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Ultimate 5-pickup Fender Stratocaster, Worlds Most Versatile Guitar?

by vaughn skow October 26, 2012 3 min read

Ultimate 5-pickup Fender Stratocaster, Worlds Most Versatile Guitar

I’m sub-titling this: "Vaughn’s Halloween Blog: The Frankenstrat Gets Even Creepier"!  (Frankenstrat v2.0)

My #1 electric is a 1995 Fender ’62 RI, and for the record, it came to me already quite ... well, shall we say "modified"?  When I found it at Nashville Used Music, it had a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails in the Bridge & a Seymour Duncan mini-humbucker in the neck position, a "swimming pool" cavity route,Graphtec string-saver saddles, and a roller nut & accompanying string tree.  After just a year or two, I put a Custom Shop Texas Special Strat pickup in the neck position, and re-located the mini-hum to an "almost" neck position; at that time I went with just a master volume & tone control & replaced the middle tone control with a mini-toggle that, when in the neck position switched between the Texas Special & the mini-hum, and when in the bridge position, split the hot rails into a single coil or a humbucker.

If you feel so led, go back and read my initial Frankenstrat blog from about two years back.

End result: a very versatile guitar!  I loved the option of the strat or humbucker neck pickup, but the hot rails never sounded worth a flip in single coil mode.  Plus, the vintage style split-shaft fender tuners and vintage style bridge ensured long string changes and constant tuning! So, I decided it was time to address every complaint, and finally make the worlds ultimately versatile players Strat!  Thus, the Frankenstrat V2.0 was brought to life!

First up, One more pickup!  If 4 pickups are good, five are better, right?  In this case, yea, sorta. I LOVE the sound of the Hot Rails in the bridge, but really missed the traditional Strat bridge tone. I have a stock American Deluxe Strat with SCN pickups, and I (personally) really like them, so I picked up one and proceeded to squeeze it in as close to the bridge as possible.  It didn’t work, even with a copper shield between them, my two bridge pickups being right next to one another just had too much electro-magnetic interaction and "cross-talk".

Ultimate 5-pickup Fender Stratocaster, Worlds Most Versatile Guitar

Speaking of shielding, while I was at it, I decided to shield the whole internal cavity.  How much did it help? Not at all, as far as I can tell.

Ultimate 5-pickup Fender Stratocaster, Worlds Most Versatile Guitar

So, the final position ended up being with the new SCN single coil right mid-way between the bridge & middle pickups.  I also added a second mini-toggle, and now one switches between the single coil & humbucker in the neck position (as it had) and the other between the single coil & humbucker in the bridge position.  The addition of a real single coil in the bridge is great, but it’s really to far from the bridge to get the serious strat/telly twang ... but it is close.

Ultimate 5-pickup Fender Stratocaster, Worlds Most Versatile Guitar

Next came the bridge, I went with an original Wilkinson 100, a very good sounding and stable bridge.  Sperzel locking tuners rounded out the upgrade.  With the new bridge & tuners, string changes are lightning-fast, and tuning stability is greatly improved, plus, the whammy bar is now truly useable!

Ultimate 5-pickup Fender Stratocaster, Worlds Most Versatile Guitar

There you have it, a seriously messed-up but versatile and functional Fender Stratocaster.  There are some trade-offs, of course.  A solid wall of pickups has GOT to have a lot of pull on those poor unsuspecting strings; I have the pickups especially low to help combat this.  Also, even with shielding between all the pickups, there is still a bit of cross-talk between adjacent pickups.  I took all this into consideration, and then thought about the three-pickup Gibsons; now there’s a solid wall of magnetism!  That was my official green-light to go for it.  Would I do it all over again?  Shoot yea, it’s what I live for.

If you have similar "Franken-guitars" email me pics & storys ... or post here as a reply.  We mad scientists must stick together; that way we’ll be prepared when the villagers come at us with pitchforks & toarches!

emailVaughn     About Vaughn Skow

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