guitar. You should allow the guitar to settle a bit though and make some addional adjustments after a week or two depending on how much you play.
OK thanks! I’m gonna look at the intonation today and set that up and then let it settle in and maybe that will resolve some of the issues over time.
Update: All fixed now and I got it set up the way I want it :) After cleaning up and adjusting the saddles as well as the truss rod the “popping” and “cracking” is gone. One thing I need to do still is rasp the nut to avoid strings getting stuck there ;)
Other than that, love the Callaham system!
Hi Bjorn! Can you review this guitar??
I found it thought the net and I want to know the overall quality and sound for it’s price. At least if the wood it’s good is a good point for a “low cost” black start project.
Not familiar with the brand. I wouldn’t expect too much for that price.
I’ve seen so many people talking about this brand, the pedals are crap but guitars even don’t having an ultra high class finish (some can have lil scratches or cheap electronics(easy to replace)) people say that sound really well. I’ve a cab loaded with 2 V30 from them and sounds really nice but the tolex can be better. That’s why I say low cost black strat, well or nice sounding guitar with the black strat look and easy to afford.
This guy usually does pretty entertaining and extensive reviews on Joyo/Mooer/cheaper stuff, although i havent seen the video yet:
Oh (and I hope Bjorn doesn’t mind me posting the link here) but I bought this one for my black strat project: https://www.muziker.pt/sx-vintage-st-57-bk and slapped a black 1-ply pickguard, because it was cheaper, the shipping was cheaper and, to my surprise, the headstock is not like in the image but actually exactly like a fender. In fact I bought two of them just to switch the neck on my squier standard. Just be aware that they can be pretty good or pretty shitty, in that price range its pretty much a hit-or-miss :/
Hi Bjorn, how do you set up your tone pots on the strat?
You mean settings? I usually leave them at full. Rarely use them.
I have a Gibson L6S and recently started playing my friends telecaster. Somehow I really like the tone of his single coil neck pickup. I experimented with trying to find this quality tone from the L6S and I noticed.. the action is very straight and low on the Telecaster, but progressively higher on the Gibson as it approaches the pickups. First, I thought the Gibson’s nut is too low, but then I noticed that the fret wire on the L6S is twice as thick as the telecaster, making the space between the frets also shorter. I think this accounts for the better clarity of the Telecaster.
Do you agree? I would like to buy a new guitar, maybe something that has both hum-buckers and a single coil.
I wonder if you have any suggestions, or any thoughts about this fret wire thickness as well. I just feel the L6S neck is too long, and the frets too thick and probably too high.
Thanks in advance,
Neck profiles and fret wire size is very much a matter of taste and how comfotable you are with different specs. I’d try different models just to get an idea of the differences. Bigger frets are often preferred for better sustain and clarity.
Hi Bjorn, what do you think of the new American Professional series and the new V-Mod Pickups, are they good for Gilmour tones?
Greeting from italy!
The specs list doesn’t say what output the pickups have but I guess the SSS Strat would be a nice alternative for David’s tones.
I’m trying to modify a CIJ Strat to the Division Bell Red Strat specs. I have put some EMG SA active pickups in it. Do you know if David’s Red strat, which is a Fender 80’s Reissue, has the Old style “made of Steel” block ans saddles like the Pre-CBS Fenders (and like Callaham Strat Bridge)?
Or was that Bridge made out of cast alloy Mazak like the CBS 70’s strat? Or Brass?
i.e when CBS made those Fender 62 and 57 RI in 1983, did they go back to Steel Bridges and saddles at the same time?
Thank you for your help!
Hey Bjorn….how about a little section on telecasters?
I’ll put it on the list :)
I can’t agree more about a Telecaster section, and maybe a Telecaster pickups section too. Seems to be a recurring demand lately, Bjorn! ;)
I’m myself after a Telecaster, but don’t know exactly which model to buy. I had a try on a Classic Player Baja 50’s Telecaster and an American Elite Telecaster. I liked both and was very impressed by the Fender Noiseless PUs on the American Elite, they don’t have as much compression as the previous Noiseless pickups, but they lack just a little bit of brightness that the Baja had. But the new truss rod adjustment system and the locking tuners really are a good improvement.
I know the Classic Vibe Telecasters are good too, but I didn’t had time to try them at the shop.
Does anyone had experience with the Baja to share, or other good Telecaster models?
I’ll try to include a couple of models in the Buyer’s Guide. The Baja is great, with a nice blend of vintage and more modern specs. Great build and tone and the neck profile is realy nice. It’s well worth checking out the Squier Classic Vibes Teles too and the 50s Butterscotch in particular. Great quaility and classic tones.
I have an American elite tele…..stunning,but couldn’t bond with the pickups.I popped a set of bareknuckle flat 50’s and changed all wiring,pots,switch to vintage style with an orange drop cap and treble bleed mod.Huge tonal improvement.
One discussion I read little about is lap steel guitars. I was looking for a Jedson or a fender Deluxe but either one , when found is over $1,00 US.
In doing some research I found the Teisco H-905.
It’s a MIJ double pickup lapsteel from the late 60’s/early 70’s much like the Jedson and can be found in very good shape for $300 or even a bit less. It’s a six-string, metal nut (like the jedson) but doesn’t have a “string-through-body” tail but rather a plate attached to the body making surface contact. The pickups are the typical Teisco pickups from that era, described as “not too hot, not too cold”. Do you (or anyone else reading this) know anything about the Teisco H-905 and it’s tone in regards to Gilmour’s tone on Breath, Great Gig in the Sky, etc?
(Note: i’m currently using a 1953 Gretsch Electromatic with delay, slight overdrive, univibe and a Strymon Lex…really get’s that tone going…). i just want something that feels and looks more like Gilmour’s Jedson. Any thoughts?
Never tried a Tiesco so I can’t really tell…
Congrats on the upcoming release of your new album. I can’t wait to listen to it. I have a question about lap steel guitars. From what I have seen, David plays lap steel guitars that are no longer in production. When I saw David on his last tour, I noticed Jon Carin playing some lap steel guitar. What kind does he play? Do you recommend any brand? Cheers!
I have very little experience with lap steels as I prefer playing slide on a regular guitar. Jon was playing a 1950s Rickenbaker BD lap steel. I assume it belongs to David but there are no official reports on this.
Bought a black MIM strat with maple neck last week. I already had a sunburst MIM strat and black MIA strats both with rosewood necks that I’ve played for the last 17 years. I’ve never plucked up the courage to modify those two strats, I ,love them too much, and didnt want to risk spoiling them, but have always fancied trying modifiying a strat. This weekend I fitted the new project strat with locking schaller tuners and a callaham 6 point pridge assembly. I then followed a really good YouTube video to set up the trem the action and the intonation and the neck relief. The transformation was absolutely amazing. It has overnight become my go to guitar. It stays in tune perfectly whatever I do to the trem, it sounds great, and it is really nice to play. I wish I’d had a go at this years ago, it is such fun, and so rewarding. I’ve an overdrive Black Strat pickguard on order for the next step :)
Hi Bjorn, I will buy a Stratocaster and I have two choices. Fender Classic Player 60s and Fender American Standard. Money is not problem for me I just wanna buy a good guitar. Did you try these before and Which would you prefer/Why ?
Thanks a lot!
Both are excellent guitars so it’s more a matter of which you’re most comfortable with. No point in me recommending one if you don’t like how it feels and sits in your hands. As described in this guide, the Standard has more modern features and slightly higher output pickups. The Classic Player is kind of a mix between the American Vintage/Mexican Classic and the Standard, with both modern and vintage specs. To me, the most important thing is how the guitar feels. Pickups can be replaced later.
Hey Bjorn! I just noticed this detail about Gilmour’s Black Strat: This is a video of DG playing ComfortableyNumb (I’m sure you’re familiar with this video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5Ht6WIhhmU
In the frame 3:54-3:355 you can clearly see the neckplate is BENT because of how tight the neck screws are. Just an anecdote and maybe useful to people who are freaked out about their neck plates not being 100% flat on the body. Cheers!
I’m really excited about the new album. Congrats to you for making this happen. I have a question regarding shielding a guitar. Do you shield your guitars? Does David Gilmour’s guitars have shielding? Pardon me if this has been asked before.
Hi Carlos! Thanks for the support! I think David’s black Strat has some shielding under the pickguard. I shield all my Strats with copper foil covering the whole cavity. It makes a difference but the best result is when you combine this with good quality cables.
Is there any way to achieve gilmourish tones with say, a Les Paul?
Depends on what pickups, amp and pedals you use but I would say yes. Check out my YouTueb channel. You’ll find lots of clips where I’m using a Les Paul and PAF and P90s pickups.
it’s me again!! If buying a used guitar is dangerous, there are also Japanese classic series 50s in basswood (vintage pickups) or in alder (texas special pickups), but it seems that one model out of two does not sound the same, and that quality is very inconstant. Can these japanese classic series be better than the mexicans? Is it a good option compared to a used 57 reissue?
Thanks for all you do!
As much as the Mexican Strats are worth checking out, and they have been immensly improved lately, I think the Japanese guitars are supperior in every way. That’s my experience at least and I’ve owned several. What’s important when you buy online and used, is that you trust the seller and if possible, get some feedback from previous customers.
Thank you very much, your advice is always a very great help! I will change the pickups of my upcoming Strat soon but not now (money will come later!). So for the same price (800 â‚¬) I can get a CIJ Strat 50s in alder with texas special pickups and a CIJ Strat 50s in basswood with vintage pickups! What is the most judicious choice? (For information I have a Laney L5 Studio) Thanks a lot!
I think both guitars will do the job. What’s ultimately the case is whether you like it or not. Both will provide the tones you’re looking.
I found a used candy apple red japanese strat on the net for 45000 yen (400 â‚¬ without taxes), it is a ST57-66US but it is said that the neck is oval … so it is not a soft v or c neck ?? Otherwise it looks very good, but I wanted to have precision before buy it… It was manufactured in 2008. There are also ST70-TX strats on some japanese websites(texas special pickups and not us vintage). Is this a good investment and what about the neck? Thank you so much! Cheers !!
I think those models are great. Great value. Not sure what they mean by “oval”. I guess all necks are somewhat oval. I’d ask for a more presice spec. All of the Japanese Strats come with, or at least came with, Texas Specials. They’re OK but for David’s tones I’d consider swapping them for something a bit more vintage sounding. Try them and decide for yourself :)
Hey Bjorn, everybody: Just wanted to report back on what I foudn so far to be my best Black Strat build to date. First I spent some time at Guitar Center Hollywood where they actually have a Gilmour Signature (NOS version) on dsiplay and they let you play it in the “special” room. Very nice, smooth , easy to play. So I took mental note, tried to become familiar with it plugged into a Fender amp clean, low volume.
It took me a few months, but I collected and assembled a Black Strat with a 1992 AVRI Maple neck I found on Craigslist for around $380 with original frets very worn down . I had it re-fretted with 6105’s and a bone nut by Eric Chaz in Van Nuys. Then I bought a lightly yet visibly worn 2006 Eric Johnson nitro body (4lbs 2 oz) for $325 off of Reverb. THAT WAS KEY. The EJ body is probably the best quality strat from any production model, approaching a CS 2-piece alder and thin nitro finish. Then I added a custom pickguard with the “hidden” switch and the following pickups: Onomac Windery (Terry Learned) hand scatter-wound “Custom 69” neck pickup ($59), an AY CS ’69 middle and an SS-5 in the bridge. Added a .022 Vitamin Q cap and a Treble Bleed on the volume pot. Last but not least, a Killer Guitar Components Brass Megablock termolo block + Raw Vintage springs. The Brass block added sustain and a fullness without making the guitar brighter at all. Also PAT PENDING Fender saddles…. It SOUNDS AMAZING, plays like butter, bends are easy (using Thomastik Blues 10’s…highly recommend them for this build). Anyway…..
I would love to see some review for loopers/switchers.
There are many out there from cheap to very expensive ones.
Do you use yourself?
I have very little experience with loopers. Always been a simple man in that sense :)
I’m just curious on your take of the PRS 305? Have you played it? And if so what are your thoughts? It’s basically their take on a Strat. It has 3 single coils and a 5 way switch. I played one about a month ago and was floored by not only the sound but the comfortability, the action ect. I’m a Strat guy, always have been for the last 20 years. But I found this to be a better version of a Strat. Basically if the Stratocaster was an animal in nature, the PRS 305 would be what the Strat would have evolved into millions of years from now. I ended up buying one the other day and am thrilled with it. I own and have played everything under the sun and this is really hard to beat in my mind. Any thoughts?
Never tried it, so I can’t really tell.
Another useful article. Do you have any suggestions about blocking the tremolo arm in position? Both in my American and MIM Strat, the arm goes too down!
