Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #137437  by gr8fullfred
 Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:07 pm
You can't put single coils in a gibson and get it to sound like a fender or double coils in a fender and make it sound like a gibson...the thing sounded pretty much like a fender.
Actually you can do that! If you transplanted a stock strat middle pickup into a Les Paul or other "Gibson like guitar, and played it using the single coil middle pickup, it would sound "more" strat like then the humbucking bridge or neck pickup. You would also be able to tune the guitar, something a strat can never quite can do.
If you bent one string, the rest would stay in tune, unlike a strat.

Likewise if you transplanted a gibson like humbucker into the neck position of a strat, it would sound more gibson like than the stock fender single coil. Of course, even after transplanting the humbucker into the strat, the strat would still not be in tune, and certainly would not be in tune after you worked the wammy bar.

Certainly the scale length differences would not go away.

Jerry liked the single coil pickups, and the scale length. He did not apparently like strats, again he de-strat-i- fied Alligator to the point of Alligator not really being all that strat like. Of Course Jerry liked to play a guitar that could be played in tune (who doesn't?).
 #137440  by jeager
 Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:36 pm
Who says a Strat can't be played in tune. That is nonsense really. All guitars gibson, fender whatever are subject to compromises in terms of intonation if thats what you are talking about. If rather you are talking about the bend one string and the bridge moves issue, thats easy to solve. You just tighten the springs, block it or get a hard tail like I have. Alligator was a strat, every other guitar he played had the strat scale which is a major component of the tone and the single coil middle pup, also a major component of the Stratocaster sound. The difference in scale length really defines what compliment of overtones are possible for the pickups to produce. I would say Jerry must have liked Strats given the choices he made on the custom guitars that came later.
 #137442  by gr8fullfred
 Mon Mar 10, 2014 3:08 pm
Seems to me if Jerry liked strats, he would have played strats.

He did not play strats. The one he did play was modified to reduce the problems INHERENT in Strats.

I know clapton plays strats (at least in public). There are reasons for this:
1) he gets paid a lot of money for playing them
2) Claptons strats are totally custom made, tweaked and of much higher quality than a regular strat.
3) Clapton has also modified the electronics, special pickups, treble boosters etc.................

The basic truth of the matter is that Stratocasters were designed to be CHEAP AND EASY to manufacture.
That is the basic function of a strat, to be cheap and easy to manufacture. Any trait of a quality guitar cannot be found in a strat. Cheap wood, bolt on neck, massive routing, tuning unstable tremolo setup.
Leo got the scale length right, have to hand it to him there. But the basic virtue of a strat is that it is cheap to manufacture and therefore cheap to buy. Chances are that when Jerry first played Wolf, it played and sounded so good Jerry could not believe it. And although he may have occasionally played a strat when his regular guitars were not available (sitting in somewhere). After receiving WOLF, Jerry NEVER went back to playing a strat on a regular basis. NEVER! That is why it would be stupid for Fender to even think about a Alligator replica.

The idea of the Jerrified Fender Twin is not bad, except that even fewer of us out there are educated in that area, so the market would be pretty small.

If you really like Strats, I have one for sale...................PM me..............................
 #137447  by Jon S.
 Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:41 pm
I think you got it 2/3 right. Leo designed Strats to be cheap, easy to manufacture, and to sound good.
 #137454  by James-T
 Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:18 pm
Wow, what a discussion on Stratocasters. There is a great youtube video of Clapton talking about Blackie. Clapton plays stratocasters because they are integral to his tone and no doubt he just loves them. Blackie was had at a pawn shop somewhere in the mid west for probably 100 bucks. Clapton would buy stratocasters at very chance on tour in the 70's and the final Blackie was a parts caster, or at least that's my recollection of hearing him tell the story.

I'd have to say the Stratocaster is a timeless piece of design. I think its the perfect electric guitar. It can go from Pink Floyd to Grateful Dead and everything in between. There is something to be said for that middle pick-up placement, the longer scale and the tremolo arm - and any trem will put the second note of a country bend out of tune - unless you block the trem arm - or at least tighten the springs. Clapton has gotten some amazing tones out of it like on Just One Night. Blackie had a simple wood block to make the trem stationary - hence no tuning issues when bending strings. Jerry too has gotten some amazing tones out of it like the Morning Dew on Europe 72. If you read the Guitar Player articles and some of the interviews with Jerry, he thought a custom guitar was the way to go. So true he had some misgivings with a Stratocaster. But I'm going to say Alligator is definitely a Stratocaster. Just listen to the Europe 72 recordings - that's Jerry playing a stratocatser. Sure it has got a funky fixed bridge and there is some speculation on it having a stratoblaster (the Grateful Gear book questions this assumption), but Alligator is just one of the infinite variations that can be created with the stratocaster platform, and the truth is that the strat design is meant to be a mix and match instrument, some are hard tails, some have maple fret boards, some have hum buckers and some are just simple. That's why there are more Stratocatsers on planet earth than any other guitar out there. Its the genius of Fender to create such a simple design that can so easily be customized. Go to any Guitar Center and you'll find no two Strats to be the same.

