Strat 2/4 positions - overrated

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chris45chris45 Frets: 49
I've been playing my US Standard Strat quite a bit recently.  The single pickups are each fine and have a recognisable tone.  Position 2 (neck and middle) is... well OK, a bit country, fine as a clean sound but not a patch on the neck alone.  Position 4 is just mud when clean, all the high is gone and is unusable for me.  Oh and they are both useless with any drive.
I've only the one SSS so nothing to compare to - is this my guitar or just reality?  BTW Each pickup on their own to my ears has the same perceived volume output.
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  • richardhomerrichardhomer Frets: 18902
    Bridge & middle together sound great on mine - but it is quite a fat-sounding Strat.

    Largely a matter of taste as well....
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32861
    Does your Strat have the ‘Delta Tone’ hotter-wound bridge pickup? If so that’s why the bridge/middle sound is muddy.

    Normally it’s horribly thin and clicky :).

    I’m not normally much of a fan either, but they do have their uses so I do have a 5-way switch on my Strat-type.

    In particular you need them (with a RWRP middle pickup) if you’re playing anywhere with a lot of electrical noise ;).
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • AlnicoAlnico Frets: 4221
    edited February 14
    I'm not sure which way people count the positions but I use bridge and middle a lot.
    Sweet Home Alabama is an example.

    The other one, neck and middle I use when I want a darker neck tone and then flick to just the neck pickup when I want a slight apparent boost and a brighter tone but admittedly this is the position I use the least.

    I'm using SD Classic Stack Humbuckers STK4.
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  • bbill335bbill335 Frets: 648
    From your last sentence, it sounds like you could do with adjusting your pickup heights. 

    Bridge/middle has its place for funky/disco cleans. Neck/middle always sounds like someone trying to copy SRV but ending up in john mayer's ballpark. 

    I would be quite happy with a three way on my strat, with an option for neck/bridge. 
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  • BRISTOL86BRISTOL86 Frets: 1435
    I like the neck and middle combination a lot 
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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 937
    edited February 14
    chris45 said:
    I've been playing my US Standard Strat quite a bit recently.  The single pickups are each fine and have a recognisable tone.  Position 2 (neck and middle) is... well OK, a bit country, fine as a clean sound but not a patch on the neck alone.  Position 4 is just mud when clean, all the high is gone and is unusable for me.  Oh and they are both useless with any drive.
    I've only the one SSS so nothing to compare to - is this my guitar or just reality?  BTW Each pickup on their own to my ears has the same perceived volume output.
    Burn the heretic. 

    (Only kidding...) 

    It's always a matter of taste. It's not the sort of tone I would choose to put a lot of drive onto, TBH, but using position 4 is similar to position 2 for me - on a Strat and a Sillhouette - just slightly spikier. Edge of breakup sounds great with those settings to my ears.
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  • RavenousRavenous Frets: 1448

    I think the bridge/middle is a nice sound with compression.  (Otherwise it's a bit thin & trebly.)

    But it's all individual preference anyway.

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  • guitars4youguitars4you Frets: 4582
    I love both combinations - those with the neck on its own are almost the 3 settings I use nearly all the time - Middle never and bridge on its own only on rare occasions - But with respect the position 2+4 can sound better on some guitars than others
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  • 2&4 sound great clean or with light overdrive on my CS Strat with El Diablo pickups. There is a slight loss of definition and highs when switching from 1/3/5 so I tend to EQ amp to the 2&4 with tone controls fully open and then roll back tone to control the 'bite' on the 1/3/5 as required.

    The 2/4 positions don't sound the best with higher gain, but that's not what I expect from a Strat.

    "...I can hear you breathing down the hall"
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  • impmannimpmann Frets: 7394
    edited February 14
    Position 2 & 4 just sound vile.

    Leo was right - a three way switch is the correct fitment for a Strat. :-)
    Never Ever Bloody Anything Ever.

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  • carloscarlos Frets: 1365
    Bridge and middle is what I consider to the be the strat sound. For just bridge I prefer a humbucker.
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  • EmielEmiel Frets: 26
    Try the 'Eric Johnson' wiring, or in normal terms, wire the first tone pot to the neck pickup and the second to the bridge pickup. That way the in-between positions will gain a fair bit of treble.. That's not to say I'm using position 2 and 4 much...
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32861
    Emiel said:
    Try the 'Eric Johnson' wiring, or in normal terms, wire the first tone pot to the neck pickup and the second to the bridge pickup. That way the in-between positions will gain a fair bit of treble.. That's not to say I'm using position 2 and 4 much...
    Actually it will slightly brighten the neck/middle but not change the bridge/middle at all. It also makes the middle pickup sound a bit overbearing, if you do use it alone.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • rossirossi Frets: 451
    edited February 14
    bbill335 said:

    Bridge/middle has its place for funky/disco cleans.


    This is my first sound check  when I check out any strat .A disco Niles Rogers type bar  cord up top end .I then know is a good un.Some strats  don't hit the spot  very well.I rarely  actually use that sound but I know its there .I am of course mad ........
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  • FuengiFuengi Frets: 611
    I use neck or bridge, and neck and bridge via an s1 switch. 

    The middle pickup never gets used. 
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  • chris45chris45 Frets: 49
    ICBM said:
    Does your Strat have the ‘Delta Tone’ hotter-wound bridge pickup? If so that’s why the bridge/middle sound is muddy.

    Normally it’s horribly thin and clicky :).

    I’m not normally much of a fan either, but they do have their uses so I do have a 5-way switch on my Strat-type.

