Five Cool Strat Mods

The Stratocaster is a great guitar as it is, but why wouldn’t you want to make it even better? I’m going to a look at a few things you can do to tweak your strat to your taste and get more out of it.

Push/pull switch for neck pickup. 

Also known as the 7-position Strat. The sounds you get from a five way switch are fine, but there are a couple more you can get that are actually pretty cool. Neck and bridge together is more like a telecaster middle position kind of sound and very handy. To do this, you can install a push/pull switch that switches on the neck pickup, so in conjunction with the five way, you can access neck/bridge together and all three pickups on. All pickups is a bit muddier than the other options, but it might be a sound you could use too. 

The first diagram shows the standard strat wiring. 

In the next diagram we have replaced the bridge tone switch with a push/pull and added two wires (shown in green) to add the neck pickup to the circuit. 

Now the neck pickup is added when you pull up on the tone switch, giving you the following options: 

  1. Bridge and neck
  2. All three
  3. Middle and neck
  4. Middle and neck
  5. Neck

Push down on the tone switch, and it’s back to normal.

Tele-like wiring 

If you like the neck and bridge option but don’t want a push pull, you can use a three way switch, just like a telecaster (1. bridge, 2. neck and bridge, 3. neck). But what about the middle pickup? We can make the lower tone control a global tone, then turn the middle pot into a volume for the middle pickup. You can then add the middle pickup at any time to get all seven options from three pickups, and dial in how quacky you want the in-between sounds (normally positions 2 and 4). It’s a really versatile setup, and one of my favourites. Think of it as a Telecaster with a middle pickup you can dial in with its own pot.

Tone on bridge 

Traditionally, the middle pot is a neck tone control, and the lower pot is the tone control for the middle pickup. But what about the bridge? That’s the one pickup that could benefit from a tone control! To make the lower control work on the middle and bridge, simply add one wire as shown. 

Beefier bridge pickup 

A typical complaint of a the traditional strat setup is that the bridge pickup can be rather thin. Swapping out the stock pickup for an overwound strat-style pickup can get rid of the “ice picky” sound. It’s a very useful mod that gives you all five options. You don’t want a pickup option that you never use. If you want even more gain, a twin-blade single coil size humbucker is a popular upgrade. 

Trem setup 

Did you know you can setup a strat-style tremolo to play in tune? The trem is usually setup to just go down in pitch, and often with maybe a semitone upwards when you pull on the arm. Setup correctly, the D and B strings can be tuned to go up two semitones and one semitone respectively. 

What are some of your favourite ways to mod your strat? 

If you need any of these modifications done to your guitar, let me know!

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