Long live the Stratocaster! :smile:

Peace James
 #137455  by jeager
 Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:15 am
:-) Jerry's first Strat led him to what the other guitars would be...and some of his best work was done on a Strat.

If I had a team of guys building guitars and modifying my gear, sure I would make changes but I think it is safe to say that Jerry enjoyed that guitar, just listen to what he played on it.

I don't want to buy one. I have a lovely example that has some nice improvements over the typical Fender, truth is its a very versatile guitar
 #137457  by Mr.Burns
 Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:49 am
The legend goes that Blackie was frakensteined from 5 or 6 pawn shop strats. Like Clapton bought as many as he could get his hands on, played them all and took notes on what he liked about each one, and then proceeded to hack them up for parts. At the time it would have been the only way to build a partscaster, I guess.
 #137458  by tcsned
 Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:55 am
I love my Strat - it's a '79 with Duncan pickups. It was run over by a car and is still rockin'

Even though my first love was my '78 Les Paul, I really dig Strats. I use it as a backup when I bust a string. There is nothing wrong with them, it's cool if they're not your thing but they're great guitars.

 #137467  by tatittle
 Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:00 am
Speaking very generally, I find Strat players to be more sophisticated melodically; and this is likely bc they have to be- or they sound weak, thin, hence boring. Where one can sound full playing a LP through a modern amp with just pentatonics and power chords, that never cuts it (for me) with a strat for some reason no matter how much gain one puts on it. I think that plays a role in why many young guys especially prefer have to be a better player to sound good on a Strat to me. Strats seem to beg for half-step bends and countless intricacies that a Gibson doesn't. As much as I used to prefer Gibsons over Strats, I now prefer single coils over Gibsons. You can get a strat to sound close to a Gibson but not viceversa, versatility goes to Fender all day.
Seems more of the legends chose Strats than LP's too, despite the difficulties they definitely have. I find playing them a pain in the ass compared to Gibsons, but if not for strats I fear I would have gotten bored and quit playing...I did cut way back until I got a Strat. It opened up a whole new world for me with new challenges and accomplishments. Obviously one can play almost anything on either, but certain styles of playing always sound better on one or the other guitar. Thankfully we have both sounds to work with, and these days there are guitars that have the character and versatility of a Strat minus the nagging issues, even if they cost as much as Gibsons. Sure Strats are a pain in the ass, but the sound/tone is my 1st priority---find me a Gibson that quacks and squeels and pings and allows bending vibratos and Im there. I think that is what PRS was aiming for with their 1st guitars. SRV on a LP? Santana on a strat?
 #137468  by strumminsix
 Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:00 am
Regarding tunability: I find strats stay in tune better than folks can hear out of tune when setup right of course...

Also, I thought Leo put them together so that parts could be pre-fab'd and replaced when worn out not so much cheap....
 #137471  by gr8fullfred
 Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:01 pm
From Waldo's site :
SQ: What's the advantage of having the two string ends like that?

DI: Well the idea was trying to come up with a tremolo system that would actually, because the tremolo allows somebody to lower the pitch of the strings by dropping the tension on it, but hoping that this whole thing that's all spring-loaded is going to come back to exactly the same place is at best a hope.

SQ: That's a long shot.

DI: Yeah, it's a long shot, so there were people that were trying to find some way to make the tremolo system work·

SQ: Floyd Rose, for instance?

DI: Well yeah, but Floyd Rose doesn't really solve the problem. Although there are some problems that Floyd Rose does solve because it's a problem when you break a string and you got to put another string on there because they'll all hooked to the same bridge. Well once you put another string on and retune it, then all the other strings are out of tune. That was one of the things, a lot of people liked the idea of the tremolo on a guitar, but as far as using it and hoping that it came back into exact pitch was hoping a lot. Some musicians are really pretty good at making that work, but Jerry was really exacting, he had to have the notes right. It couldn't be an eighth of a note off. So he never really used the tremolo very much, but he had me build the prototype of that, to see if we could solve the problems there were.
 #137476  by tatittle
 Tue Mar 11, 2014 2:54 pm
There is some guy Ive seen online that has a signature series of strats from a newer manufacturer that explains how to setup the vintage trem by setting the spring stop diagonally. You set it up for like 3 steps when you pull up on the G string, 2 on another, and 1 etc... I haven't tried it, mine are all blocked now, but it seemed promising. Im sure it still leaves issues (esp. with a Fender bald clean rig exposing the slightest discrepancy), but he was fairly convincing...I couldn't find it last time I tried to find the vids etc though.
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