Should be enough to tighten the springs and the plate screws. What sort of bridge system do you have?
On both strats I left the original bridge, the american is a standard strat 1991 and the mexico is a classic 50 I bought last year..
Thank you so much, I’ll let you know if tighening the springs and the plate screws will do the job!
Actually I think we had a misunderstanding. What I mean is that when I leave the tremolo arm, it falls down, far from my hand..
I think this could do the job
I’ll let you know if it works. I’ll place the order on monday!
Oh, by the way I’m buying also the Shure A2WS for the SM-57, which seems to be used by David for singing during PULSE.
Try to find the right balance between them. I like tightening the springs quite a bit and I leave the two outer plate screws all the way down (don’t force them) and the four middle screws a quarter to a half turn off (fasten all the way and loosen). Whether or not this works for you, depends on the overall tension of the guitar and preference :)
For everyone: the callaham tremolo arm (compatible with standard stratocaster bridge) fixed the issue!
Just wanted to say great site, i heard it mentioned in the Keeley Dark Side vid on youtube and looked it up straight away.
I’ve already got the backing tracks downloaded for the songs i play and few more to give me the incentive to learn some new stuff.
I’ve put in a pre-order for the dark side peddle as seems to be a decent bit of kit with some good flexibility next on the list will be a decent delay, i’ll look in the peddle section for recommendations.
I’m lucky, i’ve got a custom shop Gilmour NOS Strat but spent years playing Gilmour stuff on a Lite ash strat (wish i’d kept it) and an Eric Johnson. All of the strats i have used you can coax some great Gilmour sounds from, and all were different – neck radius, neck profile, trem (2 post or 6 screw), electrics (fender pickups or Seymour Duncan’s), etc.
At the end of the day it comes down to what feels good for the player, if it feels right you play it more and don’t want to put it down – as long as it’s a Strat it’ll do the job.
Keep up the good work
Hi Dave! Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words!
how are you, Bjorn,
I’m here to ask your advice about the Warmoth parts. I remember you ever mentioned that warmoth parts are good, but better go for the higher level ones. I have a Warmoth body (aprox.200â‚¬ ), which might just a normal level, and combined with a fender standard neck.Now I want to try a warmoth neck, maybe just a normal level, 200â‚¬, Maple, with nitrolacquer vintage tint gloss, middle size 22 fret, C shape, with some little Birdseyes. what do you think? I never try a Warmoth neck before. or should I just go for a Vintage 57us black? really need your advice, no pressure.
Thanks a lot!
You need to decide what specs you want but I got a couple of Warmoth necks and bodies and I’m very happy with them. Excellent work.
thanks for your feedback! I want get a neck which is vintage 57 style, like V shape, 21 frets.and high quality woods of neck. I even started to go for the usa vintage 57 these days.
Amazing article. I am a beginner and love Gilmour’s tone. I own a squier but I changed the pickups to Fat50, Texas special and Duncan ssl5. It sounds much better. I am thinking of buying a tele and find the Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus very interesting. What do you think about this guitar. Have you tried it?
It’s a very nice guitar with versatile pickups. Well worth checking out :)
Hey Bjorn, I’m looking forward to buy a Seagull S6 Original as my first acoustic guitar (I play electric guitar) have you played them? They get a lot of praise over the web for being at a good price and quality. Best regards
Never played one…
Very good job for this article!(I’m a you’d french fan of David’s tone!)
I want to build a red strat, but I can’t afford a 57′ reissue…
So I wanted to buy a CS 50, I know this is a great guitar, but I saw there was a Fender Classic 50 Strat Texas Special made in Japan. The specs seem to be great and there is a thin c shape neck like David. I can’t try it now and I would know your opinion about it!
All my Strats are Japanese. They’re awesome!
I’ve never seen any 57′ reissue in the fender shop so where can we find a 57′ (and if it’s possible a CIJ) and what is the price? As I said the classic 50 tex spec seems to be good, but I saw also the cs50 lacquer which include a nitrocellulose finish (is it a good investissement, is it good to add 320 euros to have this finish?)
Are the tax as special pickups better than the vintage single coils. And if I buy one of these guitars, should I replace the pickups (tex spec or vintage style) for a set with a ssl5 cs69 and fat50s like Gilmour?
Thanks a lot!
CIJ guitars are harder to find these days due to export resrictions but you can always spot them on EBay and selected retailers online. The TS pickups has a vintage flavour, with slightly more mid range and output compared to the 50s and 60s models. Try them first and hear how they sound with your amp and pedals, before replacing them.
And what’s about the nitrocellulose finish? I know It’s better, but is it a good deal to add 320â‚¬!!
So it will be very difficult to find a 57 reissue!!
Now I hesitate between five guitars!!!
-Fender Stratocaster Stratocaster Classic Series ’50s (MEX, MN) fiesta red
829 â‚¬ (euroguitar my guitar shop)
-Fender Stratocaster Special Edition ’50s FSR (MEX, MN) Rangoon Red
749 â‚¬ (euroguitar my guitar shop)
The same specs as the cs50 but an other colour (a little different) and cheaper
-Fender Stratocaster Classic ’50s Japan Ltd (JAP, MN) Old Candy Apple red TS
999 â‚¬ (euroguitar my guitar shop)
On Ratuken it’s 738â‚¬ !!!
This is the Tex Spec with TS pickups and a slim c profil neck ( the others have all a v-soft)
-Fender Stratocaster Classic Series ’50s Lacquer (MEX, MN) candy apple red
1139â‚¬ (euroguitar my guitar shop)
naturally more expensive but do the benefits justifie the cost??
-Fender Japan Exclusive Series Classic 50 s Strat, Maple Fingerboard, and Old Candy Apple Red
(Only on Rakuten)
Same spec as the Tex Spec but Custom Vintage-Style pickups
—>If Rakuten is areliable website, i’d go for the last one,
But if not i’d check the Special ’50s FSR Rangoon Red…
What do you mind, what would be your choice?
All of these are fine instruments so it comes down to what specs you prefer. I can’t tell you that, as it is, and should be, a very personal experience. I’d go down to your local guitar store and try a couple of Strat’s with similar specs and decide upon that.
Sorry for the repeat, I didn’t saw my post ;-) . On Rakuten Global Market, we can find some CIJ strats for 600-700â‚¬. Is it a good website??
I’ve no idea… Anyone?
600-700â‚¬ could be a reasonable price, but depends what condition of the guitar. suggest you to do more research on it.
hope this can help
if you had to choose between a 2010 Road Worn Body and a somewhat beat-up but workable 1992 ’57 AVRI body, both for the same price: Which would you choose in terms of sound/tone/ character for a Black Strat Build?
I’m sure there are many purists out there with different opinions about this but I don’t think it really matters in terms of tone. Perhaps you would notice a slightly darker tone from the Road Worn. More mids perhaps due to the wear and aging but I’m sure you would have to do a proper A/B test to really be able to tell the difference. It’s more a matter of feel and how well that body fits in with the neck and the amp and pedals you are using.
I found the neck is very important to the tone of the whole guitar, I already have a black strat with a US standard neck, what do you think if I change a Fender vintage neck? or CS neck? the body is alder warmoth black vintage style, the pickups are CS 69+CS 69+SSL5, with 10-46 strings.
what I want to know, if the higher level neck will provide a better tone.
It might but it depends on how well that neck fits in with the body. We’re talking nuances here and it’s often more of a feel, than anything else but in my experience, different wood, shapes and laqcuer has an impact on the tone. The modern Fender necks, sounds brighter to me, while a 50s or 60s neck, with a nitro finish, often sound smoother yet with a nice bite.
and what do you think the Custom Shop series? Does it worth the money to get better tone?
Well, that’s the big question, isn’t it? Despite that I’m a tone fanatic, I’ve never owed a Custom Shop guitar. First, they’re very expensive here in Norway, and I never buy guitars online, and second, I don’t think they’re worth the price considering that you can get a Japanese Fender for half the price and the same quality or, get a Mexican, which is also very good, but mod it with new pickups etc for even less. The price tag on a Custom Shop US made guitar is so much more than just quality and sound.
Thanks Bjorn, I’m enjoying my MIA Fender strat, and just want to know if I can get more from CS, now I realize I might be wrong, your tone is on your fingers.Thank you !
Bjorn: Los Angeles here! So over the last few months I built up my Black Strat on a 50’s MIM Roadworn strat that I picked up for $600 from a friend with HSC, etc etc. Installed a custom pick-guard with the radiused edge and “hidden switch”, Callaham tremolo block and shortened arm. Cs69x2 + Duncan SS5. The works. Sounds very very nice. Then I went to Guitar Center and tried out a Gilmour Signature strat. The only real difference upfront was the neck. THAT NECK! I was surprised how easy I could still bend on vintage-style frets. My Roadworn neck by comparison while it feels good in in my hands is a bit “slinky ” and loose by comparison. So…I started searching for an 80’s/90’s AVRI ’57 neck. Prices on Ebay were $500, $600. Hard to find at any price. Now (just two days ago) I scored off of Craigslist in LA a 1992 Black ’57 AVRI strat with an identical neck to the Gilmour sig (yellow tint, C profile good condition, with very worn vintage style frets) and a pretty beat-up nitro body although not damaged; replacement pickups (SD’s) but all original pots dated 1991. I paid $700! After restringing with my fav strings (Rotosound 10-46) It plays fantastic to where I don’t miss the taller frets of my Roadworn 50’s. Tone wise the SD pu’s are a bit characterless and lacking deep lows and nothing compares to the SS5 on the bridge. So my question to you: Would you first swap the pick-guard/electronics from the Roadworn onto the AVRI, or would you switch necks between bodies, installing the AVRI neck onto the loaded Roadworn Body?
Thanks for sharing Gerard! Hard to answer that one. I would start with swapping the necks and see how that felt. Very easy…
Update: I placed the 1992 ’57 AVRI neck (re-fretted with 6105’s) on an Eric Johnson black nitro body I bought used on Reverb. Added a KGC Megamass brass trem block. Pickups pretty much what you recommend (I switched out the neck CS69 for an Onomac Windery Custom 69 handwound beauty). The guitar feels so good!. It’s easier to play and has more resonance than the Roadworn 50’s build. After having played a Fender Custom Shop Gilmour strat, I can say that this comes very close and actually is easier to play in terms of bending because of the taller frets. I wonder if you guys out in Europe have heard of Kerry Learned and his Onomac pickups. They are fantastic and inexpensive ($145 for a full set and he winds them to order, by request). The Custom 69 has a deep clear tight tone that works very well for the lead in Shine on, maybe a bit more character and “stratiness” at the 12th fret than the Fender CS 69.
For us in the States:
Sigler Music offers some reasonable MIM Strats. I bought one last year and I am very happy with my purchase:
I’m thinking about looking into a lap steel to learn High Hopes (and others). Do you have any recommendations for a Gilmourish pedal steel that’s readily available in the marketplace?
Oh… to be very honest, I have very little experience with lap steels. I play slide on regular guitars. Anyone?
I have a query regarding maple fretboard. There are two different colour of maple fretboard and David have a darker tone maple fretboard. What is the difference between them?
Also will you recommend laney cub 8 for bedroom setup and tight budget?
David’s necks are 1957 reissues, which has a nitrocellulose laquer, with a slight colouration for a vinatage look. The more modern necks, like the Standard series, have satin or poly urethante laquer, which has a more transparent look and a slightly more shiny or glassy texture. There are different opinions about this, but in my experience, nitro sound warmer, while urethane sound brighter. Obviously, it also depends on the wood, thickness of the neck and frets.
What are your thoughts on the strats with the active pickups in them? Or active pickups in general?
Depends on what tones you want and, I guess, how serious your noise problems are. Most of the active pickups sound less vintage than passive 50s, 60s and 70s era pickups but in case of replicating David Gilmour’s tones, you can really beat the EMG DG20s for the Pulse tones.
Can you tell me more about the Bill Lewis guitar? I have always wondered about it after watching Pompeii many years ago. Was it a rare guitar? Until reading your website I had no idea who made it. All I know is it sounded great in the movie.
Check out this in depth feature on the guitar.
Any thoughts on Nash guitars?? Thank you.
Haven’t tried any but always heard good things.
Love your site!
I’m looking to sell some current gear and buy a head (got a cab I’m happy with) and strat, my budget will be around Â£1000/â‚¬14000 for both.
Any recommendations, seems to be soo many options on the market today I don’t know where to begin!
What are you looking for? Modern or vintage? Versatile or tone specific? Let me know, and I’ll try to suggest something.
Well I have just purchased a Japanese squier based on a 62 strat.
So now it’s just the amp.
I’d like a vintage fender ish style head for gilmour style leads and various blue genres. Also being able to take pedals well is important for me.
