Stratocaster Pickup Rating Scale Reproduction (Nurd Alert)

BBGO

Strat-Talker
Jun 11, 2019
283
Hernando
I kinda of got caught up in this "figure it out" mode tonight. Totally nurded out, needed a break from the studio and working on pickguards and guitas.

So I measured 4 Fender Pickups, created a spreadsheet and normalized it to get a rating of 1 to 5 for bass, mid, Treble

57/62MIMV-Mod IIPlayer
BASS3/54/53/53.5/5
MID3/54/53/53.5/5
TREBLE4.5/52/55/53

Because the output of the MIM Ceramic is so high (measured with an exciter coil) that I had to figure out a way to come up with a 1/5 scale. It's turned out pretty decent.
I just grabbed a few frequencies to test, measured the values at:

500hz = Bass, 1Khz = mid, 10Khz = Treble

I noticed how high the MIM was in Bass and Mids, and very poor on treble. The Frequency response is lower too, but the output is HIGH (didn't put that value in this post). The player is actually quite balanced, the 57/62 a slight treble pop (as expected) and the lower output, but I didn't expect the V-Mod II to rate so high on the treble. That was the big surprise, I noticed it's capacitance (measured at 100Khz) is the lowest of all the pickups tested (but I didn't calc the 57/62 yet).
 

Synapse2k

Strat-O-Master
Nov 13, 2015
716
USA
This might be an interesting thing to run by ChatGPT although I'd take the response with a grain of salt. The guitar specs it's given me so far have proven to be unreliable.
 

PawFurro

Strat-Talker
Jan 28, 2023
111
Australia
This might be an interesting thing to run by ChatGPT although I'd take the response with a grain of salt. The guitar specs it's given me so far have proven to be unreliable.
Genuinely curious - what would you want ChatGPT to tell you that @BBGO hasn't already worked out?

Would you be hoping for an extended set of data/results for the pickups specified? Or data for a wider range of pickups?
 
Last edited:

jvin248

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 10, 2014
6,030
Michigan
.

Pickup height low vs high and bass vs treble "tip"/"angle" of a pickup can alter most of those figures. Put that ceramic MIM flush with the pickguard and an Alnico style needs to be a quarter inch higher or closer to the strings to sound the same.

Too many players set their pickups "at factory spec!" regardless if they have Alnico or Ceramic and then complain one sounds "too weak and thin" while the other sounds "too muddy" or "harsh" and are in the forums asking for what pickups they should upgrade to. That factory pickup height spec was chosen back in the Alnico days and chosen for factory convenience not the best sound. I've seen Hendrix videos of his Strats where he adjusted each pickup by ear because they are not factory spec and each is adjusted differently from the others.

Leo Fender, by the time he had his third guitar company, started noticing that maybe he wanted fewer coil windings to reduce the amount of noise he got from a single coil pickup and then to get back to the same output for the amp he used stronger magnets. Signal to Noise ratio invoked.

I noticed many of the Indonesian Squier Strat pickups have lower coil windings, as low as 3-4kohms vs typical Strats at 6kohm, with ceramic block magnets thus using this same S2N thinking. I found they also tend toward low capacitance, both from fewer coils, and possibly from "hand scatter winding" just like the boutique builders do to get that clean classic tone.

So since you have that test rig: measure more pickups! Measure all the pickups with some sort of spacer or offset method to create height and bass/treble-side output differences to compare too. Can you show that pickup height adjustment can meaningfully change output tones on your rig?

.
 

Synapse2k

Strat-O-Master
Nov 13, 2015
716
USA
Genuinely curious - what would you want ChatGPT to tell you that @BBGO hasn't already worked out?

Would you be hoping for an extended set of data/results for the pickups specified? Or data for a wider range of pickups?
so basically if you describe this chart to chatgpt and say fill it out with every other fender aftermarket Strat pickup, it’ll give you the entire list broken down already. I don’t think it’ll be good at getting this chart right, but it has been pretty good at describing tonal characteristics of various pickups. You just can’t take any spec it gives you on face value. A lot of the info is wrong.
 

PawFurro

Strat-Talker
Jan 28, 2023
111
Australia
Thanks @Synapse2k, that's a great explanation!

I guess ChatGPT is limited by the quality of the data it can find/scrape - as @jvin248 highlights there are so many variables in pickup construction and setup that affect ouput and, unless the testing was controlled and repeatable for a large sample size, the results produced by ChatGPT do need to be taken with a grain of salt.

