I’d certainly recommend http://www.irongear.co.uk/ good quality great sound and decent prices. When I converted my SSS Affinity to HSH I also change the pots and caps but that’s because I needed to upgrade for the HBs and the single, is actually double stacked,
Stefan, Both Fender and Gibson use CTS pots which are American. Fender use 250k and Gibson generally 500k for the Humbuckers. There is also the issue of caps but depends what you already have on the guitar so you could use those and presumably it already has a 5 way switch. Cheaper import guitars tend to use metric hardware whereas American spec guitars are generally imperial so you might find your volume and tone knobs don’t fit on new pots so you might need to change those too.
Edit: PS: I forgot to say welcome to the wonderful world of Strat modification.
Are ya talking about the brand of pickups like Fender vs Dimarzio or are ya talking the model of pickups like Fender Vintage 57 vs Fender Texas specials?
I like the Bootstrap pickups, they have a few different models and give a good description of what they should sound like on there website. Not sure if they ship world wide or if high shipping would make it not worth it. For me I like that I can email the person that is actually making the pickups. It’s a little family run business.
The pots jack and switch are mostly a build quality thing. like Rorystrat said they may not be a drop in fit so you might have to ream the holes out and even dremel out the cavity in the body some. the cap value will change your tone… and I personally don’t believe all the hyp about orange drop caps. you can get a few different values and try different ones to find a tone you like.
Alot of people say it’s a waste to put good parts in a cheaper guitar… the thing to keep in mind is if you put $300 worth of parts into a $100 guitar you still only have a $100 guitar.
My 2 cents
@rorystrat Peter, thank you for the information. Yes it has a five way switch already but I’m guessing that the pots and the switch are just super cheap ones, so I would like to swap them out, just for the soldering experience.
@LesPaulMoreRay Ray, some nice looking pickup’s on there but I think for this little project it will be too much hassle and probably cost to have something shipped for the States.
@Dave999 Dave, I’m not 100% sure which pickup’s I’m talking about. Like say my cheap guitar is always going to be a cheap guitar, so the upgrades are just for the experience of changing things and getting to know a guitar a little better but I do intend to play it quite a bit so I might as well pop something half decent in there.
You may want to check out https://guitarelectronics.com/ for wiring suggestions. And if you are going the HB route also split coils. I did that on all three of my Iron Gear PUPS but used mini toggles to split them. I also wanted to have the option being able to use both HBs together and asked them to create me a bespoke custom diagram, as below. In fact with a 5-way switch, all three PUPS can be active and then split into numerous configurations.
Just a thought but you could go HHS by adding a HB single rail like this for the middle.
A Hammer Head HB and a Smoke Stack II either side and you’d be cooking, especially as they could all be split !!
I guess it’s a matter of preference and how mich you’d like to spend. You can read reviews etc but often it’s like trying your luck really.
You could look at the specs of the pickup, like its output value (in mV perhaps), it’s resistance and inductance to give you an idea of how hot it is. An EQ diagram of the pickup also helps in the selection.
Other characteristics are the type of magnets (AlNiCo vs ceramic usually) and whether the pickup is wax potted or not.
Splittable or not if that’s an option you want to have…
Not necessarily but since this a learning project, I’d say swap everything out just to practise.
Pickup manufacturers usually give a recommendation for the value of the pots and capacitors. Generally though, it’s mix and match, an opportunity to experiment with components and see how they affect the sound.
Bear in mind that there are linear pots and logarithmic pots as well. They react differently.
Another thing to keep in mind is that after you’ve done your swaps and everything is place, you will need to adjust the pickup height.
@TheMadman_tobyjenner@CT Thank you for that Toby, I’ll have a look at that site. That diagram looks a little complicated but I’m sure it will all start to make sense once I dive on in there.
@Lefteris This is why I find it such a minefield. I’m just going to have to make a call and hopefully I get it right. Though I suspect my ears aren’t that good that I would notice much difference between different pots.
It freak me out to start with but things settled down when I compared it to the Affinity’s layout that I had left in place on the old pickguard for reference and compared that with there “stock” diagrams, that are freely available if I recall. Think the custom one above cost me $30 but worth the investment, as I was clueless at the time !! Enjoy.
The pots are a bit of a black box for me for now. I just picked log pots for my project for no particular reason.
With regards to the pups, you can make an educated guess.
Compare for instance against what you already have.
If you have bridge pickup for example and you know its specs (output, eq etc) you can say for example "I want it more bassy“ or trebley or higher output etc and compare other pickups against what you have to get a broad idea. It is a minefield indeed though.
Thanks Lefty. I’ve had a look and all it say’s for the pickups is " * Pickups: 1x Humbucker and 2x single coils". So not much info. Are Strats supposed to be bassy? I thought they were known for being more of a trebly.
If you have a digital volt meter you can read the output of the pickups by putting a guitar cable in the jack socket and attaching the probes to the tip and body of the jack at the other end. Move the selector switch accordingly. At least that’s your starter for readings what you’ve got already.