Thanks for the reply!
How about tracking down a vintage Fender Bassman 100 head? They’re fairly cheap and they sound awesome. Very easy to dial in and works great with most Gilmour pedals. I also warmly recommend the Laney Lionheart L20. Not actually a Fender, more an early Marshall meets Vox, but it’s so much more than that and extremely versatile.
I am quite curious, Bjorn, as to what you think of the new Fender American Elite Strat, especially the playability and the tone of the new noiseless pickups. Have you had a chance to get your hands on one yet? A review would be quite interesting.
Haven’t tried it…
Always fantastic information, absolutely brilliant, well done.
still me here!
I need your suggestion now, no pressure, just ask an advice from you.
Now I have 2 strat guitars:
1. 1995 America standard:
Neck: Maple with Rosewood fingerboard.
Bridge: 2-point tremolo
Pickups: CS Texas,(have Fender Lace Gold set as backup)
2. Black strat:
Neck: Maple fingerboard (from a 1996 American Strat).
Body: Warmoth Alder body
Bridge: 6-point tremolo
Pickups: ssl-1, CS69, Texas (SSL-5)
I don’t know if the maple has big difference with rosewood, because I tried a lot, the 2 starts are almost the same in tone. but I like them both, it’s hard to keep one and sell another. can please give me advice that which one could be better to use to play DG’s song and some blues style music?
or any other way to differ them? such as loading Lace PU on No.1 strat?
Thanks, appreciate your advice..
I find this almost impossible to answer because instruments are so much down to subjective taste and preference. I’m sure they sound very similar and although wood has some influence on the tone, it’s more about the pickups and electronics. You do have the opportunity to have two different sounding guitars by installing the Lace pickups in one. Other than that… you need to decide which is better if you’re considering selling.
Thanks Bjorn! I will try to use different PUs to defer them.
just slide a thought that, how about I take a Tele as second fender? will the tele has different tone with strat? could you please help to give your suggestion?
A Tele sounds both similar and very different to a Strat. Obviously, the pickups etc plays a role but while most Teles have single coils and that Stratty flavour, they’re often much more twangy, brighter and perhaps not as versatile for heavier tones… although some will argue with that. My experience with Teles is that they’re awesome for cleans and specific tones, while a Strat is often more versatile.
Thanks Bjorn, you are always helpful! I got your point.
Thanks! I may try it later, the single bridge pickup works fine with me.
I heard David Gilmour was using 7 way switch, which can provide a combo of bridge+neck pickup. and this switch indeed exist in Fender CS DG signature. My question is, so far as you know, did David Gilmour use this 7 way switch on his black strat?
There is additional switch on the guitar allowing more pickup combinations. Read more about the Black Strat here. As far as I, and other can tell, he rarely use it but on the 2006 On an Island tour, he did use it for the first solo on Comfortably Numb and the solo on Time.
Enjoying all the geeky and thoughtful Strat love…this is my kind of place. Question for you all…, limited budget for a new strat, but looking for the glassy thing but with more tone…meaty, like David’s. Have a great partscaster that is close, a 2004 Highway one that is too thin sounding, and a 2000 American Deluxe that is better, but still too thin for me tonewise. With my budget, looking at G&Ls, 1970s Strats, and the newer American Standard with the fat 50s pickups. Or, I could put new pups in in one of the old guys…. Lots of people dismiss the 70s strats, but not sure how many people a/b’d them with other strats to see if they really sounded that much worse. Thoughts??
Well, this is the huge debate on whether different wood will have an impact on the tone or not. I think it does, and my experience tells me so, but it doesn’t matter as much as what pickups you use, how you’ve set these, the amp, pedal etc. My experience with Strats is that I have never played a guitar that sound thin, as in thin and useless. However, low output single coils, set low (too far from the strings) on a brighter sounding amp and the “wrong” pedals to go with it, will sound bad. I think the most important thing is that you chose a guitar that feels right and then, change the pickups, tweak your amp and pedals… That being said, all of the guitars you mention are worth checking out.
I’m blessed I made my dream come true and purchased a new Fender Custom Shop David Gilmour NOS stratocaster! It’s an awesome guitar! but…
I had Squiers that came with better adjustments than this very expensive guitar. The bridge adjustment is painful! It really sucks! Practically no action on it! Strings were set too low, big troubles on making bends! Pickups were also set too low. Anyway, some reajustments I made myself… it’s 100%, but it’s OK now.
Congrats Roger! I wouldn’t base my judgement on a factory setup. Looks, contour and tone should matter. The setup should always be something you perform based on taste and technique :)
Hi Bjorn ,Had a problem trying to find a good tremolo to fit my Fender Squier . Then I came across a guy named Keith Hurley on Ebay. Selling his own spec on Callaham ,what is really good is that he makes blocks for all Fenders, bullets, Affin etc 25pound for the block cold rolled steel . Even the tremolo arms look lovely with the faded look. Maybe you know this guy . But for all those people who want to upgrade there Squiers who cant get a smaller block, I would check him out. I was reading some reviews on Google about his work seems very good . Cheers Stu.
Thanks for the tip!
Just purchased a MIM and I am very pleased . Great sound out of a Fender Mustang II amp. Set up from factory is excellent. I would tell future strat purchasers to buy MIM if they are on s budget.
Great article and great tips!
How about this one as a base for a black strat project.
Looks like it doesn’t need much to be the perfect axe!
I haven’t tried it but it looks like a nice guitar, based on the specs :)
I`ve been building a candy apple red Strat and got to the point that I just needed a loaded EMG SPC EXG pickguard and the bridge to complete the project. I know you really like the Callaham bridges, and I had planned on using one on my Strat build, but after becoming aware of a bridge I had never heard of I decided not to get the Callaham bridge. My new bridge is a Babicz Full Contact bridge and it arrived yesterday and looks very impressive. Are you familiar with the Babicz bridge? I read a bunch of very positive reviews, and some of the reviewers had a Babicz bridge on all their guitars and basses. On their website they have a video showing how the bridges full contact saddles work…..I`d be interested in your thoughts on this bridge……here`s a link…..
Heard good things but I’ve never tried them. Let me know what you think :)
Just thought I`d finally get back to you about my red Strat build and my impressions of the Babicz bridge I installed on it. First of all, I`m not seeing any noticeable increase in sustain with the guitar unplugged in comparison to my other Strat which is bone stock. When I purchased the bridge I was not concerned with increasing sustain, I just really liked the saddle design, because the saddles are so easy to adjust string height, and they are really comfortable to rest my hand on for palm muting, The cam system of the saddles seems like it would help prevent string breakage. One thing I really disliked was the whammy bar……it was too long, and I didn`t care for the shape at all……it was almost perfectly straight with an upward bend, and then it had another upward bend 65mm from the tip. Instead of using the Babicz whammy bar, I got a Callaham “64” bar and modified it…….I bent it into the shape of a Fender whammy bar and then I added more threads to the bar, and then cut some of the threads off the end. I also modified the bridge by tapping the hole for the whammy bar all the way through the block and installing a short set screw on the backside. This was done because I wanted to use a Fender tremolo spring and without a set screw at the bottom of the hole the spring would just fall through. The spring is the reason I had to cut some of the threads off the whammy bar…..to keep the bar from sticking out too far from the body. Anyway, I haven`t decided yet if I will put a Babicz bridge on my Telecaster or just install the Babicz saddles on the stock bridge plate…….
Thanks for sharing!
Signal Snowboards has had the Fender Custom Shop create a Stratocaster using cardboard for the guitarâ€™s body and neck. The cardboard Strat was created by layering the cardboard to make a stable structure that could withstand string tension. The layering results in a see-through body that lends the guitar a deceptive look of fragility. The guitar features standard Strat parts. As for its soundâ€”you be the judge.
That’s neat! No doubt that it both feels and sounds like a Strat :)
The type of wood used to build electric guitars have zero effect on the tone of the instrument. String gauge, string type, string height, pickup type, and the bridge is where tone comes from…
I don’t agree. On what do you base that claim? Maple, ash, rosewood, basswood and what have you, all have different qualities soundwise. Obviously, two trees aren’t identical and it also depends on how the wood has been treated, which is also why two seemingly identical guitars, can sound different. My best tip is to be aware of what different wood, lacquer, hardware, pickups and strings does to the sound and have this in mind when you choose a guitar. Ultimately, what matters is that you like the guitar and feel comfortable with how it plays.
You can find a diffucult to read scientific study (in german, more than 400 pages) in the internet concerning the influence of different types of wood on the sound of electric (!) guitars. one thing is that the type of wood has no measurable influence on the sound of the guitar. another point is that the accurate size of the neck pocket has no influence on the tone or the sustain (the guitar with the biggest gap and one weak screw had the longest sustain). and it seem that there is no hearable influence of the lacquer on the sound (wood does not breath). Most parts with influence are the different kinds of bridges (tele vs strat vs les paul), the pickups, guitar picks, playing style, age of strings and scale length. all other parts did not have any measurable or hearable influence – it is imagination and wishful thinking.
OK. I don’t read, or talk, German, so… Anyway, I’m sure you can measure and do all kinds of tests but there is a difference. The reason is that different wood has different density and structure. That will make the sound waves resonate differently between the woods. Same goes with the type of laquer. Nitro, polyester, faded etc all have an impact on the tone. BUT, were talking nuances here and it depends on how picky you are. I’m not saying that you need to buy alder from a specific forrest chopped down during a specific year but just be aware of the differences… as you wood when it comes to different shapes,contours, pickups etc… That’s my two cents anyway…
There are tons of experiments on you tube, just start looking. On acoustic guitars you are right because the tone comes from the guitar itself, not an amp that is simply picking up an electromagnetic signal from the pickups.
I’ve always known that tonewood was a myth on electric guitars. Take the strings, bridge, nut, and pickups out of a pure mahogany guitar and put it in the exact same shaped maple guitar with the same scale length, and you will not be able to tell the difference in the two…
BTW – I love your site and come here often, it’s a GREAT site.
I have a 57 Reissue Strat from 1989. In contrast to my other guitar, intensive bending is not possible (string tension). I asked for advice and a merchant told me, that the construction type (fretboard radius) of old Strats like the 57 does not make large bendings possible. I can’t believe just like that, and I ask myself, is it just the adjustment of the neck that is crappy?
Best regards, Matte
Sorry for my very late reply. That’s not true. Obviously, people did bends back in the days too. It’s just a matter of keeping the neck straight (by making sure the truss rod is properly adjusted) and the right height on the strings. Begin with the G string. Set it as low as possible but high enough to be able to bend it without it choking on the fret. Set the other strings accordingly for a nice curve that follows the neck. You might want the G and B string slightly higher than the other strings.
hm – i never had bending problems with the g string. on my guitar it is always the high e string (i have to keep it high). tried it with a very straight neck .006 inch on the 7th fret (with capo on first and pushed down on last fret), or with .008, .012 and even .018 … i have to raise the high e-string to 2.2 mm (17th fret) while g and b work with 1.8 mm.
How’s your neck? Sounds to me that it’s slightly bowed…
Bjorn, do you think that the custom shop Strat is worth it? A friend is selling his relic version and I wanted to know if it is a good buy
I don’t think the retail price on any custom shop instrument is worth it. It’s quite ridiculous. However, that doesn’t mean that these are not great guitars. They are! In any case you should ask yourself if this is a guitar you feel comfortable with and like playing. Doesn’t have much value if you don’t like it :)
What do you reckon are David’s settings on the volume and tone knobs on the Black Strat for most songs?
Cheers from Brazil
Seems that he mostly keeps the tone controls full on, most of the time. The volume control is constantly adjusted, depending on what tones he want. Rolling it off a hair, will smooth out any harsh overtones and also allow you to control the amount of gain or distortion in your signal. I often keep the volume control at 9, just to make everything a bit smoother and dynamic. For rhythm stuff, I often roll it down to 7-8, depending on how much gain I’m using.
Any thoughts on G&L Legacy (strat) guitars? Specially the Tribute series. They pack a lot of juice for the price imho.
Never tried them.
I did a search before posting and notice that you prefer vintage type necks so I assume you like 7.25″ radius?
I have a 7.25″ on my #1 Strat and it feels great but bending higher up the neck becomes quite a fight sometimes. I don’t really notice it until I use my LP or my MIM Strat. It is going to be a long time yet before I figure out what I like. Whenever I play on a flatter neck it feels nice and smooth and I would think I prefer flatter wider radius’, but then I go back to my #1 Strat and I feel very comfortable and at home.
Just wondering if you have moved away from 7.25″ or is that still your preferred? Also if you can briefly expand on why you like your preferred radius I would appreciate it. I respect you as a generous person and admire you as a guitar player so I like to pick your brain every chance I get.