(Sorry to hijack the thread @BBGO - it was a really interesting rating exercise you did with your pickups and I was trying to visualise where ChatGPT could take it)
 

BBGO

Strat-Talker
Jun 11, 2019
283
Hernando
.

Pickup height low vs high and bass vs treble "tip"/"angle" of a pickup can alter most of those figures. Put that ceramic MIM flush with the pickguard and an Alnico style needs to be a quarter inch higher or closer to the strings to sound the same.

Too many players set their pickups "at factory spec!" regardless if they have Alnico or Ceramic and then complain one sounds "too weak and thin" while the other sounds "too muddy" or "harsh" and are in the forums asking for what pickups they should upgrade to. That factory pickup height spec was chosen back in the Alnico days and chosen for factory convenience not the best sound. I've seen Hendrix videos of his Strats where he adjusted each pickup by ear because they are not factory spec and each is adjusted differently from the others.

Leo Fender, by the time he had his third guitar company, started noticing that maybe he wanted fewer coil windings to reduce the amount of noise he got from a single coil pickup and then to get back to the same output for the amp he used stronger magnets. Signal to Noise ratio invoked.

I noticed many of the Indonesian Squier Strat pickups have lower coil windings, as low as 3-4kohms vs typical Strats at 6kohm, with ceramic block magnets thus using this same S2N thinking. I found they also tend toward low capacitance, both from fewer coils, and possibly from "hand scatter winding" just like the boutique builders do to get that clean classic tone.

So since you have that test rig: measure more pickups! Measure all the pickups with some sort of spacer or offset method to create height and bass/treble-side output differences to compare too. Can you show that pickup height adjustment can meaningfully change output tones on your rig?

.
The goal of this was to get pure measurements for actual circuits I'm developing and tailoring the tone selection circuits with the actual pickup output and response, instead of the usual "one size fits all" approach. Plus try to get away from the "It just sounds better to me" approach. Plus allow me to do some modeling so I'm not always taking pickguards in and out of strats so much.

Pickup heights definitely affect output voltage of a pickup. It can also "push" the peak of the resonant frequency, but it doesn't alter the "generic" frequency response of the pickup in any significant way. You can get it closer to the strings so there is more voltage and sensitivity on the top E string (and B for example) by tilting it; but at some point damping kicks in when you get to close to the string, the suppresses the sustain of the string (Noiseless Lace, etc excluded for reasons I won't discuss here).

Truly interesting stuff.
 

BBGO

Strat-Talker
Jun 11, 2019
283
Hernando
Thanks @Synapse2k, that's a great explanation!

I guess ChatGPT is limited by the quality of the data it can find/scrape - as @jvin248 highlights there are so many variables in pickup construction and setup that affect ouput and, unless the testing was controlled and repeatable for a large sample size, the results produced by ChatGPT do need to be taken with a grain of salt.

(Sorry to hijack the thread @BBGO - it was a really interesting rating exercise you did with your pickups and I was trying to visualise where ChatGPT could take it)
There are a lot of variables (which I won't get into here) that have an effect. But are you looking to use chatGPT to do a prediction on voltage output at a given frequency?
 

BBGO

Strat-Talker
Jun 11, 2019
283
Hernando
so basically if you describe this chart to chatgpt and say fill it out with every other fender aftermarket Strat pickup, it’ll give you the entire list broken down already. I don’t think it’ll be good at getting this chart right, but it has been pretty good at describing tonal characteristics of various pickups. You just can’t take any spec it gives you on face value. A lot of the info is wrong.
Ok, I see, there is a lot of detail that you aren't going to get. For example. I don't know what frequency they consider "BASS" is on their packaging, or do they some averaging of a frequency range, no clue. I am actually, at some point, going to break the voltage measurements into more ranges (not a lot, I wish my freq generator would store settings to buttons LOL), just to see how it affects the voltage output and how closely that corresponds to frequency response of the pick.

I do know that applying a static large piece of metal doesn't after the properties like Capacitance or Resistance in any large way, so the capacitance is likely due to interwinding capacitance which definitively can affect the frequency response (scatter wound vs tightly wound)
 

PawFurro

Strat-Talker
Jan 28, 2023
111
Australia
But are you looking to use chatGPT to do a prediction on voltage output at a given frequency?
Nah I was curious if ChatGPT could theoretically, based on the parameters you used and your raw data for your 4 types of pickups, increase the table to cover the range of available Fender pickups based on other readings that people have taken and published on the interwebs 🤓
 
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