2009 Fender Mexican Stratocaster Electric Guitar

This guitar is now on its fifth version. I imagine it started-out as a stock '09 MIM Strat. When it came to me, however, it had a set of active EMG pickups installed and a white-pearl pickguard. I replaced that with a set of older Strat-style pickups for a few weeks and used it for a number of gigs squeezed into that short period.

After that, a friend of mine had me "mod-it-up" for him -- though after playing it for a bit, he realized he was after more of a "classic Strat" tone. I gutted that modified version and used the Danelectro pickup on an old archtop guitar of mine and then modified this guitar yet again and did it in the way that I'd originally intended when I took it in trade for a bunch of labor I was owed.

It's now wearing a "genuine Fender" tortoise pickguard and has a set of import (Korean?) Alnico-magnet, 1/4" flat pole, Strat-style pickups. They're "vintage" in output and range from about 5.5k at the neck and 6.3k at the bridge, though tonally they're a bit more striking. They sound an awful lot like Mustang pickups that've been merged with a hybrid Strat/Dynasonic tone. In the neck-mid and bridge-mid positions there's plenty of Strat quack, but the overall vibe is a bit snarlier in the lower mids and a bit drier on the top-end. It's a good alternative tone and absolutely loves splashy reverb.

As for the controls, I wired this in "weirdo fashion." I have a simple master volume control and then I have two 3-way switches which, in effect, give you all the various switching options you might want and also make the guitar behave like a more-diverse "2 pickup" instrument. The first 3-way switches from neck/neck+lower/lower. By "lower" I mean the output of the second 3-way which switches from mid/mid+bridge/bridge.

My logic assumes that this being a Strat, you're mostly going to hang-out in the excellent neck position. You'll then want to switch into some sort of "lead" setting. With the lower switch selecting the bridge only, the guitar behaves (and sounds) like a more aggressive Mustang via the upper (main) 3-way switch. You get a snarly bridge lead tone and a thicker, non-hum-cancelling middle position which recalls the ghostly echoes of guitar forum nerdity involving the "mid" tone of early Strats.

Now, I'm mostly satisfied with a 2-pickup configuration like that -- but, you say, where's my quack? Add it back, of course! If you leave the upper switch in the middle position and move the lower switch to the "up" position, you've got Strat postion 2 -- quack between the neck and middle. If you move both switches to the middle you have "superquack" -- with all three pickups are engaged. If you leave the lower switch in the middle but move the upper switch to "just lower" (ie, bridge), you then get Strat position 4 -- middle and bridge.

Now that all that nerdity is resolved, let me just take a moment to say that in addition to the control layout, the electronics themselves are good quality -- a Switchcraft jack, heavy-duty full-size 3-ways, an Alpha 500k pot for the volume, and a fully-shielded (with solder overlapping copper tape) control cavity and shielded pickguard. It's set.

I'd also previously added Gibson-style strap buttons and replaced the MIM cheapy trem block with a steel one sold by GuitarFetish that fits the MIM plate perfectly and accepts a US-threaded bar. The setup (with 46w-10 strings) is perfect with 1/16" overall action at the 12th fret, barely-touched frets, and a nice neck profile which is hair-over 1 5/8" at the nut and has a mild-medium, C-shaped neck with a 12" radius to the fretboard. It feels a lot like a '60s Fender -- with a bit of extra modern convenience.

The guitar is lightly-used and has mild use-wear throughout. There are a few tiny dings, some scuffs and a mild-medium amount of light buckle-wear on the rear. It still looks great, though, and the tortoise pickguard is really set-off by the candy-apple finish and maple board.

See how wide the poles are? They're not staggered, either -- hence some of that "Mustang" tone. Bending the strings like a nut won't drop your level with poles this big, though my real reason for using them was to try and get a bit more of that Dynasonic mystique going without having to spring for GFS Surf 90s (which are fantastic pickups but humbucker-sized).

Wait! Did you see it? Yes! I modified the hole for the missing lever switch into a pick-holder.

I made a small rosewood piece which has a slot cut into it and a bit of a "grabby" effect via duct-tape backing on it. That's attached through the old mounting holes for the lever switch and, for your playing delight, you now have a place to store a pick that's a lot less wonky than those triangular, stick-on "pick-pack" gizmos. If you're using a pick that's at all "normal-ish" in shape and size, it won't fall through the slot and should hold nicely.