Thank you Bjorn.
P.S. You are killing me with your pedal reviews. It seems like you can make a potato sound good and then I’d want to buy it.
Hi! I do prefer those vintage style 7.25″s. I think there is a big misconception out there regarding the radius and the ability to bend strings. String height guides provided by Fender and others are only meant as a starting point. You should always adjust the height to match your technique and preference. Guitarists have used 7.25s for decades and bending as never been as issue. Make sure that the neck is straight. You can also allow a tiny hair bend to avoid fret buzz. But only a hair. Use the recommended string height and see how that feels. Make sure that the bridge is set how you want it. Bend the strings and note which one that chokes when you bend high. Raise those just enough to get the clearing you need. That would usually be the G and B string. After you’ve adjusted, make sure that you have a nice bow when you look at your strings from behind. They should follow the curvage of the neck. Hope this helped :)
Hello, I’m from Brazil and I’m planning to buy a Fender Mexican Standard. But as I see, you suggest to replace the tremolo system. What is the best tremolo system that you suggest??
I’m very happy with the Callaham systems.
Random questions – I’m reading Phil Taylor’s book and he has so many awesome pictures of the black strat. Some of the pics are so good they look like they are out of a Musicians Friend catalog. For instance the strat on pg 97 3rd edition with rosewood neck. Q – did he actually take these pics in ’74 or did he put the rosewood neck back on the black strat simply for the book pics? Pages 114 and 115 have amazing photos too that must be really old or else they are recreated for the book. Maybe its because he was the guitar tech and he needed to document everything at that time.
Second Q – I love the ’63 rosewood neck! Any idea what the sunburst strat/rosewood neck is up to now?
All of those shots are new but I assume they either used a random Strat or one of the Black Strat replicas. You can see that the shots of the mid 70s version has no scratches, while the shots of the newer ones do, so I’m guessing they used different guitars or bodies to illustrate the timeline. The neck is the genuine rosewood.
About the Gotoh vintage bridge for strats? Is it good? Have you tried it? This model, GE101-TS has a steel block and the same measures that the new Fender CS 50s, which is 11.3 mm between strings.
Haven’t tried it.
Fender Classic Series ’50s made from 2008 has bridge spacing of 2 3/16″, but Callaham Vintage S bridge is 2 7/32″ mounting spacing with 2 1/16″ string spacing. Would I expect troubles on installing it?
I’m not sure. Ask Callaham. They’re very helpful.
I have to do a refret on my Fender strat and I’m considering putting stainless steel frets, mostly for durability.
I’d be curious to read your opinion on stainless steel frets in terms of feel, tone, etc. Would you consider putting stainless frets on your guitars?
Thanks a lot.
Hi Matthias! Terribly sorry for my late reply. I don’t have that much experience with different types of fret materials. A quick google search shows that there are different opinions. Some claim that the difference is huge, while others claim there is none. I guess you can say that about everything you put into a guitar. What’s important is that the job is done right. I’d also look into different gauges. Bigger frets often makes the guitar sound better.
The more I read this website, the more I feel you don’t really know what you’re talking about and are just going by popular notion.
1. The Squier CV pickups are rather excellent. No need to change them out.
2. The bridge assembly on all these models are fine. On some (Squiers and MIM) you may want to change out the alloy block for a full size zinc one but that’s it. Also, tuning instability can be fixed with a simple mod like a properly cut nut, a good setup and/or lubricating the saddles. There’s no need to throw money down the drain by buying a ridiculously overpriced Callaham bridge,
Sorry you feel that way. If you’ve read my site, as you say you’ve done, you would have noticed that all my recommendations are purely based on my own experience and very subjective opinions – as I read your comment and opinion. I don’t say that you have to do anything and in fact, I’m one of the few out there who actually warmly recommend Squier and Mexico Fenders over the overpriced US models. You don’t need to upgrade the parts, they work just fine but if you do, you’d have an excellent guitar that doesn’t stand back for the ten times more expensive US counterpart.
Hi, Bjorn. I’m considering having a spare and cheap guitar and the STERLING SILO 30 model by MUSIC MAN is getting my attention. But it has two single coils and a humbucker pickups and I would like to replace them. In this case, would you know what model of humbucker it is an option to have the black strat tone? Thanks.
Either a P90, like the Duncan Phat Cat, or a PAF ’57. The Phat Cat would be the closest I guess.
What is a great hard rock-metal pickup for a basswood LTD
I am to make a vintage 50’s style Strat, with A5 pickups. My luthier suggested that we try a 1-piece body of khaya mahogany. We can’t find find alder planks in Greece and this mahogany plank he has, he says it’s very good. It will have a maple neck and DAllen 69 pickups.
Have you had any experience with mahogany Strats? How does it sound compared to Alder?
Mahogany is often used for LPs. It has a warm character, with an open tone. Alder, which is often used for Strats, has a tighter tone, with a brighter top end. I’ve never played a mahogany Strat so I can’t really tell. Either way, although different wood makes a difference, how much you notice this difference depends on the rest of the guitar, laquer, hardware etc and of course the amp.
Your website and videos are fantastic. I’ve got lots of useful and helpful information from your excellent research. However I don’t understand how the materials of a fretboard can make a difference to a guitars tone. When you fret a note you are simply applying a metal string to a metal fret. I have loads of different guitars and the only difference I can detect is the feel of the instrument and the sound of the pickups. Can you clarify please?
Thanks for your kind words, Jon! There are different opinions about this. Some claim that it doesn’t matter while others says it matters a great deal. The string isn’t just touching a fret but it also resonates on the wood and throughout the neck and body. My experience is that there is a difference but the tone of a guitar depends on many things and relating to the neck, the radius, fretboard, frets, lacquer all makes a difference. The general consensus is that rosewood, ebony and other darker wood has a softer and warmer character, while maple and other brighter wood has a more punchy and snappy tone. I think the most important thing is that you get a neck that feels comfortable.
It is possible to tell if your model has a wired pre-wired pick-guard? I’d like to change my pick-guard to the MOP white to go with that sweet burgundy mist color. But not if the pickups are wired to it. The sound is perfect as it is–the single coils get an authentic “Wind Cries Mary” (Hendrix) sound I don’t want to lose by wiring in something that risks taking away that magic. The pick-guard seems difficult to remove just to have a gander under the hood, So any info that saves me this potential MISTAKE would be greatly appreciated.
FYI, I replaced the saddles with the Graph Tech string savers, It’s a spanking new deluxe road house model (HSS) MIM and the mother of pearl would give it an extra one-of-a-kind panache, Any word? Thanks in advance. Jim
I think I emailed you a picture, but you’re right about P-90 loaded Gibsons working well for DG’s tones. I picked up a new, lost in the warehouse 2011 50th anniversary Pete Townshend signature SG Special, a dead on reissue of a ’61 SG Special, in the Rare polaris/arctic white. It has become my go to guitar for solos, and crunchy rythyms. The stock P-90s are as good as the ones I had in my ’63 SG Special that was exactly the same guitar, including the mods Pete did to his SGs, I swapped out the tremolo, for a lightening bar wrap around tail piece, and traded the stock tuners for Grover kidney shaped tuners. It wasn’t until 28 years after the ’63 was stolen that I found that I had instnctively done the same exact mods he had done to his, even used the same exact bridge, and tuners because it felt right. I had to have the guitar the second I saw it, and when I got home, I found that the 2012 versions, which were still being sold as 50th anninversary, were going for $1400-$1500 used on eBay. I got a low serial number 2011brand new, for $1000+ tax!! It’s not the ’63, but other than the paint not having yellowed yet it plays, looks, and SOUNDS exactly Like my stolen ’63. For once I had incredibly good luck with a guitar, and love it almost as much as Cymbaline,( my handcrafted ’68-69 Strat, built by Tom Rodriguez!). I got off point a bit, but if you want a Gilmourish Guitar, that will get you into Gibson territory as well, Any P-90 loaded Gibson will do the trick, and for a more vintage P-90, Lundy Fralin makes his P-90s on original Gibson nachines, and is IMO the greatest pickup builder in the world, and I’ve played them all!!!
Peace, Love to all, KEITH
That’s Lindy Fralin, not Lundy, stupid phone. I fond it odd that since DGs playing is based on the blues, and Fralin’s pickups are world renowned, especially amongst blues players, and he is sales wise likely the biggest “boutique” pickup builder in the world, that I’ve not seen one person say they’ve tried them. Go in any blues, or musician’s forum like The gear page, the Telecaster forum, Fender forum, and you will find pages dedicated to his pickups. Not complaining, just find it odd, and wouldn’t use anything else that I’ve played, and really think that for those looking for authentic Vintage Gilmour tones, you’re missing the best vintage Fender style pickups available. He will even make the low output pickups from ’71 Fender Bullet truss Strats, which people are a luttle confused about. Gilmour and Blackmore lobed them, and Blackmore had quite a few ’71s, but they’re some of the lowest output pups to grace a stock strat, most coming in around 5.2-5.3k, where as most Strat pups from the ’60s, and 70s were about 5.8k. Just a but of trivia. If you try them, and aren’t satisfied with the output, he will rewind them, and if you don’t like them,( YOU WILL!), their resale value is almost what you’d pay new, they don’t lose value until they get beat up. Just sayin’
I’m getting some buzzing problem on a new US standard strat on the 1st and 2nd strings(open strings or fretted).The buzzing sounds like coming from the bridge,it happens occasionally but if I move the positions of this two strings on the saddles left or right a little bit it disappears(then all sounds good),and the buzz won’t appear again if I move them back to their former buzzing positions .But…a few hours or one night later it comes back…
Any idea to fix it?Thanks in advance!
The springs are sitting loose on the saddles. You can try to wiggle them a bit when it appears or unscrew the saddles and try to assemble it again. Or, you can drop the springs.
Thx for the input,Bjorn. I had adjusted intonation,truss rod,string height…all the stuff,and seems fixed problem above.But I still got slight fret buzz at treble side with very high string actions(1st&2nd string 2.3MM,3rd string over 2.5MM),is that common for a American std or still need to be adjusted?
I’m sure you can tweak the intonation, string height etc a bit more to really eliminate it but there could be a number of reasons why you experience fret buzz. Could be a fret or two that’s a bit higher that the others (that happen). Could be the way you pick the strings. Could be the way the bridge is set up. Could be the slots in the nut… If it’s not a huge problem then you’re probably better off just accepting it.
Congratulations for your website – I just bought a Fender Stratocaster Mexican Standard, and I actually think the vibrato is poor – by what model and what brand is it possible to replace it.
Does it make sense to replace existing mechanical by mechanical self-blocking
Congratulations again, sorry for my english
Thank you Daniel! I have Callaham hardware on all my Strats. Highly recommenced! Check out their site here.
If you had to rebuild your DG rig from the ground up with a $3000 dollar budget what would choose?
Oh… you know, I’m very happy with the setup I have now, which you can read more about on bjornriis.com. I rarely play Gilmour stuff anymore but I have my Strats, the Reeves Custom 50 with the Sound City cab and enough pedals to cover most of David’s tones. I’ve always been more into trying to get the tone I want with the gear I have at any given time so it doesn’t really matter to me whether I have a duplicate of David’s rig or not. Also, budget gear has come a long way the last decade or so and with a bit of tweaking and perhaps an upgrade or two you can get just a close to the tones you want as with custom shop and more expensive gear. Boring answer perhaps but all you need to cover David’s tones is a nice guitar, a decent amp and three pedals: overdrive, distortion and delay. That’s the bare essentials. What’s more important is that you make that your own and practice. A lot.
Cool. I was hoping for a magic pedal. :) Turn the good looks knob to 2:00, the skill knob all the way up and the smooth knob all the way up too. You’re right about how little you need. Would you add a flanger or chorus in there as well?
Depends on what period you want to cover but I’m addicted to my Electric Mistress :)
another afficionado here! Thankt for the great articles.
After years of dabbling, I’ve finally decided to pick up the guitar for good.
In order to not ruin myself, got myself a squier affinity strat, and yeah, it’s not baaad, but it’s not THAT.
So looking at getting an american standard, or a MIM.
How difficult would you rate the pickup/electronics change? Worth getting someone to do it for me, or can a total novice do it and get a good result
Keep on rockin
It’s not difficult if you know your way around a soldering iron :) You can find wiring diagrams on the Fender site.
I do know my way around one, though haven’t had to use one for ages, but I was more concerned about poor workmanship leading to noise :)
You should make it as clean as possible. Loose connections and dirty tin can cause noise and buzz.
Well, in my search for the next one, I found a 54 MIJ reissue from 89/90 second hand, cheaper than the classic 50s I could find online. Sustain is amazing and I just fell in love.
