Which PU should I use in which guitar?


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While I wait another couple months for my warmoth to get here I thought I'd re-wire my cheapo MIM Fender Strat this weekend.  I've already rewired it in the past with a Duncan Cool Rails in the bridge and Vintage rails in the neck, with switches for series/parallel/single and an all on switch giving it 15 PU combintations.   It doesn't sound great, but better than it did.


I ordered a Duncan SSL-5 for the MIM strat, but since I already have my pickups for my warmoth project just sitting around, I'm getting second thougths and am now considering trading the middle PU's, one for the other, but.... I'm not sure.

I have an Seymour Duncan SSL-1 & SSL-5.   One's gonna go in the thin sounding (not really sure of the wood due to the cheapness, maybe alder or even basswood?) MIM Fender Strat.  The other is going to go in the middle of the mahogany warmoth strat with a full sized JB in the bridge and Stag Mag in the neck.

I know I could always just switch them later if I don't like them, but... I'd rather not.

So, just throwing it out there. 

What do you think I should do?


For strats I like a hot humbucker in the bridge and single coils in the mid and neck.  Using 500 K pots.

A couple things will affect your sound.
1) The amp.  EQ it.
2) Scale length.  shorter scales sound thicker, warmer or mushier depending on your reference.  Longer scale will be trawngier and more focused, less mushy.
3) Pots.  250K pots will be warmer, 500K pots brighter.
4) PUPS.  Humbuckers will be warmer.  Single coil brighter.

The biggest thing you could do is change the neck, see how it sounds then change the pots.  After that, the guitar is what it is.
Well..... I should probably clarify that I'm not changing anything on the guitars, or amps, or electronics.  Just middle pickups that I already have sitting aroudn waiting to be installed.  One's going in the MIM strat, the other in the Warmoth.    Which would you use in which?
Definitely the SSL1 with the JB in the warmoth. JB + SSL1 = very cool, unique funky clean tone. Very organic. SSL1 plus neck humbucker yields the my favorite pup combination ever... really spectacular and articulate tone. Best cleans ever, and really punches through with distortion. Split the Stag Mag, and now you have classic strat sounds.

Oh, and definitely use 250k tone pots. Volume, go with your instincts. The ssl1 and JB are both bright pups, they'll like the 250k. Warmth of the mahogany will balance everything out. Keep in mind that standard single coils will be way quieter than the humbuckers (even when split). Still sounds awesome, the singlecoil cleans up and adds sparkle and bite to the humbuckers. I love this setup; just don't expect anything close to even volume.

PS What's the neck wood? This'll make a big difference in tonal variety.

My observations here are from a maple/rosewood neck, black korina body tele with duncan Jazz, SSL1, and JB. Individual coil taps on both humbuckers.
OK, but swapping out the middle pick ups will only give you subtle change in the sound.  I'm not saying that that may not be enough, but it'll be subtle.  You'll just get more bang for your buck by changing the pots and neck length.  And down the road you'd save more money by swapping the neck.

That said, put the SSL1 in the warmoth. 
Let me add, that you might want to raise the pups closer to the strings.  It'll make the sound thicker.
I ended up putting the SSL-5 in the strat.  It's very bass heavy and surprinsingly dark.  I actually had to lower it a bit in the pickguard.  It's a weird combination with the cool rails and vintage rails as both those pickups are softer.  Although.... the 2 position with the cool rails coil taped and the SSL-5 together give an amazing "quack" tone that I've never been able to get out of a strat before.

I think I'll keep it, and am very glad I'm saving the SSL-1 for the Warmoth.

On a side note.... while changing the pickup, I changed the cap on the tone knob from a stock .047 cheapo to a Mallory .022, and my god.... I have never in my life heard such a drastic difference on a tone knob.  It's like sweeping through the frequencies on a wah pedal now, instead of just full bright, full dark, like it used to be.  I might actually start using my tone knob.

id say for a strat nuse a 60's humbucker type model and a jb in the neck jb is sweet on the neck of a strat or any guitar jb is a nice pickup model