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Strat-Style Design Opinion

10/26/2004 10:06 AM
Strat-Style Design Opinion
I'm looking for opinions regarding the following;  
Assuming both guitars would be shielded with copper tape, is there any benefit to the traditional Strat body routing VS the universal (or swimming pool) routing?  
I know that there are some who say that the lesser body weight due to the universal route makes for less sustain. But I'm more interested in your opinions regarding the effect it might have on 3 single coil pickups mounted in one or the other.  
10/26/2004 11:41 AM

Hey Kevin; I can only tell you what my own personal experience has been. I have a cheap-ish Strat. You can find these doing a Google search, and look for Johnson Cali - JS700. It has an oustanding Sunburst finish, for the money, but the sound was just "ok". It had a swimming-pool route, and with additional routing for the tremolo springs, there wasn't much wood left in the middle.  
At the suggestion of some folks over at the MIMF, (Musical Instrument Makers Forum), I added two more tremolo springs, and tightened the claw down all the way. (I don't use the tremolo.)  
The difference in sound quality and sustain was significant. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't heard it myself.  
Anyway, take from that what you can. Hope it helps some. ;-)  
10/26/2004 2:03 PM
Joshua Pardes

Uh oh, I think that you just opened a can of worms on this subject, lol. Some die hards will tell you that they can hear a difference, but in all honesty, there are so many other factors going into the tone and sustain of a guitar that one would be hard pressed to hear the few extra ounces of wood in a strat.  
The majority of swimming pool route guitars are cheapo's so the wood quality is poor and the hardware sucks. Even if you have good pups in one of those if the wood has not been properly dried and the neck joint is sloppy, they will be held back from ever sounding good.  
On the other hand, G&L makes almost all of their guitars with a swimming pool route. I personally own a legacy with this route and it sounds very good to me. Compared to an american strat I used to own, it is clearly a superior instrument in all aspects including tone and sustain.  
Technically speaking the more mass an instrument has (to a certain degree), the better it is going to sustain so one could say that individual pickup routing is the best. On the contrary though, there is really not much extra wood taken out, especially compared to fender's new universal route. Hum-Sin-Hum. I personally like the freedom to be able to slap some humbuckers or P90's in my legacy without going for the router. The bridge saddles, and trem block account for much more sustain. The problem lies with how the bridge physically connects to the body. On new guitars it makes contact via 2 metal inserts! That is why a guitar with a Bigsby trem will sustain almost as well as a set bridge. Get die cast steal, brass, or titanium saddles and a solid steal block. If you want even more sustain, buy a block from calaham. Want more? Block the trem to the body.  
I find the subject kind of ammusing personally when the trem bridge is the biggest sustain killer on guitars. (So long as the neck joint is tight and accurate). Oh yeah, get a fatfinger from Groove Tubes too. It might sound like BS but they really work, specially on bolt on geetars.  
10/26/2004 3:23 PM

Hey Josh; Basically, I agree with everything you've said, except, maybe, for one thing. Where you say "Want more? (sustain) Block the trem to the body"  
You may be right, but it was this exact question I asked over at the MIMF. They were the ones that told me that I would actually do better to add the extra springs, and tighten the claw. This same info was repeated at the Seymour Duncan forum.  
It seems that the springs themselves, add to the sustain of the instrument by virtue of their resonance . . . or something. I'm not sure I understand the exact science, but the difference in my Strat was night and day.  
Just thought I'd toss that in. Take care;  
10/26/2004 6:00 PM

Thanks for the opinions. But, again, I'm really more interested in whether or not there is a downside to installing 3 single coil pickups in a properly-shielded swimming pool route. It seems like a traditional routing scheme would provide better isolation(?) for the pickups.  
It's not that I'm not interested in the effect on sustain, it's just not my primary question in this forum.  
Any other opinions?  
10/26/2004 7:34 PM

It's a matter of taste. I don't like the swimming pool rout and had someone use a block of mahogany routed for the single coils, I also had a tele with the center filled with maple. Well the Mahogany warmed the guitar up and the maple made the tele brighter. But some people like the the sound of a chambered guitar. I think the swimming pool rout gives the guitar a more hollow airy sound. There also could be things going on electronicly because of the pickups being so close together in a strat. Not having some wood in between could also have many effects acousticly, I really don't know for sure. All I do know is I don't like the way a guitar sounds with the bigger rout.
10/27/2004 4:05 AM
Joshua Pardes

Kevin, to directly answer your question regarding the pickups, the differences, (aside from the accoustical properties of the instrument), would not be enough to be detectable by a human ear. There is going to be the slightest differnce in magnetic interation between the pickups in the two different routes but as I'm sure you already know, wood is not a very effective magnetic insulator. The pickups are already spaced far enough apart that their fields would not overlap to any significant degree. As for background noise, if the cavity is electrically shielded with copper tape there would be no difference between the two different routes. The accoustical properties of the different routes are going to be what you are hearing.
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