More on the topic once I’ve replaced the pickups and, probably, most of the electronics as time hasn’t been kind to them…
Keep us posted :)
Right, finally got around to getting my strat upgraded.
New pickups (the classic combo 50s/69s/ssl5)
New bridge (uk engineered, very similar to Callaham, came highly recommended by my luthier)
New pickguard of course, new pots, including a push/pull to get the extra 2 positions
A set-up, clean, etc… brilliant work from the guys @Feline guitars in Croydon, highly recommended!
Here’s the beast, pardon the pic, but I haven’t had time to do much better right now…
Congrats! Thanks for sharing!
Brilliant article, I have only been playing guitar for 12 months but at 51 my sole reason for learning to play has all been about the Gilmour tone. I have spent a small fortune on high end guitars and have made all the mistake Bjorn has warned off. After numerous strats, custom hand made guitars and PRS I now have a Schecter Custom, brilliant guitar and the best I have owned. The point made by so many is not to obsess about the pedals, amps, guitar it is all in the fingers, it seems to me that whatever DG play his tone is brilliant and unique, this is confirmed by his guitar tech. Spend thousands like I have and it will bring you no closer to that incredible tone that we all dream of. It is all down to practising the licks and emulating his techniques and style. Others far more experienced than I may have a different view but I am sure what I have said is not to far off the mark.
Hi Greg! Very good point you’re making and I think most experienced guitarists would agree. There’s no wrong in having elaborate setups but what it always comes down to how you play the guitar. It’s a clichÃ© but it is your fingers and your mind that creates your tone and the pedals and effects are just tool for adding that little extra.
I’m considering buying a strat,should I just go for American standard with SSS pickups(for vintage fender feelings) or buy an American standerd strat HSS with humbucking bridge pickup for versatility?Any advice u give would be helpful!Thanks in advance!
Depends on what tones you want. If you want classic Strat, then go for the SSS and if you need a bit more balls, replace the stock bridge pickup with a Duncan SSL5. If you want a more modern sounding guitar, especially suited for rock and harder sounding music, then the HSS might be an option.
Thanks for the input Bjorn.I think i’ll go for the SSS.What made me hard to decide is that I’m afraid I can’t handle or control the noise(highend PC,large screens etc. in my room)…
Nice site update btw.It’s great to see posts can be replied.
Check out the noise troubleshooting articles for some tips on how to handle that :)
What are your thoughts on the MIM Deluxe Players Strat? It has vintage noiseless pickups and looks amazing. I tried one out and liked it very much. Although I’m not sure if it can come close to those Gilmour tones.
Very nice guitars. Not my personal favourites but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get great Gilmour tones with it. It’s more down to what kind of guitar you prefer and feel comfortable with and what pedals and amps you combine it with.
I am thinking of putting together a new guitar. I am probably going to order a custom body and neck from Warmoth. The body will be of a Tele Thinline – so with the f hole. I haven’t yet decided which pickups I will put in, but I am torn between CS69s with the SSL5 bridge setup, and the Burns Trisonic set of Brian May (I know, two completely different sounds). Therefore, a universal or ‘swimming pool’ pickup route would be a good option, as I can change pickups to whatever I want. Also there will have to be a great deal of wiring in the guitar, and so that will need a bit of space also.
My question to you is: is it sensible to get a swimming pool pickup route, baring in mind that the body will already have an f hole, and a large route for the wiring. Would this take out too much wood from the body? Would this make the guitar dead, with no sustain?
[I’m not the right person to ask. It shouldn’t be a problem. I guess the tone and sustain of the guitar also depends on the quality and density of the wood but if anything I would imagine that the tone gets a bit more open. Ask Warmoth. They’re the experts :) One thing though… be careful placing a SSL5 and other high output pickups in a Tele or semi-hollow body. You may experience a lot of feedback and microphonics. – Bjorn]
I have tried to search for Eric Johnson on your site. I wanted to find any comments on the EJ Sign. strat but I did’nt succeded.
Some placeses I’ve read that this is the best strat you can get to the price, but what is your opinion?
Thanks for all your knowledge and time you share with us.
[It has some interesting features. Both the maple and rosewood are based on ’57 specs. It’s a fine guitar no doubt but it depends on whether you like playing it or not. The V-shaped neck can feel like a bat if you’re not used to it. The pickups, as far as I can remember, are based on the low-output 50s and 60s tones, with a tad more mids. – Bjorn]
I have a Fender FSR Stratocaster that is absolutely amazing. Mine looks like Gilmour’s “Black Strat”, the sound is close to his original and there’s rumors that it could be made from the extra pieces of the special Gilmour custom shop price. If you ever find one, definitely try it out. It can cover a lot of sonic ground. What would you say is the best amp for replicating Gilmour’s tones from the Wall and Dark Side of the Moon under a $1000 budget? Thanks for the awesome website!
[Yeah, those FSRs are great guitars. There are many great sounding amps under $1000 and I’ve listed a bunch in the Buyer’s Gear Guide. Depends on how you’ll be using the amp. The Laney Lionheart, H&K Tubemeister, Hiwatt Tube Series… you might also want to check out EBay or your local classifieds for used amps. It’s still possible to get an old Sound City or Fender under $1000. – Bjorn]
I have a fender standard MIM stratocaster. I love the tone and the feel of it but I want to change the tuners. I’d like some vintage style staggerd ones but I want some help to choose which ones to buy. What do you think it would be a great choice? Thanks in advance!
[Check out Callaham. I buy all my hardware there and couldn’t be happier. – Bjorn]
Hey Bjorn, good article. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on a 1982 reissue of a 1962 strat (one w/ the original parts in it). Is it worth it to spend $3500 for that or is a MIM strat a way better value? Of course, I know the answer is partly “it depends on how much you like it” but I’m wondering what your opinion is. I’m a fan of John Frusciante as well so that’s why I was looking at ’62 reissues rather than ’57s.
[Very sorry for my late reply, Kevin. I’m no expert on the Fender history. David’s red Strat is a 1983. There was a transition period in the early 80s and I’m not sure if 1982 are considered good or not. I’d check up on that before buying. A MIM or CIJ might be just as good but this is a vintage guitar so you need to add that value too :) – Bjorn]
thought about sharing with you and Klaus my experience with my black strat from MJT Custom Aged Guitars. It is light relic nitro, has two Fender CS-69 pick-ups in the neck and middle position and a Seymour Duncan SSL-5 in the bridge position. I decided for a more modern specs for the neck with respect to the Gilmour Model, i.e. modern C-profile, 22 medium-jumbo frets, 9/5″ fingerboard radius. This is because I like it better for my playing. The price? 1734 US dollars, all inclusive of shipping, norwegian custom, and electronic setup and shielding at 4Sound. How does it sound? Great. It is very resonant when played acoustic (you can feel it in the neck), with that typical “snappy” strat tone. When plugged, it sounds like you imagine a strat should sound. I had tried three Gilmour-strat before (in Norway, Italy and USA) and IMHO my strat sounds better. Must confess I was a little nervous about this project because I always like to try a guitar before buying it. But then I thought what the heck, this can be my X-mas present this year. So the morale of all of this is that you do not need to spend all that outrageous amount of money that Fender asks for the Gilmour Black Strat.
[Thanks for sharing! -Bjorn]
Thanks for this great site, I’ve been following it for a while.
I used to be a big strat fan, (had a ’55, sadly sold it in the early eighties for a song) then got out of playing for many years. Started back up about 10 years ago and now have 15! But not a single strat, except for a Bunker guitar (made in the US by Dave Bunker). very nice, but they have that sort of strange ‘floating neck’ set up, where the truss rod is attached to the head stock, and this assembly then slides into the neck. Still a great guitar but not a ‘real strat’. My question is this: I’m on the verge to buy a custom shop ‘gilmour strat’ in the relic version. Found a 2014 model, brand new, for a ‘reasonable’ price. To get that gilmourish sounds would you recommend one of these or should I assemble one from various parts. (I have a great luthier in my town that could put it all together and tweak it to perfection). I really don’t mind if the custom shop guitar is more expensive, if the result is more of what I’m looking for. I guess to put it in a nutshell, is the custom shop relic worth the money? The one I’m looking at is $3,600. Thanks so much, I appreciate your comments.
[Hi Klaus! To be very honest. No, I don’t think the guitar is worth it. It’s a fine guitar but the price is too high. They did a wonderful with the relic look and the specs are very close to what I prefer but it’s just another guitar and you pay a lot for the Custom Shop sticker and the fact that it is a relic/signature model. I’d never buy a guitar based on it being a relic or a signature but rather based on what specs I want and whether or not it feels right playing it. Is the neck comfortable? Is the body contour OK? The pickups and electronics can easily be replaced so I usually don’t pay much attention to that. You can easily buy a ’57 US or similar and mod it to your specs or, order custom parts from Warmoth and get an awesome guitar for a fraction of the price :) – Bjorn]
Bjorn, Gerry in LA here. I’m bumping tgis thread because i have just completed a related expirament: How to get a CS quality tone for black Strat Build without paying a premium for it. First experiment was to convert a black Roadworn 50s MIM with a callaham block, cs69/cs69/ss5, custom pickguard with correct hidden switch and rounded edges, etc. Sounded great through my Lionheart L20H on a 212 cab loaded with Fane Classics 50s. But not great enough!! So doing some research i concluded that the best quality/sounding production strat body that was based on a vintage strat was the Eric Johnson signature model. After several months searching I scored a 2006 Black Eric Johnson strat body (with a few dings and scratches) for $330 US (on Reverb.com). I had a 1992 AVRI maple neck that was refretted by Eric Chaz (Luthier located at Sound City Studios) with 6105 wire, narrow tall/.055). Jusr switched the entire electronics over incl a KGC brass Megablock trem.
I will say this: It sounds as good to my ears and plays better than the CS DG signature which ive demo’d twice at Guitar Center Hollywood.
I haven’t seen any comnents or references on your site on the EJ strat as a basis for a build, but there are shops selling them as parts separately because of their value as individual components. Bodys can be had new for under $500 . Just my experience trying alternative sources for the black strat hunt :)
Thanks for sharing!
Just my thoughts. Even cheap pedals add up very quickly. I honestly think you can go with a rat variant and a delay pedal for now. I started on a Ibanez DE-7 which is digital but has a echo simulation option that sounds good. It is also under $70. My first distortion pedal was a Boss ds-2 and then a super crunch box 2 which can do plexi to jcm 800 to really compressed and distortion marshall sounds. The boss ds-1 or ds-2 are actually pretty good pedals.
This is only if you need pedals but I’d stop there. A tuner pedal is handy but you can also get a cheap $10 tuner for now. I’d say your main main priority is your amp and pickups. They are your canvas and your brushes and form the basis of the tone in your head. If you are happy with your pickups then that is fine but definitely plan for a new amp. Even if it is long term. If you are planning to buy good muffs and delays later on, you’d want a tube amp.
Again just my thoughts. Everyone’s situation is different.
it’s me again – Fabian – and I want to answer your question. I am interested in the tones of “The Wall,”A Saucerful of Secrets” and “Animals”. I heard that the setup of “ASOS” is about the same as the one of “Meddle”. Is that true? I hope you have some suggestions for a beginner. :)
Great website by the way and in forward: thank you for the help!
[Sorry for my late reply. You’ll find detailed run-downs of Gilmour’s setups on all the albums here. See this feature as well for some amp set up tips. Based on your setup I’d go for something versatile to be able to cover as ground as possible and get tones close to Gilmour. A tuner should definitely be your first purchase. I think that with a distortion, overdrive and delay you should be pretty much set for the tones you want and you can build it from there when you get more funds. The ProCo Rat and Ibanez TS9 are easy to find and great sounding distortions and overdrives. See the Buyer’s Gear Guide Overdrive and Distortion for similar sounding pedals. You could go for pretty much any delay. The TC Flashback is extremely versatile and great sounding. See the Buyer’s Gear Guide Delay for more tips. – Bjorn]
I bought a Squier VM 70s Strat – like the black Strat and I am very happy with it although I guess it still can be upgraded to sound a lot better. I only got a Marshall MG15CFR and I would like to know what pedals I just start buying. I looked trough your side but I guess the range is a little bit overwhelming. Should I start with a tuner and a big muff? Or do you have a better idea?
Greetings and Merry Christmas!
[Depends on what tones you want. Could you try to be a bit more specific? – Bjorn]
Finding myself spending lots of time on your site. Really a great job you do here. Very helpful for us gilmour fans! I had a question regarding my new strat. I recently purchased a fender MIM Jimmie Vaughn. I’ve replaced the pickups with a SSL5 in the bridge and fender custom shop 69’s in the middle and neck and I am debating whether or not I need to replace the tremelo. The guitar comes stock with vintage US hardware including a tremelo. I was wondering if you thought its worth getting the callaham vintage S tremelo with the gilmour bar or just getting the shortened gilmour bar to use with the existing tremolo I have. Thanks!