    In particular you need them (with a RWRP middle pickup) if you’re playing anywhere with a lot of electrical noise ;).
    It does - although I try to keep the tone pot engaged anyway.  Does the Delta Tone wiring impact this even if the tone pot is on?
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3008
    I really like the 2 and 4 tones..
    prob though is that they vanish a bit in the mix..
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32861
    chris45 said:

    It does - although I try to keep the tone pot engaged anyway.  Does the Delta Tone wiring impact this even if the tone pot is on?
    Yes, because the bridge pickup is hotter and slightly muddier-sounding than a normal Strat bridge pickup, and it affects the combined bridge/middle sound even more. The characteristic hollow "out of phase" (which actually isn't - it just sounds vaguely like it) sound of a Strat relies on the two pickups being very well matched for output and tone, or there is less frequency cancellation and you don't get the 'quack' or 'chink' tone as strongly. I'm fairly sure this is why there are such large differences between even normal Strats for this too.

    I actually prefer it - I'm not a huge fan of the 'quack' sound. I have a hotter bridge pickup in my 'Strat' and a master tone control (so there's no extra roll-off in the neck/middle position as there is with two) and the bridge/middle sound is actually fatter than the neck/middle - which I also like, because I tend to use the neck/middle clean and the bridge/middle with a little dirt, so the difference is better that way round.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • For me, the strat should have stayed with the three way switch
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • EmielEmiel Frets: 26
    edited February 14
    ICBM said:
    Emiel said:
    Try the 'Eric Johnson' wiring, or in normal terms, wire the first tone pot to the neck pickup and the second to the bridge pickup. That way the in-between positions will gain a fair bit of treble.. That's not to say I'm using position 2 and 4 much...
    Actually it will slightly brighten the neck/middle but not change the bridge/middle at all. It also makes the middle pickup sound a bit overbearing, if you do use it alone.
    It will brighten it up a bit if the bridge was already connected to the tone pot in the first place. I like having the neck and bridge pickups wired to the tone pots (and not the middle), seems to create more balance from pickup position 1 all down to 5.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32861
    edited February 14
    Emiel said:

    It will brighten it up a bit if the bridge was already connected to the tone pot in the first place.
    No, it will not. Whether the bridge or the middle pickup, or both of them, is connected to the tone pot makes no difference to the bridge/middle position - it's the same single tone pot and cap.

    It does definitely brighten the neck/middle position because with both tone pots connected, the effective resistance is halved so it's like turning the tone pot down to about 7 or 8. (Not 5, since they're Log pots.)

    Emiel said:

    I like having the neck and bridge pickups wired to the tone pots (and not the middle), seems to create more balance from pickup position 1 all down to 5.
    I find it makes the middle pickup really 'jump out' too much. I like the middle pickup a lot, and I wouldn't want it to be without a tone control, but that's just a personal thing. I know a lot of Strat players never use the middle at all.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 8564
    bbill335 said:
     Neck/middle always sounds like someone trying to copy SRV but ending up in john mayer's ballpark. 

    Plenty of famous people have ended up in John Mayer's ballpark, by all accounts. 
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1420
    I have a 3 way on my strat.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32861
    jpfamps said:
    I have a 3 way on my strat.
    Ah, but what settings does it have? ;)

    I've done a couple which go neck/neck+middle/bridge+middle for customers who want their favourite Strat sounds and not the others.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • impmannimpmann Frets: 7394
    rossi said:
    bbill335 said:

    Bridge/middle has its place for funky/disco cleans.


    This is my first sound check  when I check out any strat .A disco Niles Rogers type bar  cord up top end .I then know is a good un.Some strats  don't hit the spot  very well.I rarely  actually use that sound but I know its there .I am of course mad ........
    Nile Rogers mainly uses the neck pickup... and I was told he has kept the three way in 'the Hitmaker'. Just sayin...
    Never Ever Bloody Anything Ever.

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  • ESBlondeESBlonde Frets: 2372
    On my strat the bridge middle is used plenty, I typically have the tone rolled down on the middle pickup to about 3 to get some fatness back into it, but it sounds great and works clean or driven. That and the bridge on it's own gets most of the use as these are classic strat sounds. I do use other guitars live too so that might make a difference to how I perceive the sounds.

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  • impmann said:
    <snip>
    Nile Rogers mainly uses the neck pickup... and I was told he has kept the three way in 'the Hitmaker'. Just sayin...

    My '73 started off life with a 3-way switch. I still used to find the in-between settings, though. I didn't change the switch until started to misbehave. I expect Niles knows how to do it, too...  ;)
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  • Bridge & middle together sound great on mine - but it is quite a fat-sounding Strat.

    Largely a matter of taste as well....
    Agreed. Bridge on its own is too snappy. Bridge and middle is perfect 
    "Pick your noses up!"
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1420
    ICBM said:
    jpfamps said:
    I have a 3 way on my strat.
    Ah, but what settings does it have? ;)

    I've done a couple which go neck/neck+middle/bridge+middle for customers who want their favourite Strat sounds and not the others.
    Just the 3 pickup settings.

    Didn't Blackmore have the middle pickup disconnected?
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  • bbill335bbill335 Frets: 648
    impmann said:
    rossi said:
    bbill335 said:

    Bridge/middle has its place for funky/disco cleans.


    This is my first sound check  when I check out any strat .A disco Niles Rogers type bar  cord up top end .I then know is a good un.Some strats  don't hit the spot  very well.I rarely  actually use that sound but I know its there .I am of course mad ........
    Nile Rogers mainly uses the neck pickup... and I was told he has kept the three way in 'the Hitmaker'. Just sayin...
    Yeah Nile maybe the king of disco but it doesn't begin and end with him. I was thinking of the spanky ABITWpt2 rhythm sound, which is kind of a disco trope, I feel.
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