Posted by: kubiakl | November 13, 2011

Searching For The Sound

A few notes on my ongoing search for a great tone:

The Seymour Duncan APS-2 didn’t work out for me.  I left it in the neck position on my Strat for over a week and kept monkeying with it – I tried different pickup heights, different string heights, different tone settings… everything I could think of.  It was a good sounding pickup, just not right for my sound.  The low strings were too soft and the plain third string (G) was too bright.  It’s possible that the Seymour Duncan 5-2 would be better but for now I’m back to the standard American Stratocaster factory pickups.

I did change the capacitor on the tone pot though.  First I tried Mojotone paper-in-oil Vitamin T, the .047 value.  The sound was good but when the tone control was turned down it crackled.  It’s entirely possible that I screwed something up in soldering it in, but either way it came out.  In its place went an Orange Drop .047 (ordered from Mojotone as well).  Strats come with a .022 cap in them, which makes them pretty bright.  Changing to the higher value means that more highs get rolled off as you turn the knob – I really like the control it gives me.  And the Orange Drop works very well.

The biggest change came from a pedal.  I found a used Visual Sound Route 66 pedal on Guitar Center’s website, so I gave it a shot.  We just got back from rehearsing at full volume and it performed extremely well – the Fulltone OCD is now in our other guitarist’s rig.  Using the compression (the comp set around 3:00, the volume set to unity, tone at noon) did add a little bit of noise, but not enough to drive me insane.  I turned off the noise gate though – I didn’t like how it trailed off.  The overdrive is nice and smooth (drive at 2:00, tone at noon, volume around unity, bass boost off) and works well with the compressor.  What really sold me was how they both interacted with the London Fuzz pedal.  It tightened up my fuzz tone and made it a little more focused, while still retaining that awesome fuzz sound.

So right now my signal chain looks like this:

Strat (sometimes Tele or Dot) -> Fulltone Mini Deja Vibe -> Visual Sound Route 66 -> Guyatone Micro OD -> MJM London Fuzz -> CAE Wah -> Danelectro Cool Cat Tremolo -> Fender Blues Jr.

I’m really digging it.  Today my tone sounded great for all of the songs we played, and the Route 66 stayed on the whole time.  If you’re looking for a compressor or overdrive that accentuates your sound without completely changing it, I’d give the Visual Sound Route 66 a whirl.

I’ll probably stick with this rig for now, although the search for my personal Holy Grail tone will never be complete.  It’s a journey, not a destination.

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