[Hi Kris! Thanks for your kind words! The quality of the term system is more than good enough so you don’t need to change it. However, the Callaham has some features that the Fender doesn’t have, like less friction on the strings and a bigger block, which enhances the tuning stability and sustain. – Bjorn]
Hey Bjorn, just thought would share some info about Gilmour’s 1983 candy apple red Strat. In 1982 Fender brought in Dan Smith, who introduced the ‘re-issue series’ and all re-issues made in the year 1982/1983 in the Fullerton plant, has now become quite collectible and is popularly known as ‘Dan Smith era Strats’ or simply ‘Dan Smith re-issue Strats’.
You may want to include this fact under the Red Strat information on the site.
Here’s a link to some further information:
[Thanks for the info :) – Bjorn]
Hi, I have a 1986 Squier Bullet MIJ has a Tele maple neck but it’s body is a laminate plywood and I would like to get a replacement made in Alder, I have looked but can find one in Alder is there a vendor the make bodies from the original or know of someone who does make one for my guitar?
[Check out Warmoth.Com. Highly recommended for high quality replacement parts. – Bjorn]
is the tremolo system on the mim fender classic 50’s that so bda and unstable? if it is,is it worth to get a new tokai tst50 strat ( rather than a mexican) or should i try to get a mij strat?
my plan is after i get any of these just to replace the bridge pickup wit the seymour duncan ssl5 .
other plan is to get the mim and replace the tremolo system with a new nice fender vintage style one :)
[The MIM Classic guitars are very good and the term system will do the job. Just be sure to string up properly and adjust the term system to taste. That should keep in stable. The biggest upgrade you can do is in terms of tone. Systems like the Callaham Vintage bridge has a thicker block, which creates a fuller tone and more sustain. It also leaves less tension and friction on the strings, which also results in more sustain and better tuning. But again, the stock Classic will do. – Bjorn]
I’m building a Strat from Warmoth parts and they have a chambered maple strat body. Do you think Maple would sound too bright for David’s tones?
[Never tried a maple body, I think, so I can’t really tell. – Bjorn]
Hi Bjorn im looking to get a new guitar and ive been looking at the Fender classic series which you have put on here but what about the classic player? the guitar pretty much the same price wise and the classic player’s seem to have better pickups and hardware. What do you think?
[The Classic Player is sort of a mix between the Classic Series and the Standard, with a bit of both worlds. Personally I like the Classic better but the CP are very nice guitars too. Try both and compare them :) – Bjorn]
I have two Clapton Strats, both fitted with the EMG DG-20 electronics. One is a black 2013, the other a pewter 2006. The trems are unblocked on both. The black one seems a bit fuller-sounding. I don’t know whether this is because of the different finish, or maybe that the frets are less worn. But they both sound fantastic, a much more authentic Strat sound than a Clapton’s factory electronics. (And yes, the black one has a black pick guard I got from Warmoth.) 57-reissue necks aren’t very practical for me. They play great, but I live in the Midwestern United States (Iowa) and the humidity here changes day-to-day and sometimes hour-to-hour. So I have to have a neck I don’t have to remove to adjust. I’ve found the Clapton’s to be a very nice “compromise”, if you will.
[Thanks for sharing! – Bjorn]
I’m going to buy a Fender classic series 70s strat does it a good guitar or not or it have the drawbacks which were on the original 70s strats! Thanks.
[I’d say that it’s a very nice guitar. It is a budget model, which means that the pickups and hardware isn’t as good as a top level US model, but this can easily be upgraded and you’ll still be well within a reasonable price. The Classic Series are very well made and sounds great. As with all guitars, I recommend that you try it first and if possible, try several guitars and choose the one that sounds the best. – Bjorn]
I would disagree that the Fender Squire Classic Vibe is a “beginners” Guitar. I recently purchased at the Classic vibe 60th anniversary 50s model and was blown away by the quality of this instrument, its simply the best strat I have ever owned, sounds, looks and plays great, stays in tune better than any strat I have ever owned and I have owned several Strats including a high end/outrageously priced US made deluxe (that was crap) and a Japanese made 60s re-issue ( good guitar) . You’re equating Higher price to higher quality this isn’t always the case when it comer to guitars, Asian made are often better than US made.
[I’ll be the first one to agree with that, owning several Japanese Fenders my self. The Squier guitars are definitely great instruments, which is why I’ve recommended them in the Buyer’s Gear Guide and throughout this site. What I meant was that they will sound and feel even better with better pickups and perhaps better hardware. That’s my experience with them anyway. In any case it depends on what you’re looking for. Many working guitarists use both Squier and Epiphone and it’s also a matter of finding an instrument that fits your style rather than being too focused on what it says on the headstock :) – Bjorn]
Terrific website and great reviews thanks a lot !
I wanted to ask you if you have any idea concerning the David Gilmour custom shop strat 2013 series , if it’s done as well as the 500 starts created in 2008 ? (it’s probably a dumb question). But I might have the chance to get my hands on a 2013 NOS start for a very good price.
[Hi Jim! I haven’t tried them but I would imagine they are. Fender Custom Shop have a very high standard :) – Bjorn]
Just got a American Standard Fender strat with maple neck, definitely the way to go! :) Thanks so much!!
Hi Bjorn just wondering what your general opinion the different periods of Japanese strats is. Is it true that cij strats made around 2000 are better than mij strats made around mid 80’s? Which would get closer to a gilmourish tone?
[I’m definitely not an expert on Japanese made Fenders. From what I’ve read the early 80s models (MIJ) are considered very good and so are the mid 90s ones (MIJ/CIJ). There have been some series that have been assembled from low quality wood and the body consists of several pieces etc but the current quality is very good. Problem now though is that there are so many different models and many that are special runs made for certain dealers etc. They use third party parts and assemble necks and bodies from different periods. I guess the only way to be really sure is to make sure you always buy from a trusted dealer and ask for accurate production date and pictures of the neck and body heel to tell what parts they are. – Bjorn]
Sorry for all the questions Bjorn but I have an opportunity to get either a 1962 reissue mij strat or a 1957 reissue cij strat but I don’t know which one to get? The 1957 has a maple neck while the 1962 has rosewood, and the 57 has an alder body whereas I’m not sure what the 62 has. They both seem like great guitars. Any info and your opinion on the two would be greatly appreciated
Thanks from Australia!
[The neck and body contours are different so they feel different when playing. There’s also a difference between maple and rosewood necks. They’re both great guitars so it depends on what specs you prefer. The pickups can always be replaced later on. – Bjorn]
Hi Bjorn! I’m I’ve been looking around for a strat for a while now and I’m afraid I don’t have enough money to buy a American one. Would a Mexican classic series strat sound fairly close to an American one assuming I’m going to replace the pickups and tremolo block? Also which would you recommend out of the classic series 50’s or 60’s strat?
Your help would be greatly appreciated, I’m a huge fan of this website!
[You probably won’t hear any difference between an American og Mexican or any other brand or country of production. Although wood, laquer and hardware do make a significant difference, what’s important for both the tone and your playing is that you like the guitar. Given that it’s of a decent quality you can make any guitar sound great, if you feel comfortable playing it and know a bit about how to get the tones you want. Replacing pickups is a good idea even it’s a US model because pickups is a bit like a pedal. It’s not given that you like what’s featured on the guitar. The Mexican made Classic Series is very good and regardless of whether you’re buing Mexican or US I recommend that you try a few guitars and compare them. No instrument is identical so trying different ones will make it easier to make up your mind and find the one that really sits in your hands and fit your playing. – Bjorn]
I have posted in the Big Muff section about my recent Buffalo Patriot acquisition and thought I might describe my ’57 Reissue Stratocaster here.
I ordered her towards the end of 1983 and got the custom color black.
Mostly to replicate Clapton’s Blackie at the time, as I locked down the trem and didn’t use the bar.
This has been the guitar I have owned the longest time, 31 years and it is one of the lightest best playing acoustically Strats I have ever played and I have played a huge amount of them.
The Stratocaster was my first guitar back in 1967 when I lived in London my cousins in new York sent me a 1965 Transition logoed Stratocaster and my life was never the same afterwards.
I sold her in 1979 along with all my gear to buy a new Ford Capri 3.0S, which was a great car and very fast. European readers will know this 1980 model.
So I had no guitar until 1983 when back in North Virginia I ordered one of these newly released ’57 reissues made in the old Fullerton plant, they only made them through 1984 and production shifted to Corona from 1985 onwards.
These guitars have grown to be legendary with good reason. Sure the ’57 and ’62 reissues had the same neck profile, the twelfth fret dots were too close together but these guitars had real hanbuilt magic to them.
At this time Jeff Beck bought a few as did Gary Moore and of course David Gilmour bought 4-5 ’57 reissues and one rosewood board ’62 I believe.
So there were some serious players using these guitars back then!
Here are some shots:
Gary Moore with a ’57 reissue 1984:
[Awesome stuff, Dave! Thanks for sharing! – Bjorn]
I’m here for a little review of the Squier Vintage Modified 70’s Stratocaster (black model, a bit similar to the Black Strat) that I bought, as I’ve seen that some persons are considering this guitar for a cheap Black Strat replica project (that’s also my case :) ).
The guitar arrived in quite good condition, just the 2nd string was loosen and a bit bended/marked. After a first tuning, I played for about 10 minutes (hand vibratos and bends to torment a bit my new axe), retuned the guitar and it was ok, I didn’t had to retune it for a while despite the vintage style tuners. Other elements of the guitar are quite well setted.
I don’t know why, but the bridge saddles are engraved with the “Fender” name, so I suppose that they actually are Fender stock parts (and in extension, maybe it’s the case for the whole bridge…). This is a bit strange, in comparison with the price and the Squier brand… In every case, the vibrato bridge is quite useless because it doesn’t have a large range and is hard IMO. So I consider to soon replace it with a Callaham bridge, I have to measure the dimensions to be sure that all is ok for the upgrade.
Woods are of good quality, the neck is well finished and there’s no problem with frets edges. I’m a lucky man, as my model came with a figured maple headstock which is absolutely beautiful under the gloss finish (I bought my guitar on the web, so I couldn’t see it in advance). The guitar is quite light thanks to the basswood body. Some finishes could be better, there are some glue traces on the fingerboard (not really difficult to clean), and a little lack of black paint under the body lacquer (only 4 mm long, on the bottom), and the pickguard have some bumps. On the whole, the guitar is a good deal for a replica project.
Now the electronics. The pickups (three Duncan Designed SC 101) are interesting and similar to standard pickups on a Strat, except for the bridge pickup. For me, it sounds really bright and flapping, more than the 50’s Classic Vibe one, almost like a Telecaster bridge pickup IMO. Surprising, but not unplayable. By using the middle and bridge pickups together, you can obtain more classical bridge strat tones. Tone potentiometers are really progressives, but it’s less true for the volume pot, which is more efficient between 5 and 10. The 5 way switch is ok.
I changed the electronics for a David Allen loaded pickguard with the Echoes set, so the guitar is now hyper versatile! Note that it may still sawdust under the loaded pickguard (and in the truss rod).
I hope my comment will be helpful for those who, like me, can’t try the guitar before buying it (mainly on the web). Again, I think this guitar is a good choice for upgrade and replica projects with a tight budget, and have to be considered as well as the Classic Vibe 50’s series (especially as long as there is no CV 50’s Strat in black finish).
[Thanks for sharing, Alexis! – Bjorn]
Hi I’ve followed your site a long time now and I would like to make my own black strat. You often recommend Warmoth replacement necks but the bodies are also great. However, I’m not sure about their chambered bodies. I imagine David always uses a solid alder but Warmoth claims theirs chambered bodies are lighter with no disadvantages in tone. You probably haven’t tried one but what do you predict? Also the standard radius on the Warmoth necks is a compound 10 6 and I was wondering about trying the more standard Fender 9 5. Any comments on neck radius?
[I don’t have any experience with chambered bodies so I can’t really comment on that. Warmoth insist on it not affecting the tone but send them an e-mail and ask to be sure and also if it will fit your purpose. In regards to neck profiles I’d visit a guitar store and just try a bunch of different necks and pick the one that feels most comfortable for your hands and playing. Doesn’t really matter what the specs are as long as it feels right. Vintage necks tend to feel slightly less ergonomic and efficient and you will also need to keep a slightly higher string action to be able to bend properly. Modern necks are perhaps more comfortable and allows higher bends on lower action. This is in general and again, you should try different necks to make up your mind :) – Bjorn]
Bjorn, thanks again for your excellent user friendly site. Though a Pink Floyd fan since Ummagumma and Meddle also buying David’s solo LP, I haven’t ‘tone chased’ Gilour until just recently.
In 1983 I ordered a Fullerton made Stratocaster ’57 Reissue in black nicknaming her “Blackie” after EC’s version.
I locked down the bridge and haven’t used the trem arm really since then.
This guitar is incredibly light and has a sweet bell like tone acoustically!
I can understand David placing a 1983 neck back on his black #1 as these necks are really unique and play incredibly well.
I for one love the “7.25 readius having grown up on a 1965 transition logoed Strat as my first guitar back in 1967.
I have recently purchased the Fulltone Mini Deja Vibe and through your site and others discovered the wonderful Buffalo pedals from Steve in France.
Yesterday I placed my order with Rogue Guitars for the dynamic Patriot pedal.
For me this effect does it all.
I love its versatility and sonic footprint.
I grew up on Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Faces but the Civil War clone is so much more!
I could only just barely afford the Patriot so buying a BK Butler Tube Driver is off the table for now.
I have a Mojo mod Analogman modded DOD YJM308 pedal which was further modded by a friend with more vintage components.
I plan to experiment with this befor and after the Patriot to see if it gives more ‘drive’ to the Patriot.
So Gilmour uses the BK Tube Driver after his Sovtek Civil War then?
I am excited by the prospect of the new Buffalo pedal and cannot wait until it arrives.
I shall use the Fulltone MDV to simulate the rotary guitar speaker effect.
I have a Boss DD-6 also modded by Analogman which has a three way switch added to approximate a more vintage style say tape echo. I forget the name of the mod as I had it done so long ago, it may be a mid cut or something similar.
I know that the effect on “Sorrow” which is the track I am attempting to emulate is obtained with the DG-20 EMG set of pickups, but my ’57/’62 Fender Strat pickups being 31 years old they are extremely vintage sounding and the guitar has aged beautifully so other than clean out the volume pot which has some noise upon use I am hopeful for an authentic sound.
Amp wise I am using my 2005 Marshall 1959HW 100 watt head with component upgrades by the wizard of Marshall tone George Metropoulos.
I have had from new the output transformer replaced with what George terms the Dagnall ‘vintage clone’, Allen Bradley carbon comp resistors in key poitions and Sozo signal caps.
Filter caps are changed to F&T and I am using Mullard reissue EL-34’s with Tung Sol 12AX7 in the preamp stage.
I am using long 12 gauge custom speaker cables with my 1 year old special ordered Metropoulos True Replica 1982A ’68 Marshall 4X”12 speaker cab fitted with Celestion G12H-30 75 watt Creamback speakers which are just incredible sounding.
I have a vintage Korg SDD-3300 Triple Digital Delay which has the quietest and most clean effects I have ever heard in my modest rack.
So in anticipation once the Patriot comes to town as it were I will write a full review here!
Thanks for reading.
[Hi Dave! Thanks a lot for sharing! I think you’ll be very pleased with the Patriot :) – Bjorn]
As always, you have been very helpful. I already bought a Gretsch and it will arrive tomorrow from US. It is a TV jones pick up version. This shopping has been made completely blindly. It was one of my friends who bought it for me in US. I could not follow your suggestion as my friend has been there only for 5 days and could not communicate/discuss properly. I just could speak with the seller in the shop a few words through a bad line of long distance call . He told me that TV jones pick ups will satisfy more in terms of versatility. But needed to make a quick decission. I hope I do not regret. Next time, it is going to be exactly as what you say as I agree that LP with mentioned PUs is closer to what we might expect from a tone as gilmour fans.. :)
[Ha ha, yeah well… I’m sure you’ll be very pleased with the Gretsch. You might have received it already… – Bjorn]
I have Fenders (C shape)but now I plan to buy a Gretsch or Gibson. Again, it is the Gilmour which is the starting point for the tone. I loved the one in Meltdown. However, I can not decide whether it should be Gretsch or Gibson and the model for Gretsch. I read reviews and I am mixed up. Any comments might help me. or maybe not, this is because it is a very dificult question to answer :)
[Personally I prefer a Les Paul. They’re much more versatile I think. The Gretsch guitars, including the Duo Jet that David’s using, are timeless guitars but they have a certain tone and they’re not suited for all kinds of music… that’s my opinion at least. In terms of David’s tones I’d seek out a nice LP and maybe consider replacing the stock pickups for something a bit more Stratty, like PAF or P90s. – Bjorn]
Hey Bjorn! Been a fan of your site for years, first time commenting!
I bought an all original/stock Japanese ST-57 which dates back to 2002, and it has a really nice thick neck, which I assume is a soft V profile as per your description. I love the neck so much, that I bought a ’94-95 ST-57 for my second Strat. However, the neck is actually much thinner than the 2002 model! Felt a lot like my ’89 Korean Squier. It bothered me so much, that I bought a replacement neck from a 2009 ST-57, and it has the exact same thick profile as the 2002 model that I was looking for.
Could it be possible that the earlier models of the ST-57 had a different neck profile?
[Hi Indra! I’m no expert on the Japanese models but they do have a lot of inconsistencies… or at least differences within the same model. I’m sure there is some logic behind it but they don’t follow the US model specs and have several tweaks to the designs. There are some forums out there and I’m sure they can give you a better answer :) – Bjorn]
I bought a 2003 American Standard with Seymour Duncan California 50′ mounted in.
I also have the original pickups, what do you recommend, keep it as is, mount back the oem pickups, or directly the David’s set up?
Thanks for help!
[The Cali 50s should do the job :) – Bjorn]
Thanks, it’s nice to read that; would 90s japanese be good?
[The Japanese Fenders has always been very good. During the 80s and up to around the mid 90s, they were considered to be supperior to the US models because they still produced the old specs with the old machines and the wood selection was extremely good. Japanese Fenders are still very good and my experience is that they don’t stand back for any US model. – Bjorn]
***Edit: Getting a used Strat MIJ would cost almost the same as a new CV here in Chile…would you say it’s worth it ? All MIJ’s are great? Thanks and sorry for stealing your time Bjorn!!
[The more recent MIJs are very nice. – Bjorn]
Hey Bjorn, Gilmour-wise, between the Classic Vibe 50s and the 60s, which one would you choose?
Regardless of the one I choose, I would change the pickups to fender CS’69, so Im not sure…
Thanks in advance!!
[Since you’ll be changing the electronics you basically just have the wood left, with their individual contours and specs. It’s all about which one you feel comfortable with and which feels best when you play it. They’re both great guitars but I think you should try them and decide for your self. – Bjorn]
@David McCullough, You absolutely can get a Callaham Vintage S that should bolt right on, unless you have the two screw bridge, you won’t need any drilling, or modifications. You can check Bill Callaham’s website, and there is a list that shows what screw, and string spacing each Fender model has. He also answers emails quickly if you have a hard time locating the list. But there are only two different widths!
Hey guys, does anyone know where to find a good acoustic guitar in Brazil? Im making a trip soon, and I’d like to get a nice one, thanks in advance!
Excellent discussions, Bjorn! Just curious if you’ve dabbled with any lapsteel (slide) guitars.
I suppose we could always just raise the action on a normal guitar and play it on its back across our knees. But for those of us who would like to work on songs such as Breathe, Fat Old Sun, Great Gig in the Sky, High Hopes, One of These Days, Pillow of Winds, Smile, Wot’s Uh the Deal, etc. it would be cool to actually have a dedicated electric lap steel instrument.
Best wishes from Western Nevada USA!
[Hi Gary! I’ve played lap a few times but actually never owned or explored them that much. I do play a lot of slide but I prefer doing it on a ragular guitar – usually an LP with a slightly hightened action. – Bjorn]
Hello Bjorn! I’m a big fan of David, but also a lot of other guitarists like Robert Fripp especially, Jimmy Page, Alex Lifeson, yknow. But because of my other inspirations, I’m torn between a Les Paul and a Strat. I love the Gilmour sound, but I also love the sounds they get, so would I be able to pull off a convincing Gilmour sound with humbuckers, or would the strat be able to cover these other sounds equally well? I’m looking for something versatile that can still hit David’s tones. Thanks!
[It won’t be exactly the same obviously but you can get very similar tones with an LP loaded with Duncan Phat Cat P90s or a set of low output PAFs. – Bjorn]
Hi, this question is for David McCullough
Wondering if you had gotten your Vintage Modified 70s Squier and what your thoughts are from a fellow Gilmour fanâ€™s point of view. Iâ€™ve been looking at this quite a bit lately and hoping to purchase one. How are the pickups. Particularly the bridge? I have an SSL-5 and a set of CS69s but from the demos Iâ€™ve heard, the stock pickups sound pretty darn good.
Thanks for sharing
Have you tried the Fender Modern Player series? Just recently, I bought a Fender Modern Player Stratocaster HSS as beginner guitar for my 12 year old son, his first electric guitar after playing acoustic guitar for 3 years.
Thanks for a great website!!
[Hei Kjetil! The Modern Player series feature some very nice models. The Strat HSS is a mixture of vintage and modern specs, which should fit most players and musical styles. The pickups and the humbucker in particular are on the hotter side, in terms of David’s tones, but it’s a versatile setup that should fit most amps and pedals :) – Bjorn]
Hey B…. Have to TY so much for a GREAT website. I purchased the Squire 50’s V awesome Best GuItar ever smoking hot pickups, wonderful clean tones and overdrive and distortion mayhem. I noticed you suggested trading out the tremelo. It’s a vintage bolt down trem and I have had no problem with it ? I also noticed it is the same bolt down trem on the Red Strat ? I’ve had and own Lp. Icemans, Lp 59 .Slash Lp Gt, Fender Am Standard, Rg’s [a toy] This 370.00 dollar Guitar in the #ooo1 style. Blows all of them out of the water with the stock 3 mag rwrp middle stock pick ups. I dig it so much, I dont want to change a thing. Excellent Hendrix, Srv, Trower and sweet lovely clean tone. Anyways ty for the suggestion, you were spot on. So I still want a Gilmour Guitar what do you think about the 920 d custom shops MiM 50’s neck 69 middle ssl 5 bridge Black Strats on ebay ? I know you can get a lemon anytime, What do you think about these Guitars done up like the Gilmour Black Strat ? For a Mim with lota of extras for around 750.00 ??? TY again Sir for all your hard work and information. K
[Hi Wayne! Those Vintage Vibe guitars are really great, indeed! The trem block is the same style as David’s, based on Fender’s vintage specs, but the quality is far from the same. If it works, then fine but upgrading for something better, will improve your tuning stability and the overall tone. The pre-modded DG style guitars are MIM Fenders with upgrades you can easily perform yourself. If you don’t want to modify and collect all the parts, then this is an option to consider. The price is OK. – Bjorn]
Awesome Info! I just bought a Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster ’70S and it should be here in about a week. I got it to start a “Gilmourish” Project on the cheap and have heard some great things about it. Do you think I should drop in a Callaham Vintage S? Do you know it will even fit? I have been playing on a Gibson ES-347 for 20 years and this will be my first “Strat” style guitar. I have never moddified any of my guitars in the past so this is all new to me… Thanks again.
[Hi David! Not sure if the Callaham will fit but send them an e-mail and ask. They’re very helpful. It’s certainly worth upgrading the stock bridge. – Bjorn]
Hi Bjorn, very nice article and EXCELLENT site! Congratulations, you’ve made a fantastic resource for guitarists and Gilmour fans like me.
I’m now considering buying an Strat, and I really like the American Standard. But I also saw (never tried it yet) the Ash American Deluxe, and looks beautiful and very well built. Did you tried it? Any advise about the Ash American Deluxe?
Thanks in advance.
[Hi! The difference in the wood is described in the feature above :) Apart from that it’s down to taste and what features you feel comfortable with. The guitars are pretty similar but if possible, I recommend that you try both and choose the one with the neck and body contour, laquer etc that fikts your preferences. Both are very fine instruments :) – Bjorn]
I’m always browsing Craig’s list to see what’s available and every once in a while you’ll come across something that..well….
Just had to share (I think it is still available too).
1993 Custom Shop Tele & Strat matched set, #3 of just 29
[LOL! Nice! – Bjorn]
I wanted to thank you, because its just great how you care about our gear problems, I mean you take the time to answer everyone, and that’s just cool
Thanks for all Bjorn!!!
Ahh, also I wanted to say, Airbag is just great, ‘hope everything keeps going fine for you and your band
[Thank you Tom! It’s all a pleasure :) – Bjorn]
Thanks for the killer articles. Really well put, if I may say.
For my own playing, I mostly use Squier CV Strats with a few mods. I have a CAR 60s Strat that I swapped the neck on (put on a soft V maple board Strat neck) and popped in a better trem/block, nut, and electronics (upgraded pots/switch/jack and a set of D. Allen Echoes pups (another great set of Gilmour-ish pups). I got lucky and got most of the parts really cheap.
The rest of my guitars are 50s/60s style Strats and LPs, to complement the tone I get from my Gilmour Strat.
I appreciate that you don’t try to force $3000 dollar fiddles down everyone’s throat – not all of us have that kind of income. For me, with a busy life and a packed gigging schedule, the lower end CVs and MIMs with mods are more than enough. Nothing worse than banging up an expensive guitar or having it stolen when on the road…
[Thanks for your kind words and for sharing! – Bjorn]
Hey, Bjorn. Your opinion of the new Classic series with the Nitrocellulose finishes? (On a sidenote, the moment that I was that they has a Classic 50’s strat in Candy Apple Red, all of the David Gilmour fans were going to “squee” and slap some EMG pickups in them.)
[I have only tried them briefly. Sounds and plays very well, I think. – Bjorn]
Hello, I have a chance to buy a 1999 fender Japan st-57 stratocaster for $560.00 in candy apple red, I already have a set of dg-20 pickups which i would put in it. Do you think it would be a good quality guitar for the price? Thank you for your help.
[Yep. Of course it depends on the condition of the guitar but in general, those ST models are great! – Bjorn]
I’m getting ready to pull the trigger on a MIM Classic Series 50s Stratocaster but I’m a bit perplexed on the commentary above regarding the tremolo system. The suggestion is that it be replaced as it is unstable.
That strikes me as odd since many of the other Strat models on the higher end appear to have the same system (according to specs on Fender’s website).
Can you elaborate? And, if it should be replaced can anyone suggest some viable replacement options?
[You don’t have to replace the system but it’s one of the things you can do to improve the guitar’s tone and tuning stability. Make sure that you get a proper setup for the guitar that fits your playing. If you’re not familiar with how to do this then get the shop to do it or a technician/luthier. A higher quality system, like the Callaham Vintage S, has a better operation, less friction and a block that allows the strings to sustain better. What’s important is that you like the guitar and that it’s set up to your specifications. Replacing hardware and pickups is somethings you can consider later. – Bjorn]
Hey, Bjorn, what about giving us some tips and stuff about home recording? Most of us don’t know how to do that neither what we need to do that…
[Check out this feature for some tips. – Bjorn]
Thank’s Bjorn, the tone that i want is dark side… beside the guitar i have a fender superchamp xd and one pedal tubescreamer.
[Hi, check out the Time tone tutorial for some setup tips and the Buyer’s Gear Guide for overdrive and distortion for some tips on choosing versatile pedals that’ll work with your amp. Hope this helps :) – Bjorn]
Hi Bjorn, I bought a fender stratocaster standard mim 2002, and i want to know if it’s a good guitar to get the gilmour’s tone… do you think that i need to change anything in this strat?
[I’d consider replacing the pickups perhaps into something a bit more Black Strat-ish or the EMG DG20 if PULSE is your thing. The stock pickups are OK but they’re a bit more modern sounding with boosted mid range and a darker tone. Other than that the guitar should be able to deliver some very nice tones depending on your amp and pedals :) – Bjorn]
I was thinking about buying a Telecaster as I’ve been really into Animals. Also, since I already have a Strat I thought it would be a nice change. There is a guy selling a used MIM Tele for $240. Do you know what to look for when buying used guitars? I don’t want to accidentally buy a bad guitar.
Hope your new year is fantastic!
[Hi Ben! Basically what you would look at on a new guitar, as explained in this feature. What model and year is it? Personally I think the MIM Standards from the early 2000s and earlier are not worth it. The hardware and pickups can always be replaced but check out the neck especially. You can adjust a curved neck but a twisted one is very difficult and it’s gonna cost you. Other than that, try the guitar and feel how it plays. – Bjorn]
Bought a 1989 MIK Squier Strat(Best feeling neck I’ve played on a Strat thus far, without any unnecessary exaggeration, haha.)
I’ve swapped the neck pickup for a DiMarzio Virtual Vintage Blues pickup, and placed a CS 69 in the bridge, both of which have really elevated the guitar’s prowess and have made it an every-day player. The middle pickup sounded fine as it was. Your thorough guide and some personal research have helped me bring out a wonderful Gilmour-inspired instrument.
Side note: I switched out a few capacitors in a new “Block logo” phase 90, as well as removing the R28 resistor that generates the pre-existing ‘overdrive’, and I’m getting some nice “warbles” from it. I played it next to an original 1975 Phase 90 the other day(Guitar Center reeled one in!) and the difference made by a few swapped caps and snipped resistor was tremendous.
[Thanks for sharing, Jason! – Bjorn]
I have been offered a 50s Road Worn Strat in black for half the recommended list price, its on sale in the shop now. The problem is I can’t get to try it for a few weeks, I was going to buy a 70s Classic strat in black before they offered me the 50s RW, dilemma do I pay Â£600 for a Â£1000 RW’ or Â£600 for the Classic with no discount.
I thought the 70s Classic would have the better Gilmour type tone, but at the top of this page you advise to buy the 50s RW’…. any advice you give would be helpfull.
[Although both the neck and body wood make up much of the tone you can always mod the guitar with new pickups for a tone closer to what you want. In this case, both guitars will give you a nice Gilmour tone and if you swap the stock pickups with something even more Gilmourish, then you got yourself a nice instrument! You should be aware that the RW guitars are heavy reliced and they have a faded body finish, which makes them sound slightly darker than other non reliced guitars. Some like the feel and tone but others can’t stand it. You should definitely try before buying. – Bjorn]
Sorry for the length, but I’m manic over a guitar I didn’t know existed anynore.
Peace, Keith, Uncle Ebb, Clarke
Hey everyone, serial poster Uncle Ebb, with a recommendation! While David is known for his use of Stratocasters on all tours, fact is, he used many other guitars, and pickups for the recording of many of your favorite tracks. I walked into Sam Ash and saw a Gibson SG that brought some beautiful, yet painful memories of a rare White ’63 SG special, that was stolen in 1985. I had to almost do a doubletake, before I knew it was a brand new, 2011 50th Anniversay Pete Towmshend SG Special, with the same mods both Townshend, and coincidentally, I made to mine. Instead of the Stock Maestro tremolo that was stock on SG Specials, I had a wraparound installed, and changed my tuners top Grovers. Because PT preferred the same mods, this guitar comes that way from the factory. I picked up the guitar, and 1982 came rushing back to me. The stock, totally vintage correct p-90s cover everything, from an overwound Strat pickup, into PAF range, and the axe has an infinite number of tones available via the 3 way switch, and separate volume, and tone for each soapbar! I strongly recommend this guitar for any style of music, the thin, c shaped, yet narrow neck, with a flat 12″ radius, is so easy to play, you can bend the high E over the top of the neck if you want. This is the first atock Gibson made after the late ’70s, I’d consider buying, and this one somehow got lost, and resurfaced in time for me to pluck it for $1000.00! Used ones are going for generally $1300.00 on eBay, but I did see one for $900.00! Someone should grab it, it will only increase in value, and will play better, and look better with age. Not the typical Gilmourish guitar, but it sings Gilmour, Cream, Townshend, and any damn thing you want. Check it out on the Gilmourish Facebook page. It’s beautiful, and sounds like heaven!
Sorry fir the
Great overall reviews on the guitars. Just a few observations from my playing. As far as the bridges CV Squiers and MIM Strats go, they in themselves really aren’t unstable any more then a 2 point MIA bridge. Setup, lubrication, and balancing the spring tension of the bridge against the string tension are the most important things to keep in mind. Most of the times that you knock a Strat out of tune with the term it’s usually the strings getting bound up in the nut or at the saddles. A little pencil graphite or even chapstick goes a long way to help the strings return back to their zeroed position. Also properly winding and stretching your strings is a huge factor too.
A lot of people ignore these steps and then blame the term itself for tuning issues.
Love your blog btw.
But like you said it’s all about what feels good to you.
[Thanks for the input, JM. Very important points that you’re making. I use a mixture of pencil graphite and hair wax for all my guitars and it does the trick. Although all this lubrication, stretching and whatnot helps a great deal it’s also about the construction of the bridges and the saddles. A stable tuning require as little friction as possible and as smooth as possible operation, which also means that all the slots and saddles needs to have the right angle, length etc… some of the cheaper models and hardware doesn’t quite have this standard. – Bjorn]
First of all thanks very much for this great website! I have a question on guitars. So far I’ve been using my first guitar, which is a Squier stratocaster. I’m thinking of buying a Mexican Fender 50s Classic strat because it seems to be the best value for money. This article says that over last decade, Mexican Fenders improved significantly. Could you give me some more specific info as to the timing of this improvement? The reason is that I have an opportunity to buy a used piece which was manufactured 2005-2006 and I’m not sure if this time period is already the “improved quality” for the Mexican Fenders or not. Thanks!
[Hi Malcik. I now the MIMs got an overhaul in the early 2000s and the Standards in particular got a few upgrades just recently but for a more precise dating and for all the specs I think you’re better off searching for some reviews or perhaps even post a question on the Fender forum or Gear Page. I’m sure they can answer better than I. What I do know though is that a MIM Classic from 2005/06 is a very good instrument. The neck is very easy to play and feels very natural. As with all the MIM guitars I’d consider replacing the pickups with something better and, if your budget allows it, upgrade the bridge and pots as well. With that you’ll get a great instrument. – Bjorn]
I’ve had quite a few guitars over the years but have found the stratocaster is my favourite. I’ve had a number of these including a 70’s U.S made hardtail in “antigua” (ugh!), which was a fairly dead guitar, an early Tokai “springy sound” which wasn’t bad but choked like crazy if you tried to bend the strings too far. I’ve a Japanese “Strat” with a kramer trem which is very nicely made but has a locking nut which I hate, a mexican classic player with vintage frets and neck radius( which are, even in the words of the great strat player, Robin Trower, “bloody hard work”),….and my favourites…a bullet squier I found in a shed which has a great neck and a plywood body(!), and 2 squier standards which have quite different neck profiles. The squiers are all comfy to play, I dont’ have to worry about dings and dents. I’ve sanded the necks, tinted them and applied tru oil or nitro, filed the fret ends etc and they’re great. Fit new pickups when the mood suits. Moral of the story is, cheap guitars suit me fine!…Having said that, I’m trying to save for a K-Line “strat” in fiesta red…just got to find the best part of Â£2000!
[Yep, you can find some very nice guitars within the budget range and recent upgrades and move to low cost countries and factories have made it possible to offer very good instruments for very little. – Bjorn]
@Shaun Porter, the six screw bridge is vintage correct, and the screw spacing should be 2 7/32. If it’s an MIM, or whatever it is, as long as it’s fender, Bill Callaham’s site has a chart telling you what the string spacing for the body should be. It wiil be either 2 7/32, or the slightly narrower 2 1/16. Either way, the screw spacing can be 2 7/32, most are, but screw spacing doesn’t tell you the correct string spacing. So, if the screw spacing is 2 7/32, you still need to check the chart for the string spacing. In theory, my handcrafted Strat, should have the 2 7/32 string spacing, but often, that puts the strings too close to the edge of the neck for me, abd especially with the way sone frets are finished, it can cause problems, so since the difference, is only 1/32 per string narrower,I went with the 2 1/16 spacing, Callaham vintage S Bridge, but my screw spacing is 2 7/32, as most are. Consult Bill’s site, or Bill himself, and you will get the perfect fit. Just my two cents, as I’m building guitars now.
Hi Bjorn, in regard to “Scooter’s” comment above, I was leaning toward the total vintage neck myself having looked them over. I also liked the fact that it had the 7.25″ radius. Your right- prices are pretty good for what you get. One thing I’m not sure of and maybe I missed on the site was verification that the maple necks stock used are from quarter sawn material or not! This would be the last factor to confirm b-4 I buy. My guitar body came today I noticed it had the vintage 6 point bridge drill pattern. I believe it has the MIM more narrow spacing but will have to verify. Getting pretty excited though! Shaun
[Nice! Try sending a request. They’ve been very helpful. – Bjorn]
I’m also building a blk strat out of a 97 MIM and have looked at the warmoth necks but there is so many to chose from. So could you point out what I should be looking for and what options to help me with ny selection
[Depends on what you want. A good tip is to visit your local guitar store and try a bunch of different necks. I prefer the Strat Total Vintage but you might prefer something else. – Bjorn]
Thanks Bjorn, I will need all the luck I can get. If its alright with you, I was hoping to keep you in the loop as it progresses for your sheer entertainment if nothing else. I did see some of the Warmoth necks online and will now be taking a better look at them thanks as always for pointing me in a good direction. Shaun
[Please do! – Bjorn]